Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Choices

Assalamuailaikum. (:

I was invited as a guest quite sometime ago, but I’ve only just written the following. Procrastination’s a killer. I WARN YOU AGAINST IT.

Here it goes, Bismillah.

I am not here to teach (and I do highly doubt I am qualified to do so), nor am I here to tell. I am here to share, and I greatly welcome disputes and comments about the following topic I’m going to broach upon.

Sometimes it is best we each take a step back from our lives, for just a little moment, because Islam is not merely about the practice, not merely about the history and certainly not merely about the art.

Islam is a way of life, holding a foundation of belief and of, most importantly, faith.

(I might’ve just wasted 10 minutes of my life thinking up those opening words.)

We each live an existance here for a given period of time, but how many of us actually realise that when we finally pass on, we have only completed a second phase of our true existance? How many of us realise that we did, indeed, have life before birth.

I was enlightened by Dato’ Aidit Ghazali, who served as a motivational speaker when I attended a camp organised by SimplyIslam (an organisation in Singapore). He is the founder and principal consultant of the AkademiAidit located in Malaysia.

Our lives begin even before we are birthed. You see, there are four stages in our lives:

Our life in the womb, of which most of us have lived, and passed.

Our life here on Earth, of which we are now living.

Our life in the grave.

Our life in the Hereafter

But these are just stories about death, about sins, about punishments and stories about blessings, about rewards. Perhaps not entirely stories, but these are definitely a different topic, for a different day.

So I’d like to bring us all back to my initial focus: our life here on Earth.

All of us, as Muslims, each have a responsibility as we live our life, and that responsibility is for each of us to aim to achieve what should be our ultimate goal in life – Ihsan.

Perfection. Excellence.

Either or, wouldn’t make much of difference.

It is the responsibility of a Muslim to obtain perfection and excellence in worship, such that he tries to worship God as if he sees Him, although he truly cannot, but does, however, undoubtedly believe that He is constantly watching over them.

‘(Ihsan is) the worship of God as though you see Him, and if you cannot see Him, then indeed He sees you.’ (An excerpt from the Hadith of Gabriel).

What makes it difficult to achieve Ihsan is, primarily, the vows Iblis has made.

‘He (Iblis) said: “Because You (Allah) have thrown me out of the Way, I will lie in wait for them on Your straight Way. Then I will assault them from the front, and from behind, from their right and from their left. Then You shall find the greater part of them ungrateful.”’ (Surah Al-A’raf, 7:16-17)

‘(Iblis) said: “O my Lord! Give me then respite till the Day the (dead) are raised.” (God) said: “Respite then is granted to you till the Appointed Day.” (Iblis) said: “Then, I swear by Your Power, I will put them all in the wrong, except your faithful servants.”’ (Surah Sad, 38: 19-83)

All Muslims are bound to face challenges from all possible directions and all possible forms and, worse still, all possible intensities. Some of these may even be from direct interventions of Iblis.

The concept of Ihsan is primarily associated with intention, and it is generally held that a person can only achieve true ihsan with the help and guidance of Allah, which then brings me to the main reason why I decided to sit here and write, whilst listening to nothing but the sound of the filter in my aquarium, well, filtering.

I attended a Khutbah (Friday sermon) once, back in 2004, and it mentioned Quwwah, the personal strength and steadfastness in overcoming adversity. It is with this Quwwah, that we will be given the opportunity to finally get a taste of Ihsan.

To instill quwwah in ourselves, we must first believe in the Qadak and Qadar of Allah and believe that He would not burden his servants with more than one can bear.

‘Onno soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns.’ (Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 286)

The basis of stength is our faith in Allah. As a Muslim, faith and devotion are our tools in facing the trials and tribulations in life. Our faith and devotion guide our thoughts and emotions to consider the pros and cons or an action or thought.

The Qadak and Qadar, as we refer to it as here, is the Divine Decree, an article of Faith in Islam, alongside the belief in God, the belief in the Unseen, the belief in the Revelations, the belief in the Prophets and the belief in the Day of Judgement.

The Divine Decree, or destiny, is a rather confusing concept, that I sometimes fail to fully comprehend, but even with this concept in mind, I feel that there is one very important thing that we hold in our grasp that can, in fact, define us for who we are, and who we aren’t, aid us in achieving ihsan, or hinder us instead, and this is the one thing that we all have – choices.


It is the choices we make that define us for who we are, and these are the choices that determine if we will be able to achieve ihsan. One can choose to act with greatest sincerity, or act on the account of receiving something in return, because with the concept of choices, comes the concept of intention, which is a very important aspect of, not only achieving Ihsan, but a very important aspect of Islam itself.

I have known many who have been unwilling Muslims, in which they are not guided to see the Truth of our existance, but have, instead, Islam thrown at them by their families, and with the neverending developments of teen culture in this day and age, and being in the top girls’ school in the country, it is increasingly difficult for them to balance this religion they are forced into, school and their friends.

I had a friend who once said, ‘I am a Muslim, but if I had a choice, I’d be an atheist.’

Which brings me back to the point regarding intention. This friend prays, she fasts, and she has, in fact, gone for Umrah, but, in my opinion, none of these acts make her a Muslim, because she lacks the belief and the proper intention of carrying them out. If there is no God, then there is no religion, and therefore, there is no ‘I am a Muslim, but if I had a choice…’

Well, I think I’m broached too much on Atheism currently, and Atheism is yet another topic for another day.

SO WE SHALL LEAVE IT.

Ultimately, we each have a choice and although there are no if’s, could’ve’s and should’ve’s in life, what we choose in the end is the determining factor of where our life would go. Should we make the wrong choices, it is only an opportunity for us to accept the consequences and then move on with our lives with the new experience at hand.

Ihsan is not a way, but rather a destination en route to another higher destination, but with it, and the journey alongside it, we will be faced with a great number of questions that we will ponder on.

To what extent have we practised what we have learnt? To what extent have we desseminated what we have practised? To what extent have we defended what we have diseeminated? To what extent have we appraised what we have defended?

And to what extent have we returned to our basics throught this journey?

These are fundamental questions that we should ask as we attempt to address and understand the multi-faceted challenges that we come across, face and need to overcome during the different stages of our mundane life, and the answers to these many questions depend solely on one thing: the choices we have made.

Insya’allah, these choices we will make will ensure us positive responses from each of the questions above as we set off on our own individual journey in pursuit of perfection and excellence.

Insya’allah, these choices we have made are ones with the blessings of Allah, and have been the guiding light on our path to be good muslims.

Insya’allah, we have made the right choices.


Assalamuailaikum, and God bless.


- THE MIGHTY M. DUM DUM DUM.
Or just M would do fine (:

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