Last night I felt rattled, confused, disoriented and isolated, like I often do.
I had gone for a light jog / walk though after a long time and that welcome feeling of peace which follows helped me seek out guidance without a million distractions of questions blocking my attempts to actually get it. I went towards the Quran, and on top of it found a copy of “The Essential Koran” which I forgot I had.
I was tired, and let myself get straight away to the translation rather than reading the considerable layers of explanation, background and introduction that I’m sure provide an extremely beneficial depth before reading. However, I didn’t worry about it, knowing that this book, or any religious volume or even a text of any worth, really, often takes many re-readings, reflection and sifting through to get at a piece of its wisdom.
I knew I’d (hopefully) be back.
In the few pages that I read, I felt oddly liberated in reading a version of the Quran that put the reader face-to-face with purely English. Perhaps it was the absence of two other languages that I can’t understand that made everything seem more accessible. Although some of the translation was similar to the more traditional copy of the Quran that I had, certain terms stood out to me.
The most telling, perhaps, was when what is supposedly Satan, is referred to as “The Obsessor.”
Being very aware and attentive to consumerism and its accompanying addictions in our lives these days, this term struck a chord with me.
The same happened when I read the simplest and most, well, endearing of verses:
“Worship nothing but God;
Be good to your parents and relatives,
And to the orphan and the poor,
Speak nicely to people,
Be constant in prayer,
and give charity.”
The sheer simplicity and succinct earnestness inherent in this verse sent waves of … well…. what feels like loving humility echoing out of me.
Really, what could be more simple yet more relevant today than ever.
Speak Nicely To People.
I know that if I actually apply that rule to everyone I meet, I would have to make a few changes. How liberating it would be to try to stick to just that, for a week, even for a day, and let go of complicated life-plans and self-images.
Worship nothing but God;
I know this sounds sacrilegious, but I always thought this was a bit arrogant.
However, when I read this yesterday, it was the nothing rather than the God that stood out for me.
I’ve always tried to look beyond logic when reading the Quran. I’ve tried to believe that things may make sense in ways they perhaps shouldn’t, considering how old the text is. Perhaps it paid off for the first time.
It felt more like a warning against our worshiping of things that don’t deserve worship, rather than a demand to worship God.
Again, consumerism came to mind. The psychotic addiction to information, the feeling of being “connected,” gadgets, the next new thing; brand identity / loyalty; advertising campaigns 6 feet high, imprinting superiority and desire into our very souls.
It’s all most people see outside on the street, inside on their TV’s, and now on the omni-present Internet. It’s a struggle to find a space that doesn’t inflict an insatiable desire for something that will never be permanent.
That is what we must not worship. The only thing to counter that is the truth of our own existence, of this world: i.e., God.