In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful.
Living in the West, identity and knowing who you are is a big aspect, and how we express our identity plays a big role in interaction with others.
We as Muslims living under the pressure that we are can take this aspect to our advantage. Allah doesn’t put forth something without a benefit or wisdom in there, it is up to us whether we firstly recognise this benefit and utilise and bring it about. Many opportunities arise where we miss rewards and chance of gaining Allah’s pleasure, and increasing our eman.
Working, living or studying in large cities we meet many people, of different races, religions, and backgrounds. People like to express that part of them which they feel is important, or which defines them.
I emphasise on sisters whom practise the Hijab, Niqaab and Jilbab, because regardless of whether you are Asian, white, or black, the first information we get about that person, is that they are Muslim. As for the brothers, those that wear the Jubahs, or have beards, same again, it indicates to us that they are Muslim.
These haven’t been chosen by us, like the fashion world, where we have one new style of jubah one season, and another the next season, it is from the Sunnah and the Hijab is a command of Allah. So what is it that we are carrying? Allah’s deen.
We are carrying the identity of Muhammad , therefore we should feel as though it is our responsibility to honour it, we truly are among the blessed to be part of this nation. We know of many instances where The Prophet expressed his noble characteristics and as a result many converted to Islam. Even now, you hear of some conversions resulted from a person observing the brotherhood shown by Muslims, or an act of kindness.
In contrast to that, we see Muslim youth, misbehaving or causing disruption, and even in the media, without going into too much depth, where we hear of gun crimes, honour killings, the tabloids slapped with the faces of the Muslims, if not the faces, names of Muslims, what upsets me the most, is hearing of a person named Muhammad committing a crime.
A bad word travels faster, much more than a good word.
We are in the spotlight everywhere we go, we can either use this to our advantage to bring, or it will become a means for our destruction.
I study at University, and during Islamic awareness week, there was an event held where there was a panel of converts, talking about their journey to Islam. One which made me think was about a girl who was in the company of Muslim sisters, Alhamdulila, and what made her awaken to Islam, was the love and respect the sisters had shown amongst each other.
Those sisters could have driven her away from Islam, had they acted the opposite way.
What I find difficult, in work and University, is engaging with the Non Muslims, and keeping it on going, especially with those around the young 20’s, as we have different understandings of life, and being a practising Muslim, I don’t really engage in all that they do, therefore have little to talk about.
In my lectures, you will see a long line of Muslims sisters (including myself) all huddled up on one side of the lecture theatre, I think to myself, if we can’t engage with these people, where is the Da’wah?
So the only option was to mix in with them.
Another experience is when I was in my training at work. My group consisted of mainly Muslim brothers, and a couple of Muslim sisters, and three Non Muslims. During half way into the training, the brothers had been reported for misbehaving, and I felt embarrassed, at the fact that, the head trainer came in and made a list of how we should behave in the group and the etiquette we should have amongst each other, and looking at that list, was everything Islam emphasises on with dealings with other people. I asked, why did the trainer come and tell us what values we should have, when we have a role model who has the highest standard of character, and when this is what our deen teaches us.
As mentioned before, we need to recognise benefits in every situation and utilise them.
In that group, if the brothers, acted on our role model Muhammad , for sure the trainers would have walked away with an exemplary impression of not only Muslims, but Islam. This can be applied in many different situations.
We should be ambassadors of this world. Muslim students at University should be the outstanding performers. At work, we should aim to be the best worker. We should put the Prophet in our life, imagine him conducting what we do, and compare him to ourselves. As the Prophet advised us, to do everything in its best manner.
Many people have the view that Muslims are very stern people and don’t smile. Where is this view coming from? We must always pay attention of how we present and conduct ourselves. We don’t need to be extra nice to a non Muslim, or in the view of a non Muslim, just live Islam and practise it just as it is, then what bad impression can we give?
What I say is, be the best you can, not giving a person a chance to ever see any bad action from you which they can speak bad about, any person judging or speaking bad after that is only due to their narrowmindedness and bad judgement.
The areas where there are large Muslim communities, or the areas which consist of Muslim businesses, in the UK, they usually are places where there are restaurants or Islamic shops, these should be distinct areas from the rest. When people go to Saudi Arabia, some come back and talk about how hosptiable the people were with their service, as Arabs are known for their high adab. Instead, what I have seen in the UK is untidy areas, and rude customer service.
We are all carrying a light with us, make it shine and gleam through our actions. Allah refers to Our Beloved and praises his character:
Surely, you are on an exalted standard of character. [Al-Qur’an 68:4]
And also in a Hadith the Prophet says:
“I have been sent to perfect good qualities of character” [Miskhat Shareef]
If we read about the Prophet’s character, we fall in love in an instant. How he honoured each person that came to him, and made them feel most special to him, when he shook someone’s hands he wouldn’t let go until the other person would.
This is not only a problem within giving Dawah to non muslims, but within our own Muslim communties. There is a major barrier between the youth and the elders, which as a result, we see the youth rebelling and seeking other ‘ways of life’ i.e gang culture. Simple things such as saying salaam to the younger ones or being approachable, and keeping a good bond, breaks that barrier and engaging with the youth.
This relationship can be built in the Mosque. At a young age, when I was sent to the Mosque, I had more fear of it than anything. Which then, led me to fear my deen growing up. My younger brother and sister, had a change of teacher for a few weeks, and they started loving going to the Mosque, only because their teacher treated them well and was kind to them. It’s this fear, that we take when we grow up, and rather than turning to Islam for answers to our problems, we turned to the what seemed more appealing ways of the Western world, which leads to the teenagers coming home and saying ‘I can do what I like its a free country’, and then the parents and elders blame the outside world for giving them that mentality, when we didnt do out bit. We need to aim to keep a good bond, so that when the younger ones ever fall into trouble, they know they can turn to the elders, be the imam at the mosque, or the general community, and invite them, rather than dispising them, so they fall into the right hands.
We see that many of the answers lay to what we can contribute from ourselves.
Smile at those around you, as it is an act of charity, the Prophet was always seen smiling; it is amazing how a smile can brighten a person’s day up. Spread salaam for it is a greeting from amongst the heavens, not only to those you know, but those you don’t know. Approach each other with hugs and handshakes, for this spreads love. Always have good manners amongst you, and remember this Hadith:
Fear Allah wherever you maybe and follow up a bad deed with a good one and it will wipe it out and behave amongst the people with beautiful manners” (At Tirimidhi)
After all this, who can’t fall in love with Islam?
May Allah give us all the ability to perfect our character and be among the righteous..Ameen
Any good from this is from Allah, and any errors are from myself.