If people go in search of something after they have found sufficient sources of livelihood and a life partner, it is the search of God. If they have gathered adequate resources for their families to survive, they go out and try to find God and attain spiritual satisfaction. They may join meditation groups, go out and find ‘specific mehfil’ to engage in supplication or simply become disciples of peers or sufis. I too was engaged in finding God and spent a good part of my life in locating him. God is said to be omnipresent, yet we could find Him nowhere. But as the Urdu proverb goes ‘Even God could be found by one who goes in His pursuit’ (Dhoondewale ko khuda bhi milta hai), we did not give up the search. We looked for Him everywhere from mosque to the pub, in religion and out of it. When those physical eyes got tired of His pursuit, we used the eyes of our mind. But all went in vain. God would promise to show up, but would elude us.
The Quran says: “When the servant of God calls Him, he acknowledges his prayers and He is closer to him than his jugular.”
We had no qualms in acknowledging all His attributes, His being omnipotent, the only one, the Sustainer of all the creatures, unique and neither born to anyone nor giving birth to anyone. Granted that He is everything, but the question was where is He? Perhaps our lifespan would have been consumed in this pursuit, but for our encounter with that beggar. He was standing there at the portals of the mosque, begging for a loaf of bread or a rupee coin. He had least to do with the philosophy of God and His pursuit. He was there at the mosque seeking some morsels of food. Yet none heeded his pleadings. One after another, all the devotees walked out of the mosque, considering him not even worth a glance. Yes, how could they lend their ears to him? He was after all calling God and they said to themselves: “After all, we are not God”.
Finally when the last of the devotee had departed, the gates of the mosque were locked. The beggar too walked out, barehanded with hunger and pain eating into his vitals. He kept walking till he passed by the pub a few meters from the mosque. His agonized pleas attracted a tipsy visitor emerging from the pub. He pressed a ten-rupee coin into his outstretched palm and walked away from him. The beggar cried: “Oh God! How surprising? How could we find you when you reside somewhere and want us to find you somewhere else?”
This provided me a clue to the God’s whereabouts. What I concluded is that reality is not what we desire to see it. It is something else. It does not change its form. It cannot be beautiful, tasteful and in a form that is acceptable to us. Having found God, I reflected upon the Hadith of the noble Prophet Muhammad (saw). Allah would tell his servant, “O my servant! I was hungry. You did not feed me. I was thirsty, and you did not quench me thirst. I was sick and you did not visit me once.” The servant would reply: “O my Lord! It is You who feed everyone, quench everyone’s thirst and nurse the ailing ones back to health. How could I feed you, quench your thirst and heal back the sick to health?” Allah would tell him, “O my servant! There came to you a hungry man, you did not feed him. There came to you a person who was dying of thirst. You did not offer him a glass of drink. There was another person who was ailing there in your neighbourhood. You did not visit him.
The beggar helped me find the whereabouts of God. It was so simple, so very easy, so much within my reach. But we in our pursuit dig deep through the complex philosophy only to fall into despair. The God is there everywhere waiting to be found out by us. Feed a beggar, visit an ailing neighbour and help someone in need or just simply sit at the feet of your mother. The reality of God will unfold itself before you.