I am currently reading the book Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart. I am only a wee bit into the book but so far so good, if you like her style of humour, which I happen to do.
Very early on in the book, I came across a passage that immediately made think of a concept in Islam known as qadr. Qadr is translated as ‘the divine decree’ or ‘the final decree’, basically an acknowledgment that all that is good and all that is bad comes from Allah.
When Muslims talk about qadr, inevitably we get on to topics such as free will, predestination, provision, predetermination, actions, intentions, responsibility, blame, and so forth. As can be imagined, much confusion arises for all involved in such not so hilarious debates.
Because of the complex theological nature of qadr, I am always eager to find simple explanations that help me to understand this Islamic article of faith better. One such example is the following passage from Hart’s book:
‘Life, eh?’ It’s a phrase I’ve heard myself and others say over the years, many times. It’s often only just audible, thrown away over a sigh, or comes at the end of a laugh. A phrase or tic, or jerk, or (and I beg your pardon) ejaculation reserved for significant moments. Times when you just can’t put into words the emotions and happenings of this weird and wonderful journey of existence. I recently said it on holiday with my friend, Nicky, looking out at a sunset over the sea, when she and I realized we’d known each other ten years to the week. We looked back at all we had wanted then, and all we had achieved. It was a lovely moment, and I heard myself punctuating the conversion with ‘Life, eh?’ When my little sister had a daughter, we sat with my newborn niece in our parent’s garden, where she and I had often sat as young girls thirty years before. We said together, wistfully, ‘Life, eh?’ It says everything without having to say anything: that we all experience moments of joyful or painful reflection, sometimes alone, sometimes sharing laughs and tears with others; that we all know and appreciate that however wonderful and precious life is, it can equally be a terribly confusing and mysterious beast. ‘Life, eh?’ – Miranda Hart, from her book Is It just Me?
I thought this was a brilliantly honest view of the myriad complexities that life offers, a view that for me encapsulates this thing we Muslims call qadr.
Here are three other good examples that I hope will add to the overall understanding of qadr.
The first example is a short video clip from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf:
The second example is another short video clip, this one from Imam Nouman Ali Khan:
The third and final example is a clip from the movie Parenthood (1989), starring Steve Martin. In the clip Martin (aka Gil) in starting to lose the plot in his life due to all the sudden changes happening. He’s talking to his wife, trying to make sense of it all, when Grandma suddenly walks into the room to offer here two cents worth of worldly wisdom:
Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Gil: [sarcastically] What a great story!
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry–go–round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it. – from the movie Parenthood (1989)