Growing up in the 90’s, one of the fiercest challenges we had was racing with our siblings to pick up a ringing phone. Like Neo in The Matrix (parts 1 and 2 of course) it was more than just a matter of life and death. The winner claimed victory by running to his mum telling her about the calling Aunt, only to get the “tell her I’m not here” trophy. Why do we do that? , over the years we have all grown up tuned to the idea that small “white” lies aren’t wrong. This ideology spreads out to other actions where I wonder how many of us including myself, stole from the vending machine because it took extra coins last week, or flicked a cigarette out the window while driving, lied about being on the way to someone, filled a couple more hours on the work time sheet because the “company underpays you and takes so much of your time anyways”, and the list can go on to an endless loop of negative actions.
The sequel of the problem lies in the justifications we give ourselves, the guilty pleasures, “everyone does it” “if you don’t do that you won’t progress in life” “you’re a perfectionist and all these arguments are theoretical”. Day by day we seem to forget the ideals that we were raised upon, the legacy, the suffering, and the waged wars the Prophet (PBUH) had to go through for us to be born Muslims where our Muslim ideals seem to be evaporating in the air. It also hurts the most that these actions are done by us: people who pray our daily 5, fast our holy month, and pay our yearly zakat.
There seems to be a general misconception that a good Muslim is a good Muslim on the outside, how can this be true when the Prophet PBUH said:
الإيمان بضعٌ وسبعون أو بضعٌ وستون شُعْبة، فأفضلُها قولُ: لا إله إلا الله، وأدناها إماطة الأذى عن الطريق،
“Faith is seventy- or sixty- some odd branches. The most virtuous of them is the statement, ‘There is none worthy of worship but Allah.’ And the lowest of them is removing something harmful from the path.”
A part of our faith, our internal connection with God and how we’ll be judged by Him, is removing something harmful from the path. This is how serious these small actions are, or how it is really not “not a big deal”.
The prophet also said:
إِنَّ الصِّدْقَ يَهْدِي إِلَى الْبِرِّ وَإِنَّ الْبِرَّ يَهْدِي إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ وَإِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَصْدُقُ حَتَّى يُكْتَبَ صِدِّيقًا وَإِنَّ الْكَذِبَ يَهْدِي إِلَى الْفُجُورِ وَإِنَّ الْفُجُورَ يَهْدِي إِلَى النَّارِ وَإِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَكْذِبُ حَتَّى يُكْتَبَ كَذَّابًا
Verily, truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man may speak the truth until he is recorded with Allah as truthful. Verily, falsehood leads to wickedness and wickedness leads to the Hellfire. A man may tell lies until he is recorded with Allah as a liar.”
Allah in his book continuously reminds about the limits of our actions and their consequences, and on a personal note, never in the Quran did I see an implication of “You can do that for just a few times and if no one is hurt”, The rulings came on the action without any quantitative limit ; lying is wrong period, defrauding is wrong period. In the Quran there is an entire Surah named after people who defraud
وَيْلٌ لِّلْمُطَفِّفِينَ ﴿١﴾ الَّذِينَ إِذَا اكْتَالُوا عَلَى النَّاسِ يَسْتَوْفُونَ ﴿٢﴾ وَإِذَا كَالُوهُمْ أَو وَّزَنُوهُمْ يُخْسِرُونَ ﴿٣﴾ أَلَا يَظُنُّ أُولَـئِكَ أَنَّهُم مَّبْعُوثُونَ ﴿٤﴾ لِيَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ ﴿٥﴾ يَوْمَ يَقُومُ النَّاسُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿٦
Woe to those that deal in fraud, Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure, But when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due, Do they not think that they will be called to account? On a Mighty Day A Day when (all) mankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds?
No matter how small or big, taking any money that is not clearly yours is wrong, regardless of your current pay, past experiences, current financial problems etc.
However,This does not mean that we are bad people because we pray and fast but coincidentally perform such sins, in fact, daily practicing should be a reason we refrain from such actions, Allah SWT in his Book says:
اتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ
Recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do.
Prayer and internal monitoring should be complimentary, a good Muslim is a good Muslim on the inside and the outside and on That day, we will be judged on all our actions, both the seen and the unseen. And finally if you think the “System is cheating you off” it shouldn’t be an excuse to perform wrong actions, just wait for Allah to give you back what is rightfully yours
إِنَّ رَوْحَ الْقُدُسِ نَفَثَ فِي رُوعِيَ أَنَّ نَفْسًا لَنْ تَمُوتَ حَتَّى تَسْتَكْمِلَ أَجَلَهَا وَتَسْتَوْعِبَ رِزْقَهَا ، فَأَجْمِلُوا فِي الطَّلَبِ وَلا يَحْمِلَنَّ أَحَدَكُمُ اسْتِبْطَاءُ الرِّزْقِ أَنْ يَطْلُبَهُ بِمَعْصِيَةٍ ، فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُنَالُ مَا عِنْدَهُ إِلا بِطَاعَتِهِ
” The Loyal Spirit (Gabriel) has inspired in me that: no soul (man) shall die until it gets all its sustenance, so be nice in requesting, let the delay in giving something of sustenance not make you ask for what Allah has through disobeying Him, for surely nothing from what Allah has, shall be got except by His obedience.”
None of us are born perfect nor will ever be, the challenge lies in fighting our own selves to reach perfection.