Sins. They come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. You’ve got your major sins, the main one being associating anything with Allah (SWT), and you’ve got your smaller sins like taking a second look at the beautiful person on the magazine cover at the grocery store check-out counter. You may not realize it at that moment but that tiny second look, the one you justify as ‘unintentional’ or ‘innocent,’ could trigger a reaction you may never have seen coming. Those tiny sins that are avoidable should be avoided. While leaving all sins inward and outward, big and small, is the goal, we have to recognize that we do not have the capacity to stand up against sins when we insist on being in the environment where they are rife. Sure, we might be able to avoid it once or twice but eventually that tiny domino of resistance will be knocked over and… ‘knock‘… ‘knock‘… ‘knock‘… there will be a reverberation, a chain reaction of the wrong kind. Before you know it, you might find yourself at a place you never imagined possible, sinning like you’ve never thought possible. And then the final ‘knock,’ the one from which there is no return: death.
Shaykh Husain mentions a poem in one of his talks, a poem about a man on a seashore:I saw a holy man on the seashore wounded by a tiger.
No medicine could relieve his pain; He suffered much,
but he nevertheless constantly thanked God, the most high, saying,
“Praise be to Allah that I have fallen into a calamity and not into sin.”
The man on the seashore prefers physical death but a heart untarnished by sin, over death of his heart, blackened from sins.
Funny how at the first sign of a cold we run for the vitamin C, chicken soup, echinacea, ginseng, etc. Funny how we recognize the danger in standing in the middle of a busy highway as very potentially harmful to us. Funny how we try to avoid getting sick and if we do get sick, we seek remedies. Funny how we try to avoid death by avoiding taking unnecessary risks. Yet… we are negligent of sickness and death of our hearts.
Recognize that sin is like death, that sin is worse than death.
Now look at the flip-side. If we can recognize that sin is worse than death and avoid those little ‘unintentional’, ‘innocent’ sins by avoiding certain environments… and… if we can recognize that Allah (SWT) is the only one who can give us the tawfiq to avoid sins, and open our hands to him in sincere prayer begging Him “Oh Allah! Please forgive me, I am not able to do this as I do not have the ability and strength to resist. Oh Allah! please forgive me and give me the tawfiq to avoid sins. Oh Allah! Please accept my prayer…” Then, Allah (SWT) willing, we might be able to recognize a different sort of chain reaction where, with each little sin we are able to leave, it becomes easier and easier to leave others. And, using Shaykh Husain’s anchored ship analogy, as we get rid of each anchor of sin, our ship of imaan is able to make way and move; but until then, we are stuck where we are anchored with dozens if not hundreds if not thousands of anchors that restrict our progress. We’ve got to start somewhere, we’ve got to be consistent and persevere and, Allah (SWT) willing, progress will be swift and that unsurmountable task will be accomplished… Glory be to Allah (SWT), the Cherisher and Sustainer of all.
Then, we might even notice a reverberation of positive sorts where our actions speak to others and become the means by which Allah (SWT) guides others out of sin and onto the path of righteousness.
May Allah (SWT) grant us the tawfiq to avoid sins and purify our hearts. Ameen.