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Seventeen Times

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Bint Mohamoud | Saudi Life

WHETHER we were born and bred Muslims or guided to the light of Islam from the darkness of disbelief, we all have one thing in common; we don’t have any guarantee of what state of our souls will be in when we come to breathe our last.

This is a bitter reality which is not meant to discourage good deeds but humbly acknowledge that only Allah Has full knowledge of who is worthy of living and dying in the shade of His guidance. We sometimes meet Muslims who are very proud of their obedience to Allah and are very comfortable in belittling those whose emaan (faith) might appear weaker than their own.

They look down on these Muslims convinced that these ‘poor’ souls have a long way to go before they reach the station of true obedience. If a brother is not wearing a thawb (the long white men’s dress) or doesn’t have a long beard, he is automatically written off as a ‘bad’ Muslim.

What if this brother who doesn’t have a beard can’t grow facial hair even though he spends every morning in front of his bathroom mirror, shaving in the hope that something will eventually emerge?

What about the sister we see dressed in a ‘light’ head scarf or whose dress shows the contour of her body? Do we immediately give her dirty looks and turn away from her or do we smile and greet her with the greeting of peace and bring her closer? What if that very sister used to wear mini skirts and had body piercings only last week and Allah Had placed the light of emaan in her heart just days before you met her? What could be the consequences of your rude or dismissive actions if you had impacted on her negatively when she only came to look for guidance from her Muslim sisters?

Thus it is due to mercy from Allah that you dealt with them gently, and had you been rough and hard-hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you. (Quran: 3:159)

These incidents are common in the Muslim community and we often judge other Muslims based on how we expect them to be without taking into consideration how far they have actually come or what their story truly is. We have no idea how pure the heart of this person we judge is or their value in the sight of Allah. Yes, they don’t necessarily have the full evident image of a Muslim man or woman, but that doesn’t mean you are better than them regardless of how well covered you may be or the length of your beard. That brother could tomorrow allow his beard to grow, which is obligatory and that sister could tomorrow lengthen her skirt or loosen her Abayya.

Our role as Muslims is to gently and with wisdom and knowledge inspire, teach and influence others whom we believe might need guidance or a pointer in the right direction. We do not demean their efforts or good intentions or make them feel like Islam is a mountain that cannot be climbed except by those who dress or look a certain way.

Islam is (of course) a religion that requires one practises according to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah but what I intent here is for our brothers and sisters to gently and gradually present and preach these teachings to those less ignorant than them. Rome wasn’t built in a day so don’t expect a new Muslim to cover up from head to toe, or for an existing Muslim to give up her/his un-Islamic habits within a week of starting to practise. Time is required to alter life-long habits and we should be supportive. We should also be selective about what we choose to convey to others when giving Da’wah. It is a common misconception to think that everyone will accept or understand what you preach. However, by teaching in small doses, one is able to penetrate through the minds and hearts of others in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them.

Ali ibn Abi Taalib (May Allah Be Pleased with him) said: ‘‘Narrate to people what they can understand: do you want Allah and His Messenger to be disbelieved?’’

The meaning behind this statement is explained by Sheikh Saleh bin Al-Uthaymeen (May Allah Have Mercy on him):

“It is therefore an aspect of wisdom in da’wah (calling others to Allah) that you should not surprise people with things they are not able to comprehend. Rather, you should call them in stages, bit by bit until their minds settle…”

What I find the most effective is telling our brothers and sisters about the beauty of this religion, introducing them to its history, its great personalities and its major influences in the world we live in.

Tell them positive stories of those you know or have heard of and give them glad tidings more than you warn them of the punishments. Islam is easy with knowledge so facilitate the way for them without encouraging them to leave out obligatory acts of worship. The Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him) said:

‘‘Facilitate (religious matters to people) and do not make (things) difficult…’’ [Bukhari and Muslim]

Be gentle with the sisters you know or meet who are not ready to wear an Abayya and advice them to at least cover their hair. It may be that Allah will strengthen their emaan through such an act which will inshallah lead them to fulfil more acts of obedience.

If a brother doesn’t attend the mosque to pray, don’t label him as a ‘sinner’ but instead ask him to come and pray in congregation with you and your friends at your house. Once he accepts that, you can (in time) mention how you have an invitation to pray in one of the houses of Allah, the mosque.

He will surely not turn down such an invitation now that he has tasted the sweetness of praying in congregation.

Our behaviour towards non-Muslims while giving da’wah should be even more compassionate.

One of my colleagues recently mentioned to me that her students (upon finding out she wasn’t Muslim) told her she will go to ‘hell’. This was a conviction they had which made me wonder what led these Muslim students to think they could take the place of ‘Maalik’, the gatekeeper of hell.

As Muslims, we don’t go around telling people they will go to Hell or Heaven but we can educate them about Islam and the consequences of our actions which will either lead us to Hell or Heaven.

We don’t take the role of God in judging others or decreeing for them Hell or Heaven.

It is therefore very important for us Muslims to be humble in the way we call others to Allah and His obedience. We are here to help each other obey our Creator and no one should feel superior by believing they are better or more guided than others. Had we been certain of our own guidance, we would not ask for guidance seventeen times a day in surah Al-Fatiha:

Guide us to the straight path (Quran: 1:6)

We are not guided because we chose to be guided but because Allah chooses whom He guides as there are so many examples of that in the Quran:

But ye shall not will except as Allah wills (Quran:81:29)

To Allah belong both East and West; He guideth whom He wills to a straight path (Quran: 2:142)

This is the guidance of Allah: He giveth that guidance to whom He pleaseth, of His worshippers. (Quran: 6: 88)

We should also remember that the state we are in today is not necessarily the state in which we will die. No one knows what has been written for him in the book that is with Allah.

The Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasalam) said in hadith #4 in the famous 40 An-Nawawi:

‘‘By Allah – other than whom there is no god – one of you may perform the deeds of the people of Paradise till there is naught but an arm’s length between him and it, when that which has been written will outstrip him so that he performs the deeds of the people of the Hell Fire; one of you may perform the deeds of the people of the Hell Fire, till there is naught but an arm’s length between him and it, when that which has been written will overtake him so that he performs the deeds of the people of Paradise and enters therein.’’ [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

Due these statements in the Sunnah as well as the many reminders in the Quran, we are obliged to continuously seek guidance and not feel secure from the fact that our faith could be shaken and that we are never safe from the plotting of Allah. It is also important to bear in mind that Allah, due to His infinite Mercy, does not misguide anyone who deserves guidance, and due to His Justice, does not guide one who deserves misguidance. Lastly, our assurances of being guided should not blindly lead us to think we are better than others because only Allah knows the final destination of each and every one of us.

May Allah make us of those who guide and are guided. AmEEN.

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