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Islam: Just Because…?

Pretty much everyone I knew for the majority of my lifetime has been a Christian.

Despite being exposed to Christianity, its teachings and its followers, from family and friends, to the priests and teachers at Sunday school, I experienced very little depth in terms of personal spiritual experience- and I wasn’t the only one.

The majority of Christians I dealt with over the years were Christian, mostly by birth and culture, not necessarily by profound certainty.

Sadly, over my 15 years as a Muslim, I’ve come to realize there are indeed Muslims who are similarly Muslims by birth and culture – not necessarily by deliberate personal conviction.

Perhaps it is to be expected that the vigor of learning and faith amongst a community would diminish over time. However, it’s no secret that Muslims today are under pressure – and the pressure is putting us in a position that requires action.

Three Types of Pressure

Pressure is coming at us from multiple angles. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Disturbed and violent individuals and groups who apparently share our faith are committing heinous crimes,
  2. Some of the people around us who aren’t Muslims can’t figure out whether we are friend or foe,
  3. A growing number have decided that no matter how disarming our smiles, we are the enemy.

All three of these force us to assess our faith – even if we happen to have ignored it or kept in on a back burner until now. This pressure is a good thing if we embrace it.

Benefits of ‘Bad’

Some people work best under pressure. It serves as a catalyst, and provides a sense of urgency that requires effort, helping to sharpen our focus and perform. This is the time for us to be those people – to be more than just Muslim by name.

Islam itself provides reason enough to keep us alert with a sense of urgency. Our lives could end at any given moment without warning, at which point we have to face our Maker in whatever state we are in.

Somehow, the imminent possibility of death isn’t always enough to keep us from delirium. Being humans, we are weak, we forget, we get lazy. External pressures such as the ones mentioned previously, can serve to jolt us back into reality.

What happens if your morning alarm sounds, and you still stay in bed and sleep through the alarm? You’ll be late for work, school, etc. You’ll fail and that’s unacceptable. That’s when you make other adjustments to ensure that you rise on time in the morning and make it to work.

This is the kind of tenacity we need to have in life as well. The events we are witnessing so often – from terrorist attacks to the election of Donald Trump and the shocking choices he’s made so far for important positions – these are all actually a Mercy from God for each of us. He’s set an alarm clock to help us wake up. It’s our job to get up.

In this case getting up, waking up means realizing where we are in a temporary life. Some of us may truly need to go back to the basics: why am I here on Earth, what’s my Purpose? That’s fine.

Others may need to step up in acts of worship, improving prayers connecting with the Quran, seeking sound knowledge.

It’s not the time to go back to sleep and pretend there’s no work to be done. This is not a drill. It’s not Saturday morning; it’s Monday.

In the end you and I will return to our Lord with only our faith and deeds in hand.

Face the Heat

This world is an arena where we prove our worthiness of the afterlife. Keeping that in mind will help pull all aspects of our busy lives into focus, helping us to eliminate waste and build quality back into our waking hours.

Many successful people in this world are the ones who turn negatives into positives. They are the ones who meet challenges with the best of their ability. They don’t say, “can’t”. They envision greatness and success, and then work hard to achieve it.

Stay focused on the goal and purpose of this life and take careful steps to ensure nothing can derail our progress. We have People like President elect Trump and his cohorts who seem to wish to encourage us to abandon our faith. We have on the other side Extremists who want to try and convince us that Islam permits us to destroy lives with impunity as long gas the grievances are real.

None of this should really surprise us, because we’ve been warned that malevolent, malicious forces would relentlessly try to lead us astray in ways both subtle and overt.

Instead of shying away or ignoring these pressures let’s deal with them:

1- Terrorists are maligning the name of Islam with their reckless, indiscriminate violence and heinous crimes. Each of us is responsible to know our deen well enough to Recognize that their methodology and purported sanction are incorrect and egregious misuse of Islamic tenets. At the simplest level – let’s say they have valid grievances and Islam allows retaliation or defense: such military actions are only allowed behind a valid ruler as the Prophet Muhammad said, recorded in Abu Dawud on authority of Abu Hurayrah. Regardless of how these groups try to justify their actions, their vigilante independent militia style is not allowed according to Islam. That renders whatever they do invalid. Case closed.

2- The people around us are looking for answers. For many of them, we may be the key to understanding for them. Be the best you can be. You don’t need to give up Islam to be tolerable. Let it be Islam that helps you be your best self. Give, spread kindness and teach your kids to be kind, gracious and well-mannered. The Prophet said:

Whoever would love to be…entered into Paradise, … let him treat the people the way he would love to be treated.” (Ṣaḥih Muslim)

“The best of you are those with the best character” (Tirmidhi)

3- There are always going to be people who will hate us. There were in the lifetimes of every prophet and we will experience hate as well. Remember it’s not our job to guide or change anyone. We are better off maintaining our personal integrity, not allowing hateful people to affect us or cause us to lose our cool.  {And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace,} (Quran 35:63)

There is a Reason

Don’t miss the call. What looks like a bad situation is really an opportunity to get up out of bed and to do more good; to lead more fulfilling lives that will, hopefully, lead to an even better akhirah (hereafter).

{Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate from the truth after You have guided us, and bestow upon us mercy from Your grace. Verily You are the Giver of bounties without measure} (Quran 3:8).

About Danielle LoDuca
Danielle LoDuca is a third generation American artist and author. Drawing inspiration from personal life experiences, her writings highlight the familiarity of Islam in a climate that increasingly portrays the Islamic faith as strange. She holds a BFA from Pratt Institute and has pursued postgraduate studies in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Foundation for Knowledge and Development. LoDuca’s work has been featured in media publications in the US and abroad and she is currently working on a book that offers a thought-provoking American Muslim perspective, in contrast to the negative narratives regarding Islam and Muslims prevalent in the media today