Saturday, April 09, 2011

Getting what you Deserve

We live between two very precarious and seemingly contradictory frameworks of self-identification: one being a type of self-loathing taught to us by the capitalist market that seeks to sell us any and all types of products to enhance our beauty, intelligence, stamina, etc. The other being a sense of entitlement whereby our excessive accumulation of things does not bother us because we truly believe we deserve all possible good in the world. It's quite the conundrum; on the one hand, we hate ourselves to the point where we buy absolutely ridiculous things for exorbitant prices hoping they'll makes us love ourselves. On the other hand, we believe we are at our very essence worthy of all of these things and more.

When we encounter difficult situations in any sense, our initial reaction is to say or think: why me? What did I do to deserve something so hard, difficult, and painful in my life? Perhaps we don't often think about the essential problem from which these thoughts spring - i.e. that we are somehow entitled to a life free of pain, or that we deserve a certain level of happiness.

The fact is, we deserve absolutely nothing. There is no "life-for-dummies" manual that dictates that good things will or should come to us regardless. There is no guarantee that anything you have now will last til tomorrow. I think one of the reasons we're so unhappy as a nation is that we believe we do deserve things, when we really don't. That isn't to say that we are all horrible people who have done things that put us in the "undeserving" category. No, but there is only one category - undeserving.

One of God's Names is "Al-Wahhab" which means The Bestower of Gifts. He gives us gifts for different reasons. He may give a gift solely out of love for His slave. Or He may see that His slave is far from Him, so He gives her a beautiful gift to bring her back to thanking Him.

Allah is also "Al-Razzaq" meaning the Sustainer and The One Who gives Rizq (sustenance). But there's a difference between this name and Al-Wahhab. Allah's Name "Al-Razzaq" insinuates that a person puts forth a certain effort to sustain him/herself, and then God allows that person's sustenance to be placed upon him/her. Whereas Al-Wahhab is a Name that indicates that God is the giver of gifts without toil, simply out of a love of His slaves.

If you think about some of the amazing and unexpected things that have happened in your life that you don't believe you really deserve, like having a beautiful healthy baby, or suddenly being able to go for Hajj when you thought you couldn't afford it, or whatever it is; those things came from Al-Wahhab. The Bestower of Gifts, not because you did something to deserve it. Rather, He is fulfilling His Name and Attribute through giving these things to you.

For me, it was my husband. For the life of me, I didn't understand why I deserved to be married to someone that was so perfect for me. Just months before I'd met him, I had totally given up on marriage and no longer wanted to pursue anything related to it. But Al-Wahhab was adamant about bringing him into my life because He knew it was a gift that I would be so grateful for. Alhamdulillah.

The point is, we need to understand that in essence, we do not inherently deserve anything. God says in the Qur'an: "If Allah were to punish men according to what they deserve. He would not leave on the back of the (earth) a single living creature" (Qur'an 35:45). Clearly, if God were to give us what we truly deserved, we would no longer be here.

In order to achieve true happiness and thankfulness that is sincere and lasting, we need to come to terms with our undeserving nature. We need to know that when something good happens to us, it's not because we have self-sufficient talents that have brought the event about or true "entitlement" to that good thing. Rather, it's because Allah chose this for us for reasons that we may not understand; He is the one who empowered us to achieve any of the good things in our lives.

When we accept that all good comes from God and reject the conceited notion that we have raised ourselves up through self-sufficiency, we can begin to embark on the journey of becoming truly thankful for every day of life.


Eye said...

like like like

Anonymous said...

I like it too! Mashallah :-)

Nauman said...

Nice - I have a similar post that I wrote a few months ago (sitting in the reserve). It's so true... nothing in life is guaranteed or given so anything we get is a blessing for which we need to be grateful for. Alhamduhlillah. :)

Anne said...

Brilliant!Just what I needed to reflect upon.I had tears rolling down where you explained Al-Wahab

Asmaa said...

I'm happy if any benefit came out of this :) Alhamdulillah.

Sammy said...

That was a beautiful post, Asmaa. It voices so much of what I have in my head and elaborates it further on.

Excellent interpretation of Al-Wahhab there!