Chapter 3: Untry and Untry Again
Junnaid used to go for a pilgrimage every year to the Mohammedan holy place, Kaaba. It was not very far from his place, and Mohammedans are expected by their tradition at least once in a life to go to Kaaba; otherwise they are not complete Mohammedans. But Kaaba was so close to his place that every year he used to go with his disciples. He was the revolutionary kind of saint. In fact, any kind other than the revolutionary are not saints - just facades, actors, pretenders, and hypocrites.
The people in the villages where Junnaid had to pass were very angry with him. A few villages were so angry that they would not give him anything to eat, or even water to drink and would not allow him to stay in the village.
It was Junnaid’s usual prayer - Mohammedans pray five times a day - and after each prayer he would raise his hands to God and he would say, “I am so grateful to You. How should I express my gratefulness? You take care of me in every possible way; Your compassion is infinite, your love knows no bounds.”
The disciples were tired because five times every day, and in situations where they could see there is no care taken by God - they have not received food, they have not received water, they have not received shelter from the hot sun in the desert.. Once it happened that for three days continually they were thrown out, stoned, given no food, no water, no shelter; but Junnaid continued his prayer the same way.
On the third day, the disciples freaked out. They said, “Enough is enough. Why are you saying, ‘You are compassionate’, ‘Your love is great’, ‘You take care of us in every possible detail?’ For three days we have not eaten a single thing, we are thirsty, we have not slept under shelter, we have been sleeping in the desert, shivering in the cold night. For what are you being grateful?”
The answer that Junnaid gave to his disciples is worthy of being remembered. He said, “For these three days, do you think I cannot see that food has not been given to us, that we have been thrown out, that we have been stoned, that we are thirsty, that for three days we had to remain in the open desert.? Don’t you see that I am also aware of it? But this does not mean that he is not taking care of us. Perhaps this is the way he is taking care of us; perhaps this is what we need at this time.
“It is very easy, when life is going comfortably, to thank God. That thankfulness means nothing. These three days I have been watching. slowly, slowly, all of you have stopped thanking Him after the prayer; you failed the test. It was a beautiful test. Even if death comes to me, I will die with gratefulness. He gave me life; He took it away. It was His, it is His, it will be His. Who am I to interfere in His affairs?”
So there will be times when you will not find any moment of peace, silence, meditation, love, blissfulness. But do not lose hope. Perhaps those moments are needed to crystallize you, to make you strong. Be grateful not only when things are going good, but be grateful when everything is going wrong. A man who can be grateful when everything is going wrong is really grateful; he knows the beauty of gratefulness. For him, things can go wrong forever, but his gratefulness is such a transforming force, it is going to change everything.