By Umm Maskeen Binti Islam
Alhamdullilah it is good to always remember or be reminded of the mercy of Allah swt .I was listening to the audio title repentance and restoring family ties and the other Changing oneself ,both of them posted on virtualmosque.com.This khutbahs made me think of myself, my family, my friends and our community at large. Listening to what the sheikh says regarding tawbah and the mercy of Allah swt puts my heart at ease, knowing that, I have made mistakes in the past. Mistakes that when I look back I feel so ashamed and most of all ask myself “are your sins forgiven? What should I do to erase my bad actions?”
Thinking back, I would say I went through three stages of life. Stage # 1 is growing up, Alhamdullilah I was lucky to be part of a household that belonged to a sheikh that was very knowledgeable, and well known in my community, who taught me the difference between right and wrong. During this stage as I learnt more and more day after day, I would describe my character to be of so called a good muslima (I cannot really say I was perfect). However, I remember most of my family and friends saying so much good about me and I felt lucky and continued to get stronger aiming at doing even better. I thank Allah swt for all that since sometimes not all of us get the privilege of learning the deen at younger age. Either because our parents were not available or they were not knowledgeable themselves or may be they were ignorant Allah swt knows best. Couple of months ago I met a brother who told me that even though his parents were Muslims, he was 20 years old when he found out that Salah is wajib. Another sister told me she never knew wearing a headscarf was compulsory, she thought it was for married sisters only. Alhamdullilah we should always be thankful for what we have or know when it comes to our deen.
Life is full of good and bad experiences that affect us in one way or the other. As I moved forward with my life (stage 2) alhamdulillah, I relocated to another city and left my parents behind but I was always with my close relatives. I met new people that barely knew much about me but as we grew up together, interacted with each other. We all ended up getting to know each other more. In most cases I would still get those good comments like “manshallah her parents are not here and look at her Imaan it’s so strong”, I even used to hear “I want her for my son”. As time passed by, things started to change for me, I have no idea what hit me, all I can say is I changed from a so called a good muslima to lets call it a bad or weak muslima in some of my character. I found myself in a state where I started doing things that are prohibited like skipping my prayers or praying one or two maybe Isha or Zuhr, Fajr used to be out of question, what is even worse! I went to the extent of taking off my hijab (dressing modestly) And Allah swt knows what else I did. On the other hand, though, I was still good at so many other things like my fasting, respecting others, helping others, having the nia to be a better Muslim always and to increase my Ibadah.
When I think of my bad actions some days I would tell myself, what are you thinking? Yet! Some days I did not feel like I was doing anything wrong. My family and friends would come to me each with different advice. Some would tell me “how dare you skip your prayers or not wear your headscarf or why is your pants/skirt too tight?” others would tell me “Pray to Allah swt and inshallah, he will make It easy for you and inshallah we will keep you in our prayers too. Some would even tell me “you are better of not praying at all cause praying one or two salah’s is worst than not praying at all”. Others would look back and instead of accusing me, they would remind me to look back at the days I was so good at my prayers and all dressed up modestly. The days that when someone tells me, “You better take off your Hijab or else you will not get that JOB” and I would refuse to listen to them, instead think to myself with or without Hijab if you where meant to get something, Nothing will stop you from getting it, remember Allah swt is the only provider.
My friends and family (some not all), reacted differently to the type of person that I had become. Even though I would say I was almost the same person only that I was failing in some few areas, but still I felt like all they could focus on is my bad side and my good side was invisible. Their reactions caught me by surprise; the same people who couple of months prior used to tell me “manshallah you have such a strong iman”. Completely changed and not only did they start treating me differently they also started saying things like “look at her, shame on her”, Yet wallahi we all know that nobody knows what is in the other person’s heart. All I changed from the face of these people is my outfit most of them did not know if I was praying or not. I was still the same person with almost the same characters that they used to see except that today my dress code changed. What is even worse? When I changed back to my proper Islamic dress code (Hijab), they went back to “manshallah see she always had a strong Iman”.The reactions were not just from my family or friends but the community as well. I have the privilege of being able to meet with so many Muslims coming in and out at my place of work and the days I was not wearing a headscarf the type of salaam I used to get was “Hi how are you”, Yet majority of them knew I was a Muslim and when I started to wear Hijab, It all switched to “Asalam aleikum sister. How are you today” Honestly do we all have to wear hijab or keep our beards or show up at the mosque and offer our prayers in front of others to be treated as Muslims?.
During those days, I met a new sister, she was not wearing Hijab and the words spreading around were “now she has joined the worst company”, yet they did not know much about her except that she does not wear Hijab and that she secluded herself from the community. When I asked her why she was keeping a distance from her own people, she told me they talk too much its better to avoid them. Up until now, some of them think of her as a bad person. Wallahi she is one of the people who gave me the best advice. She used to tell me we all are human beings that we all make mistakes but our deen is very important. Our deen is all we have, please try your best. When she sees me not praying wallahi she used to tell me “home girl salah is wajib, please try your best,” she mentioned to me that even though performing her salah is one of her priorities, waking up for fajr is one of her weakness too and now, guess what! Alhamdullilah she hardly misses her fajr because we are waking each other up and we are both trying to be better practicing Muslims.
We all are human, we make mistakes wallahi and I mean wallahi I cry sometimes when I look back at the things I did. I feel ashamed for my actions, I have no clue if I did it out of ignorance or not. I ask myself how it all started, was it the prayers or the dress code that I neglected first, what else did I do? What was I thinking? How did I change (from good to bad, bad to good)? Alhamdullilah am glad that I changed for the better and even though I cannot figure out what lead me to those failures. I know for sure that PRAYERS IS THE KEY .Asking Allah swt to guide us and protect us is the best we could all do for ourselves. With prayers, you can move from not praying fajr to being able to set your alarm to wake you up and with time, you will find yourself not worrying about the alarm clock anymore. Somehow, you will manage to wake up without that alarm. (This is exactly what happened to me Alhamdulillah).
My big question is why do we always focus on the negative side of people rather than the good sides? Instead of telling someone ” am seeing you at the mosque for the first time” How about you tell him or her “it’s good to see you”. Brother and sisters lets do our selves a favor before we jump to those conclusion or promote our selves to be a judges we all know there is only one judge and that is Allah swt.Wallahi its better to keep quiet because we have no idea why someone is doing what they are doing. We see a sister not wearing hijab or a brother not going to the mosque and we jump to our own conclusion. We have no idea if the that sister is not wearing Hijab, because she is so scared that she might loose her job and she has no one to pay her rent, or if that brother we barely see at the mosque works nightshift and so days are nights for him and he cannot make it to the mosque, or do we know if he or she is attending another mosque.
I was at the mosque one night when a sister that I know asked me in a sarcastic tone “you come to the mosque too? I never see you around” I almost wanted to tell her my dear sister, “Do you come to the mosque to look around and see who is there or you come to pray?” Or tell her “sister the last I remember we have so many mosques in this city.” But alhamudullilah I got hold of myself and asked her how her kids where doing. There is also another sister who asked me for a favor, a favor that she was going to return and I helped her. Couple of days later she came back to return it, and she started crying in front of me, I asked her what was wrong, her answer: “I wasn’t sure if you would trust me enough to help me, there are so many bad rumors going around about me and am sure you heard of them”. Wallahi what she said about the bad news spreading around was true cause the first day I was seen with her. Some people came to me to warn me against her, telling me even her own mom kicked her out of their home. Yet I have spent time with her and I have nothing bad to say about her.
So please let us give each other some credit for the love of Allah swt. Imagine your family and friends whom you love and respect attack you when you fail instead of supporting you. Do you know how hard and horrible it feels?, I can relate to the sister the sheikh mentioned, the one that said the last place to go to is the mosque or your own family.Wallahi so many of us instead helping each other, we add salt into the injury and make things worse. Someone tells you are not feeling well and we jump to “Allah swt is punishing you for your sins” how do you know that? Or they share the good news that they are getting married, we jump to. “I wonder who that blind person is”. Well guess what they are lucky they are not marrying you.
Am not blaming everyone in the mosque, I love the mosque and we have so many good people out there at the same time we all have good family members and friends too. All I am trying to say is let us all try our best to be better Muslims. Islam is a beautiful religion lets keep it that way.
Hearing our imans and sheikhs reminding us that we are all human and we make mistakes and that there is always room for tawbah.gives us all more courage to try harder. Last week I attended a session and the Sheikh reminded us even the children of some of the prophets made mistakes. Therefore, you can imagine us, another Iman told us we should ask his family about his mistakes (cause according to him he does have failures). When the iman mentioned this, the sister next to me looked at me and said, “See even the good sheikhs with such a strong Iman make mistakes, so you can imagine us”.
There is no such thing as 100 % perfection, but we all can try. If one is good at prayers and not good at wearing that headscarf or going to mosque .Well keep up with the prayers and the rest will came along one day. If you miss fajr try to be on time for zuhr and inshallah the rest will straighten out slowly and if our friends and family are not being supportive, let us just pray for them, May be they say all that they say cause they are lacking good. Communication skills. (You never know what their intentions are).
When I was young, I remember my mother helping me tie my headscarf and she will tell me. “Hijab is not just your headscarf or that loose skirt you are wearing.Hijab is a package, meaning it comes with good actions, such as praying, fasting, respecting others, being at the right place, at the right time doing the right things”. What she was trying to teach me is that its not just the cloth we wear, but also our character is important, at the same time she would warn me that its a tough world out there and that one day I might fall and if I do and I discover that am on the ground (cause there is possibility I wont realize that) then I should stand up and try to keep balance. I would answer by telling her “mum if you hear that I did something bad, please come get me because either I am a mental case or intoxicated” or she would tell me, “trust me sweetheart it’s not that easy out there”. She was right and nooooo I was not intoxicated or mentally sick when I made the mistakes that I made.
We make mistakes, we learn, and we all want to be better because we all know there is the hereafter, so let us all pray for each other and help each other and most of all let us pray for our imams and sheikhs for reminding us of the mercy of Allah swt.
Am now at stage # 3 holding tight to it. I still make mistakes, but Alhamdullilah am trying my best to be a better person. May Allah swt keep us all on the right path.Ameen