One of the basic attitudes a Muslim tries to embody is that obedience to Allah (swt) is a blessing from Allah (swt). We are not doing any favors to Allah by obeying Him; rather, we are honored by being allowed to be in His obedience. Feeling arrogant in our obedience is a trick of Shaitan, from which we ask protection.
Sometimes I wonder, however, if we carry this attitude to other things beyond acts of obedience – praying, fasting… you know, the Islamic and religious “stuff.” Do we carry this attitude to other positive choices we make in our lives?
I was having a discussion with my brother-in-law about – what else – school choices. Having put my daughter in a co-op preschool and currently trying to get into our local, public, co-op elementary school, he reminded me that being able to choose a co-op school is a luxury. Many families can’t afford to have a parent take time off to participate in a classroom, or don’t have the babysitting resources to leave little ones at home.
In my daughter’s current school, a sizable percentage of her classmates receive free school lunch and don’t bring snacks from home. When they can bring some snack, it typically consists whichever products are cheapest. They hover over my daughter’s fresh fruit.
We try to live greener by composting, planting some food, using less resources, using environmentally friendly products. We cry out against corporations that keep lowering their bottom line at the expense of overseas workers or the environment. Yet can we really blame those barely living paycheck to paycheck for shopping at the stores that offer the cheapest stuff?
While we engage in lengthy discussions about the best ways to raise our children or healthiest ways to live our lives, I wonder if we sometimes forget how blessed we are to be having this types of discussions – where we have the material and moral luxuries to be debating these types of things.
This is not to belittle these conversations; I engage in them also because they are important to me and my family. But I have to remind myself how blessed I am to be able to make, and even have, choices.
Bhawana Kamil teaches Philosophy at Evergreen Valley College and is actively involved with the Bay Area chapter of the Muslim American Society, the Interfaith Council of Economics and Justice, and California Interfaith Power and Light. She’s a proud wife of a Child Welfare Worker and proud mommy to a loving little girl.