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“The Joys of Sorrow” – Two Sides of the Same Coin

September 19, 2017

Words Amatullah A..  
Photograph Alifiya S.


Amatullah is a theoretical physicist specializing in stellar astrophysics and cosmology, official international Book Fairy (@bookfairies_ke), Sam Kean and Sherlock fanatic and dabbler in the arts of philosophy. She lives on coffee and science, although she is hoping to try out Purple tea and see if that sways her to the light side.

Ashara is around the corner. Indeed this Gregorian month will see us welcome it. It is for the individual to decide what readiness and what preparation means for them when it comes to the case; though united in attempts to ready each other through practice, the reality is the journey is an individual one. Blog posts this month will explore what anticipation and readiness our writers have for the greatest test on Earth.

Two sides of the same coin

Joy is found everywhere; it stems from appreciation. When one appreciates the world around them, they understand that it’s beautiful, or inspiring, or in some way enchanting – that it changes them for the better.

Plato didn’t understand love, he thought the rational part of the brain makes one a better human. But, everything we have, everything we experience is a part of us – all parts of which are equally important. Plato did, however, believe that beauty comes from the appreciation of an attribute that the object or person we consider beautiful, has.

In that same way, what energy is to mass, and thunder is to lightning, joy is to sorrow. Understanding what sorrow is, what sadness truly is, helps us appreciate joy even more. There is a saying, “The saddest smile the brightest.”

I live in Kenya, in the city of Nairobi; I pass by a slum everyday as I head to work, the biggest urban slum in Africa. Every morning, I see children in tattered uniforms heading for school. They are always happy, chasing one another, playing with sticks and wires and building their own toy cars. Every day, I see at least one child staring wistfully at the school bus, pulling their backpacks tighter around them and I see the resolve to be better as they stiffen their jawline and wave back. They have seen the worst of childhood, they have been forced to grow up faster than anyone else – but I have seen their joy in the little things, I have seen them appreciate things that I took for granted, I have seen them smile despite them knowing that they have no idea whether they shall be fed that day, whether they will live for tomorrow.

Marriage is a time when people are both happy and sad. The bride is happy to be one with her groom, yet sad to say goodbye to the family that raised her. The parents are happy to see their boy so grown up, yet they are sad that his childhood has ended. Little children are happy because they get to play with the petals on the ground, the elderly are sad to see how fast time has flown by.

Death is also a time when one is happy and the people around him are sad. One gets to enter the gates of heaven, and the rest lose a person who brightened their days.

Karbala was a moment when both joy and sorrow were experienced. Sakina was wed to Abdullah by Imam HusainAS; HeAS knew that Abdullah would shortly be killed in battle, yet he asked Zainab to prepare for marriage. “O’ Zainab, you know that your brother has astonishing attributes. Your brother would like to have a marriage done at this time.”

The shohodaa of Karbala (AS) all knew that they were heading for death, yet they each took the musk given to them by Imam HusainAS and joyfully prepared to die for his happiness. We have an innate fear of death, but they welcomed it with open arms. They fought bravely, as no one who knows they will die in the next instant would ever be able to do. They grabbed their weapons with determination; they had to make their Imam happy. Remember the son who fought and asked his mother “Did I make you happy?” and who was answered with “I hoped I would see you get married son. But, today, nothing will make me happier than seeing you martyred for Imam HusainAS.”

We have been commanded by our MaulaTUS to sacrifice our insecurities and simply make our hearts palpitate to the gham of Imam HusainAS. In order to have the gates of Jannat opened for us, Rasulullah has given us just one instruction – “Man baka, aw abkaa, aw tabaka ala waladeyal Husain wajabat lahul Jannat. One teardrop, and the gates of Jannat are open. One teardrop and we have attained our Maula’s happiness (what else can be considered heaven?). One Ah! and the gates of Jannat are open. One Ah! and we have attained our Maula’s happiness (what else can be considered heaven?). One Ah! one teardrop, and we might just make someone else, who finds it hard to do both those, see that it isn’t and they might cry as well. One Ah! one teardrop, and the doors of Jannat will be wide open. One Ah! one teardrop, and we have attained our Maula’s happiness and helped someone else do the same (what else can be considered heaven?).

Chalo ae pyara azizo chalo.

Disclaimer: All views and opinions are the author’s, and should not be attributed to any organization or institute.

Amate Syedna TUS

Amatullah Z.


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