The Ocean of the Soul: Man, the World, and God in the Stories of Farid Al-Din 'Attar

By Hellmut Ritter; John O'Kane | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
TRUST IN GOD'S PROVIDENCE

Thus the practical response of the pious to the transitoriness of this world and its lack of worth compared with the hereafter is zuhd, worldly renunciation, an inner and to a great extent an outer detachment from earthly things. This detachment is likewise combined with the endeavor to raise oneself above the animal drives by extensively suppressing them and to construct, in face of the ephemeral and deceptive external world, a higher inner world which is oriented toward religious goals.

But this attitude as well is only possible if one can maintain one's physical life. A certain level of provision, even if freed of all unneccesary surplus, must and ought to be assured, and within this boundary earthly good and the satisfaction of natural needs are affirmed and considered permissible.


1

God has guaranteed this provision both for His bondsmen (surah 51/58) and for His creatures devoid of reason (surah 11/6). He provides for believers as well as unbelievers (cf. the story of Abraham and the gebr on p. 328 below), for the pious as well as the godless. Therefore man can and should put his trust (tawakkul) in the guarantee given by God and rely on the fact that God will confer on him life's bare necessities and nourishment for the body. In other words, he should not worry about acquiring his sustenance. Worrying is unbelief and a sin.

Wuhayb ibn Ward al-Makkī says: "If the sky were made of copper and the
earth of lead, and I then worried about acquiring my sustenance, I'd consider
myself to be a polytheist." (Qūt 2/9; Nahrung 2/312/32.471; Iḥyāʾ 4/236, Bo-
yān tawakkul al-muʿīl; Stufen
585/E.161).

If someone worries about his sustenance for tomorrow while he has food to eat for today, that is a sin which will be recorded in his account. (Qūt, ibid.).

-217-

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