By Imam Nur Salie
Masjidul Muneer – Constantia
Almighty Allah exhort us in Surah Nur [24:46] “We have indeed sent down Signs that make things clear: And Allah guides whom He wills to a Way that is straight.”
And in Surah Al-An’am, 6:125 – “Those whom Allah wants to guide, He opens their breast to Islam.”
The Prophet (saw) stated: He has indeed tasted the sweetness of faith who is pleased with Allah as his Lord – with Islam as his way of life – and with Muhammad (saw) as his Rasul.
I conducted a course called Islam for beginners at Claremont Main Road Masjid – and on completion of the course at least two persons reverted to Islam and today’s Khutbah is about new Muslims or reverts to Islam, why and how they came to Islam, and what we all can learn from their experience.
Every person who chooses Islam as a way of life has a deeply personal story, which can be very moving and inspiring to hear. Today there are widespread negative notions that try to connect Islam with terrorism and negativity and try to dismiss all Muslims as being fanatical and out of touch with modern life. Despite the growing hostility shown to Islam and Muslims, it is quite remarkable that so many intelligent and highly educated young people in Europe and in the United States of America and even in our own country, often from influential families, are taking Shahaada in ever-growing numbers.
There is a remarkable story in one of our local magazines about one young (European Christian) lady who described her experience of discovering Islam, in these words: “Almighty Allah came knocking at my heart.” — Would you believe that a night-clubbing Catholic girl of 20 can discover Islam, and so transform her life that within 2 years be able to teach born Muslims tajweed [the correct way to recite the Quran] The recital of the Holy Qur’an and other Principals of Islam?. Her curiosity was aroused about Islam when she read some books and listened to tapes on Islam. Then she heard a sentence that was to change her life, dramatically and irreversibly: “Truly unfortunate is the person who discovers the truth, but cannot find the courage to accept it.” These words must have reached deep down to the innermost recess of her heart. They repeated themselves, over and over again. They haunted her, day and night, leaving her soul restless. “Truly unfortunate is the person who discovers the truth, but cannot find the courage to accept it.” Finally, after a long period of agonising and soul-searching, she made up her mind. One Friday afternoon, she went to the Jum’ah prayers on the campus, to recite the Shahaada in the correct way. From the outset, there were no half-measures for this brave new sister. She took a year off university to study Arabic and Islam.
There are many other such inspiring examples of people making their spiritual journey to Islam, among them many Christians (from all denominations) and even some Buddhists and Hindus. I am sure you will know some yourselves. I recently found a splendid book entitled, “The sun is rising in the West.” It’s a must-read, and it describes some amazing journeys to Islam in the USA, UK and Europe. In this book amongst these you can read about and ex-member of the Klu Klux Klan, the notorious white supremacist group, who turned to Islam for his salvation. You can also read the inspiring personal reflections of Dr Robert Dickson Crane, who was Foreign Policy adviser to President Nixon in the 1960’s. I would strongly commend his book on how he came to Islam.
In this country as elsewhere in Europe and America, there are many individuals and organisations doing excellent work for the promotion of Islam. This work should be valued and encouraged. However, we must understand that Islam is not like some consumer product or service that needs to be marketed in that sort of way.
We don’t need PR consultants and we don’t measure results by numbers. It’s the quality that counts, and the results are not in our hands. We only fool ourselves when we think that someone will accept Islam because of our clever Dahwah work. It is Allah who chooses those he wants to guide. Allah expects us to make the effort, and to trust Him with the results. As we read in Surah Al-An’am, 6:125 – “— “Those whom Allah wants to guide, He opens their breast to Islám.”
In the West, there has always been some prejudice towards Islam and Muslims. September 11 2001,aggravated the paranoia and hatemongering by giving powerful vested interests, an excuse to promote their blatant Islamophobia. But in spite of this, and in spite of the weak and fragmented situation of Muslims worldwide, the epic journey to Islam is gathering pace, steadily and irresistibly. The Americans may or may not win their so-called ‘war on terrorism’, but Islam, Insha-Allah, will win the war that really matters, the war of hearts and minds.
Surah Nur [24:46]: “.” – “We have indeed sent down Signs that make things clear: And Allah guides whom He wills to a Way that is straight.”
A Muslim’s duty is to make the effort, to acquire knowledge and to live Islam to the best of his ability and not just to talk about it. But results belong to Allah. We are expected to strive with all our physical, financial, moral and intellectual resources, to seek the good pleasure of Allah, to try to understand His plan, and our own unique part in it. There is indeed a divine purpose for each and every one of us. We have to find that purpose, and then fulfil it energetically and enthusiastically, to the best of our ability
The stories of new Muslims are covered in numerous articles in newspapers and magazines. It has become the subject of many books and even dedicated websites. We are all intrigued and fascinated by the experiences they describe. Why is this so? Why should this process of finding Islám from such diverse backgrounds, interest us? Perhaps deep inside us, we have a need to share the excitement of uncovering the profound realities of life; we need to share the search for meaning: Who are we? Why are we here? What is our destiny? In a way, we need to join our new Muslim brothers and sisters on their spiritual journey.
Indeed, we need to rediscover Islam for ourselves. Even though we were born into Muslim families, it does not follow that we will automatically grow up to love Islam with such passion and fervour, as we should. Many of us merely accepted Islam because “it is the religion of our ancestors.” We never questioned it. Islam was simply part of our culture and traditions, something we did without question, and therefore, without real enthusiasm and conviction.
It is interesting to note that the Quraish of Makkah, objected to Islam, saying that they preferred to follow the “religion of their ancestors.” In fact, every prophet encountered this argument, from the very people they tried to save.
It is vitally important that we do not merely accept our Islam simply because it is the “religion of our ancestors.” We should not be Muslims merely by inheritance, or by habit. Islam must be our religion of choice, of deep and absolute conviction. If we have any hope that our children and grandchildren will continue to build on our spiritual foundations, those foundations must be strong. Otherwise, the whole structure of our faith community will crumble and disappear within a generation or two. Make no mistake about this. There is no future for Islam in our children and grandchildren, if we choose to remain half-hearted Muslims or part-time Muslims.
Surah Al-Baqarah v208 warns us: — “O you who believe! Enter into Islám wholeheartedly, and follow not the footsteps of the Evil One; for he is to you an avowed enemy.”
In the last verses of Surah Al-Furqaan, we read a very beautiful and moving prayer, from among the many beautiful prayers in the Holy Quran: – “O Allah, grant us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us the grace to lead them into righteousness.”
What a stirring and evocative prayer! And, what a wonderful blessing to receive, when Almighty Allah answers this prayer! Depending on our attitude, this prayer could either be just lip-service and wishful thinking, or, it can be a real, heartfelt and sincere appeal for the help of Allah. If we combine prayer with good actions, we can build continuity and improve the quality of Islam in our family for future generations.
The key is to ensure that our hearts and minds, our words and deeds are in total harmony. We will have to remove the contradictions, and am reminding myself first, and all of you. We must remove all the contradictions that live so uneasily in our lives. Hypocrisy is a grave sin. We have to cultivate the sense of integrity and good character that are the visible traits of a true believer. We have to tame our desires and lusts, and develop an appetite for everything that pleases Allah swt. We must also develop an instinctive aversion for all the things that incur Allah’s displeasure.
People embrace Islam because they find security, comfort and peace in it, they see a cure for their problems in it, and through it they are able to get rid of their feelings of confusion, anxiety and loss. Islam is the religion of the fitrah, the natural inclination or pattern on which Allah has created mankind. For this reason, people of sound minds and upright inclinations embrace Islam,
A great scholar once confessed, “I have never found anything more rebellious than my own good intentions.” This was truly a very profound piece of self-analysis. I am sure we all know the feeling. Total honesty with oneself, regarding one’s faults, is the beginning of self-improvement. But it doesn’t end there. We have to build on this effort, steadily, patiently, and consistently. To build the ideal Islamic character takes a long time. There is no quick fix. And all the way, we must seek Allah’s help and guidance.
Let us pray to Almighty Allah, to place within our hearts, a deep and irresistible desire to improve ourselves. O Allah, help us to overcome the temptations and distractions of life, and let us yearn and crave for things that bring us closer to you. Let our desires and ambitions be pure and wholesome, and let our thoughts, our words, and our actions converge in harmony and unity in accordance with Your Will.
“ “Our Lord! grant us good in this world and good in the hereafter, and save us from the torment of the fire.” (2:201) —
“O my Lord! make me one who establishes regular Prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring. O my Lord! accept my prayer.”– “O our Lord! cover (us) with your Forgiveness – me, my parents, and (all) Believers, on the Day of Judgement!” (14:40-41)
Almighty Allah exhorts us in Surah Nur [24:46]: “We have indeed sent down Signs that make things clear: And Allah guides whom He wills to a Way that is straight.”And in Súra Al-An’am, 6:125 –
— “Those whom Allah wants to guide, He opens their breast to Islam.” The Prophet (saw) stated:. –– He has tasted the sweetness of faith who is pleased with Allah as his Lord – with Islam as his way of life and with Muhammad as his Rasul and Nabi.