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The Forbidden Fruit

 

Bism-illah irahman nirahim

 

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent and most Merciful

O Mankind! Verily the Promise of Allah is true. So let not this present life deceive you, and let not the chief deceiver (satan) deceive you about Allah.

 

(35:5)

 

 

Allah (swt) guides His most sincere followers to the gardens of Paradise and the ones who allow mis-guidance to enter their hearts will go astray. The noble words of Al’Qur’an have warned us against being deceived by the world around us and by the deception of Iblis – satan. The ultimate guidance for mankind has come with the revelations of Al’Qur’an and the sunnah – path of the blessed Prophet (saw) and when we fail to follow the commands, judgements and advice from this inspiration, then we are led towards destruction.

 

The absence of guidance leads us towards sin and this mis-guidance may only be for one moment, one second or a whole lifetime. The roots of misguidance and deception come from the legacy of the first man ever created, the first Prophet of Allah (swt); Adam (as). Prophet Adam (As) was led astray by Iblis for only one moment when he allowed the devil to lead him towards the ‘forbidden fruit’.

 

‘We said to the angels ‘Prostrate yourselves to Adam’ they prostrated except Iblis, who refused.

 

Then we said ‘O Adam! Verily, this is an enemy to you and your wife. So let him not get you both out of Paradise, so that you be distressed in misery’.

 

Verily, you have a promise (From Us) that you will never be hungry therein nor naked.

 

And you (will) suffer not from thirst therein nor from the sun’s heat.

 

Then Satan whispered to him saying ‘O Adam Shall I lead you to the tree of eternity and to a kingdom that will never waste away?

 

Then they both ate from the tree and so their private parts appeared to them, and they began to stick on themselves the leaves from Paradise for their covering. Thus did Adam disobey his Lord, so he went astray’.

 

(Surah 20, 116-121)

 

Allah (swt) set the boundaries for Hasrat Adam (as) and his wife Hawa(as) and ordered them to stay away from the fruit. In return they could reside in the gardens of Paradise and enjoy the mercy and bounties of Allah (swt). The devil who had dis-obeyed the commandment of Allah (swt) by refusing to prostrate to Hasrat Adam (As) had vowed to lead astray this creation and Hasrat Adam (as) was the first to fall victim. The devil whispered into the ear of Hasrat Adam (as) and led him and his wife towards the forbidden fruit and upon transgressing the limits, Prophet Adam (as) and his wife were exposed to their own shame and had to leave the gardens of Paradise. Hasrat Adam (as) and Hawa (as) resided in this world and repented before Allah (swt) forgave them.  They recited the verses as revealed in Surah Al-A-raf;

 

Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If you forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers.                 ( 7, 23)

 

 The blessed Prophets Ambiya (assalatu assalaam) may blessings and peace be upon them all, have been created with the highest rank and therefore they cannot commit sin. The events in their lives are a lesson for us and a trial for them. The legacy of Hasrat Adam (as) and his wife remains a great lesson for the whole of mankind as to how the devil can misguide us and how we will suffer as a consequence. This attraction of the forbidden fruit is our greatest weakness and are the roots of the tests and trials we face every day. The test of guidance and the temptation of misguidance is how the owners of Paradise and the dwellers of the hellfire will one day be separated and Allah (swt) will inform us of everything we did.

 

So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet and follow him so that you may be guided’.  (7, 158)

 

All our affairs are in the hands of the Qur’an and Sunnah. The wisdom of the words as revealed by Allah (swt) and the path and teachings of Rasulullah (saw) are perfect and the only way through which the mercy of Allah (swt) will be upon us. The devil can only misguide us if we allow ourselves to pursue the ways that conflict with the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Allah (swt) has created this world as a means through which we are tested and tempted into transgressing the limits as established by Allah (swt) and whenever we follow our desires and indulge in what is forbidden then we have allowed the devil to misguide us. The pursuit for the ‘forbidden fruit’ exists within us because we all have ‘nafs’, which is described as being our desires of lust, greed, selfishness and everything that opposes the Qur’an and Sunnah. These desires influence us and in many cases will completely dominate us because we fail to resist and try to overcome them. We live our lives as Muslims but in so many areas fail to abide by the teachings and choose to ignore the wisdom because we prefer to employ our own judgement and choice.

 

‘O you who believe! Do not be forward in the presence of Allah and His Messenger and fear Allah. Verily! Allah is All Hearing, All Knowing’.

 

 (49,1)

 

This verse reprimanded all believers not to make any judgements in advance to what Allah (swt) and his blessed Messenger (saw) have decided. In the time we live in there has been an increase in many innovations being introduced into Islam and the authentic hadith clarifies that ‘Every innovation is misguidance and misguidance is in the hellfire’.

 

The above hadith clearly explains the essence of misguidance, explaining that if we innovate and bring into the teachings of Islam something that is not found in the Qur’an and Sunnah, then we have chosen the path of mis-guidance The above hadith is often used when clarifying the importance of following the authentic teachings and not introducing anything new into the shariah – Islamic law. However we can also understand the whole concept of guidance and misguidance from this one hadith and also from the Qur’anic ayat mentioned above. Whenever we make a judgement or choice in any matter which conflicts with the verses of Al’Qur’an and the teachings of Rasulullah (saw) then we have chosen the path of the devil. We must remember that Iblis also followed his own judgement not to prostrate to Hasrat Adam (as) and refused to follow the commandment of Allah (swt). This is why we need to understand this simple concept of submitting to Allah (swt) wholeheartedly and referring all matters to the teachings of the Qur’an and the explanation of the authentic Ahadith. (Ahadith – This is the collections of the sayings, actions, approval and disapproval of Prophet Muhammad salla lahu alayhi wa ale hi wasallam).

 

‘Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, but if you turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and you for that placed on you. If you obey him, you shall be on the right guidance. The Messenger’s duty is only to convey in a clear way’.   (24, 54)

 

The believers are more open to the deception of Iblis when they allow their nafs to dictate their lives. We follow our desires and are unable to overcome the impurities in our lives. This is why it has become harder for us to maintain our five times salah – prayer and we constantly look for excuses when missing our prayers. Even though we allocate our time to many useless activities in which we seek some pleasure but when it comes to our prayer we tell ourselves it doesn’t matter if we miss them as long as we compensate in some other way. However we should know that no believer can be exempt from praying regardless of his status or rank. There are numerous hadith from Rasulullah (saw) on how the blessed Prophet (saw) prayed diligently and punctually even though he was perfect in character and conduct. If the blessed Prophet (saw) prayed with  incomparable humility and dedication even though he was assured of the highest ranks in Paradise then surely the rest of us can never think of abandoning our prayer. We are mis-guided and have even lost the will power to resist or overcome these desires. In the words of Sheikh Muhammad Imran who writes that the great Ulama – scholars have written that when we give our ears the sounds of music and gaze at women with lust, this steals the willpower and strength of resolution from men.

 

‘As for him who feared standing before his Lord, and restrained himself from impure evil desires and lusts’.  (79, 40)

 

The practice of the pious people and the great scholars in Islam was to protect their piety and avoid any situation that may lead to mis-guidance. They would not learn to resist temptation but would train themselves to overcome their nafs, so that they love what Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) loves and detest what Allah (swt) dislikes. They would live their lives so that they would not base their actions and speech on any other except the actions of Rasulullah (saw). There are many scholars today who will keep their eyes lowered in any gathering where they fear their eyes may see someone of the opposite sex. Also many scholars continue to teach their female students behind a veil to avoid any kind of contact. This is the sign of piety and modesty and this is how desires can be overcome. The pious believers in Islam have the most fear of Allah (swt) and are most stringent in preserving the sunnah of Rasulullah (saw). The lives of the great teachers show how they would limit their food and would choose to have simple meals in order to detach themselves from indulging in worldly pleasures. There are scholars today who view having two meals a day as being extravagant and would stay away from any lavish food. If you can resist over-indulging in two things then this will show you the path to overcoming the nafs. These two things are sleep and food.

 

If we can limit ourselves to the food that is required and not become greedy then this will make us stronger and more determined.  An authentic hadith from the blessed Prophet (saw) discusses the virtues of only eating what is necessary; A believer eats in one intestine (satisfied with little food), and a kafir – disbeliever eats in seven intestines (eats much food).  Bukhari

 

This is why many pious believers would keep voluntary fasts on a regular basis to make their nafs weaker and in fact the recommendation for unmarried people is to fast more and avoid red meat, in order to subdue their thoughts and desires.

Similarly it is also difficult to overcome our sleep and wake up to perform prayer in the early morning. This is why in Al’Qur’an, the believers are described as those who can overcome their desire to sleep and stand in prayer to Allah (swt).

 

‘Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in fear and hope’ 32,16

 

In the message of the Qur’an and Sunnah, there are warnings and commands for all those who believe and the tests and trials are severe. However the answers and remedies are found in the Miraculous Word of Allah (swt) and within the life and teachings of the blessed Prophet (saw). We have the choice and have to make every effort to cleanse our heart and pursue the path of tazkiyah – self purification. The rewards are no doubt the riches of Paradise but if we follow the whispers of Iblis then that path leads us to the place where all deception, misguidance and transgression truly belong, and that is in the fire which the devil calls his home. 

 

‘As for those who strive hard in Us (Our cause), We will surely guide them to Our path’  (29,69)