trying to remember

Narrated by Umar bin Al-Khattab

I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: “Actions are (judged) by intentions (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended. Thus, he whose migration (hijrah) was to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated.” [emphasis mine]

and

You better check yo self before you wreck yo self

Ice Cube (google it)

Do you ever get find yourself just going through the motions, phoning it in, just playing at it, whatever it is?

I know do, and for all kinds of things. It’s difficult to constantly monitor intention, to regularly check in with the self and make sure I’m doing whatever it is I’m doing for the right reasons, and not just out of habit or whatever, not just because.

As far as possible, our intention should be oriented toward seeking Allah’s Pleasure and avoiding His Wrath. His Pleasure and His Wrath are visited on us in this life, to be sure, but usually we discover benefit or harm over the long term, and His full reward, His full punishment, will not reach us in this world, and for that, we get to wait. Remember always that Allah is the Most Merciful, and He is also the Most Just.

I’ve been thinking about something for several weeks now, and it’s still sketchy, but let me go ahead and sketch it out. InshaAllah it will be of some benefit.

God-made vs. manmade

It’s easiest to think about this in terms of food. It seems that the best possible foods are foods that came direct from God: real, unadulterated fruits and vegetables at the top; legumes and grains; fresh meats. And it seems like the worst possible foods are more or less manmade: twinkles and ding dongs; extreme sausage sandwiches (google it); all that fried stuff at the State Fair…

There is, of course, a whole continuum of health benefit/harm, from the purest of pure goodness to the sweetest, saltiest, greasiest morass of artery-clogging deliciousness. Think, for a moment of drinkable things: on one end you have pure mountain spring water, about as God-made as it comes; on the other you have Flint, MI water, very nearly purely manmade… In between, there’s all sorts of stuff of greater or lesser benefit: fresh squeezed juices, milk, tea, coffee, soda, beer. Sure, the lines get blurred a bit, and you can easily have too much of a good thing. But in general, I, for one, feel better and act better when I hew closer to the God made foodstuffs.

And it’s not just in foods…

Think about filth, about things that need to be cleaned, things that we get on our hands, things that get on dishes that we wash. Last night, I made a quick milkshake out of a banana, some lactose free skim milk, and a bit too much rich chocolate Ovaltine. It was yum, and the blender and glass were very easy to clean. In contrast, I needed some electrical tape a few days ago, and remembered an ancient package of it in the bottom of the toolbox. The wrapper looked suspiciously wet inside, but I opened it anyway and got some sort of sticky funk on my hands. I tried water, I tried hand soap, I tried dish soap, and in the end the only thing that even came close to getting the sticky goo off my hands was rubbing alcohol…

God made the banana and the milk, and humans removed the lactose from the milk and made the Ovaltine, and I used a blender to mix it all together, so my chocolate banana milkshake wasn’t entirely a God made thing, but it was closer than some old, crummy electrical tape. Some group of humans made the tape, probably mass produced by machine, and I left it to rot in the bottom of the toolbox for at least a decade, getting hot and cooling down, getting humid and drying out, etc. In fact, I may have gotten it from Mom’s toolbox when she left for Arkansas, so it might’ve been hanging out in her garage for years and years.

And think about our bodies… God made us to move about, walk, run, toil, but I sit, lie down, and tap on keyboards all day. No wonder my waist is so thick and my arms and legs are so thin, and may God help me to be more active.

And think again about food, more generally. God made all sorts of delicious, healthy foods for us to eat, but we chow down on corporate-made, for-profit, highly addictive salty, sweet, greasy stuff. There are some places in the world where we’ve so deviated (as a society) from the remembrance of God that there is no wholesome, natural food available. We’ve even so messed with the food supply that many of the vegetables we find at the grocery store are so close to man-made that we’re probably better off buying canned or frozen stuff.

But I’m not here to complain about capitalism or corporate greed (though neither came from God and both are entirely man made). I’m here to try and remind myself to remember God, to focus on what I’m doing, what I’m eating, how I’m moving through the world, to examine my intention and make sure that whatever I’m doing is for Allah’s sake first, seeking His Pleasure and avoiding His Wrath.

In short, I’m trying to check myself before I wreck myself.

May Allah guide me to better, and help me to remember Him and give thanks to Him and worship Him in the best possible manner, Ameen.

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