You hear the beep. You look to your phone. Who is texting you? You feel the urge to react instantly.
We are wired to react hastily:
Man was created of haste. I will show you My signs, so do not impatiently urge Me. [Quran 21:37]
This haste makes us want to fulfill our urges immediately. At times, some find themselves in a conflict between fulfilling their urges and prohibitions. This conflict makes them ask, “Why are things haram in this life?”
Our life on earth has been created as a test for us. When a person avoids the haram, they are in essence resisting urges. This resistance is basically the test in this life; without the haram there would be no test and life would be meaningless.
Studies in the famous Stanford Marshmallow Experiment show that children who postpone instant gratification have better life outcomes. In other words, those that can resist their urges in an early age end up being more successful in life. This highlights the importance of the concept of haram and nurturing our young ones to resist urges, despite the shallow criticism that Islam is a religion of do’s and don’ts.
The Prophet Muhammad teaches the practice of restraint to a woman who lost her child by saying, “Restraint (sabr) is at the immediate moment of the calamity” when she initially showed frustration on her loss.
We are living in a time where immediacy is increasingly becoming the norm. Most viewers have demonstrated that they are not willing to wait more than 2 seconds for a video to start:
Islam teaches sabr, restraint, postponing judgment, being calm and collected- all of which are developed from learning how to deal with the haram. We need haram, we just don’t need to indulge in them.