Friday, September 27, 2013

How a Muslim sees the world

I need to come up with a research idea for one of my subjects. Initially, I felt quite daunted. Even though science fascinates me, even though I'd like to think that I do well in this area, I know that I'm not a scientist at heart. I cannot begin a research, continue with it, cope with rejection after rejection yet spend my entire life trying to find the answer to one (small) question. I have great respect for those who do, though. So, after I've swallowed my fear and started my research, I began to enjoy it. I'm researching into schizophrenia - a disorder with many factors influencing it. It is not merely genetic, environmental, or that the brain isn't wired correctly -- it is a mixture of ALL of those. We still don't know exactly what causes it, but there are lots of hypotheses, possibly that lots of different chemical pathways interact with each other and are dysfunctional. So, currently, I'm researching into the chemical pathways that potentially are going wrong. Which makes one think, when so many things could have potentially gone wrong, a person without schizophrenia (or other mental disorders) is very, very lucky. Because, all of those pathways are working correctly, all of the factors are matching up, everything just happened to have fell into their places. 

I know a few people who have schizophrenia in their families. When something is personal to you, it changes the entire notion. I am looking at this disorder from a scientific point of view. To me, its a bunch of chemicals and numbers. To them, its living with the symptoms every single day, not knowing when things will change for the better or worse. Some tiny changes in the brains of a few people (approx 1% of the world population) can elicit so many things from so many people - sadness, anxiety, fear as well as hope. We hope that its something we can eventually understand, as we have done with so many disorders in the past. But in the mean time, things will remain as it is. For people who have someone close to them suffering from schizophrenia, its very normal for them to want to shut it out. Whenever we have something difficult in our lives, the first response is the wish for it to go away, and when you know that it won't go away, you want to get away from it. 

But the important thing to remember is that we will always have difficulties in our lives. Regarding our life is this world, Islam says:
  • It's a test.
    • And surely We shall try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops... (2:155)
    • He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed... (67:2)
    •  and most certainly We shall try you all... (47:31)
  • Everything in this world is set up in accordance to the idea of a test, thus, everything is somewhat of an illusion.
    • Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion. (3:185)
    • And the worldly life is not but amusement and diversion; but the home of the Hereafter is best for those who are conscious of God , so will you not reason?
    • And this worldly life is not but diversion and amusement. And indeed, the home of the Hereafter - that is the [eternal] life, if only they knew. (29:64)
    • [This] worldly life is only amusement and diversion. (47:36)
    • But little is the enjoyment of the life of this world as compared to the hereafter.” (9:38)
  • This world is temporary.
    • On the authority of Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with both of them, who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) took hold of my shoulder and said, ‘Be in the world as if you were a stranger or a traveller along the path.” And ibn Umar would say, “If you survive till late afternoon, do not expect [to be alive in] the morning. If you survive till morning, do not expect [to be alive in] the late afternoon. Take from your health before your sickness and your life before you death.”(Recorded in al-Bukhari)
  • We need to make the best of this world, in making it a better place, even if our own lives are temporary. We cannot be selfish people who spend their lives behind closed doors and pray, because they are too much of a coward to face the challenges of the world. This is part of the test.
    • Anas ibn Malik (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “If the Final Hour comes while you have a palm-cutting in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it.” [Al-Abani]
    • Abu Hurairah narrated that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said,"When a man dies, his good deeds come to an end except three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, and righteous offspring who will pray for him." (Muslim)
    • Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "The good deeds that will reach a believer after his death are: knowledge which he learned and then spread; a righteous son whom he leaves behind; a copy of the Qur'an that he leaves as a legacy; a mosque that he built; a house that he built for wayfarers; a canal that he dug; or charity that he gave during his lifetime when he was in good health. These deeds will reach him after his death." (Ibn Majah — authenticated by Al-Albani)
  • We need to do our part in solving a problem we face.
    • Anas reported that a person asked the messenger of Allah, “Should I tie my camel and have Tawakkul (trust in Allah for her protection) or should I leave her untied and have Tawakkul?” the messenger of Allah, “Tie her and have Tawakkul.” (Hasan) [Jami At-Tirmidhi]

And the most important thing that I like reminding myself of is:

With difficulty comes ease. (94:5)

Since this life isn't always fair, the ease may or may not come in this life. But, in keeping our world view in mind, we know that, no matter what, will will definitely get ease. Soon.

So, every time we face something difficult, there's 2 things we need to do:
- Return to the Being who is in control of everything in the world and ask Him to guide us to the correct decision, make things easy for us.
- Take productive steps towards solving the problem. If one thing doesn't work, we try another. Then another, then another. Until it works.

Here's an article from ProductiveMuslim that I found while trying to find verses - I loved the tips given here!

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