بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
As salaam alaykum. Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam. A few years ago I was listening to the radio and I heard a story on the news that I wanted to relate to you because it relates to us. The story is that many of the Catholics in the Boston area had petitioned the bishop there to release them of the rule not to eat meat on Good Friday because there was going to be some kind of sporting event going on and they wanted to be able to eat hot dogs. Now some of us might find this funny, but in truth it is not. And to his credit the Bishop did not accede to this request and instead said, instead, that the scheduling of this game on Good Friday was insensitive to the needs of Catholics in Boston and that he would not be watching the game. So, brothers and sisters why do I bring this up? I am not here to disparage or certainly to promote the Catholic church but rather I am using this to point out to you and to remind myself of the power of our nafs and of Shaytan to fool us into forgetting to obey the commands of Allah (SWT).
You know this comes after many years when the Catholic church prohibited the eating of any meat on any Friday. Then they relaxed this rule and only made it a rule on Good Friday. See how sneaky Shaytan is?
And how does this affect Muslims? Well, we are not that different. How many of us want to bend the rules just a little in order to make life a little easier? And what does that lead to? I will tell you a story about a shepherd guarding the flock of the village. He grazed the sheep in a field that bordered a forest that was the land of a cruel king. Anyone wandering into the forest was arrested and executed after being tortured, and any livestock the wandered in, became the property of the king. The shepard was told to graze the flock in the middle of the field so none of the sheep could wander into the king’s property accidentally. The shepherd was not all that obedient and saw that there was a patch of grass near the edge of the field that looked very good to graze. So he brought the flock over there. Very soon one of the sheep had wandered into the forest and was immediately confiscated by the guards who had been waiting there watching what the shepherd had done. Not only had he lost the sheep, but now the flock was wandering in as well and he had to try and stop them. As soon as each sheep crossed over it was taken and as soon as the shepherd crossed over he was arrested and later executed. If he had kept the flock to the middle of the field none of this would have happened.
So you see, little by little, we enter further and further into the grey areas that are close to our own borders of obedience to Allah (swt) until we no longer know how to stop and eventually find ourselves on the wrong side of the line.
We must use the intelligence that Allah (SWT) has given us. We must avoid even the slightest hint of getting close to the grey areas, because we do not know when to stop.
I once read a tract written by Ayatollah Khomeini (may Allah be pleased with him) on the prohibition of alcohol. It was written in a Q and A form. In it he explained the reasons for the prohibition from the Quranic perspective and from Sunnah and Shariat. One of the questions asked if it was ok to take just a little alcohol, since that did not affect us much but rather made us just relaxed. His answer was that this may be so. And perhaps, if we could stop there Allah (SWT) would have said no more than such and such an amount, but the truth is that we as human beings are weak and cannot stop at that point, that we have the tendency to over do it and do not know when to stop. Because of that it is forbidden altogether.
This is a part of our natural human-ness. We are constantly vigilant for these characteristics within ourselves. Bad habits are far too easy to develop and far too hard to break, and good habits are the opposite, they are very hard to develop and fall away so easily.
I want to remind you and myself again about what Allah (SWT) says in the Quran Sharif
wa- al- ‘asr
‘inna al- ‘insaan ala- fe khusr
‘illaa ‘alladhena ‘aamano wa- ‘amilo as saalihaati wa- tawaasaw bi- al-haqq wa- tawaas.aw bi- as- sabr
By the time through the ages!
Surely mankind is in loss,
except those who believe and do good deeds; exhort one another to the truth and exhort one another to patience.
And it does not have to be through the ages! It is happening minute by minute now even in every day of our lives. The ticking of the clock tries to wear at our iman all the time.
But the good news is that Allah (SWT) has promised us that if we do keep the good deeds and if we do keep our faith in him then our reward is in this life and in the next.
And he has given us clear guidance:
dhaalika al- kitaab laa rayb fe -hi huda(n) li- al- muttaqen
‘alladhena yu’minon bi- al- ghayb wa- yuqemon as-salaah wa- min maa razaqnaa -hum yunfiqon
wa- ‘alladhena yu’minon bi- maa unzila ‘ilay -ka wa- maa unzila min qabli -ka wa- bi- al- ‘aakhirah hum yoqinon
‘olaa’ika ‘alaa huda(n) min rabb -him wa- ‘olaa’ika hum al- muflihon
This is The Book in which there is no doubt. It is a guide for those who are God conscious, who believe in the Unseen, who establish Salah (five regular daily prayers) and spend in charity out of what We have provided for their sustenance; who believe in this Revelation (The Qur’an) which is sent to you (O Muhammad) and the Revelations which were sent before you (Torah, Psalms, Gospel…) and firmly believe in the Hereafter.
They are on True Guidance from their Rabb and they are the ones who will attain salvation.
And what an amazing gift this is. Such a clear light of guidance.
And do we ask for Allah (SWT) to relieve us of these obligatory tasks when it is inconvenient for us? Oh Allah, there is a ball game on Friday, can I skip my prayers that day? Oh Allah, I live where it is very difficult to get Halal meats and other food, can I eat pork just once or twice? No!
But you know what? Allah (SWT) has already known about this, he knows what is in our hearts and in our minds, he never tires and does not sleep:
and he is vigilant in our cause. He has given us that which we cannot ask from him, when we are traveling, do we not get a dispensation on prayers and even on the fast in Ramadhan? If Allah (SWT) wanted to make it impossible for us to follow our deen believe me IT WOULD BE! But it is not.
And in return for this what does Allah (SWT) ask of us? Simply that we follow that which he has commanded us to do, and to avoid those things which he has forbidden for us and that we worship him with all our hearts and souls.
wa allahu alim
And Allah (swt) knows best.