Saturday, March 14, 2009

Remembering Allah is Success

Our Creator, Allah has given us the precious gift of life and with it comes the freedom to live it as we desire. We are able to make our own decisions and choices in life and this freedom in itself is a gift from Allah. Our Creator knows us very well and is aware of our weaknesses and so has given us guidance on how to spend our lives so that we can be successful.

We accept that Allah is the Greatest and we hear these words every so often. However, our hearts and minds do not truly appreciate the significance of this statement. Surely, if we believe that Allah is the Greatest, we must regard the path that he has prescribed for us as the Greatest path. Therefore, the way we choose to live our lives should be based around the guidance that Allah Has given us because He is the Greatest and those who follow His divine guidance will be truly successful.

Despite knowledge and awareness of the above, we are drawn into alternative ways of life which conflict with that which Islam has recommended for us. A lifestyle which distances us from the beauty of Islam and the guidance of Allah, unfortunately becomes attractive and desirable. When I refer to adopting a lifestyle which takes you away from Islam, I am not referring to embracing a culture or integrating within a society. In fact, understanding the culture of different societies across the world is beneficial because one is able to understand the diversity which Allah has blessed mankind with. However, as a Muslim, one must be aware that the guidance of Islam is not neglected in the process of embracing any culture – be it your own culture or any other culture.

There are Muslims across many different nations of the world, they all have their own cultures and backgrounds, e.g. they have their own unique dress, cuisine, language, etc. Despite all their cultural differences, what brings them together is their belief in Allah. Problems will only arise when we forget the guidance that Allah has given us and embrace a culture to such an extent that we neglect Islam. For example, we make it culturally acceptable to drink alcohol; discrimination based on caste becomes a norm, having relationships outside marriage is nothing to be concerned about. These examples seem quite severe, but they will no doubt become prevalent in any society which gradually moves away from the guidance of Allah.

Remember, there is no compulsion in Islam and nobody can force you to accept it as a way of life. In fact, I don’t believe that Islam can ever be forced upon anyone. You might be able to force an individual to pray or carry out any other action of Islam but you can never force him/her to have inner belief. Islam can only be complete with inner belief in the Oneness and Greatness of Allah and belief in His Final Prophet, Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Actions themselves are something that support belief, so when there is no belief, what good are actions? For example, if someone doesn’t believe in the existence of God yet spends most of their time in activities which are deemed Islamic, there is little value in their actions because the foundation of faith i.e. belief is missing. Allah knows best what lies in our hearts and minds.

Allah has described an approach to life; the choice is ours whether or not we choose to accept it. However, we cannot avoid the consequences of whatever decision we make. Let us consider the example of a crying toddler who wants to grab a hot cup of tea and his mother doesn’t allow him to do so. The child is limited in his knowledge, so from his perspective, he only sees a cup full of something nice. When the mother stops him, the child cannot comprehend the actions of the mother and feels anger and disappointment. The mother acts in the interest of her child and out of love for him. In the same way, our Creator, the One who has given us everything we have, is advising us on how to live our lives, His advice demonstrates the love that He has for His creation. The issue is that we fail to see this great love and continue to follow our own desires against the will of Allah, in the hope that they will lead us towards contentment. When the child doesn’t listen to his mother, the result is that he will burn himself. When we neglect the advice of Allah, it also has negative consequences for us.

Today, mankind feels a sense of pride and achievement and believes his own reasoning and knowledge to be powerful enough to question the law of the Creator. By following our own desires, we are only fooling ourselves and moving towards self-destruction. Islam is all about breaking this arrogance in oneself and realising that we as humans are limited and weak and must submit to the will of our Creator. Allah knows what we know not and He understands what we can never understand, that is why we repeat in our prayers, that Allah is The Greatest. The human mind and heart are weak, they need to be reminded of this fact - time and time again.

Remember brothers and sisters in Islam and in humanity, it is Allah who helps us to open our eyes in the morning and Allah who gives us sleep at night. We must keep reminding ourselves that Allah is the Greatest and without His blessings we would cease to exist. Many of us are going astray from the path of Islam, and out of love, we must help one another to return to success. The life of this world presents success in various guises - wealth, fame, luxury are only a few of these. Each person lives in pursuit of success yet many realise not that it lies in obeying Allah, following His commands and living life according to them. I believe that life is a great gift from Allah and Imaan (belief in Allah) is an even greater gift which must be cherished and protected. Your life will eventually come to an end but the benefits of Imaan will continue to support you for eternity.