We live in a society in which Western values dictate how we should live our lives. These external pressures, coupled with the inclination towards their desires, make it increasingly difficult for people to practice their religion.
To become attached to Allah (swa) one must become detached from the world. That way even though our work may be on Earth, our hearts should always remain with our Lord.
Then why do we refer to those individuals who may spend all their time in the mosque and are not interested in the “normal” activities that “normal people” find pleasure in as “extremists”, “religious fanatics” or “too much into it”?
Were the blessed companions of the Holy Prophet (saw) “too much into it”, when they never let His (saw) blessed hair touch the ground and used to collect His (saw) sweat which smelt like musk for blessing?
Was Hadrat Awais Karni (ra) an “extremist” when he broke his teeth just because he heard that one tooth of his beloved Leader had broke in the battle of Uhud?
Were our pious predecessors “religious fanatics” because they used to travel to different countries on horseback just to listen a hadith?
Was Hadrat Fatima (raa) “too much into it” when she used to spend her winter nights prostrating on her musalla (prayer mat), and when called for the Fajr prayer she would lovingly complain that the nights were too short?
Are we not supposed to enter Islam fully, and not partially? Are we not supposed to submit our heart, body, mind, soul and spirit to the wishes of our Creator?
Unfortunately, being exposed for so long to elements which are harmful both to the soul as well as the intellect has created a “numbing down” effect amongst the Muslims.
We no longer aspire to follow in the footsteps of our pious predecessors but instead self-justify our actions by comparing them to members of our society and even go as far as criticising and condemning those who are trying their utmost best to do what they are supposed to be doing.
The Islamic Way
In today’s era truth is seen as falsehood and right is seen as wrong. We are heavily influenced by the currents norms and values of the 21st Century that the pure, unadulterated teachings of Islam seem somewhat alien to us; this highlights how far we have deviated from the right path.
The Islamic way is in sharp contrast to the current trends of our society. For instance, society teaches us to be wary and suspicious of others whereas Islam says that evil thinking springs from malignity of intent and wickedness of the character.
It is even said that if a deeds of a man are evil, then his thoughts regarding others are evil as a result he will believe whatever suspicion haunts him.
Society dictates that we should show arrogance and pride to others, otherwise people will walk all over us. Islam on the other hand places great emphasis on good manners; to be gentle and kind, tolerant and patient. We are even told that ‘whoever loses gentleness loses all good’.
Society says that one should not spend in the way of Allah (swa) more then what is obligatory (i.e Zakah) for it leads to financial hardships. Islam says if you spend in the way of Allah (swa) you will receive even more.
We are told that one should not unnecessarily inconvenience themselves by doing more then what is necessary.
Allah (swa) says that “My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (voluntary prayers or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) until I love him, (so much so that) I become his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me something, I will surely give him, and if he seeks My Protection (refuge), I will surely protect him".
We should have an “equal balance” regarding working for Islam and worldly affairs. A wise man once said “This life and the hereafter balance in the heart as if on scales. When one predominates, the other becomes lighter and less significant”.
We are caught between the tempting influences of the West and the hidebound superstitions of some of our own Muslim communities.
Fortunately Islam has the answer to these external and internal conflicts that trouble mankind today. The answer lies in patience, persistence and perseverance.
Allah (swa) has told us that He is with those who have patience; this is a special “companionship” which means that He is protecting and supporting them. Furthermore, the rewards of enduring slander and difficulties for the sake of Allah (swa) are infinite and beyond the comprehension of the human mind.
A righteous man once said “This life and the hereafter are like a man with two wives. If he pleases one he incurs the wrath of the other. In reference to this point Sheikh Tahir ul Qadri has said that just like two enemies that cannot live together, the love of Allah (swa) and the love of this life cannot co-exist in one heart.
In conclusion, we should sort our priorities out and should realise that this world is worthless and perishable. We should aspire to follow in the footsteps of our pious predecessors and should place no limits on how much we do or how much others do for the sake of Allah (swa); true love for Allah (swa) has no limits and is infinite.
May Allah (swa) make it easy for us to transform ourselves into individuals whom He will be pleased with, and may He remove all obstacles and restrictions that we may encounter along the way; internal and external. Ameen.
By Alveena Salim