“Inevitably the list of ways some Muslims don’t adhere to the teachings of Islam can go on and on. Unfortunately many non-Muslims never even consider Islam for themselves, because they are so turned off by their negative experience with Muslims or by the stereotypes we allow to be perpetuated by our own actions. A close friend of mine who accepted Islam more than a decade ago, had brought her husband, still not Muslim, to a gathering. She hoped he might feel comfortable and closer to Islam by getting to know some more Muslims. In that gathering, he was secluded with men he had never met. They proceeded to speak in foreign tongues, making him feel unbearably uncomfortable and out of place. Not a good example, but a sample. He ended up waiting outside and when his wife came out, he angrily declared that he would never attend a similar gathering again. After that day his animosity towards his wife’s choice only grew. This troubled their relationship and ultimately led even my friend to distance herself from Islam so as to save her family.”
Though Islam includes the belief and aspiration to enter Paradise, we do not feel entitled to it. In fact, we greatly fear missing the mark. Our lives are spent aspiring to and working for the best outcome while taking every precaution to avoid Hell. It is unfortunate that Atheists ignorantly propagate the fallacy that all religions possess the same concept of Paradise, or that the Islamic concept of salvation could be a dangerous one. No, Paradise is not guaranteed to the individual Muslim, because Islam is devoid of the concept of entitlement—to the point that there are great scholarly debates about whether or not a Muslim can claim that he is a believer, in the sense that he has perfect faith.
“The bus driver said over the loudspeaker, “Please be quiet, we will listen to Quran now.” I was on my way to go roller-skating with my daughter’s fourth grade class. Hearing the Quran on the way there would certainly be a bonus. My body relaxed and I happily leaned back in my seat, ready to let the heartrending words of my Maker sweep over me. It wasn’t long though, before the children began talking, their voices gradually accumulating. After a while, even the teachers resumed their conversations. As the din swelled, it became increasingly challenging to heed the melodic verses of the Quran. I realized that the scenario inside the school bus was an accurate analogy for life. You know the feeling: You believe; you love God and yearn for His acceptance, but it feels like there is always something trying to pull you away. Obstacles appear one after another. Why can’t we just be left alone to bask in the beauty of faith? Instead, we are bombarded with noise and confusion. We are told our religion is a monstrous abomination, the ultimate misguidance – no more than a manifesto for terrorism. How do we deal with this?”
“Most disappointments in life result from misplaced expectations. For some time, I had focused on what I anticipated from my new Muslim brethren, and what I wished to see in the ways Muslims treated each other.
Fortunately, over the last 14 years I have been blessed with amazing people in my life for whom I am deeply grateful. And, although our Muslim family isn’t perfect, all is not lost. Muslims all over the world shine and display the true meaning of brotherhood every day. I haven’t lost hope. The more we rectify ourselves for Allah’s sake, He will provide the peace and love we so desire to see among ourselves and throughout the world.
My view of brotherhood, humanity and the world has matured and become soberer than my previously idealistic optimism. With a more realistic understanding of brotherhood in Islam, and by tempering my expectations, disappointment has been replaced with resolve. I’ve found, that what is practiced within myself –not for the sake of others, but for the sake of pleasing the One who gave us this favor, Allah– is the only way towards true brotherhood.”