“Why is the World so Full of Ugliness, Evil, and Suffering?” (with poem)
William C. Chittick writing in Divine Love:
“One of the many implications of the mercy and creative love that takes precedence over God’s wrath and severity is the omnipresent beauty of the natural world. ‘Why is the world so full of ugliness, evil, and suffering?’ people ask. Here is one of Ansari’s answers, from Forty Two Chapters. He is commenting on a hadith in which God says, ‘The children of Adam curse the times but I am the times: in My hands are night and day.’ He takes this as a commandment to observe courtesy (adab) toward God. Courtesy is a broad-ranging term whose meaning embraces both the proper activity and refined behavior. For teachers of love, it is perfect imitation of the Prophet both outwardly and inwardly, in keeping with the hadith, ‘God taught me courtesy, so He made my courtesy beautiful.”
“You should not take up residence of your own ignorance. When you inspect His work with our own incomplete intellect and you count the incompleteness of your own intelligence to be His work, then you protest. In place of saying in praise, ‘How beautiful!’ you begin to be disloyal and turn His work over to others. Thus you associate others with God and become a misfortunate ignorant wrongdoer. Everything is beautiful and complete within its own limits, but you, in your ignorance, see it as bad and consider it bad…do not be deluded by His clemency lest you start asking about His work, ‘Why? For what? It is He who knows the work and will always make it happen as it should. Then the pretenders start wagging their beards. Whatever He does, He does with Knowledge and Wisdom.” (Ansari, Shaykh al-Islam ‘Abdallah, the Pir, Chihil u daw fasl, p. 198–99)
Ansari (1006–1088) was a well known Persian Sufi from Herat (Afghanistan). Ansari was a Qur’anic commentator, traditionist, polemicist and spiritual master best known for his oratory and poetic talents both in Arabic and Persian.
A couple of months ago the Mosque in my community was vandalized by a man who threw bibles through the windows. As soon as the news reached the community (mid-sized college town in Northern Colorado), people of all races and religions began gathering at the Mosque. The local newspaper stated about 1000 people showed up to show support of the only Muslim Center in the city. Very quickly money was raised and volunteers arrived to repair the damage with a beautiful show of love. My twitter feed almost immediately began dumping vitriolic comments with an overt mocking tone by Muslims against Christians and Whites. Some of the Muslims I spoke with in my community who were from other countries expressed concern and fear and wondered if they should move out of the U.S.
My primary response to all of the people mentioned above was about the incredible beauty of an interfaith community immediately coming forward offering love and support. This included many faith leaders who were not just Muslim. Look, and look again. ONE man threw bibles in the windows of the Mosque, and ONE THOUSAND people gathered at the Mosque. And yet the focus stayed negative on the one man. My brothers and sisters of all faiths, the darkness is beautiful in its hidden purpose of always making Allah’s light look much brighter. We are a beautiful people filled with Allah’s love and purpose, and when it is Jews, Christians, Sikhs, and Muslims coming together to help each other, it is then the Kingdom of God is descending on earth while raising up a heavenly people. We become a light to the nations — do you see?
Ansari is reminding us that everything is in Allah’s hands, but you must look closer with the heart of love to see His works. He states we shouldn’t be confused by His lack of response and then question Him…as ‘The children of Adam curse the times but I am the times: in My hands are night and day.’ We certainly live in chaotic times in today’s world, but look for His beauty, and if you can’t find it, then be Allah in action with your own beauty arising from love and compassion. Create light within the darkness so non-believers will understand the beauty of Allah and be drawn to its goodness. His hands are in the “night and day.” The darkness of hidden evil will be revealed by the light, and the light will be made manifest from the dark. Remember, light can’t be seen within light, but is only made manifest in the darkness.
See with the eyes of love
brothers and sisters
be the eyes of love
Praying hands turn
into clasped hands —
a chain of unity
with love and light.