August 1996: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 2

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 sour.

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 of freedom.

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. (6:122)

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 like

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.

Maria Abdin

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]