Human beings in today’s world probably commit more ugly, ghastly crimes than it was ever before in human history.
How does a young teenage boy end up hammering his parents to death, and then leaving them to rot in the house for days while enjoying a weekend with his girlfriend?
How in the world does a young girl bring herself to kill her semi-paralyzed father, her doting mother, an aunt and a driver, in order to be able to marry her boyfriend?
No one is born a murderer from his mother’s womb. By default, every human being has the potential to do good. We call it the fitrah.
Every child is born on the fitrah and it is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian. (Muwatta Book 16, Hadith 53)
Probably it’s the same entity we call conscience, or perhaps both have the same origin. Allah knows best. Whatever it is, we have an innate tendency to do good. That’s why you’ll find even the worst criminals in the world, who earned vast estates by cheating and murdering people, give away tons of money in charity.
How it Starts
But if we are inherently good, how come some of us end up going against fitrah and performing such unimaginably brutal crimes?
It happens one step at a time. Every big evil has its opening in some small evil. When you open your heart to one evil, whatever the evil is, bigger evils sneak in even before you’re aware of it.
When you read of news stories of how women are set to fire like torches by their husbands and in-laws for dowry, you wonder if these people are even human. But very few of these murdering husbands got married intending to kill their wives.
It all starts with greed. They see the scope of getting a lot of money without effort – a goose that lays golden eggs. They manifest their greed by their first demand for dowry. And when their demand is fulfilled by the girl’s parents, it doesn’t satiate their appetite; it only serves to give them a taste for it, and they keep asking for more, until one day they lose all sense of control and slaughter their goose.
The young girl who killed her parents didn’t just one day wake up a murderer. it all started with the first exchange of look with her boyfriend, then the first spark of desire, and then the first act of fornication.
Satan kept inciting her greed, and the more she engaged in sins, the more her appetite increased. It kept growing like a balloon until it surpassed her stretching limit and she committed the unthinkable crimes.
Take it Seriously
If you and I think that these are just examples of mental people, psychopaths, and that we’re far better people than them and safe from doing such evil things, then think of what the Prophet said:
By the One in Whose Hand is my soul! One of you may do the deeds of the people of Paradise until there is no more than a forearm’s length between him and it, then the decree overtakes him and he does the deeds of the people of Hell and he enters it; and one of you may do the deeds of the people of Hellfire until there is no more than a forearm’s length between him and it, then the decree overtakes him and he does the deeds of the people of Paradise until he enters therein. (Ibn Majah Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 76)
So if any of us is engaged in a sin, he or she shouldn’t take it lightly, saying to ourselves, “Allah is merciful. He will forgive me this petty sin. At least I’m not murdering someone.”
Read: Why Does God Permit Evil to Exist?
Yes, Allah is merciful, but He is also the Judge, the Exactor of Revenge, and the Severe in Punishment. If we make a habit of engaging in a particular sin, however small the sin might seem to us, He might decide to stop helping us and leave us at the mercy of Satan. What will happen to us then?
The current sin we’re engaged in isn’t the only danger that threatens us. When we once touch evil, we’re highly likely to fall into greater evil. It’s a slippery slope. Right now we think we know our limits to evil. But once you’re in a downward slide along a slope, there’s no telling in what filthy ditch you’ll finally come to a stop.
The more you engage in sin, the less evil greater sins will look in your eyes.
Satan makes evil seem less evil, until it looks like something good.
And [We destroyed] ‘Aad and Thamud, and it has become clear to you from their [ruined] dwellings. And Satan had made pleasing to them their deeds and averted them from the path, and they were endowed with perception. (Quran 29:38)
But how do we leave this slippery slope?
The key is to realize that Satan is not in control of your life; you are. All he can do is give you suggestions. it’s completely your choice whether to act on these suggestions or not.
Once you fully realize that, you’ll also realize that the snares of Satan are as flimsy as spiders’ webs, and that you’re only stuck in it because you think you’re a fly and not a human being.