The following article is directly from the words of a William “Suhaib” Webb, a very popular Muslim-Personality, originally from Oklahoma, then, upon receiving Ijazat/Islamic-Accreditations to teach Islam, at al-Azhar University, relocated to California, and thus relocated, again, to Boston, Ma. I’ve actually had the opportunity to discuss several serious religious issues with Suhaib (which he is commonly referred to), both publicly, via panel-forums, as well as confidentially, in-private settings. He is someone whom I sincerely respect, and enjoy listening to, as well as discussing things with. Now, that doesn’t mean that I will with everything that one particular individual brings to the table. However, William has proven quite capable of being a viable, positive resource for Muslims, and is able to reach them where they really are, which is what has always been needed, yet, sadly, has been missing for many a years, within our Muslim-Communities, both within the Western-Hemisphere, as well as within the conventional “Muslim-World”. This following article is about Suhaib’s synthesis/breakdown of the very popular “Breaking Bad” AMC T.V. show.
The Theology of Breaking Bad: Avoiding Becoming Walter White-
1. Understand choices – “Indeed, We showed them to the way (of truth)….”.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.41, V.17)
2. There is no moral neutrality – Choices breed consequences for the soul and life. “Every soul will bear its burden.”.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.2, V.286)
3. Walter said, “For once, I want a say in this.”; however, test and trials cannot be addressed with narcissism, but with submission: he first leads to calamity, the second leads to Futuhaat (exposure/revelations answers to things which we question).
4. Sin and moral decline are a slow burn – don’t underestimate thoughts. Breaking bad took 5-Seasons. al-Ghazzali said, “Zina starts in the mind.” ibn al-Qayyim said that “Satan is forbearing: he will wait to catch you when you are weak.”
5. Trust in Allah means through the good and the bad – hardships should not be used as an excuse. “Revere (Respect/Fear Allah [be ever conscious of Allah]) Allah wherever you are.” Wherever you are means you physical, spiritual and mental states must be aware that, “At least you know Allah see you!”.(an-Nawawi)
6. Understand the value of the Hereafter vs. This life. If that is there, Walter will never exist. “Paradise is surrounded by difficulties.”.(al-Bukhari)
7. Sins/Sinning is a “slippery-slope”: once you fall in, it is hard to get out. Walter got better and still sold meth. In the Qur’an we find the story of people whose boat was rocked by a storm and “…supplicated to Allah, with earnest/sincerity. But, when they were safely taken to land, they immediately associate (false-qualities to Allah).(Noble Qur’an: Cpht.29, V.65)
8. Blessings can be curses if they are not met with a renewed commitment to God. Walter’s wealth is a curse as is health and other Ni`am/divine-favors (of Allah/from Allah). It is not so much about what, buy who it is used. Even the Qur’an can be a potential threat to a person, “And, the Qur’an is a proof for you, or against you.”.(at-Tirmidhi)
Moral decline is based on a few things (often intangibles): fear, Illness, doubt and desire. Fight them with knowledge, Ihsan, love good friends (Walter was a loner and Jesse needs loves), and understanding the value of the Hereafter.
The following formula plays out in our lives every day: Reverence/Consciousness (Respect & Fear of Allah) or Fear and love (of Allah) or Fear (of Allah) and Love of this life happen everyday in our lives. Clean hearts are able to see through that and make choices based on divine teachings and a good support system. The theology of Breaking-Bad is a lesson in how a person can lose his moral compass by making a series of choices that are rooted in fear.
On a final note, the fatalism of breaking bad is problematic. Some folks do evil and do not see it in this life. Walter continues to get worse. Some folks do good and don’t see it. The unseen and how a person is addressed in this world is rooted in the divine knowledge. Fatalism is not a means to measure Good or evil. The Book and the Sunnah are!
William “Suhaib” Webb/2013