Ramadan: Recognizing the Traps (10)

I realize that yesterday’s recap might resemble a slippery slope. Does getting deep into the disliked necessarily lead to minor sins? Do major sins point directly to innovation?

Of course not. Usually, the devil is whispering to us about most of them, most of the time.The accursed Satan hates humanity and wants to drag us into hell with him. He swore that he would:

“My Lord, because You have put me in error, I will surely make disobedience attractive to them on earth, and I will mislead them all, Except, among them, Your chosen servants.”

قَالَ رَبِّ بِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأُزَيِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ

Al Hijr, 39-40 (The whole story of creation is worth a read.)

So if you think he’s going to let you be with merely praying at home instead of walking to the masjid, or contribute to the masjid expansion instead of feeding the poor in your local community (i.e. choosing the lesser of two goods), think again.

But there is a bit of a slope, and it is a bit slippery.

Back in my days of ignorance, I did a load of silly stuff, but by the time I got out of grad school, I had removed many of my more destructive habits. Then, I moved in next to the founding members of a local graffiti crew and started hanging out with them, nominally as a sort of ethnographic study, but really because I was lonely and in need of some company from time to time, and because they’re decent people for whom I continue to have great love and respect, even though I don’t contact them much.

When I started hanging out with them, I hadn’t smoked marijuana in more than a year, and had no intention of starting up again: I didn’t like how sluggish and stupid I felt during the hangover period, so I quit. But DSC smoked all the time, and within about 2 months of hanging out with them, I was toking along with them, burning through days, weeks, months, getting drunk in the afternoon and evening, then getting high all night, passing out for some hours, running my job hunt activities until the drudgery and depression got the better of me and then going for beer: lather, rinse, repeat.

Sure, I was drinking and smoking and cussing when I arrived, but hanging around with a bunch of marijuana users for a bit started me thinking that maybe it was ok, that maybe I could handle the hangover without any problems, that they were doing alright—better than I was even—so smoking a bit wouldn’t hurt.

Granted, I’m not the brightest bulb in the pack, but I do hold my own in many situations, by the grace of God alone. But I don’t think I’m alone in finding myself pulled from one questionable activity to another.

Will my avoidance of the masjid and many neighborhood activities lead me to commit murder or begin to associate partners with Allah azza wa jall? ASTAGHFIRULLAH! InshaAllah not, and may Allah protect us all.

The devil does tempt us with many things, all the time, and we must constantly be on guard.

Seek protection from satan the accursed. Say “A’udhu billahi min ash Shaytanir Rajim.” (I seek protection from Satan the accursed.)

Seek forgiveness. Say “Astaghfirullah.” (Forgive me Allah!)

Beg Allah to change the condition of your heart and keep you on the straight path. Say “Ya Muqallibal Quloob, thabbit Qalbi ala Deenik.” (Oh Turner of Hearts, keep my heart firm upon your religion.)

See protection for all manner of ills. Say “Allahumma inni a’udhu bika minal-hammi wal-Huzni wal-‘ajazi wal-kasli wal-bukhli wal-jubni wa dala’id-dayni waghalabatir-rijal.” (O Allah, I take refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being over powered by men.)

Keep up with your 5 daily prayers, and if you can, try to pray the sunnah prayers (2 before Fajr, 2 after Dhuhr,* 2 after Maghrib, 2 after Isha’a).

Fast the month of Ramadan, and if you can, fast some additional days: Monday and Thursday is Sunnah; the 3 white days (14, 15, 16 of every month) are also Sunnah; Fasting Ramadan and then 6 days during Shawwal is said to be the equivalent of fasting the entire year.

And, above all, don’t be a jerk. Call your mother, call your father from time to time, keep up with your aunts, uncles, cousins, and not just via the effbook. Try to encourage merging on the highway, slow up a bit and let that guy cut in line: you’re all stuck in traffic, one car length isn’t going to hurt you. Try to avoid littering, and if you can, maybe pick up a bit of someone else’s litter from time to time. Remember that the customer service person is just another overworked, underpaid, indebted wage slave with no opportunity for advancement (probably) much like you, realize that you’re all struggling in the same quagmire, and try not to take your frustrations out on them. There are loads of ways to avoid being a jerk, and more and other ways to be a better, and even decent person.

In short, pray, fast, and don’t be a jerk. If you have the opportunity, try to do more (but follow the Sunnah to do it!), and if you can’t, InshaAllah, Allah will judge you on your intention and what you actually do, and not what you were unable to do.

I know I’m a sinner. I expect you’re a sinner too. The only thing to do, is seek protection from the devils’ whispers, beg for forgiveness and try to be better.

May Allah bless us all, and may He protect us from the evil in ourselves and the evil from outside ourselves, and may He guide us to be better slaves, Ameen.

And that brings me to the end of this series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and if you’ve benefited, it’s from Allah alone, and please pass it on to some of your friends. I don’t profit from any of this: no ads, no sales pitch. I just hope it helps you. And if there’s any errors, if it’s off-putting to you, that’s from me and the devil.  Astaghfirullah.

Stay tuned for more in my special photograph-free Ramadan posts. InshaAllah I’ll be posting one new thing of unknown length and InshaAllah some benefit every day during this blessed month.

Subhanaka Allahumma wa bihamdika, ash-hadu an la ilaha illa Anta, astaghfiruka wa atubu ilaik. (O Allah, You are free from every imperfection; all praise is for You. I testify that there is no true god except You, I ask Your forgiveness and turn to You in repentance.)

*There is some disagreement on this. Consult your madhab, an Imam you trust, or some reliable source, and as with everything else I write, any truth or benefit is only from Allah azza wa jall and any error is from me and the devils.

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