Why Should I?

What is the matter with the world today? Why all the chaos? Why all the evil? Some people say there is no God; others say God created man then left him alone to do as he pleases; yet others say that they just do not know. What is the reality?
The Islamic view of human nature is that, left to its own devices, humankind has an instinct of what is right and wrong. This comes from an inner consciousness, a part of us right down deep inside that senses truth from falsehood and morality from immorality—even if we do not necessarily act according to that innate knowledge. It is this consciousness that separates man from the animals—the sense of responsibility of what is right and true, and what is not. However, it does not stop there—not only does man have the sense of what is right, he also has the means to do it.

Why should man do what is right? Has man received some kind of responsibility on his shoulders? In Islam, the answer is simply “yes.”

Allah tells Muslims in the Qur’an what means:

{Lo! We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man assumed it. Lo! he hath proved a tyrant and a fool.} (Al-Ahzab 33:72)

Why did the heavens and earth refuse to take on this huge responsibility? The answer is that they just could not imagine having the choice to disobey the Creator and Cherisher of all the worlds, the Owner of the Day of Judgment. That they could put themselves in the position of possibly entering Hellfire and denied the mercy of Allah was simply unthinkable. However, before we were born, all of humankind was made witness to the reality of the Creator and mankind’s role on earth, and we accepted the responsibility of free will and thus, it is now a part of our souls—our consciousness. We cannot escape it.

Therefore, man has the responsibility to facilitate order in this world, and his own soul bears witness to it, as do all the elements of nature surrounding him. Humans feel calm and at peace besides elements of nature like rivers, waterfalls, mountains, and the sea, because nature submits to its Lord and achieves a state of islam (submission and peace), and we feel that peace.

Why does man then ignore this responsibility despite all the obvious proofs of its existence and his ability to fulfill it? The answer is simple—he is living under an illusion: the illusion that he is free in the sense that he will not be held accountable for his deeds and days on earth. The truth is that man has misunderstood his mission in life and forgotten that there are always consequences to every word and action. How can man be completely free when there are always consequences to what we say and do?

There are two kinds of people in the world: If there is an oil spill and a vast amount of nature is spoiled, one kind of person shrugs his shoulders and says, “So what! It doesn’t bother me.” Such a person shows his ignorance and will live with the consequences of his apathy as the world’s resources become less and less. However, another kind of person begins clean-up campaigns, joins environmental organizations, or at least talks about that crime against nature. These people are universally respected. Therefore, human responsibility does exist, but some people just choose to ignore it.

Allah gave man eyes, ears, and all his faculties—everything he needs to be well equipped to fulfill his responsibilities in life. Because He is Just, Allah also gave man instructions (through the prophets and divine books) of what he should do with all these wonderful faculties. Our eyes enable us to see the beauty that surrounds us and to see when danger is approaching, but if we look directly at the sun we will be blinded. Are we free? Is there a right way and a wrong way to use our eyes? Our ears? Ours limbs? Our minds?

We tell our children many things because of our love for them and our desire to protect them from harm. We want them to fulfill their potential. When we are present at home, they are much more likely to obey us. But what about when we are not home? They can choose to obey or to disobey—that is the extent of their freedom. If they choose to obey us, even though we are not present, this is a sure sign that the message we gave them has entered their hearts and that their obedience is not due to fear. Such obedience means that they understand the meaning of the message and they recognize that it is for their own benefit. Do we acknowledge the benefit in Allah’s instructions to us? How far has the divine message penetrated our hearts?

This is like the message Allah gave to Adam (peace be upon him). Allah told Adam and Hawwa’ (Eve) to enjoy everything in the garden, but He the Most Merciful warned them not to go near a certain tree or there would be consequences. This is where the role of Satan comes in. Satan uses man’s dislike for restrictions to enter his heart and confuse him. He works on man’s human desire to be free and he feeds it. It is an inherent part of man’s nature to resist restrictions, but just because it is a part of his nature, it does not mean he can leave it to fester within him. We could also say that anger is a part of man’s nature, but we are all aware of the negative consequences of anger—likewise, man must struggle against his resistance to commands and orders. Adam and Hawwa’ (peace be upon them) chose to disobey. They were free to choose and there were consequences.

Man’s lack of conscience spreads chaos throughout the universe because of the illusion that he is free and will have no consequences for his words and actions. How true is this idea? It is widely acknowledged that all citizens have the responsibility to contribute to the growth and development of their country. What about our responsibility to ourselves, our responsibility to our family, our responsibility to the earth, and our responsibility to our Creator? How can we say we are free? How can we say we have no responsibility?

The concept of the Day of Judgment, a day on which everyone will be given what he or she deserves is described in the Qur’an:

{And in like manner We disclosed them (to the people of the city) that they might know that the promise of Allah is true, and that, as for the Hour, there is no doubt concerning it. } (Al-Kahf 18:21)

We want to enter that final examination (Day of Judgment) as believers. What is the state of the believer? The believer is the person who obeys Allah even if he does not necessarily understand or perceive. For example, the believer believes in the existence of the angels even though he cannot see them. Why? Because he has respect for the Lawgiver. The source of this respect is deep within his own soul if he only cares to see it. Nevertheless, he has the choice to take up this responsibility or to leave it. He can either submit with a knowing, gentle heart that sees the marvels of creation, the worth of his own self, the majesty of the Creator, and bow his head in gratitude and obedience. The other option is that he can twist his head in haughty pride, clinging to his illusion of being free, although recognizing the truth of matters and the need for reform, and say “why should I?” Imanway.com

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