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Road to Reformation (ii)

Publishing Date : 27 April, 2015

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


Reformation is not an overnight journey because it is an uphill slog that requires a lot of time and effort, but in order to achieve reformation we first need transformation. To embark on that road we need to have that inner desire and commitment to change our ways because our lives are so engrossed and fixated with the lifestyle of today.


Unfortunately many of us live lifestyles that are totally out of sync with our religious faith and belief. Our lives, among other things have been overtaken by greed, selfish motives and intentions, lack of sincerity and integrity, hypocrisy and selfishness in all our relations towards our fellow humans.


For a start we need to get back to our basic values of sincerity, integrity and truthfulness. Sincerity is a broad and essential element in our relationship between a believer and his Creator and also spreading to his own fellow humans.

When we make an effort to get closer to our Creator we will find much peace and comfort. ‘….I am indeed near. I respond to the call of every suppliant when he calls on Me. So let them also with a will listen to My call, and commit themselves to me; that they may be rightly guided’ (Quran 2: 186)


Without sincerity our worship cannot be wholehearted because it can be tainted with our own selfish motives and intentions, hypocrisy and selfishness. ‘O, you who believe! Fear Allah and be with those who are true in word and deed’ (Quran 9: 119)


Equally, to be true in word and deed to our Lord, our sincerity and integrity must also be the hallmark in our relations towards our fellow humans because they lead to sincere, honest and genuine relationships. When we live a life of sincerity and honesty it brings our hearts, minds and souls a cleansing because we are at peace with ourselves and with the world.


Many of us are not at peace because of our lifestyles, let me use this example because we can relate to it as one time or the other we have done it. Take the common example of many of us who do things, acquire more possessions and live an extravagant lifestyle just to ‘show off’ and to impress others.  


Those who have spare money can afford it, but most of us run to the banks for access to loans to fund this extravagant lifestyle and as a result it becomes difficult to maintain this because we living beyond our means. So we get into a financial morass falling headlong into debt.


Once this happens we are forced to look around to see how we can pay off those burdensome debts. Some fall into arrears and are forced to resort to any means to service those debts, this regrettably may include a loss of our integrity as we out of desperation resort to any means, illegal and foul. It then becomes difficult to live a balanced lifestyle because we do things that can come back to bite us, as it were.


Extravagance is forbidden in Islam, Allah says, ‘Do not be extravagant; surely He does not love those who are extravagant’. (Quran 7: 31). And: ‘…but squander not your wealth in a manner of a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the evil ones; and the evil one is ungrateful…… (Quran 17: 27).

We should aim for a balanced life style so that while being careful of and watching our spending habits we should not on the other hand become miserly and stingy.
On the love of wealth the Bible says: ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some covet after, they have erred from faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows’.  (1Timothy 6: 10)


The random example given above, dissected, shows among other things that we get into problems because we cave in to our worldly desires. We get driven by pride, greed, arrogance and live a false life. This leads to a stressful situation because our hearts and minds are in complete disarray and in distress.


This is when we need to pause, rewind and to review our life and make honest and sincere decisions to change our ways. Change is the key, but we must remember that it is not always without pain. This is part of reformation because to bring back peace into our lives we first need to bring back order into our chaotic life - this requires transformation.


Someone wrote these wise words when he said; Our future depends on us, and if we are to make it our success we must remember these ten little two letter words “if it is to be, it is up to me’.    


There are many other things in this world that prey on our hearts and minds that create the stresses in and to our lives. We need to manage and navigate through this morass using our inner strength and will. After all to some degree or the other, we all have the striving mechanism within ourselves the power of change.


We have been blessed with the strength of our thoughts, minds and hearts but we under rate them. Many of us sometimes look at the challenges that face us and feel intimidated by them as we find the overwhelming. But with a positive mind set we can turn the challenges into opportunities.

But even with all these things we have to learn the virtue of patience because it is only when problems strike that we begin to see the mettle in some of us. When we face difficulties and challenges we may go into a phase of uncertainty, worry and concern. The only way to deal with this irksome side of our daily lives is to exercise patience and tolerance.


We need to remember that the Quran tells us: ‘As is sure there come guidance from Me, whosoever follows My guidance will not lose his way or fall into misery’ (Quran 20: 123). Further: ‘And We will certainly bestow, on those who patiently persevere, their reward according to the best of their actions’. (Quran 16: 96). And, ‘…for Allah is with those who patiently persevere’ (Quran 2: 153).


Once we have put our trust in our Lord, this brings about peace and harmony, and our spirits are positively bolstered when to turn to our Lord and Saviour in prayer and for guidance. Once we put that faith in the Hands of our Lord, it will set us on the road to reformation.


There is also a verse in the Bible that reads: ‘In your patience possess ye your souls.’ (Luke 21: 19) And: ‘….and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us’. (Heb. 12:1)

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