Then one day, he finally gets them. He looks at himself in the mirror, and thinks he looks cool. After a few days, though, the braces start causing him terrible pain. He struggles to maintain his composure while his peers compliment the color of his braces and tell him how much they suit him; all the while, he is secretly wanting to have them removed. But now he’s stuck with them. After some time, he even gets used to the pain of his shifting teeth, and having braces isn’t a big deal anymore. It’s not cool or painful; he hardly even thinks about them. They’re just another part of his life now. No big deal.
Like a child who’s embarrassed to admit that he secretly wants braces, many of us have an unspoken desire to commit a certain sin.
Like a child who’s embarrassed to admit that he secretly wants braces, many of us have an unspoken desire to commit a certain sin. We see people around us engaging in that action, and it makes us want to be a part of that, too. Our own “safe,” Muslim lifestyle starts to seem boring or unfulfilling. We see others partying, drinking, dating, or doing drugs, and even though we’re ashamed to say it, the thought crosses our mind: “Why can’t I have that?”
Then one day, you decide to try it out. Wow. It’s more awesome than it even seemed to be from the outside. It’s like you’re on top of the world… And then you fall. You failed a class or two because you partied too hard. You had one too many drinks and embarrassed yourself. You got dumped or cheated on by the person you were going out with. You went broke buying drugs you couldn’t afford.
We see others partying, drinking, dating, or doing drugs, and even though we’re ashamed to say it, the thought crosses our mind: “Why can’t I have that?”
You feel stuck now, though. You’re not content, but you’re so busy keeping up a facade of happiness that you don’t really stop to think about that. You have a certain reputation. You’ve lived a certain type of life. You’ve numbed the pain. You’ve seen things and been places that have changed you. You feel like you can’t go back. You’ve accepted that this is just the way things are, now.
But why? What are you doing? How did you get here? Is this it?
Allah knew that Adam and Hawwa (peace be upon them) would eat from the forbidden tree, but he let them do it, anyway. He watched them every step of the way: when they lived a comfortable life; when they started to get tempted; when they acted on that temptation; and when they crashed. Allah knew they would turn back to Him in the end, but this way, they would be able to answer a major question: “Did you think that we created you in play (without a purpose) and that you wouldn’t be brought back to Us?”
Allah is always waiting for us to turn back to Him, no matter how badly we’ve screwed up.
The difference between them and us, though, is that they immediately accepted this inevitable Truth and repented. Shaytan tempted them as he tempts us, but they didn’t let him win, because they knew how it’d go down on Judgment Day if they allowed that.
Allah has already warned us in the Qur’an that Shaytan will tell us, “Allah’s promise was definitely true. And I promised you, but I betrayed you. But I had no authority over you except that I invited you, and you responded to me- so don’t blame me, but blame yourselves. I can’t help you, and you can’t help me. I completely deny your association of me [with Allah] in the past. There’s a horrible punishment for the wrongdoers” (14:22).
Allah, on the other hand, is always waiting for us to turn back to Him, no matter how badly we’ve screwed up. “And (of the best of believers are) those who, whenever they do something shameless or wrong themselves in any other way, immediately remember Allah, and ask Him to forgive them. Who is there to forgive except Allah? And they don’t persist in what they were doing” (3:135).
“Who is there to forgive except Allah?”
“Then where are you going?” (81:26)