Will we listen and follow or will be plug our ears and therefore wander off to our own destruction?  That is the question, as this surah ends today.  There are two ways to go; which will it be? 

Jesus said the same thing:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

In our “coexist” world where any religious choice is just one of many paths to the same place, the exclusivism of the traditional monotheistic religions stands as a strong contrast.  Two ways.  That’s it. 

It is easy to read today’s passage with a hard determinism that says Allah has sealed the fate of people (for salvation or destruction) even before they were born.  But the better way to see it is that Allah is ultimately responsive to the choices of free human beings.  See this post from a few weeks ago where we talked about this same idea.  The choice is our’s but be ready for Allah to respond quickly and accordingly.     

I am especially struck by this vivid description of the one who chooses to reject Allah:

How foul is the image of those who reject Our signs!  It is themselves they wrong: those God guides are truly guided, and those God allows to stray are the losers.  We have created many jinn and people who are destined for Hell, with hearts they do not use for comprehension, eyes they do not use for sight, ears they do not use for hearing.  They are like cattle, no, even further astray: these are the ones who are entirely heedless. (7:177-79)

Deaf, dumb, blind, and more senseless than a cow!  Wow!  Cows live life with their head down.  Life is simple.  Find grass.  Look for water.  When its time, mate.  These desires drive their entire existence.  A cow will just keep following its nose until it finds what it is looking for or until it gets itself in trouble.  There is a reason farmers build fences. 

I am afraid I know too many people who live like cattle, who are “always seeing but never perceiving, always hearing but never understanding” as Jesus described it.  Sadly, some of them are Christians.  Head down, looking for fulfillment here and now, wandering off all the while. 

Oh, to never be that one!