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He was a leading accountant who had a problem trying to uncover a case of embezzlement. He had spent three years trying to find a solution to it without success. In the middle of the night, he was awakened by an inspiration and he took up a pen and spent a long time writing what was in his mind. Then he went back to bed. 

The next morning, his wife asked him what he had been writing about. He raised his eyebrows at her in surprise. He went over to his desk and found that he had written out in its final and complete form the solution to the problem that had been plaguing him and giving him no end of unrest for years. 

Dreams carry inspiration, and it can come to us when we least expect it, without any preparation or particular causes. The dream of Egypt’s governor was connected with innate abilities and understandings. He is the one who said about Joseph: “Make his residence comfortable. Perhaps he will benefit us, or we will adopt him as a son.” [Sūrah Yūsuf: 21] He was right. His dream was true, and the fact that the Qur’an relates it from him shows that his worlds were true. 

Those who have the truest dreams are those who are the most honest in their speech. It is not possible to separate dreams from our waking lives. Dreams are a third eye on the world that lets us see things that we would otherwise never notice. They are woven from the various mental and spiritual meanings within us. They mix the future with the present and our experience with our wishes. This is the gift of inspiration that occurs in our minds, providing solutions and illuminating the way. The pen is the rifle that hunts down this fleeing and rare game. An inspired idea that comes seemingly out of nowhere is really a form of intuition and deep insight drawn from the subtle understandings we have within ourselves. 

Since animals do not possess reason, they rely entirely on inspiration in getting their food, mating, knowing friend from foe, recognising danger, and determining how to avoid harm. This is why Allah describes it as inspiration where He says: “And your Lord inspired the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (people's) habitations.” [Sūrah al-Nahl: 68] 

Human beings possess reason. Reasoning is a process of carefully studied thought with premises and conclusions. Reason is what makes us accountable for our deeds in this world and the Hereafter. We possess instincts as well. This is why the infant knows to seek out its mother’s breasts for milk and why it cries, feels joy and fear, and is able to learn. 

People also possess inspiration and innate skills. `Umar b. al-Khattāb, an inspired man indeed, once said: “Those who are not benefitted by what they think to be true will not benefit from what they know for certain.” He never said “I think…” except that it turned out to be the way he thought it to be. 

It does not matter whether we understand this spiritual power to be a sixth sense or primordial mind. Whatever the case, its nature is somewhat ambiguous, since it pertains to the soul. Allah says: “They ask you (O Muhammad) about the soul. Say: The soul is from the affair of my Lord, and humanity has been given very little knowledge about it.” [Sūrah al-Isrā’: 85] 

Inspiration is something we think to be right. It is truth without proof for it. 

Being in a foreign country can inspire us. Being a foreigner is a kind of deprivation, and those who are deprived see things differently and they derive meaning from a very personal vantage point. An original perception is not a false one. Its source is one’s inner genius. When an inspired poet enters into a new experience, he or she becomes detached from the surroundings and everyday things reveal deep meanings as if they speak to the poet about themselves and what they mean. 

Love is a source of inspiration. Spiritual and emotional attraction provides radiance and motivation. It makes people more receptive to being inspired. A woman with a vital heart and live emotional sense is receptive to inspiration and has greater intuition than a man. She is better able to discern what is unknown and uncover what is hidden. A mother’s heart is inspired about the child that stared its life in her womb, and this will remain the case even if that child reaches the age of seventy. The wife’s heart is her proof that rarely ever errs when it responds to concerns and fears and when it gives hope for the future. 

Women are inspired more because they love more. 

Having a pure heart makes one more easily inspired. Those whose hearts are pure speak truly. Those who are pious and pure-hearted are blessed with wisdom. Allah says: “O you who believe! If you keep your duty to Allah, He will give you discrimination (between right and wrong).” [Sūrah al-Anfāl: 29] A pure heart is like a polished mirror that reflects things as they really are. 

Supplication and nearness to Allah in a moment of acute awareness are sources of inspiration. We beseech: “O Allah! Inspire me with right guidance.” Allah is the one who gives inspiration, supplication is the path to attain it, and faith is what compels it. 

Peace of mind makes us more conducive to being inspired. It is the characteristic of the angels, and the angels are in an inspired state of being. Sometimes, seclusion gives us the ability to think clearly and makes us more receptive to Allah’s grace. No wonder that waiting in the mosque from the time of one prayer to the next removes our sins and elevates our spiritual status. It is also not surprising that observing a retreat in the mosque is a practice of Allah’s Messengers, and that Prophet Muhammad first received revelation after he had spent many nights seclude in meditation in the Cave of Hirrā’. 

I once spent many days pondering on a matter without making any headway. Then all of the sudden the solution came to me when I stopped thinking about the issue and stopped making any attempt to solve it. Do not put yourself under extreme pressure focusing on the problem. Pressure impedes inspiration. Haste is a characteristic of the devil. You should be cautious about adopting a solution in a state of desperation or despair. This is also the devil’s device. Allah warns us that Satan: “threatens you with poverty.” [Sūrah al-Baqarah: 268] 

And Allah also warns us: “Despair not of Allah's mercy; surely none but the unbelievers despairs of Allah’s mercy except the unbelieving people.” [Sūrah Yūsuf: 87] 

Let Hope Rule Your Heart Even if You Cannot See the Light

You might get inspired by seeing the people or hearing what they say or looking at the expressions on their faces. You might be inspired by nature in its beauty, vastness, and sublimity. 

New encounters, whether with a person, a book, a country, a vocation, or an experience, makes inspiration more likely and more substantial when it comes. 

There is no substitute for contemplation, study, and employing your mental faculties, but this is not enough. A hundreds of the world’s wealthy and successful people stressed that they relied on rigorous studies, but not alone. They also relied on something else which could be described as intuition or inspiration. 

Experience is the foundation. A constant habit of reading and study builds on that foundation. Age accumulates all of this. Though youth has more vitality, confidence, and productivity, age brings maturity and wisdom, and acuteness. This is a natural distribution of qualities and it engenders success whenever the two come together. Young people take the reins of initiative and change, permitting their elders to guide the endeavour and fulfil the role of supervisor and critic. 

Old routines kill the spirit and stifle hope. Long exposure to humdrum routines weakens people’s creative abilities and spiritual strengths. Their humanity is sapped and so are their dreams and aspirations for the sake of the unthinking efficiency of the machine. 

When a country adopt strict regulations, military law, and a harsh penal code, they get a brief period of acquiescence and submission. However, people continue to despair and are consumed by resentment. A generation grows up who do not understand the meaning of love nor friendship nor loyalty. 

Societies with young populations and high birth rates, where people have insufficient opportunities and are unlikely to realise a respectable living standard and proper accommodation for their needs, are societies which foster envy, resentment, turmoil and aggression. 

We need to condition our hearts, as well as our minds and our bodies, to resist provocation and prevent resentment and hatred from taking root, keeping our hearts pure. In this way, we will be in a much better position to be inspired. 

Inspiration cannot make sins lawful nor lawful things sinful. Rather, it is a flash of illumination that casts light upon something inside of us allowing us to express some point of wisdom and beauty that we know to accept, though we cannot explain the reason for it. 

It is like the case of the fireman who participated in controlling a fire and helped to rescue all of the people known to be in the building. However, he found himself compelled to go into the still burning building and go from room to room until he came to a room where he found a young boy unconscious from smoke inhalation where he had crouched by his bed in confusion fear. As soon as the fireman carried the boy from the room, its roof collapsed. 

That fireman had certainly not been a person whose heart was sick with resentment and envy, nor a selfish materialist. There was something within him that was pure. Be like that fireman and search for that small child whose life, by Allah’s leave, is in your hands. You may find that child to be closer than you think, or even within yourself. Return the smile to that child’s face.

Sheikh Salman al-Oadah

Source: (June 21, 2015)