Devotional: A spiritual boundary of freedom
Published 12:01 pm Saturday, February 18, 2023
In America, we celebrate our freedoms: freedom of speech, thought, religion, right to bear arms, and to participate unencumbered as members of a democratic society. With these unbounded opportunities to do as we please, one would expect that we were a nation of people who harmoniously partake in life’s experiences. Yet, we face serious challenges — one individual’s freedom may infringe upon those of others.
To experience our desired utopian society, we should understand that freedom should be bounded: individual rights should be balanced by collective responsibility. Our worldview is seen through the lens of our own experiences and understanding of what is correct and incorrect behavior. Unfortunately, these lenses are tinted by our personal interests and desires. Only divine guidance and spiritual understanding are capable of providing a boundary that is equitable and just.
A bounded notion of freedom is given in Scripture. The Almighty guides believers to obey His injunctions and gives the disbelievers freedom to do as they will. (Qur’an 9:1). From this verse we learn that our Creator has determined what behavior is appropriate for healthy human interactions. Further, we learn that some people will choose not to obey Divine guidance and are free to do as they please.
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A similar idea is found in 1 Peter 2:15-16. “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” God wants us to exercise our free will and do good deeds. He does not want us to utilize our freedom through malicious activities.
Freedom does not mean that we should do anything that we can justify through our own reason; albeit this is the ubiquitous understanding that permeates our society today. It really refers to socially responsible behavior that is acceptable to our Creator.
We all know persons who have chosen to ignore these Divine guidelines. We must keep in mind that The Almighty has permitted this deviant behavior and He alone will hold the offender responsible. The laws of His creation are exacting. If we abuse our bodies, we become ill. If we do not discontinue our unhealthy practices, we will die. So too is it with our moral lives and societal responsibilities. The laws of creation will destroy those who violate Divine boundaries.
Qadir Abdus-Sabur, Ph.D. is an Imam at the Islamic Center of Prince Edward. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.