Human Potential: Turning Back
By Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
This is the fourth of a series of articles by SeekersGuidance scholar Shaykh Yusuf Weltch on the amazing human potential. Shaykh Yusuf poses thought-provoking ideas about what humans are capable of; both success and destruction. In pursuit of perfection, many may feel despair and a sense of failure. What does Allah Most High require from His servants?
Good deeds. Lots of charity. Lots of prayers. Lots of fasting. This is what comes to most of our minds when we hear the word piety. No wonder we despair of achieving piety. This is an example of how our perception of the ‘spiritual journey’ affects our ‘spiritual journey’. The presupposition that Allah Most High seeks from us absolute perfection results in devastating despair and a defeatist mentality.
Did Allah Most High create us to be perfect? In short, no—even though a level of perfection is possible. Allah Most High created the Angels who do not disobey Allah whatsoever, who never tire in glorifying Him, who are not tainted with animalistic human vices. However, He still chose to create human-kind. The Angels, out of sheer curiosity, asked, “Will you put in the land those who will sow corruption therein and shed blood.” Allah Most High replied to them, “Verily I know what you know not.” (Qur’an 2:30)
Angels obey Allah Most High without any internal or external opposition. Whereas, humans have both. Externally we must combat the deception of the Devil, the distracting illusory nature of the world, as well as bad companionship and peer pressure. Internally we must fend off our misguided desires and lusts as well as the fame-seeking ego. This opposition sets us up to either be the best of the best or the lowest of the low.
“By the soul and how He formed it – and inspired it [to know] it’s vice and virtue! – The one who purifies his soul succeeds – and the one who corrupts it fails.” (Qur’an 91:7–10)
By overcoming these obstacles, humans excel past the ranks of the Angels toward the highest levels of spiritual rectitude. But what brings great solace to those who have succumbed to the defeatist outlook on the spiritual journey, is the fact that sinning does not necessitate failure. The Messenger of Allah said, “All of the children of Adam err and the best of those who err are those who turn back in repentance” (Tirmidhi).
About the Author
Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied inheritance law, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance teachers team in the summer of 2019.