The Mystery of Opposites

By Imam Jamal Rahman

“And of everything we have created opposites, so that you might bear in mind that God alone is one.” (Qur’an 51:49)

“Nothing can be clear without a polar opposite.” (Rumi)

God has created for us a world of duality. We humans need opposites to make our way in the mystery of life. Contrasts give us clarity about the created world; they also enable us to make right choices; finally, by accepting and embracing opposites, we become more complete human beings.

Sugar is sweet in contrast to salt. Long is defined by short. Before and after follow each other. Male and female complement each other. These contrasts and pairs offer basic clarity and help us to understand the nature of reality.

The existence of good and evil awakens our power of choices. By making right decisions or learning from our mistakes when we lapse, we build our spiritual muscles. Without a devil to test the human, exclaim the sages, how else could we grow the divine attributes of patience, sincerity, humility and truthfulness?

Joys and sorrows are inherent in life. By accepting and embracing the contrasts of life, we become more mature human beings. Can I acknowledge both my joys and sorrows and hold them in my heart? The mystic Kahlil Gibran explains that the more sorrow carves into our being, the more joy our being can contain. Rumi elaborates further: don’t run towards pain and suffering; just don’t run away from them when they appear in your life.

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