By Alveena Salim
Most of us are fortunate enough to be born in a Muslim family. However, it is common knowledge that those who get something after working hard for it appreciate and value it so much more then those who get something automatically. It is for this reason why, most of us do not value, appreciate or even know what it means to be a Muslim.
Fornication, adultery, drinking alcohol, gang feuds, drugs, mugging, running away from home, the minimal clothing our sisters have adopted and clubbing is widespread amongst our Muslim brothers and sisters. Is this how Muslims should act?
Today Islam has been reduced to the Friday prayer now and again, avoiding our girlfriend/boyfriend in the Holy month of Ramadan, celebrating Eid, learning to read the Qur'an from the Molbi down the road and wearing a Topi (Islamic hat) on Fridays. Is this what Islam is all about? Most of us know the score; we all know what we should and shouldn't be doing.
We do not live our lives rejecting the teachings of Islam out of ignorance. So why don't we practise Islam? What's stopping and holding us back? Do we have any valid excuses that will be accepted in the Court of Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgement?
Self justifications are one of the main reasons why some Muslims allow themselves to live their lives according to their own whims and desires.
We have excuses ready that we tell ourselves and others, which allows us to feel smug and contented with our present state.
"Not now, I'll change after I get married and have kids"
"I'll change in the future" is a common procrastination employed by many of us which helps us to self-justify why we aren't living our lives according to the limits ordained by Allah (swt). After all, most of our grandparents turned to Islam in their old age after living their lives according to their own whims and desires.
We tell ourselves that we'll enjoy our life to the max, get married, go to Hajj, ask for forgiveness for our sins and then live the rest of our lives according to the teachings of Islam.
The problem with this notion is that, people die at all ages. We associate death with old age, but I'm sure we all know of young people who were killed in fatal accidents. Imagine if a boyfriend and girlfriend were killed in a car accident, would the excuse "We did intend to repent, get married and change in the future-but we died before we could do all that" be valid in the Court of Allah (swt)?
Furthermore, how can one intentionally sin and then assume that he/she will repent and change their ways in the future, aren't old habits hard to break?
When a person enters old age his needs, whims, desires and demands begin to diminish. The things that used to bring him delight and pleasure do not appeal to him any more, so due to obvious reasons the worship of a teenager is worth more then the worship of an elderly person to Allah (swt). This is why Allah (swt) has promised seven people His shade on the Day of Judgment, as a mark of distinction and honour. Teenagers who spend their years as devout and conscious Muslims in the face of overwhelming temptations and seductions are one of the seven people.
"It's too hard"
It's too hard to get up at Fajr… it's too difficult to grow a beard when all our friends don't have one. It's too hard to sit through a long Islamic programme… it's too hard to avoid gossip and backbiting when everyone's doing it… it's too hard to regularly attend Islamic classes… it's too hard to wear a Hijaab when it's hot and my friends don't wear on… And it's too hard to fit Islam in my busy life. The so called difficulties of practising Islam in the West is another self-justification employed by many Muslims.
it's interesting to note that whilst it's difficult to drag ones self out of bed for the early Fajr prayer, it isn't difficult to set ones alarm clock for two hours before school starts to get the hair straightened/curled and the eye liner applied to perfection.
Whilst it's difficult to regularly show ones face in the local mosque it isn't difficult to spend hours and hours in the gym to obtain that six pack. And whilst it's too difficult to fit Islam in ones busy life, there's always time to drive aimlessly round the same block 50 times a day, or waste chatting on MSN to the same people that we just spent an entire day in school with.
The truth is we're lazy and spoilt. Look at those people who lived before us, the true devotees of the Holy Prophet who fought against the pagan Arabs, suffered tortures, became migrants, suffered unbearable hardships, but ultimately did raise aloft the message of the Holy Prophet (saw). They had rocks placed on their chest and were ruthlessly ripped apart, but refused to give up the beauty of Islam. Do we have it harder then them?
Our Muslim brothers and sisters all over the world are being raped, murdered, kidnapped and tortured. Do we have it harder then them? Is our Muslim sister in Iraq wondering weather she looks ugly in her scarf? Is she complaining about the heat?
We, living in the safe and lazy west have it very easy, but life isn't all about chilling and acting like spoilt teenagers. If we want to get closer to Allah (swt) we should be prepared to face some difficulties and inconveniences.
"I have a clean heart"
This is a classic one. Some Muslim brother and sisters are convinced that their haraam actions are justified because Allah (swt) knows that their heart is clean and pure. Some Muslim's who indulge in premarital relationships use this excuse, however they fail to realise that if their hearts were really pure they wouldn't be indulging in such shameful activities. If one holds such a notion that this must mean that such an individual's heart is most definitely NOT pure.
If ones heart was truly pure and clean then this would be seen in their actions as well. Such an individual would regularly pray, fast, keep a beard/wear Hijaab, and avoid pre-marital relationships.
The deeper one goes into Islam, the more convinced they should become that they are undoubtedly the worst sinners on the face of Earth. Imam Hanifah known to the Muslim world as the "Greatest Imam" used to become overcome with extreme remorse for the supposed sins that he had committed that he used to lose consciousness. Hadrat Abu Bakr (ra) used to wish that he was a blade of grass so that he wouldn't have to go through the day of accountability. Did they walk around claiming that their hearts are pure? Can any of us claim to be more righteous and pious then Imam Hanifah and Hadrat Abu Bakr (ra)?
It would be also be interested to ask those who are convinced that their heart is pure, where they obtained this knowledge of the unseen from?
"At least I'm better then others"
Muslims who hold such a notion focus on the extreme sins of other Muslims, look at their own sins and feel reassured that they are better then them. There are some teenagers who get involved in pre-marital relationships but do not feel guilty about their actions because they reassure themselves by holding the notion that "at least we're better then those who allow themselves to go all the way". However, will the excuse "At least I was better then so and so who lives down my road." be valid in the Court of Allah (swt)?
If we focus on the biographies of our pious predecessors we will receive a strong insight into who and what we are-nothing. However, if we focus on those who appear misguided we will become smug, satisfied and content with our state. We will either return to square one, or become spiritually stalled and victims of the superiority complex.
To sum up, the disastrous consequence of self justifications is that, even though Muslims initially feel guilty when breaking the limits ordained by Allah (swt), eventually the guilt wears off. This closes the door for repentance, after all how can one repent or amend their ways if they don't even feel guilty about what they are doing?
We do ourselves no favours by making up lame excuses which will be rejected by Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgement. We should sort our priorities out, stop acting like spoilt teenagers and spend the rest of our lives living according to the limits ordained by Allah (swt).