I have known you since you were a teenager, and I have witnessed you bloom beautifully. When I saw you around friends and people in the community, and saw how steadfast on the deen (religion) you were, you reminded me of how Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (glorified is He) protected Musa and brought him up as a youth:
“…and I bestowed upon you love from Me that you would be brought up under My eye.” (Qur’an 20:39)
And you reminded me of the saying of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him), as he describes how Allah (swt) chooses people to serve his deen (religion) like he chooses prophets and saints from the very hardness of dead rocks, sometimes roses do blossom:
“Allah will continue to plant new people in this religion and use them in His obedience.’” (Hadith Hasan, Sunan Ibn Majah)
And dear brother, I never told you this, but maybe now I should—that you were always in my du`a’ (supplication)—sometimes in my sujood (prostration) and after salah (prayer)—I made du`a’ that Allah would keep you steadfast, that Allah (swt) would continue to bestow his blessings upon you.
I send you this letter today, because I see you have chosen to change…I see you getting higher in the ranks of life but more distant from competing for the hereafter; stronger in seeking worldly recognition, but weaker in the struggle for the akhira (hereafter); and I remember all the walks that we had together and shared our aspiration to grow stronger in this life to better serve this deen in the hopes that we can be great people in this world to be elements of change and reformation. I remember you telling me how proud our beloved Prophet ﷺ would be of you. I know that life keeps us busy, and I know that deep inside you still belong here with us in the lines standing and bowing in front of Allah (swt) and I am hopeful that you will reconsider.
In the seerah (life) of our beloved Prophet ﷺ is a story with a great metaphor, which I wanted to share it with you, and dedicate the deep meanings of this metaphor to you.
During the battle of Uhud, the Prophet ﷺordered around 50 archers to stay on top of the mountain and protect the back of the Muslim army. The Prophet strategically knew that Quraish could turn around from the back to attack the Muslims if this professional group of highly trained and skilled men left their position. The Prophet ﷺ was very clear in his instructions that these men are not to leave their spots: “Even if you see us snatched by wild birds, do not leave your spot until I send you a word.” Because they secured the back of the Muslim army, the Muslims had the upper hand in this battle, but not for too long. The archers saw the advancing Muslim army gaining control and collecting spoils of war, and most of the archers abandoned their spots running after the booties that Quraish left behind. They left the mountain.
What happened after that, is the tragedy that we all know of in the battle of Uhud; the Muslims were uncovered, and Quraish indeed stabbed the army in the back. Had it not been for the divine protection of Allah (swt) and the bravery of a few believers who fought between the hands of our holy Prophet and sacrificed their lives for the life of the message, the Prophet ﷺ would have been killed.
The lesson the Muslims learned on that day was very painful, but also very deep. The victory of Islam was in the hands of men who were of known expertise, and the ummah (Muslim community) was seriously harmed when these men let down their own people.
Dear brother, please don’t leave the mountain.
Our ummah needs men like you. The metaphor I see in this story is that of wasted talents of people who let down their own brethren, who in turn were sent as a mercy to mankind. In the life story of the Prophet, there were men who embraced Islam, and caused a turning point in the history of this ummah, and I have great hope in Allah that you can be among those men. Al-Hasan Al-Basri narrates that on the day of judgment Islam will be personified and will bear witness on people: “O Allah this person made me victorious. O Allah this person let me down…” until Islam reaches to Omar bin Al-Khattab radi Allahu` anhu (may God be pleased with him) and says: “O Allah, I was a stranger on this earth until this man became Muslim.”
Don’t leave the mountain.
Here, there is clarity of vision, and uniformity in direction:
“Say: ‘Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the worlds.’” (Qur’an 6:162)
Don’t leave the mountain.
A mountain of eternal good deeds. We pray in rows shoulder to shoulder, foot to foot, facing one direction, and the angels pray on us. We put our hands together to feed the poor and the needy, they raise their hands and make a prayer for us, prayers that are never veiled from the Lord of the heavens and the earth.
“And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [Saying:] ‘We feed you only for countenance of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude.’” (Qur’an 76:8-9)
“Who is it that would loan to Allah a goodly loan so He might multiply it for him many times over?” (Qur’an 2:245)
We share the hopes, the laughs, the sighs; we break the fast together, and raise the hands in du`a’ together.
“The Believer to the Believer is like a solid building, one part supporting the other.” (Bukhari)
Dear brother, we are all here for you, and we miss you. It is never too late to come back, never too late to make a u-turn. We can come back to Allah (swt) without worrying about having to save face or answer to others. In the life story of the Prophet ﷺ were stories of men running, bulging through the door of the masjid, running to Allah (swt) from themselves and complaining to the Prophet of Allah about their sick hearts, and then returning with healed wounds and forgiven sins.
Al-Imam Al-Nawawi mentions in his “Athkar” (and the hadith (narration) is in Al-Mustadrak of Al-Hakim), a story of a man who came to the Prophet of mercy ﷺ shouting: “Woe be to myself, I have sinned, woe be to myself I have sinned!” The Prophet ﷺ did not ask him about what kind of sin he committed nor where he came from, nor when was the last time he came to the masjid (mosque); instead he sat him down, and calmingly asked him to say the following: “O Allah your forgiveness is far more vast than my sins, and I have more hope in your mercy than in my own actions, so please forgive me,” then asked him to repeat it again, then again, then told him to stand up: “Allah has forgiven your sins.”
Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that a man by the name of Nabhan, came to `Umar and said that a woman came to buy dates from him. During the course of their business, he told her that he had dates of better quality at his place, and took her inside and did everything with her except the actual act of sexual intercourse. `Umar said, “Woe unto you! She probably was a woman whose husband is away (fighting) in the path of Allah.” The man said, “Of course she was.” `Umar then said, “Go to Abu Bakr and ask him about this.” The man went to Abu Bakr and asked him about the matter. Abu Bakr said, “She probably was a woman whose husband is away (fighting) in the path of Allah,” just as `Umar had said. Then he went to the Prophet ﷺ and told him the same story. The Prophet said she probably was a woman whose husband is away (fighting) in the path of Allah. Then a verse of Qur’an was revealed,
“And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds.” (Qur’an:11:114)
The man then said, “O Messenger of Allah! Is this verse only for me, or does it apply to all of the people in general?” `Umar then struck the man on his chest with his hand and said, “No, rather it is for all of the people in general.” Then the Messenger of Allah said, “`Umar has spoken the truth.”
These are real stories of men and women who heard the Qur’an from the Prophet ﷺ and listened to his wisdom; they fell short sometimes, they realized the ugliness of their sins, but they were never estranged from their faith, and kept coming back to Allah (swt) and His Messenger ﷺ, throwing their heavy burdens at the front steps of Allah asking for forgiveness, that they were graciously granted.
Dear brother, we might change at times, but these changes don’t have to be permanent. We might go about trying things that can be of psychological and spiritual burden, but these exposures do not necessarily define us. Our hearts can become loathsome with the darkness of estrangement from Allah (swt), but this does not have to be our fate. These dilemmas we all struggle with in our lives, this is part of our very human nature, and this is why the door back to Allah (swt) is always open:
“Say: ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Qur’an 39:53)
Dear brother, the door is open. Please come back!