Myth: Everyone’s doing it so it’s okay.
It’s amazing how Quran reminds you of forgotten things, of sins that you don’t think are sins anymore because somewhere over the years you have given it all a perfect justification that only makes sense to you. I was jolted back to point zero when I came across this verse and remembered some pointers from Nouman Ali Khan’s year-old lectures.
Say, “The evil and the good are not equal, even though the abundance of (what is) evil may attract you. So, fear Allah, O people of understanding, so that you may be successful.” (Quran; 05:100)
First off, notice that Allah (swt) didn’t just say evil and good are equal. He told the Prophet (pbuh) to say it. Meaning what? That Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is to set the standards of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. And he did.
Think of the last time you were trying to justify a bad deed as good or okay. Which goes on to show that our standards are subjective. What used to be PG-13 a decade ago is now suitable for general audience. What was rated X before is now PG-13. Things are constantly changing. You see something in a movie that you shouldn’t be seeing, you are appalled at first. Gradually, you begin to shrug it off thinking “It’s common in their culture. No big deal.” Or if it is some TV series you’re hooked on to, and that feeble voice of your conscience tells you to quit, you smother it saying, “It is cleaner than the rest of the shows. Not squeaky clean- but clean comparatively. So it’s okay if I watch it… cause I’m only following the story, you know?”
Then there’s profanity in language that is at the tip of your tongue. We think we feel some weird kind of relief after swearing out loud. And it’s quite alarming how easily curses roll off our tongues. And apparently we can’t put enough emphasis behind a statement without cussing heavily, and no meme is funny without foul words in the punchline. Take “Grumpy Cat” or its Urdu counterpart as an example. Everyone does it, so it’s cool.
And hence, Allah (swt) instructed the Prophet (pbuh) to establish the appropriate from inappropriate matters- which is to remain for all times. We know the wrongs we are doing but we can’t be bothered fixing them. And as for our empty justifications, you can see them falling like a house of cards ’cause the good and bad can never mix no matter what you tell yourself. There are no grey areas here. The next part of the verse gets even better– though the forbidden evil prevailing in the society may attract us, it does not befit a Muslim to follow the Pied Piper. It’s not going to be easy for you to be pure of the filth and it’s not supposed to be. But it’s gonna be worth trying.
Most importantly, notice who is being addressed here. Not Al-Muslimun or Al-Muttaqun or An-Naas, but People of Understanding. If you have a rational mind, Allah expects you to fear Him after seeing the evil and good in everything. Cause stupid people will do what stupid people got to do- tune into the moral compass of the society and go with the flow. And therefore, the stupids weren’t considered a worthy mention. Unless you’re soft in the head, you are specifically being addressed here.
No time better than Ramadan to exile yourself to a rehab and flush out the junk. Lord help us all when the devils are set loose.