The Imam that gave the khutbah on the Friday before Ramadaan started said something that was really concerning. It came across as his interpretation of what was being stated in the verse or hadith that he referenced, and has left me feeling uneasy ever since. Even more so because I spent the better part of the first week of Ramadaan unable to fast due to illness.
He claimed that those people who did not fast, or at least did not observe the benefits of the month of Ramadaan, it was Allah’s way of excluding them because Allah didn’t need their contributions. This concerns me because it seems to go against the principle that Allah will guide anyone who chooses to be guided. If we disagree with this view, it would imply that Allah will actively misguide someone, and if that happens, then two key issues arise. Firstly, what chance has a person got of achieving Jannah if they are being misguided by Allah? None. Secondly, if Allah is misguiding them, then how can they be held accountable for being misguided? They can’t, since they have no power against Allah’s will.
So, logically, I cannot accept that interpretation to be true. It further got me reflecting on the benefits that I may be losing out on because I was unable to fast. Was I being deprived of Allah’s mercy for a fasting person, or was I in fact being blessed with having my sins expiated during a month where every good is increased tenfold? Trusting that Allah’s mercy precedes His anger, I am inclined to believe the latter.
The ‘fire and brimstone’ approach of encouraging people towards good was never a hallmark of the advice given by Rasulullah (SAW). This is something that I most often notice from ‘scholars’ (and I use that word lightly) that mimic their non-Muslim counterparts, and often, it stems from the cultural tendencies of the East where kids are raised by fear of repercussions rather than love for compliance. I am of North Indian descent, so this is my first hand experience, and not conjecture. I’ve witnessed many rituals being contaminated by this same mindset, especially where the issues border on mysticism, or include the jinn. The amount of cross cultural contamination of Islam amongst Indians and Pakistanis is extremely concerning. And I guess the words of the Imam on that Friday just raised all those alarm bells again for me.
This is not a generalised swipe at all Muslims of Indian or Pakistani descent. There are many that are actively involved in clearing the misconceptions about what is Islam versus what is cultural baggage. I guess I just despise the approach to Islam that seems to focus on the potential punishments behind every non-compliance rather than focusing on the beauty and benefit that can be gained from complying. The mind set is vastly different between the two, and chances are we’ll see a lot less rebellion in teenagers and adults alike when they eventually grow old enough to be immune to the threats of their parents and teachers if they don’t do what is expected of them.