بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Three months ago I joined Al-Huda’s Tafheem-e-Deen Course searching for peace. Even though I have always believed in God, I spent most of my life running away from Islam due to selfish reason, ignorance and fear. I was afraid that the truth was somewhere out there and Islam
would hold me back and not let me reach it. There are an infinite number of paths a person can take in this world and I got lost somewhere amidst the myriad of philosophies and lifestyles. Dabbled in existentialism, I naively believed in altruism and utilitarianism and advocated feminism blindly. Then somewhere along the line, after having made mistake after mistake after mistake, I realized that all these ideologies are flawed because we as humans are flawed and consequently anything we create is bound to be flawed.
I was studying abroad and was in my second year of university when I decided that I was sick of hating myself. I didn’t want to be lost anymore and I thought, “What if the answer was right in front of me the whole time but I was too blind to see it?” Something inside me was yearning to study the Qur’an, and so I called my mother and told her I wanted to take a year off, come back to Pakistan and join Al-Huda (which I only had dusty memories of from the times my mother used to take me when I was younger). I still remember how hard my decision of letting go of my studies and moving back was, not just for me but also for my parents who Alhamdulillah stuck by me and who I am so blessed to have.
I remember during one of my initial classes at Al-Huda, we were
completing the tafsir of Surah Al-Baqarah Ayat 49 regarding the trials faced by Bani Israeli and how Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) saved them from the Pharoah’s persecution.
وَإِذْ نَجَّيْنَاكُم مِّنْ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَسُومُونَكُمْ سُوَءَ الْعَذَابِ يُذَبِّحُونَ أَبْنَاءكُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيُونَ نِسَاءكُمْ وَفِي ذَلِكُم بَلاء مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ عَظِيمٌ
“And [recall] when We saved your forefathers from the people of Pharaoh, who afflicted you with the worst torment, slaughtering your [newborn] sons and keeping your females alive. And in that was a great trial from your Lord”
[Al-Qur'an-Surah Al-Baqara(The cow):49]
In class, we discussed how each difficulty, if dealt with sabr and zikr, is actually a chance for redemption, a chance to open our eyes, turn to Islam and draw close to our Rabb. Every time we suffer, every time someone hurts us, some injustice is done to us or we’re even facing the consequences of our own bad actions, it’s an opportunity for us to repent for our sins and save ourselves.
This is when it hit me—the true beauty of Islam! That something so painful can be transformed into something so valuable. Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) takes every twinge in our hearts, every tear in our eyes, every shudder in our bones and He uses it to raise our ranks in the Hereafter, to take us a step closer to Jannat—the ultimate reward. Subhan’Allah! There is always a chance for redemption because Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem and His mercy is greater than His wrath. As time went on and I dived deeper into the study of the Qur’an, I was afraid that this was as high as my Iman would go. I was so scared of the future; what if I revert back to who I was before? What if this was just a phase and what if I hadn’t really changed? And then we learnt Surah Al-Baqarah Ayat 62:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَالَّذِينَ هَادُواْ وَالنَّصَارَى وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحاً فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
“Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans [before Prophet Muhammad] – those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness – will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.”
[Al-Qur'an:Surah Al-Baqara(The cow):62]
It was as if Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) Himself was consoling me and I slowly understood that I couldn’t live in the past. I simply needed to strive in the present in order to secure my future. Why? Because Islam is all about preventative measures. Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) knows His makhlooq (creation); He knows what will get us into trouble and what will save us. There’s no time for fear when I’m busy cleansing my soul through words and actions and intentions. There’s no time for grief when I have a purpose-to worship Allah ( سبحانه وتعالى) .
And that’s what I have found in the study of the Qur’an. I found the Truth, after which peace and purpose were natural progressions, because without true purpose we let other emotions and needs guide our actions. A thing only has meaning if we give it meaning; money, education, family—not all these things are bad, but as humans we don’t have a very good filter system and secular morality is simply a function of our ego and society. However, on a macroscopic level we don’t know all the consequences of our actions because everything has a ripple effect. And so we need the Qur’an because it is complete and absolute; it is a lifeline that teaches us how to optimize everything we do yet also teaches us how to strike the balance to not get burned out in the endeavor. We’re stumbling in darkness blind and deaf, don’t know which way is up, when all we have to do is open our hearts and let Nur in.
I have to say that it’s been a long time since I have felt this grounded and fulfilled, Alhumdulillah. I spend more time now basking in the beauty around me and I draw strength from my convictions. In psychology it’s called having an “internal locus of identity”, and for me, that locus of identity is the realization that I am first and foremost a Muslim. There’s still a lot of uncertainty in my future, obviously, a lot of difficult decisions I have to make, but I am confident that Insha’Allah as long as I stick to the Quran and Sunnah and keep learning and doing more good, my Maula will bestow His blessings upon me as I tread on this journey towards simplifying my life and attaining success in terms of this world and the next.