Guide Posts

Guide Posts EYES UPLIFTED (Bashir Ahmad Orchard) “Guide us in the straight path.” (Quran 1:6). In the field of religion the desire of a Muslim is embodied in the above short prayer which he recites thirty-two times during the course of offering the five daily prayers. Many devout Muslims offer additional prayers during the day and even in the night thereby increasing the number of recitations. They beseech God time and time again to keep their feet firmly planted on the Right Path. There is no doubt we are living in a world infected with sin and temptation. Little regard is paid to religious and moral values. The love and fear of God is to be found in the hearts of only a few. Most of the rest being indifferent to the laws of God have little or no faith – not even in the existence of God. They do and please as they choose to satisfy the inclinations of the flesh and their worldly desires. They do not understand and appreciate the significance of holy living. The real purpose of life is to walk in the way of God; and this is the objective taught not only by Islam but also by all revealed religions since the time of Adam: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I commanded you this day for your good.” “Blessed are they that keep my way.” (Deut. 10:12). (Proverbs 8:32). GUIDE POSTS “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways.” “Teach me thy way, 0 Lord.” Jesus taught the prayer: “Thy will be done.” 3 (Psalm 128:1). (Psalm 27: 11). (Luke 11:2). There are some who would like to walk in the way of God but feel they lack the capacity to alter their style of living and there is no chance for them to make the grade. This notion is wrong. Resolution is lacking due to their negative attitude whereas a firm positive approach would soon have them speeding on their way along their spiritual journey. The foremost step to be taken is sincere and earnest prayer for divine guidance and assistance. Prayer is our most effective weapon. All things may be wrought through prayer. “And when My servants ask thee about Me, say: I am near. I answer the prayers of the supplicant when he prays to me. So they should hearken to Me and believe in Me, that they may follow the right way.” (Quran 2:187). God most certainly hears and answers the prayers of those who call upon Him with faith and devotion. The constant prayer of a Muslim is: “Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we implore for help. Guide us in the right path – the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings, those who have not incurred Thy displeasure, and those who have not gone astray.” (Quran 1:5-7). Another essential requisite of the spiritual wayfarer is that he should focus his attention on the ideal state he is striving to accomplish and not upon the pitfalls and snares he fears are likely to entrap him thereby impeding his progress. Imagine a plank of wood on the ground. Normally a person in good physical and mental health would find little difficulty in walking along it from one end to the other. However, if the same plank of wood was placed across the space between two high buildings then most persons would be deterred from walking over the plank for fear of falling. The more they look down the more likely they are to fall. On the other hand, if they look straight ahead and a little upwards, along with a spirit of confidence, then crossing the plank 4 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS should not be such a difficult proposition. Tight-rope walkers look up- never down. Likewise if a person constantly directs his attention downwards upon sin then it is more likely than not he will fall into the very sins he wants to avoid. It would be better for him to focus his attention upwards towards his spiritual goal. It is not meant that he should not be aware of the presence and dangers of sin. The point under stress is that he should not constantly be directing his attention on them as this practice can draw him into their web. The sex problem cannot be solved by constantly drawing people’s attention to the subject. Today sex is highlighted on television, radio, in the press, books, magazines, advertisements, cinemas, theatres and even in children’s educational curriculums. With eyes lowered on sex it is no wonder that so many wrongfully indulge in it in direct contravention to the laws of God. If greater attention was given to the positive ideal of clean and pure living then how much more it would uplift and beautify the character of mankind. It was believed at one time that the public executions of criminals would deter people from committing crimes. On the contrary it was discovered that following public executions murders and violent crimes increased thus proving that brutality begets brutality. Similar is the case with visual scenes of sex as well as written and verbal descriptions about it which is all too prevalent today. The result is the existing permissive society. Yet a further important factor which a spiritual wayfarer should ever keep in mind is the keeping of good company. Truly it has been said that a man is known by the company he keeps. This is a vital point which should never be forgotten. God says in the Holy Quran: “Keep company with the righteous.” (9:119). It is not suggested that we should boycott the company of those who are not our selected friends and companions. In life we have to associate with all kinds of people. Nevertheless we should be careful in the selection of our more intimate company. We should avoid becoming “one of the crowd” or “one of the boys” in order to fit in with those whose way of life is not commendable. The Holy Prophet of Islam is reported to have said that the character of a man takes on the colour of the company he keeps, so one should therefore pass one’s time in the company of the good. We should be cautious with those whom we associate and not fraternise with those whose principles are not good. A bad person should be shunned as he is a curse to others. Good company helps us to be good while bad company leads us to corruption. These three guide lines: prayer, focus on higher ideals and keeping good company will go a long way in elevating the spiritual life of a person.