Visiting the dentist one day for a routine check up I was pleasantly surprised to find just how healthy and fit I really was. A first time patient in that clinic I was made to fill out a form that contained a long list of illnesses that ran up to two pages; diseases that eat away at the bodies of countless people the world over. Having filled out such forms before I’m sure this wasn’t the first time I was asked to declare my health publicly.
But as I ticked the “no” box for each and every major illness listed on the form that day I realized for the first time in my life just how lucky I was to have had such a great health. What amazed me wasn’t so much that I wasn’t suffering from any of the diseases mentioned but that how I often fail to take note in my day to day affairs the blessings that I enjoy, and shamelessly take for granted, as if they were a right I was entitled to have, instead of them being gifts that I should be grateful for.
Health is a great blessing, a free gift that I had been enjoying for as long as I can remember barring a few short intervals in an otherwise disease-free condition.
But sadly, the few times that I’ve consciously pinched myself to attention at this fortunate state of mine can be counted with the help of your fingers. And except for the memorized words that I mouth every morning I wake up from yet another restful sleep, recharged, and without a single major disorder in my body or mind, when was the last time I really sat down for a few minutes to count my blessings?
Has the thought of knowing about the thousands and hundreds of thousands of people who might have passed their nights away in misery suffering one or other disorder, if not multiple maladies that need constant care ever burdened my conscience, except perhaps for the usual sympathetic gestures we all make every now and then when met with disasters happening elsewhere?
There are God’s people crawling on the face of this earth precious limbs blown away by some stupid bullet, simply because they happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. There are people for whom the beauty of Sunrise is something that can only be felt, not seen and because of their disability are unable to feast their eyes on the beauty of a fresh bloom or the kaleidoscope of an autumn day. Others suffer all their lives from physical or mental disabilities or even both while the likes of me which number the bulk of humanity strut around hale and hearty, with all five senses working full time, drinking in the beauty of God’s creation anytime anywhere, without so much as a thank you, God. If we are not careful some of us might even fall into the nasty habit of feeling superior, just because God had chosen to test us this way. The fact of the matter is, we are all God’s creatures, being “things” made, and whether we have a single good leg or two legs, we’re all God’s creatures and are equal before the Creator. The deciding factor isn’t so much what we have, or don’t have, but rather how we deal with the different situations that come our way.
A Muslim I should be the first to know that whatever gifts that are given in terms of health, wealth, faculties, special powers, children, happiness, time, life, faith, peace, rain, and the countless other blessings, heavenly or earthly, are all favors that are entrusted to us; a temporary loan if you will, and one that can be taken back any moment. Whatever is not given or is taken away is also a matter that’s solely in the Hands of God, a trial from God; albeit a different sort, but a trial all the same.
Some of us humans instead of being grateful and happy with the merciful way God has treated us we go out of our way to invite harm to ourselves. It’s strange that the animal kingdom has more sense as you’ll never catch an animal in an act of discontent, disobedience or senseless violence while we humans walk this earth inflicting harm on others and on ourselves and get into all kinds of mischief ruining our health and the health of others and basically falling into all sorts of life threatening traps and harmful escapades.
Instead of being grateful to God for the precious health or whatever other gifts that are lent out to us (for a reason) we get too cranky at the first whiff of an obstacle. Such has been the case with me the few times God put me to a simple test. Like most people I know the tendency is to dwell long on the painful episodes while the good life that are generally enjoyed are put out of sight.
Let me please share with you the story of the man who paid a visit to a wise Sheikh. The man complained about his poverty and made a lot of noise about his dire situation. Having listened to the man’s grumblings, the Sheikh immediately offered the man a huge amount of money in exchange for some of the man’s body parts. As expected, the man refused the offer as his body parts were dearer to him than any money the Sheikh could offer. This way the Sheikh was able to convince the man that the poor man wasn’t so poor after all.
. Safi Abdi