Maktub Online


Chapter 1

"Maktub" means "It is written." The Arabs feel that "It is written" is not really a good translation, because, although everything is already written, God is compassionate, and wrote it all down just to help us.

The wanderer is in New York . He has overslept an appointment, and when he leaves his hotel, he finds that his car has been towed by the police. He arrives late for his appointment, the luncheon lasts longer than necessary, and he is thinking about the fine he will have to pay. It will cost a fortune. Suddenly, he remembers the dollar bill he found in the street the day before. He sees some kind of weird relationship between the dollar bill and what happened to him that morning. "Who knows, perhaps I found that money before the person who was supposed to find it had the chance? Maybe I removed that dollar bill from the path of someone who really needed it. Who knows but what I interfered with what was written?" He feels the need to rid himself of the dollar bill, and at that moment sees a beggar sitting on the sidewalk. He quickly hands him the bill, and feels that he has restored a kind of equilibrium to things.

"Just a minute," says the beggar. "I'm not looking for a handout. I'm a poet, and I want to read you a poem in return." "Well, make it a short one, because I'm in a hurry," says the wanderer. The beggar says, "If you are still living, it's because you have not yet arrived at the place you should be."

Think of the lizard. It spends most of its life on the ground, envying the birds and indignant at its fate and its shape. "I am the most disliked of all the creatures," it thinks. "Ugly, repulsive, and condemned to crawl along the ground." One day, though, Mother Nature asks the lizard to make a cocoon. The lizard is startled -it has never made a cocoon before. He thinks that he is building his tomb, and prepares to die. Although unhappy with the life he has led up until then, he complains to God: "Just when I finally became accustomed to things, Lord, you take away what little I have." In desperation, he locks himself into the cocoon and awaits the end. Some days later, he finds that he has been transformed into a beautiful butterfly. He is able to fly to the sky, and he is greatly admired. He is surprised at the meaning of life and at God's designs.

A stranger sought out the Father Superior at the monastery of Sceta. "I want to make my life better," he said. "But I cannot keep myself from having sinful thoughts." The father noticed that the wind was blowing briskly outside, and said to the stranger: "It's quite hot in here. I wonder if you could seize a bit of that wind outside and bring it here to cool the room." "That's impossible," the stranger said. "It is also impossible to keep yourself from thinking of things that offend God," answered the monk. "But, if you know how to say no to temptation, they will cause you no harm."

The master says: "If a decision needs to be made, it is better to make it and deal with the consequences. You cannot know beforehand what those consequences will be. The arts of divination were developed in order to counsel people, never to predict the future. They provide good advice, but poor prophecy. "In one of the prayers that Jesus taught us, it says, 'God's will be done. ' When His will causes a problem, it also presents a solution. If the arts of divination were able to predict the future, every soothsayer would be wealthy, married and content."

The disciple approached his master: "For years I have been seeking illumination," he said. "I feel that I am close to achieving it. I need to know what the next step is." "How do you support yourself?" the master asked. "I haven't yet learned how to support myself; my parents help me out. But that is only a detail." "Your next step is to look directly at the sun for half a minute," said the master. And the disciple obeyed. When the half-minute was over, the master asked him to describe the field that surrounded them. "I can't see it. The sun has affected my vision," the disciple said. "A man who seeks only the light, while