During our clinical rounds as medical students, we came to the bed of a woman who had terminal cancer with a festering sore. Anyone who has smelt a cancerous ulcer in late stage will testify to the ‘God-awfulness’ of the stench. The nurses had peppered her vicinity with air freshener but the odour persisted and some of us covered our noses and couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Our resident doctor ordered us to remove our hands from our noses and spent an unduly long time sitting at her bedside showing her care.
Reflecting back, we had sinned by showing our disgust at her fetid ulcer. Our emotions were not wrong but our action was. I usually pray to Allah to forgive my sins, those doing both knowingly and unknowingly. I know many of us do too.
How do we commit these inadvertent sins? There are various ways, often from being negligent to those around us.
• Relishing a meal in the presence of him whose stomach is empty and not offering him any
• Talking animatedly of our children or husband to our unmarried or childless friend (I am so guilty of this!)
• Refusing to allow our kids play with children beneath our status or ‘protecting’ them from ‘childless’ people
• Rejoicing at our child’s success in the presence of one whose child is retarded.
• Reading the Qur’an very loudly in the masjid or allowing our kids run amok and disturbing the concentration of he who is praying
• Showing our disdain for a gift given to us
• Showing off our happy married life on social media while our friends are struggling through divorce or other problems
You will observe that these actions are not bad in themselves but they could be construed as improper. We may not have meant to do wrong but the other party feels slighted, and rightfully so.
We have every right to rejoice, to eat, to celebrate and protect our children but we should remember to be sensitive to the feelings of those around us. Being oblivious to their discomforts can cause negativism and ill feelings that should not have arisen in the first place. Let us not live our lives like those described in the verse, oblivious of the consequences of our actions. We should always ask for Allah’s forgiveness for both inadvertent and intentional sins.
Bottom line: Live your life, but be considerate (as much as is possible) of others.