Spiritual Morsels

God's Longing for Us

What follows is excerpted from Liqa’ allah by Mirza Jawad Aqa Maleki Tabrizi (Qom: Manshurat Bidar, 1430 AH), pp. 311-314.  These passages very tangibly and effectively compare our brazen insolence as sinners relative to God’s love and kindness for us.  Citing several reports from the corpus of tradition, the author very touchingly juxtaposes God’s love with our treacherous indifference toward Him, implicitly showing us how we can turn the awareness of God’s love for us as a vehicle for returning to God, leaving behind for good our lives of worldliness and sin.

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Should the governor of one’s town give one a fruit [as a gesture of kindness], it would be judged as wrong by reason should one in return show indifference. This sense of wrong grows proportionately should this act of kindness be repeated every day, and it grows to a more intense degree should he[1] add something other than the fruit to the daily gift.  This sense [of judging indifference to the one who gives us a gift as wrong and inappropriate] reaches its highest degree in relation to one who constantly gives to us all that which we are in need of for our sustenance or, even greater yet [as is the case with our Creator], all that which is necessary for our coming into existence and remaining in existence and all the concomitant properties and the superfluous features and all the things and the living agents required to sustain these gifts in every respect, so that it is no longer possible to enumerate even the general categories of these gifts, much less their detailed particulars, for all that is in our body, all of our faculties, our imagination, our spirit, our heart, our soul, and our intellect, and even all the beings of the realm of contingent existence[2]—in so much as all beings are interconnected with one another—are blessings bestowed upon us.  When the blessings reach this level, the iniquity of showing indifference to and snubbing [the one who grants the blessings] reaches an incomprehensible level.

[The status of the giver of the gift also matters.]  Should the giver of the gift be the ruler of the country, the iniquity [of disrespecting and snubbing him] increases in the judgment of reason in proportion to the superior authority of the ruler over the governor: the greater the degree of superiority, the greater the iniquity.  Therefore, when greatness reaches a level that speech cannot describe and that reason and those possessed of reason would be perplexed should they attempt to fathom it, the iniquity [of showing disrespect and indifference to the giver of the blessing] is compounded infinitely in two respects.[3]

And all this is considering merely the slightest degree of indifference and treachery.  As the magnitude of the treachery increases, the corresponding iniquity increases.  The treachery can be so enormous as to be judged as unacceptable by reason even in relation to one’s enemies.  Noble souls, for instance, deem as unacceptable the display of animosity toward anyone in his presence, even in respect to their enemy.  The unacceptability is worse if the enemy is careful not to openly manifest enmity on his part, and even worse so, if the enemy feigns friendship.  The iniquity of wronging someone intensifies if he shows affection toward one, and it magnifies infinitely if he demonstrates love in its most sublime form [which is true of God].

If you are unsure of God’s love, you need only to consider this saying by Him: “If those who have turned away from Me could know how I long for them and anticipate their return, they would die from their passion for Me and their body would fall apart.”

Also consider the report regarding God’s exultation at seeing His servant return[4] and also that which is stated in this divine saying (hadith qudsi)[5]: “O child of Adam, by your binding right on Me, I love you, so by My binding right on you, love Me.”

Furthermore, consider what God says to his prophet and word,[6] Jesus son of Mary: “O Jesus, how long shall I wait and how earnestly shall I beckon for people to return.”

Oh the regret!  Oh the shame!  Could someone but help!  How overwhelming are these words and how overwhelming are they in the estimation of those possessed of sound reason.  Glory be to God!  How shameless, how treacherous, and how evil are we.  I swear by His might, grandeur, and beauty that if we were truly human beings with integrity—alas, even if only there were in us an iota of integrity and reason—we would abhor ourselves to a degree above which no greater degree of abhorrence would be conceivable, and we would we pleased that our Lord should chastise us with a painful chastisement for all eternity.  Rather, we would plead with Him our entire life to afflict us therewith in abhorrence toward ourselves: How could we disobey Him in His presence after receiving such kind favors from Him and being honored with such noble treatment by Him.

It is precisely in recognition of these realities that the imams—may God’s blessings be upon them—said in their supplications, “O God, had I the endurance to suffer Your wrath and chastisement, I would not ask You to exonerate me, but I would ask You to empower me to endure it in abhorrence toward myself for disobeying you.”


NOTES

[1] The hypothetical governor of one’s town.

[2] The realm of contingent existence, as contrasted with the realm of necessary existence, is the realm of created being, the realm whose beings possess existence contingently rather than necessarily. The realm of necessary existence has only one occupant, and that is God, whose existence is necessary, meaning that rational reasoning deems it impossible that God (in the philosophical definition, of course) could possibly be nonexistent.  He must exist, for His nonexistence directly entails a contradiction.  The full philosophical discussion is obviously beyond this note; this little explanation is only intended to shine some clarity on the term contingent existence so as to render the present excerpt comprehensible to the reader.

[3] That is, in respect of the extent and the magnitude of the blessings themselves and the degree of greatness of the giver of the blessings.

[4] Imam Baqir is reported as having said, “Verily God is more elated at His slave’s return than is the [travelling] man who has lost his mount and his provisions in the dark of night and then finds them.  God is more elated at seeing His slave return than is that man when he finds his mount” (al-Kafi, vol. 2, Kitab al-iman wa al-kofr, Bab al-tawbah, p. 435, no. 8).

[5] A divine saying or hadith qudsi is a report in the corpus of tradition that directly relates the words of God as spoken by Him.  All reports in the corpus of tradition are ultimately the word of God, for they derive from the fountainhead of divine revelation and illumination.  The hadith quadsi, however, is different in that, like the verses of the Qur'an, it quotes verbatim the words of God.

[6] One of the common epithets used by the Qur’an and Islamic literature in reference to Jesus Christ is "the Word of God."  Jesus is the Word of God, the Divine Logos, the incarnate manifestation of God’s wisdom.