I had heard quite a bit about “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. It piqued my interest but I never actually tried to look for it. When I walked into The Harvard Coop, the book’s pale yellow cover with what looked like a charcoal drawing caught my eye. I flipped it open and read. The first poetic essay was enough to convince me that I had to get it. Isn’t it funny how your heart just knows what it wants?
“Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world. But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you, So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also. And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all. Like a procession you walk together towards your god-self. You are the way and the wayfarers. And when one of you falls down he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone. Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot, yet removed not the stumbling stone.”
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that all crimes should be condoned. Nor do I think that you should put up with any sort of abuse. However, I do feel that we are sometimes too eager to punish those who have fallen. We look at those who are already on the ground and seem to say, “Hey, you fell.” They know they fell… Why are we not reaching out to pull them up?
Perhaps, we should remind ourselves of this verse, “If you punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith you were afflicted. But if you endure patiently, verily it is better for the patient.”
Our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was known to be extremely forgiving. We all know how cruel the people of Ta’if were when he went there to spread Allah’s message. He was persecuted; he was maligned; he was even struck with stones.
What would we have done?
He (peace and blessings be upon him be upon him) prayed, “O Allah, guide these people, as they did not know what they were doing.”
How many of us have had to face enemies who had tormented us and our loved ones for years and years? What would we do if we subsequently held the position of a leader who could order their execution in a blink of an eye? What would we do to the one who had murdered our uncle in cold blood, mutilated his body and then chewed on his liver?
“Today I shall say to you what Prophet Yusuf (peace and blessings be upon him) said to his brothers, ‘No blame on you today. Go, you are all free.”
Too often, all of us feel the need to inflict some sort of punishment on others because of their misdeeds. Why not? I mean, they totally deserve it right?
My fellow seeker, today I assure you (and more importantly, myself) this – more often than not, misdeeds may just be missteps. Trust me, compassion is never a waste. The inextricably confusing reasons why people behave the way they do or hurt us will somehow, someday be unraveled to reveal a spellbinding message. A message that would have been lost if we had given up hope.
You are exactly where Allah wants you to be.
In shaa allah, we will be blessed enough to be the humble shelter to others during the winter of their souls.
For we’d also never know when this season will grace our lives instead.