“Practice the pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.” – Author Unknown.
Living in this day and age has become similar to a filthy rat race to the top. Everyone is so busy doing something, getting somewhere, meeting someone that we forget to take a break and just inhale the air around us as opposed to the robotic breathing we are accustomed to. Just as everyone is quick to move forward in their lives, they’re even quicker in reacting to whatever may be tossed onto their path. We as a society have forgotten the importance of the ‘pause’.
In times of anger, we snap fizzle and pop, causing collateral emotional, and sometimes physical damage to those we love most. In times of sadness, our tears fall down our faces like nature’s very first waterfalls. When we’re in doubt, it’s almost like the whole world can hear our mind breaking, slowly and painfully. When our little hearts tucked away deep within the confines of our chest are gifted with happiness, it jumps and jives around, trying to tear its way out of our chests and into the wider world. And despite not being able to, that happiness shines on the faces of those it is bestowed upon. Bright, glowing faces of happiness.
The point here is that humans are vessels of emotions. And even though different people channel their emotions differently, there seems to be a recurring pattern with emotions when the ‘pause’ isn’t practiced in its correct moment. Time and time again, Allah attributes reflection to understanding. People that reflect on all aspects of life are those with understanding. In this instance, pausing can very well be used interchangeably with reflecting because when practicing the *pause*, time is given to *reflect* on the situation at hand. How and why things went the way they did. How to de-escalate the current atmosphere. A reasonable way to come to an appropriate solution. By pausing, we put our animalistic side of acting on instinct a seat on the bench, and let our humanly reason and logic shoot some hoops. Pause. Pause. Pause. And then, reflect. You can never go wrong.
“Will you then not reflect?” (The Holy Quran, 37:155)
As I sit here at 11:40pm on a Sunday night, I can’t help but think about the world of chaos we are living in. Everything from the vices present in the Western world, to the senseless killings that are the everyday norm in the Muslim world.
And then I think back to the days of the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. About how he (saw) lived, and how his companions lived. The things they strived for compared to what we strive for. The society they lived in, and how they faced the adversities that knocked the wind right out of their lungs. The way they worshipped, and how they lived when prosperity was bestowed upon them in abundance. And then my heart sinks just that little bit more, deep within the confines of my chest.
We, the Muslims of today love listening to the inspiring stories of those that came before us. It puts some strength in our spines and a little courage in our hearts. It gives us a strong sense of pride, history and identity. We look at the giants of our religion and are able to hold our heads high at what they achieved and everything they stood for. We know that they’ve set the standards, not only for Muslims, but for the whole of humanity.
You see, these men and women we look up to and admire so deeply knew what it was about. They knew the secret to a happy life, and they understood the essence of their purpose on this world. They knew when the winds of change blew, and how to repair the damage that was done. These great men and women understood the meaning of living in a metaphysical world. Metaphysics is something that transcends physical matter, or the laws of nature. The companions understood that their actions would cause a direct or opposite reaction in the world. They would sin, Allah would withhold something from them. They stood up for the rights of the oppressed and looked after the orphans, and Allah would bless them with prosperity. Their interpretation of the world was so different to our interpretation of it, and that is *the* defining difference between us and them. We live in a physical world, and they lived in a metaphysical world. They recognised that everything is from Allah, good or bad, and they realised that what Allah sends their way is a direct result of their relationship with Him.
Perhaps that is why they mastered the art of living and were granted such high ranks. That’s what makes them a cut, or two, above the rest of us. They strived for perfection, and we just strive for greatness.
“Every soul shall taste death”, is one of the many things Allah has promised the humans living on this earth, regardless of race or religion. Nobody can escape the grips of death when their time comes, no matter how old or young, how rich or poor.
Something I would like to bring your attention to is that Allah uses the word ‘taste’, or ‘savour’ as opposed to something like ‘experience’. You see, us humans, we taste the different flavours of life via the many experiences we undergo. We taste the sweetness of having family and friends around us, we taste the bitterness of tragedy that descends upon our lives, we taste well deserved victory after attaining something we’ve been trying to achieve, such as a degree or a good job. Every experience brings with it a distinct taste, a flavour of its own. And death is no different.
For lovers of all things good, death will be another distinctly sweet taste they’ll experience. Could there be anything sweeter knowing where they are headed and who they’ll be keeping the company of? And for those that derive pleasure from causing mischief on the land of God, well, they will also taste death with a distinct flavour. How you live on this earth and the flavour preferences you’ve chosen determine what flavour you’ll be served at the time of your death. The choice *literally* lies in your own hands. So ask yourself: do I want my departing experience to be a good or a bad one? And then live your life accordingly.