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Patience in Where We Differ, Qur’an 16:64-70

Photo by Irina Iriser on

In a way, you can pretty much consider this a follow-up to what I’d written on patience a couple of posts back. Back then, I’d mostly written out some of my thoughts on what brings a people together, as well as what separates them from a religious perspective. In short, it’s that patience and conflict can be considered at odds with each other: patience helps to bridge differences, needless conflicts can exaggerate them further. I wanted to take this a little further today and look towards what makes up these differences we have.

A Set of Signs

Like last time, this part looks into it from a religiously technical perspective, then switches it up into something simpler and gets less riddly. (Yes, I understand that’s not a word.) Let’s get to it then.

And We have not revealed to you the Book except for you to make clear to them that wherein they have differed, and as guidance and mercy for a people who believe.

Qur’an 16:64

What immediately follows from these verses are a number of signs that to me, allude to the differences we have and how it came about.

The Rain that Falls

And Allah has sent down rain from the sky and given life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness. Indeed, in that is a sign for a people who listen.

Qur’an 16:65

If you were to consider the life that grows as a result of the rain, it’s diverse. Whether we’re talking fruits or flowers or trees, there’s a lot. And yet, they all grow from the rain.

The water can be said to be the blessing of God with which life thrives and the life that grows can be said to be all the different types of good growing in turn. The differences we have can be thought of as something similar. It’s as if our differences have a single hinge that can be said to link us all. If two people are at opposite ends with how they believe children should be raised, the link might express itself as a common wish to have them grow up in the best possible way.

The Cattle that Feast

As we start to read the next verse, we find ourselves introduced to the cattle that eat from the life that grows,

And indeed, for you in grazing livestock is a lesson. We give you drink from what is in their bellies–between excretion and blood–pure milk, palatable to drinkers.

Qur’an 16:66

Sometimes we go through trials we didn’t want, only to find we come out of it as better people. All the sweat, blood and tears can bring about a version of us we didn’t believe was possible before. Different people undertake different journeys, each giving them a perspective we may not be even remotely familiar with. It’s not that they’re wrong, sometimes it’s that their response reflects their journey and what they’ve come to learn.

Alternatively, sometimes we get a little lost. The opportunities pass by, but they might be hidden behind the immediate attractions in life and our desire to run after them. We might feel the need to prove ourselves through our children or find an excuse to reduce the time we spend on them so we can spend more on ourselves. On one hand, we want to give our children the best shot at life, but our own lives get in the way instead. The life itself is pure, what we make of it might not always be the case. We eventually have to make a choice.

And of the fruits of the palms and the grapes– you obtain from them intoxication and goodly provision; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who ponder.

Qur’an 16:67
Photo by Elizabeth Tr. Armstrong on | We could share it, but we can be as equally tempted to eat some and store the rest for ourselves later.

The Same Message with Different Outcomes

And your Lord inspired to the bee,

“Take for yourself among the mountains, houses, and among the trees and that which they construct […]

Qur’an 16:68

Much like how life needs water to thrive, the bees were all inspired with the same message. Even so, the honey they produced would differ depending on the location they took from,

[…] Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down.”

There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colours, in which there is healing for people. Indeed, in that is a sign for a people who give thought.

Qur’an 16:69

Amongst all the differences we have are some shared truths that stand tall. When it came to the example of the palms and the grapes, I likened them to choices in which we can do good or bad. Now it’s about the differences that appear as we strive for the same end. Many of us can agree that everyone should have the right to an education, what we believe is significant for them to learn might vary or suit different circumstances. If a parent is skilled in design, it makes sense for some of this knowledge to be what he or she decides to pass onto their children, but this won’t turn out well for another parent who has zero experience in that field.

The Source of Knowledge

No matter what, the idea remains the same in every example. It needed God for everything to thrive,

And Allah created you, then He will take you in death. And among you is he who is reversed to the most decrepit age so that he will not know after knowledge anything. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Competent.

Qur’an 16:70

We began with a set of verses talking about the differences we have in our understanding, yet we end with a reminder that these differences ultimately came from what God taught us. When I likened the rain to be like the blessings of God, we might now say that the blessing itself was the knowledge we were given to make the best of.

Sincere Intentions

We each have a choice to do good or bad, but there’s this additional decision we have to make relating to the good we’d like to pursue. If someone decides to pursue business, another pursues medicine, and another pursues agriculture, I believe it’s inappropriate for either side to argue about which field is better, regardless of whether one actually was ultimately better than the other. This applies even to religious knowledge for those who are religious–it’s called arrogance yo. Money, health, food, morals–if any of them are absent, the rest is held back because we’re now having to divert our focus into whatever was missing. When they instead support each other, they cover for one another, they allow each other to be the best they can be without worry. When the people have a genuine interest in doing good, they’ll run towards wherever however they can once it becomes clear to them.

The way I see it, each of us has a direction, something we’re pursuing. Of them, some are actually striving towards the same end, whether or not we notice. Like you don’t need to be in specific career to be family orientated. When that’s the case, we can choose to look at their flaws, or we can instead choose to encourage their strengths through our own. Sure, we won’t always be there for them, but we’re not saying they can’t fill in the blanks once we’re gone either. Who knows, maybe they’ll come to recognise what we know exactly because we were an example of the good to be found there.

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on | Even roses feel ordinary when it’s the only flower in existence. That diversity brings about colour; people can appreciate the stuff we share.

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