Usually when a person is making a big decision they will often make a list of the pros and cons to determine if they should proceed with the decision or not. For instance, if someone is debating which school to attend, or whether to switch jobs, or to proceed into a new venture they will make two columns on a piece of paper with one side listing the pros and the other side listing the cons. For these kinds of decisions this process makes sense because by assessing the pros and cons you can get a landscape regarding the ups and downs of moving forward with that decision or not.
But there are certain decisions that utilizing this kind of process at that best case is completely useless, and worst case detrimental to personal growth. An example of a such a decision that this kind of process has no benefit for something like: should you have kids. This is assuming you are married and in a stable relationship. I looked online and found the an article with the following pros and cons for having a baby.
Why is this the worst way to try to assess if you should have kids or not? It is because who you are after having kids is a completely different person than who you are before having kids. Ask anyone who has had kids if their priorities and what they value shifted from before having kids to after having kids and I doubt you will find any active parent to say that what they find important and value in life has not been completely turned on it’s head after the experience. This is because the person after the experience is almost not the same person as before the experience in ways that the person before the experience cannot comprehend. What that person values, prioritizes, works for has been completely altered after the experience. To the point that the person who made that table before the experience will list pros and cons that are no longer applicable to the person after the experience.
Consider heavyweight champion Mike Tyson who spent his entire youth caring for nothing more than to be best in the world in boxing. He reigned as the undisputed world heavyweight champion from 1987 to 1990. Claiming his first belt when he was only 20 years old, which to date is still the record as the youngest boxer ever to win a heavyweight title. Afterwards he ended up winning more belts, and was the first heavyweight boxer to simultaneously hold the WBA, WBC and IBF titles, as well as the only heavyweight to unify them in succession. This was a person who was singleminded on his pursuit, to the point that nothing else in life mattered aside from obtaining and retaining his titles. Do you think if Tyson at this time could perceive that perhaps in the future these belts that he cared so passionately to obtain would not hold the same level of interest for his future self? In 2011 did an interview on 60 Minutes and he walked into a room with all his belts on the table and this is what he had to say about that…
Mike Tyson before settling down and having a family and kids could not imagine how the things that seemed so important to him back then would seem utterly useless and like garbage for him in the future. This is because who Mike Tyson was back then was a completely different person to who Mike Tyson was after he matured in life, and it is this failure to realize that when we go through a transformational experience who we are and what we value will be so fundamentally different at that point that we are incapable of understanding that perspective.
I recently listened to an interview with the rapper T-pain and he was saying before having kids all he could think about was how to get to be #1 on the billboard charts and then after he got #1 all he wanted to do was to stay #1. To the point that he lived in a separate home than his wife and baby because he thought they would distract him from his goal, but eventually as his kids got older and got past some major struggles and hardships he faced his priorities shifted from his work to his family. He said he never expected to have such a shift in perspective.
But this isn’t a podcast just about family and having kids, this holds true for any kind of transformational experience.
Recently I watched a docuseries on Netflix called Surviving Death and it is definitely worth watching. But one of the topics this series address are people who had near death experiences, NDEs. These are individuals who claim that their physical bodies were dead and they had some mystical out of body experience. Now I don’t want to get into the Quranic understanding of what could have happened, God wiling in a future episode, but what I want to cover is that in numerous of these people who have had these NDEs is that two minutes prior having the experience if you probably asked them would you want to leave this world and all your loved ones behind they would say absolutely not, but once they had such an experience they described how they didn’t want to come back when it happened.
For the younger audience who have yet experienced having kids or a near death experience here is another one that may be more relatable. When I was in elementary school I remember talking to a family friend who were in high school what they did during recess and I remember he told me that they would stand around and talk. And I was baffled by this. Why would you just stand around don’t you have a playground, would you want to play handball or dodge ball rather than just standing around talking to your friends?
For the last several years one of the new fads within the tech and influencer community has been the push for mindfulness and meditation. One of the interesting pushbacks that I hear from a lot of people who are in the camp of hustlers, entrepreneurs, and productivity gurus is that they don’t want to get into meditation and mindfulness because they are scared that they will lose their edge. But isn’t that ironic because the only reason they would lose their ambition and edge from being a workaholic is that these practices have them realize that what they are valuing today is not where their priority should be. That there are things more important than money and status. But rather than reassess their priorities they prefer to stay away.
We cannot judge the pros and cons of a transformational experience because who we are after the transformation is completely different than who we are before the transformation. What we value, what we priorities, what our ambitions are all shift. So to judge it by the metrics that will no longer apply is a losing strategy.
But why am I discussing all this, what does this have to do with the Quran?
If you have been listening to this podcast then it most likely means that you have discovered the Quran. And if you have had the blessing of being able to access this book without the cultural nonsense that has infiltrated this religion then you may be shocked by the transformational effect this book can have on you.
I grew up as a traditional Muslim and learned to memorize suras of the Quran with little to no understanding. I would spend my weekends going to watch lectures with my parents and Islamic school on Sundays. Over the summer I would go to Muslim camp and the older I got the more questions I had and the fewer answers I could find from these individuals I looked up to. Then by the time I was in college I was at a crossroads. I definitely still believed in God, but did not believe in the dogma that I was being taught growing up. If you asked me back then when are you going to get back to being religious my response was I’ll figure it out when I am 40. Then in my junior year in college I met someone who I was completely puzzled by. This person was infatuated with the Quran and carried it with him every where he went. Not only that, he did all his prayers on time and could tell that he actually avoided sins and vice and tried to live a righteous life. And when I would talk to him about religion he didn’t resort to Hadith or philosophy or rhetoric but the actual verses of the Quran. He had an in-depth knowledge of the Quran because he actually studied it regularly in a language he understood. And when I asked him how do you know that this Quran is actually from God he showed me the work done by Rashad Khalifa regarding the mathematical miracle of the Quran. This all got me interested in the religion again and at the beginning I wanted to study just to prove him wrong, but the more I studied the more I realized what he was telling me was right.
Accepting this message was the most transformational experience I have ever had in my life. After that I was hooked. I shortly graduated after that and would spend at least five days a week going to Quran studies and when I wasn’t at Quran studies I would read and study the Quran any chance I got. As I was going through this transformation I was telling my soon to be wife who was still in college about everything I was learning. She was concerned because she did not imagine getting married and spending our free time hanging out with mostly people who were twice our age in a garage that we retrofitted into a masjid. But eventually by God’s leave as she studied more on her own she became just as transformed as I was.
[28:86] You never expected this scripture to come your way; but this is a mercy from your Lord. Therefore, you shall not side with the disbelievers.
وَمَا كُنْتَ تَرْجُو أَنْ يُلْقَىٰ إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابُ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً مِنْ رَبِّكَ فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ ظَهِيرًا لِلْكَافِرِينَ
The inevitable irony is that I saw first hand the amazing shift this experience has provided me, and I thought naturally that if I just explain this to others they would be thankful for me sharing this information with them, but that wasn’t exactly how things played out. Some people humored me, others were dismissive, many friends I lost because our values changed from before I had this transformation to after.
[49:17] They act as if they are doing you a favor by embracing Submission! Say, “You are not doing me any favors by embracing Submission. GOD is the One who is doing you a great favor by guiding you to the faith, if you are sincere.”
يَمُنُّونَ عَلَيْكَ أَنْ أَسْلَمُوا قُلْ لَا تَمُنُّوا عَلَيَّ إِسْلَامَكُمْ بَلِ اللَّهُ يَمُنُّ عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْ هَدَاكُمْ لِلْإِيمَانِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
The interesting response from people is that I could see while many of my friends respected my new lifestyle they naturally did a pros verse the cons table to determine if they would join our Quran studies or not.
– No more drinking
– No more partying
– No more clubbing
– Spend free time going to Quran studies
– Pray 5 times a day
– Put foot in sink for ablution…
– Eternal salvation…
What they fail to realize are the things that they take as so important in their lives prior to accepting the message are not as important to them if they were to accept the message.
One of the false assumptions people make is that they think they can simply can hold off from accepting the message until after they are older and they are done pursing all their other ambitions except this is the true test of belief. If someone genuinely believes that this Quran has the answers to all their problems and the secret to perfect happiness then does it make sense that they would delay adopting the message from this book in their own lives for one second? The only reason a person will put it off applying this message in their life is because deep down they really don’t believe the claims of the book.
[10:57] O people, enlightenment has come to you herein from your Lord, and healing for anything that troubles your hearts, and guidance, and mercy for the believers.
يَاأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَاءَتْكُمْ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَشِفَاءٌ لِمَا فِي الصُّدُورِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
So how are people to assess if they should proceed with transformational experiences because what they value before the message will be fundamentally different than after accepting the message? The answer is simple, look at people who had the transformational experience ideally someone who was a similar position to you prior to the transformation and see did the transformation make them overall a better person. Are they living a more rich meaningful life after the transformation than before?
Look at the lives of people who went through the transformation and try to decide are they happier, are they possessing the good qualities that you would want to possess. Do they have inner peace, increased patience, more compassion, more appreciation or did the experience make them angrier, more miserable, more contentious, and more unappreciative? By looking at the lives of the people who have been transformed by this message you can assess if this is a path that you should proceed with as well.
The Quran is full of these people and their example. Consider the history of Moses that when he first was summoned by God, he was insecure, he was doubtful, but after he was courageous, steadfast, and wiser. Look at the example of Abraham who God commanded Muhammad to follow and who never was an idol worshipper. He was extremely kind, clement, and stood up for the truth using reason and logic. Or Noah who in the face of opposition and ridicule showed that he was steadfast and trustworthy.
One of the prayers in the Quran, that was from Abraham, is that the asked that the example he set for the future to be a good one.
[26:83] “My Lord, grant me wisdom, and include me with the righteous. [26:84] “Let the example I set for the future generations be a good one.
[17:89] We have cited for the people in this Quran all kinds of examples, but most people insist upon disbelieving.
وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا لِلنَّاسِ فِي هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ مِنْ كُلِّ مَثَلٍ فَأَبَىٰ أَكْثَرُ النَّاسِ إِلَّا كُفُورًا
[18:54] We have cited in this Quran every kind of example, but the human being is the most argumentative creature.
وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا فِي هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ لِلنَّاسِ مِنْ كُلِّ مَثَلٍ وَكَانَ الْإِنْسَانُ أَكْثَرَ شَيْءٍ جَدَلًا
[30:58] Thus, we have cited for the people in this Quran all kinds of examples. Yet, no matter what kind of proof you present to the disbelievers, they say, “You are falsifiers.”
وَلَقَدْ ضَرَبْنَا لِلنَّاسِ فِي هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ مِنْ كُلِّ مَثَلٍ وَلَئِنْ جِئْتَهُمْ بِآيَةٍ لَيَقُولَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِنْ أَنْتُمْ إِلَّا مُبْطِلُونَ
[39:27] We have cited for the people every kind of example in this Quran, that they may take heed.
وَلَقَدْ ضَرَبْنَا لِلنَّاسِ فِي هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ مِنْ كُلِّ مَثَلٍ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ
[57:9] He is the One who sends down to His servant clear revelations, in order to lead you out of the darkness into the light. GOD is Compassionate towards you, Most Merciful.
هُوَ الَّذِي يُنَزِّلُ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ آيَاتٍ بَيِّنَاتٍ لِيُخْرِجَكُمْ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ بِكُمْ لَرَءُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ