Sunday, 27 September 2009

Why are we Muslim?

I've always thought 'bloggers' were sad freaks who had nothing better to do with their time. Well, I guess I am a sad freak after all! I suppose the reason I've started this blog is the same reason why many others do; it gives an outlet to express one's innermost thoughts. I hope you find my blog interesting and thought provoking. Feel free to comment on what I have to say.

Alhumdulillah, Allah has given us the opportunity to witness yet another Ramadan. A week has passed since Eid celebrations, and the Biryani has well and truly been digested.

As we return back to normality, many students of Islamic knowledge continue to remind us of the important lessons from Ramadan. The ultimate lesson from Ramadan stems from the very reason why we fast in the first place. Allah makes it very clear in the Quran why fasting is prescribes upon us:

"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)." [Soorah al-Baqarah (2):183]

So the reason why we fast is to increase in our piety. Let us now examine ourselves right now, and compare ourselves to how we were about a couple of months ago. Do we feel closer to Allah now than we did then? Are we more aware of Allah now? Or has nothing changed? The only way in which we can come closer to Allah is to worship him in the ways in which he has prescribed upon us in the Quran. Are we worshipping Allah more than we were before?

First and foremost, I pray to Allah that he accepts all the good deeds that we performed during Ramadan, and makes us of the 'Al-Muttaqun'. I also pray that Allah has mercy upon us, and gives us the opportunity to witness this blessed month next year, Ameen.

However, I wish to look at our post-Ramadan soul searching from an alternative angle. Ask yourself the question, and give an honest answer:

''Why am I a Muslim?''

Are you a Muslim because you were born into a Muslim family, or have you come to the conclusion that Islam is the truth after examining the various proofs and evidences? Perhaps you are not sure why you are a Muslim in the first place? Is being Muslim more a cultural thing for you?

I think for many of us, the main reason we are Muslim is due to the fact that our parents are Muslim. We were taught how to pray, how to read Quran, when to fast and how to celebrate Eid. Whilst this gives some sort of foundation to build faith upon, in my opinion it isn't wholly satisfactory. Acts of worship merely become rituals without any meaning.

Just imagine, if we start loosing the true meaning of our acts of worship, what will our children learn? And their children? What if in five or six generations time, people start bowing their heads down to thin air, without actually knowing who they are bowing down to? Whilst some of you may mock this, there are many religions in the world where people do religious acts without knowing why they do them in the first place. I have asked many non-Muslim friends in the past ''Why do you do such and such'', only to be told in reply ''cos my grandma does it innit!'' With this the following verse from the Quran comes to mind:

When it is said to them: "Follow what Allâh has sent down." They say: "Nay! We shall follow what we found our fathers following." (Would they do that!) even though their fathers did not understand anything nor were they guided? (Baqarah 170)

It is for this reason I think it is important to ask why you are a Muslim in the first place, for this question is the building block for faith. I guess the advantage our convert brothers and sisters have over 'Born-Muslims' is that they have made a conscious decision that Islam is the truth, and thus have a greater understanding about what it really means to be a Muslim.

The Word 'Muslim' means the one who submits to God. So whilst we may have our own personal reasons for being Muslim, the ultimate reason should be that we firmly believe in one Allah, and therefore we fully submit to him.

So what should one do if they discover that the main reason for following Islam is due to them having Muslim parents?

I think the first thing should be to say 'Alhumdulillah'! Allah has had mercy upon us by giving us a family that understands tawheed. I can only appreciate this blessing when I hear of the trials some of my convert brothers go through.

The second thing should then be to work towards strengthening our belief in Allah such that we obey every one of his commands upon us, so that we may acquire His pleasure. We need to know Allah, for only then can we worship Him in the way in which He should be worshipped.

This is a life-long process, but I think a good starting point is to read the Quran in a language we understand. How many of us have actually done this? Whilst our ultimate aim should be to have a grasp of Arabic such that we can read the Quran in its original state, for many of us this isn't immediately possible. ''Why didn't those Quran teachers teach us the Arabic language alongside learning how to read the Quran!!'' I hear you cry!

I remember once being asked my a Non-Muslim ''How can you have such a strong belief in a book that you have never completed in a language you understand?'' I was well and truly bamboozled by this question, and had a similar look on my face to Mike Gatting after he had been bowled by ''That Ball'' from Shane Warne! He had a point. We tell all our friends that the Quran is the word of God, the manual for life, the solution for mankind. However, we ourselves have never read it with understanding. Allah continually tells us to reflect, but we have never read the Quran and reflected on what Allah is saying to us.

So in conclusion, I think the time has come for us to put all the other books we may be reading aside for a couple of weeks, and focus on reading the Quran in our first language. What is Allah telling us? What does He really want us to do? What is it about the Quran that makes so many people accept Islam?

I pray that Allah gives us the ability to read the Quran with understanding, and act upon it. Ameen.

May Allah forgive me for any mistakes which I may have made.

Wa Allahu Alim.

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