In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate
Last time, we discussed the concept of religion’s restraint. We discussed how, yes, religion does restrain, but it does so for the greater good. And as proof that its restrictions do make sense, we pointed to some of the ills of our society today, which are the result of unrestricted human lust and greed. As we said, religion does restrain, but in return, we are given spiritual security and true freedom.
Yet, there is another side to this story: the struggle that goes with having to comply with religion’s restraints. It is not easy, and I have to work hard each and every day in order to try to do what my Lord wants me to do.
And the deck is stacked against me. Practically everything in the world around me calls me to disobey my Lord. Not only that, but there are some aspects of being Muslim that restrict my mode of conduct. There are things I can’t eat, I can’t drink, and I can’t do. I do not have a problem with this, but in this day and age, to be religious, many times, is to be out of sync with the rest of society.
It gets hard. But, I have to continue to strive in the path of my Beloved. First of all, it is the ABSOLUTE LEAST I could do. He has given me so much in my life; He has blessed me with so much; He gave me life; He gave me limb; He gave me faith; He gave me liberty to chose any path I wanted, and He graced me with guidance on the true, as I believe, path to Him. I have to work, just a little, to get back to my Precious.
And the beautiful part is, as hard as the struggle gets sometimes, He has given my a guide (pbuh) that told me to make all things easy. His beloved wife said that he was never given a choice between two things but he chose the easier path, so long as that path did not disobey God. Religion is supposed to serve the believer, not the other way around. It is supposed to help the believer on his or her path back to God, to shield the believer from the difficulties of the path, help break his falls on the path. What an awesome God we have, don’t you think?
Yet there is one thing that comforts me as I cope with the struggle of restraint, and it is best expressed in this passage of the Qur’an:
They [the believers] will recline on couches there, seeing there neither sun nor frost. And the shade there will be near them, and bunches of grapes will hang low. And vessels of silver will be passed around among them, and cups of glass, of silvery glass, whose measure they determine. And they will be given a cup to drink there of a blend of ginger, of a spring there called delectable. And there will surround them immortalized children, whom you’d think strewn pearls were you to see them. And when you looked you would see happiness, a magnificent dominion. Covering them will be clothing of silk brocade, green and glittering, and they will be adorned with silver bracelets; and their Lord will allow them to drink a beverage that is pure: “This is a reward for you, as your effort is appreciated.” (Qur’an 76:13-22) [Emphasis mine]
At the end of my struggle, as long as I remain on belief, and the Lord graces me with His overwhelming mercy, I will be graced with a reward unfathomable. And on top of that, the Lord will appreciate my effort!
What an awesome God we have. Truly, what an awesome God we have.