Faith Versus Foolishness

So in my last post I posed a really off the wall question: “To take one’s life is completely against Islam but what if it has to happen to prevent something horrible from occurring to others?”*

Funny enough, I sort of got a response to my question. Well, as close as I could get anyways.

I found myself at Taleef, a local Islamic institution that’s not quite a mosque, last week for their weekly Sunday night class on Living Islam. I hadn’t been in a while and wanted to come to the last class of the year.

During the talk about patience, humility, and other topics, the teacher mentioned a couple of stories where people seemed to take a step that one would think would put them in harm’s way unnecessarily:

1st story – In the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and I’m totally paraphrasing this story, there was a caravan of sorts that had to stop traveling because a lion came across their path and didn’t seem to want to move. One of the guys went to face the lion to try to get it out of the way. When asked why he risked getting hurt, he said something along the lines that he knew that a lion could harm him or eat him and that’s what the nature of a lion is but that the lion would only truly harm him if that was supposed to happen and God had willed it.

2nd story – The teacher was talking about this guy he knows that was in a prison riot. As tear gas was all over the place and bullets were flying around, he was standing up and protecting some of his fellow inmates. He knew that bullets tear flesh but he felt that they would only hit him if they were supposed to (i.e. if God willed it).

The entire time he was talking about these stories, I was thinking about how they related to my last post. The teacher asked anyone if they had any questions and I knew this would be the closest I would get to to ever ask the question that I’ve had on my mind. Considering the context had already been set, there was really no better time to ask.

So I asked my question.

When is it ok to put yourself in harm’s way? What if you know that your actions could get you hurt or killed?

He asked for an example and I brought up police officers, firefighters, and the solider who throws himself on a bomb to protect his peers. Basically, anyone who has to risk their life for something beyond themselves. (If you think that I actually brought up being infected by a hypothetical zombie virus, you’re insane.)

The teacher talked about ‘altruistic sacrifice’ and mentioned that people put their life on the line for a valid reason all the time. He talked about women giving birth as one example. He talked about martyrs in general. He also mentioned that becoming a police officer or firefighter doesn’t have to mean that one will die from their job.

On some level though, you do have to think about if you are invoking fate and faith or just being foolish. It’s not foolish to want to be a mom, a firefighter, cop, solider, despite the risks involved. However, as the teacher brought up, you can’t do something like run around on 880 (highway in CA) and think that cars will only hit you if they are meant to hit you. That’s just being stupid. Common sense has to play a part.

So for everyone out there, it’s completely okay to be the hero when you need to be one, when you have to be one. Sure, make the distinction between faith vs foolishness but keep it all in mind – the lion won’t harm you and the bullets won’t hurt you if they aren’t meant to. And if they do, well, there’s a wisdom in that as well.

*I was asked by someone if I wrote my last post while I was high. I assure you, I was not:) I can handle my coffee folks and to anyone who doubts that, I propose… a coffee-off.

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