I'm a convert to Islam. (Yah, surprise huh? I thought I'd start out with a hook. :-D) I've been through a lot of changes and I've given up some things. (That isn't really the point of this post but I'm trying to set the stage.)
I think sometimes, as converts, we feel like it's a "get outta jail free" card. Not ready to wear hijab? That's ok, I'm a convert; I'm not ready for that step yet.
Only memorized a few surat? Oh that's ok, I'm a convert; I don't know Arabic.
Still celebrating non-Muslim holidays? Don't worry, I'm a convert; my family celebrates and it's not religious for us we just get together as a family to show our love.
Don't dress modestly? Oh I'm sorry, you see, I'm a CONVERT, I don't have any cultural baggage. Abayaat are for Arabs and besides I would stand out more dressed like that.
(Yes, there are other modest options but the Qur'an tells us we should wear an over garment so unless your cute 'n trendy Shukr outfit is covered by a trench coat, it's not really doing the job. Yes you might attract attention but it's not gonna be because you look so fly. lol)
Got male friends? Oh no, it's not like THAT. You see, I'm a convert. I grew up with mixed sex gatherings, ALL of my best friends were boys growing up/ these are my husband's friends/ insert whatever excuse you like here.
Non-nasheed music/haram instruments still making your play list? Ohhh that. Yeah, well you know, seeing as how Ima convert and all and I grew up listening to music, it's just such a part of my life. My life is a soundtrack and these songs take me back to such beautiful times. :-)
Still wearing perfume/make-up out of the house? Hello! Didn't you hear me? I am a convert. C O N V E R T. I live in a non-Muslim majority country. Everyone wears it/I have bad skin/I have self-confidence issues blah blah blah.
OK I guess you get the point by now. Oh and before you type an angry comment sisters please remember: We are here to enjoin the GOOD and forbid the BAD. I have never ever ever said I didn't do any of the above things. I am fully able to see the wrong I do.
You know, many of those points are valid. Yes, wearing hijab and abayaat do cause you to stand out more. My family has never celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday. Allah never said some men and women weren't CAPABLE of just being friends. But still, it's not permissible.
I've had the same conversation with myself. I've done the wrong thing, made the wrong choice many times. I will also be judged for that so I have to really weigh what is important.
I think sometimes, we as Muslims, get so caught up in the haram/halal debate. We are so eager to find that loophole, to be able to say, "Ah-ha! So you CAN'T prove I'm wrong." Yes Islam is meant to be easy, it's meant to be beautiful and peaceful and loving.
However, as Muslims we need to look at our actions in a different light. Yes, Allah swt told us that the world He created, this beautiful, crazy, messed-up world, all in it is halal unless He tells us it's haram. This is a simple and beautiful way to view our existence.
But for the true Muslim, the one who strives to submit to Allah, we don't look simply to the black and white of halal and haram. We ask ourselves, before we think of anything else, we ask if this is something that will bring us closer to Allah.
There are many examples I could share here, but this is something (as it's not haram/halal) that I am not comfortable to list here. It's a more personal thing and deals directly with our commitment to living a life that is pleasing to our Rabb.
The few things in the "but Ima convert" list at the top aren't always clearly haram/halal. I've heard some sheikhs who have said it's ok to attend a family function as long as you satisfy requirements A, B, C, etc... Others say, absolutely not!
So how does this tie into my original
The sahaba, every last one of them, were converts. They all made that conscious choice, they chose Islam, they chose to follow the Prophet Muhammad saws, they chose to do the thing that was pleasing to Allah.
The sacrifices they made make ours pale in comparison. So we get a little teary-eyed when we think of not being there to cut the turkey on Thanksgiving? Many of the sahaba lost every family member; they were shunned, they were outcasts, they were pariahs.
Suddenly that phrase, "But Ima convert" rings kinda hollow, doesn't it? If we view the above list in that light none of them seem to be so hard to give up/to do. The sahaba, subhanallah, gave up EVERYTHING they had to be Muslim. They lost their homes, their families, their wealth, often, even, their life.
Imagine, if we could pose some of these "dilemmas" to Sumayyah, the first martyr fi sabilillah. I would be ashamed to do so, my sisters. She was a wife, a mother; don't you think she had so many things she wanted to live for? Can we for even a moment so blithely assume she was happy to be a shahid? That she wanted to be tortured and murdered, her life gone from her body?
No of course not. She wanted what most women want: to be a wife, a mother, to be alive. She wanted to worship Allah. Instead, she gave her life in defiance of those who would try to stop the message of Islam.
Would it have been haram for her to remain a hidden follower? No. But she chose to do what was most pleasing to Allah; she chose the sirat-al-mustaqeem, that straight path that insha'Allah can lead us to Jannah.
My sisters, when I think of the sacrifices made by our beloved Prophet saws, by his beautiful wives, the mothers of all believers, by the sahaba... I know that my "reasons" are nothing more than flimsy excuses dressed up in self-congratulation and victimization.
May Allah swt bless us and our families and give us the strength to hold ourselves up to the example of RasoolAllah and the sahaba. Amin.