Fruits for the Week

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Allah’s creation includes creatures that are visible and invisible to the human eye. Among the invisible creatures are the angels and the Iblis and shaitan (devil). Angels are spiritual beings endowed with one set ability only. They constantly and continuously adore Allah and execute His Commands day and night without fail. All their virtuous acts are spontaneous. They have no option of their own to do evil. Hence, by nature, they are free from all animal passions and evil temptations, and so they cannot go astray. The devil occupies the opposite camp.

Man, on the other hand, occupies the middle position. His characteristics are different. He can do good or bad, or change from good to bad or vice versa because he has a mind to decide on options. With choices, he can make mistakes or be tempted to commit wrongdoings, hence the need for guidance, the guidance from Allah, which he should utilize to execute his actions as desired by Allah for his own good. If he follows it faithfully, he rises to the level of dignity, the angelic level; if he ignores or rejects it, he gains nothing or falls to the level of degradation, the devilish level. Thus, he can act virtuously and reach the zenith of worldly sublimation and spiritual perfection or act immorally and sink to the deepest pit of disgrace and humiliation.

Unlike the angels, man has to struggle hard in the face of virtue and vice and good and evil. He has temptations at every step of his life. He has hurdles to cross and obstacles to surmount throughout his life.

It is these trials and tribulations in his life that give man the challenge to reach a level superior to that of the angels, but whether he is able to reach it or not depends on his own integrity, determination, and commitment. He has to work to reach that level; he has to earn to attain that dignity.

Allah asks human beings to worship Him for their own good. Allah says: “And I have created men and jinns that they should obey and worship Me.” (51:56). This is an opportunity given to the Muslim. By obeying and worshipping Allah, he develops and progresses towards that sublime level, the angelic level.

Being created in “the best form”, man is able to continuously make fresh discoveries and inventions from the earth, air, and water to secure things for eating, drinking, living, trading, and improving civilization. Allah desires that man attains all possible comforts of life in lawful manners as ordained by Him, that is, in a way that leads to Allah’s love and grace. Life on this earth is therefore a test. Allah says that He “May try you to see which of you is best in work.” (67: 2)

Certainly, every human being does not go through Allah’s test equally prepared. Allah has made each of us different. We differ in many ways – in mental and physical ability, and in appearance, power, and wealth. Some of these characteristics are inborn; some are acquired by effort, and others come by circumstances, but each individual is accountable to Allah for any of the ways in which he has been prepared over others. Allah says: “He has raised some of you in rank above others, that He may try you in what He has given you.” (6: 165). The key message here is that Allah will see and judge us by our deeds, by how we carry out our responsibilities and worldly affairs with whatever means and ability He has given us, however meager and inadequate they seem to be.

Taking a road accident as an example, a man may or may not be responsible for the suffering inflicted from it, though when he suffers, he is worthy of compassion and charity. It is a test on the sufferer to see to what extent he is able to withstand that suffering or overcome it Islamically. It is also a test on those fortunate people around him – to see to what extent and in what ways they are able to lessen his burden and suffering. Taking an example from a real-life incident that happened in Singapore, people of all races and religions as well as Muslim and non-Muslim organizations rallied around to help the crippled Bangladeshi worker Mohamad Bashar. As reported in the Singapore media, the man, an illegal worker, hurt in a work-site accident, was dumped in a drain by some unscrupulous construction people who wanted to avoid entanglement with the authorities. Paralyzed from the waist down, he was rescued by passing soldiers and taken to the hospital. This tragedy touched many people and moved them to do something to help. This gesture from the better-off people who came to his aid is a test for the individuals and society.

As life in the next world will depend on how we spent our lives here, everyone on the Day of Judgement will be questioned concerning “his life, how he expended it; his youth, how he used it; his wealth, from where he got it and how he spent it, and his knowledge, how he made use of it.” (Hadith)

We, therefore, need to be imbued with the consciousness of Allah and worship Him to live in this world gracefully and graciously.

by Shaik A. Kadir

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