: Dec 28, 2017

A close friend I was talking to the other day brought up an ayah that was apparently hard to understand. …

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A close friend I was talking to the other day brought up an ayah that was apparently hard to understand.

فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَّا أُخْفِيَ لَهُم مِّن قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ جَزَاءً بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

“A person doesn’t know what has been hidden for them of coolness for eyes as reward for what they used to do.” 32:17

So after sharing what little I knew of the ayah I decided to write some reflections for the rest of you too. May Allah accept.

Perhaps a good way to think about this ayah is to deal first with what has been hidden. The answer in the ayah is من قرة أعين. “Coolness of eyes”. This is a phrase in Arabic literature that embodies some very beautiful imagery. It reflects a traveler finding refuge from a desert storm in a place where his eyes are no longer being tortured by the sand flying into them. In such a refuge the traveler has found a literal coolness for his otherwise burning eyes. It also represents the antonym for another phrase “warming of the eyes”. When the ancient Arab would curse someone by saying “may God warm your eyes”, he was basically praying that the listener suffer tears of great sorrow that burn his eyes. The opposite, that is to say, tears of joy would be illustrated with coolness of the eyes. I used to give the example to my students of two mothers at the airport. One seeing her son off as he flies abroad and the other receiving her son after he’s come back from a long journey. They both hug their sons, they both cry and yet One has cool eyes (tears of joy) and the other warm eyes (tears of sorrow). In summary, the phrase captures meanings of relief from a painful relentless storm and moreover it captures an overwhelming state of joy moving one to tears.
Some ancient poetry helps shed life on the phrase.

ألا هل أتى الأنصار أن ابن بحدل حميدا
شفى كلبا فقرت عينها
Has the news reached the helpers that Humaid Ibn Bahdal (some guy who killed a bunch of enemies, basically) has put the minds of Kalb (the tribe for whom he done killed) at rest thus their eyes may cool.

مضى فمضت عني به كل لذة
تقر بها عيناي فانقطعا معا
He departed (that means died) and with him departed every pleasure that could have cooled my eyes so the two departed together.

So add to the meanings of relief and joy, the meanings of closure, of a restless heart that wanted justice served to finally see that happen.

There are storms in your life that just don’t seem to let up. Perhaps there are people who seem to get away with every wrong and not seem to pay a price while you suffer. Perhaps you’re suffering from a sickness that is eating away at you physically and emotionally. Maybe you have a child in pain or a parent for that matter. Maybe there’s a loss in your family or some other terrible event. Your heart finds no closure, your eyes find no coolness. Perhaps things that used to make you happy don’t have that effect anymore. Life has become tasteless and miserable.

Allah tells you and me in this ayah that we have absolutely no clue what relief, what overwhelming joy and what closure lies ahead that has been kept deliberately hidden away from us like a surprise present. Though generally the coolness of eyes mentioned in this ayah can be taken to mean the rewards and relief of the afterlife, but it is a profound mercy of Allah that in its language He did not constrain that relief to the next life. Who are we to limit what Allah Himself didn’t?

But the ayah concludes, جزاء بما كانوا يعملون. And here in lies the treasure. This coolness of eyes that we could totally use is actually a compensation. For what you ask? What whatever good you’ve been doing consistently. You and I must never dismiss the little good deeds we do everyday. Any small act of kindness. Tell your children one by one that you love them and you’re proud of them. Do something nice for your parents, smile, pray, recite, give charity, go help someone you know, acknowledge someone’s help, soften your heart to people and to Allah and let that distract you from your storm. Let it remove from your conscience the constant dark clouds of pain and injustice. Just keep doing that good stuff. If you’re being oppressed and you seem to find no way to escape it, like Aasia who couldn’t escape the Pharaohs clutches, just know that your deeds, and you never know which one of them, will become your relief. How Allah will transform the kind words you shared with a homeless man ten years ago into your tumor not being cancerous, no one knows but Him. Relief, joy and closure are on their way. The premium is what we do with our waking moments.

I know this was long but I’m hungry and not in the mood to edit and mom made gosht.

Ok bye.

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