Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim
Copyright © 2005 Jordan White
I have a beautiful piece of art in my home. It sits atop my fireplace mantel, and it is an object I treasure. It is a hand-carved wooden rendering of a phrase from the Holy Qur’an, done in the style of Arabic calligraphy. Translated into English, it would read, “In the Name of God, the [most] Compassionate, the [most] Merciful”.
I love this artwork not just because it is so lovely, but because the phrase is a reminder that, if God is the most compassionate, the most merciful, then I must strive to be the most compassionate, merciful person that I can be. His attributes should become my attributes, as least as far as I am able.
Why is it of utmost importance that I try to be as compassionate and merciful that I can be? Because both of these qualities lead me to knowledge. If I care deeply about someone, I will try and find out as much as I can about him or her. If I care about a cause, I will not just dash off a cheque and say, “There, that’s done”. No, I will also attend meetings and seminars, I will read every piece of literature I can on the subject, and I will search every conceivable source to find out everything I can. No longer will I accept someone else’s views on the subject. I will find out for myself, putting aside apathetic, dismissive attitudes.
As I gain knowledge, I grow closer and closer to an understanding of the truth. As I gain knowledge, I am able to separate the truth from others’ self-serving lies and propaganda, and to reject that which is put forth by those who have their own reasons for twisting the truth.
As I grow to appreciate and esteem the truth, I learn to discern when blame-shifting and name-calling are being used to obscure it. I learn to understand what is fair, what is equitable, what is just. When justice prevails, it provides a place where all people can feel represented, their grievances addressed, their needs satisfied. It provides a forum for conflicts to be resolved, for issues to be answered. And where there is true and abiding justice, there is a path to peace. Not fake peace, peace that’s bargained for, peace that’s negotiated away by the power-mongerers. No, it is the way to real peace, God’s peace.
For the pathway of my life, I can think of no better stepping-stones than these: compassion and mercy, leading to knowledge. Knowledge leading to truth. Then, the beauty of the truth leading me to an understanding of the need for justice. And, at the end of the pathway, the blessings, the rewards of peace.