Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Between Two Extremes

"One day Prophet Muhammad PBUH), drew a line in the sand for them and said, "This is Allah's path." He then drew several lines to the right and to the left and said, "These are the paths [of misguidance] on each of which is a devil inviting people to follow it." He then recited the verse: 'Verily, this is my path, leading straight, so follow it. And do not follow the [other] paths for they will scatter you about from Allah's path. That is His command to you in order that you may be conscious of Allah' (Hadith by Ahmed).

The line the Prophet drew in the middle was straight and the lines on the sides were curved. At a time when multimedia projector, precision technology and laser guided equipments were surely not invented yet for ensuring accuracy in measurements, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) drew these lines on dry desert sands under the scorching sun. The lesson that he taught his companions through these lines might surprise some; some others might see it as silly; geniuses and super-achieving philosophers might mock at this childish action of the Arabian prophet. However, one can witness for himself how the whole universe and what on it testify to the truth of this simple drawing.

Look at how life on the surface of the earth has been fine tuned for living beings. If the earth's distance from the sun is any greater the planet would grow very cold, the water cycle in the atmosphere would be affected. If the earth was any closer to the sun, plants would burn up, the water cycle in the earth's atmosphere would be irreparably damaged, and life would become impossible. If the speed at which the earth revolves any slower, the temperature difference between day and night would grow enormously. If it were any faster, then atmospheric winds would reach enormous speeds, and cyclones and storms would make life impossible.

This is just a tip of the iceberg of examples in the creation of Allah SWT. He out of His great wisdom ordained balance and equilibrium without any flaws. "You will see no incongruity in the Merciful One's creation. Turn your vision again, can you see any flaw?' (Quran 67:3)

The planets and stars are commanded to obey the smooth order set by Allah SWT. None of them can disobey Allah SWT, their Creator and Administrator, for the simple reason that they have not been imbued with the aptitude of disobeying their Lord. Neither can they imagine of running in disorder, for that will end up in greatest catastrophes. Their duty is to submit to the will of their Lord incontestably. "He said to the heaven and the earth: "Come, willingly or unwillingly." They said: "Here we come in willing obedience' (Quran 41:11)

Quite contrary to the animal kingdom, in the creation of mankind, specific bounties and miracles of Allah Almighty are found. Man has been endowed with the ability to differentiate right from wrong, 'And did We not show him the two highways (Of good and evil)' (Quran90:10) ; equally he has been created as haste in his nature, as the Qur'an puts it as, 'Man is hasty by nature' (Quran 21:37) . This Qur'anic verse provides significant insight into human nature. The subtle acumen in man's creation is that while being haste in nature he is required to adopt a moderate path. With his ability to differentiate between right and wrong man is easily tempted towards evil and those that give instant and immediate pleasure; he is impotent and weak in resolve beyond this imperfect world, as we see everywhere. The root cause of world's problems lies in not understanding this fundamental truth. The lines that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) drew were directly linked to this aspect of human nature. Had he wished, the Prophet (PBUH) could have drawn two parallel lines-one straight and the other curved- and differentiated them. But instead of doing that, he drew several curved lines on the sides and one straight line in the middle. By this simple lesson the Prophet (PBUH) succinctly portrayed the underlying power of the middle path.

Look at the sun, its energy reaches full capacity when it's right in the middle at 12 noon, giving us maximum heat. When you take pills for an ailment, you must take the right amount, neither less nor more, for, if it's less you will not be cured, if it's more you will be adversely affected. A man is very strong only in his youth, neither in the childhood nor old age. Islam teaches us moderation and balance in behavior. Bravery is a laudable trait between cowardice and arrogance; the Islamic moderation is a healthy trait between crude rationalism and fuming sensationalism; between evasive pessimism and pestering extremism; between immediate needs and unachievable desires; between promiscuous sexual practices and celibacy; between lethargy and haste; between intense love and intense hate; between asceticism and materialism.

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Between Two Extremes

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