Bismi’Llāhi ir-Ramān ir-Raīm

In the Name of God, the Universally Merciful, the Singularly Compassionate


The Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ said, “Oh People! Allāh ﷻ is the Pure (al-Tayyib) ﷻ, and He ﷻ only accepts that which is pure! Allāh ﷻ has commanded the messengers, for He ﷻ said, ‘Oh messengers! Eat from the pure foods, and do right.’ Then he ﷺ describes a dusty and unkempt traveler on a long journey who stretches out his hands and supplicates, ‘Oh my Lord! Oh my Lord!’ while his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing is unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully. How can he be answered?” The man described in this narration earned his money through deception. Because his earnings were impure, everything he purchased with these earnings became impure. If such a person approaches the Almighty ﷻ in prayer and supplication, he is obstructed by his own shadows and unresolved burdens.

We live in a time in which so many things that are presented to us look perfectly good but are actually tainted. Anything that has been touched by the unlawful is detrimental to the BodyMindSoul. If we partake of these things, we incur a portion of the debt that is owed to all who were wronged in the process of it being brought forth. Furthermore, our souls are darkened by them, and our lives will consequently be more troubled. We might experience difficulties —physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, circumstantial, interpersonal— whose root cause is not obvious to us and therefore evades us. For example, most refined sugar is produced on the backs of one of the most oppressed labor populations in the world. It is not an accident that it is implicated in a variety of illnesses.

The fruits of any labor are naturally effected by the intention that informs the labor. Cheap or faulty goods, such as fast food, genetically modified foods, and bad loans / predatory lending, are products of our lower, base desires. Adding insult to injury, the most needy among us can only afford the cheapest of goods, which further compounds their plight. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. It is sad that we are all quite likely to be using tainted goods without knowing it. Let us take meat, for example. Consider all the ways in which an animal’s existence can be cursed —from the way in which it is handled (abuse vs. loving care), its immediate environment (forced to stand in a stall in an overcrowded and polluted factory vs. roaming and grazing freely in a sunlit pasture),  the quality of its feed (cheap feed to accelerate growth and increase mass vs. the wholesome produce of the earth provided by Allāh ﷻ), and the manner in which the animal is finally slaughtered (cold and careless vs. with humility before the Almighty ﷻ).

Consider an item of clothing you own. Where do the pigments come from? And the threads? How many people have participated in the manufacture of each of these? How are these people treated? What equipment is used in each step of the process? Who manufactures the different parts of that piece of equipment? How many business dealings are involved in each step of the process? You might now understand that there are so many layers in this process that it is extremely likely that something unsavory will have snuck its way in. The only people on the planet who may escape the condition of the day are those who purchase their goods directly from the maker, who is using nothing more than what Allāh ﷻ has put on this earth to produce his goods. Today, an “honest day’s work” is a monumental achievement. It is likely that if you live in the developed world, you are far removed from this possibility unless you manage to find it or create it yourself.

Fortunately, Allāh ﷻ is boundless in Compassion ﷻ and Mercy ﷻ. We are given much latitude since we have been born into circumstances well beyond our choices and control. Nevertheless, this is still not an excuse to carry on living unconsciously. While it seems that we can hardly extract ourselves from the corruption of the world, we can at least make an effort in the right direction, and that is what counts. You are only responsible for the choices you make. However, once you have been given knowledge, you are expected to abide by it, to the extent of your awareness and understanding. Be particularly cautious about the excuses you are willing to make because you don’t want to be inconvenienced, burdened, or uncomfortable. This is where you are likely to falter. Live with your eyes open so that you can cultivate discernment and distinguish between what is good and bad. Practice restraint so that you might develop spiritual fortitude and leave the impermissible and doubtful things. Find contentment and satisfaction in that which is pleasing to Allāh ﷻ. And Allāh ﷻ knows best.


© Ḥakīm Ilyās Kāshānī