Monday, February 09, 2009

The wake up call.

Alhamdulillah exams are over. It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve decided to answer this 5 question thingy that I saw while bloghopping, just for introspection. I’ve altered the format for some of the questions though. Here goes;

1. When did you start being ‘more Islamic’? Why did you decide to follow that path?

It started one fine day back in my tertiary days when a French non-Muslim asked me about Islam. He was asking about something which he read in the Qur’an. But I couldn’t answer him. And he asked bewildered,” How can you be a Muslim and don’t know what you’re practicing?” It was a wakeup call. Here was a non-Muslim researching the Qur’an and here I am; a born Muslim happily being ignorant.

From there on I reflected about my relaxed attitude towards Islam. And I felt lost. I felt that I didn’t understand Islam at all! I did pray but didn’t understand the Arabic verses that I was reciting. I felt that it was just an obligation that I’ve to do as a Muslim. I recited the Qur'an but didn't learn the meanings to it. It came to a point when I asked myself, what am I praying for if I don’t even feel or understand anything? What’s my purpose in practicing Islam?

So I asked Allah for guidance and started researching through books and enrolled myself in a basic Islamic Studies course at Pergas for the weekends. I chose that course after researching about them and felt that their modules are good and they have a good system. For the first time in my life, I made my own decision to learn about Islam by myself and not because I’m doing it to abide by my parents wishes so that they would stop nagging.

Before that, my parents had done their best really, to inculcate Islamic values in their children, in their own capacity of understanding Islam and way of bringing us up. They have sent me to learn to recite the Qur’an and a weekend madrasah when I was younger and would always remind me not to forget the obligatory prayers and recite the surah Yaasin on Thursday nights (which is not Sunnah btw) and also brought me to the Mosque on certain special occasions but those efforts unfortunately were not enough for me to understand the basic and most important aspect for a Muslim and that is the Islamic belief (Aqeedah). I don’t blame them for that, for they have tried their best and I’m always grateful for I could never ever repay them for bringing me up.

So yea, thankfully with Allah’s guidance through that one simple question from the non-Muslim, it jolted me from sleep and started this journey for me.

2. How have you grown since that first step?

Alhamdulillah, since then and with continuous effort and prayers, I’ve been able to understand more especially the all important Aqeedah. Actually, while I was in Pergas, I still felt confused. I was learning the similar things that I’ve learnt before when I was younger, only that this time, I paid more attention to the lessons in class looking for answers. It finally came one fine day when I read an article from about the importance of Aqeedah. And it made me turn my attention to focus more on it among the many subjects of my Pergas lessons and to research more on it on the web and in books.

Soon after, I attended a seminar which hosted speakers like Dr Juanda Jaya, Dr Mohamad Asri Zainal Abidin and Dr Azwira Abdul Aziz. I was really inclined to their speeches and the way they explain about Islam in a simple, wholesome and engaging manner and they too referred to the importance of Aqeedah. From there on, I followed Dr Asri’s lectures through videos and mp3s as they were more readily available back then, compared to the other two and found one on Aqeedah and I was home. Everything fell into place. Alhamdulillah.

What type of Aqeedah am I referring to? It is the Islamic belief (Aqeedah) the way the early generation Muslims understood about it. And they are the Prophet’s companions, and of those who followed after who strive to uphold this form of understanding. I believe that they are the best among all Muslims to follow in Islamic belief and understanding as they had lived and learnt under the guidance of Prophet Muhammad himself.

3. What are the Islamic practices that you’re more inclined to?

To put it simply, I’m inclined to whatever practice that upholds the Qur’an and the Sunnah. If you ask any Islamic sects, this is what they will all claim to follow though they differ in some or many of their practices.

So for me, I've settled on learning Islam through any medium that places the guidance of Qur'an and Sunnah top priority, in thier speeches or thier articles and thier actions in addition to that with the way the Companions of Prophet Muhammad practiced and understood them and those after who strives to maintain this.

Disappointingly, I once encountered a Sufi religious leader who advised me to stay away from people who are too inclined to the Sunnah. He called them Sunnah fanatics. He claimed that those who are too Sunnah in their practices nowadays are Wahhabi, implying that they have strayed from the right path. To that, I pose this question, "Wouldn't it be great that we are all Sunnah fanatics as that is what Allah would have liked for us to do? To lead a life similar to the way He has guided us through the actions of His messenger who's the best example for Muslims and all mankind, our dear Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu 'alaihi wassallaam)?

I’ve realized that there are many practices in our Muslim society which do not comply to the Sunnah. And this is due to many factors. Among them are;

  • believing that the religious practices they’re doing really originates from the Prophet himself,
  • Hadiths which they hold on to which are actually very weak or not genuine at all,
  • following a cleric blindly thinking that he's perfect and believing that whatever comes from him is the truth even when his practices contradict the Sunnah or his opinions are just his own and not based on the Sunnah.
  • being taa’sub (fanaticsm which prevents one from admitting mistakes or changing their previous wrong stance even after realising they have made an error).
  • the practice of mixing Islamic belief (Aqeedah) with philosophy.
With that, I think it’s important as well for a Muslim to be aware of the factors that would make them stray from the correct practice of Islam. Things that would confuse the Islamic belief of a person. And that is to indulge in religious matters directing their worship to anything that could be a substitute for Allah (Syirik). Also to learn about and refrain from any of the factors that could lead to this.

I also agree to the importance of making it easy to understand the root of Islam which is the Aqeedah, restricting it to simple understanding the way the Companions understood it and for other areas in Islam such as Fiqh and so on to be more open, of course within the restrictions that the Qur’an and Sunnah allows.

More open here meaning not restrict oneself to just one scholars’ opinion but to acknowledge other scholars' opinions as well. All the past scholars advised to always uphold the Sunnah and not their own opinions. Therefore, the opinion with the strongest backing of proof from the Qur'an and Sunnah should always be the foremost irregardless of which scholar it came from.

4. Has your view towards marriage and finding the right person changed?

My friends thought that it is a weird and crazy idea, when I told them that I’ve decided not to indulge in intimate boy-girl relationships before marriage. Now I try to view everything in my life within the guidelines and boundaries that Islam has set. Insya Allah when the right person comes, i'll 'merisik' or ask her to perform istikharah if she agrees before proceeding towards marraige.

Hm, do these kind of people still exist? Apparently there still exists such people. Alhamdulillah.

5. What would be your advice to someone who’s really new to knowing and getting close to Allah?

My advice would be first and foremost, to read the Qur’an. Read the translation of it, even if you haven’t learnt how to recite it yet. This is because in it is a true guidance and in it lies the pillars of Islamic belief. That’s probably why we see reverts (converts) who are stronger in their faith, because they have made the effort to read the whole content of the Qur’an to understand it well before delving into Islam, while many among Muslims who are born into it, have not done so. That's also probably why we see so many born Muslims who don't behave like a Muslim or even worse than a non-Muslim.

Next is to keep an open mind and heart. This is important in the search for the truth. Always ask before judging. Whenever confused or unsure, ask a trusted scholar and always keep options open and ask not only one but different scholars for their opinions. And ensure that the opinions always have links to the Qur'an and Sunnah.

Next is to practice patience and perseverance. My journey will never be complete and I still have much to learn even after years since the start of the change. I’m still learning everyday, hoping improve and be a better Muslim. Then the reality is that you'll face many challenges from your daily situations and people around you. Always remind yourself that you're doing all these for the sake of Allah only and not for others.

It’s also important to remain humble. Remember that the worst form of arrogance is when you think that you’re more pious than others. I remember a quote which says to always assume that others are superior to oneself in someway. That way, you’ll be able to learn from anyone. Each and every human has their own specialties. And even if we're good at something, there's always someone better than us.

Then to continuously ask for Allah’s help and guidance for only towards Him do we turn to and only He can help us and guide us. He is the Lord of all affairs. He transcends all.

And lastly we should realize that our true goal in life is the hereafter. We will all taste death. This world is temporary and once we die, all our deeds, good or bad in this world would be accounted for and that is the only thing that will decide if we’d live eternally blissfully in Heaven or in condemnation in Hell (we seek protection from Allah from this). But that is not to say that the life in this world is not important.

The only way that we can be truly successful is when we are able to achieve things in this world, performing our responsibilities well as a humble servant of Allah, father, husband, son, brother, friend, part of society and also being proficient in whatever that we like in any profession be it in teaching, engineering, sports, business and so on and on top of all these responsibilities and tasks, living each and every day according to how Allah wants us to.

Which is according to the Qur’an and Sunnah (teachings and actions of our Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him), following their guidelines performing good deeds that have been recommended and refraining from things that we have been warned about through their teachings.

That is the true goal in life and one that will hopefully help us achieve true victory i.e. Jannah(Heaven). Eventually, if Allah wills, to be granted access to eternal bliss and that is eternal life in Heaven, after death in this temporary world.

All the best in your journey and May Allah guide you and protect you.


Aite, thats it for now. Hm, just a disclaimer, the things that I've said are strictly my views from what I've learnt and I definitely may have erred or be insufficient in certain areas. Please do advise if i'm wrong. Anything that's good from it comes from Allah and anything that's bad is from me.

SubhanaKa Allahumma wa bihamdiKa ash-hadu an laa iLaaha illa antA astaghfiruKa, wa atuubu ilaik.

And Allah knows best.


أبوأويس said...

Barakallahufeekum for your inspiring story.

huda said...

salaam bro.. Thank you for this inspiring journey of yours which you shared