Friday, 12 February 2010

God Is Not Your Friend

I once said that I don’t want to go to heaven…or rather, that I don’t expect to go to heaven, to quite an uproar of “you can’t say that, you don’t know”, “God is Merciful” etc. etc. My reasoning behind that statement was that I can’t do something repetitively, knowing full well that it’s wrong according to my beliefs, with no intention of changing. I’m not that vain or arrogant to expect The Almighty to forgive me every time I decide to flout one of His laws, even though He is Most Merciful.

I’ll give an example...I like enjoy looking at BDB. And given the chance, I’ll probably look at him later tonight and tomorrow afternoon and on Sunday morning again. But I’m fully aware that this is NOT acceptable in terms of the Shariah. Another example…I don’t wear a headscarf; and I’ll never negate the fact that as a woman I’m supposed to cover my hair and preserve my modesty, for my own protection against unwanted male attention and from Jinn; but I’m not planning to do it anytime soon. We all choose our sins and these are some of my sins…I know every one of them. I’m not proud of them, but I own them. I take responsibility. I don't make it OK because its not. I’m not making any excuses and justifications for my behaviour.

In Islam there are many issues that are debated upon because people have different opinions on them, based on different interpretations of the Qur’an and people’s perceptions etc. I will never deny that people view things differently, especially since Sunni Imams Hanifa, Shafi’i, Malik & Hanbal introduced and adapted Islam to fit into the various cultures of the people in their respective times. And really, at the end of the day, Allah SWT knows best.

BUT. In my opinion, there are certain fundamental laws in Islam that are non-negotiable like Tawheed, Salaah and Fasting; Zakaat and Hajj too depending on the person’s means. Then, in my opinion, there are what I’d call ‘Secondary Fundamental Laws’ like modesty and purity as well as those laws warning against some of the biggest sins including associating partners with God, consumption of alcohol (& intoxicating substances), interest, adultery & fornication, murder and all the acts that may lead one to commit these sins.

There are also what I call ‘Universal Laws’ or those laws that are prominent at the core of every religion and agreed upon unanimously like “Thou shalt not steal” and other laws prohibiting blasphemy, oppression, gossip & slander, lying, gambling and murder too etc. etc. And like I said previously, everyone is guilty in some or other way, because we all choose our sins.

In Islam, we’re encouraged to seek knowledge from the “cradle to the grave”. Over the past 26 months, I’ve been part of a group observing the changes in societal, religious and cultural trends and how these changes are interpreted amongst individuals from various ethnicities and religions. In our findings we’ve discovered that people’s opinions, perceptions and attitudes to certain rules and regulations as well as what they consider to be morally normal and acceptable, have changed or become somewhat more ‘liberated’ over time. Issues like promiscuity, drug addiction, alcoholism etc. have become so prominent that it is no longer frowned upon with the intensity bestowed upon previous generations.

With the spotlight on Islam and Muslims, it was found that people’s attitudes and perceptions of what is considered ‘wrong’ and ‘right’ have also changed, and younger generations in particular do not carry the guilt attached to defying religious laws because according to most of them, they do not perceive their actions in a negative light (traits common amongst the Jews too). Even more shocking, many Muslims interviewed in High School’s and Universities were found questioning those non-negotiable fundamental laws of Islam, a few even quoting text from the Qur’an supporting their misinterpreted views.

There were common excuses or justifications from the thousands of people interviewed. Some of my favourite were:

1. “Its all up to interpretation”
2. “But that’s what my parents did”
3. “It depends on your intentions”
4. “We are required to fit into the culture & society we’re living in”
5. “God will judge me, why should I fear him, I want to worship out of love”

As a Muslim and when it comes to Islam, this is where I stand on these issues (point for point):

1. There is no way around those non-negotiable fundamental laws of Islam. And it doesn’t matter if the words in the Quranic text have several meanings, the message is clear. Terrorists use Quranic interpretation (by omitting verses and context) to justify their cause. Just because Google is available worldwide, or because some idiot claiming to be an authority on the matter expels his opinions and interpretations of the Qur’an or Hadith, it does not mean that we should accept it as doctrine. In addition, because most of us can read in English and Arabic, it does not make us authorities on interpreting text from the Qur’an, (whilst ignoring the context/time/incident/situation related to the verses revealed) so that we can distort the meaning to suit our needs.

2. Just because there are parents and grandparents that love to visit Witchdoctors and practice black magic, it does not mean that it’s acceptable according to Shariah and moreover, it does not mean that we should follow suit. The Prophet SAW said that we should not do as our “forefathers have done before” us “in case they have erred”. Just because we have the RIGHT to make choices and choose our sins, it does not mean that it’s OK to justify and excuse those sins using parental examples, misinterpreted or inaccurate information.

3. When one of the major laws in Islam have been violated or disregarded, intentions whether good or bad are irrelevant. So for example, fornication and adultery of any kind cannot be justified by having pure intentions. One cannot say “oh I didn’t intend to do that” with the expectation that the contravention of the religious law is inconsequential, because there was no intention to infringe on that law.

4. We are required to respect the laws of the land we live in to the extent that they do not infringe on or compromise any Islamic laws. So if the consumption of alcohol is intrinsic to the culture of a society or country, it does not mean that it’s permissible to overlook the Shariah and consume alcohol when visiting or residing in said country.

5. It is true that only God will judge everyone. But if you are witness to a mistake/error made by a fellow Muslim brother or sister especially if the mistake/error is made in public and they don’t know any better, it becomes obligatory to correct them. However, there are specific ways to do this. Remaining silent under the guise of refraining from judging others makes one complicit in the deed and we will be held accountable for that.

Understand this: God is not your friend. He is not your choma that you can call on the weekends and go bowling with and that will let things slide if you cheat to win. He owes you NOTHING. Every good thing you do in your life is for your own benefit. He needs nothing from you. You’re not doing him any favours by obeying his laws.

And why do we Love Him?
Because every single nano-second that you’re alive and breathing without the aid of machines is because of His Grace and Mercy. And every moment you can see, hear, taste, smell, laugh, cry, love, feel, hope, pray etc. is because He permits it. And even though He knows you’re a moron, He will still forgive you if you repent and will continue to bestow His Mercy and Blessings on you.

And why must we fear Him?
Only because He warns us repetitively of the ramifications of flouting His laws in every second paragraph of the Qur’an. And who are we to question His forewarning? The accounts of the destruction of Thamud and ‘Ad, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Deluge of Nuh (AS)…these are not fables designed to terrify your wits out of you. These are historical accounts, examples attached to those forewarnings.

“But how many (countless) generations before them have We destroyed? Canst thou find a single one of them (now) or hear (so much as) a whisper of them?” (Quran 19:98)

And yes, the people of Haiti and Banda Aceh did not deserve their afflictions, but who do you think allowed such catastrophic events to occur in the first place? Our sole purpose is to submit to His will and worship. Do not underestimate your Creator. God is not your friend.

10 comments:

  1. 100% agree with you! I think many ppl dont realise that Allah(SWT) doesnt need us .. he gains nothing from our worship and no matter what we do, it doesnt elevate him any further, no matter how much we praise him.

    Like you say: everything good you do, is for your own benefit in this world and the hereafter.

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  2. I do believe that this has to be one of the best posts that you have ever written.

    I agree with you and this is where I don't see eye to eye with my parents at times....the whole 'culture' thing plays a significant role in our lives and really a lot of it is just not right Islamically.

    What scares me a lot is your point on the young muslim kids in high school and uni where they're essentially 'messing about' with the fundamental beliefs of islam.
    I've seen it a lot with a few of the younger kids that I know on my friends pages on facebook.

    I am absolutely terrified at the attitudes that they have and it scares me as they will someday marry, have kids, etc and what will they teach their children?

    I can write so much on this topic, but I won't as I might just clog up your comments section ;)

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  3. nk - yep, I believe that too. I hate it when people walk around thinking "God and the world owes them".

    Mash - And that means?

    Fatima - One guy, 19 yr old, even tried to justify drinking by saying that the Sahaba RA drank in the early stages of Islam. I agreed with him, but told him that it was gradually phased out until it was completely forbidden - he point blank refused to believe me!

    Alot of the issues highlighted in this post I had in a twitter/ email discussion a couple weeks back -and everything I was hearing was EXACTLY what we'd heard from countless people. I wonder where do people get their info from? So I decided to post about it.
    The information is age-specific: 13 to 26 year olds. Incidentally, in many respects, it was found that the Jews are no better, if not worse. And both Islam and Judaism is regarded as the most austere and stringent of religions.

    But I find it amazing how in denial people are about this. And I always think back to Desert Demon's post "Looping Star Fish" way back when.
    And dont get me started on Facebook. If I must tell you how many half-naked males and females I've seen in some very compromising positions (some of them distant relatives!)...it's unbelievable! But they think they're in the right, that there's nothing wrong with what they're doing. And no one is there to tell them otherwise. I'll stop too..I have too much to say on this :P

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  4. just made me think. I have lots of half-written posts about similar types of stuff

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  5. The thing people need to remember is that this world is a test. We are going to be led astray, but it is for us to find our way back. That is why there is so many different interpretations of the Quraan, Hadith and so forth.

    I always remember that line in Kingdom of Heaven when the queen tells Balian "their prophet says submit, Jesus says decide". Being a Muslim means to be a slave to the will and word of the almighty.

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  6. Mash & T - I still think that we've been so conditioned to interpret everything (including Islam) with a colonialist mindset. The way these people interpret Islam is not the way the Arabs do. The Arabian lifestyle & the way they interpret/practice Islam is very different to the way Muslims brought up in Western countries interpret/practice (at the core, & not talking about those states that want to imitate the West).

    For those Arabs, Islam is effortless and for most Western Muslims its a burden. The Arabs have a way of accepting life and their circumstances without questioning Allah SWT. They're not out looking for answers to some big elusive question. They LIVE the concept of "submitting".

    This whole idea that "theres got to be more to life" is a Western Colonialist one. And the way most Western Muslims interpret the religion are in those colonialist terms. We all have the right to choose who we want to be and how we want to live.
    But that does not change or diminish Allah's SWT Power or the laws He set out for us to follow...or His promise that there are repercussions to our decisions and actions.

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  7. ALLAH is our friend that we can confide in, one of HIS names is al WALI, the friendly LORD.
    meaning, whatever we do, we can always go to HIM for correction or forgiveness hoping HE will see us through.
    another name of HIS is al AFUW, meaning the oft returning or constantly forgiving.

    and HE does.

    disbelievers dont believe this hence they have no hope for themselves. and they know it. in fact they choose such a dead end of a fate.
    so ALLAH does not forgive them. essentially, forgiveness comes only after seeking it.
    hence ALLAH says in the quran that no one despairs of ALLAH's mercy save for the kaafirun.

    i think its in your best interest to stop worshipping your egositical idol known as the 'self' and turn to the only ONE.
    we often commit the hidden shirk without being aware of it.

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  8. if you had not loved your own self so much you would never have affixed yourself to such a bleak philosophy.
    its reminiscent of a 'better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven' mentality.
    not to mention that its downright insane.

    in a way, it is limiting ALLAH by thinking HE can be 'fed up' with our actions.
    this is essentially saying that HE can be coerced into acting or lashing out, in this case.
    ALLAH forgive us.

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  9. furthermore, no one chooses his or her sins. they deal with these like dealing with a big freaking lizard hidden in your cupboard which you never knew was in there the first place. you wont say its my favourite repulsive pest, only ill kill it.

    youll say someone get rid of it i cant stand it. your ego wont get in the way then.

    if youre going to embellish your image by choosing which sins stylishly fit you, you're in trouble.
    but heres a tip and its really simple to carry out as a corrective measure :

    just ask HIM to remove the desire to sin and that you realize that youre guilty. HE listens. HE is ALLAH.

    and i dont think islam is malleable to the vagaries of time. if it were, it wouldnt be the eternal word of ALLAH. please do not look for excuses to continue in your error by looking for false justifications.

    so whatever survey your pathetic team carried out, rest assured, it was in vain.

    you can challenge men and it is possile to even get the best of them. im sure you have plenty of males vexed about you while you make them cringe at the thought of you being unattainable to them. to be honest, as unique a person as you may be, youre still a girl that dreams and hopes like a girl, and us tortured guys will swoon over the likes of always.
    unfortunately such is the decree of ALLAH.

    but you cant fool HIM. or con HIM. or blog your way out of HIS judgement or insight. you have no leverage over HIM. only over us.

    pssst heres a secret about you (and i know this sounds creepy)

    i take a perverse comfort in knowing that women actually worship us. the hopes, dreams and vanities of your kind revolve around one thing : men.
    either to acquire or ensnare.

    this explains why you wont wear the hijab; your gods will no longer look down on you.

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