We have seen it time and time again. We may have even experienced it.
For so long, you were a Muslim only by name. You did not know much about Islam and its teachings, and you were content with your ignorance.
But something changed. Like the shifting of the earth before a quake, something happened in your life that suddenly opened your eyes to the beauty of your religion. You realized that you needed Allah and in that instance, you turned back to Him.
Or, you were never a Muslim, but the story that was your life fell upon a new chapter: Islam. You left whatever you were (or were not) practicing for His sake.
In both these instances, you have tried to claim or reclaim the Muslim identity that you finally realized and accepted as being yours. Yet, it was during the birth of your new spiritual self that things began to go downhill. You may not have seen it, but everyone around you certainly did…
Here are a list of 10 things that shouldn’t happen as a result of you turning a new leaf and becoming a more practicing (or new) Muslim:
1. You Become Narrow Minded
This is probably one of the worst – and ironic – things that can result from you becoming a more practicing Muslim.
Islam has richness and diversity embedded within its history; from its revelation to the interpretations and rulings, from great scholars and intellectuals (think: Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Ash-Shafi’i & Imam Ahmad), Islam is not something that can be limited to what you have learned from one person within your community, or after watching a few videos on YouTube.
Contrary to what you might think, becoming closer to Allah, subhanahu wa ta ‘ala(exalted is He), and the teachings of Islam should make you far more OPEN minded.
That is, the more educated you become, the more you realize that differences of opinions within Islam are not a curse, but a blessing. They make the religion easy & practical – a stark juxtaposition to the Islam you may be viewing through your narrow lenses.
Most of the time, it’s narrow mindedness that leads individuals to do the following:
2. You Rebel Against Your Family
Now that you have seen the light, you begin to notice the sins that your family may be immersed in. How dare they not pray? Why do they not attend these lectures? Why don’t they support me – I’m following the same religion as them after all!? Why wasn’t I born into a more practicing family? Why didn’t my parents teach my Qur’an from a younger age!? Why, why, why…?
These, and many more, are thoughts that might cross your mind. But you have to remember a couple of things: a) You will probably never be able to completely change your family – especially your parents b) Humble yourself. It was only a short while ago that you were immersed in the same sins and was it not by the mercy of the Most Merciful, your plight may have never changed.
Coming closer to Allah should indeed bring you closer to your family (despite their flaws) as now you realize the great importance of kinship in Islam, and the enormous rights of your parents upon you.
3. You Rebel Against Society
You take extremes and ban yourself from things like television, entertainment, social activities, malls, or anything remotely related to “Western Fitnah” (as if fitnah (temptation) does not exist in the Muslim world…but that’s for another time).
Becoming more practicing in the deen (religion) shouldn’t mean that you revile the very society that may have raised you and to which you owe your cultural traditions, norms and values. Instead, it should make you more involved. Being a Muslim means to be balanced – enjoy the good your society has to offer.
Of course, none of us enjoy societal ills such as misogyny, corruption, pollution, poverty and so forth, but that does not mean that we have to turn our backs on it.
Let’s be honest, we (especially those born in the West), should be thankful for the peace and civility that we find here but which lacks in many parts of the Muslim world. And remember that Allah says:
Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves, (Ar-Ra`d 13: 11)
This verse is very important for us to remember before we start to revile our family, friends, and societies.
4. You Declare Everything as Haram/Halal
This is an extremely dangerous thing to do. Just because you have learned a bit about Islam, you still have no right to be declaring fatwahs (Islamic legal rulings). This is something left to the most learned of Muslims; those who have dedicated their lives to the study and teachings of Islam.
Further, if you are quick to declare things haram/halal, remember this: you are putting your word against that of Allah and those who have studied His deen. Pretty scary, huh?
But inevitably, becoming more practicing may make you more quick to declare things as haram/halal. A word of advice: don’t. Just because someone holds a different opinion on a matter than yours, doesn’t make their opinion less valid.
There were differences of opinions during the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and after his death! But these differences did not divide Muslims as they do today – instead, they highlighted the beauty of Islam and how it is truly a religion that has transcended time, history, and culture.
5. You Isolate Yourself
Just because you have become more practicing, doesn’t mean that you should only limit yourself to your home or Islamic events, activities, the MSA, etc.
Listen to me: LIVE YOUR LIFE
Allah has set boundaries that cannot be transgressed. If you remove your head from the sand for 5 seconds, you will realize that there is a LOT of leeway as to what we can do as Muslims.
As long as they do not transgress the bounds of Allah, feel free to engage in the things that bring joy and happiness to your life.
Do not ditch your long-time friends just because you have become more practicing than them. Do not quit your job or schooling (unless, of course they are, or lead to, haram).
Do not limit your days to locking yourself in your room and only studying Islam. You will go nuts, trust me.
And my dear Sisters, becoming more practicing should never impede on your rights as a woman. You should never become invisible or unheard. You should never be silenced.
Islam is empowering and anything that makes you feel otherwise is not – in my humble opinion – Islam.
Becoming more practicing should open you to the world and new possibilities. Also, it should make you more engaged within your community, whether it be through non-profit organizations, sports, etc.
6. You Lose Your Identity
This is a big one. Sisters and Brothers, you are all unique, creative and different human beings. You should never feel that you now have to wear all black, roll up the bottoms of your pants, or start interjecting Arabic terms like ukhti or akhi into your vocabulary.
Also, if you are a revert – you can keep your legal name (unless it is specifically un-Islamic)!
Getting closer to Allah should bring you closer to your truer self. Embrace your culture, language, experiences and unique nuances. Despite what you may have seen or heard, a “Muslim” can’t truly be categorized, labeled or molded. Embrace your identity and be proud of how Allah has created you.
7. You Look Down On Others
This speaks for itself. Again, humble yourself because as they say:
Every righteous person has a past, and every sinner has a future.
Also, cut out the discrimination against non-Muslims. They may not be your sisters/brothers in faith, but they are certainly still your sisters/brothers in humanity and deserve every ounce of your respect and kindness.
8. You Instantly Become a “Scholar”
Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and any social media site or piece of technology does NOT make you an expert in the field of Islam. Think of the work it takes to become a doctor – would you ever accept the claims of someone who simply Googles their information without any valid form of education?
Do not make fatwahs, do not rebuke others and do not think that you know everything. Simply assume the position of a student. Recognize, too, that being on the receiving end of knowledge is a life-long thing.
9. You Get Married
This is mainly for new reverts to Islam who may have become Muslim for the sake of marrying someone OR who are now being pressured to get married to “preserve their deen.”
To simply put it, if you have just turned back to Allah (and by just, I mean within the last few years of your life) then let marriage happen, do not try and force it.
In the mean time, you have just started the best relationship of all: the one with your Lord. Allow it to come into fruition. Bask in its glory. Truly love and revere those intimate moments you enjoy when you praise, thank, and pray to your Lord.
We talk about completing “half our deen” without realizing that we are not complete. Marry your deen, and the rest will fall into place, bi’ithnillah(by the will of Allah).
10. You Race to Catch Up
Please go easy on yourself. Yes, you may have less Qur’an memorized than your friends. Yes, you may have less Islamic knowledge. Yes, you may not be as steadfast on Islamic acts of worship. Yes, you may constantly stumble, fall, and falter.
But remember, this is your personal journey to Allah, it is not a race. It makes no sense to compare the beginning of your story to another person’s middle.
Start from whatever level you may be at and keep going. Do not give up and purify your intentions. It is not about quantity, it is about quality. Remember that.
And Allah knows best.