Free thy will

Enduring the tension of the paradox is the conductor of the transcendence to Jannah

Life consists of dualities that seemingly clash, a tug-of-war that we’re made to be suspended in the midst of by Divine decree. Giving in to either opposite dissipates the tension, but so does the self transcendence needed to purify one’s heart before the time is up.

حُفَّتِ الْجَنَّةُ بِالْمَكَارِهِ وَحُفَّتِ النَّارُ بِالشَّهَوَاتِ

“Jannah is surrounded by hardships and the Hell-Fire is surrounded by desires.”

[Muslim]

The ability to hold space for the opposites is what transforms conflict into faith. A paradox is a symbiosis through which our free will is nurtured by making the decision to endure the tension of being open to the truth, instead of collapsing into the mindless pull of unconscious forces.

About one of the fundamental rites in Islaam, the udxiya after Hajj that commemorates the symbolic sacrifice prophet Ibraahiim calayhissalaam made of his son:

لَن يَنَالَ اللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَٰكِن يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَىٰ مِنكُمْ

{Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but rather what reaches Him is piety from you.}

(Al-Hajj 22:37)

This to reiterate the meaning behind the original call for sacrifice being the detachment of what we love from our egos. Detachment doesn’t entail playing it cool or being indifferent, but it’s to leave controlling the outcomes or the desire to not lose it to Allaah. Thus, it’s a reminder that the heart must remain unblocked if one’s actions are to be of spiritual benefit.

If we say that all sincere action must stem from the action of the heart, then our only power is to either receive the impulses that are divinely inspired or to resist them. And if this may seem overly simplistic it’s only because the most difficult tasks in life are plain and simple in nature.


وَ اتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذي آتَيْناهُ آياتِنا فَانْسَلَخَ مِنْها فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطانُ فَکانَ مِنَ الْغاوينَ

{And recite to them the story of him to whom We gave Our Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), but he threw them away, so Shaitaan followed him up, and he became of those who went astray.}

(Al-A’raf 7:175)

وَ لَوْ شِئْنا لَرَفَعْناهُ بِها وَ لکِنَّهُ أَخْلَدَ إِلَي الْأَرْضِ وَ اتَّبَعَ هَواهُ فَمَثَلُهُ کَمَثَلِ الْکَلْبِ إِنْ تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْهِ يَلْهَثْ أَوْ تَتْرُکْهُ يَلْهَثْ ذلِکَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذينَ کَذَّبُوا بِآياتِنا فَاقْصُصِ الْقَصَصَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَکَّرُونَ

{And had We willed, We would surely have elevated him therewith but he clung to the earth and followed his own vain desire. So his description is the description of a dog: if you drive him away, he lolls his tongue out, or if you leave him alone, he (still) lolls his tongue out. Such is the description of the people who reject Our Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.). So relate the stories, perhaps they may reflect.}

(Al-A’raf 7:176)


Allaah nudged this man towards a portal of enlightenment and all he had to do was to move towards it by being receptive to what his heart is guided to. But that was a too steep a price to pay and so difficult was it to endure the cognitive dissonance that he preferred to repress parts of himself in order to remain in his comfort zone. So he chose to forego transcendence in order to remain in the womb of unconsciousness. And it is through this self-inflicted blindspot that shaytaan has influence. The only realm of influence, may I add.


Allaah continues on by explaining the dire consequences of rejecting enlightenment :

ساءَ مَثَلاً الْقَوْمُ الَّذينَ کَذَّبُوا بِآياتِنا وَ أَنْفُسَهُمْ کانُوا يَظْلِمُونَ

{Evil is the likeness of the people who reject Our Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses and signs, etc.), and used to wrong their ownselves.}

(Al-A’raf 7:177)

مَنْ يَهْدِ اللَّهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَدي وَ مَنْ يُضْلِلْ فَأُولئِك هُمُ الْخاسِرُونَ

{Whomsoever Allaah guides, he is the guided one, and whomsoever He sends astray, those! They are the losers.}

(Al-A’raf 7:178)

وَ لَقَدْ ذَرَأْنا لِجَهَنَّمَ کَثيراً مِنَ الْجِنِّ وَ الْإِنْسِ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لا يَفْقَهُونَ بِها وَ لَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ لا يُبْصِرُونَ بِها وَ لَهُمْ آذانٌ لا يَسْمَعُونَ بِها أُولئِکَ کَالْأَنْعامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ أُولئِکَ هُمُ الْغافِلُونَ

{And surely, We have created many of the jinns and mankind for Hell. They have hearts wherewith they understand not, they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones.}

(Al-A’raf 7:179)


What is the difference between a sin and evil? How impervious the heart is to its consequences. To feel the brunt of one’s actions is to assume responsibility for the only thing one has control over : perception. But to perceive reality correctly is to relinquish control, and that’s an illusion that seduced Adam in the garden with the forbidden tree that promised immortality and power. Allaah has put in place all the devices and stacked the odds in our favour to receive the guidance when it comes, and it’s only the most crude of hearts that still falls to the pull of base desires when transcending oneself is where ultimate meaning lies. When Allaah says that He sends them astray, it’s not because He forcibly blinds them but despite their resistance He does have the power to turn them around, but He wills not to. Because free will is something He decided to give us and He won’t transgress that by forcing something that we haven’t come to. Insight only comes when we receive it.

And those impervious to growth, of course they are worse than animals! Because animals don’t possess the faculty of free will and perception. All they have is instinct and their impulse and actions are congruent. You won’t find an animal defying its impulse.


So what to do when you want to transcend but you doubt yourself and leaving the herd seems too scary?

وَ لِلَّهِ الْأَسْماءُ الْحُسْني‏ فَادْعُوهُ بِها وَ ذَرُوا الَّذينَ يُلْحِدُونَ في‏ أَسْمائِهِ سَيُجْزَوْنَ ما کانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

{And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allaah, so call on Him by them, and leave the company of those who belie or deny (or utter impious speech against) His Names. They will be requited for what they used to do.}

(Al-A’raf 7:180)


Having integrity extends beyond just what you espouse ; you also have to be cognizant of whether your company is congruent with who you are. And if not, why do you hang out with people who’d choose their egos over the truth? You do know that when push comes to shove, they’ll throw you under the bus to save themselves?


وَ مِمَّنْ خَلَقْنا أُمَّةٌ يَهْدُونَ بِالْحَقِّ وَ بِهِ يَعْدِلُونَ

{And of those whom We have created, there is a community who guides (others) with the truth, and establishes justice therewith.}

(Al-A’raf 7:181)


No one is an island. No matter how ‘woke’ and independent you are, you are in need of a community that would support you in your quest and bring out the best in you.


وَ الَّذينَ کَذَّبُوا بِآياتِنا سَنَسْتَدْرِجُهُمْ مِنْ حَيْثُ لا يَعْلَمُونَ

{Those who reject Our Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), We shall gradually seize them with punishment in ways they perceive not.}

(Al-A’raf 7:182)


The blind and detached choices that are only motivated extrinsically and for what serves the ego, IS the punishment. Not being able to gauge life properly gives rise to meaninglessness. And there’s nothing worse than meaninglessness.


Respond to Free thy will

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