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The Order of Nature
By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Try closing your room, going away, and returning after a few weeks. What do you find on your return? A thick layer of dust all over the room. This is so unpleasant that you don’t feel like sitting in the room until it has been dusted. Equally unpleasant is the dust blown in your face by a high wind, you find yourself longing for the wind to drop, so that there should be no more irritating dust.

But what is this dust that we find so annoying? It is in fact a loose surface layer of fertile soil, the very substance which enables the growth of all forms of vegetables, fruits and cereals. If this soil did not lie on the face of the earth, it would be impossible for us to live on the earth at all.

It is this same dust that makes the earth’s atmosphere dense enough for water to vaporize, forming clouds which produce torrents of water to revive and replenish the earth. Without rain, there would be no life on earth, and rain is only possible because of the dust in the earth’s atmosphere. The redness of the sky which we see at sunrise and sunset is also due to the presence of dust in the atmosphere. In this way dust, besides possessing multiple practical benefits, also contributes to the beauty of the world.

From this straightforward example we can see how God has placed unpleasant things alongside the pleasant things of life. Just as the rose bush, along with its exquisite flowers, also possesses piercing thorns, so also does life contain an amalgam of both pleasing and displeasing objects. This is the way God has created the world. There is nothing for us to do but to fit in with this order of nature that He has laid down. Much as we may try, it is impossible for us to have things any other way.

To complain about things, then, is a fruitless exercise. If one wants to complain, one is sure to find plenty to complain about in life. The intelligent thing to do is to forget the unpleasant things which are a part and parcel of life, bury grudges, and carry on seeking to fulfill one’s true purpose in life.

Working Together
One particular quality of true believers has been pinpointed in the Qur’an. It is that when they are with the Prophet—or in other words the person responsible for Muslims’ affairs—"on a matter requiring collective action, they do not depart until they have asked for his leave..." (Qur’an, 24:62). Here collective action means any activity involving a group of people working together. And the "asking of leave" is indicative of the wider spirit in which the work is done—a spirit of deep commitment, like the commitment one feels to some personal work.

A high degree of motivation is required for a person to become so deeply involved in a task that he will not leave it until the work in hand has been accomplished. Such motivation is inherent in work involving personal profit: it is in one’s own interest to see the work through to the bitter end, and so one does so. One is moved by a sense of personal responsibility: if one does not accomplish the task oneself, who will do if for one? With work involving a group of people, on the other hand, one tends to lay the onus on other people. If I don’t carry on, on thinks, there are plenty of others who will continue in my place. Seeing that there is no personal profit to be gained from the work in hand, one tends to see it as a burden best laid on others’ shoulders. Only when one has come to think of the common good as one’s own good, of the profit of society as one’s own profit, will one become fully committed to collective work. Such commitment requires, above all, a deep sense of social consciousness; it requires one to be oriented towards the needs of the community, as anyone would normally be oriented to cater for his own needs.

A Muslim is required to possess just such a sense of social consciousness, moving him to throw himself heart and soul into collective Islamic work, whenever such work is required of him. Then, when he has involved himself in it, he will see it through to the final stage. When he takes leave from the authority under whose direction he is working, he does not do so in order to desert the cause to which he is committed; rather, he has some valid reason for going away, and will return as soon as circumstances allow. For this reason the Qur’an says that, if possible, such requests should be granted. But both the request, and the granting of it, should be made in the correct spirit, with both parties praying for the other, even as they part.
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