The greatest peril in our relationship with the Divine are the sins (dhunub) of the lower-self (nafs). Sins are transgressions against the Divine will. They are disobedience to Him in what He prescribes and proscribes.
We don’t usually understand sins as having consequences. But they do. Regardless of their consequences, it be should be enough to us that when we commit a sin, we transgress against Allah’s infinite beauty and majesty. No sin is small in relation to the greatness of the One that we commit the sin against.
And because most of us will not worship Allah for who He is, He tells about the consequences of our sins.
The Messenger (ﷺ) teaches me that whenever I disobey Allah, a black spot forms on my heart. If I seek forgiveness and turn back to Him in repentance, that spot is removed. If I persist in my disobedience, another spot appears. And so on – until my entire heart (qalb) is covered and I am veiled.
Is there a greater agony than being veiled from Allah, the Source of everything, the Owner of all peace, happiness and security? Apart from being veiled in the Afterlife from the Divine and subjected to His wrath, there are also different levels of punishment and veiling in this life as well.
The consequences of sins (dhunub) in this life are multifold and numerous. Through study of Islam’s texts, our saintly scholars have enumerated many of the harms of sins. Those harms range from sadness; anxiety and worry; loss of internal energy; contraction of sustenance; spiritual blindness; loss of Divine facilitation in doing acts of worship; physical illnesses; an increased attachment to sin; delaying of repentance; and many other forms of punishment.
Our teachers state that sins (dhunub) are perturbations in the web of our lives that ripple back to affect us – unless Allah forgives and erases their effects. The way we perceive the world, at all levels, is ultimately a reflection of what we are and what we do.
Prophetic texts teach us that when we commit indecency, we are afflicted with ailments; when we withhold obligatory charity, we are afflicted with scarcity; when we commit economic injustice, we are afflicted with difficulty in our sustenance; when we violate the rights of others, we lose our security.
At this deeper reality, our personal, familial, communal, social, economic and political realities are interconnected with our choices of adherence or rebellion to the norms of the Divine. As we mature spiritually and intellectually, this becomes clearer to us. We begin to slowly graduate from perceiving and experiencing the world through a materialistic lens.
And as our experience of causality becomes liberated, wider, and more nuanced to include the spiritual realm, this will undoubtedly affect the way that we interact and act in our social and political engagement. We will place the highest premium on moral character: We will not pursue means that are illegitimate in the sight of the Divine; we will be more sensitive to our failings and shortcomings; and we will regularly turn to Allah in forgiveness and repentance.
Every sin produces a ripple. Every ripple has an effect. The Muslim activist who is disobedient to the norms of the Divine is a negative energy to herself and produces injustice to others.
To truly care for the world demands a better me. It demands a more sensitive emotional maturity and a perceptive spiritual intelligence that recognizes the interconnectedness of all things.
There is no inherent disconnect or contradiction between Islamic Spirituality and social or political activism. In fact, Islamic spirituality is not only relevant but essential to all forms of activism. This podcast with Shaykh Riad Saloojee will present a paradigm for a spiritually-inspired activism where activism achieves what it was always meant to be: a vehicle for nearness to the Divine through genuine individual and social ethical change.
This series will comprise of seven discussions that will explore 1. The foundations of Islamic spirituality; 2. The spiritual ethos that is the basis of all activism; 3. The ailments of activism unhinged from spirituality; 4. The laws that govern activism; 5. The importance of “inner,” spiritual activism for beneficial “outer” activism; 6. Vignettes from Prophetic activism; and 7. An application of how spirituality must inform true environmental activism.
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