There was once a man in Arabia who came from the market one day and decided that, on account of his good day,he would go into the mosque and offer his prayers of gratitude. And so he went into the mosque and left his untied camel outside. Upon finishing his prayers, the man stepped outside but alas, his camel was gone. In his outrage, the man shook his hands and raised them to the sky yelling, “I put my trust in you God! How could you let this misfortune befall on me?”
Perhaps the story of this man is what inspired one of my favorite hadiths (acts or sayings ascribed to the Prophet Muhammad):
“Trust in Allah but tie your camel first” (At-Tirmidhi).
I was prompted to write this post because I’ve noticed that alot of us tend to face difficulties with a defeatist mentality and a resigned “If it’s God’s will, then there nothing I can do about it” sigh. It isn’t that I don’t believe in divine will. It’s that alot of us tend to take the back seat in our own lives and ignore the fact that our input really does matter in the end.
Over and over again, I have seen people from my community stuck in situations and yet are too complacent to do anything about it. Here are some common scenarios:
Unfulfilling relationships? I’m stuck in this relationship, despite the fact that everyday I wake up everyday feeling like dying. This is God’s will that I am unhappy for the rest of my life.
Chronic illness? There is nothing I can do to improve my health or improve my quality of life. I’ll just keep on ignoring my health and wait for my death.
Injustice? I just have to accept that some people will step on me and de-humanise me. There is nothing I can do about it. I simply have to suffer in silence and accept that my suffering is God’s will.
However as a Muslim, I believe that complacency is as much a sin as the disbelief in Divine will. We should try our best everyday but if things don’t work out as we’d like them to, we should be grateful for the lessons learned along the way.
“And that man can have nothing but what he strives for” (Qur’an 53:39)
When things go wrong, it just means that this is an opportunity to re-think our lives and come up with better alternatives of living. As long as we have the ability to change that which is harmful to us, it is our responsibilty to do so. We were created with brains, hearts, hands, and feet in order to do enable us to make the best out of our lives and to leave the world better than we found it.
So, you trust in God-awesome! But have you tied your camel first?