What I have learnt in forty years: "Four Words"
These above are some of the questions we possibly face or we contemplate. Every question is so comprehensive and does need an article; however, we will summarize and try to give you the gist of it using the following well-said quotation from the great imam of our age and eminent thinker Imam Bediuzzaman Said Nursi:
" I have learnt only four words and four phrases in forty years of my life and thirty years of my education: Point of view (nazar), intention (niyah), significative meaning (mana-i harfi), and nominal meaning (mana-i ismi).”
Let’s discuss the first one, and see how we can find answer those above. First one is the point of view. It is significant to foster a positive point of view in every level of life. As our Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did, we should get the positive side of everything. We, as Muslims, regard the events happening around us and call them as the acts of God. They are all planned and controlled by our Lord. There is no action that can happen without the control and knowledge of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala). As a matter of fact, everything is good because Allah created them.
There are two kinds of goodness. First one, a situation may be good as it gives us benefit for both of our world and hereafter. Second one is the event and its goodness through the result. Sometimes we happen to experience or we think it is a bad or saddening situation like failure in an exam, illnesses, calamities or so. After a certain period of time, we understand and we thank God because we see that it is khair for us. Although we do our best physically and spiritually we may not achieve our goals sometimes. When we look beyond it and contemplate, we would understand that there is reason and wisdom behind it. We shouldn’t be dissatisfied. After doing as much as we could, we have nothing left but thank God. This will give us a stress free life.
The second point is the intention (niyah). It is clearly stated in the hadith of Rasulullah (SAW): “Innamal a’malu bin niyyaat”. In every action, a Muslim must have a good intention and should, first and foremost, be careful about the obligation and prohibitions of the deen. If somebody has the intention of goodness, it may turn out to be an ‘ibadah. With the intention of showing off, tens of rak’at prayers are nothing but sin. One should have good niyah before everything. Intention can turn a simple action into worship as it can do worship into a sin, God forbid.
Last two terms used by Imam al-Nursi are significative meaning (mana-i harfi), nominal meaning(mana-i ismi). Significative meaning of an object is the meaning related to its Creator. Al-Nursi says:
"Yes, everything has two aspects; one looks to the Creator and the other to creatures. The aspect that looks to creatures should be [seen] as a veil which shows the aspect looking to its Creator beneath, like a lace veil or a transparent piece of glass. In which case, when one looks at bounties, the Bestower (Mun’im) of bounties should come to mind, and when looking at the art [in creatures], their Fashioner (Sani’), and when looks at causes, the Truly Effective Agent (Mueth-thiral Haqiqi) should occur to one. (...) If material things are looked at on account of causes, it is ignorance, where if it is on account of Allah, it is knowledge of Allah."
Based upon this quote, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that we shouldn’t say “This flower is nice.” But we can say “This flower is created nicely.” We should look at the creatures, and see the Creator on the beautiful signs of creation. If one is not fortunate enough to evaluate things around him as the acts of God, he may fall in the trap of unbelief.
Understanding the significative meaning of beings, we contemplate and praise Allah (SWT). We accept that Allah has created them all and he is the Owner, Bestower and Creator of everything seen and the unseen. The nominal meaning is so limited. The beauty of a marvellous creature is not from itself. A bee does not know the rules and elements of chemistry to produce the perfect honey. He has never attended the college. They neither know geography and botany nor biology which he needed for the perfection of honey. If a man mentions a bee and its perfection without mentioning its Creator, it is certainly the lack of respect or insult to the Creator. Seeing the artist behind art, regarding the writer behind the book are the ways to understand the real maker and creator of those artefacts. Likewise when we understand He who created the universe, it gives us both happiness in the world and hereafter.
These four words are the key concepts to keep in our mind. While evaluating the challenges and opportunities before us, they surely will help us a lot.
* Explanation and the terms point of view (nazar), intention (niyah), significative meaning (mana-i harfi), and nominal meaning (mana-i ismi) are excerpted from the great collection of Risalatun Noor, Treatise of Qatrah written by Imam al-Nursi)