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To top of this day's posts Monday, February 13, 2006

Rather than quietly delete all the chain emails I get from some relatives, I occasionally read them, out of respect for the people who send them. They're windows into the world I fled from, but still carry in my heart.

This particular chain email told the story of a man going to the masjid (mosque) for the fajr namaaz (pre-dawn prayer). He leaves home after performing wudoo (ablution), and, on his way, trips in the dark and falls. His clothes get dirty, so he returns home to clean up and change. He performs the wudoo once again before heading for the masjid. On his way, he falls a second time, and repeats what he did the first time. On his third attempt he finds a man holding a lamp, who says that, after seeing the man fall twice, he wanted to help him get to the masjid safely. Upon reaching the masjid, the man with the lamp refuses to go in. When the man asks why not after helping him get there, the man with the lamp explains that he is Satan, and that he had been causing the man to fall, but the first time he fell and returned home to cleanse himself, and headed for the masjid again, God forgave all his sins, which is what Satan wanted to thwart. The second time God forgave all the sins of everyone in the man's household. If the man had fallen a third time, then Satan was afraid that God might forgive the sins of the entire village, so he decided to help him get to the masjid.

The moral, the email claimed, was that one must not let Satan succeed by putting off the good that one intends to achieve, in the face of hardship. Struggling through the hardship could lead one to a reward of value.

My reading is a little different. It's that one does not need to go to the masjid in order to defeat Satan. And, if one easily makes it to the masjid, then chances are that one has accepted help from Satan. We know that Satan is cunning and does not give up, so it's foolish to believe that Satan has been defeated simply because he's helping you get to the masjid. It's more likely that he has changed his tactic. In other words, reaching the masjid is neither necessary, nor sufficient, for defeating Satan. He can only be defeated by one's actions in the world.

Hmmm...sounds a lot like karma, as described in the following quote attributed to Sai Baba of Shirdi, who is said to have been born of Hindu parents, and adopted and raised by Muslim:

Any instant solution would go against the fundamental quality of nature itself as well as the Karmic law of cause and effect. Most people live in the material world of their desires and egos which is governed by the law. They reap the fruits of their actions. This brings about their evolution or devolution. If the Avatar intervenes to instantly solve their problems, it would stop all action, development, even evolution. This solution can be ruled out because it totally negates the natural laws.

If saying such stuff doesn't make me an "infidel," then I must rely on not believing in the literality of a singular, anthropomorphic God, whose sole messenger is Mohammed. However, I also have no reason to make it to the masjid, so have no need for Satan to help me get there. I do tend to leave my shoe laces untied, though, and often trip and fall, and get dirty. The primary ingredient of the soap I use to wash up is Islam. It's not a brand I consciously choose; I've never used anything else, and have never wanted to switch. I used to be allergic to it, but that has slowly subsided since I got out of the confines of the world of my birth.

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5:59:57 PM  To top of this post

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