Despite what I still consider to be an immensely disappointing movie, Revenge of The Sith, the last of the Star Wars movies did have a few memorable moments. Most poignant, as far as the storyline is concern, was a scene that had very little special effects, very few movements and no dialogue.
It was the scene just before Anakin Skywalker turned to the Dark Side. Master Windu had gone to confront Chancellor Palpatine and he ordered Anakin to remain at the Jedi Temple and wait for his return. Anakin of course at this point, his mind was messed, torn, and confused... He is a Jedi who had just discovered that the Chancellor is the elusive Sith Lord. He had premonitions of his wife's death and the Sith Lord was the only person who had offered to help. The Jedi way of course was to let go and allow fate to run its course. But that is exactly the one thing that Anakin, a young man so much in love with his secret wife cannot bring himself to do.
The beauty of this scene is the way it depicts emotional suffering. Anakin, for all his obvious powers, cannot and should not attempt to change fate but when you are told there is perhaps a way to do so, how can you not be tortured by the thought that you should at least try? That thought ran through his mind as he sat alone at the Jedi Council's chambers. He stood up and walked to the window overlooking his wife's residence at a distance. As he stood there, unknown to him his wife too was standing by her window staring at the Jedi Temple with deep concerns about how her young husband was battling with his premonitions. When Anakin could no longer bear waiting, he decided to leave the temple in an apparent attempt to change fate. And the rest, as they say is 'history'.
Love may energise but may also lead you astray and weaken you beyond your imagination. There was once in my life my thoughts and emotions were so consumed by deep affections towards someone, so deep that it was disturbing me even during my prayers. I remember hating myself for having such feelings as I thought I was immune from all these.
Immune from these I was not and when I could no longer get them contained, I confided to a few close friends seeking their advice on what I should do. All except one, encouraged me to approach the person to get to know her better with a clear intention of marrying her. The one dissenting view however was Yoda-esque, a startling yet profound words of advice; "If indeed the feelings you have for this sister are as deep and strong as you described, do not marry her! You will always be weak."
Followed his advice I did not as a few weeks later, I personally approached the person. Fortunately, I was rejected. I did feel disappointed but it was very much diluted by the overwhelming sense of relief I felt once everything was off my chest. And because of that, I was able to move on, and the whole emotional episode soon enough became rather insignificant.
That was my first experience with 'love'. Quite an ordeal it was but a necessary and an invaluable learning experience indeed. "I really learned a lot, really learned a lot, love is like a flame, it burns you when it's hot" Probably, Nazareth was a tad too pessimistic here about love but to be outrageously optimistic like what Celine Dion once sang; "I'm everything I am because you loved me", can't be right either, can it? Loving someone can be exhausting... so does knowing someone is in love
with you but for some reasons you cannot and will never reciprocate.
The Prophet (may peace be upon him) explained: "None of you (truly) believes till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Hadith 15)
Certainly, the hadith tells us of the importance of loving the Messenger of Allah, but underlying it is a bigger spiritual message on how to manage and prioritise love. And this was further expounded by Imam Al-Ghazali in Book 36; on Love, Longing, Intimacy and Contentment, of his Ihya Ulum al-Din. Al-Ghazali cited the above hadith early in this chapter along with a few more ahadith that bore the same opening phrase, "none of you believes till..."
A literal reading of these ahadith would perhaps lead some to argue that the Prophet was rather histrionic; a trait characterised by a desire to be the centre of everyone's attention. Such an argument however, is both misleading and malicious. The focus here is not on the Prophet the messenger but the message. And the message is the religion of Islam in which God is Supreme, the Creator from Whom we came and to Whom we shall return.
Faith in God is central to everything. All our actions, words and intentions ought to be those that pleases Him, as taught and exemplified by the Prophet (peace be upon him). To love God is to do what pleases Him in accordance with the teachings of the Prophet. If that is indeed the love most dear to a person, his conviction on what is vice and virtuous will remain strong in all circumstances. But if the love most dear to him is centred around another person; a spouse, a lover, a parent or a child, he may be tempted to commit evil and sacrifice his faith and conviction in the name of love.
Sadly though, the world is filled with love stories where irrational sacrifices are made in the name of love. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a prominent example. A glorious love story, I contend, it is not but a story of supreme foolishness and of misplaced priorities. Why? Because in a period of not more than three days, Romeo and Juliet met and fell instantly in love, and from thereon were prepared to kill, denounce their respective families and take their own lives. How such actions therefore are worthy of applauds and admiration is just bewildering.
At least in Anakin Skywalker's case, he was in love with a former queen whom he had adored for many years. His action however remains wrong. It was wrong of him to let his deep feelings for someone; no matter how dear she was to him, cloud his judgment and lead him to betray his teachers.
Likewise for Heinz; of the famed vignettes by Lawrence Kohlberg. No matter how much Heinz may love his wife, to steal medicines for her would be wrong. Whether your wife lives or dies is beyond your control. And medicines are not magical antidotes. For the pharmacist to charge such an exorbitant amount of money is indeed wrong, but two wrongs do not make something right. In such difficult circumstances is where faith is paramount.
So, should we all then not let ourselves develop feelings and emotions towards anyone? Is falling in love such a terrible thing? Certainly not. But the focus should be more; in reference to Sternberg's theory, on companionate love rather than romantic and infatuation love. And as Muslims, we are asked to seek those who may bring us closer to God, and those who may help unleash the good within us. For a widowed single father-of-three for whom midlife crisis has come early, these are my hope and prayers exactly.
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