The 28th of March was the 6 year anniversary of my Shahadah, the day that I officially embraced Islam. My Shahadah anniversary is always a time of great reflection for me, and I try to commemorate it by acknowledging my blessings and expressing my gratitude to God for the life He’s given me.
The past 6 years have brought so much change and growth in every single area of my life, that it’s difficult to condense all this learning into a single blog post.
However, I wanted to summarise a few key lessons that I’ve learnt along the way, in the hopes that this will bring benefit to someone else.
[Surround Yourself With People of Good Character]
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
This expression by Jim Rohn is true in so many ways. When we spend time with other people we tend to pick up their habits and characteristics, whether these are positive or negative. It is crucial to your spiritual growth to spend time with those that will encourage and inspire you to become a better person.
Honour your time and give it the value it deserves by choosing to spend it wisely in the company of those that will help lift your iman up through their good character and manners, and wherever possible, limit the time you spend with those that drag your iman down. By seeking out gatherings of knowledge and remembrance, it brings opportunities to become closer to those that are also seeking nearness to God. Don’t miss those moments.
This is a lesson that I hold very close to my heart, and my own decision to seek sacred knowledge has completely changed the plans I once had for my life.
When I was a new convert, I was asked to speak at a public event about my conversion to Islam. A few days before the event, this request was withdrawn and I was forbidden from speaking, because someone had produced an online fatwa which stated the impermissibility of women speaking in public.
I knew deep down that this couldn’t be right, but I didn’t know where to turn to learn more. My lack of knowledge left me feeling helpless and confused. It was shortly after this event that I discovered Seekers Guidance, and I began my own journey of seeking sacred knowledge by taking courses, and even emailing the Scholars with questions (Side note: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani emailed me back personally to advise that it was indeed permissible for women to speak in public).
Once I’d recovered from the shock of the experience, I became motivated to learn more. I channelled all my frustrations into seeking sacred knowledge, and I made a promise to myself that I would never be in the position again where someone’s interpretation of Islam was used as a way to keep me (and other women) quiet and out of sight.
Even though it was a difficult time for me, it made me realise how important it is for our communities to have women who are active and highly educated in the religion, so that they can be a catalyst for good and encourage others. The importance of female scholarship in Islam is undeniable, particularly when we look at Aisha (God be pleased with her) and the impact that she has had on our entire tradition. As Muslims we need to be proactive in seeking this knowledge, so that we can better serve our communities and help others in accordance with the Sunnah of our Beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
I would really encourage everyone to sign up for a course with Seekers Guidance. All the courses are completely free, taught by qualified scholars, and the flexibility of the courses means you can fit them around your schedule. Don’t miss this chance to increase your knowledge! Registration is now open – see: www.SeekersGuidance.org/courses for the full course list.
[Take It Slowly]
“This religion is easy, none makes it hard upon himself except that it overwhelms him; therefore be firm, steadfast, and balanced” [Bukhari]
This is a vast religion – it is comprehensive, intricate, and deep. If you try to take everything on board at once, you risk being overwhelmed and maybe even giving up as a result. It’s important to take it slowly – do what you can, when you can. Don’t aim for perfection. Instead, start small and focus on one thing at a time.
Remember, everyone is on their own journey to God, and we are all at different places. It is important to know yourself, and progress at your own pace. Endeavor to create positive and sustainable habits that will last a lifetime.
We should always strive to improve ourselves, but we need to do so whilst knowing that God is the All-Merciful. He never asks for our perfection, simply our honest and sincere effort.
[It’s Your Relationship with God That Counts]
At the end of the day, it all comes down to one truth: We were created to know and worship God.
The good deeds we do, the people we help, the community work we’re involved in, it should be all for God. He knows us more intimately than anyone else ever could, and this life is about turning ourselves towards Him completely.
These actions are simply a means of getting closer to God. They’re not ends, in and of themselves. Don’t get so caught up in the prayers, the fasting, the charity, the Sunnah of our Beloved Prophet, that you forget the real reason behind it all.
All we have, and all we are, is for God. And that’s what really matters.
Free SeekersGuidance Courses:
New Muslim Series Part 2: Pillars of Islam
Principles of Islamic Spirituality
Fiqh of Life: Essentials of Halal and Haram
Is it Possible to Return to Islam After Leaving It?
An Amazing Story from Imam Afroz Ali