One time a soldier fell into a most grave situation in the field of battle and examination, and the round of profit and loss. It was as follows:
The soldier was wounded with two deep and terrible wounds on his right and left sides and behind him stood a huge lion as though waiting to attack him. Before him stood a gallows which was putting to death and annihilating all those he loved. It was awaiting him too. Besides this, he had a long journey before him: he was being exiled. As the unfortunate soldier pondered over his fearsome plight in despair, a kindly person shining with light like Khidr appeared. He said to him: “Do not despair. I shall give you two talismans and teach you them. If you use them properly, the lion will become a docile horse for you, and the gallows will turn into a swing for your pleasure and enjoyment. Also I shall give you two medicines. If you follow the instructions, those two suppurating wounds will be transformed into two sweet-scented flowers called the Rose of Muhammad (PBUH). Also, I shall give you a ticket; with it, you will be able to make a year’s journey in a day as though flying. If you do not believe me, experiment a bit, so that you can see it is true.” The soldier did experiment a bit, and affirmed that it was true. Yes, I, that is, this unfortunate Said, affirm it too. For I experimented and saw it was absolutely true.
Some time later he saw a sly, debauched-looking man, cunning as the Devil, coming from the left bringing with him much ornamented finery, decorated pictures and fantasies, and many intoxicants. He stopped before the soldier, and said:
“Hey, come on, my friend! Let’s go and drink and make merry. We can look at these pictures of beautiful girls, listen to the music, and eat this tasty food.” Then he asked him: “What is it you are reciting under your breath?”
“A talisman,” came the reply.
“Stop that incomprehensible nonsense! Let’s not spoil our present fun!” And he asked a second question: “What is that you have in your hand?”
“Some medicine,” the soldier replied.“Throw it away! You are healthy, there is nothing wrong with you. It is the time of cheer.” And he asked: “What is that piece of paper with five marks on it?”“It is a ticket and a rations card.”“Oh, tear them up!”, the man said. “What need do we have of a journey this beautiful spring?” He tried to persuade him with every sort of wile, and the poor soldier was even a bit persuaded. Yes, man can be deceived. I was deceived by just such cunning deceptions.
Suddenly from the right came a voice like thunder. “Beware!”, it said. “Do not be deceived! Say to that trickster: ‘If you have the means to kill the lion behind me, remove the gallows from before me, repulse the things wounding my right and my left, and prevent the journey in front of me, then come on and do so! Show that you can and let us see it! Then say, come on, let’s go and enjoy ourselves. Otherwise be silent!’ Speak in the same way as that Khidr-like God-inspired man.”
O my soul, which laughed in its youth and now weeps at its laughter! Know that the unfortunate soldier is you, and man. The lion is the appointed hour. As for the gallows, it is death, decline, and separation, through which, in the alternation of night and day, all friends bid farewell and are lost. Of the two wounds, one is man’s infinite and troublesome impotence, while the other is his grievous and boundless poverty. The exile and journey is the long journey of examination which passes from the world of spirits through the womb and childhood to old age; through the world and the grave and the intermediate realm, to the resurrection and the Bridge of Sirat. As for the two talismans, they are belief in Almighty God and the hereafter.
Yes, through the second sacred talisman, death takes on the form of a mastered horse, a steed to take believing man from the prison of this world to the gardens of Paradise and the presence of the Most Merciful One. It is because of this that the wise who have seen death’s reality have loved it. They have wanted it before it came. And through the talisman of belief in God, the passage of time, which is decline and separation, death and decease and the gallows, takes on the form of the means to observe and contemplate with perfect pleasure the miracles of the All-Glorious Maker’s various, multicoloured, ever-renewed embroideries, the wonders of His power, and the manifestations of His mercy. Yes, when mirrors reflecting the colours of the sun’s light are changed and renewed, and the images of the cinema changed, better, more beautiful scenes are formed.
As for the two medicines, one is trusting in God and patience, and the other is relying on the power of one’s Creator and having confidence in His wisdom. Is that the case? Indeed it is. What fear can a man have, who, through the certificate of his impotence, relies on a Monarch of the World with the power to command: “Be!’ and it is.”(1) For in the face of the worst calamity, he says: “Verily, to God do we belong, and verily to Him is our return,”(2) and places his trust in his Most Compassionate Sustainer... ~ Continue reading The Seventh Word
Qur’an, 2:117, etc.