Protect. Just like in football you only really have two jobs, to score and to defend. Scoring is easy, everyone likes to score. Everyone turns on the television to watch Salah run the field. When you discuss the top players in the game how many times is the keeper in the discussion? As a child I remember playing my first season of football. I remember the first day of tryouts I sat there marveling at one of my neighborhood friends who had grown up playing the game, his father had played professionally, & it was known he would end up being the striker on the team. I was placed as a defender because I was quick, agile & had the stamina to continue defending the goal. Yet, I hated the position. I played every day hoping that one day I would be upfront.
There is a principle in Islamic law, to defer harm takes precedence over the increase of benefit. In easier terms, to go on defense is preferred over going on offense. To protect your heart, your religion, your family, and your goal takes precedence over scoring. Nowadays it’s the opposite. It’s all about doing and worrying about the consequences later. That’s not the approach we should have in Islam, especially when it comes to our hearts. If there are relationships, jobs, or actions that we know are causing us immense harm then we should take steps to defend ourselves. We should not make the mistake that we will “stick through it” for some worldly benefit, while losing ourselves & our Lord at the same time.
Am I saying that you should spend your life on the defensive? No, learn the flow of the game, learn your weaknesses & seek advice from mentors & friends. Train yourself, & your heart. Be patient. When the opportunity presents itself, counter-attack & do your best. But get back on defense as soon as you’re able. If you score, great. If you don’t, you’ll have another opportunity later. A day will come when your patience will be rewarded, when the greatest announcer will call your name, all because you protected yourself & your heart.
The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children, But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” (26:88-89)
Protect your heart and your relationship with God, that’s your greatest goal.
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