All Things Dangerous and Beautiful

Softly it falls. Each flake silently floats down to earth and creates a blanket of crisp, clean, white softness. It warms the eyes and brings a smile to the lips. It says ‘hush’ to the world.

For a moment each window will hold a face peaking outside to assess the progress. Hands will wrap themselves around steaming mugs, and woolen scarves will be pulled off of the back hooks of the closet.

It is snowing.

The beauty is astounding. Trees are weighed down with the heaviness of glistening and glittering cold.

Yet that same quiet beauty slows traffic to a crawl, pushes otherwise strong and heavy trucks into ditches, and collects as roadblocks against cars wishing to reach home.

The snow fell in Minnesota today. While most people stayed home and safe, I had an important appointment that could not be missed. I piled my three children, a peppermint chocolate cake, and an enormous bowl of potato salad into the car, took a deep breath, and began the treacherous trip to the suburbs.

I broke through plowed-up snowdrifts, skid across icy bridges, slid up and down ramps, and drove 30 miles per hour on the freeway. My hands gripped the steering wheel, as my tires tried to grip the road.

The contrast between the beauty on the sides of the roads and the ever-present danger was overwhelming. It was the beauty and danger of this dunya.

As we live our lives we are constantly surrounded by the beautiful and the attractive; it distracts us, stops us in our tracks, calls us away from our higher purposes. There is danger inherent in every part of dunya.

The most beautiful of things – a healthy, gorgeous baby – holds the danger of becoming more important to his mother than her Lord. At the young age of nineteen I met a woman who was the mother of four young boys. It was time for Asr and as I stood to pray, she said, “Oh, I hardly ever have time to pray anymore – they (the boys) take so much time!” I was devastated and decided then and there not to have children. How could anything be so dangerous as to take one away from her prayers? (No worries, I later changed my mind and now have two grown daughters and a teenage son).

The fun and friendly warmth of a good friend also holds the danger of dragging us over the edge of her cliff of sin. When we are ‘taken’ by a friend, or choose a cultural loyalty to a friendship over our faith, we lose: ‘Uqbah bin Abi Mu`ait and Ubayy bin Khalaf were very close friends. (Note: Ubayy bin Khalaf is the cruel Quraishi who tortured Bilal (r) ). One day, ‘Uqbah sat and listened to the Prophet.

When his friend Ubayy heard of this, he criticized and taunted him, and then asked him to go and spit in such a way as he would say ‘phhht’ in the face of the Messenger of Allah (s). What danger! Uqbah – embarrassed in front of his friend, perhaps trying to win back his friend’s approval – went and followed through on his friend’s instructions. He spit at the Messenger of Allah

His poor choice was recorded in the Quran and Allah revealed about the incident, {The Day that the wrong-doer will bite at his hands, he will say, ‘O! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger — Ah! Woe is me, would that I had never taken such a one for a friend. He did lead me astray from the Message after it had come to me! Ah! Satan is but a traitor to man!} (al Furqan: 27-29) So often friends know just what to say to pull us up, but they also know where to stick the pins in that can pop us. We must be aware, and oh-so-careful with our friends.

Money that is more than enough for our needs holds the danger of making us stingy and desirous of more. It is often said that the poor are more generous than the rich. Many a woman dreams and thinks of the day she has her own money and what she might do with it… “I will build a mosque… I will support a da`wah cause… I will give in charity… etc.” Then the money comes in a gift, or inheritance, or new job… and she buys more food, more junk, more throwaway items for herself and the people around her… and still she does not have enough money for her ‘dream projects’.

Fatima al Fahria lived in Fez in the late 8th century. She inherited money from her father and in Ramadan of 245 AH laid the foundations of her mosque. This is the Qarawiyyin Mosque – still a great mosque and place of learning in Morocco. She knew how to maneuver carefully in her dunya. Finding herself with money, she invested in her akhirah. Most people only ‘dream’ about the day they will have ‘enough’ to do so.

Whether children, friendships, or money – nothing can be more beautiful than our faith and our higher purpose. We must enjoy the gifts of Allah (swt) while gripping the steering wheel of life with a firm hand.

This dunya is filled with much that is beautiful and – like the snow – deceptive in its beauty. As we go slowly and with much thought through the snow, we must drive through our lives with great care. We must slow down, hold on to the wheel with both hands, and sometimes, get out and push.

Comment (1)

  1. ayesha syed

    beautifully written, useful advice, & clever analogy, thank you for the enrichment and the reminder.

    Reply January 2018 at 1:56 pm

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