Disclaimer: This article represents my thoughts and my thoughts only.
The following post is a manifestation of my personal understanding of the phenomenon that human kind should “Fear God”; what this means, and how this benefits the individual as well as the collective society. My understanding of this conviction evolved over a long period of time, where I had no real answer to the question; why should we fear the All-Loving Lord?
I will narrate the experiences and conversations that I’ve had in this journey of small understanding and how/why I linked them together, coming to a new level of understanding in the relationship between me and my Lord.
The catalyst in this journey happened at a local youth club. I was discussing some theology and spirituality with an elderly woman, her complexion was a lighter shade of the ‘black’ skin colour - I can not remember where she was from but her tied dreads gives me the impression that she was Caribbean. I also can not remember how we got to this point in the conversation; we were speaking about love of the source of life when she stated that “Everything is Fear”. When I asked her what this meant she went on to explain that she was referring to sin, all evil derives from fear – A man will steal due to fear of being without that which he stole, whether fear of a lack of money, or fear of missing out on some particular thing. A man may fall in love with a particular habit such as gambling drinking, sexual acts etc, and his fear will arise when faced with the possibility of being away from that which he loves. In this way, love and fear can go hand in hand, but I will get back to this point later.
The statement that “everything is fear” can therefore be applied to almost, if not every act which is considered a ‘sin’. These sins such as gambling, stealing, drinking, adultery etc are all things which cause difficulty in the society, such as poverty, breaking up of families, as well as restlessness and lack of content in the individual that has fell in love with these acts, especially when we realise that we are never fulfilled enough, nor do our satisfactions last long enough. Therefore they affect our happiness overall in this life in a negative way, speaking in the long term scale, regardless of whether we believe in the hereafter or not. For this reason we may agree that it is better for us and those around us to stay away from them, and we may agree that fear is the main cause of evil or difficulty in our world.
Here I began to remember that in the Islamic Holy Book, the Qur’an, God repeatedly tells man that we must stay away from that which he has prohibited, there is that which we think is good for us but destroys us, and vice versa, we are also repeatedly told to ‘Fear God’. My understanding still hadn’t reached the point it needed to, as I was still of the impression that fear is a bad thing, but I believe it did when I was listening to a lecture in the mosque. A thing about me, which may be both good and bad, is that SOMETIMES when I hear something profound it triggers a stream of thoughts that cause me to delve into my own world, hence at times forgetting a lot of what was said before and also missing a lot that comes after it, I believe its from the extra attention I pay to peoples words that causes this, so don’t worry I’m always listening, promise.
ANYWAYS, the sheikh (Islamic Scholar) happened to be talking about why it is recommended that we should fear God – either it was the point he was leading up to all along, or the point where I went into my own little world but he said this – “a man that does not fear God fears everything else, and a man that fears God, fears nothing else.” It’s kind of similar to the saying – “He who can bow down to his Lord, can stand up to anything”. I remembered all that the woman had said to me about the root cause of evil and sin, and then I realised that the fear of poverty, boredom, isolation, illness, and all things bad, will be completely destroyed if you fear God, if you have trust in your Lords will for you, and his care for you. Most of all, if you truly LOVE your Lord, your only fear will arise from the possibility of being away from him, rather than being away from gambling, drugs, so on and so forth. This is where I will bring back the point of fear and love going hand in hand, especially when we are talking about worshipping our Creator. “Fear God” does not mean to say that we shouldn’t steal, lie or cheat only because we do not want to be punished, too many of us fall into this trap, and too many tell each other to “Fear God”, maybe not realising that this really means, to love God. This way, that which distances you from him, you will naturally distance yourself from, and the sins that destroy the happiness in our society.
In the supplication known as ‘Dua Kumayl’, Imam Ali (AS) says that, should he be condemned to punishment, the fire of Hell will not be that which pains him; rather, it will be separation from that which he loves – his Lord. This is where true love is found, the only love, the only desire that will last forever and more, the only good fear that exists derives from separation from the beloved, and all of the fears that destroy our society will be removed from within us. Therefore, it is only good for you and those around you that you fear your Lord, and nothing else, and the fear, should only be the symptom of love. Love for your Lord.
And whatever good ye do, (be sure) Allah knoweth it. And take a provision (With you) for the journey, but the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear me, O you who are wise. Qur’an 2:197