Work in Progress (No, really)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Good and Evil

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A man who had murdered 99 people came to a cleric and inquired if there was yet hope for him. The story is as follows:

Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Prophet of Allah (PBUH) said: "There was a man from among a nation before you who killed ninety-nine people and then made an inquiry about the most learned person on the earth. He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He replied in the negative and the man killed him also completing one hundred. He then asked about the most learned man in the earth. He was directed to a scholar. He told him that he had killed one hundred people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He replied in the affirmative and asked, `Who stands between you and repentance? Go to such and such land; there (you will find) people devoted to prayer and worship of Allah, join them in worship, and do not come back to your land because it is an evil place.' So he went away and hardly had he covered half the distance when death overtook him; and there was a dispute between the angels of mercy and the angels of torment. The angels of mercy pleaded, 'This man has come with a repenting heart to Allah,' and the angels of punishment argued, 'He never did a virtuous deed in his life.' Then there appeared another angel in the form of a human being and the contending angels agreed to make him arbiter between them. He said, `Measure the distance between the two lands. He will be considered belonging to the land to which he is nearer.' They measured and found him closer to the land (land of piety) where he intended to go, and so the angels of mercy collected his soul."1

Purity is a highly coveted and sought after commodity in our world. It's an idea that in is found quite literally everywhere -- in science we have the idea of purity of elements amongst other things, and "purity" of a particular art/tradition, and perhaps the most prominent one, purity of the self. Maintaining that purity isn't hard, it's next to impossible. In fact, it seems like it is something that more and more people are giving up on. And then, there are people who struggle to purify themselves, and fall back into "corruption."

Everyone falls. But, the ones who stand up after that are ones who are ultimately the champions.

This isn't about getting up though, it's about when to get up. If you get up too soon, you may do more damage than good. To make matters worse, if you get up too late, the psychological damage, the voice that says "you can't do it" gets slowly louder and louder. Suddenly, the ground seems pretty comfortable.

 You know what you need to do. You know you'll probably fall down a few more times. It's not that you want to fall, but it's as if it's beyond your reach, it's as if it's encoded in your nature. It's hard to kick any habit.

This is nafs-e-lawama.

While, getting up too soon may put you through more pain and result in more set-backs than if you would have taken your time, if you can pull through, it's still better than never getting up at all.

I guess the point is, purity isn't mean to be maintained; rather, it's something you strive to attain. It's a journey with no end.

1. Al-Bukhari 6308 ; Muslim: 2744

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