Confronting Consequences 6 October 2008Posted by MOZAFFAR in Psychology, Spirituality.
We do what we can to keep the unintended consequences of our actions beneficial consequences. We can teach a man to fish, and he continues to eat. He might teach others to fish.
But, we do not overlook the unintended consequences of our actions. He might teach others to fish, who teach others to fish, who teach others to fish. Everyone continues to fish until there are no more fish left to eat.
If that example is too simplistic, consider the very, very frequent case of the young person who considers becoming a religious scholar. But, she fears that she will fall into the trap that so many scholars fall into: they stop serving God, and start serving their appetites. Thus, she chooses to not pursue religious knowledge, out of fear that she will be making choices that cause serious problems to herself and to others.
The first fundamental step to confronting these feared unintended consequences is to keep your intentions clear. It is hard to be truly honest with ourselves about our intentions without being truly honest with ourselves about ourselves. Thus, we have to be as clear as we can about our intentions.
The third fundamental step to confronting these feared unintended consequences is to first establish and focus on the priorities. In Islamic practice, these are the obligations. You work first on your obligatory acts before working on the supererogatory acts, before working on the voluntary acts. Once you have established those obligatory acts, then you can move to the next level. Read through Surah al-Baqarah and you will find these obligatory acts. Start right from the beginning.
The third fundamental step is to work to purify yourself. Meaning, you have to work to become more and more sincere with yourself. The process of washing out our insincerities is sometimes difficult. It requires persistence. And, as we wipe away layers of rust, we reveal more strengths and more weaknesses within ourselves: strengths and weaknesses we did not know where there.
Thus, I am shifting the concern away from the uncontrolled, unintended consequences of our actions, toward something we have greater and greater control over: our intentions. Actions will be judged by their intentions. We are not forgetting the unintended consequences. Rather, we are shifting primary focus.
Now, to battle the fear that is inflaming your worries about the unintended consequences, you must develop trust in the Divine. You must develop active trust in the Divine. And, speak to him, politely, humbly requesting that He accepts your actions. Meaning, if you were to shoot an arrow from its bow, it is actually Him that is propelling it and making it hit or miss its target. So, trust God.
And Allah knows best.