In living as a Muslim, I understand I have an obligation to serve God and to serve the world around me. However, I believe that as people we become selfish and idol-worshipers of our own souls. We give into our souls so much that we end up leaving God in search of our own desires. We turn a blind-eye to the world around us because we don’t want to admit that there is sorrow and suffering. Sure, the world is a beautiful place but there is much hurt, suffering and absurdity. Where are we? Why must we turn away from this sorrow and think everything is going to be okay? We are the world. We are the change that we want to see. I’m not perfect nor am I divine. I can’t tell you what will come next, but I know that the next stop for me will be the Earth. I, along with everyone else will be buried six feet under the ground dealing with the world to come. It doesn’t matter our status because at the end of it all we will be facing the same ground with the same worms and dirt. The one thing that we can only hope in living our lives is that we lived it purposefully. How does one do that if they just read and learn, but not truly put into action what they have learnt?
One of the many things that I find quite interesting in Buddhism and Sufism is the concept of annihilation. This concept of destroying one’s ego and nafs(lowly desires in Arabic) in order to seek a better understanding of one’s self and the world. In Islam, we would call this annihilation- zuhd. Zuhd is better understood as leaving the world or just taking what you need as if you’re a traveler. And as a Muslim we should live as a traveler and not cling too much to this earth. However, many of us do. We are too selfish to give our money to the orphan, to the man on the street, to the neighbor next door in need and etc. We just turn away. We live our lives. We live in luxury when we know the woman down the hall is starving and having to struggle in working two jobs to place food on the table for herself and her children. This is inhumane. Where are we at in this struggle of helping one another? We spend money loosely without understanding the mere fact that our money can be put forth in a better cause than spending on another pair of shoes and that outfit that we could live without. What is wrong with us? Where is our sense of humanity?
In trying to better myself, I thought about the issue of annihilation. One must cleanse himself/herself of the ego and just seek God. It’s not about fulfilling one’s desires, but about becoming closer to the Creator. It’s about doing what the Beloved would want out of us. It’s about leaving our desires for clarity.
Abu Yazid al-Bistami approached the Divine Presence and “knocked on the gate”. He was asked, “Who is there?” “I have come, Oh my Lord”, replied Abu Yazid. He was told: “There isn’t any place here for two. Leave your ego behind and come”. When Abu Yazid once again approached the Divine Presence and was asked who it was, he said: “You, oh Lord”.
Ali bin abi Talib( May Allah be pleased with him) said “I sat at the gate of my heart and let no one except God in”
What will you do today? Where will you go? How will you change the world today? Will you chose to annihilate yourself?