The Right Way
Cont’d from page 1
The path opens up before us as we strive to overcome sins, and
to practice righteousness—prayer, charity, compassion, fairness
to others, truth, honesty. The situations and events of our lives
are lessons which, if we ask God’s guidance and help, can
teach us and strengthen our characters. As we progress along the
straight path, we find that bad habits must be overcome and good
ones cultivated, mistakes must be corrected, challenges must be
undertaken, sins repented of, relationships built on a foundation
of respect and truth. Doing that which is right requires constant
effort — righteousness does not come automatically with the
recitation of Shahadah or by being born into a righteous family.
When we find we have done wrong, we repent—we acknowledge
our responsibility and remorse to God, make amends to anyone whom
we have wronged, and relying on the help of God make a consistent
and determined effort to avoid doing the wrong again. There is no
forgiveness and no help when we have no intention of avoiding the
wrong in the future, no matter how many religious acts we perform.
The path can be steep and difficult, and can have many surprises
and unexpected hazards. But it also has great rewards—the
ability to love and be loved, the deep and healing gratitude of
spirit when we behold the natural world; the mental, emotional and
spiritual strengths and abilities which can be placed at the service
of God in the world around us; the joy of learning. These things
last. The diversions and possessions of the material world do not
last—and when pursued as ends in themselves inevitably turn
Our understanding of God, of creation, and our place and purpose
in creation, may have many gaps and inaccuracies at the beginning
of our journey to God. But we can only start from where we are,
and our understanding grows as we progress along the path.
We have free will, and the fact that
God knows everything in no way diminishes our freedom or the consequences
which ensue from our use or misuse of it. Without freedom there
is no growth. Simply doing what we are told without thinking or
deciding for ourselves makes us robots at best. To the extent that
we willingly relinquish our free will to the control of others,
to that extent are we answerable to God for the misuse of His gift
The Path Away From God
Like the straight path of God, the path away from God is a direction
and not an instant condition. One “progresses” along
the evil path gradually and by degrees—by each decision to
do wrong or avoid doing good, by each willing action which violates
the law of the Creator. The downward path leads to ruin of individual
character, of family and social health, and ultimately to destruction
of community and nation. Rejecting God’s path confines one’s
soul in an ever-increasing cage of illusion, discord and degeneration—and
one no longer has the ability to see his or her condition clearly.
Moral corruption in a family breeds secrecy, distrust and betrayal,
with the manipulation and control tending to replace respect, cooperation
and mutual responsibility. Corrupt societies rot and die—problems
don’t get solved, they get shoved off onto others; the leaders
are not the wisest or most competent, but those who succeed politically
through alliances, force and intimidation, spies, self-serving cliques,
propaganda, and “image-building.” The efforts to preserve
privilege, status and power takes first priority, and collisions
with reality are either not perceived in time, or not handled in
a way which will avoid eventual disaster.
The absolute basic element of Islam is submission to God (41:6)
and there is good reason for that. Worship of anything or anybody
else cuts us off from the Source as surely as flipping the light
switch turns off the light. Our internal beings gradually wither
flowers deprived of water. Idol worship
includes worshiping statues, spirits of nature, other creatures,
material property, human beings (including prophets and saints),
mythical gods and goddesses. No sane creature would stand for being
worshiped—to be considered equal with its Creator in any way,
or independent of His life-giving sustenance. Creatures who want
to be worshiped and served tend to be weak, twisted and unsavory
characters underneath the charismatic exterior. When Satan masquerades
as an angel of light, there is lying, deceit, treachery, cruelty
and greed underneath.
The only effective way to reverse directions—to turn from
the path of darkness to the path of God, is by prayerfully seeking
the help of God, and making every effort to do what is right. Just
as the butterfly tangled in a spider web cannot extricate itself
without intervention of something stronger than itself, so we do
not have the power without God’s help to free ourselves from
the clutches of evil.
It is not easy to live a righteous life while the social fabric
deteriorates around us. We cannot force our way of thinking and
living on others (2:256-257). Let us, then, be a gentle reflection
of God’s compassion, a strong pillar of righteousness, and
a source of truth and help to all who seek to do what is right.
Did we not show him (the human being) the two paths?
He should choose the difficult path.
Which one is the difficult path?
The freeing of slaves.
Feeding, during the time of hardship.
Orphans who are related.
Or the poor who is in need.
And being one of those who believe, and exhorting
one another to be steadfast, and exhorting one another to be kind
These have deserved happiness. [90:10-18]