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Lesson 3: Nature of Obedience

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Lesson 3:




I) Obedience even when it goes against our interests.


It is a lot easier to obey when the matter favors us. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes obedience has to be forced, especially, when it is not in our favor. If to obey Allah (S.W.A) is to do something for our enemy, especially concerning justice, we must do it. This is called doing the right thing.


A) What is the Right thing?


Doing what is right is keeping the strict discipline of obeying Allah (S.W.A)’s commandments: such as Thou shall not kill; thou shall not commit fornication/adultery; thou shall not disobey your parents; thou shall never harm yourselves with harmful substances such as drugs, smoking, alcohol or cutting; thou shall treat your neighbors as you wish to be treated; thou shall not kill your children (no abortion); thou shall pray five times a day; thou shall fast during the month of Ramadan; thou shall never forget to be charitable to others; thou shall never forget your share in this world, so take care of yourself. The list goes on, but the bottom line is, every thing that in your judgment, you feel will please Allah (S.W.A) is a good thing, and therefore right. On the other hand, if you feel that Allah (S.W.A) may frown if something is done, stay far, far away from it, however tempting it may be. It is a wrong thing, and don’t do it. The ultimate guide to doing right is to do what is true and what is just. On the other hand wrong doing or falsehood is what is shameful, unproductive and destructive.


B) What is right is not what is fair.


To do what is right one must always be prepared to live a little bit below the comfort zone. Doing what is right, involves sacrifice; it may be our rights, our turn, our property, or even bending our egos a little bit. That’s why, Allah (S.W.A) exhorts us a lot to learn humility, and warns us sternly against arrogance or pride. Whereas humility makes it possible to compromise our ego, being haughty does the opposite. All this is important because, doing the right thing doesn’t mean doing what is fair. Something may be fair in one’s eyes, but wrong if done in certain situations. For example, if a classmate provokes you in class, it is only fair for you to take revenge. However, will this action be right given the fact that revenge may spark a full fledged fight, teacher gets annoyed, and the whole class disrupted? The right course of action would be to bend our egos and ignore and overlook whoever disturbed us. Allah (S.W.A) advises us,


“And the servants of Allah most gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them the say peace (25:63).”


In many cases we fight not because we are hurt, but because our egos are bruised. Believers are here called upon to take a high ground out of humility and ignore the insult to prevent more problems.


We cannot live our lives as it suits us. We have to follow the Qur’an, and the Sunnah for guidance. That’s why we Muslims can’t say ”It is my life and I can do as I like”. It is not our life and the owner of it will claim it when the appointed time comes to each one of us. We have to live in constant obedience to Allah (S.W.A) in favorable conditions or otherwise if we are to pass the test for which this probationary and transitional life was assigned. If we keep to what is right, we become staunch and fearless and confident. This way we stop reacting impulsively and instead  we start  acting with a firm purpose in mind.. Confirmation - Allah says,


“Men said to them, ‘A great army is gathering against you, so fear them’: but it (only) increased their faith; they said: ‘for us Allah suffices and he is the best disposer of affairs (3:173).’

And they returned with grace and bounty from Allah; no harm ever touched them: for they followed the good pleasure of Allah: and Allah is the lord of bounties unbounded (3:174).

It is only the evil one that suggests to you the fear of his votaries: be you not afraid of them, but fear me, if you have faith (3:175)”.


In fact to do what is right is to promote truth and justice in the best way for all life, and to strictly guard oneself from actions and choices that favor wrong-doing. Satan swore to bring mankind down with his tricks of fear, and with his helpers, and not forgetting inflating our egos, but not so those who have faith in Allah, and are sincere, and do what is right. In most cases, ignoring provocative people is the best way to defeat them without lifting a finger. It is not a weakness. It is strength. Post in more examples of situations where you chose to do what was right as opposed to doing what was fair.


Doing what is right is very hard. It only gets easy by constant practice. Should we master this art of doing right, Allah promises us a generous reward. He promises us his love, too, and eternal life. He says,


“On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will (Allah most gracious) bestow love (19:96).”


“On those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, there is no blame for what they ate (in the past). When they guard themselves from evil and believe and do deeds of righteousness – again guard themselves from evil and believe – again, guard themselves from evil and do good. For Allah loves those who do good (5:93).”


Also Allah (S.W.A) promises us eternal life if we do what is right. He says,


“Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily, to him we will give a new life, a life that is good and pure, and we will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions (16:97)”.


Allah (S.W.A) also assures us that he will reward our efforts and sacrifices in doing right.


“As to those who believe and work righteousness, verily we shall not suffer to perish the reward of any who do a (single) righteous deed (18:30),


For them will be gardens of eternity; beneath them rivers flow: they will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and they will wear green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade. They will recline therein on raised thrones. How good the recompense! How beautiful a couch to recline on (18:31)!”


Let us strive and sacrifice now, and do what is right. With time it will become second nature to us. Remember what is right is the choice that pleases Allah (S.W.A) best. What is right is what is true and what is just. On the contrary we must avoid choices that carry shame, are non-productive or are destructive- for this is the route to wrong doing.