To walk the path of righteousness is not an easy business. There are numerous thorns and thistles lying on the way to Paradise – the ultimate reward for piety and righteousness. In a society that is falling fast in the pit of moral depravation, when a conscious person starts to think in response to the calls of his conscience, he gets frightened by only visualizing the consequences of his choice of righteousness. On the one hand, he feels the enormity of the task and on the other, he is convinced that he should change his way of life if only he wanted to please his Master, the Majestic Lord of the world.
He knows that he needs to make an all-out change. In his financial dealings, he has to be utmost fair and in his social interaction, he needs to be modest altogether. Of course, this decision places him on a difficult front to fight both the insatiable urge for wealth and the unbridled lust for sexual gratification. Doubtlessly, this front turns out to be the toughest of all. Notwithstanding the fact that the desire for wealth and sex is naturally present in all humans, the current era has exaggerated it beyond all reasonable limits. The luxurious commodities and rampant promiscuity are the major ingredients of the present age. The media is evil personified. The bits and bytes of immoral characters ceaselessly traverse the minds of the impressionable youth with no exception. Should one resort to seclusion in order to avoid this? But seclusion does not conform to man’s innate nature and has its own demerits.
The influx of luxurious products has given rise to another problem of its own kind. Wondrous innovations have left the modern man in extreme surprise. Each day brings a new edition of the products that propel new demand. We do not only want furniture in our house; we want the most fashionable furniture that no one else has. We simply do not want to have a car; we want to have the latest edition that has just been marketed. Like a moth to a flame, people are going crazy about sophisticated goods and products. A person can be indifferent to them only to become Mr Nobody in the eyes of the society.
To add to his dilemma, what he learns from the learned Muslim scholars, the reservoir of Islamic Knowledge and Tradition, makes him feel that there are a lot of fundamental problems with the received icons of religiosity. More often than not, if he renounces them, he actually galvanizes the society into labeling him as a heretic. All the actual heresies, which only the wheel of time brought into the general approval of public, get so much sanctity that they attain the status of the ultimate criteria for testing faithfulness. One dares to question them only to get the label of an infidel. The world for all its spaciousness is narrowed down on him; the relatives for all their close association bring about an unbridgeable gap; the friends for all their sincerity and frankness begin to observe an odd aloofness. So much so that the state machinery sometimes moves and puts the “infidel” behind the bars and bans his works, if any.
The myriad of juristic differences and a variety of creeds prove yet another nagging area to face as he takes his first steps towards a religious life. Here not the general public but the scholars stand against each other. Whether correct or incorrect, they present arguments for what they believe in. A beginner is only baffled to hear them out. Despite all his sincerity, he as a layman cannot simply understand the technical jargons with which each school criticizes the other. Of all the differences between the Muslim factions, the differences in creed present a sensitive area of concern. Each difference in this area tends to culminate in excommunication. Muslim Scholars consider it their prerogative to threaten anyone with excommunication – a punishment which may sometimes end in the murder of the excommunicated. The verbal tirade and verdicts of kufr that they very generously throw on their opponents leave one in the middle of nowhere. Why these differences? Who is on the right? – are some of the questions that continue to haunt the seeker for a long time.
Without exaggeration, this is the scenario that a Muslim comes across when he decides to renounce the evil ways of Satan and follow the good path of the Lord. Obviously, there is no disputing the fact that such a person needs to meet a welcoming smile for his good decision. Quite paradoxically, however, he is received by an array of problems. It cannot be denied that these problems are part of the supreme divine scheme of test and trial. However, Allah is also testing those who become instruments in the evil plan of Satan to frighten the practicing believers. They should bear in mind that they would be questioned for whatever evil part they performed in the world. It is not only the immediate results of their actions that they would account for; the remote consequences triggered by their actions would also be considered in the divine court of justice. Those who exaggerated minor differences to assert their position, and those who frowned to see a beard on their relative’s face will equally be held accountable.
As for us, we must appreciate that God and His party of angels are there to welcome us. For the differences of opinion, we need not be baffled. Simply put, we are obliged to follow the truth. Where it is possible for us to understand the arguments, we need to evaluate the matter in the light of objective arguments. And where we have no expertise, all we need to do is to follow the scholar that we believe is knowledgeable and sincere. This is only what we are required to do as far the matter of truth is concerned. In any case, however, we have no right whatsoever to disparage the views of others.
No matter what happens we have to stick to the path of righteousness. God understands our strength and weakness. Not a single decision can change the course of our life once and for all. It is a constant battle that shall be fought till our last breath. For each sin, we need to feel sorry and seek refuge in the Lord. But we should never be dissuaded from making a fresh commitment with God. He is there to help us. Just like there are moments in life that test the vigour of our faith, there shall come moments when our faith will be augmented by special blessings of the Lord. It is human to stumble and make a mistake in difficult times; but it is also a requisite of our faith that we refresh our faith, and never make an error once our need is fulfilled legitimately. Unfulfilled need or want may be an excuse for the error committed but cherished wantonness can never be pardoned in the divine court.