Muslim Microlessons are regular spiritual nuggets by Omer Mozaffar, who has received Islamic studies training both through traditional and academic sources, and has addressed theological, personal, social matters for college students of all sectarian outlooks.
How do you react when someone is given more than you?
A reality difficult for many people to internalize and submit to is that Allah gives of His bounty to whom He wills. We witness it as commonplace, in that different people even in the same family have different amounts of wealth, intellectual capacity, spiritual ambition, physical health, and lifespan.
What about differences in spirituality? It might be easy to comprehend that two different people have different ambitions regarding their spirituality. Is it possible to understand that — without being asked — Allah may give one person more spiritual gifts and abilities than the next? Consider that one of the titles of the Prophet, may peace be upon him, is “Mustafa.” He is chosen by God. We speculate whether he was chosen because he was worthy, or that he was worthy because he was chosen; in either scenario, he was chosen while others were not.
The better we are at embodying the truth that Allah is free to give of His bounty to whomever He wills, the less we will suffer from envy. Likewise, the more we can understand that when Allah gifts others, it does not mean there is less for us; then we wipe away envy even further. The more we can align our thinking to conform to His freedom to enrich, we can do the same with His freedom to debase. Ultimately, if we can reach a point in which *any* manifestation of Allah’s majesty — elevation or depreciation — increases us in awe or love for Him, we have reached a special point.
The risk of this approach, of course, is that we fall in to fatalism and acquiesce to oppression. In contrast, one of the functions of God’s majesty is to invite us to seek from it. The path of becoming one of the friends of God is a path we are invited to walk.
We know there are human actions that Allah blesses and actions through which He removes blessings. Usul al-Fiqh is a process of making applicable what He has expressed, through this Prophet (may peace be upon him) about actions. Shari’a is the collection of guidelines on actions (in contrast to ideas, sentiments, and goals); Fiqh is its human interpretation.
It also follows that Allah gives favor and disfavor to periods of time. We know that Allah gives different value to different days of the year as well as different hours of the week. Meaning, Allah favors certain moments for us to seek from His bounty.
What is a destination to aspire to: to be so enthralled with Allah’s grandeur that you are unable to turn your heart away from it. That level requires much effort. That bounty is something you can be given, Insha Allah. Then, you see not what Allah has given to someone else, as much as you are exhilarated to see that Allah has given.
And Allah knows best.