Ibn Ata’llah on Giving, Deprivation and when Disobedience Trumps Obedience.

Reflection #1

Sometimes He gives while depriving you,

and sometimes He deprives you in giving.

The above saying of Ibn Ata’lllah reminds me of something Shaykh Hamza Yusuf said on perspective when he mentioned the rich man who looks down upon the poor man thinking “look at that little man down there” …. what if the poor homeless man is looking down at the rich arrogant man thinking “look at that little man up there!”

The Prophets were tested more than I could fathom.  People are tested in so many ways.  It’s our perspective that defines whether what is happening to you is a blessing or a curse.  To this extent I believe the saying “It’s all in your head” is somewhat true.  It may be that something every reasonable person would consider to be bad is happening to you…. but it may be that it is a blessing.  A perfect example is the Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg narrowly missing her flight… she could have considered it a horrible tragedy… but it turns out that missing her flight was the best thing that could have happened to her as she ended up missing a plane crash.

Here’s another great reflection of Ibn Ata’llah (hint: all of his sayings are gems):

A disobedience that bequeathes humiliation and extreme need

is better than an obedience that bequeathes self-infatuation and pride.

I’ve heard it said in Muslim tradition that prior to becoming Shaytan or Satan, he was known as Haris and that there was not a place on Earth where he had not prostrated.  Imagine that – the Devil, the Accursed, had prostrated so much to God that not a single spot on Earth existed where he had not prayed.  But it was his arrogance, his pride, his stiff neck in refusing to prostrate at the command of his God to Adam that transformed him into the outcast.  Pretty scary if one really considers how prevalent pride is as a sin in mankind.

Many “religious” people fall prey to this pious arrogance and self-infatuation.  It’s great to follow the exterior tenets of faith, but don’t forget the inner dimensions of Islam.  Everything has an outer or zahir quality and an inner or batin quality, and much more can be written about the significance of zahir and batin than I can write in my little blog.  Suffice it to say that it is judgmental and perhaps bordering on heretical to judge someone as being bad in the sight of Allah (God) when one doesn’t know what their own status is with their Creator.  One can hope that their deeds will be accepted but Allah knows our true intentions, and they aren’t written in


Rather, I believe they are written in

small print, written upon our hearts, in a script that sometimes eludes ourselves but never eludes our Creator.

So Saleem, next time you’re about to judge someone remind yourself of the following hadith:

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, a prostitute saw a dog lolling around a well on a hot day and hanging his tongue from thirst, so she drew some water for it in her shoe and Allah forgave her.

In another narration, the Prophet said, “Once there was a dog moving around a well, suffering from thirst so bad he was nearly dying. Then, a prostitute from among the Children of Israel happened to see him, so she drew water in her shoe and made him drink. Allah forgave her because of this.”

Source: Sahih Muslim 2245

Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Imam Muslim

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنَّ امْرَأَةً بَغِيًّا رَأَتْ كَلْبًا فِي يَوْمٍ حَارٍّ يُطِيفُ بِبِئْرٍ قَدْ أَدْلَعَ لِسَانَهُ مِنْ الْعَطَشِ فَنَزَعَتْ لَهُ بِمُوقِهَا فَغُفِرَ لَهَا

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بَيْنَمَا كَلْبٌ يُطِيفُ بِرَكِيَّةٍ قَدْ كَادَ يَقْتُلُهُ الْعَطَشُ إِذْ رَأَتْهُ بَغِيٌّ مِنْ بَغَايَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ فَنَزَعَتْ مُوقَهَا فَاسْتَقَتْ لَهُ بِهِ فَسَقَتْهُ إِيَّاهُ فَغُفِرَ لَهَا بِهِ

2245 صحيح مسلم كتاب السلام باب فضل سقي البهائم المحترمة وإطعامها

In case you don’t read arabic, it basically says the folllowing:

“stop judging people.”


Comments? Thoughts? Leave a reply...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s