Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A HoLe in tHe Road of ConTinuitY SwalloWs InteGriTy

A HoLe in tHe Road of ConTinuitY SwalloWs InteGriTy 

When you are on a roll, you should try and keep on rolling, as long as you are rolling towards the right place. As soon as you stop, you might find it difficult to get moving again. Movement is life and inactivity is death.

If we stop for too long we can forget how to move, how to steer and where we were going. We are on a vehicle that doesn't seem to stop in one place for too long, like it is sloping upwards so that it is engine driven upwards or rolls inevitably backwards. We can't always pick up everything where we left off, so it's better not to stop in the first place if we don't have to.

When our engine stops we can get distracted by everything except what we want to be distracted by. If someone is regarded as a danger to a particular group of people, and that individual's work is feared, the endangered group will do all it can to hinder the work of that dangerous individual. A whole city may not produce one thinking man, but one thinking man might make a whole city think or he may even give birth to a city, which although impressive, could be quite painful. Stop that man thinking, break his concentration, cut off his flow, throw him off balance and see how quickly he can fall. Take your eyes off the ball and the ball can hit you in the face.

When you are in the right gear and moving forward any break in concentration, any wrong handling of steering or obscuring of the way ahead may turn the vehicle off the road. Consider the thinking man requiring silence to hear his own thoughts, any disturbance may break the walls of the castle he built in his mind and the bricks may become lost. All the kings horses and all the kings men might not be able to put Humpty Dumpty together again, and that's quite a problem because a lot of children wont ever get to see him sit on the wall. And that wont do in a society where people get along by building walls and sitting on fences or walls.

When we engage in productive work we are flowing like a river, we may switch direction and change speed several times due to the environment, but we remain a river while flowing. If we stop prematurely we can fast become a stagnant pond, we can't move and then we can't breathe. If the river meets an obstacle it needs to maintain the momentum to overcome the barrier or break through the dam. When it does so, it demonstrates its drive and direction and its unwillingness to cease its own nature and purpose. If the work has to be done, then has to be done so its best not to listen to the detractors and distractors. 

Aisha reported that the Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, 
 "The actions most loved by Allah are those done continuously, 
even if they are small." (BUKHAARI, MUSLIM)  

Continuity allows us to repeat our actions until we gain proficiency, it allows us to prepare for what our past journey showed us.

Continuity makes tasks easier through familiarity. This is not only familiarity with the task itself but all the matters associated and surrounding it. The expert smoothly enters the world of the familiar whereas the novice is thrown into the world of the unknown.

Continuity instills discipline. The continuous application of effort, thought, and focus translates our purpose into facts rather than dreaming about them. Laziness and escapisms can become a virus in a body which has allowed its defences to be breached through indiscipline, stagnation and carelessness.

Continuity moves us closer to the gates of success. Interruptions and stalling of a task or project make it's end more distant and can result in demotivation or losing interest altogether.

We are creatures of habit, if we instill the right actions on a regular basis, we build our nature and our personality, we become our actions and are then known by them. A writer writes, a builder builds, a fighter fights, a thinker thinks and a mover moves. Similarly, a quitter quits. Our bodies are withering away but our actions can live long after we have gone, so if we find the right thing to do, we should keep doing it.

Beware of stratagems to break your perseverance and dedication. Your opponents may hope that you will give up if they can distract you. If they can make you pause, make you doubt your potential, make you lose sight of the road and even more so, the destination. When any such distraction occurs, any faltering of the machinery, it is vital to get back on board immediately. If you wait too long, more obstacles may arise. Stop the rot before it stops you. At that point the gates may close so another path has to be found. Although such alternative routes may keep the journey worthwhile, it is better to try and keep the original plan in place that was previously assessed to be the better one.

When we are on the ascendancy, our opponent is on the decline and is hoping for respite. Give that respite, then we find we no longer are pushing but are being pushed, a small opening in the defences and soon our walls of security can come tumbling down.

We don't always know what good fruit the seeds of our action will produce, we march down one road and another view opens up, other opportunities and new horizons are cast into our vision. It may well be that some don't want us to see the road ahead nor the mountains and valleys it leads to, so they continue to confuse, interfere, deter our hearts and distort our vision. But we can maintain our integrity if we continue to walk forward with caution, not allowing ourselves to fall down any real holes nor paralysed by the fear of false ones.

Anas bin Maalik reported that the Prophet Muhammad (saw) said,
“If the Hour comes when one of you is holding a seedling in his hand,  
if you are able to plant it before the Day arrives, do so.”  
(AHMAD, BUKHAARI in 'Adab al Mufrad')

Friday, 6 December 2013

General Boredom is for Idiots

General Boredom is for Idiots

Our regular state
We often get a sense of boredom, either in general or with something particular.

It is of course natural to get bored sometimes of a specific reality, for human beings were built for diversity, change, progression, varied tasks and numerous spheres of life. It is abnormal to desire continual occupation with a trivial or monotonous task. Life though, is not just one fixed state of activity.

Life is characterised by hundreds of regular tasks and an uncountable amount of possibilities. So no-one could genuinely state that life is the performance of one tedious activity, as life consists of millions of states, activities and experiences. However, a frozen state of mind can create the illusion of uniformity and continuity.

If we don't pay attention to details, if we don't pay attention to the environment, if we don't take note of change, if we don't look in different directions, then we can miss the show of transformation and diversity in operation surrounding us.

Boredom has its benefits
We could have no sense of boredom unless we had a sense of joy, happiness and excitement. Our occasional or even regular boredom is a proof that life is not exclusively boring and that we are often not bored. As seeing as we know these things, we have experienced them and most likely, on some regular basis.

A sense of boredom can cause a person to analyse their own thoughts, to look introspectively and extract some elements of stagnation or blindness to be operated upon and mended.

Boredom can cause a person to explore other dimensions in order to cure his boredom. Exploration increases knowledge and wisdom is gained upon its diverse winding paths.

Boredom can be the psychological breaking system that prevents the car crashing into the walls of dull and docile activity or derails the mind from the tracks of stasis before the train terminates in the dungeons of decrepitude.

General boredom is a deficiency of perspective
Now what of a person who is in a state of prolonged boredom or general boredom? Bored by almost everything and most of the time? Firstly, such a person may have the wrong impression about life, simply considering it to be some joyride, a platform solely for entertainment. Secondly, it indicates an absence of deep thought and realistic judgement.

Life is in fact full of responsibilities and a narrowing window of time to fulfil these responsibilities, so life a panic? Yes, but boring? No. Is it reasonable to have concern about many issues, anger about many things? Indeed these feelings make sense, but a prolonged state of boredom? No, there is something wrong with the thinking process or absence of it, if that is the case.

The one who is bored is perhaps not impressed by the natural surroundings and that indeed is an unthinking position to adopt, it's an opinion indicative of stupidity. Who but an idiot can not be impressed with the sun, moon, stars, clouds, mountains and trees? Who can not be impressed with the human body, animals and insects? Even if an insect or animal annoys you, you still can't fail to be impressed by the existence of these creatures. A fly can be a few millimetres or smaller yet it is a fully functional complex living machine. Who can not be impressed by the human body and all its organs and systems? Who can not be impressed by consciousness, that we are aware of ourselves, our thoughts, feelings, desires, goals and intentions and amazed that we possess those things in the first place?

We know that many are not impressed by these things, but that surely is only because they are not thinking about them. Therefore, when boredom raises its negative head, let us kill it with reflection and deep thought.

General boredom is a problem as it is a type of negative state that veers towards ingratitude. A state of ingratitude will lead to other negative states and feelings. If we nip that in the bud and call to mind our blessings, inward and outward, then we can instead start the train of positive feeling, positive thought and positive action.

In reality this world is full of wonder and enjoyment for all the senses, there are oceans of things we benefit from and enjoy everyday and throughout our lives.

It is reported by A'bdullah ibn A'mru that the prophet Muhammad said:-
 “The world is an enjoyment...”

Boredom can lead to disastrous consequences
One of the reasons some people turn to narcotics is 'boredom,' hence the term 'recreational drugs.'

Bored of reality, so turn to an alternate artificial or chemically adjusted state to turn off the perceived boredom of the real world. But the real world is still there, but under the influence of drugs we can no longer judge it accurately, sense its dangers or properly enjoy its treasures.

Some people get bored so they start to entertain themselves at the expense of others. For their amusement they will harm others, directly or indirectly. This can lead to much distress and oppression in a community, family or relationship and it can escalate so people seek revenge or retribution for the harm inflicted on them. Eventually, you have a war zone or state of chaos, all triggered by some people who got bored because of their own stupidity and sought a stupid means to remove their boredom.

Man needs entertainment
A person can not continuously occupy themselves with noble pursuits, important tasks and deep thoughts. I sometimes feel like we are all children whose bodies have outgrown our small intellects too fast. Our character and behaviour did not not catch up with our physiology, or maybe that is just me.

People enjoy entertainment. We like to play games, hear jokes, watch performances, listen to and nice and interesting things. We naturally are motivated and stimulated by things, people and events which bring joy and happiness. It is a relief to engage in activities which don't have serious consequences after failure. It's soothing to engage in an activity that doesn't take much thought or preparation. But too much of a trivial activity creates guilt within us because we know deep down there are important things to be thought about and done. 


“A little enjoyment in this world! And then, to Us will be their return...”
(QURA'N Yoonus [Jonah] 10:70)

And too much of a thing, especially with the awareness of it not benefiting much, becomes a drag. The activities which we engage in to remove boredom can themselves become boring if we exceed the limits with them.

The world and life is not just for entertainment, but it does possess many entertainments that can be harmlessly engaged in. But we should not lose sight ever of the greater picture and not lose sight of the ultimate purpose ingrained in the fabric of the universe.


“We have not created the heavens and the earth
 and all that is between them  in mere idle play.” 
(QURAN ad Dukhaan [The Smoke] 44:38)

Our Work should be our passion
People get bored in the workplace and engaging in long hours of work that is not enjoyed can be depressing and stressful. The cure for this is engaging in work we enjoy. We should should choose career paths related to our interests, things that are in accordance with our outlook on life, things that synchronize with our personalities.

If your work is something you enjoy, then you wont see it as work.

If we can not do work that we are passionate about, then we should at least try and do work that we are good at due to our personal abilities and talents. In this way, work will not be so torturous. While engaging in such work found easy, it can allow us to think about other things and not feel enslaved.

This though is not for all people, some people may want to feel challenged mentally or physically by their work and they need to be forced into exertion of abilities in order to remain awake and interested.

We don't have to be bored and we shouldn't be
If we are bored it is either because of our state of mind, our lack of knowledge or our lack of movement.

We can change our state of mind any time we want. We can choose the things we think about and how deeply we think about them, we can change the angles from which we think. So if we don't do this, it is our fault. We can change our thought about the same matter so that our judgement moves from 'boring' to 'interesting'.

If we are ignorant of the significance of something or its diverse paths of exploration, then we can increase this by knowledge from those who have travelled before or by treading these paths ourselves. In general, we have not been shackled to the ground, although we may sometimes perceive we have, again by lack of thought.

If we do not engage in different activities then we can not expect to enjoy the scenes of diverse experience. If we don't want to become part of the furniture or a blind statue, then we should move and remind ourselves we are alive and that will open our eyes and awaken our inward vision.

Do we have time to be bored? Do we not have the motivation to be occupied, to be thinking, to be analytical, to be searching and researching? There are too many things to be done, too many problems to be solved and too many blessings to enjoy and be thankful for. Sometimes we may eat like cattle, mechanically and monotonously but we should savour the moments. We should slow down our consumption and taste before we swallow. Life is something to be tasted and not wasted. But we shouldn't become gluttons eating ourselves to death and we shouldn't drink every poison that is offered to us.

So after all this, someone may ask me “Do you get bored?” My answer is... Yes sometimes, but only when I'm being an idiot and not thinking.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

People are like Cheese – Different colours, flavours, sizes, textures and some more mature than others.

People are like Cheese – Different colours, flavours, sizes, textures and some more mature than others.

I am someone who likes to speak, think and see in analogies. I am inwardly awakened with metaphors, similes and symbols. I think this is due to the religious influences in my childhood such as the Biblical parables attributed to Jesus and after my conversion to Islam, the many parables found in the Qura'n. But it also maybe because I am easily confused with words and my child-like mind is more comfortable with pictures.

As human beings, we learn how to see a picture before we can construct a sentence or understand it. Words can give accuracy and clarity but a picture can make us see something more in context and gives us more than one dimension to a reality.

An analogy allows us to see a concept by means of representing it with something more familiar or easier to digest. We can tailor the presentation of an idea to a particular audience. By a common thread we link the reality to its analogical equivalent so we derive an underlying lesson.

However, an allegory or parable is also a sophisticated means of exposition, as unlike defining something specifically and narrowly by explicit words, an allegorical representation opens the audience to think. This opens the field of exploration, reflection, commentary and interpretation. It can allow for more discussion and deeper derived principles. Another sophisticated use of allegory is that its inherent cryptic nature allows it to be communicated esoterically to an enlightened audience while concealing its meaning from the majority who do not think deeply and who do not study widely. Ambiguity can be a cloak for the conveyor and an encrypted message to those of sophisticated vision.

I am now beginning to regret that this analysis of the mysterious and intellectual topic of analogies has been placed into an article that I have entitled 'People are like cheeses...' But I don't plan these articles, I have seedling ideas and let them grow on their own as I type.

So now onto cheese and people. When I was younger, I didn't like many cheeses, I found the blues and green veins and hard rinds unappealing and the considered mould in food repulsive. I didn't like the idea of something strong, bitter or with unfamiliar colours. I stayed away from even trying such cheeses when I was younger. But then again, such cheeses were not eaten by the adults in my house to my knowledge. By the way, the cheeses in that photograph are Mature Cheddar, Sage Derby, Blue Shropshire, Chaource and Bavarian Blue Brie.

If I look back to my taste in people, then I am not sure whether it was wider or narrower. I know my preference in women back in those days was a lot narrower. Now as long as they can be scientifically verified as female and technically alive, there is a good chance they might meet my criteria. Some call that a maturing appreciation of diverse attributes, while others wrongly classify it as desperation, but then again, a desperate and deluded person might say that.

I am certain that my appreciation of many things has increased greatly as I have grown older. I remember being dismissive of many things as a youngster. Some tastes I had back then I can not even understand. Some things I turned away from in my past that I would accept with much enthusiasm and excitement today. I guess back then I was like a bland cheese with little taste and texture, but perhaps a shiny new shell or maybe it was just plastic packaging choking me and blurring my vision.

One thing is clear, it takes all sorts to make a world. Variety prevents us from boredom and we learn different things from meeting different people even if we differ with and dislike some of them.

And among His signs are the creation of the heavens and the earth

and the differences in your languages and colours.

Verily in that are signs for those who know.”

(QURA'N ar Room [The Romans] 30:22)

My taste in cheese has changed dramatically as I have 'grown up'. I am now excited to try cheeses of varying colour, taste, texture, process, origin and maturity. When I am tasting such cheeses I can pretend I am a connoisseur, raising my standards by raising my tastes. Perhaps I see that in widening the vision in one issue it encourages the vision to be expanded in all issues. If I can elevate my class in cheese then I can elevate my my class in general, the cheese being a microcosm of life itself.

An interesting thing about cheese is that it suffocates in plastic, a manufactured, chemical, unnatural covering damages it. The cheese deteriorates quickly, People also deteriorate quickly if they are not allowed to breathe, if they wear a false shell or if an unnatural environment suppresses them. When we are forced to be other than ourselves outwardly our real inward self can become estranged, lost or diminished.

Some cheeses are hard and some are soft. Some people are soft, giving way to all pressures around them and some people are hard, no flexibility and only breaking if the situation doesn't fit their shape.

In one respect people are not like cheese. How many people can you rely on? How many people do you know who you can trust in all the most important areas? We live in a time of many people accepting the norms that have been artificially manufactured and not too many people opposing the trend. Most people are happy to go along and support those ideas and mechanisms that enslave us all and contribute to much misery.

This is the state of most of the people, a lie can not sustain itself, it needs people to initiate, carry, maintain and distribute it along with a whole load of people to believe it, that is, if it is one of those dominant lies. Cheeses on the other hand, you can rely on most of them to be cheese and most of them are quite good, even if we have our different preferences concerning them. But I am not a cheese expert and I do have an accommodating view, so perhaps an expert cheese maker could tell us that most cheeses are not that good. He may tell us that the vast majority of cheese that is consumed is mass manufactured, cheaply made, characterless, tasteless and only produced due to the low standards of the masses who maintain its demand. Or without putting direct blame on the masses, the low quality cheese is all the impoverished can afford in an economy where they are forever in debt to a few people they have not seen, while they themselves do all the work so that a few people can eat expensive artisan cheese. It seems that we get the cheese we deserve just as we get the society we deserve. If we have immature ideas and judgements then the results will be like one big immature cheese, not holding its shape and melting quite easily.

Another way in which this the cheese may mimic the masses is that so much cheese ends up wasted and in the garbage. But an immature cheese is nowhere near as distasteful and detrimental as an immature person.

A'bdullah ibn U'mar reported that the Prophet Muhammad said

People are like a hundred camels

among which you hardly find any suitable camel to ride.”


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Are we stuck in our own personal traps?

Are we stuck in our own personal traps?

[Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in PSYCHO, (1960) Universal Pictures]
Perhaps my favourite scene in the Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho, is when Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) is honouring his guest with milk and sandwiches and they are discussing in an indirect way their own social and psychological plight. Marion (Janet Leigh) mentions that she would like to escape to her own private island and Norman says:-

"People never run away from anything...

...I think we're all in our private traps, clamped in them,

and none of us can ever get out, we scratch and claw but only at the air,

only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge and inch..."

[excerpt: Alfred Hitchcock's 'PSYCHO' Universal Pictures 1960]

For those with any recurring personal problems, these words strike a chord. And I have to admit, I have felt like Norman (on this issue) many times myself (I think some opponents might seek ground against me with that admission). Yes, we appear to have choice, as we can walk right or left as we choose, but freedom, development and growth are not as simple as trying to turn right or left.

We may all find ourselves with particular behaviours we don't seem to be able to shake off, even though we know they are bad for us and push us further into the darkness. We all may find ourselves in circumstances, whether social, political, economic or otherwise, that we don't seem to be able to escape from, no matter what strategies we adopt. Many people, after a range of efforts and journeys that appear to always end up in the same place, give up.

When we perceive that we are are going to be forever shackled we can end up adopting a very negative mindset and turn to the escapism of drugs, alcohol, serial and shallow relationships, social exploitation, self harm, violence, rage, depression and even suicide. Or someone clutches at unlikely solutions like gambling or jumps into even more desperate measures in the hope of escape, even if these measures end up in even more damage to the self, family or community.

So why is that we can't escape our private traps?

  • We have a character partly innate that causes us to think and act in certain ways. We are creatures of habit.
  • Our character is also partly shaped by our environment and if we don't change that environment or character we can end up with the same inward mechanisms that make us fall down the same holes.
  • We have emotions and emotions move our thoughts and actions and give us repeated feelings. This inward cycle can make us feel we are anchored to a self we want to separate from.
  • The human mind is limited. Our vision is limited by that intellect.
  • A human has instincts which are hard wired into the physiology and psyche, they often pull us in the opposite direction to our intellect and best destination.
  • The socio-political system around us is shaped in a certain way so that results get repeated. That system is underpinned with beliefs, ideology, culture and laws all which conspire against the human development and nature so that society seems like one big immovable prison.
  • We have social, economic, community and political relationships that we feel narrow our vision, demotivate us and restrain our movement and growth.
  • Our knowledge is limited, and our choices and thus actions, objectives and 'escape routes' are limited by that ignorance. If you can't see the doors its difficult to open them, even more so if you don't know they exist.
  • It is easier to give up and lie down than make an effort to move all the obstacles we encounter.
  • Because of the above and other factors, history repeats itself, when we know that we think that the world and our own personal world can not change. Things keep happening the same way because the beliefs, thought processes and interactions are the same. Cause and effect applies.
  • The people who make a dramatic change appear to be few and it can be that we never meet such people. This means we meet many people who don't change and don't want to change. Such people may not inspire us to action, especially if we are thinking negatively.
  • We can try something several times and end up not succeeding, even when it seems we took the correct steps. Whereas someone else may seem to be less capable and not take the correct steps yet still be successful. We may tell ourselves at that point that we are not meant to succeed.

Many people may not reach a higher purpose and standard of behaviour, so this may give the impression that no-one does and humans are generally not up to it. But this does not mean its not possible because most don't achieve it, most are perhaps not even focussed on trying.

How do we know we can escape our private traps?

  • Harry Houdini [d.1926] (the escapologist) escaped many traps and people do escape from real prisons.
  • There are many people who are in even worse circumstances than ourselves who make an effort, make some decisions and do end up in more favourable positions. Therefore it is not impossible.
  • Humanity regularly develops in the material/technological sense. The universe contains many forces and resources that can be exploited for change, and human civilizations are continuous proof of that.
  • Although we have inward traits that we were perhaps born with and a character developed over years, this does not mean these things cannot be be changed and their harmful effects limited. If we train ourselves to pause and think more rather than to react instinctively and emotionally we can stop a preventable crash from happening.
  • It may seem easier in the short term to give up on problems rather than making the effort needed it is not a sound calculation to make. We get out what we put in. It makes more sense to work in the short term for an ultimate good end.
  • We are undoubtedly creatures of habit but we are also creatures of change. We can make a beneficial change and then turn that new change into a habit. An established norm was originated at some point.
  • We have indeed already experienced change and development many times in our own lives, its just that we are ungrateful and forgetful. Did we not see after being blind? Did we not grow after being small? Did we not learn to speak, read and write after being illiterate? Did we not become clothed after being naked? Was our pain not removed? Did our illness not pass? Did we not feel pleasure after pain? Did we not enjoy food after being hungry? Water after thirst? Joy after sorrow? This all shows us that our perception and direction of thought about stagnation and development is key to unlocking the doors of positivity and progress.
  • We interpret the existence of all difficulty and negative opposites as a bad thing. Yet this again, is from our own lack of deep thought and knowledge. Do we not recognize and appreciate attributes by the existence of their opposites? Are these negative attributes not a benefit in many ways? Does not the spectrum of negative and positive attributes allow us to achieve balance? Do we not benefit from such tests around us so that we grow by our trials and see other people for who they are?
  • Although our instincts are a strong pull on us, they do not compel us into particular acts. Rather there are a range of ways in which an instinct can be fulfilled so that we are regulated. We do not have to be a wild howling wolf nor a caged bear.
  • Our sense of failure or being trapped is perceived by the contrasting spectacle of success, that we are are aware of through a possible dream or through witnessing others. This means it is clearly obtainable in theory, as its concept exists and its reality exists. If it can exist in others then we are human too with similar capabilities and opportunities.
  • We live in an age of much depression and frustration yet it is also a time characterised by spirituality, positive thinking, counselling, self-help etc. These positive things can be found in many places and from various sources. When we we study them, much of what they offer makes sense and puts things in perspective so that we know immediately that if we were to implement the related advice we would likely achieve some change or even major change. We also know that many people working or immersed in these fields have transformed themselves or assisted people in transforming their outlook and their direction. Therefore, there is no inevitability about being trapped.
  • Concerning constricting and suffocating relationships with individuals, groups, organizations and societies, then we do not have to be ensnared by these. We can realign these relationships, renegotiate them or sever those that have become too toxic. We often fear what is different and we may have become mind controlled into thinking we are dependent on such associations, but this is likely to be false and sometimes we need to break on through to another reality in the interests of survival and then assess the next move.
  • We may try something many times and not succeed, but this does not mean no progress or change has been made. Efforts do bring about changes in our inward reality and in the world around us that perhaps we don't see. Also we can benefit from these efforts for later expeditions. Trying something and not hitting the point we intended to does not mean no progress was made at all, we need to build on what was gained. It is not only this though, even if no progress is made in terms of material results, it doesn't mean the next time we wont succeed. Some of the most 'successful' people in the world knocked on a door many times, maybe even hundreds of times until a door was finally opened for them. It can be this patience and perseverance that is the difference between success and failure.
  • Another point to consider when looking at the success that seems to come easily to others is that, firstly, their scale of success maybe different and that they may want to achieve other things that they are struggling in. Secondly, they may have all sorts of problems and obstacles that we don't have and they may look at us with equal envy. Even if we did find ourselves in their relative ease, we may not like it when we get there. Success can be a very relative thing.
  • We can change our mentality and inward state by thinking about different things and in different ways. This inevitably leads to different emotions and actions which translate into different outcomes.
  • The traps we often find ourselves in are due to our own ignorance, the cure for that is to seek more beneficial knowledge to increase the options and awareness of possibilities.
  • Sometimes the trap we are in is only imaginary. This is cured by cutting through self made delusions and seeing the reality as it is. The reality can elude us when we continually twist it, add to it and take from it.
  • Traps can be the result of societal conditioning. This process can be broken by independent thought and questioning the foundations and systems that surround us. People seek refuge and anonymity in conformity but this can mean stagnation and disaster if the crowd are wrong. We should not walk in the same direction as everyone else for the sake of it nor on the assumption that they must all know where they are going and why.

The Islamic culture has a very detailed and deep answer or answers to this question of the ability to escape one's difficulties. It is of course delving into the subject of predestination, fate and free will. This question in fact resulted in various sects arising, due to their position on fate and choice. There was the Qadriyyah who considered that we have free will and act as we please. There were the Jabariyyah, who considered we were compelled in our actions by God and could not escape who we are going to be and that there is only the illusion of free will.

There are of course many views between these views and similar existed in previous nations and peoples whether Christians, Greeks etc. The Qadriyyah had their arguments from reason to support their position and could draw and many verses of the Qura'n and statements of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). e.g.

Everything has been subjected to our use, this is clearly indicating the role of our choice and creativity

"And He has subjected to you, as from Him,

all that is in the heavens and on earth:

Behold, in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect."

(QURA'N al Jaathiyah [The Kneeling] 45:13)

Similarly, the the role of man's choice in his own belief and acts has been indicated in hundreds of verses e.g.

Verily We have shown him the way,

whether he be grateful or ungrateful”

(QURA'N al Insaan [Mankind] 76:3)

...but whoever changes from belief to disbelief,

Has strayed without doubt from the even way.”

(QURA'N al Baqarah [The Cow] 2:108)

Means of insight have now come unto you

from your Sustainer [through this divine writ].

Whoever, therefore, chooses to see,

does so for his own good;

and whoever chooses to remain blind,

does so to his own harm.

And [say unto the blind of heart]: "I am not your keeper."

(QURA'N al Ana'm [Cattle] 6:104)

SAY [O Prophet]: 'O mankind!

The truth from your Sustainer has now come unto you.

Whoever, therefore, chooses to follow the right path,

follows it but for his own good;

and whoever chooses to go astray,

goes but astray to his own hurt.

And I am not responsible for your conduct.'"

(QURA'N Yoonus [Jonah] 10:108)

The Jabariyyah, who would be more aligned with Norman Bates' philosophy, also had their arguments from reason and also drew on many verses of the Qura'n and statements of the Prophet (saw). e.g.

Allah has created you and what you do.”

(QURA'N as Saffaat [The Ranks] 37.96)

But you cannot will unless God Wills...”

(QURA'N al Insaan [Mankind] 76:30)

But they will not remember unless God Wills...”

(QURA'N al Mudathir [The Enwrapped] 74:56)

If it had been God's Will,

they would not have associated (partners with God)...”

(QURA'N al Ana'm [Cattle] 6:107)

...they are not the ones to believe unless it be God's Will...”

(QURA'N al Ana'm [Cattle] 6:111)

and the Prophet Muhammad (saw) was reported to have said on the authority of Abu Moosa al Asha'ree,

There is no movement and no power except by God.”


The Jabariyyah could also draw on the fact that God has a Plan [makr] and Decision [Qada'] which are never frustrated, e.g.:-

"Even so: Allah creates what He Wills.

When He has decreed a matter,

He but says to it, 'Be,' and it is!”

(QURA'N aali I'mraan [The Family of I'mraan] 3:47)

...Those before them did (also) devise plots;

but in all things the overall planning is for God...”

(QURA'N ar Ra'd [Thunder] 13:42)

“…For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose.

Verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.

(QURA'N at Talaq [Divorce] 65:3)

“…But forgive and overlook,

Till Allah accomplish His Purpose;

for Allah has power over all things.”

(QURA'N al Baqarah [The Cow] 2:109)

And the commandment of Allah is always executed.”

(QURA'N an Nisaa’ [Women] 4:47)

...For, God always prevails in whatever be His purpose,

but most people know it not.

(QURA'N Yoosuf [Joseph] 12:21)

[NOTE: There are an enormous amount of verses and ahadeeth on this subject, with many explicit and subtle points derived from them. This subject needs books rather than brief articles.]

These two sects are to opposite ends of the spectrum. But they both have some proof for what they say. However, the truth is that we have a limited free will and that the Divine Will, Plan and Divinely created properties of creation can mean that certain things will be, no matter what someone else wants and no matter what they try.

I have actually written about this topic from an Islamic angle in much depth before and I have many Islamic books which delve into this subject with great detail and there are many verses of the Qura'n, hundreds if not thousands that relate to this subject and the same can be said to the statements of the Prophet (saw). So I am not going to delve into any depth here about it, as it is indeed a book I probably need to write at a later date.

We can of course never understand this topic fully, because it goes beyond our human understanding and knowledge and delves into the very essence of who we are, how the universe works and how the Divine Acts and Attributes are. These are topics we have been given a limited understanding of. However, the Islamic teachings provides much detail on it, whereby we can reach a sure view and belief on it that serves our purposes here on this earth. The result is that we don't fall into the delusion that we are independent and all capable, such is the mantra of many supposedly 'self help gurus', 'positive thinking' enthusiasts and 'new agers', while also not falling into the negativity of defeatism, absolute fatalism, total surrender to circumstances and problems and thus stagnation.

The reality is that God willed us to have choice, but as we said before a limited choice. The Quran (also the Bible) emphasizes individual responsibility and accountability. Good actions are blessed and rewarded, bad actions are cursed and punished. Our choices are limited by our knowledge, circumstances, resources, time, place, emotions, physiology and senses, even a materialist must admit this. We are also limited by the Divine Actions, forces of nature and physics that are known and seen and those forces which are unseen. This is not the whole picture though, as the monotheistic Islamic theology reveals many elements whose mechanisms have quite an impact on where we end up depending on our relationship with these elements. Our actions and inward state have a relationship with the Divine Actions and Attributes so that we can be subject to guidance and misguidance. There are inward states we can adopt and actions we can perform which alter what happen to us, so that the opportunity to be guided and benefited is always available.

God created everything with inherent nature, properties and purpose and we can not alter that nature. e.g:-

...it is He who created all things,

and ordered them in due proportions.”

(QURA'N al Furqaan [The Criterion] 25:2)

And thus the necessary consequences of that Divinely bestowed can not be escaped. For instance we were born to eventually die:-

Wheresoever you may be,

death will overtake you,

even if you were in lofty towers....”

(QURA'N an Nisaa' [Women] 4:78)

We have [indeed] decreed that death shall be [ever-present] among you:

and there is nothing to prevent Us.” 
(QURA'N al Waaqi'a [The Event] 56:60)

Who has created death and life in order to test you which is best in action...”

(QURA'N al Mulk [The Dominion] 67:2)

Say: ‘The death from which you flee will truly overtake you.”

(QURA'N al Jumu’ah [The Congregation] 62:8)

And We did not grant to any human before you immortality...”

(QURA'N al Anbiyaa' [The Prophets] 21:34)

When their term is reached, not an hour can they cause delay,

nor (an hour) can they advance (it in anticipation).”

(QURA'N al A’raaf [The Heights] 7:34)

This though does not mean that we have no choice in the utilization of these properties. We are restricted by the limits and nature of our bodies, minds and the environment but we have choices how we apply what is within those limits.

The Qura'n is clear that the reality of man on earth is not simply ease and enjoyment, rather life has difficulties by its nature:-

Verily We created man in toil and struggle”

(QURA'N al Balad [The City] 90:4)

But this life was not meant to be miserable either and neither was the revelation sent to make us miserable:-

We have not sent down the Qura'n upon you to cause you distress.”

(QURA'N Ta-Ha 20:2)

Rather, life is a continuous test of our inward and outward state in prosperity and adversity, in difficulty and ease, the Qura'n says:-

...and We test you by evil and by good by way of a trial...”

(QURA'N al Anbiyaa' [The Prophets] 21:35)

The reality is that the dual drive was given to us to do good both by the signs around us and by the motivations and warnings of the divine texts. We can choose our actions, inward and outward and we will ultimately see the fruits of our actions, good or bad.

To all are degrees according to their deeds:

for your Lord is not unmindful of anything that they do.”

(QURA'N al Ana'm [Cattle] 6:132)

We have will and choice but the results of our choices, the results we hope for, may not come about. But the will of God, is never frustrated. So it makes sense to align ourselves with the Divine Will as much as we can so as not to be frustrated.

...Nor is Allah to be frustrated (incapable) by anything at all,

in the heavens or on earth:

for He is All-Knowing, All-Powerful.”

(QURA'N al Faatir [The Originator] 35:44)

The Creator who is Just, did not compel us to do wrong, neither to ourselves or others. If we choose wrong and thereby suffer from it, we will only have ourselves to blame.

Verily! Allah wrongs not mankind in aught,

but mankind wrong themselves.”

(QURA'N Yoonus [Jonah] 10:44)