“Emulate God and forgive,” by Yoel Benhabib

“And God is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

Quran 4:96

A characteristic of many human beings is a lack of forgiveness. This is not a natural characteristic in us but a sign of disconnection from the Divinity. We, humans, have been created in the image of God therefore, HE who is the “Most Merciful” implanted “mercy” in us. But because of our sins and our distancing from God, we have become incapable of forgiving others and showing mercy when required. This does not mean that we can’t go back to our original state, on the contrary, the very solution is to turn towards God, emulate Him, and show kindness and mercy towards others.

 

Author: Yoel Benhabib (Historian)

 

Do not forget to say Thank you! by Yoel Benhabib

“Truly, God is full of bounty to mankind, but most men thank not.”

Quran 2:243

If there is something that we can never forget is to be thankful. How many times have we seen people that, after obtaining what they wanted, they simply move away without even saying “Thank you” to those who did them well! This is simply a display of egotistical characteristics present in those who have no empathy neither care for his neighbor but only asks: What’s in it for me?

One of the major ingratitudes is to forget to thank God for the many miracles and gifts he gives us in our life. How certain are the words in the Holy Quran when it states that “most men thank not?” The Quran clearly identifies the problem as some kind of ingratitude inherent to men, something hidden within but that at times surfaces as one of the crudest realities in humankind.

 

Author: Yoel Benhabib (Historian)

 

Imam Al-Ghazali on having the appropriate view of riches, by Yoel Benhabib

“The Treasures of this world will be of no use to you when you are dead.”

Imam Al-Ghazali

With these words, one of the greatest teachers in Islam, Imam Al-Ghazali, resumed the correct view that a believer should have regarding wealth, fame, and other worldly treasures. Some people live their lives as if they will never die, this should not be the case for someone who believes in God. In fact, he should always have in mind that one day he will have to render account before his Creator for the things he had done during his earthly life. Therefore, his prime concern should be to have a good standing before his Lord and through his good deeds be among those who deserve to be rewarded with everlasting life. It is not wrong to be rich or have a profession, but this should no be the main concern but to gain favor before God. If the believer loses his focus and starts pursuing “the treasures of this world” then he will miss the point of his existence completely and; how are his riches going to save him when death arrives? Like Al-Ghazali emphasized, money, gold, degrees, reputation, or properties, “will be of no use when you are dead.”

 

Author: Yoel Benhabib (Historian and Religious Studies professor).

 

 

This life or the afterlife? The advice of Imam Al-Ghazali. By Yoel Benhabib

“For true learning is that which leads to the knowledge that sin is a deadly poison and that the afterlife is better than this life.”  Imam Al-Ghazali

 

In today’s world, there are many trends regarding the correct path to follow. There are many religions and each one proposes and unique way for the individual to achieve happiness and transcendence. It is clear then that “knowledge” must be pursued in order to differentiate and know where lies the truth from falsehood.

There are some people who only pursue worldly pleasures and material fulfillment. Others, reject everything from this life and only contemplate the idea of a better existence in the “World to Come” or the “Afterlife.” I think that the solution to this puzzle is the middle way. We must live our lives in a decent way and strive to improve our world the best we can, fight injustice, poverty, diseases, and all kinds of evil; while ate the same time think about a future better world. The world of the future must be better than the present one. This is what the great Imam Al-Ghazali meant when he said, “the afterlife is better than this one.” But there’s are obstacles to achieving that ultimate and pleasant life. Sin or the failure to do what is right is one of those deadly obstacles. Sin, can clearly be understood as doing those things that God says are wrong but, also not striving for doing this world a better place can be considered as sinful. One cannot sit still and do nothing to improve our situation on a personal level or on a global scale. Although we must have always hopes for “the afterlife”, the “world to come” or a “better future”, we must never give up to combat injustices and evil. The work must be done now, in the present, that is the key to attaining the afterlife or a better future for all humanity. What we do in the present is what counts towards the future. We must start by changing ourselves for good, removing all sin (in all sense) from our lives; this is what Al-Ghazali means by “true learning.” We must change ourselves first before going out there and try to change the world. What is the point of changing others if we ourselves haven’t changed? If my life is chaos I cannot go and change the world because I’m one of those bringing chaos into the world. Let’s fix our lives first, cleansing ourselves from the “poison” brought by “sinful” or erroneous actions, as Al-Ghazali states. In order to be successful, we must elevate our levels of consciousness and understand that all human beings are connected one way or another and what we do can bring good or evil into the world.

 

Author: Yoel Benhabib (History and Religious Studies Major).

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