The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho has to be one of my favorite books of all time.
It tells the tale of a young boy who goes in search of his dreams and the adventure he encounters along the way. He meets colorful characters, wanders off to far away lands and opens his heart to love for the first time.
One of the concepts that resonate deeply with me is the concept of Maktub which is mentioned throughout the book. It resonated so deeply that I had it tattooed on my wrist in Arabic. Maktub means “it is written” speaking of fate or destiny. The characters use it when they are describing something that is meant to be, something that is planned by the Divine. Maktub, they say in reverence to this power that connects all and knows all. They have this trust, this great belief in this powerful force.
It tells that while we wander through the world in search of our dreams, there is a mysterious thread that winds through the Universe unfolding our destiny in front of us. Maktub is an Islamic concept that means Allah writes our fate and whatever we experience is because it is meant to be, written by his hand.
“Maktub,” the merchant said, finally. “What does that mean?” “You would have to have been born an Arab to understand,” he answered. “But in your language it would be something like, ‘It is written.'” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
The idea that things are planned by the Divine or to have faith is not limited to this one incarnation however, as many religions and belief systems echo this idea.
There are so many sayings that mirror this belief to put faith in the unseen. What’s meant for you won’t pass you by. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be. Trust in the unfolding.
We don’t have to hurry or worry, things are happening in their own time. Just believe.
Sometimes the path seems long towards our desires. It can seem dark or impossible. Maybe we need to get out of our own way and have some faith. We’re constantly being asked to trust that things will work out. Our success rate for surviving up to this point is 100% yet still somehow we doubt there is anything beyond the horizon ahead.
Could it be that there’s no such thing as wrong timing? Everything that comes to you is meant to and what stays is what is meant to. It all requires a lot of faith, it’s true. It’s a beautiful idea that there are some things that are written and in our choosing our fate we follow the path of our individual destiny.
The boy in the book finds great meaning in the word Maktub when he meets his soulmate.
He is struck with an instant recognition of her, his heart knowing she is the one for him and knowing that she feels the same.
“It was the pure Language of the World. It required no explanation, just as the universe needs none as it travels through endless time. What the boy felt at the moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that,with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. He was more certain of it than of anything in the world. He had been told by his parents and grandparents that he must fall in love and really know a person before being committed. But maybe people who felt that way had never learned the universal language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, and their eyes meet, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning. Maktub,thought the boy.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Whether you subscribe to the theory or not, it is a beautiful concept.
To think that underneath all of the hustle, bustle and decisions that shape our lives, there is a thread of destiny that weaves its way through everything brings some comfort, especially during uncertainty. That no matter what is unfolding, we are what and where we are meant to be. And while I don’t believe destiny is passive, we are in every moment choosing to follow what is meant for us.
Maktub. It is written by the hands of fate; with a little faith from us.