UI – Part 174 – Temptation (I)
Most of us know what temptation is. Yes, an outside force or agency encourages us to do wrong. It could be a second or third donut after already having breakfast, a shopping spree when we are at our budgetary limit, another cocktail when enough is enough is already past, payment for doing a disservice to another, a man or woman escort to fill the void of loneliness or depression, an internet diversion to a sexually explicit site, striking another person out of rage (for reasons unknown or unjustified), or hiding the truth by blaming another for actions taken that have a negative impact on others. Certainly we know the majors – murder, sloth, gluttony, etc. I could go on, but you too can readily add to this list.
Consider times of late when you have done wrong knowingly (after the fact to be certain) and sought an avenue by which to escape, a path to be taken whereby the error in judgment can be disguised or forgotten. Consider times in your past when actions taken, if exposed, would have caused untold embarrassment to yourself and others, even severe consequences due to the mental harm to others. If exposed and the crime not serious should harm come to you – as an honor killing? If you upset a loved one or your family, is it man that decides or God? Someone might be upset, but to kill or have someone killed as a result – that is a bit barbaric. What about forgiveness?
Temptation is before us every hour of the day. We can consider the source of temptation, but it is not temptation itself that is harmful; it is reacting and acquiescing to this temptation and the subsequent impact such a selfish action can cause.
Recently a Sunday sermon reminded me that humans too often point their finger for their weakness to temptation to God. “I am being tempted by God.” What an excuse or escape. God does not do evil, and “God cannot be tempted by evil, and He himself does not tempt anyone.” (James 1:13). Verse 14 then states clearly, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” The ‘he’, is all inclusive, male and female, he and she are tempted not by God, but by personal selfish desires.
God recognizes the temptations of humans, knows our sinful nature, wanting us to know and understand his commandments and to have greater self-control. In fact on God’s own he paved the way for human’s to be free of sin, if only we accepted and understand the ultimate act of forgiveness. By accepting our nature becomes more mindful and conscious of our actions and less prone to temptation. We come to obey God because we want to, not because we are required to submit.
Women, Islam and Temptation
The Quran looks to women as temptresses and blames women for men’s failures to control their own personal desires. Muhammad, the Messenger, had little regard for women stating (Hadith 3.826) “I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of the dwellers are women.” Having had 11 wives after his first wife, Khadija, Muhammad was tempted by women, could not contain his needs to just one and thus allowed many to occupy his bed. He had favorites, but monogamy was not part of his program. He made it possible for other men to also enjoy polygamy allowing up to 4 wives (stated in the Quran), if they can properly care for them all. This always suggests to me the problems in his society with monotheism vs. polytheism. Muhammad’s insistence on one god, Allah, was not reflected in his life and attitude towards women. Yet women are allowed only one husband.
As to temptation we often think of property and possessions. What we have, certainly if we like what we have, can we then have more. Starting with money, more is considered by most as good, but add to that houses, cars, toys (things we enjoy), and for Muslim men – women. Women are considered possessions, along with other things (Sura 3:14), “Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: women and sons, heaped-up hoards of gold and silver.” Does this really sound like something God would suggest. It is suggested, via Allah to Gabriel to Muhammad and then Companions to the Quran. The Quran also states, (Sura 2.223), “Your wives are a tilth (as land under the plow) unto you, so approach your tilth when and how you will.” This suggests to Muslim men they can have their way with their women. Is there no respect? And at home men can admonish their wives as they so decide necessary to keep them in line with the man’s desires; this includes severe beatings. (Hadith 7.62.77)
By beating wives does this show a greater degree of faith in Allah? My God says ‘no’.
In the practice of Islam, placing no fault on men for their own weaknesses especially when it comes to women is confusing, as I know myself the fault lies with me. Am I wrong to suggest men and women are equal and have equal rights. Equality as such is not the case in the ideal Islamic Society. Recognizing men and women are different, they have much to offer each other, but not one more than the other. Oh no, not so for Islam. Differences in disposition and constitution suggest primary functions. Does this also suggest it is simply impossible that there is also equality? Liberty and freedom does not suggest the potential for inequality between a man and a woman. Women can foster children; men can beget children. Both should equally love their children and respect the necessary roles each must play in bringing a blessing, a godly creation to life. Such need for a union, a cooperative effort, and essential roles to achieve a worthy end is an example of God’s purpose for humans. We need to focus on God’s purpose and not Muhammad’s. Whose purpose should be the ‘exemplar’?
To be continued…… (Next week)…..