Living The Quran Iniquity Surah Yunus (Jonah) Chapter 10: Verse 23 (partial)
"O you people, surely your iniquity is but against your selves."
Iniquity is defined as harming anything in creation without just cause. The word is a translation of baghi, which is derived from the Arabic word that denotes desire. In this context, the problem is desiring something to the point of transgressing the rights of others to attain it. The iniquity and injustice that people aim at others ultimately work against the perpetrators.
Imam Mawlud makes an analogy between iniquity and a powerfully intoxicating wine (called qarqaf)
that makes one shudder when swallowed. This metaphorical wine is the
"love of position," which is a major motivation that impels some to
wrong others. Even petty office managers oppress their subordinates for
the purpose of marking their territory and securing their positions.
Tyrants on corporate boards pull off power plays to acquire more
authority or remove those whom they perceive to be potential challenges
to their authority or position.
But the world's most powerful leaders, after
finally achieving what they so badly coveted, taste death. All their
power abruptly vanishes at death's door, the great leveler. Their
minions die just the same, those who did whatever they could to move
closer to people of authority.
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp, 32, 33
Understanding the Prophet's Life Responsibility
Even before birth, when a
man is merely an embryo in the womb of his mother, certain
responsibilities are prescribed for him. Bukhari relates on the
authority of Zaid ibn Masud that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Each
one of you is collected in the womb of his mother for forty days, and
then turns into a clot for an equal period, and turns into a piece of
flesh for a similar period and then Allah sends an angel and orders him
to write four things, i.e., his provision, his age at death, and whether
he will be of the wretched or the blessed. Then the soul is breathed
into him. And by Allah, a person among you may do deeds of the People of
Fire until there is only a cubit or an arm-length distance between him
and the fire but then the writing precedes, and he does the deeds of the
People of Paradise and enters it; and a man does the deeds of the
People of Paradise till there is only a cubit or two between him and
Paradise, and then that writing precedes and he does the deeds of the
People of the Fire and enters it." [Bukhari, Ahmed, Muslim]
It is wrong to think that this tradition is in conflict with
the capability of man for responsibility. This hadith intends to
underline three things:
First, it warns pious people
against such evils as may ruin their good deeds, like pride, vainglory,
hypocrisy, and other hidden evils that can render all of a person's
good deeds in vain.
Second, it gives hope to those who have wronged themselves,
for it is still possible for them to substitute the humiliation that
accompanies sin for the honour that always goes with obedience to
Allah's will. This assurance is likely to strengthen their resolve at a
crucial moment and change their attitude from evil to good.
Third, it draws the attention of both the faithful and the sinful to Allah.
If one seeks help from Allah and places trust in Him, one's hidden
capabilities and faculties develop and one finds it easy to perform the
acts that please Allah, while keeping away from those that invoke His
This three-fold purpose creates in man a sense of responsibility that leads him onto the straight path. Compiled From: "Freedom and Responsibility in Quranic Perspective" - Hasan Al-Anani, pp, 43, 44
Blindspot! Ordinary and Uncool
One destructive obsession related to perfectionism is the
fascination with celebrity culture. We desperately flip through
magazines to find out all of the intimate details about
the stars we love and the ones we hate. We want to know who has lost
weight, how they decorate their houses, what they eat, what they feed
their dogs ... you name it. If they eat it, wear it, own it or lose it -
we want to do the same!
We want to share in their lives because we believe it's the way
to bring us closer to the perfection we seek. Celebrities also bring us
closer to another highly coveted asset - coolness. Unfortunately, in a
culture driven by profit, there are multibillion-dollar industries
making sure that perfection and coolness stay as elusive as they are
seductive. There is no such thing as perfect enough or cool enough.
In our culture, the fear and shame of being ordinary is very
real. We seem to measure the value of people's contributions (and
sometimes their entire lives) by their level of public recognition. In
other words, worth is measured by fame and fortune.
Our culture is quick to dismiss quiet, hardworking men and women. In many instances, we equate ordinary with boring or, even more dangerous, ordinary has become synonymous with meaningless. One
of the greatest cultural consequences of devaluing our own lives has
been our tolerance for what people do to achieve their "extraordinary"
Baseball players who pump
themselves full of steroids and hormones are heroes. Corporate leaders
with billion-dollar salary packages are envied, even if their employees
are losing their pensions and benefits at the same time. Young children
are overstressed and suffering from high rates of anxiety due to the
overscheduling of extracurricular activities and the emphasis on
standardized testing scores.
These examples beg the question, what are we willing to sacrifice in our pursuit of the extraordinary?