By John Bilal
Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Raheem,
While watching a cable news channel documentary I was bit shocked to hear the conclusion of the hour long show. The narrarator stated “people prefer to hear lies, rather than hear the truth”. I was particularly annoyed since the documentary narrowly explored the reason people were shown to prefer the practice of lying – nor did they show good examples of people who exhibited a love for truth.
This business about loving lies is not as simple as it appears. For instance, if someone were to ask you, “if you had cancer, would you want anyone to tell you?” most people would say, yes of course. They could explain to you in rational terms why they want the truth; something like “I don’t want to die, so don’t lie”. If, on the other hand someone says, “you’re handsome”, even though you know they’re lying – suddenly you say in your mind and heart “I don’t want to hear the truth”. I don’t want to hear the barrage of truth – I stink, I am stupid, I am a fool, I am ignorant, I am wicked, I am thoughtless and dangerous. As you surmise by watching the 6:00 news with Uncle Bob who can’t stop cursing at the television; in many cases, these kinds of comments are harsh, but inconvenient truths. This truth cannot be talked about, it must fester in the soul like an open wound.
When I think about this preference to lies, I think about the so-called, “race to the bottom” in the world around us. I walk outside and see trash in the street, I see people shouting and cursing at each other at the bus stop, I see a mother call her child a “lil nigga” in the department store, people walking about with their pants around their knee caps, and behaving like spoiled children. With so much mediocrity in our midst, its so easy to understand why people don’t wish to see their own ugliness. The lie has become our mask, to hide from our own defects. We don’t want to see the warts on our own face, we want to cover up the boils on our skin.
Allah says in Al Qur’an human person is created in the most excellent mold, that the human person is created as a vicegerent to whom the Angels would bow, that the human being is capable of the highest consciousness. So what happens to that person when he depletes himself with inaction, with mediocrity, with perversity, with ignoble behavious, with ignorance? The truth is, at the deepest level, this person can’t stand the sight of his own face – so he learns to love the lie. Think of the racist man and woman; he loves to be told he is human and kind, benevolent, even when the reality is, he harbors hatred against his fellow being.
So what is the Islamic prescription for this malady? The Muslim learns to love the steep path. In the Holy Qur’an Sura 90, Ayat 12, Allah asks us the question, “what is the steep path?” and the answer says, “it is the freeing of the slave in bondage”. Most would say this statement relates to the free of a person who is enslaved by a wicked slave-master. I would like to make the case this statement refers to how we enslave ourselves. That steep path requires us to look ourselves in the mirror and deal with that neglect, that ugliness – whatever it is. We must learn to love the truth, even when it is painful to deal with. The world is in constant movement; a rush to no-where, a palpitating throbbing heart given to excitement and sensationalism. Never stand still; because if you do, you will see the truth – you are a liar, and you are not pretty and not even smart. What kind of fool drops trash in the street in the place where he lives? What kind of man or woman takes precious innocence and gives it to a person who doesn’t prove sincerity?
A Muslim is taught to pray, and that Allah listens to the pray of every suppliant; but we’re also told prayer is for our own good. The prayer is not to benefit Allah (God). Think about it; prayer requires the devotee to become quiet, reflective, to think, to ponder deeply, in simply “being” appreciative. In that quiet time, five times a day, one learns to face the self and destroy the demons that possess the soul. This is the path of being Muslim. We must all learn this path, no matter what we call our religion, we still breath the same air. If we find people who are polluting this common air we al breath, we should fight them in the best manner – by erasing the lies that make us impotent victims of polluters of our world.