Bismillahir Rahmānir Raheem.
I have a friend who is accepting Islam, on her own terms, Insha Allah; her mother is Muslim, and she (my friend) fasts during Ramadān and such. And maybe now is her time. I do think that it is powerfully through people – guided by the One who Guides – that we find it. And sometimes, trauma — negative experiences associated with ‘religious people’ — can threaten to get in the way of this. The fact of the matter is: people can be abusive. People can claim to have religious authority; use the books of Hadīth they have memorised, as reasons to bolster their own egos. And for themselves to feel more powerful, more ‘legitimate’ in the ostensible ‘monopolies over religion’ they seem to have built for themselves:
Some people need to be ‘kept out’. How are you Muslim? You don’t even know how to read the Qur’an!
The key word there, my friend, might just be yet. Yet. There is so much that I, and you, do not know. Don’t we so hope that the missing word there is yet?
If only you knew how badly she had been mistreated. What her heart has felt; what girls who seemed ‘religious’, perhaps, no less, had said to her, upon wrapping a headscarf around her head. I know it can feel mountainous. Like there is a whole… classical Arabic to learn, maybe. Books, upon books, upon books. Matters of jurisprudence, one after the other. [And we rely on Allah, to direct us towards our answers.]
I say: it really is blessing, when you think about it enough. This life — journey, no doubt — only ends for us when it does. Like the eighty-something-year-old who memorised the Qur’an, at that noble age. Or: the seventeen-year-old who is trying to pronounce those Islamic terms in Arabic better. The twenty-year-old who got her own mat to pray on yesterday. Deep green, and Allah cares about the hearts that care. Whether your journey, at this point, is looking like: learning the Arabic alphabet. Or analysing Sahih Bukhari. Or that one Islamic saying that is playing on your mind over and over.
How exciting: how much there is, to be found. ‘Drop by drop’, and moderately, and we will be guided if Allah so wills; may the rewards from our efforts be multiplied, as the stuff of goodness often is (Masha Allah).
Joining the ISOC, even though you might be scared; even if there are some who seem like they may not ‘approve’ of you [who are they?!]. A pound given to charity; a smile at your sister. Visiting someone who is unwell, with a bag of fruits.
Quality and warmth over ‘quantities’ and cold-hearted little battles of the ego, surely. What use is reams upon reams of knowledge if it is, in the end, demonstrating no benefit towards your heart? Is it making us more humble before Allah, or less? Will you accept that you, too, had been lost without Islam once?
Allah guides whom He wills. At age forty, eleven, twenty-five or sixteen. Jamaican, Egyptian, Bengali, English. Rich; poor, whether in good health or not. Things can become quite lonely for us, and for them. The best we can do is offer help to people where we can, extend love and warmth, hoping that similar (and Better, from Allah) shall be offered in return to us;
actions are but by intention [Hadīth] and Allah looks at the states of our hearts.
With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.