In Search Of Wisdom
By Ahmad Raza
OUR age needs to rediscover the lost cultural resonance with the revealed words of God, which were spoken to the human species by a series of chosen prophets.
It has become ever more pertinent to reconnect with this common heritage of prophetic wisdom from all religious traditions of the world. This is a curious soul’s well-justified need based upon the past 300 years of man’s misconstrued historical progress modelled after a materialistic heaven on earth.
One can visibly see the social devastation gradually unleashed by the forces of unabated materialism on human cultures, on nature and on the earth in general.
What were the common attributes of the great prophets of the past? Firstly, they all were deeply connected with God. They showed a method to all human beings for an inward connectivity with God. They taught that an inner discovery of God can be witnessed if one knows how to invoke divine mercy.
The method these prophets taught was prayer and hymn. They taught men and women to call out to God at every instant of their lives, over and above the specific times of prayer and worship. The prophets taught everyone to look into the mechanisms of one’s ego. The application of this simple reflective technique would reveal the beauty of God.
The Quran has testified to this inner psychological connectivity when it states that God is nearer to man than his jugular vein.
The second attribute common to all the prophets and wise men was their unanimous and unequivocal refutation of evil and a programme for a simple, moral life.
Just look at the life of Gautama Buddha. He laid the foundations of a simple life. He advised his disciples not to harm any living creature on earth, plants and insects included, take care of fellow human beings and spend a life of reflection, self-control and meditation.
Now look at the life of Prophet Moses. He challenged the tyrannical rule of the pharaoh over Bani Israel. He asked the pharaoh to stop his atrocities and injustices targeting the Children of Israel otherwise he would face dire consequences. Moses was successful in achieving liberation for his tribe, who were suffering under the slavery of an unjust Egyptian king.
Moses always asked his people to pray to God, eat permissible food and be kind to parents. The great prophet would ask his tribesmen to engage in prayers at home and invoke the glorious names of God day and night.
Now just reflect on the words “jugular vein” employed in the Quranic verse. These are symbolic in both meaning and context. The safety and continuity of human life depends upon the healthy functioning of the jugular vein. Similarly, the spiritual and psychological sustainability of a person totally depends upon inner reflection on God.
The inner peace and harmony which has disappeared from contemporary civilisation can be restored if mankind could find its lost jugular vein, which is nothing else but a reflective reunion with our inner essence.
The revealed words of the Quran with which it opens its discourse with human beings are Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem, (In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful). The Holy Book introduces human beings to a God who is merciful and kind and closer to his soul than his jugular vein. These are the two defining attributes of God’s ‘personality’ in the Quran. In Surah al-Anam, God says that He has “prescribed mercy for Himself”. On the basis of the scholarly authority of Shaikh Abdul Quadir Gilani in his book Ghuniya-tu-Talibeen (the objective of seekers), a Hadith has been narrated by him, in which the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has reportedly said that this single verse of the Quran was brought to him by the archangel Gabriel who was accompanied by a procession of 75,000 angels brightly dressed in divine light.
Therefore, anyone hoping to seek God inwardly must invoke His infinite mercy and boundless generosity. All worldly mercies and generosities shown by human beings to each other are nothing but the smallest drop taken from the boundless ocean of divine mercy.
These inspired words of the Quran teach us a simple reflective psychological technique to uncover the centre of our soul. Once one gets access to the centre of one’s soul, one becomes quiet and calm and is in harmony with one’s inner world. All historical contradictions and psychological conflicts evaporate into thin air.
The symbol of the jugular vein tellingly uncovers our biological programming to us. It exposes the biological necessity to connect our egos spiritually with God. The symbol of the jugular vein tells us that God has not abandoned us. One can rely in one’s moments of joy and crisis, in rejection, in loss and loneliness, only on God. That calling out to Him and Him alone, incessantly, repeatedly, purifies us.
Then why run after the optical illusion of an earthly heaven, populated with the idols of greed, vulgarity, falsehood, lust and inequality?
Prophetic wisdom is nothing else but a lost treasure of mankind. It has never left the human ego because of its unique biological programming of being closest to and nearest to God.
The smoke of greed, which has been rising from the chimneys of technological civilisation for the last 300 years, has just marred this inner mirror. The mirror is there, the light is there. We need to take a small first step and see the difference.
Ahmad Raza is a social scientist based at the University of Management and Technology, Lahore