Sunday, 2 September 2012

Avoiding Bankruptcy on Judgement Day

There are two things that concern me about our society: one is that backbiting has become so rampant that it is almost an acceptable norm, and two is that cultural traditions are venerated at the expense of faith.

One of the signs of a grateful heart is using Allah's favours for the purpose of pleasing Him. Of the countless blessings of Allah, one that is so easily taken for granted is the tongue, the organ with which we enjoy food and speech. A grateful servant withholds his tongue save for words that please Allah, especially when it concerns speech about others.

Sins committed to others will not be pardoned by Allah until they are pardoned by the wronged; on the Day of Reckoning when money has no value, scores are settled with deeds, but in our society people seem to disregard this and enjoy talking about others very much. People seem to particularly enjoy and feel no remorse about making negative assumptions, backbiting, and slandering other people. Allah clearly says in 49:12 that a lot of negative assumptions are merely a sin, and that talking about the fault of others is likened to eating the flesh of a deceased family - something that is repulsive both literally and figuratively/emotionally, yet the weaknesses of others seem to be a favourite topic of conversation every time people get together. This is one of the reasons I avoid social get-togethers: I would rather not fall into the grave sin of idle chats and backbiting, even if it is only to be in the company of backbiters.

The great prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also warned of bankruptcy that is far worse than the financial bankruptcy one can ever experience on this earth. He said "Among my ummah, the one who is bankrupt is the one who will come on the Day of Resurrection with prayer and fasting and charity (to his credit), but he will come bankrupt (exhausted his good deeds) because he reviled others, brought calumny against others, unlawfully devoured the wealth of others, shed the blood of others and beat others; so his good deeds would be credited to the account of those (who suffered at his hand). And if his good deeds run out before judgement is passed, some of their sins will be taken and cast onto him, then he will be cast into the Fire." (Sahih Muslim). The average person may obviously not kill or injure others with his hand, but how easy it is to kill and injure, and cause the fall of others with the tongue!

The Prophet (PBUH) reminded us that each person has three rights: of his blood, his property and his honour. So we do not kill him, or take what is his unlawfully or backbite him. On this note I am perplexed by how strongly some people hold on to traditional customs even when the custom contradicts Islamic teachings. We often hear of the old adage that loosely translated means 'let the child die but never the custom', which, if one was to literally apply this, has one going directly against the Prophet's teachings by robbing the child of his right to live. The Kingdom of God transcends borders of creed and colour, and when rituals of culture clash with Islamic rule the latter prevails. However, this saying is purposefully urging the community to do the opposite: uphold tradition no matter what it takes. This is a counter-productive philosophy that we need to dispose of, if life in the next world is our priority.

If we are truly concerned about the solidarity of our community then we should focus on educating them about the Islamic way of life, where people do not spend time talking behind other people's backs and aiming for their fall. The Islamic life is about spending God's favours in His way and maintaining good stewardship of the planet. Solidarity will come when people live harmoniously as a result of tongues that are kept to kind words.

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