I was speaking to a young man recently and during the conversation, I heard him say, “I don’t make dua’ anymore.” I asked him, “Why not?” and he replied, “I made dua’ for some things and I never got them so I just gave up!” I asked him if he was happy in his life, he said, “Not really.” Then I asked him if he felt he needed the mercy of Allah in his life, and at that, he replied very enthusiastically, “Of course I do!”
Now this made me think very deeply about some things in life. Is it right that we (mankind in general) go on expecting things from our Creator while we sit down passively, mostly just observing life and hardly doing anything for anyone else unless it somehow fits in with our scheme of things?
Is it right if you, as an individual, want something from your parents but you’re doing and saying things they do not like, going out without their permission, dressing in an unacceptable way, not pulling your weight around the house, and so on, then you just come right out and ask for money, or new clothes, or whatever, and then grumble when they refuse, and perhaps adding how unfair life is and how very unreasonable they are?
Let’s look at it another way. Imagine you had someone you called your friend but this person spoke badly about you behind your back, took your stuff without permission, and only came hanging around when he wanted something — then one day he comes to you and asks a big favor. Most likely you would tell him to forget it and simply ignore him if he started complaining.
So we all acknowledge that on the human level life is a matter of give-and-take; it’s a matter of rights and responsibilities.
What about your relationship with your Creator? Is it right that we enjoy the bounty of this marvelous creation and, even though everything was created for the benefit of man, we go ahead and make use of things for our own benefit and comfort without thinking of others? Is it right to fail to give others their rights and expect our rights, and often fail to take care of the creation that Allah provided for us?
How often do you use things that you know will pollute the environment — the same environment that Allah created for you? Dropping litter, using chemicals, and generally tapping into the wasteful and excessive way of life in the modern world, without really thinking seriously about your responsibility to yourself, those around you, the world, and your Creator. Then when you get sick because of the polluted and chemical-filled environment, you turn in desperation to the Lord of all asking for help and healing. Then as soon as you are well again, you go back to the old habits of misusing, if not destroying, the environment. How Merciful Allah is! Even though you keep making the same mistakes, even though you misuse yourself, others, and the world around you, He still comes to your aid! He, the Almighty, gives you enough opportunity to change, to see the errors of your ways, and to make a fresh start.
Have you ever noticed how your body heals as does the environment? So where is your place in all this? A person can drink alcohol and abuse his body until he gets liver disease — and then blame fate! Likewise, a person could neglect the rights of his family and even abuse them when he is in the prime of his life and filled with strength, but when he gets old and is left alone and feeling lonely, he curses life and complains how difficult life is! Do you find that you sometimes do things like this?
Have you ever passed by a river that is polluted and said how awful it is that “mankind” destroys nature? But then haven’t you ever tipped chemicals down the sink that end up in the river system, and somewhere along the line, contributed to this awful state of pollution? What I want to say is that you have to be willing to take your responsibilities seriously. The first step is to realize that Allah has called upon mankind to be the caretakers of this world.
Allah the Almighty said: “You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Maruf ( i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden) and you believe in Allah…” (Qur’an 3:110)
You have to understand that the nature of this life is not just to make money and live a comfortable life of ease. You have to be willing to give: to give to those around you, your family and friends, and your communities; to participate in the voice of society that calls for justice; to speak out against violations against mankind and the earth. When toxic waste is dumped, what do you do? When logging companies are allowed to destroy one of the last remaining rainforests on earth, what do you do? When people are abused and oppressed, what do you do? If your answer is “nothing.” Then you should think again.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Whoever, among you, sees something abominable should rectify it with his hand; and if he has not strength enough to do it, then he should do it with his tongue; and if he has not strength enough to do it, (even) then he should (abhor it) from his heart, and that is the least of Faith. (Muslim)
Allah created us to worship Him, and a part of that worship is to keep within His boundaries — the rules He has provided us with, knowing full well that whatever He has ordered us to keep away from is in fact bad for us.
So imagine a person who is selfish, stubborn, and harsh. He couldn’t care less about the effects of dumping his factory’s toxic waste into any place convenient (for them). He lives his life trying to make more and more money and gathering up material wealth; he doesn’t really care whose head he steps on to get up the social ladder, and basically he doesn’t really care about anyone except himself. If such a person prays to the Creator of all-should he expects his dua’ to be answered? Listen to what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about this:
“Allah the Almighty is good and accepts only that which is good. Allah has commanded the Faithful to do that which He commanded the Messengers, and the Almighty has said: “O ye Messengers! Eat of the good things, and do right.” And Allah the Almighty has said, “O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you.” Then he mentioned the case of a man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty and who spreads out his hands to the sky saying: O Lord! O, Lord! While his food is unlawful, his drink unlawful, his clothing unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully, so how can he be answered?” (Muslim)
What does Allah want from you? Remember He gave you your life, your family and friends, a series of situations, and all the creation around you. Do you think He gave you all this just for fun and games? Or to realize the reality, understand yourself and your role in life, and appreciate your Creator and spread the message of truth wherever you are?
The mercy of Allah is ever-present. It is you who must learn how to tap into that mercy and learn to live your life in a way that will make you deserving of that mercy. The same power that controls the universe promises to turn to you if you turn to Him! It’s like this because your Creator gave you freedom of choice, so you can try to face life either with His help or without it.