Many questions that start with ‘how’ beg detailed answers but given the context of this answer (public) I will stick to basics and try to keep it short:
- born a Muslim in a Muslim country
- educated in the west and raised in a ‘liberal’ household
- long struggle with ‘identity crisis’
- constantly searching for something but not quite aware of what, where, or how
- many wrong-turns later… I near the end of another decade in my life and on the heels of a particularly rough year full of turmoil but interestingly peppered with a bit of Rumi
- not quite sure how, can’t even pin-point when, don’t recall where… I find myself listening for the first time in a very long time and what I hear are words that seem to be working to help me resolve my identity crisis; words that leave me feeling much more content and happy, making me want to do more of whatever that was that just lifted me up like I’ve never been lifted before
- So I do… I do more of that kind of listening and delete all of the Latin tunes on my shuffle, replacing them with sufi dhikr instead
- So I do… I do more of that kind of listening and set aside 2 hours each day to listen to lectures and read – gravitating to charismatic speakers with content that interests me
- Then, I turn my closets upside-down and inside-out looking for that long forgotten prayer mat… Anything clean will do but I want that mat, the same one I used so long ago
- The dhikr beads that have always been there now serve a purpose as I keep count, feeling the coolness of each stone between my fingers, praising Allah (SWT) and asking for forgiveness
- And I find myself there – after more than a decade of not putting my forehead to the floor in prostration, I start.
- To my amazement, my lips remember the verses that have left them long ago and as I pray I find moments of self-correction where I have slipped up on proper pronunciation
- I make my intention clear, take my time, and strive for constancy rather than haste
- I seek the company of other Muslims
- I resolve to get proper guidance from a teacher on following the Qur’an and sunnah
But really, how I got here is purely through Allah’s (SWT) guidance and there is no other explanation for it. There was always guidance but I was too busy listening to other things and was only able to hear portions of the call and with that came fragments like: yoga and meditation, purging/letting go of ‘stuff’, growing my own food, going out of my way to help and helping whenever asked, etc. etc…. Something was always there, I just didn’t know it – I couldn’t see it or hear it clearly. Now that I can, how can I ignore it? Why would I ignore it? I’m now actively seeking more of that knowledge and I’ve set my heart on falah (the ultimate success, a success beyond which there is no other success, no need to strive further, no fear of failure). As I journey, insha’Allah, I will watch and listen very carefully for all the cues that are there, within my grasp, and I will do all that is necessary to get to falah.
Don’t you see yourself in some of this?
In this blog, I hope to pick up on some of the sociological themes that are present in my narrative (i.e. family, education, community, identity crisis and Muslims in the west) and present them from an Islamic perspective. Nothing new here but perhaps this collection of stories will resonate with some or perhaps they will be just a little more accessible (in relation to textbooks).