What’s with all these obligations? What does ‘wajib’ mean?

The word “oblige”, “obligation”, “must”, or in Indonesian/arabic “wajib” recently caught my attention. What’s with all this obligation and must be this, must be that, have to do this, have to do that?

In the Islamic tradition, which I am most familar with, there is quite a number of sayings that involve this sense of obligation. We must respect our neighbours. The faithful ones must attend to cleanliness. We must observe shalat (commonly known as the five times a day ritual prayers), shaum (commonly known as fasting during the Ramadhan month), and zakat (alms-giving).

Then I found another way of looking at this. Perhaps the word “must” serve as characteristics, as hints, as naturally implications.

Someone who is closer to the Compassionate, the Merciful, would naturally be respectful to the neighbors and others around them. Someone who is faithful (to God) would naturally tend to cleanliness. They cannot be otherwise.

Shalat, in its meaning, refers to connection (to God). Shaum means to to refrain oneself from something. A muslim (meaning: the one who submits to God) would naturally thrive to stay connected with God. The one who submits would naturally refrain themselves from whatever take them away from their God. The one who submits would naturally be generous, as it is one of His names and the one who who submits would naturally reflect these beautiful names.

Hence, these are helpful hints and indicators how we are doing. (Interesting how this is the second posting in a row where I am writing about “how we are (I am) doing.” Must be an important subject for me at the moment.)

When we find that we are far from those ‘musts,’ we are derailing from who we truly are. Instead of imposing those musts on our exterior, it will be kinder to to start from within, from the very core of our being, from our heart. To find or remind ourselves of what is true to our heart, and allow it to express itself fully and honestly. We shall see that all those musts, are merely something natural to us, no pun or burden intended.

I will put my disclaimer here. I am no scholar. I don’t pretend to know this. I am just writing what feels true to me. And what’s true to me, is that He is the Compassionate, the Merciful, who has limitless patience and does not impose anything on anyone. God knows best and guides the Way.

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