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11-05-2011, 12:04 AM #1
MUST READ ST0RY Taqwa, and a Bowl of MilkBy Bilal Ali
In His name, the Exalted.
At a recent khutbah I delivered at the Benedictine University MSA musallah, I mentioned a story concerning the concept oftaqwa and guarding the gaze. I was asked several times to repeat the story, so I thought it would be beneficial to share it here for everyone to read. This is a story I heard many years ago from a teacher and I will try to relate it as true to the original as possible.
Once, a young man who had spent many years of his life in the pursuit of knowledge, set out on a journey in pursuit of a spiritual guide. His purpose was to find someone who could help him learn the reality of taqwa (God-consciousness). After a long journey, he reached the city of a shaykh who was known for his unparalleled piety and a keen ability to help others.
When the young man entered the shaykh’s gathering, he anxiously exclaimed:
“O Shaykh, I am a young student of knowledge. I have devoted many years of my life to the religion and yet I still find it very hard to guard my gaze. I have come to you from very far that you may teach me true taqwa and solve this malady forever.”
The shaykh smiled at the youth and replied, “If you are truly a seeker of knowledge, then you must be aware that nothing is achieved without sacrifice. Thus, if I am to teach you anything, you must first agree to engage yourself in some sort of service (khidmah).”
The young man readily agreed, as he understood that spiritual guides require khidmah as part of a students’ spiritual training. When he agreed, the shaykh instructed him thus:
“Every day, I send a bowl of milk to the other side of town to the home of a renowned scholar of this area. This scholar is a very dear friend and also my teacher, and I am thus very careful to send him the same amount of milk every day as a gift. Your first task is to take this bowl of milk to him.”
The young man thought this a simple task until the shaykh added, “But do not be hasty, for not only will you have to walk through the entire town to reach the other side, but I will send a servant along with you whose sole responsibility will be to watch if you spill any milk. If you do spill even a drop, the servant has been instructed to reprimand you for your mistake in full view of the public.”
The shaykh then proceeded to hand the young man a bowl of milk that was nearly filled to the top! Eager to complete the task as instructed, yet nervous of the consequences of potential mistake, the young man set out to the other side of the city accompanied by the shaykh’s servant.
Nervously, steadily, and very carefully the young man completed the task without mistake. When he returned to the shaykh, he said, “O my teacher, I have done as you instructed me. Now, please teach me how to guard my gaze and how to acquire taqwa.”
The shaykh exclaimed, “First tell me this: What exact roads did you take to the scholar’s house?”
The young man, confused, answered, “I ask you for your forgiveness, dear shaykh, but I was not paying much attention to the exact roads.”
Frowning, the shaykh asked, “What about the marketplace? When you passed through, did you notice my brother’s shop on the right side of the road?”
The student replied, “No.”
“Did you pass by my nephew’s home past the bridge? Surely you would have seen it, as it is the largest and most decorated house in the neighborhood.”
“I’m sorry, shaykh, but I did not see that either.”
“Well then, surely you noticed the beautiful gardens near the scholar’s house.”
“To be honest, I didn’t quite notice them either. I was too worried that I would spill some milk and be scolded in front of everyone to have been concerned with all those things. However, I assure you that had I not had the bowl of milk in my hand, I would have been better able to describe what I had seen on the way.”
To this, the shaykh smiled and exclaimed, “You have no more need of me then, young seeker, for you already understand taqwa.”
Perplexed, the student said, “I don’t follow. How did I learn how to control my gaze?”
The shaykh explained:
“That bowl of milk was your book of deeds. Just as you were too concerned about spilling the milk to be concerned about your surroundings, a person of taqwa is too concerned about his deeds and making a mistake in them to be concerned with the glitter and glamor of this world. Whenever you feel inclined to evil, remember that an angel accompanies you at all times just like the servant who watched your every step and move, and that the angel records every action that you commit. It is this realization that you are being watched at all times and that you will be embarrassed in front of all mankind for your misdeeds that defines the essence of taqwa. It is this mindfulness that will help you control your gaze.”
11-09-2011, 08:55 AM #2
11-13-2011, 01:16 AM #3