I love listening to stories about how people got out of darkness and into light; from not knowing Islam to understanding and loving Islam. They remind me of this beautiful blessing; this irreplaceable gift of Islam that Allah has given me without my asking. The gift that so many seek for all their lives; the gift we born Muslims so often take for granted. And I am ashamed at how these are the very people who possess a fiery determination to embody the practices of a good Muslim – sometimes better than born Muslims do – because of their unflagging conviction in their true purpose which they struggled out of their way to seek.
I stumbled upon how Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan came back to Islam and how Shaykh Yusuf Estes converted to Islam today on Youtube and I realize a common denominator: the presence and influence of a good, practising Muslim. How remarkably life-changing it is to simply be amongst good company. The beautiful character of a good, practising Muslim truly can inspire light, soften the hardest of hearts and change the course of a person’s life. Just imagining the amount of hasanat* that one particular Muslim friend who happened to just be doing what a practising Muslim should be doing, without realizing that they have the ability to change the lives of these individuals who turn out to be well-respected scholars… just, subhanallah*. May Allah preserve them.
I started reflecting on my own story of when I started to seriously practise my Islam, and how I got back to it after straying away during my teenage years. I realize that one of the main motivating factors in pushing me to become a better Muslim is a strong support system who constantly remind me of Allah, and more often through action than words.
In my case, I am beyond, BEYOND grateful Alhamdulillah to have a family who keeps me grounded, who keeps me rooted to my faith. I cannot stress enough just how crucial it is to have a strong support system who constantly reminds you of Allah in their actions and character.
For real, though – the simple act of a Muslim man leading his household in such a fundamental act of worship is powerful. So is a Muslim woman leading her family’s womenfolk in salah – for one’s daughters to hear a woman’s voice rise in the recitation of Qur’an. It is so, so important for children to see & hear both parents/elders of both genders leading them in salah. It will impact them forever. On a spiritual & emotional level, the sight & sound of witnessing & participating in ‘ebaadah together is indelible to a child’s psyche. You’d never guess which moments will stay with them forever… – TSF
Looking back, for me, my most vivid mindreel of childhood memories were the moments when we gather together as a family, remembering Him: listening to bapak’s melodious voice as he recites the surahs during nightly congregational prayers, brother taking his cue to call out the iqama*, listening to bapak’s mini ‘ceramah’ (religious lectures) every thursday nights, cosied up with cushions in the living room before picking up the yellow Yaseen books to read together, observing mama’s lips as she enunciates each harf when she teaches me the qur’an, copying her measured and mindful movements in salah – bowing down, forehead touching ground, standing up – and getting into the motion of prayer, subconsciously listening to the da’wah* radio station in the background that mama preferred tuning in to, sitting together to recite du’a before breaking our fast…
I now realize the value these priceless ‘little’ things with my family throughout my growing up years bring; these were the moments that has made such a profound impact on me. Without realizing, it moulded and provided me a kind of shield, or perhaps a compass to navigate my way back if ever along the way, I find myself astray. Surely education must start from home. Who else can give a child that quality guidance and undivided attention they need if not their role models, their parents?
Good deeds practised by parents are sure to create a ripple – I’m also beyond grateful for my elder brothers who have set a good example for me. I know it’s rare that I talk about – let a lone praise – my brothers, for we have a pretty dysfunctional relationship where we annoy each other a lot! But I’ll give credit where it’s due. I’ll admit that I am inspired by my brother. When I was at my most, well, ‘rebellious’ (think emotional teenager) years, my eldest brother did not say much but simply paid for my fees to a Qur’an class even when I was quite reluctant at that point because I thought I already knew everything about being a Muslim (astaghfirullah, lol). He did not say much yet he simply showed by way of example. He continued paying for me over many years and ensured that I attend the classes. So even though it started out as an obligatory sort of thing, it gradually turned into a habit, and now simply to my way of life. Like I simply can’t live a meaningful life without gaining knowledge. I now strive to attend as many classes as I can out of my own accord because along the way, I’ve rediscovered my faith. My heart urges me to gain as much knowledge as I could about Islam before my body fails me. I was and still am inspired by his determination to attend many classes amidst his busy schedule and even when he falls sick. So yes, I definitely believe that siblings have the ability to influence each other. Especially the elder siblings being a role model to the younger ones. Even without saying a word, good deeds and character play a huge part in effecting a change in the family.
And when it comes to friends, I cannot thank Him enough for blessing me with good company, especially in university when I decided to join the Muslim society. I fostered relationships with friends who hold the same principles and purpose in life, and I made a mental note to myself to keep these precious gems close to my heart. Because God knows I need them – both in this life and the next. Sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky to have friends who remind me of Him… and I remember the prayers my late mom made for me, hoping I’ll always have friends who remind me to be better, and the prayers I silently made, asking Him to grant me practising Muslim friends, from whom I can truly learn to be better. Today, I thank Allah profusely for answering our prayers. The best gift a friend can truly give would be a sincere du’a and company that is never dry of His remembrance. Truly, friendships that are built for the sake of Allah is indispensable.
As you mature, you will feel that your heart will never be at peace when you are surrounded by friends who are not in sync with you; who talks idle things, backbites, gossips or basically invites you to engage in things that do not benefit and are a waste of time. Instead, you will find that your heart will always be at peace when you are surrounded by friends who are on the same journey as you, talking about how awesome Allah is at every chance you get, and who will without a doubt keep you in their secret prayers… and them, in yours.
As narrated in a hadith by our Prophet ﷺ,
A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.[Bukhari, Muslim]
May we always be surrounded by perfume sellers around us and to never take them for granted! And more importantly, may we remember to embody one ourselves.
hasanat* = credit for good deeds which will be weighed on our scales in the Day of Judgement.
subhanallah* = Glory be to God/ God is perfect
iqama* = second call to the Islamic prayer, given right before the start of a prayer
da’wah* = an invitation (to Islam)