Laughter and Tears

By Imam Jamal Rahman

“That it is He who grants laughter and tears.” (Qur’an 53:43)

“God wants to see more love and playfulness in your eyes for that is your greatest witness to Him.” (Hafiz)

“Your tears are holy; they water the rose gardens in invisible realms.” (Sufi saying)

Pure laughter and tears are sacred, Sufis believe, because they are granted by God. By the word “pure” is meant that laughter is not scornful and the tears are not calculated to arouse pity. They both arise naturally and spontaneously from our being.

When we laugh fully and deeply about spiritual issues, it is said that it is the sound of a soul waking up to deeper truths!

Rumi exclaims, “The lover visible! the Beloved invisible! Whose crazy idea was this?” A sweet laughter erupts in us. It softens our frustration about the bewildering mystery of God. We feel a closeness to our Creator.

We are amused by the story of the fish in the Ocean eagerly seeking answers and asking elders, “Where is the Ocean?” This inner smile deepens our understanding of revelations in our scriptures. The Qur’an says, “We are closer to you than your jugular vein.” (50:16)

Even on the serious subject of death, mirth in our souls can bring us closer to the truth of Mystery. Sages point out that we are frightened that we shall pass on into non-existence. But if the truth be known, non-existence is trembling in fear that it might be given human shape!

In our world of opposites, we are bound to experience both joy and sorrow. Tears are inevitable. “Thank God! tears are colorless,” exclaim the Sufi mystics. “Otherwise my pillow would betray the secrets of my heart!”

Tears have a life bestowing quality. Wherever water falls, life flourishes. The anguish of our heart has lessons and insights to teach us. We grow in maturity and our spiritual muscles of patience, awareness and empathy blossom in us. However, caution the teachers, don’t run towards pain and suffering; just don’t run away from them.

May our laughter and tears help us evolve into the fullness of our being.

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