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We need to CHILL for a second

When I first became Muslim I had this sudden zeal that was burning within. Obviously, this is very natural. When we love something, especially when it is new and exciting, we want to share the news with everyone ! I wanted to share my new journey and faith with all those around me. I wanted everyone to experience what I felt and all I would do was talk about Islam the whole time. I was so excited about my new faith that I just HAD to share it. I shared it with Muslims and non-Muslims and when I look back at myself (lol) I can’t believe how silly I was. I mean of course we have to share the beauty of Islam with others! But there is definitely a certain approach you must take!

I became very passionate and emotional every time I talked about Islam and how I converted. I would always try to organize some sort of Islamic reminders on What’sApp chat groups and force everyone to get involved (lol!) and for a while, it was benefiting myself and others. Then I started suffering some serious hardships in the US and it caused me to retract into my shell and all I wanted to do was keep to myself. I realised that my emaan and my zeal seemed to be only on the surface because once I was put into tests of my own, I noticed that my trust and hope in Allah were very weak.

I’m not sure if you all understand this but let me try to explain it to you.

My zeal and passion for Islam was built only on seeking knowledge. All I would do was read and learn about how the pious predecessors (the Salaf) would practise Islam. I would make a lot of effort to practice outwardly the Sunnah without really understanding the true beauty of why the Prophet (peace be upon him) did them and everything just had a surface value. I was doing things more out of fear rather than love. I was worried that if I did not do things, Allah would punish me. This is SO wrong.

OF COURSE, all these things are extremely important and beneficial for us and we should constantly be educating ourselves about the Sunnah and the pious predecessors but we also need to remember that in order for us to be consistent with acts of ibadaah, we need to remember that emaan grows in the heart and when it does, that is when we truly enjoy doing acts of worship because they are genuinely for the sake of pleasing Allah! What is in the hearts will eventually radiate through our actions!

A lot of people say that emaan and Allah are in the heart, but if Allah is in your heart (and let us not take this out of context and think that Allah is everywhere- yes, SIGNS of Allah are everywhere but we know that He is above the throne!) and emaan is in the heart, then your speech, your actions should reflect that. Things like the hijab, prayer, and doing other acts of worship come easily and naturally once the emaan in the heart grows. I thought that I had emaan but then I realised a lot of the time I was doing things because I HAD to and not because I sincerely wanted to.

So once I was tested with hardships, I left a lot of my voluntary acts of worship and I even began to question Allah and Islam (may Allah always protect me and you from this ameen). It was only until I moved back to Toronto that I realised that I have a very limited understanding of Islam and even though I sought knowledge non-stop, it never reached beyond my mind. It never transcended deeply into my heart or my soul, it never touched me the way it touched Ibn al Qayyim( rahimuAllah) or Ibn al Jawzi (Rahimuallah) and the likes of. My understanding of Islam was on a surface level and it is only until now that I started to realise that being a Muslim is not just about the outwardly obligations but it is also understanding yourself and through that, then you can know Allah and then learn to love Allah.

I know a lot of us may lack this understanding. I have seen and continue to see way too many individuals, especially on social media, show their Islamic knowledge outwardly. It does not go anywhere deeper than that. How do I know this? It is very simple and obvious. Their manners and character show it all. Most of these sisters do not have good manners and lack empathy. They dictate the deen and if you do not take the opinions of their shaykh, they will chastise you. You are basically ‘non-practising’ in their eyes. They basically want to force you to follow in their way and if you don’t, you can’t “sit with them.”

This brings me to my last point.

This is the kind of interaction that is not even from the Qur’an and Sunnah. The Prophet (peace be upon him ) was never forceful and Allah even says in the Qur’an there is no compulsion in the religion (2:256) so why are you forcing others to do what you are doing?

What you do to get closer to Allah may not be what another person wants to do at this moment in time. They may be on a completely different journey than you and even though you may be more fast-paced then them, they are going at a rate that is suitable for them- but at least they are still trying. For all we know, they could be crying to Allah behind closed doors every day asking Him to guide them to wear the hijab, or to fulfill their five daily prayers! We will never know what is going on in their lives and what they are struggling with.

A lot of the times, individuals always seem to preach that Allah is strict and harsh and if you don’t do A-B-C you will be punished! Again, up until recently, I believed this as well. I was doing things because I didn’t want to be punished not because I truly wanted to do them. Allah is not a harsh, mean Lord ! Yes, He punishes where He Sees fit but He also rewards. Allah is oft-Forgiving, most Merciful. Forcing people to do acts of worships is never the key to success. You are not responsible for anyone but yourself. If you truly want to help someone, lead by example through your speech and your actions and show them how Islam has touched you. If you are forcing the deen down someone’s throat and if you find yourself being harsh and cruel, you got it all wrong, girl. You are causing more harm than good. Trust me! I have been there before and I was the harsh one with excessive zeal forcing the deen down other’s throats! Rarely does this method work.

So this reminder is to myself first and foremost, focus on myself and my relationship with Allah. Do not force others to listen to x-y-z lectures or force others to do a-b-c ibadaat . Yes, enjoining good and forbidding evil is our DUTY as a Muslim, but do it wisely. The way we enjoin good can actually turn out to be evil because of the method we approach people with becomes counterproductive!
Acts of worship should never be seen as a chore or a drag. We should want to do it with our hearts and soul because we love Allah and we want Him to be pleased with us. If you are the reason that people find acts of worships to be a drag, then please remember to focus on yourself before you focus on anybody else.

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