Example: "Please take your feet off the table."
Her lingering over such slight orders thoroughly perplexed me until I started thinking about God and my own on-and-off obedience to Him in all matters of life. How many times do we procrastinate, if not outright ignore, our religious obligations (both big and small) to the Lord of the Universe?
We do this eventhough God demands obedience for our own good, so we can purify ourselves to reach nearness to Him. Only by exchanging our own desires, wants and opinions for those of God Almighty can we achieve the humility and eagerness needed to constantly rush to His submission.
God reminds us to obey Him (as well as his Last Messenger Muhammad (S) and those vested with authority) repeatedly in the Quran. While addressing Maryam (one of the four perfect women), God says: "O Maryam! Keep to obedience to your Lord and humble yourself." (3: 43)
"The true slave of God Almighty is he for whom the obedience and love of God becomes sweet," according to Prophet Muhammad (S).
In this holy month of Ramadan, believers world over dedicate themselves to worshipping their Lord day and night through fasting, prayers, Quran recitations, etc. While such prayers and devotional practices are highly recommended, ibadat (Arabic word for worship) also includes wholehearted obedience.
After the Prophet completed his sermon on the virtues of Ramadan, Ali, the husband of Fatima (another one of the four perfect women), says he stood up and asked:
"O Prophet of God! What is the best deed of this month?"
The Prophet (S) replied: "O Abul Hasan! The best deed of this month is abstinence from that which is forbidden by God, the Mighty, the Glorious."
Upon seeing the new crescent of Ramadan, Zain ul Abideen (whose epithet means Best of the Worshippers), grandson of Fatima and Ali, would address the moon as the "obedient creature" who is "prompt toward His will."
This Ramadan protestors in Muslim countries are expected to pour into the streets again to demand peace and justice as part of their social obligations to God. They will do so despite ongoing repression, torture and the edicts of pseudo-scholars commanding obedience to tyrants by misquoting the Quran.
"With obedience there's love and with love there's sacrifice," says lecturer Hanif Mohammed. "And if you don't have these things you can never have success."
Activist and poet Allama Iqbal sums up the superiority of obedience to God in the following Urdu couplet (with English translation):
"Wo aik sajda jesay tu garan samajhta hai
Hazar sajdu se deta hai aadmi ku najat"
"The bowing (before God) that you despise
Is such that it will free from bowing down before thousands."