By: Samsul Nizar
Professor and Head of STAIN Bengkalis
Glass and the heart appear to have no relationship. Although they initially appear unrelated, a closer examination reveals that they are related in existence. A glass is an object distinct from human beings. It is essential as a medium for humans who wish to imbibe. Moreover, the liver is an essential organ for human survival and a crucial human body component. Although the two are distinct in material, nature, and function, they are related and can reveal characteristics of each individual, including:
First, the goblet is a symbol of intent and a form of altruism (behaviour). The shape of the water will be determined by the shape of the vessel. If the glass is oval, the water will also be oval; otherwise, the water will be rectangular. And so forth. The water cannot alter the shape of the glass, but the water conforms to the shape of the glass. Such is the relationship between glass and water and the human heart and behaviour. Despite the fact that charity (behaviour) can often be modified to conceal the true intention, eventually, the true intention will be revealed. In this context, the Prophet SAW reminded the people: “Indeed, the deed depends on the intention, and each person will receive according to his intentions” (HR. Bukhari).
Intention resides in the psyche and motivates diverse human behaviours. When compared to a glass, a healthy heart will produce healthy behaviour. And vice versa. The intention (heart) shapes and colours behaviour, not the behaviour itself. This is a quote from the Prophet Muhammad SAW: “Remember that the human body contains a mass of flesh. If a chunk of flesh is tasty, then the entire body will be as well. However, if it is damaged, the entire organism will be damaged. This flesh mass is known as heart (qolbu)” (HR. Bukhari and Muslim).
Such is the heart’s urgency for the hue and form of human behaviour. Human behaviour is a concrete manifestation of the heart’s quality, despite the heart’s abstraction. This is because the heart drives behaviour in order to actualize the abstract aspect of the heart. Consequently, the heart must be kept clean and pure in accordance with divine laws. If the majesty of the heart is maintained at all times, its manifestation will result in virtuous conduct. However, if the heart is not well-kept and far from the truth, it will be readily defiled by lust, resulting in behaviour that leads to similarly filthy things.
Second, a vessel is comparable to a mouth. Comparable to the tip of the glass is the mouth. Everything is proportional to what is placed in the vessel. If coffee water is introduced, coffee water will be expelled. If milk is ingested, milk will be expelled. However, if poison is ingested, the poison will also be expelled. The Prophet warned, “Man’s salvation depends on his ability to control his tongue” (HR. Bukhari).
Thus, the human mouth reveals the quality of the heart’s contents and the genuine nature of the self. Although the tongue is adept at constructing arguments to justify itself and finding fault with others (opponents), the more the tongue “dances,” the more the heart’s contents will be revealed. The water coming out of a glass reflects the composition, nature, and quality of the water within. If virtue is released, then civilization’s health will be served. In the event that poison is unleashed, however, civilization will perish. If the civilization disappears, there will be no decorum left. However, civilized humans will be present to construct the anticipated civilization if the quality of the “water” that emerges is healthy and pure.
Third, the glass also represents the character of the heart. Therefore, the glass must always be cleansed to maintain cleanliness. If the spirit desires to be pure, it must always be purified with zikrullah (remind Allah). Allah reminds us of this with the verse: “Verily, Allah loves those who repent and purify themselves” (al-Baqarah: 222).
If the glass is not washed for an extended period of time, it will be difficult (if not impossible) to eradicate the stains. Even if the glass has only been used to fill with pure water, some dirt may remain. In addition, if it is filled with odorous and unclean water, the glass itself will be odorous and filthy. Rasulullah SAW said, “A servant’s faith cannot be upright until his spirit is upright. And until his tongue is straight, his heart will not be straight. (HR. Ahmad).
For this reason, humans are required to sanitize used glassware. Use clean water and other cleaning agents (soap and the like) to eliminate dirt-causing bacteria and stains. The longer you delay, the more difficult it will be to remove any dirt that has adhered. Thus, the human heart must be continually cleansed so that it does not develop into a severe chronic disease and destabilize society.
Fourth, the glass also represents consistency (istiqomah). It is tolerant of all forms of water but never submits to water. Instead, the water conforms to the vessel by conforming to its shape. Humans typically require reflection, particularly when interacting with others. Humans are typically open and adaptable in their interactions, without being co-opted by certain organizations. Respect is due to all human beings, but the character of idealism and faith should not be tarnished, let alone traded, for survival. Self-idealism in the light of faith and truth will be a component of secure interaction, as opposed to selling the truth for short-term gain. In reality, all will be disclosed in due time for the planted fruit. Allah reminds us of this through His words: “So persevere on the correct path, as you and those who repented with you have been commanded, and do not exceed the limits. Surely, He sees everything you do” (Q.S Hud. 112).
According to Quraish Shihab, the verse above is a command to be consistent in virtue and steadfast in following Allah’s and His Messenger’s guidance. This is because it was stated in the previous verse that the Children of Israel did not adhere to the Torah and argued about it. As a consequence of exceeding the limits established by Allah, they were scattered and dispersed.
Fifth, the glass also represents leadership. The glass is compatible with all varieties of water (nature, shape, flavour, good, bad, flavourless, bitter, and sweet). Everyone is accepted and welcomed as a comrade. This is the purpose of a glass that accepts all varieties of water that are poured into it. However, the glass exhibits consistency and dignity. Although it accepts all varieties of water, the glass shapes the water, not the water itself. Without damaging or “hurting” the water, the glass moulds it. This is how humans behave when in a position of authority. Accept all groups, rivals and allies, advice and insults, and other variants with discretion. All are embraced without diminishing in quality or utility. If the glass only accepts certain types of water and rejects others, the water will overflow, and the glass’s function will be diminished. Or water selects the shape of the glass it prefers and declines the shape of the glass it dislikes. This condition will allow water and glass to “flirt” with one another, depending on the intention of the proprietor of the water or glass. When this occurs, the function of civilization to create civilized individuals fails.
Indeed, a leader who is present for all people without compromising himself or his convictions in the name of tolerance and humanity. Tolerance is not the acceptance of all truths, but the recognition of differences without compromising the truth. Allah reminds us of this in His verse: “And We made them leaders who guide by Our command, and We revealed to them to do good, to pray and pay zakat, and they worship only Us” (Q.S Al-Anbiya’: 73).
Leaders must establish themselves as all-inclusive. His existence is comparable to a container for all water. However, the glass has a receptive personality but is steadfast in its function and responsibility. He acknowledges differences without disrupting their order. He differentiates to identify instances of similarity. He applies the equation to the objective of the ummah. This is a typical Prophetic leadership example. This was followed by subsequent Islamic leaders, including the khulafaurrasyidin. This pattern enabled the Islamic conquest of Syria and the Maghreb. The expanse of land has never existed except under Islamic rule. Interestingly, the majority of the population is not Muslim despite the widespread pattern of Islamic leadership. Nonetheless, they were all harmonious, tranquil, and capable of constructing a high civilization in their time. While the territory of power is shrinking after the grandeur of Islamic rule, typical human leadership does not value harmony as highly as the harmony of glass and water.
Sixth, the glass represents the human condition. Even though the vessel is open, the water must adhere to its confines. The glass will shatter if you pour heated water into a cold glass or cold water into a hot glass. Do not fill a container beyond its capacity; otherwise, water will spill out. This is the nature of the psyche. Without the support of religion and common sense, a heart that is too frigid or too hot is easily broken or ignited by certain conditions. The proverbs “don’t fish in murky water” and “don’t wake a sleeping tiger” both advice against fishing in murky water or disturbing a dozing tiger. This is due to the fact that humans have limited self-control, particularly when it comes to their pride and family. Although forbearance is infinite, humans have their limits. Allah narrates this in Surah an-Nisa’:28: “Allah desires to grant you relief, but man is rendered weak.”
Thus, Allah created humans as organisms with both limitations and benefits. The intention of lita’arafu is to complement one another. Do not be selfish and desire to triumph by yourself. Want to be esteemed but lack respect for one another. Want the freedom of expression but restrict the freedom of others. Indeed, pursuing the truth is a praiseworthy endeavour. However, self-righteousness is a despicable attitude and behaviour. The Prophet SAW reminded us of this through his words: “Whoever strives to maintain his honour (muru’ah), Allah will maintain his honour, and whoever feels sufficient, Allah will provide sufficient means” (HR. Bukhari).
Despite the clarity of Allah’s words, the clarity of the Messenger of Allah’s words, and the obviousness of the phenomena that occur, people frequently deny them. As if the word of Allah is limited to writing to be refuted, the words of the Prophet are limited to study to be refuted, and occurrences are limited to phenomena to be refuted. Everyone is blinded by their dominant worldly aspirations and forgets the significance of what occurred. He never feels as though he has enough until his mouth is covered with soil. However, when it is no longer useful, it must be discarded. There is nothing left but meaningless regret. Only awaiting culpability for all actions before Allah.
When the glass and water are in harmony, imbibing will be pleasurable. Life will be tranquil and prosperous when the heart and body are in harmony. Even though everyone agrees on the theory of glass and water or behaviour and heart, it is challenging to find in real life. There are in fact indications of distinctions between theory and practice, words and deeds, the corporeal and the mental, and other variants. It is becoming increasingly difficult to discover applications for glass in everyday life. In addition, all other written and unfolded verses must be accurately implemented. What a pity, it comes out that humans can only reflect on the glass and not on any other verses of Allah. Do you still believe that you are the most noble and flawless person? Obviously, the answer depends on the nature of each authentic self.
Wa Allahua’lam bi al-Shawwab.
Translated by Riska Saputra, S.Pd
Alumni from the English Education Study Program at STAIN Bengkalis.
Master Student at Graduate Institute of Network Learning Technology in National Central University, Taiwan.