Sometimes in our feverish attempt to defend our faith, we forget that Islam is already beautiful. It is already perfect, because it is Divinely ordained. To change anything that is already perfect can only bring about its imperfection.
When we stick to the authentic method of interpreting the texts of Islam, we will leave with one finding: that Islam is balanced. It is neither overly focused on outer actions, not solely focused with achieving a certain inner state, but rather values both.
Some stress the importance of rigidly adhering to the ritual aspects of our faith, but routinely ignore the inner work. And others place all their emphasis on the inner work, and routinely dismiss the importance of rituals such as prayer and fasting in the attempt to just get us to be “better people”. Actually one reinforces and informs the other.
If we really do have a strong moral compass then it will show in our actions. If we do the outer actions correctly, then they will develop us internally:
Testimony of faith is intended to develop sincerity
Prayer is intended to develop discipline
Charity is intended to develop generosity
Fasting is intended to develop self-control
Hajj is intended to develop patience
We owe worship to God alone. But we also owe care and concern for our fellow humans – not just Muslims but all people – and nature as well. As Muslims, we believe all living things – both animate and inanimate – worship God.
We also practice care and concern for ourselves, as our bodies have a right over us. Islam is not a monastic faith: we fast but we also eat, we stay up to pray in the night but we also sleep, we spend in charity but we also fulfill our own needs.
WHICH ONE IS MOST IMPORTANT?
They are all important.