Soul Cleansers

Anchored in al-Muzzammil

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There is this verse, and it speaks to the frailty of our humanity:

علم أن لن تحصوه فتاب عليكم فاقرءوا ما تيسر من القرءان • علم أن سيكون منكم مرضىٰ وءاخرون يضربون في الأرض يبتغون من فضل الله وءاخرون يقٰتلون في سبيل الله فاقرءوا ما تيسر منه

“…and Allah determines [the extent of] the night and the day. He has known that you will not be able to do it, so He has turned to you in forgiveness. So recite what is easy [for you] of the Qur`ān. He has known that among you are the ill; others traveling throughout the land seeking from the bounty of Allah; and others fighting on His path. So, again, recite what is easy from [Qur`ān] and establish prayer, give charity, and loan Allah a goodly loan. And whatever good you put forward for yourselves-—you will find it with Allah. It is better and greater in reward.” Notice, notice my fellow Type A Personalities (who believe “I can do it all”) how Allah interrupts this verse with a mention of His structuring our night and day. Why? With the sun’s rising, we begin our work day, and with its setting, we retire to our families for rest and relaxation. In between all that, Allah granted us but a few hours to accomplish what we’re set to accomplish. And Allah recognizes that often, we will fall short. We will leave our to-do lists half-checked; our goals half-met; our social lives suffering; our jobs consuming us; our prayers prayed hurriedly; texts and e-mails buried beneath fusillades of messages… And did Allah mention? Illness, travel and life circumstances will trip you over when you least expect it.

All this, and our Rabb invites us to abandon self-criticism and, instead, recognize ourselves in our humbler capacities: “He has already known that you will not be able to do it, so He has turned to you in forgiveness.” To be human is to burn out, occasionally. To be human is to overwork and break down and threaten to push all your bookshelves off your balcony and into the river after a torturous amount of studying (maybe that’s just me). He [سبحانه وتعالى] knew this about you before, and He forgave you before. Upon you is to humbly pick yourself up, and move on…

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