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The Power of Perspective
Jan 1, 2004

Can be restructured and converted into occasions that might work in the favor both of the individual and of humanity. Most of the people who have had a significant positive influence on history and who have provided guidance that is beneficial to humankind were exposed to many hardships and sufferings while fulfilling their missions. Those hardships and sufferings did not diminish their incentive - on the contrary such events improved their skills. How many prophets were there who had pain-free lives? How many pioneers do we remember who opened doors to new horizons without being jailed, tortured or exiled? These people perceived all hardships, illnesses, poverty, and exile as vehicles that helped them rise and reach success. These people never changed their stance and always displayed patience and tolerance toward what they were exposed to.

As human beings, we experience many situations that we do not expect and in which we do not feel comfortable. Sometimes we are criticized by others, caught by illness, exposed to unjust treatment, abandoned, imprisoned, or subjected to other unpleasant experiences. Some people may even lose everything they have. Most people become annoyed, depressed, or frustrated under such circumstances. Others, who have managed to look at life and events from a different perspective, can meet such incidents with patience, tolerance, and courage. They consider these events as warning signs that help them to stay on the right track, or they take on these situations to help them hone their skills and to help resist any current or future problems that they may encounter. As a matter of fact, the interpretation of incidents is a context related issue, and it is up to us to define the borders of the context.

Everything in the Universe is Beautiful

Everything, even things which appear ugly, has a beautiful aspect. In the universe, every incident is beautiful either by itself or because of its results. Although some occurrences seem unattractive and confusing, behind these appearances lie a hidden cause and a covert beauty. Who can point at a futile, unnecessary and unintentional creation in the Universe? Look inside the atom, examine the structure of the cell, study the human body, think about the ecosystem, the solar system, and the infinite space that we live in and ask yourself: Which one of these is futile, accidental or unintentional? We all know that a beautiful spring will follow a cold and blustery winter. For that reason, without merely looking at its cold face, we try to see the beauty inside winter and we try to imagine the beauty that will come after winter. If we cannot see that aspect, then winter is indeed a miserable season. Have you ever encountered people swearing at the wind and the rain? Without thinking about their real functions and benefits, such people get angry with the rain and the wind and swear at these wonderful phenomena because of the trifling harm they cause to their personal comfort. They draw the borders of the context according to their interests only, and interpret events from that narrow and shallow context.

Actually, bad results may follow a good event, while good results may occur after a bad incident. In the Qur™an, God states, œSomething that you do not like might be good for you, or something that you like might be bad for you. You are not able to know this; however, God knows.(2/216) Many times we have heard from others or we have personal experience that something that we wish to happen does not materialize; however, we eventually realize that the result was the most beneficial for us. Likewise, our memories are full of events which, at the beginning, we did not want to occur, but afterwards we came to understand that they were, ultimately, for the good.

We should not forget that we can obtain good results from our personal perception of events, i.e., from our perspective, our prayers, and our consciousness. Destiny looks at the true causes, yet we humans base our decision-making process on visible, tangible reasons. This divergence is the main reason why we at times can find it difficult to comprehend the justice of destiny.

Do Not Judge a Book by its Cover

History is full of great successes that followed desperate events. One example is the Hudaybiya Agreement that was signed between the first Muslims living in

Madina and the people of Makka, who hated the Muslims and who did not want them to visit Makka for pilgrimage. The signing of this agreement happened six years after the emigration from Makka to Madina. At the time of the agreement the Muslims were resting at Hudaybiya on their way to Makka to visit the Ka'ba. Those who had not accepted Islam did not want the Muslims to visit Makka. After several talks between representatives from both sides, the Hudaybiya Agreement was signed and the Prophet of the Muslims and the people around him had to return to Madina.

According to the agreement, those displaced Muslims who had moved from Madina to Makka and who were living in Makka at that time would not be released while the displaced people who had moved from Makka to Madina would be returned, even if they had become Muslims. Abu Jandal, a young Muslim who had left Makka to escape the torture his father had inflicted on him for choosing Islam appealed to the Prophet not to send him back to Makka. His father was the signatory of the agreement, representing the people of Makka. He said, œThis is the first person that you will return to us in accord with the agreement. It was a very hard decision for the Prophet to make. Umar, one of his closest friends and the second caliph after him, asked the Prophet why, if he was the genuine Prophet sent by God, did Abu Jandal have to be returned to Makka. Abu Jandal was crying and pleading: œAre you sending me back to be hurt and tortured? The Prophet was sure that God would never harm them and whispered to him, œBe patient for a while. Try to endure what you will be exposed to and ask God to be rewarded in return. It is certain that God will create a way out for you and the other Muslims who have no protector there. We can not break our promise given in the Agreement.

After the signing of the agreement, many Muslims from Makka, including Abu Basir, wanted to come to Madina. However, the Prophet did not allow them to, saying œA prophet never refutes his promise! Abu Basir found a place named Iss to live in after being denied entry to Madina. Other Muslims who had fled Makka also moved to Iss. The people of Makka were worried about this development and after a while they asked the Prophet to accept the Muslims in Iss. Thus, these Muslims, who were not to have been allowed to go join the other Muslims in Madina were finally given permission to do as they had wished, and the most irritating article of the Hudaybiya Agreement had now been nullified at the request of the very people who had created it, the disbelievers of Makka.

At the beginning, the Hudaybiya Agreement was perceived as being against the interests of the Muslims. On the other hand, this agreement stipulated that both sides would not fight for the following ten years. They put down their swords and enjoyed an environment that was conducive to dialogue. This situation helped the Muslims to express their beliefs. The people of Makka found an opportunity to learn about Islam and to closely monitor the Muslims and their daily practices, and to become aware of their honesty and righteousness. Important persons, like Khalid ibn Walid, a successful military leader, and Amr ibn al-˜As, a political mastermind, accepted Islam, in which they had earlier refused to believe, perceiving acceptance of this religion as capitulation to the force of the sword. Two years following the agreement, the number of the people who had accepted Islam outnumbered the Muslims that had accepted Islam in the first 20 years of Islam.

As can be seen from the above example from Islamic history, an event or situation that appears to be negative or destructive can result in a positive outcome. The Muslims of Makka were forbidden from joining the Prophet in Madina, but taking the situation in their own hands they changed their fate. The ultimate outcome was that, due to the ten years peace that followed the agreement, the number of people who came to believe in Islam increased more than it would have done had conflict continued. When one finds oneself in a negative or unpromising situation one should not despair; the result is never certain. This is a great part of faith “ we should not judge a situation and give up hope, we must always have faith in God, for He has our best interests at heart.