Ramadan: Recognizing the Traps (5)

Alhamdulillah, we’re confident in our creed, we’re following the Quran and Sunnah to the best of our ability, and we’re avoiding the major sins with Allah’s help. But Satan doesn’t rest, and isn’t going to let us go that easy. There are a whole host of minor sins that, try as I have, I’ve not been able to find an exhaustive list. It includes innumerable things that have no specific punishment in the Quran or the Sunnah and many of our other willful and ignorant acts. Allah knows, but I expect some are covered in the list of 70 that I linked to last time (in particular, items 15-70 here). And most all of this is covered in the ‘don’t be a jerk’ dictum…

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said “none of you is believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” Similarly, Jews are encouraged to avoid doing to others things that they would not want done to themselves and Christians are told to do unto others what you would have them do unto you. Virtually every religious and secular faith has some similar principle that calls adherents to empathy and recognizing the humanity and individuality of others.

And yet we constantly demonize one another. We hate. We go to war. We envy. We do all sorts of things as individuals and as part of groups.

 

Oklahoma is now the earthquake capital of the world. A vulgar talking yam is the Presidential nominee for a major political party, and an unrepentant war hawk is set to be the nominee for the other. Income inequality is at ludicrous levels, and it’s even worse for minorities and women. In an age where we’re capable of producing more food than ever before, we waste more than ever.

Are these not sins? And these are just a few of the things we do on a social level.

Would that we spent that energy fighting our desires and struggling against the devils. May Allah forgive us all, and guide each and every one of us to better, to some empathy for others, Ameen.

How do we get out of these?

As an individual, I can’t do much to stop these social ills, but I can limit my participation. It won’t stop the OK earthquakes (or the ones in Irving), but I can buy electricity from a company that provides (or claims to) 100% wind or solar power. I can vote for a sensible option in the primary and make dua that once in power, whoever is there receives guidance. I can give in charity, and patronize small businesses, try to avoid the big brands, and etc. I can buy only what I need and eat everything I cook (and make vegetable stock from the veggie trimmings and compost or feed wildlife with any waste). And I can partner with others to try and make changes in the local community.

The biggest thing I can do is make dua for guidance for myself and others, try to have some empathy for people, be patient with any trials that Allah has ordained for me and grateful for the blessings He provides, and try my best to follow the example set forth by the prophets.

And when I start to do something, anything, when I speed up to close the gap and keep that car from merging into my lane, when I scoop food onto my plate at dinner time, when I finish that bottle of juice, God willing, I’ll pause briefly and consider if maybe I could be just a little bit better, a little bit more patient, have a tiny bit more empathy, be just a bit more conscious of my impact on the environment.

And as a general practice, it’s best to seek forgiveness and protection and guidance in a general sense: Oh Allah forgive me for the sins I know of and those that I’m unaware of. Protect me from falling into sin and error, and guide me to better, Ameen.

Allah says, “If My slave comes nearer to me for a hand span, I go nearer to him for an arms length; and if he comes nearer to Me for a arms length, I go nearer to him for the span of outstretched arms; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.”

May God grant us the patience and empathy and presence of mind to avoid the minor sins and turn to Him in repentance, Ameen.

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