“A sign of following one’s whims is to be active with optional good deeds while being lazy with required obligations.”
This is a very important step in the way of Allah.
Sometimes, we feel more fulfilled when we do the optional things, when we pray at night; when we pray extra prayers, when we give extra charity, when we do extra things and be active in the Islamic work and all of that…
But these are all optional deeds. We should be concerned about the obligations.
You should not be good to your friends and bad to your parents; you should not give charity and you forget your zakah; or you should not do taraweeh while you are falling short of the required five prayers.
Prioritize Your Life
When we focus on the requirements before we focus on the optional deeds, then we have the right set of priorities.
Priority setting is one important step towards Allah.
We see communities around the world, where they are very careful with very small things, in Islam.
They try to dress in a certain way, have the beards in a certain way, and put the perfume that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) put; and they try to say the dua that Prophet Muhammad said…
But they don’t treat their parents well as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did; they don’t treat people well; and they are not honest in their trade and business; they steal the public money; and they do disasters while they are keeping a certain outlook that has to do with the optional deeds!
The sheikh here is saying that this is: “following one’s whims rather than following shariah proper.”
Because the Shariah proper actually orders deeds in a certain order; there are things that are more important and things that are less important; and we should know that order of the Shariah, and therefore we follow the requirements before we do the optional deeds.
Focus on Obligations First
The Islamic law has a priority setting that is set, as is well known, and every Muslim knows that.
When you have five minutes left for the fajr prayer, you’re not supposed to pray the optional prayer, you’re supposed to pray the obligation because you only have a limited time for that. And our effort is limited by time and the resources we have and the personal effort we can put…
Therefore, we should prioritize our effort, our time and our resources properly.
Sometimes we waste our resources while there are obligations that we are not taking care of.
People go on Umrah after Umrah… and Umrah is optional anyway and they don’t take care of their parents which is required, or they don’t take care of the poor next door, which is required, and so forth.
People pray taraweeh and the masjid is full, but the masjid is fuller than Friday prayer, which is required, and the other prayers which are more required than taraweeh…
A Step Forward
This kind of lack of prioritization and lack of balance when we deal with issues that are required versus issues that are not required is something that we have a problem with, individually and as a community.
And one of the steps towards Allah is to focus on this matter and prioritize our actions well, and prioritize our ideas well; focus on the required and less focus on the optional.
We ask Allah to give us this kind of fiqh and understanding, and we ask Allah to accept our deeds in any case.