I hope the title was click-baity enough to drag unsuspecting peeps reading the wordpress Reader.
But anyways, I had intended to write an article about revelation and how it’s obviously difficult to believe anyone saying that “God has spoken” to them. The Prophets and founders of the major religions usually claim that they have a connection with God. But also it seems do every Tom, Dick and Harry. We have heard of cultists and new religions forming because the founder “has heard God”. And there was even the case of a woman who murdered her 4 children after “being told by God to do so”.
There is an interesting story that I had wanted to discuss to illuminate how we should really understand this.
In sufism there is a well-known man called Abdul-Qaadir Al-Jelaanee. He is quite a mystical figure in sufism. But there is one particular story in his life that I want to highlight.
One day he is travelling with his followers in the hot desert during the month of Ramadan (so they were all fasting). Suddenly a cloud comes and gives them shade and a spring and date palm appears. A shining ball of light brighter than the sun appears and a voice from the direction of the ball of light said, “O people of Abdul-Qaadir, I am your Lord! Eat and drink, for I have made lawful for you what I have made unlawful for others.”
Abdul-Qaadir’s followers went forward to eat and drink when he told them to stop and shouted in the direction of the voice, “I take refuge in Allah from the accursed Devil!”.
The cloud, light, spring and date-palm all disappeared and the Devil was standing before them, ugly. He asked Abdul-Qadir how he knew and he explained that when Allah speaks it is not a sound that one hears with the ears nor does it come from outside. Moreover the laws of Allah are constant and apply to everyone, and He never changes them nor makes lawful what is unlawful for the ones He favours (The Secret of Secrets, translator’s introduction, page 29).
So I heard about the woman who killed her children because she heard God from Lawrence Krauss in a debate with Hamza Tzortzs and I wanted to say to him if I got the chance that God would never order such a thing but then I remembered that actually He does. Two examples come to mind and it is when Abraham (on him be peace) gets told in a dream to sacrifice his son Ishmael (on him be peace); and Khidr (on him be peace) has to kill a boy because as he explains to Moses (on him be peace), the boy would have grown up to be a great torment for his parents.
Before I go into those two examples in more detail I want to frame it in terms of what the benefits and actual results of those two events were which are laid out in the Quran and compare that with a woman who was apparently told “to get her house in order” for the “end of the world”.
With the woman, Deanna Laney, she was part of the choir in the Assemblies of God church and the year prior to the murders she had told fellow church members that the world was going to end. In the end her actions led to the death of two sons, and critically disabling a third son, and then being classed as insane and put into a mental hospital for 8 years. And the world is still around…So, one has to wonder who she heard, and more importantly why she followed through what she clearly regrets (as shown by the fact that she cried in court). The thing that really strikes me is the arrogance of imagining God would speak directly to you. God is certainly free to do as He pleases but really He interacts with us extremely subtly. The reason why the interaction is subtle is because there are veils of “darkness” and “light” between us and God. Our hearts are so consumed with this world that we can’t pay attention and understand the subtle. But when we train ourselves to keep God-centered and to purify our actions, then we will be more attuned to what God is inspiring within us all time, though our hearts aren’t polished enough to reflect and understand those inspirations in our ego-driven lives.
Compare this with Abraham (on him be peace). At the age of 86 years he is blessed with Ishmael (on him be peace) and then when Ishmael reaches the age of discernment and able to work, Abraham gets a dream where he sees himself sacrificing Ishmael. He tells Ishmael about this dream and Ishmael tells his father that he should do what God has commanded of him. (The difference between this and the woman’s story so far is that firstly Abraham is an actual Prophet and Friend of God, and he consulted with his son about the dream so it was something that they were both prepared to do). They prepared for the sacrifice, and as Ishmael was laid down brow on the ground they were told to stop and that they had filfilled the vision, and a ram was sent to be sacrificed instead. This event signified a trial from God for Abraham and Ishmael as a chance for them to show their self-sacrifice for the sake of God (Quran 37:102-105). Because ultimately God is the only thing wotth striving for, since everything else is transient and dependent on God anyways.
(A special note: In the Old Testament this story is written but instead of Ishmael it is with Isaac, Abraham’s second son. However the wording in the Old Testament is inconsistent. Abraham got Ishmael when he was 86 (Gen xvi. 16) and Isaac at 100 (Gen. xxi. 5). Therefore Ishmael was 14 years older than Isaac, and for those 14 years was the only son of Abraham, and Isaac was never the only son of Abraham. Yet when speaking about the sacrifice the Old Testament says (Gen. xxii. 2):”And He said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah: and offer him there for a burnt offering…”)
What was the result of this trial? Of course Abraham and Ishmael were both honoured and Ishmael went on to sire the Arabs, whereas Abraham was blessed with another son (Isaac) who also was honoured and sired the Jews.
The next story I want to lay out is the one between the Prophet Moses and Khidr (on them be peace). Moses wanted to seek out Khidr as God informed him that Khidr was more knowledgeable than Moses. When Moses found Khidr and asked to accompany him, Khidr told him that he could do so but he won’t be able to bear with him (Khidr) patiently. But Moses assured him that he will be patient, so Khidr told him that he can follow him but not to question him about what happens until he makes mention of it to Moses.
So Moses and Khidr get on board a wooden ship, when Khidr then breaks a hole in the ship with an axe. Moses chided him for this as he thought Khidr did something wrong and was trying to drown those in the ship. Khidr reminded him that he wouldn’t be able to patient, and then Moses apologised. They continued until they came upon a child playing with other children, and then Khidr killed the boy. Moses was shocked and asked him if he has slain an innocent and chastises him for doing an evil thing. Again Khidr reminds Moses, and Moses again apologises and says if he questions Khidr again then they will part ways. They continue until they reach a town and the people would not offer them food when they asked. There they found a lopsided wall which Khidr then righted. Moses then asked Khidr why he did not charge for the service of fixing this wall since the townspeople had not been hospitable.
At this point Khidr told Moses that it was time to part ways since Moses wasn’t patient enough but then he explained to Moses the underlying reasons for all these actions. 1)The ship belonged to hard-working but poor men and their ship was in danger of being seized by an evil king who was going to use it for his own nefarious plans. Rendering the ship useless for the time being allowed the ship to escape being taken by the king (and Khidr likely had paid the men a generous fare which could then be used to repair the ship later)
2) The boy was in actual fact a scourge in society (likely murdered and stole) and was very ungrateful and a source of humiliation towards his parents. God desired that this boy be replaced with another son who would be righteous and loving towards his parents (who were also righteous believers).
3) The wall was hiding buried treasure which had been left behind by a righteous father for his now orphaned two sons when they reach adulthood. If the wall had collapsed the treasure would have been seized by the selfish townsfolk.
In all of these cases Khidr was in fact following the mandate of God and not his own whims, all to protect the people involved as a mercy to them for being righteous (Quran 18:65-82).
So, what are we to make of all this? The people with faith should remain faithful but should understand that they are flawed, and aren’t going to be used directly as instruments for God (plus it would be arrogant to believe we can be an instrument for God when we disobey Him all the time).
Finally God doesn’t want us to kill, but rather for us to cut our attachments and dependency on the world and the things in it. At least for the world not to be the primary focus. Another important point, the true servants of God don’t publicise themselves. They just are, and most of them remain hidden behind a facade of ordinariness.
I highly recommend reading the book Signs on the Horizons which is an autobiographical account of the authors interactions with various illumined and enlightened individuals in his life. It will give you a really good understanding of what I mean when I refer to faithful, clean and enlightened souls.
Anyways, this article got deeper than I thought it would but I hope I illustrated at least part of what I wanted to convey. If you enjoyed reading this article and found it informative, please leave a like. I welcome questions and discussions so please feel free to comment below. 🙂