Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Rizq (Our ‘Daily Bread’)
Rizq (our daily bread) has been guaranteed from preeternity. Why worry, then? Is not one of God’s names ar-Razzaq, “He who bestows sustenance”? And He has shown His kindness to every being from his birth, even from the moment of conception, by nourishing him first with blood, then with milk. Since everything is created by and belongs to God, man possesses absolutely nothing of his own; therefore it would be vain to strive to attract or refuse anything. The Muslim creed expressly states that “what has been destined for man cannot possibly miss him,” be it food, happiness, or death.
The overwhelming feeling of God’s all-encompassing wisdom, power, and loving-kindness is reflected in the Muslim tradition as fully as in some of the Psalms and in Christian tradition. The word ascribed to the Prophet, “if ye had trust in God as ye ought He would feed you even as He feeds the birds,” sounds almost evangelical. This deep trust in God’s promise to feed man and bring him up, as it developed out of the Qur’anic teaching, has permeated Muslim life. Sana’i said about 1120:
If your daily bread is in China,
The horse of acquisition is already saddled,
And either brings you hurriedly to it,
Or brings it to you, while you are asleep.
And even today Muslim intellectuals may say: “Wherever your riz is, there you will find it, and it will find you.”
The Muslim mystics often use the expression husn az-zann, “to think well of God,” which may sound strange to modern ears, but which means once more the absolute, hopeful trust in God’s kindness. God definetely knows what is good for man and gives bread and death, punishment and forgiveness according to His eternal wisdom. This attitude has been a source of strength for millions of Muslims, but it is not to be confused with the stoic acceptance of a blind fate, as it is usually understood in terms of predestinarian ideas. The faith in the rizq that will reach man was certainly carried too far by an early mystic who forbade his disciple to stretch out his hand to grasp a dried-up melon skin.
(Annemarie Schimmel. Mystical Dimensions of Islam. The University of North Carolina Press, 1975. P.117-118)