Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “My example and the example of the people is like that of a man who lit a fire. When the fire illuminated its surroundings, then the moths, and other creatures that have the tendency to enter the fire, began to plunge into it. The man began trying to prevent them from doing so, but they (resisted his efforts and) continued plunging into the fire. (That is my example and your example, i.e. the Ummah). I am holding you around the waist, (restraining you) from the fire, yet you (resist my efforts and) plunge into the fire (of Jahannam).” (Saheeh Bukhaari #6483)
In this hadeeth, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has explained the example of a man who tries to save the moths and other creatures that are fascinated and obsessed with fire from plunging into it and destroying themselves.
We, the Ummah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), can be resembled to the moths in the example. We have a craving and sometimes an obsession for those sins and evils that will cause us to enter the fire of Jahannam. Yet, such is the fatal fascination and attraction to these sins, that despite knowing that destruction lies behind them, we still plunge headlong into them.
The compassion and love of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) for his Ummah is so immense that he made every effort to save us from the fire of Jahannam by warning us of all the various sins and evils, and explaining their punishments and consequences to us in detail. Hence, through the prohibitions of sharee‘ah, it is as though he is holding us around the waist, physically restraining us from plunging to our peril.
However, we are like the moths – we are so mesmerized by the flickering flames, and so entranced by the temptations of evil and sin, that some of us (may Allah Ta‘ala forgive us and guide us) even view the prohibitions of sharee‘ah to be ‘oppressive’ and ‘holding us back from progress’. Thus, we are adamant and stubbornly disregard the sharee‘ah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), despite him only wishing the best for us and trying to save us from the fire.
The injunctions of adopting complete purdah (niqaab and hijaab), not listening to music, not engaging in zina (premarital relationships, dating, etc.), not taking or keeping pictures (or videos) of animate objects, refraining from intermingling between strange males and females, not indulging in gheebah (backbiting) – all these are the restraints that prevent us from plunging into Jahannam. If we shrug off these restraints, we will ‘free’ ourself – from safety and fall into destruction.
Just as the moth only realizes its folly when it is too late and it bursts into flame, we will only realize our folly, of disregarding the sharee‘ah, when it is too late and we are faced with Jahannam – unless we pay heed and change our lives now, while we still have the chance.
May Allah Ta‘ala guide us to realize that the sharee‘ah is a mercy for us all, may He assist us to uphold all the injunctions of sharee‘ah, and enable us to adhere to the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in all facets of our lives.