#MiddleGroundPodcast – Meaning Is What Makes Us Truly Alive


[Direct download]

We come into the world with our eyes closed.

We have to open our eyes to find meaning and purpose, not just happiness.

All worldly happiness has limits and limitations.

ثُمَّ سَوّاهُ وَنَفَخَ فيهِ مِن روحِهِ ۖ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمعَ وَالأَبصارَ وَالأَفئِدَةَ ۚ قَليلًا ما تَشكُرونَ

“Then He constructs each person in their mother’s womb, then breathes into him something of His spirit. Then He endows you all with faculties of awareness: hearing, sight and feeling.Yet, for all of these gifts, you’re hardly thankful at all!”Qur’an, 32: 9

قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَنَا عِنْدَ ظَنِّ عَبْدِي بِي وَأَنَا مَعَهُ حَيْثُ يَذْكُرُنِي

وَاللَّهِ الَلَّهُ أَفْرَحُ بِتَوْبَةِ عَبْدِهِ مِنْ أَحَدِكُمْ يَجِدُ ضَالَّتَهُ بِالْفَلاَةِ

وَمَنْ تَقَرَّبَ إِلَىَّ شِبْرًا تَقَرَّبْتُ إِلَيْهِ ذِرَاعًا

وَمَنْ تَقَرَّبَ إِلَىَّ ذِرَاعًا تَقَرَّبْتُ إِلَيْهِ بَاعًا

وَإِذَا أَقْبَلَ إِلَىَّ يَمْشِي أَقْبَلْتُ إِلَيْهِ أُهَرْوِلُ

“Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said:

‘I am as My servant thinks of Me to him. And I am with him as he remembers Me.’

The Prophet further said:

‘By Allah, Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His servant than were one of you were to finding that which he holds most precious (the object of his search) in a waterless desert.’

God continues saying, ‘When he draws near Me by the span of his hand I draw near him by the length of a cubit.’

‘And when he draws near Me by the length of a cubit I draw near him by the length of a fathom.’

‘And when he draws near Me walking I draw close to him hurriedly’.” — Sahih Muslim, #2675

For other khutbahs and podcasts, see the Middle Ground Podcast.

Qadr For Dummies

The following is an account from one of the many counseling sessions I do in my role as imam. In this session we discussed some questions regarding qadr (often translated/understood as “predestination” but whose root is much closer to “measuring”) and God’s omnipotence, particularly in the face of human tragedy. The results from the session were found to be useful for this particular person and per their suggestion and permission, I’m reposting here.

Omnipotence as we often imagine it, as fragile and limited beings, is akin to a driver who has a stifling set of hands on the wheel and as thus, doesn’t let anyone else drive or participate.

Let us imagine another type of omnipotence: your child (4-years old) invites friends over to your house to play. In the process of playing they make a mess, spill pop (soda for Midwesterners), drop food on the floor, maybe even break a plate. Oh, and they also get into a fight. But is any of this out of your jurisdiction or control as a parent? No. Why? Because you have the power to clean it up and resolve their disputes. Likewise, even in the face of terrible tragedy, God has the capacity to take account (qadr) and to set affairs straight: reward or punishment as well as mete out justice and give recompense.

It is strange sometimes that we are unwilling to apply the same findings about the natural laws of the universe to other problem sets. Perhaps this is the failed results of attempting to divide life into sacred and profane realms. For instance we find all objects have mass, density, and gravitational pull. The larger, more dense an object is, the greater its gravitational pull. Likewise, the gravity of a group of 4-year olds playing, making a mess, breaking a plate and bickering over toys is trivial. But in the minds of those children, it is grave indeed. Thus, a parent is the suitable judge to arbitrate and adjudicate this scenario. Scaled up, one may understand who God is, what life is all about, how to process and compartmentalize life’s joys and sorrows, and ultimately know that nothing is outside of God’s capacity to arbitrate and adjudicate. As God says in the Qur’an, chapter 57, verses 1-2:

سَبَّحَ لِلَّهِ ما فِي السَّماواتِ وَالأَرضِ ۖ وَهُوَ العَزيزُ الحَكيمُ

لَهُ مُلكُ السَّماواتِ وَالأَرضِ ۖ يُحيي وَيُميتُ ۖ وَهُوَ عَلىٰ كُلِّ شَيءٍ قَديرٌ

“Whatever is within the heavens and the earth reflects the glory of God, and He is the Powerful and the Wise. [1] To Him belongs the control of the heavens and the earth. He alone grants life, He alone grants death, for He has power [qadr/qadir] over all things. [2]