What is going to redeem the human today? The iPhone5? The iPhone6? America’s Next Top Nonsense? The next Jay-Z album? The next Wilco/White Stripes/Indie Band? We can build vessels that can attain and achieve escape velocity but we cannot escape ourselves. Which is why the 21st Century is going to prove to be the century of religion. Maybe not in the way we think, with mass numbers of people entering into Islam: “it ain’t about numbers.”
What is going to redeem the human today? What is going to give us a sense of place in an increasingly globalized, nondescript world in which we live? No matter where you travel to now, you see the same logos, the same brands. And everyone’s struggling to be different with the same things.
A reminder on self-diagnosis:
الدنيا سجن المؤمن وجنة الكافر
“The world is the believer’s prison and the rejector’s paradise.” – Prophet quoted by Abu Hurayrah from Muslim.
However, while this world may indeed be a prison, what prisoner does not dream (or attempt!) to break free? The restraint we show in this life is not to be stingy or dull, but to seek God’s never-ending pleasure and reward in the Next.
God says something fascinating about the relationship between not preferring this life over the next and still taking our lot from it:
وَابْتَغِ فِيمَا آتَاكَ اللَّهُ الدَّارَ الْآخِرَةَ ۖ وَلَا تَنْسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَأَحْسِنْ كَمَا أَحْسَنَ اللَّهُ إِلَيْكَ ۖ وَلَا تَبْغِ الْفَسَادَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُفْسِدِينَ
“Seek the abode of the Next World with what Allah has given you, without forgetting your portion of this world. And do good as Allah has been good to you. And do not seek to cause corruption in the earth. Allah does not love corrupters.’ — Qur’an, 28: 77.
“While the tendency is to look up and tangibility has a habit of “floating away” when we discuss matters of spirituality, my job is to tie a fetter to your legs, your ankles, so you can get a little air, but you don’t fly off into heights that are devoid of oxygen.
Fat Sick & Nearly Dead:
“Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead’s (a documentary) success lay in the ability for its pursuants to identity with its values more than, say, ethnicity. The big guy (who nearly killed himself as a result of his lifestyle) came to identify with that which was lifesaving and life affirming and it gave him a sense and conduit of purpose.”
Indicting the Self:
Love of self is no different than love of another: staring at oneself for the sake of admiring oneself is narcissism and detrimental to one’s health. This is not the same as grooming, for Allah’s Messenger also groomed himself.
Likewise, we hear the adage, “learn to love yourself.” But just like love in a real world relationship, loving oneself must also have conditions: if love of oneself can involve indicting oneself, then this is to be commended. However, love of self that either perpetuates denial and detrimental qualities will lead to ruin just as it would in a real life relationship, only this loss can be a permanent loss in the Here-After.