As salaam alaikum,
As the days pass, I can't believe how much of the Qur'an I've read through! It's because somehow, we're almost a third through Ramadan. And to that I say noooooo not already! We've just started! What have I been doing with my days?
The fact is, August is a busy month, what with applying to residency, which is a multifaceted and difficult process...and I'm still a medical student rotating through hospitals. And I'm still trying to be the best doctor I can be.
And then, there's K...and I'm sorry, baby boy, I struggle to not let anything come between me and God normally, and I definitely will not let you distract my Ramadan!
I feel like the first few ajiza' give me the necessary wake-up call I need to get my Ramadan jump started. It's all like, yeah, true believers hold their prayers sacred, where are you with that, mistress ma'am? And then I'm all like, oh, shame on me...I need to do better, I know...
And then, there comes the uplifting, inspiring stuff. So we're getting closer.
Here's something that year after year I must have missed:
"And, verily, the evil impulses [within men's hearts] whisper unto those who have made them their own that they should involve you in argument [as to what is and what is not a sin]; and if you pay heed unto them, lo! you will become [like] those who ascribe divinity to other beings or forces besides God." (6:121)
This is the second part of an ayah that starts talking about only eating food on which the name of God was pronounced, but look at that! This is a powerful ayah...it cautions us against arbitrarily outlining what we believe to be a sin and what is not, thus elevating our own morality or someone else's above God, therefore taking as divine something other than God...which is like, whoa. How many times do we as human beings do this? With my brother's voice, I say, "We really ought to be more careful!"
Anything can become a so-called "deity" or being that we give a share of God's divinity to. The following hit home as well:
"And, likewise, their belief in beings or powers that are supposed to have a share in God's divinity makes [even] the slaying of their children seem goodly to many of those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God, thus ruining them to ruin and confusing them in faith. Yet, unless God had so willed, they would not e doing all this: stand, therefore, aloof from them and all their false imagery!" (6:137)
I think in this culture, we give Happiness a divine station in place of God, often, such that happiness becomes the purpose of life, an empty value that, depending on how we slice it, will mean little to nothing in the Hereafter. Happiness will not come to save us if our destination is Hellfire.
Haha, I'm sounding more fire-and-brimstone than I usually do. The following actually brought me comfort - It's long, but 6:151-153 basically outlines all that we shouldn't do and all that we should do to be good with God. My mother called this to my attention one day as I was stressing about whether or not I was a good enough Muslim. It's pretty simple and stress-free. It's like, oooh, ooh, I can do that.
"Say: "Come, let me convey unto you what God has [really] forbidden to you: "Do not ascribe Divinity, in any way, to aught beside Him; and [do not offend against but, rather,] do good unto your parents; and do not kill your children for fear of poverty--[for] it is We who shall provide sustenance for you as well as for them; and do not commit any shameful deeds, be they open or secret; and do not take any human being's life--[the life] which God has declared to be sacred--otherwise than in [the pursuit of] justice: this He has enjoined upon you so that you might use your reason." (2:151)
Just the first part I had to put in there. We are also enjoined to not touch the orphan's belongings, and called upon to act justly, observe our bond with God and to be constantly conscious of Him. These are things that are, actually, moderately easy to do (or not do). And that makes all of this seem easier...after the fire-and-brimstone seeming last few ajiza', things have calmed down...
"Whoever shall come [before God] with a good deed will gain ten times the like thereof; but whoever shall come with an evil deed will be requited with no more than the like thereof; and none shall be wronged." (6:160)
What a great and generous justice system that is! That's why praying five times a day is a blessing...that's 50 good deeds a day for whatever bad deeds we've committed in a day. This is why believers, who are going to be striving to not be doing bad, don't need to worry...even though so many of us do worry, anyway...it's what keeps us motivated, keeps us striving...
And if I may switch to Yusuf Ali's rendering to end with an ayah my mother once read to me that really stuck with me...be careful of Satan everywhere!
"He said: "Because thou hast thrown me out of the way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on thy straight way: Then will I assault them from before and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor wilt thou find, in most of them, gratitude (for they mercies)." (7:16-17)
Satan is around us everywhere, and how many of us are really grateful for the mercies of God?