By Arthur Richards
It seems every day more and more people become disenchanted with religion. Disenchanted with the vestiges of the past that continually tell them how to, or how not to, live their lives. People are looking for change, albeit sometimes change can come in such extreme ways that may seem antithetical to the traditions we purport to uphold. We, the sons and daughters of the diaspora, have lived through the experiences of our forefathers and have seen a world that does not take kindly to our skin, to our voices, to our strength and perseverance. It often leaves behind an unspoken trauma that can leave us questioning the wisdom of the Divine. Trauma that leaves us looking for change, forcing change. It’s to this that God replies, “We did not create the heavens and the earth and everything in between for sport” (21:16).
The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer who murdered George Floyd, recently ended. He was found guilty of all charges but many feared that like in so many other situations, this too would go unpunished, or perhaps the punishment would lack the severity we know it deserves. I also sit ruminating on the news in my family’s mother country of Jamaica of a young, 20-year-old woman named Khanice Jackson murdered.
The role of the believer is to hold on. To trudge on the path until arrival and to realize that despite the circumstances, God can grant ease in any situation.
The world is wrought with evil, and it is very easy to walk through this cold world without a sense of hope, often forgetting that everyone will receive either their punishment or their reward. Not a single soul will escape their death nor their subsequent judgment. Verses like those found in juz’ 17 remind us that this is all in accordance with the Divine will, regardless of whether we see the wisdom in it or agree with it.
That Divine will chose to send a multitude of Prophets and Messengers through immense hardships. Those hardships molded figures such as Abraham, Job, Lot, Noah (God’s peace and blessings upon them all) and others into the examples we draw lessons from today. Difficulty, confusion and even brokenness are all part of the Divine will. I find comfort in knowing that the goal of the believer is following the examples of those great people who have come before us. These are individuals who struggled through insurmountable odds and oppression, all for the sake of the Divine.
For every community We appointed a code of life to follow. So do not let them dispute with you ˹O Prophet˺ in this matter. And invite ˹all˺ to your Lord, for you are truly on the Right Guidance. 22:67
What we’ve been gifted through our faith is a way of living that rectifies our state and uplifts us so that we can rise above the difficulties made to test us. The tests have been coming from both inside and outside of our faith tradition.
What we’ve been gifted through our faith is a way of living that rectifies our state and uplifts us so that we can rise above the difficulties made to test us.
Whenever We sent a messenger or a prophet before you ˹O Prophet˺ and he recited ˹Our revelations˺, Satan would influence ˹people’s understanding of˺ his recitation. But ˹eventually˺ Allah would eliminate Satan’s influence. Then Allah would ˹firmly˺ establish His revelations. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. 22:54
Many of the more recent tests we’ve faced have come from within our own tradition. Mass confusion as to what our Lord has prescribed and whether the tradition that we follow has truly done justice in relaying the commandments in ways relevant to our everyday lives and that our hearts can accept. What we garner from the verse above is that while Satan is at work to leave us bewildered and lost, those who follow the Prophet(s) will inevitably find guidance.
The role of the believer is to hold on. To trudge on the path until arrival and to realize that despite the circumstances, God can grant ease in any situation, just as He can bring life to parched soil. The faith that has been bestowed to us as a gift and mercy by the Divine would not and cannot be lost as well.
Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky, then the earth becomes green? Surely Allah is Most Subtle, All-Aware. 22:63
This reflection is part of Sapelo’s Ramadan 2021 series. To read other reflections in the series click here.
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Arthur K. Richards is a husband, father and teacher of Islam. He is a graduate of English literature and studied under the tutelage of Islamic scholars from Al-Azhar Mosque in Egypt and from Mauritania in West Africa. He specializes in Islamic jurisprudence and works full-time as a digital marketer for the tech startup and crowdfunding website LaunchGood.com