Rumi had said: “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” One must get through intense pain; follow the path of deep sorrow to be able to emerge from it and find the light that brightens up the soul. The heart is the location of pain and sorrow. This is, therefore, where light enters; the light of hope, a new way of looking at the world and a positive change in our outlook towards life.
The darkness of life must be lived through, the pain of the wound borne with fortitude. There is no option but to accept, not to fight the grief but absorb it within yourself. One must wade through the river of fire in the hope that one will get to the shore. Just as death is inevitable, so is grief. The debilitating pain can stop you cold in your tracks. What is the next step you should take; can you even live to the next moment? There are no painkillers to get us through this never-ending hurt. We try to run from and avoid it. Moments are dark, other moments are darker. That becomes the story of life. But in order to regain hope, one must continue to feel the intensity of pain, and experience the entire process. The depth of sorrow will ultimately enable feelings of joy and happiness. The road of grief must be traversed, even as we stumble, fall down and sometimes lie still and motionless. Only then can we emerge from and transcend grief. The latter will remain but some part of our broken selves would have mended. We will find new strength and resilience, an ability to support others and qualities in ourselves that we never knew we had. We can find a new value and meaning to life in the loss. The darkness of life must be lived through. This philosophy that soothes souls steeped in pain derives in its very roots from spiritual experience. It is inherent in the Holy Quran and in the relevant ahadith. The Quran recognises grief as a deep emotion for humans and advises them to hold on to hope and be patient when facing it, as they will soon be rewarded. For example, the Holy Book states: “So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief. Verily, with every difficulty there is relief. The pain of grief shall be replaced with ease and recovery as promised by God. Abu Huraira has narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “If God wills good for someone, He afflicts him with trials. This good could be the hope and change in our lives as we accept and live with the grief, however severe it may be. For some of our trials, challenges and sorrows in this world, our sins are expiated, as God promises as narrated in the hadith . The condition for this to happen is to have patience and believe in better times to come. Well-wishers often advise those experiencing sorrow to move on, to control their grief and not to weep. While these instructions are contradictory to advice from all trained psychologists, they are also different from descriptions of grief of prophets as stated in the Quran. Hazrat Yaqub wept for years, so much at the separation from his beloved son Hazrat Yousuf that he became blind. But he still voiced belief in God .
For Muslims then, as they grieve, taking as long as they need to, to an extent of healing that only they can know, they must not abandon their belief in their Creator. At the same time, people close to them cannot and should not decide the end of their grieving period. World religions address life and death extensively. All who accept and experience spirituality think about the meaning of these inevitable phenomena. Many Muslims think that their beliefs are unique. They might be surprised if one were to suggest that there is much in common between them and, for example, Hindus and Zoroastrians and even agnostics, when it comes to the meaning of life and death.Death is an extension of life, merely two phases of existence; one passes on from being alive in this world to the next, rather than passing away. The phase in this world is temporary, but the later one extends to infinity. Death is an end to the physical state of being but the spirit, freed of the visible and material cage, can soar to heights unimagined in the temporal stage. The world is only a temporary abode: the home is where our souls go when the breath leaves our bodies. Those who leave us have only run a marathon and won the race ahead of us: we shall follow soon. They have returned to God from whom all of us were ‘separated’ when we came into this material world. We shall return to Him as well. These are beliefs that tie diverse people together. In life, we make our differences prominent and sharp but find that comfort and solace can come from people of different faiths, when similar sorrows strike us.
(The author is EVS lecturer at Govt Higher Secondary School Kheelani Doda. The views, opinions, facts, assumptions, presumptions and conclusions expressed in this article are author’s own and aren’t necessarily in accord with the views of “Kashmir Horizon.)