Monthly Archives: October 2011

Courage: standing up for truth

Standard

I seek refuge with Allah from satan the accursed.

In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate Most Merciful

A couple of days ago, one of my non-Muslim (raised Catholic, currently agnostic) friends  posted a picture on her Facebook page with an image of two gay men about to kiss next to an image of three naked and malnourished African children with the caption reading “if the picture on the left shocks you more than the picture on the right, you need to revise your views on morality.”  Right away, I found this very problematic as I did not really see a comparison between the two situations.  The hungry children would obviously get people more upset because of their basic right to be fed and clothed being violated.  However, that does not mean that two gay men kissing is something morally sound either.  So I made comments underneath the image stating my concern with comparing the two completely different situations and added that the gay men situation is still immoral but would require a separate piece of writing from me to explain why it is wrong.

There was a back and forth discussion on that thread between the two of us in a completely respectable and civil manner despite our differing views. My friend explained to me that the gay rights issue was very important to her and her friends, and that she spoke out strongly in favor of gays even though she herself is not one.  I respected her opinion but urged her to at least read a short email I would send her to explain my reasoning behind why such a life would be immoral and against God’s law.  She agreed to read it on condition that I read her reply explaining her position in detail and I found that a fair deal and so let her know that I would type up my arguments and send them sometime later at night.

I obviously felt very energetic and motivated to carefully formulate my answer using what I know from the Quran, sunnah, and lectures by learned scholars.  But as the day went on, I started to feel a little uneasy and unsure about my decision to engage in this dialogue with my friend.  My mind started throwing the following questions at me:

  • Life was going great, so why did you have to mess it up by making controversy?
  • What makes you think you could change someone’s perspective regarding this issue, especially if that someone does not subscribe to any religion to begin with?
  • What sorts of arguments do you think you could give against homosexuality when it is a life lived by two consenting adults that does not immediately or overtly harm anyone?
  • Are you trying to be some sort of hero?  Do you really think your arguments could change anyone’s mind?

So naturally, I started to wonder if it was even a good idea to go ahead with this.  But then something else happened.  As this storm of doubt prepared to paralyze my actions,   by the grace of Allah SWT, my conscience kicked in.  Before doubt could completely envelop me, my conscience shouted the following points, slowly but firmly driving away the clouds of fear and confusion:

  • Your aim is simply to convey the message, and it is up to Allah SWT to change hearts so do not get bogged down into the dilemma of somehow bringing about the change in one sweep
  • It is your duty to stand up for truth as commanded by Allah SWT and his beloved Messenger pbuh, and so you are doing the right thing by at least speaking out against immorality
  • If you give your friend some background information about Islam as a universal and oldest faith of mankind and why we must obey God’s laws, your arguments for the immorality of homosexuality will make more sense
  • Real heroes are every day people who not only live righteously themselves, but also advise others to do so

This was the ammunition I needed to go ahead and write my short piece about Islam and why it considers homosexuality immoral.

The reason this incident inspired me to write this post is because I recognize that we all sometimes come face to face with immoral ideas or acts that may be upheld by others as good or normal.  When we are faced with such people, although we strongly feel the evil behind some of their ideas, our fear of facing potential conflict and hardship sometimes compels us to just “let it be”.  I would agree that at times it may be best to let such people be, but surely most of the times we should have the courage and skill to carefully and respectfully address such ideas and expose them for what they really are.

We want to make sure that we cover all our bases in this life so we do not get in trouble in the next.  I can see myself all happy on judgement day holding on to my bag of “personal good deeds.”  But I do not want that when I am questioned for how much I have in my bag of “warning others”, my face should turn red from humiliation as my trembling hand gropes around the light bag in hopes of bringing out something to redeem myself.  That is something we all want to avoid.

If you feel that it is difficult to speak out against immorality, know that there are actually people out there who not only support immoral and indecent lifestyles, but also form organizations to support such sinful deeds.   So if there are people openly defying God’s laws then there can be you, who is openly promoting and upholding God’s laws, as an individual, and perhaps even as someone who forms alliances with other pious and God-fearing people.  Just know that things often look scarier from the outside and once you put on your armor of God-consciousness, Allah Most High and Powerful will bless you with His light, and guide you in your noble endeavour.

Sin: When bad things feel good

Standard

 

I seek refuge with Allah from satan the accursed

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate Most Merciful.

 

I remember growing up listening to my elders advising young children to never lie or steal because it was a bad thing to do.  We were repeatedly told  that doing bad things made Allah SWT upset with us, and that could land us in a very humiliating torment on Judgement Day.

As I grew older and turned into a young adolescent, I was taught that I must guard my body and private parts from others, and was especially advised never to have physical contact of a romantic or sexual nature with members of the opposite sex, because that was considered as one of the higher levels of sins in the eyes of God Almighty.  I was taught that God Almighty has allowed sexual relations as a private matter between a husband and wife, and therefore, anything outside of that boundary would be a grave sin.

This teaching of the younger generation of Muslims about the dos and don’ts of life, and especially training our youth to refrain from engaging in any situation that could lead to sexual relations outside of marriage is a normal part of parenting, especially for Muslims living in Western countries where the concept of chastity and modesty in relations between the two genders before marriage is pretty non-existent in the mainstream society.  But now I realize that there is something most Muslims as parents and role models forget to include when telling their children to stay away from all forms of sinful acts.  What is missing is that most people do not realize that just because something is “bad” or wrong for us, does not mean it will feel bad if one does choose to engage in the sin.  I believe that this is an extremely important point that most parents disregard in their training and discussions with their children.

For some reason, growing up, I always felt like a sin was not just meant to be bad, that somehow I would know it is bad right away and stop, because it would actually feel bad. But in real life, human beings are sometimes engaged in a sinful act, and as a result, change their perspective on it once they themselves experience living with it, thinking thoughts like “This isn’t bad at all,  In fact, it is good.   I am following my heart and living a fulfilled life by not restricting myself to so many rules.”

The mind, for some reason, expects that upon committing a sin, the earth will open up and swallow us, or the whole world will glare at us while pointing fingers, or a bolt of lighting would strike us every time, because we tell ourselves that “I could never do something really bad.  I would know and keep away from everything that I should be away from.”  So when you first steal, or lie, or hold hands with and kiss that someone who is not your spouse, your heart that was beating really fast in anticipation of your immediate punnishment, calms down, and beats slower, and you catch yourself saying, “Hey, there is nothing wrong with doing this!  Why do so many people keep saying that is wrong to do this?”

Remember that a sin is not necesarily meant to make you feel bad, but in fact, so many of us commit sins over and over again because they actually make us feel good to some degree.  Many of us who have stolen, lied, engaged in illegal sexual encounters, or any other sin, have initially gotten a high from behaving in such ways, often feeling bliss and ecstasy while commiting our sins.  It was usually looking back at the action that we felt the guilt or shame, and not so much while we were in the moment.  It is time that we tell ourselves and our youth the full truth about the sinful temptations that lurk in our lives.  We must be mentally ready to feel pleasure from encountering sin, and  perhaps if we prepare ourselves for the real feelings behind the sinful acts, we will be better prepared to fight and turn away from them.  May God Almighty make it easy for us all to tell truth from falsehood, and may He guide us to make the right choices in life. Ameen.