There’s a powerful expression in the Quran. It’s captured in two words. Those two words are “Qurrata Ayun” meaning “Coolness of the eyes.” It is mentioned in a number of occasions and it is also found in a Hadeeth of the Messenger (sa).
Before I tell you how it is used in the sacred text, I want to tell you how the ancient Arabs used this figure of speech. We can’t really understand it literally as it means something beyond that.
The first thing I would like you to know is that the Arabs had two figures of speech. One is the “eyes becoming cool” and the other is “eyes becoming warm.” When somebody is shedding tears of sorrow, he is suffering from the worst kind of fate. He is in deep depression, sadness and calamity. If an Arab would look at him, he would say that his eyes have become warm.
One of the worst curses in the ancient Arabic language was: “May Allah make his eyes warm,” which means may he suffer the worst kinds of sorrows in his life.
The exact opposite of this expression is what? The eyes becoming cool. For your sorrows… for your sadness… for your pains to be removed completely and for you to feel peace, tranquillity and joy like nothing else.
I’ll give you a simple example of coolness and warmth of the eyes. Imagine you’re at the airport and there are two pairs – each of a mother and son. One mother is saying farewell to her son as he is flying off somewhere. And the other mother is greeting her son who flew in from somewhere. Both the mothers are crying. But for one the eyes are cool. And for the other the eyes are warm. One is shedding tears of joy as she sees her son after many years; her eyes are becoming cool. But the other is letting go of her son. This is what? The eyes becoming warm. I hope you understand the difference.
A few pieces of context before I go further.
A poet, who was also an assassin in Arabia, said that the eyes of my tribe will remain warm. He was waiting on a sand dune, waiting to kill the tribe leader that had offended his tribe. He made poetry in the meantime (I guess he had got a lot of time). Anyway, he said: “My tribe’s eyes will remain warm…until my dagger isn’t warm with his blood.” In other words, when I kill this guy, only then my tribe’s eyes will become cool. The rage, the frustration, and the humiliation that they felt would only disappear upon this guy’s death. “That’s what I’m here to do, to cool the eyes of my tribe.” So it was a means of relieving frustration, anger and ill-feelings. This is the context in which it is used.
I want to share a final yet beautiful context in Arabic literature where this expression is found. The Arabs used to travel in the desert and there they would experience sandstorms. And in a sandstorm, the Arab used to wrap his face up because obviously your face is being pounded with sand. That Arab was riding on a camel. Subhan’Allah, Allah (swt) has created the camel in a magnificent fashion. The eyelids of the camel actually trap sand and drop them. It doesn’t even have to blink. It’s got a screen in front of his eyes that captures sand and drops it. We don’t have that ‘screen system’ in our eyes. But the camel does. Now the rider couldn’t afford to cover his eyes… could he? Because if he covered his eyes, he wouldn’t know where he was going! He had to keep his eyes exposed and so finally he found a cave; he found some refuge and he said interestingly, “My eyes have finally become cool.”
In other words, in literature we find the precedent of the “eyes becoming cool” equated with “finding refuge from a storm.”
Original transcription courtesy www.nakcollection.com; edited by hiba’s team with permission.