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So Fragile

Consciousness of limitation brings one back to the need for the Transcendent, the need for meaning. To call on God is not to console oneself—it is to rediscover the condition God originally wanted for us—the spark of humility, the awareness of fragility.
Consciousness of limitation brings one back to the need for the Transcendent

Someday we are bound to come back to the beginning. Even the most distant pathways always lead us inward, completely inward, into intimacy, solitude between our self and our self—in the place where there is no longer anyone but God and our self.
Paulo Coelho, in his novel The Alchemist, has brought in one of the most traditional and deep teachings of Sufism (Islamic mysticism). Go, travel the world, watch, look for the truth and the secret of life—every road will lead you to this sense of initiation: the light, the secret, are hidden in the place from which you set out. You are on your way not toward the end of the road but toward its beginning; to go is to return; to find is to rediscover. Go!…You will return.
The apparent paradox of spiritual experience is the lesson that the constant effort, the jihad, that we make in order to purify, control, and liberate our heart is, in the end, a reconciliation with the deepest level of our being (al-fitra)—there where the spark gleams that God originally breathed into our heart, there where our conscience weds our being and gives in to peace (salam).
The peace of recognition, the peace of submission (salam al-islam), is, deep down, a liberation. God is “The one who created death and life to test you and to find out which of you would behave best.” Death, life, experiences, ordeals, pain, solitude, as well as joy and happiness, are so many lessons along the road to reconciliation. Wounds, separations, tears, as well as smiles, “say” something: if you live in unawareness, they touch you; with God, they guide and lead you. Where to? Where to then? Toward Him, toward you, close to Him in you.
Such is the most beautiful and the most difficult lesson of Islam: you find God only by rediscovering your own nature, and the essence of your nature is the only thing that can free you from its appearance.… “I” must set out to discover another “I”: such is the meaning of life. Ordeals drive you not to your limits but to your origin, where “the need for Him” has its root.
Ordeals will lead you back, whether you like it or not, to what you are, to the essence from which He has formed you. Exile will take you home.
A man once exclaimed to the mystic Rabia al-Adawiyya, “I have discovered a thousand proofs of the existence of God!” She closed the conversation by saying that she had only one proof and that was enough for her. “Which?” he asked. “If you are alone in the desert and you fall down a well, to whom will you turn?” “To God,” he said. “That proof is enough for me!”
A strange reply, seemingly simple, even simplistic, that a rationalist or atheist would without hesitation take as confirmation of what he had always believed: “God is the refuge of the destitute, the hope of the hopeless, a consolation, a reassuring invention!”
On the surface, on the surface only … suffering and the unknown seem to press the mind to look for a refuge, a consolation. This is the logic our reason proposes when it looks on the human being on the outside of its nature.
The Islamic tradition says exactly the opposite: the ordeals of life, sadness, encountering the death of those we love, for example, take the human being back to its most natural state, to its most essential longing. Consciousness of limitation brings it back to the need for the Transcendent, to the need for meaning.
To call on God is not to console oneself—it is to rediscover the condition God originally wanted for us—the spark of humility, the awareness of fragility. Before your eyes is a child … life, dependence, fragility, and innocence.
To be with God is to know how to keep this state: a humble acceptance of your fragility, a comprehension of your dependence—going back to the beginning. In fact, the temptation to pride consists in thinking that man can cut himself off from his nature and attain total intellectual autonomy to the point where he can take on his own suffering, deliberately and alone.
Pride is to affirm outward independence by maintaining the illusion of liberty at the heart of one’s being. Humility is to rediscover the breath of the primordial need of Him at the heart of our being, in order to live in total outward independence. Go!…You will return.
Please note that Paul Coelho will be discussing his book, the Alchemist with readers on his blog during the month of July.

13 commentaires - “So Fragile”

  1. Salam,
    How many times did we feel so desperate, and totally hopeless facing challenges in this life, until we realize that nothing will get us through except for Allah’s help. So, with all humility we rely on Allah subhanahu wataala, and we ask for his help, and guess what? He does help.Some might realize it, some might not. It is like a therapy to oneself.Allah gave us this abiltiy to remember, but also to forget. Rememberance is an act of worship, it has to be constant in order not to drift away from it.
    It feels good to get back to the spirituality topics!
    Thank you.

  2. Assalamouaalaykoum,

    C’est un texte magnifique qui dit la profondeur et l’importance de la connaissance de l’Unique sobhanaĥou wa taa’la qui mène vers la vraie liberté.

    J’aime ceux et celles qui me Le rappellent et qui me rappellent à Lui.

    Barakallahoufik Mon frère et qu’Allah vous accompagne dans votre vie, vous ainsi que votre entourage.
    Qu’IL soit celui qui guide chacun de nous et chaque être humain qui désire LE rencontrer insha Allah.

  3. Just amazing. Muslims have to accept their humanness again. We talk about principals, but we forget we are people with emotions, fears, hopes, wants, a body, a mind etc….

    1. Maybe the point is that you can’t overcome it but have to accept it. Sounds kind of buddhist to me…

    2. Not necessarily buddhist, but sufi, the mystical dimension of islam. in any case the mystical vein of all religions share similar truths (gnosis in christianity, kabablah in judaism etc)Simply put it’s getting to the heart of the matter, the kernal of the kernal, the inner meaning of an outward truth.
      I love that Tariq Ramadan allows for and writes from this perspective (awareness and willingness to listen to the meaningful and painful moments of life, faith, relationships etc. and the allowance for multiple truths to be present at once-both in a concrete way (e.g. being muslim, being european, being of one or more ethnicities) and in a a more spiritual way as he discusses in this article here.
      I am so happy the quest for meaning and understanding is reaching these high points…I have no doubt on the beauty and grandeur on Mr. Ramadan’s thoughts and the positive effect it has on those who are listening (both muslim and otherwise).

    3. allowance for multiple truths to be present at once-both in a concrete way (e.g. being muslim, being european, being of one or more ethnicities)

      And don´t forget refusing to accept the artificial dychotomy between conservatism and spiritualism, but bringing them together. In short: islam in all its complete beauty.

  4. A beautiful article by Sheikh Ramadan. Beautiful because it is profound, and is clear the Professor has treaded this Path (of fragility) to God himself.

    In the end, we will not let go of the “I” (or the ego) – which is an illusory “I” – until we have submitted fully and unconditionally our whole being to God, until we have accepted to die while we are is still alive. Such as the Prophet (SAW) said: ‘die before your die’.

    Letting go completely and accepting our nothingness and God’s “Everythingness”; accepting God’s complete ownership of us and therefore that He can do whatever he wishes with us, is the most difficult thing; but this is precisely the essence of Islam.

    It is during hardship and tribulations that one truly sees the beauty of God and his mercy to His creation (even though that may seem paradoxical to one who has not treaded the Path).

    This is not, I think, knowledge that can be fully understood rationally (for rational thought only functions on the plane of relativity) but is a universal truth that must be lived and experienced personally (i.e. intuitively – which is the means to knowing the Transcendent). May God help us all in this endeavour.

    And God Knows Best

  5. M. Ramadan–

    May God bless you for giving me hope, for making feel like I am no longer alone in my reading and understanding of Islam. You have given me hope, for there is no greater or more powerful tool than hope.

  6. This post reminds me of this hadith:

    Allah says, “I am with those whose hearts are broken for my sake”

    and the poem:

    Sometimes in order to help He makes us cry.
    Happy the eye that sheds tears for His sake.
    Fortunate the heart that burns for His sake.
    Laughter always follows tears.
    Blessed are those who understand.
    Life blossoms wherever water flows.
    Where tears are shed divine mercy is shown.


    Thank you for this reminder!

  7. The awareness of fragility also can bring along with it fear. How to keep the fear away and have a strong faith in God?

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