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Reward and punishment

Whosoever has done even an atom's weight of good will behold it; and whosoever has done even an atom's weight of evil will behold that.

Al-Zilzal, 99:8-9

Some thoughts

Our soul is so intimately connected to God that none of our actions can get lost. Just like they leave a trace within history – even when all humans forgot – they leave an imprint on our soul – even when our own minds and hearts try to ignore them. So whenever we are confronted with God, we are confronted with our own souls and hence the chain of actions that are linked to our soul can become visible. Seeing the bad can bring distress, witnessing the good can bring peace.

We all do and did both good and bad within our lives. Yet whatever our personal mistakes were, remembering them shouldn’t make us paralyzed by guilt, doubt or anxiety. Instead we should always refocus on doing more good. Not because of the reward it will bring, but because doing good is a reward in itself.  

What Christians can learn

The Christianity that was thought to me at school and within the church was a Christianity that did not put much stress on the afterlife. It most certainly did not mention the option of ‘hell’ too often. To such an extent even that one could actually feel the underlying assumption that hell is some sort of ‘old fashioned concept’, that God is nothing but love and forgiveness and that therefore all souls will go to heaven.

It seems somewhat awkward, however, to disregard the fundamental aspect of ‘justice’ when it comes to the topic of life after death. Isn’t it a crucial aspect of our faith that God will also be just? Is it not essential to realise that our actions will in fact be weighed?

I don’t mean to say that we should or shouldn't act in certain ways in this life to receive something in the hereafter. But I do believe that it's the remembrance of divine justice that makes us aware of the fact that our actions very often aren’t neutral. When we do something wrong, its ‘wrongness’ does not disappear because nobody has seen or heard it.

In the same manner the word ‘sin’ has become an uneasy term that most Christians around me will never use. I admit it has a hard and guilt-inducing sound that can often be misplaced. But the fact of the matter is that sometimes our actions can simply be spiritually and morally wrong. And such actions in one way or another will have to be confronted.

Questions for Muslims

In the Muslim world, the outlook on the afterlife is much more widespread. It is encouraged to act properly in this life to secure the life to come. I most certainly agree that divine justice is a fact of faith and that God in some way or other will bestow what is deserved. The question is however whether this knowledge should be the reason behind our choices to act one way or another. Do we have to be good people to make sure we have a good life after we die? Or do we have to be good people because that is simply the more divine way of being?

In this regard I always remember the story of the man who was visited by an angel one night. The angel told him he would most surely go to hell. The next morning he got up, went to his wife and jubilantly told her about it. “Why are you so happy about that?” She asked. “Shouldn’t it make you depressed?” She wondered. “Most certainly not.” He replied. “Only now am I completely certain that when I will do something for God, I will do it for Him and Him alone and not because of some benefit I might expect.”

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The Sky at Night – There I

Charlie

The Sky at Night –

There I stood in the dark
Silence, Of knight –
Looking up through the deep,
Dark folds of velvet,
Eyes of night,
That I sunk into
Years ago,
Comforted, enfolded, held
Within the chord of the beloved,
Never forgotten;
Same this night on
The hill, standing, soul flown,
Surrounded by billions
Of small shining stones,
Watery, tears and smiles,
11 million light years past,
present and future,
and there you were.
Surrounded by books
Of ancients, within leaves,
Untold, truth waiting, yet
Unraveling the web of
Deception, years, until
The light completely
Connected, the web unfolds,
Connection complete, amazing
Shining lights, upon human heads,
Within the unseen crown that ties
Each head, within
The dark, depths of velvet, revealed,
As you sat, composed, beard,
Surrounded by orbs of dark pink,
Upon the seven hills, vats becoming
Unsealed. music of love, continually,
Ringing out to proclaim our love,
For all humanity, the spirit of life, love and
Water, alive, making the triangle, of
Creativity, spirit of humanity, within,
Complete; while imagination of what
Lies ahead and Absolute- PEACE/SALAAM.

ANON-FRANCE.2014 xxx

This is a question better

Lumumba K. Shakur

This is a question better posed to the sages and saintly figures of our tradition, and one of them has said:

"The rewards for acts mentioned in the Koran and hadith, according to the masters of the way, are bestowed by Allah to manifest His limitless generosity to His servants if and only if these acts are for Him alone; not when reward as such is the reason for performing them. It is not suitable for spiritual works in the path of sincerity to be primarily for self-interest, in this world or in the next. Some scholars, such as Imam Ghazali in his Minhaj al-`abidin, have even held that to seek nothing beyond an act's reward nullifies its entire value with Allah. But the sounder position is that Allah in His mercy and kindness may inspire such a servant to eliminate the defective intention by disclosing to him the reality of his own self; that Allah alone created it and its worship, and that He has a better right to be what is intended therein. Superior still is that the sole devotion to Allah, as an "intention." accompany only the beginning of the act, to be then superceded by one's "absence" from the work, solely beholding Allah in the heart, for Allah loves those who behold Him"

In that vein, there is famous story of Rabi` al-Adawiyya, who was seen running with a bucket of water and a torch in one of her more ecstatic states. When asked what she was doing, she replied, 'I want to put out the fires of Hell, and burn down the rewards of Paradise. They block the way to Allah. I do not want to worship from fear of punishment or for the promise of reward, but simply for the love of Allah." That being said, as the author of the above once stated, "All that being said, however whoever does not fear the Hell-fire does not know what is really going on." Some people's hearts are attached to the rewards and punishments, some people's hearts are attached to God and some people are so consumed by their intimate knowledge of God that they are absent from even themselves. From my understanding, Islam is very practical and pragmatic. Some people are motivated by rewards and punishment, some people are motivated by their presence with the Divine and some people are motivated by the judge's whip and so the Sacred Law has given each to whom they belong to.