This is a question we ask ourselves daily from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep again. This is natural if we are to do anything. When we want to eat something or talk to someone or we go out or take a trip somewhere by land, water or air, we on our own have to take decisions. There is no one always to ask or guide.
As a child we had an adult to show us the way. But as adults we only have ourselves. That is the meaning of us being an adult; that of being able to make our own decisions. But for this we need to become wise. And wisdom comes from being aware of our every experience in life and having learned lessons from these. All these add to make for our wisdom. Awareness knowledge and experience all rolled into one.
So when we get out into this world which is essentially in our waking time, every step we take is about making decisions. When we are asleep we are not in this world; this world of our five senses. When awake in this world of form, we are required to take decisions. To the extend we are trained or oriented to taking our own decisions will determine our path to success in this life.
There are two paths; that of Allah SWA and that of the Shaithaan. Allah SWA has made it abundantly clear in the Quran that Satan is our sworn enemy and we should not follow his footsteps. Yet many follow it. Why? Firstly we don't know that we are following Satan. We feel we are just following our heart. Things that make us feel excited (maja). All maja things are bound to land us in trouble in life sometime or other. We enjoy that for a while but the downside of it catches up with us and it becomes an addiction. Addiction means we have no control over that emotion. So we are not living a life of steadfastness which we are supposed to do as adults. What this really means is that we have not really matured even though we may have physically arrived. In a way we are just as we were as children when our parents guided us to the things they felt were good for us. As an adult with an addiction, it is shaitaan holding our hand leading us to where we seem the joy is. Secondly, our taking this path of shaitan is a conscious decision. We are deluded into negating our Creator and so in such a context this world seems all we have and thus our prevailing paradigm is hedonistic -- “why not enjoy every moment”?
We need to know and be convinced that this is the wrong path. The moment's pleasure will entice us for more and soon a type of numbness will take over. No more it is the pleasure that moves us, rather it is the habit. In the thick of the resulting unconscionable emotions that flow in us, we surrender to the dark powers that have now become the guiding hand. We don’t even know or care to know when we are in the trap. Money sex and games lead us down this road to the trap of addiction. Allah SWA has warned us so cogently and specifically in the Quran, and the Prophet’s ahadith give us further attestation to the folly we are following. Yet in this world we are enticed by Satan, and thus Allah tests us of our resolve. Are we mettle enough to be allowed into Jannah or just having to be only fit as fuel for Jahannam?
This world throws in so many distractions for us to make us slip form this straight path of Allah. In the past of a few decades ago, these distractions as specific and diverse avenues may have been sparse, yet the emotions that rallied us around Shaithan were the same; wealth, sex, and the fun and games of this world. The new entrant in this 21st century to this enticing plethora of the great Deceiver’s tools is the internet. It has taken away the controlling thread that parents and teachers and caretakers have had in the past. Now there is no control of what a child, youth or adult have access to, and soon sadly, we too, who are to lead, also lose control and become slaves of Satan. Once we are in Shaitan’s control we are no more gently coaxed but harshly commanded to follow. Surah Baqara shows us how delicately Shaitaan lured our first parents to the forbidden tree. He didn’t force them but enticed them with gentle coaxing until they were in his trap. In this world, their progeny is still being pursued by Shaithan unrelentingly to make them, that is us, slip from this path. The unfettered access to shameless gossip, gory games, and mind-numbing voyeurism on the social media and internet in general wreak unimaginable consequences to the young and receptive mind which will shape the insensitive and emotionally stoic personalities of tomorrow. Even though each of these minds may not go around creating senseless mayhem in society, they are however laced with emotions that are far from compassion. Society will ultimately assume this collective consciousness that will colour the character of our communities; emotionally depleted or incapable human beings that do not see anything but themselves as the purpose of being. In their equation, the other person doesn't matter. That is how the war games and the hideous characters of the internet games and Playstation culture mould our children's mind.
So do we as parents and caretakers just swallow this orchestrated social design of this great Deceiver as the new path of development we must take? Or begin rethinking the heinous crime of not being responsible for the trust Allah had given us in bringing up our children as caring and socially adjusted and helpful citizens of tomorrow.
It is very easy for us to be just flowing with the tide of development and lapping everything it offers. That means we remain dependant to those in competition with Allah (shirk), and blind to the real purpose of this life which is to worship Allah SWA.
This path of Allah that we have the choice of taking will lead us to happiness and joy in this world and in the Hereafter. The satanic path can only give us this world at best. Some survive to even die in affluence and seeming happiness. But the majority are doomed to suffer even in this world and sadly The Garden of Delight, a remote and distant dream.
Which path will you choose?