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An-Naḥl and the Oft-Trodden Path

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“Invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and goodly advice…” ادع إلى سبيل ربك بالحكمة والموعظة الحسنة Ever wonder why the Qur`ān invites us to a path (سبيل) and not a destination? Such a curious word choice, but like everything else in the Qur`ān, this word, “sabeel,” is freighted with meaning. In the imagery it evokes is a truth about our journey to Allāh.

Let us zoom-lens into this “sabeel.” It is a path. Like most oft-trodden paths, “sabeel” embraces every walk of life; its travelers trace their origins to every far corner of the globe. You see these travelers-—their eyes are fixated on the finish line, though not all treading at the same speed. Some people on this path soar. Some inch along, and from their little progress, you would think they were not moving at all. Some travel in packs, and they tug at each other every time one of them strays. Some travel in their lonesome. Some stumble on the path in a frantic search for stability; while others-—oh, those struggling souls-—while others wander in oblivion. You see their feet flirting with the curb. They glance behind restlessly, as though uncertain about this path, as though lost. But nonetheless, they fumble forward. In fact, everyone on this path moves forward. And perhaps the one who trails ten miles behind you now will one day catch up to your side. Call it welcoming, call it diverse: this path pitches beautiful signs at every entrance, inviting every traveler. That is Islam. There are over 1.7 billion of us on this planet, each one traveling at his own pace.

So as you move forward, remember one thing: “The goal is not to reach the end of the path, but to die on it.”

March on, warrior.

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