Earlier this evening I attended a story telling workshop in the Swedish city of Göteborg, and the workshop itself turned out to be a wonderful and inspiring experience. It was led by two young men who tour the world with their workshops called Rafael and Sahand.
So, the moment that hit me deepest and that I just have to share with you all is the moment when one of the participants was asked how he was able to overcome his alcohol and drug addiction. The question came after the workshop was over, and it was my friend who asked. Important to note here that he gave his answer to me and my two friends, so in other words, to three Muslims. During the workshop he had told his story about how he had been hooked for 20 years, and how he had just now been drug and alcohol free for just about 600 days. Just hearing that was special, because when you have someone in front of you who openly declares something of this magnitude, it is almost like hearing, “I came back from the dead.” Just heavy, heavy stuff.
He went on to tell his story, which was very inspiring also, but one that I wont tell here. It had to do with the temptations of falling back into addiction.
So, here was his answer to my friend’s question. He said “I fell back on my spiritual weapons. The weapons that everyone has but that they are not all aware of. These weapons are patience and humility. The next step was to kill my ego. Once I did these things, I was able to get back on my feet.” I was shocked. I never expected to hear such an answer. It was almost as if he was giving Dawah (Inviting others to Islam), except that he had absolutely nothing to do with Islam.
And I said to myself, “Wow, this guy is talking about Islam, but he has no idea that he is talking about Islam.” Here is a man who spoke of how spiritual weapons saved his life, who spoke about how he had to kill his ego in order to get rid of a deep addiction. These words from this man come to me during a period where I am constantly breaking down the Koranic message to find out what words are attached to belief. So lets break it down together.
The servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth in humility (25:63)
As I noted in my last post, humility is such an essential part of faith that God describes his servants as those who walk upon the earth in humility. Yet without ever opening the Koran, he found this “weapon” within himself.
No one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune. (41:35)
Patience is mentioned in the Koran no less than 90 times. It is also said that those who are patient get the highest reward (Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account 39:10). This reward is described here by the words of Sulayman ibn Qasim, who said, “the reward of every deed is known, except for the reward of patience which will be like heavy rain.”
Did not this mans reward fall down like heavy rain? His life was saved due to his patience. The heavy rain that came down was his new life.
Moving on, one of gods names is As-Sabur (The Patient One), and the word itself carries a very deep meaning.
The name is connected to the root s-b-r which has the following classical Arabic connotations :
to be patient, to be enduring
to endure trial or affliction with good manner
to be contented in trial or affliction without show of complaint
to make no distinction between comfort and affliction
to bear calmly, to persevere cheerfully
to be steadfast, constant
to restrain, confine, restrain, withhold from something
Patience is so essential to Islam that Sheikh Tosun Bayrak has this to say about Sabûr :
The meaning of Islam is submission; to forego one’s appetites, desires and will in the favor of the will of Allâh. To be able to submit, one has to be patient. In Islam, patience is a sign of faith…
Just beautiful that this man was able to find his inner strength and change himself for the better.
I finish here by saying that Allah, The Koran, and Islam are not only for Muslim but they are for all of mankind. Indeed, the Prophet (pbuh) was sent as a mercy to all the worlds, and Allah is the “Lord of all the worlds.”
Islam is not named after a founder, a person, or even God. No, it is named after an attitude, a feeling, an essence, and that essence is “Peace obtained by voluntarily submitting oneself to the will of God”, and in other words, killing your ego.
Islam is not a Muslim monopoly, it is a human monopoly, and it is to be found in every human being. This man is a clear proof of this. “The spiritual weapons that everyone has but are not all aware of.” These are his words, no? Do we not all say that everyone is born a Muslim, and that actually Muslim converts should be called reverts, because they are reverting to their true human nature? If this man ever heard about the real teachings of Islam, and “converted”, he would be the ultimate revert, because it was the Islamic essence, and thus his true human nature, that saved his life.
In this man I found the true Islamic spirit, and yet he had nothing to do with Islam. However is that really so? By name and affiliation he had no connection with it, but he for sure had the essence of it, and in the end, the essence is all that matters.
For if we really are to believe that God created all human beings, then we must also believe that all human beings are capable of responding to spiritual laws, and so us who are “believers” must never put down other people in any way, because belief is not about a name, or a title, its about the essence. We must simply be the guides and companions of all of humankind.
Heaven for this man was the start of his new life. May God bless him and continue to guide him. Ameen.