It is quiet surprising that every time I have met so called pious people they have always portrayed God as very strict and unkind. I am always told that if you pray you will go to Heaven, where you’ll get rivers of milk, sugar syrups, chocolates and everything I desire; I will have quite a big number of ‘hoorein’. On the other hand, if I don’t pray, I will burn in Hell. Although I am Muslim by birth, yet I have been told this story thousands of times by various so-called-pious people; it creates a very scary image of God in my mind. I am scared; I prefer Heaven over Hell. So what do I do? Where is the manual for Heaven? Here I am provided a list of do’s and don’ts by so-called-pious people. Since I have always been informed of the hard side of Islam, I have adopted the same mindset. Whenever I am interacting with my family or friends I am strict with them, not because I really care about them or care about God or doing the right or wrong things, but I do care about my Heaven. I perform many Hajjs and Umrahs, not caring that there are people sleeping hungry in my neighborhood; so what if recent floods have washed away the homes of poor people in my country I will perform Hajj and Umrah because it washes away my sins and that will lead me to Heaven. The adequate number of Hajj and Umrah performed makes me feel good; it makes me feel the same way as I do while wearing branded watches and clothes; so-called-pious people appreciate me like I am appreciated by random people for wearing branded stuff. The interesting part of my story is that I forgot my very first and most basic lesson and when your basics are weak, you can’t really clear the test; that lesson was
“Tasbeeh phiri te dil na phriya laina tasbeeh parh ke hoo
You have been counting your rosary beads, but your heart hasn’t taken a turn for the better. What can anyone gain from such a practice?
Ilm parhiya te adab na sikhya laina ilm no parh ke hoo
You acquired knowledge by reading scriptures, But you didn’t submit yourself to their mandate, What can anyone gain from such knowledge?
chilay katay nay kujh na khatiya laina chuliyaan warh ke hoo
You secluded yourself for forty-day retreats, but that too did you no good
Jaag bina doodh jamday na ba ho lal ho wan bhavein karh ke hoo
You may keep boiling milk forever, O Bahu, but unless it is cultured, it will not yield the essence.
– Hazarat Sultan Bahu –
Every person has their own perspective on things; they might or might not have the ability to see things from various angles. I believe that Islam is a religion of peace and love, which in various ways teaches you, how to love and respect your fellow beings irrespective of their religion, creed, color or language. It is necessary to understand God from the perspective of love rather than being scared of Him. Not many people appreciate my point of view and say it is necessary for us to perceive God as unkind because we don’t obey His orders. Okay, Agreed; but when you really love someone, you automatically do not do things that your beloved does not like. If mistakenly you do something wrong, then you apologize profusely and your sweet beloved forgives you.
“Aql ke Madrase se uth, Ishq ke Maikade mein aa”
Get out of the school of wisdom and come in the bar of love
The teachings of Islam that we encounter completely ignore the other side of the picture: the soft side of Islam and the emphasis on the rights of others. We have become intolerant because we are not informed about this loving side of Islam. There are number of events in history where a non Muslim earned great respect in the eyes of God for being kind to an animal so imagine how much respect one would earn if he were kind and loving to His fellow beings. I am not against the practices of Islam, as a lot of them are mandatory. But I prefer to carry out those practices out of love rather than out of duty. What is the point of performing all my mandatory duties if I am not kind to other fellow beings? I can’t love God without loving what He has created. No matter how many prayers I offer, Hajj I perform, fasts I keep, would they make my God happy when His people are not happy with me?
“Parh parh ilm kitaabaan da tu naam rakh leya qaazi
Learning through the rote of books you call yourself a scholar
Hath vich parh ke talvaaraan tu naam rakh leya ghaazi
Grasping the sword in your hand you call yourself a warrior
Makke Madinay ghoom aya tu naam rakh leya haaji
Having visited Mecca and Medina you call yourself a pilgrim
Bullah tu ki haasil kita je yaar na rakhya raazi!”
Bullah, what have you accomplished if you have not remained true to your friend!”
-Kalam e Bulleh Shah-