~ Abai Kunanbaev ~

Word Thirty-Four

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All people are each other's guests;
man himself is a guest in this life.


From The Book of Words,
Word Thirty-Four

Everyone knows that humans are mortal, that death comes not only for the aged and that, having taken someone away, will never give him back. The Kazakh is aware of this, but not through deep reflection.

The Kazakhs say they believe in a God who calls everybody to account when they die; He requites good with good and punishes those who do evil. They believe that His rewards and punishments differ from those on earth: His rewards are infinite in their generosity, and the penalties He metes out are immensely harsh. But I do not trust their words, for they do not hold their faith sincerely and consciously. If they truly believed what they say, they would act according to their faith and would not know sorrow. Is it possible to convince such people of some other things if they are feeble in their faith even in regard to these truths? How to correct their ways? Can they be called true Muslims?

He who seeks to avoid torments in this world and the next should remember one thing: there cannot be two joys, two passions, two doubts and two sorrows in one's heart simultaneously. This is impossible. He who places earthly joys and sorrows above the cares and joys of the world to come is not a Muslim.

Now judge for yourselves what kind of a Muslim the Kazakh is. If he came upon two things, one designed for life eternal beyond the grave and the other for this life, and had to choose between the two, the Kazakh would certainly opt for the latter, hoping to get the former on another occasion, and believing that in any case Allah, in His magnanimity, will forgive him for making the wrong choice. Before the judgment of death, however, this man will swear that he has never exchanged worldly pleasures for the joys of life eternal. How can you trust him after that?

Man should be a friend to man. For everything in this life— birth, upbringing, satisfaction, hunger, sorrow and grief, the form of his body, the way in which he comes into this world and departs it— are common to all. In the other world, too, the same things await us all: death, burial, decay of the flesh and judgment. How do you know whether you will live another five days or not? All people are each other's guests; man himself is a guest in this life.

Is it good, then, to speak maliciously and quarrel because of wealth, envy another's happiness and give offence for mere trifles? Reverencing man but not God, praying not for one's own labor to be blessed but for the good things of life to be wrested from others—should one turn to Allah with such a request? Will the Creator humiliate and deprive one person for the sake of another? To have no sound reason, no education and be unable to put two words together, obstinately insisting on one's own way and trying to compete with the sage—is this worthy of the name of man? Is this really a man?

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