by Omar Sallam
Ever been late for work? Whether it is the realization that you are late, the anxiousness of trying to rush out of the house, or worse, walking into the job knowing all eyes are on you, no one enjoys that feeling. What’s amazing about this scenario is that scholars of spirituality have used a similar language to explain our path to Allah. Early in our lives, we first go through an awakening during which we realize that our lifestyle at the moment was not ideal. Then we have healthy anxiousness and fear that drive us to improve our actions to cope with our guilt and shortcomings. What’s ever more amazing is that the Qur’an has captured this need to wake up, to move forward, to stay steadfast on such an understanding, and to practice it in the most eloquent of ways.
The First Step… Waking up!
Anyone wanting to wake others up cannot be asleep because, if they are, they will need an alarm first. Just like a body without a soul is a corpse, our faith without an awakened heart is asleep or worse – in a coma. Therefore, the first step is for the heart and soul to wake up and be alive.
“And thus We have revealed to you an inspiration of Our command.” [Qur’an, 42:52]
Waking up is an excellent first step, but it’s only the first step. Often, many of us do wake up, but we hit the snooze button and go back for another round of sleep. It’s tempting to just do that for a few minutes, but there is a risk of missing an appointment or wasting the whole day. When it comes to faith and conduct, some people’s snooze is their age. They think they can start later, maybe in a few years. For others, their snooze button is a condition like “marriage” or “when school is over,” but no one guarantees this will happen. No one guarantees that the same marriage or career might be an obstacle itself later.
Hey, I Can’t See a Thing
Congratulations, the first step is done. You are awake, and you’re ready to move forward. Once you are awake and out of bed, you notice that it’s dark and you scramble for…
Stumbling around or hitting a wall will delay your course of action. Therefore, the second step is to see the way with clarity. So what does Divine light do to us? Allah uses light in the face of multiple layers of darkness, so this light is multifunctional!
The first darkness it removes is ignorance. If you and I don’t know why we are here, where we are heading, and what we are supposed to do, then how can we move? Just like infants don’t know that an electrical outlet is harmful, we similarly may be oblivious to that which may harm us; Islam’s light comes to clarify things for us.
Another darkness it removes is confusion. You can know many things, but what if you are unclear on how to put the pieces of the puzzle together? Don’t worry – the light will once again show you the way.
A third darkness the light clears up is isolation. You can know things and be clearheaded, but what if you feel lonely? The light shows you examples from the past, present and future about the outcome of living a faith-driven life. By studying these examples, both you and I understand that we are part of a long legacy of followers of light. If you thought you were carrying the candle alone, now you know that others carried it before you, others will carry it after you, and others want to carry it with you.
Another challenge is the darkness of pessimism. Although you may have clear knowledge and be supported, sometimes it feels like there is no point; when someone feels like there’s no reason to do something, rarely do they take action. Once again, light comes to outshine the darkness of pessimism. It shines on the mercy of Allah, as well as illuminating ancient wisdom, motivating you like no other speech can!
Final Destination: A Guide
If a person is awake, ready to act, and clear on the end destination, taking action should automatically be the next step. However, humans are not that robotic; they have emotions, motivations, ups and downs. Going back to our analogy, we occasionally “call in sick” or have a “lazy day.” What makes us get up, clean, move, and feel productive? We need yet another aid on our path.
“We guide whom We will of Our servants.” [Qur’an, 42:52]
How does the Qur’an guide us? Firstly, the Qur’an guides you to act. Once you accept it as your guidance and begin the struggle, Allah will not leave you. Secondly, Allah tells you what He wants and doesn’t want, so you know exactly His expectations from day one. Finally, humans have a tendency at times to play games, get lazy, forget, or sometimes simply lack the strength and skills to deal with various life tests. The Qur’an also troubleshoots your problems when malfunctions and bugs are found in your same heart and soul that were awakened in the beginning. So it motivates you, shows you the way, and encourages you to remain steadfast. Now the question remains… “Am I ready to get up and act?”
Before one answers… read the verses again.
“And thus We have revealed to you an inspiration of Our command. You did not know what is the Book or [what is] faith, but We have made it a light by which We guide whom We will of Our servants. And indeed, [O Muhammad], you guide to a straight path –” [Qur’an, 42:52]
All comments are welcome – please don’t forget me in your du`a’!
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Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Belief has over seventy – or over sixty – branches. The best of which is the words, ‘There is no god but Allah,’ and the least of which is removing an obstruction from the road. Modesty is a branch of belief.”