WASTEFULNESS IN FAITH AND WORSHIP I

All the bounties that Our Lord has granted to His creatures are the apparent symbols of His compassion, mercy and love. These Divine bounties have been bestowed by the All-Compassionate Creator as blessings, in other words, without needing to be paid for or earned. In the Qur’an Allah Almighty says:

“And He has made subservient to you, [as a gift] from Himself, all that is in the heavens and on earth. In this, behold, there are messages indeed for people who think!” (Qur’an:45/13)

On the other hand, this does not mean that these bounties can be unconditionally exploited. In another verse it is stated:

“Does man, then, think that he is to be left to himself to go about at will?” (Qur’an:75/36)

Hence, while consuming the bounties bestowed by Allah, we must consider the Divine orders and prohibitions. We must not forget that legitimate actions will be asked about and illicit ones will bring punishment.

But we need not only beware of performing forbidden actions; we must be careful not to commit a wrong action merely by exceeding the limit of wastefulness, because wastefulness means disrespect for the Divine creations.

Wastefulness entails exceeding the limits in the usage of the blessings, which is a sign of great ingratitude in return for the grace and beneficence of Allah Almighty.

Although wastefulness, as an expression, is generally used for physical possessions, like money and food, here we are looking at the term in a much wider sense. Wastefulness covers every action in which human beings exceed the limits. According to this, in every case when the servant crosses the line that has been drawn by Allah wastefulness occurs.

Namely, wastefulness is the loss of a blessing caused by the misuse of that blessing. Supporting this, Iyas has said:

Human beings, because of their egos, are inclined to make excuses for their mistakes. Even murderers who commit the gravest crime try to excuse themselves by hiding behind some reasons or excuses. Extravagant and miserly people fall into the misfortune of being satisfied with their condition.

Moreover, most of them cannot free themselves of the danger of thinking that the madness of wastefulness and the misery of miserliness are blessings. That is why one must, in conformity with the divine declarations, fill in the empty frame which is the concept of wastefulness.

In the same way that wastefulness of the physical possessions that have been entrusted to us has been prohibited, in addition, the crude consumption of things that have spiritual values, like creed, worship, wisdom, morality, time and the mind, as well as impetuous attitudes, have also been prohibited; indeed, these have been recognized as the more dangerous losses.

Indeed, these attitudes mean wasting and losing eternal felicity for temporal pleasures. Our Lord has prohibited wastefulness and miserliness in every aspect of our daily life, in things ranging from our need to eat, drink and dress to the values that belong to our spiritual life; we have been ordered to act with temperance. For this, every Muslim has to live a life that is an example of equilibrium between two opposing points, because, if one does not obey the Divine criteria about handling all the physical and spiritual bounties, then one cannot save oneself from falling into the disease of wastefulness or miserliness.

We can list some of the most significant forms of wastefulness that will cause our life in the world and hereafter to drift towards disaster; the ways of getting free from them are also given:

a. Wastefulness in faith and creed:

This is the most horrible form of wastefulness. This is the misspending of eternal felicity by damaging the natural purity of Islam, present in all human beings, as a result of indulging the mind with myths, superstitions and irrational or negative movements; this is caused by an inability to protect the mental and spiritual values.

Attenuation of the faith by losing or misusing the bounty of deep thinking is a spiritual disaster that mostly arises from being close friends with the impious people. Our Lord warns us to save ourselves and others from falling into situations like the following:

“Now, whenever thou meet such as indulge in [blasphemous] talk about Our messages, turn thy back upon them until they begin to talk of other things and if Satan should ever cause thee to forget [thyself], remain not, after recollection, in the company of such evildoing folk” (Qur’an:6/68)

This is because having intellectual closeness and relationships with impious people, over time, will cause a spiritual narrowing, and this in turn causes the destruction of the eternal life by an attenuation of the faith. In the following verses, the main reasons for this wastefulness in faith are expressed as:

“In gardens [of paradise], they will inquire of those who were lost in sin: “What has brought you into hell-fire?” They will answer: “We were not among those who prayed; and neither did we feed the needy; and we were wont to indulge in sinning together with all [the others] who indulged in it; and the Day of Judgment we were wont to call a lie” (Qur’an:56/40-46)

On the other hand, Our Lord Almighty orders us:

“O you who have attained to faith! Remain conscious of God, and be among those who are true to their word!” (Qur’an:9/119)

In another verse, the necessity of reaching a depth of feeling while thinking about the verses of Allah, in contrast with negligently and aimlessly watching, is stated as:

“And who, whenever they are reminded of their Sustainer’s messages, do not throw themselves upon them [as if] deaf and blind” (Qur’an:25/73)

For this reason people who never detect the verses of Allah with the bounty of spiritual comprehension and the eye fall into a wastefulness of sentiments, due to an insensitivity of their emotions. The verse describes the tragic end of wastefulness and lies in the following way:

“..for, verily, God would not grace with His guidance one who has wasted his own self by lying” (Qur’an:40/28)

In addition, there are deviations from the creed, namely immoderate attitudes; one of the most important and frequently practiced examples of this is that people, while visiting graves of saints, request things directly from them. Indeed, one must request something from Allah Almighty.

This should be done with respect for the saints and with thoughts of their elevated status in the sight of Allah, while contemplating the good works they carried out in their life.

But, saying “that Saint has interceded for me” and unconditionally relying on the intercession of the saint is a form of superstition; in the Qur’an it is stated that only those “for whom permission has been granted by (Allah) Most Gracious” (Qur’an:20/109) will be able to intercede.

It is another error to say that saints know everything, that they can see what is in the heart. They can know the unseen only if Allah the Almighty informs them; otherwise even prophets do not know everything. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that, “The one who has been asked is not more informed than the questioner in this subject.”

For example, the revelation concerned with the Incident of Ifq (slander) revelation came about one month after the event, and during that period the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was unable to say anything about the truth of the matter.

Again, the revelation about three people who hung behind during the battle of Tabook because of negligence came after fifty days.

Narrated by Kharija bin Zaid bin Thabit:

Umm’ul Ala, (a sahabah from Ansar) who had given a pledge of allegiance to the Prophet told me: The Muhajirin (emigrants) were distributed amongst us by drawing lots, and we were given Uthman bin Maz’un. We had him stay with us in our house. Then he suffered from a disease which proved fatal. When he died and was given a bath and was shrouded in his clothes, the Prophet came and I said, (addressing the dead body): “O Uthman! May Allah be Merciful to you! I testify that Allah has honored you.”

The Prophet said: “How do you know that Allah has honored him?” I replied, “Let my father be sacrificed for you, O Allah’s Apostle! On whom else shall Allah bestow His honor?”

Allah’s Apostle said, “As for him, by Allah, death has come to him. By Allah, I wish him all good (from Allah). By Allah, in spite of the fact that I am Allah’s Prophet, I do not know what Allah will do to me.”

Umm’ul Ala added, “By Allah, I will never attest the righteousness of anybody after that.” (Bukhari Tabeer, 27)

In a verse from the Qur’an, it is stated: “Say: I am no new thing among the Messengers of Allah, nor know I what will be done with me or with you. I do but follow that which is inspired in me, and I am but a plain warner.” (Qur’an:46/9)