Islam and Judaism are very orthopraxic* religions – Muslims and Jews are commanded to DO a lot of things. Eating, praying, fasting, observing – and all the nuances of Shari’a and Halakha – the everyday actions of a Jew or Muslim are heavily influenced by the concepot of correct conduct, laden with religious meaning and symbolism.
Basically, the faith commands us to Do. However, within Do there are actually two commands: Do, and Do Not.
Perhaps I am atypical, but I would like to believe otherwise when I say that I tend to fall short of Doing all the things I am supposed to be Doing Not all the things I am not supposed to be doing. The question is, which is worse?
If we don’t do what we are commanded to Do – that is a lapse. It is usually a regression to our base behavior, a lack of discipline. For example: Praying is hard. Fasting is really hard. We are told to do these things and we doin’t always do them because we are watching Netflix or we want to sleep in or we are just feeling lazy.
However, when we do what we are commanded to Do Not, that is somewhat more serious, because it requires an active act of disobedience. We are not just engaging in a sin of omission, we are engaging in action that we know to be proscribed.
I have no moral or theological basis for this thought, but if there is a greater spiritual failing, logic tells me that it’s probably the case where I actively choose to act against proscription, rather than merely failing to act according to prescription.
I’m not trying to create a basis for rationalizing my failure to comply, here – but in the modern world, as we try to reconcile our beliefs with the constraints of our consciences, law, and modern culture, it seems that there is more room for compromise with respect to the command to Do versus the command to Do Not.
* Christianity, meanwhile, is more of an orthodoxic faith – the emphasis is on belief and ritual rather than action and conduct. These are of course merely broad generalizations.