The Journey of Existence: a Floating Ship in a Stormy Sea!

Early scholars set a parable for man’s journey of existence - a floating ship in a stormy sea - where the ship is the vessel of the soul and the storm is the life of this world. Under the raging of the wind and the striking of the waves, the ship is at one moment lifted high to the sky and the next sank down appearing to be lost beneath the waves. Likewise is the life of man. Threatened to be drowned at every moment, could safety for this journey be possible?

Rushing back to examine the sources of the revelation for a solution, people of knowledge inspire us to ponder on the story of Nuh pbuh and the ship. Despite the fact that the latter was floating on waves towering like mountains, Nuh and his people were delivered from this mighty distress. Should we not then explore the secrets of their deliverance in order for the believer to invest in them for his journey of existence?

There are in fact two main secrets which led to the deliverance:

1. Allah swt says: “And We carried him on a [construction of] planks and nails, sailing under Our eyes (and care) as reward for he who had been denied. And We left it as a sign, so is there any who will remember?” (54:13-15). It is not, then, the strength of the construction of the ship which can help. Allah swt by describing the miraculous construction of Nuh’s Ark as planks of wood and nails, put emphasis on this fact. The sole protection is Allah's as it has been stipulated in the Ayah above “Sailing under Our eyes (and care)”. The first secret of deliverance is then seeking to gain Allah's care and protection. The path to such favor is patience and much tasbeeh (exaltation of Allah's greatness). Allah swt said to the Prophet pbuh: “And be patient, for the decision of your Lord, for indeed, you are in Our eyes. And exalt [ Allah ] with praise of your Lord when you arise. And in a part of the night exalt Him and after [the setting of] the stars” (52:48-49).

2. Allah swt says: “And he [Nuh] said: "Embark therein. In the Name of Allah will be its moving course and its resting anchorage. Surely, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (11:41). From this Ayah, the second secret is revealed which is the remembrance of the name of Allah at every movement and at every rest. It is indeed the name of Allah which is the key to the blessings, ease and success. It is the key to the infinite horizons of the possibilities of good. It is the key which is capable to switch the impossible to possible. Remember the first Ayah revealed, “Recite in the name of your Lord...” (96:1). The recitation of the guidance and mercy which is the Quran was impossible for the Prophet pbuh, but became possible with the name of Allah. The believer is sailing in his journey in the name of Allah. He remembers the name of Allah when goes to sleep, and when he wakes, when he puts on his clothes and when he takes them off. When he eats, when he leaves his house and enters it, in time of intimacy, hence at every move and at every rest. Just to mention one example of one of the very many supplications taught by the Prophet pbuh to show the amazing effects of remembrance of the name of Allah: “It is stated in a Hadith that if a person recites the supplication when leaving the house and departing then there is an (unseen) proclamation that his need will be fulfilled and that he will be protected from any harm or injury. On hearing this particular supplication, Satan goes away from the place and refrains from troubling the reciting person.” This supplication is: “I depart with Allah’s name, relying on Him. It is Allah who saves us from sins with His guidance (the ability to do so).”

If the believer will then sail during his journey in the realm of the Sunnah, his ship, with the help of Allah, will certainly reach the shore of bliss in peace.

As for those who sail forgetting Allah and His remembrance, being ungrateful and arrogant, they would end up like the son of Nuh, “And it sailed with them through waves like mountains, and Noah called to his son who was apart [from them], ‘O my son, come aboard with us and be not with the disbelievers,’ [But] he said, ‘I will take refuge on a mountain to protect me from the water.’ [Noah] said, ‘There is no protector today from the decree of Allah , except for whom He gives mercy.’ And the waves came between them, and he was among the drowned” (11:42-43).

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