I Believe in God, but My Faith Wavers
A short talk given by M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen from Questions of Life, Answers of Wisdom Volume 2.
Question: I believe in God, but my faith wavers.
Bawa Muhaiyaddeen: You must have firm faith in the One who does not waver, the One who created us, protects and nurtures us, and gives us our food, the One who never forgets us, even if our father and mother should forget us. In this world there are people who think, “I am the one who earns the money. I am the one who provides the food. It is not God who is doing these things. They are within my control.”
Let me tell you a story, a hadïth. A long time ago, Prophet Solomon (A.S.) ruled over the jinns and fairies, the animals and reptiles, and all beings on earth. Allähu ta’älä Näyan had bestowed upon him the title of emperor, and as the symbol of authority had given him a ring with a seal. In those days Solomon (A.S.) reigned as emperor over everything.
Jinns, fairies, and all creations would bring him, as an offering, a share of everything that grew in the world. They would give him a portion of whatever they had earned or gathered. The Prophet Solomon (A.S.) accumulated all of this and thus gained a great deal of respect and authority because of his affluence.
One day Solomon (A.S.) requested of Allähu ta ‘älä Näyan, “O my Lord! O my Creator! I have accumulated vast amounts of food. Please give me permission to feed all the creatures in the world for six months.”
But Allah replied, “O Solomon! It is true that I made you ruler of the world. But I am the sovereign Lord over everything. I alone can feed the lives I have created. No one else can do this. Creating, protecting, nourishing, and judging these duties are Mine alone. O Solomon! You are depending on all the food you have stacked up, but that is just like hay. It is useless, nothing but chaff. The real food is with Me. I alone possess the nourishment that suffices.”
Still Solomon (A.S.) pleaded, “O Allah! Look at these mountains upon mountains of food. I have to give it away. So please give me permission to feed the lives for at least one month.”
But Allah answered, “O Solomon! You cannot feed My creations.
Only the One who created them can feed them. I have multiplied everything in the world a hundred thousand times merely to satisfy the greed and desire of the people in the world. What appears to you to be food is only food for one’s desires (nafs ammärah). None but I can really feed My creations. That true food is in My keeping. As soon as the portion that has been decreed for each creation is used up, that life cannot remain in the world any longer. This agreement governs every life. The real food and water is in My hands the water of My grace and the permissible food that truly nourishes. I have not given these into anyone else’s charge. They are Mine alone to give.” So said Allah.
But Solomon (A.S.) continued to beg for permission to feed the creations, if only for a week. Again Allah answered, “Not for a week, not even for a day would you be able to feed them. I am the only One who knows the hunger, or needs, of My creations. And with that knowing I feed them at the right times and with the right amount. You do not possess that knowledge.”
In spite of this Solomon (A.S.) persisted. Finally God said, “In order to make you realize what you are asking for, I will let you attempt to feed the creatures of the ocean for just one time.”
Prophet Solomon (A.S.) joyfully accepted, and summoning all the jinns and fairies, directed them to prepare the food. They cooked the food and piled it up in huge mountains, each one as high as the Himalayas. There were also mountains and mountains of uncooked food. The jinns and fairies were still gathering food and bringing it in, but so much food was piled up that the entire earth was covered, and there was no room left.
Then Solomon (A.S.) went to the shore, clapped his hands, and called out, “Come, O fish! Come O creations of the ocean! I have obtained permission from Allah to feed you this one meal today. Come and eat the food I have prepared for you.”
One fish appeared with its mouth open wide. When it struck the water with its huge tail and ns, the water splashed fifty miles high into the sky. Then it opened its jaws even wider and thundered, “Aaaaaii! I am hungry! I am thirsty! O Solomon, son of David! Give me food!” The whole sky trembled.
Solomon (A.S.) immediately commanded the jinns and fairies to feed the fish. They kept pouring food in, but the fish still bellowed, “Give me more! What you gave was only the size of a mustard seed to me!” Then the fish opened its mouth and with a roar sucked in every bit of the food that had been piled up, both cooked and uncooked. It even swallowed most of the jinns and fairies. Except for Solomon (A.S.) and a few jinns and fairies who escaped, everything had gone into the fish’s stomach. But still the fish roared, “O Solomon, son of David! I am hungry! I am thirsty! Give me food.”
Now Solomon (A.S.) pleaded with Allah, “O Allah! Please save me. Please control this fish’s hunger. O Allah, do something!”
And Allah said, “Feed him! Feed him! After all, you were going to feed all of them for six months, weren’t you? Surely you can feed one fish. Give it some food!”
“O God! All the food is gone,” cried Solomon (A.S.). “Even the jinns and fairies have vanished.”
“This is exactly what I warned you,” Allah replied. “Carry on with the feeding.”
“O Allah!” pleaded Solomon (A.S.). “There is nothing left. I am the only one here.”
And once again Allah said to Solomon (A.S.), “I told you that I alone can feed My creations. I warned you that you could not do it, but you insisted, so feed them!”
Now the fish started beating its tail again, and the waves rose sky high. “O God! Save me,” wailed Solomon (A.S.). “Forgive me, O Allah! It is true I rule the kingdom, but the wealth (daulat) and the benevolence (rahmat) are Yours. You are right. Whatever I have is merely hay.”
Then Allah sent down just one drop of pure clear water, and one tiny particle of food, each the size of an atom, which came flying into the open mouth of the fish. The fish exclaimed, “Ahhh! Al-hamdu lilläh (All praise be to God). O Lord who created me! You alone can satisfy my hunger. Now at last I am content,” and it closed its mouth.
After this, Solomon (A.S.) asked, “O fish! Are you the only creature in this ocean, or are there more like you?”
“There are many, many more. I live in just one corner of the ocean. My mother has seventy thousand children. I am the smallest. And our family is just one family. There are many, many more families.”
“Are you the youngest?” asked Solomon (A.S.).
“Yes, I am.”
“But you are so big!” Solomon (A.S.) exclaimed.
“My next older brother is seventy thousand times bigger than I am. The next is seventy thousand times bigger than he, and so it goes through all seventy thousand children. Our mother is seventy thousand times bigger than the oldest brother and our father is seventy thousand times bigger than mother. I was sent to eat first because I am the baby.”
“Al-hamdu lilläh! (Praise be to God). Are there really other families in the sea as big as yours?” asked Solomon (A.S.) in disbelief.
“Millions of them,” said the fish as it swam away.
After this, Solomon (A.S.), son of David (A.S.), received this explanation directly from Allah, “Allah is the Creator. You must accept that He is beyond all comparison. There is nothing like Him. You must know that this is true.”
Therefore, who has the real food? Only Allah. Only when that comes to you will you be satisfied and say, “Al-hamdu lilläh (All praise is to God).” Anything else you seek and accumulate in the world is merely garbage or chaff or straw. Allah has multiplied one into a hundred, a thousand, a million fold for the sake of our selfish desires (nafs), and that still does not satisfy our hunger. The only thing that can satisfy our hunger is His grace. Just a tiny atom of that suffices Whatever our eyes can see is but the hay of hell, hay for our desires. The real food and water is His grace. That is His rizq. That is the only thing that can be called real food. That grace is with Him. Therefore, if you believe in Him, you will have peace. If you make steadfast your faith in Him, you will not face difficulties, because whatever happens, you will be able to say, “All praise be to God (al-hamdu lilläh).”
Jeanne: I have sometimes played Solomon, but I feel more like the fish.
Bawa Muhaiyaddeen: Okay. There was a man who had been in meditation for a hundred years. But then one day, unexpectedly, he stabbed another person and that person died. So even though he had been meditating, he was a murderer and had to go to the gallows.
There was another man who had also been in meditation for a hundred years. He was like a starving bull. When he saw a young woman on the road, he suddenly grabbed her and seduced her. Despite his years of meditation, he was still guilty, wasn’t he? All the meditation he had done vanished in a moment.
Now, the one who stabbed was pronounced guilty of murder, and the one who raped also had to be punished. What virtue is there in being celibate for a long time if one day you commit a crime anyway? All that benfit will be lost.
Don’t cry. Use your wisdom. You have to be with good people and learn good wisdom. You must think with wisdom and go on the good, straight path. Only then will you get clarity. If you just go on an ordinary path or if you think you can learn by yourself, it will be difficult You can’t climb a mountain by yourself. You need at least a walking stick. On the path of God you can’t just wander on your own like this. You need a wise person to guide you. Then you can have some peace and comfort. Please don’t cry. Don’t cry.
July 1, 1979