Wednesday 31 March 2010

Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah)

When good things happen Muslims say Alhamdulillah or Hamdullah to express their gratitude and in Morocco I hear these words daily. One will say ‘the orange tree is full of fruit’ and another will respond ‘Hamdullah’ or ‘my mother recovered fully from her illness’ and the reply will almost certainly be ‘Hamdullah’.

But then I started to notice that this term is also used in answer to unfortunate circumstances. ‘My car broke down’, ‘Hamdullah’! ‘The man I love won’t marry me’, ‘Hamdullah’! First I believed that I had not understood correctly the meaning of the word and I started to question this habit of responding.

Muslims believe that Allah knows what is good for you. If your car breaks down, it is for the better because for instance maybe worse things could have happened if you had continued your journey. It is all about faith and gratitude that you are given what you need even if it doesn’t seem that way. The focus is not only on the occurrence itself, it is on the completeness of life. It is the art of allowing.

I first rejected this spiritual philosophy, I considered it a way of emotional inactiveness. Blame it on the greater good of things and relieve falls in your lap! In fact it is very easy and comfortable to repudiate bad fortune, to complain about it and to regard oneself as a helpless victim of circumstance. Being thankful for not receiving what I wish for or accepting lesser fortunate situations with the faith that it is always good for something, is so much harder and it takes great effort not to allow disillusionment and to remain conscious of receiving.

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