In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful
It is one of the blessings of Ramadan in the summer that the day is long enough so that, even if I have a long day at work, I still have plenty of time to read the Qur’an. As I have been reading through the first half of the book, there are many verses that jumped out at me.
Yes, I passed by the infamous “Verse of the Sword,” and I didn’t even pay much attention to it. The verse did not make me want to go out and “slay the pagans,” because I knew that the verse had a specific context and was not a general call to kill other people.
No. The two verses, among many others, that jumped out at me were these:
And if My servants ask thee about Me – behold, I am near; I respond to the call of him who calls, whenever he calls unto Me: let them, then respond unto Me, and believe in Me, so that they might follow the right way. (2:186)
Tell My servants that I – I alone – am truly forgiving, a true dispenser of grace. (15:49)
Their power was palpable as I put the letters together to from the words on the page.
The first one is particularly powerful: that God – in all His Majesty, Might, Power, and Strength – is close to us. He is right there when we need Him. He responds to us when we call upon Him.
It is a comforting thought, to know that my Precious Beloved Lord is right there beside me. It is tough navigating the life of this world, with all its temptations, strife, trials, and tribulation. It is tough seeing your faith and that which you hold so dear smeared, attacked, and maligned based on misinformation and untruths. It is tough seeing the suffering of so many people around the world – including suffering at the hands of those who claim to follow my faith – and many times feel powerless to help them.
Through this difficult world, however, I am comforted to know that God is near me, walking with me, and standing next to me.
I know that many will ask, “Where is God with all this suffering?” Indeed, it is a difficult question for anyone to answer, and the answer to this question has vexed many a believer (and non-believer) throughout history. All I can say is that the Lord has a wisdom, and I may not understand this wisdom.
And just so that I am clear: I say this having suffered a terrible tragedy myself.
The other powerful verse reassures the servant that his Lord is always open to forgiveness and grace. That the door of His mercy is always open, and all we have to do is walk right in. No matter what we do in our lives; no matter how much guile is in our hearts; no matter how much sin we have accumulated, our Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. In fact, one of the biggest sins one can commit – in my mind – is thinking that our sins are bigger than God’s soothing mercy.
In fact, in the Qur’an, Jacob tells his sons: “Do not despair from the soothing mercy of God…” (12:87). The Lord’s undying love is always there for us, and one of its most glorious manifestations is His endless mercy and forgiveness. In fact, this month of fasting is one of the manifestations of God’s love and mercy.
Indeed, it may seem a bit odd: we willingly deprive ourselves of food and drink during the long, hot daylight hours, and this is because of God’s love? Yes.
In exchange for my forgoing food and drink, I am showered – as if in a rainstorm – with God’s forgiveness, mercy, and grace. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
Whoever fasts Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from God will have his past sins forgiven.
So, as far as I am concerned, I will pass up the Starbucks in the morning for some of God’s forgiveness and mercy. It is a tremendous return on my investment of hunger and thirst. And it is so comforting to know that my Precious Beloved, who loves me and is so forgiving to me, is so close to me. Kind of makes me smile.