How a Muslim can avoid “Breaking Bad”

I saw this Jumma Khutbah from Shaykh Suhaib Webb, that related the TV show “Breaking Bad” with the decisions, we Muslims make.

I haven’t wrote my own Jumma Reminder for some time but after hearing this Khutbah, I wanted to share it with you all.

I watched the show Breaking Bad for years, the term itself is a colloquialism popular in the American Southwest referring to when someone has taken a turn off the path of the straight and narrow, when they’ve deviated from what’s right.

What you see with the lead character in this show, Walter White is a man that willingly abandons the light for darkness. It’s a core lesson for many of us – to have īmān and then consciously choose to take another path. Our ultimate fate is the cumulative effect of our decisions and deeds – and even if we don’t see the consequences immediately (as happens in the show), we will eventually.

Shaykh Suhaib Webb articulates the themes very well, the theology of Breaking Bad and how to avoiding becoming Walter White:

1. Understand choices – “Indeed we showed him to the way (of truth)….”

2. There is no moral neutrality – Choices breed consequences for the soul and life. “Every soul will bear its burden.”

3. Test and trials cannot be addressed with narcissism. Walter said, “For once I want a say in this,” but submission. The first leads to calamity, the second leads to futuhaat.

4. Sin and moral decline are a slow burn – don’t underestimate thoughts. Breaking bad took 5 seasons. Al-Ghazzali said, “Zina starts in the mind.” Ibn al-Qayyim said that Satan “Is forebearing; he will wait to catch you when you are weak.”

5. Trust in Allah means through the good and the bad – hardships should not be used as an excuse. “Fear Allah wherever you are.” Wherever you are means you physical, spiritual and mental states must be aware that, “At least you know God see you!”

6. Understand the value of the Hereafter vs. This life. If that is there, Walter will never exist. “Paradise is surrounded by difficulties.”

7. Sins are a slippery slope – once you fall in, it is hard to get out. Walter got better and still sold meth. In the Qu’ran we find the story of people whose boat was rocked by a storm and “supplicated to God in earnest” but, when they were saved, “Ran through the earth in insolence.”

8. Blessings can be curses if they are not met with a renewed commitment to God. Walter’s wealth is a curse as is health and other niam. It is not so much about what, buy who it is used. Even the Qur’an can be a potential threat to a person, “The Qur’an is a proof for you or against you.” Hadith

Moral decline is based on a few things – often intangibles – Fear, Illness, Doubt and Desires. Fight them with knowledge, ihsan, love good friends (Walter was a loner and Jesse needs loves), and understanding the value of the Hereafter.

The following formula plays out in our lives every day: Fear and Fear (of God) or Fear and (love of God) or Fear (of God) and Love of this life happen everyday in our lives. Clean hearts are able to see through that and make choices based on divine teachings and a good support system,

The theology of Breaking bad is a lesson in how a person can lose his moral compass by making a series of choices that are rooted in fear.

On a final note, the fatalism of breaking bad is problematic. Some folks do evil and do not see it in this life. Walter continues to get worse. Some folks do good and don’t see it. The unseen and how a person is addressed in this world is rooted in the divine knowledge. Fatalism is not a means to measure Good or evil. The book and the sunna are!

In my thoughts and Duah’s as always.

Your brother……Akh

The full article can be read on the MuslimMatters website

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