You Are Muslim? But Are You Really?
I AM NOT asking this question with the premise that claiming to be Muslim is actually quite a tall order. It is a huge responsibility that needs us to seriously sit up, realize and understand the full message of Islam and sincerely believe in it in its full entirety.
This is not simply a creedal statement that we can just say and that will be enough to save us on Day of Judgment. Being born to Muslim parents can sometimes lead to a false feeling of security and comfort for us because we may believe we are automatically under the umbrella of Islam and its salvation, just by virtue of our mere existence within a Muslim environment or culture.
Choose to Be Muslim!
Being born to Muslim parents is a blessing from Allah that many have, but take for granted. For many Muslims today having a Muslim name or calling ourselves ‘Muslim’ because that’s what we were taught to do to fit into our family or community has become rhetoric or habit with no real research or effort conducted on our own part to ascertain and choose this faith.
That label or identity in the sight of Allah needs to be earned and proven by our belief, actions and by following the example of His final Prophet ﷺ. Being Muslim means to be someone who is fully devoted to the worship of Allah and who believes with full conviction, certainty, and affirmation that Islam has come directly from the Creator and Owner of the universe, and to obey with full submission all of His commands.
My Quantum Leap
A day came when my heart affirmed Islam as the true faith directly from Allah, the Creator of the entire universe, and that realization was also very sad. It meant that all the previous years of my life had passed without me having this certainty. Allah emphasizes this difference in the Quran:
Are those who know equal to those who do not know? [Sûrat Al-Zumar, 39:9]
Even though I was born into a Muslim family and knew many aḥâdîth and recited from the Quran frequently, that day was a turning point in my life. For the first time I knew what was at stake, and I knew I had to make changes if I wanted to taste true success. I thank Allah for blessing me and guiding me to accept Islam with full conviction, and I hope I am able to stay true to being firmly steadfast on it.
Discovering Signs in the Heaven
One day I was watching a documentary about scientific information that is mentioned in the Quran. Allah states in the Quran:
It is he who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course. [Sûrat Al-Anbiyâ’, 21:33]
And he it is who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon, each in an orbit floating [Sûrat Al-Anbiyâ’, 21:33]
I got my Quran out to check the quote and began visualizing and thinking. As the minutes rolled by, time felt as though it had frozen for me. The Quran actually affirmed that the sun, too, has an orbit.
Science Catches Up
Not so many centuries ago the men of knowledge thought that the earth was stationary and that our sun and the planets were moving, rotating, and orbiting around the earth; however, we know scientifically that the sun isn’t stationary.
In fact the whole Milky Way galaxy is moving along, with the sun in the center of our solar system rotating around on its own axis. The magnetic forces that carry our earth and the other planets in orbit around the sun (and that carry our solar system in orbit around in the Milky Way galaxy, etc, etc.) are the means that keep the observable universe in order.
There are other galaxies that pass by our galaxy, as it ‘floats’ or ‘swims’ along, but by the will and permission of Allah they pass by each other in a coordinated and measured way.
Taking the Time…
What does this actually mean? The great magnitude and size of the heavenly bodies can only be appreciated when we visualize and reflect on this. These are truly signs for those that believe; if only we took the time to reflect and look around us!
Many of us waste our precious time in useless activities and pursuits that bear no real relation to success in the long term. There are many deviations, temptations and strategies that Shayṭân uses to waste our time and keep us away from thinking and reflecting on the truths that surround us every day.
Following Our Prophets in Reflecting
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to spend time thinking and reflecting, and as a result Allah guided him to the truth, and gave him the success that no other man during his time in Arabia could have even dreamt of.
He couldn’t possibly have made up these verses and he couldn’t possibly have appreciated these things living in the desert, and without the technological advances and devices that we have today.
Ibrâhîm (or Abraham) is a forefather of the final Prophet ﷺ. He has a great status within three of the five major world faiths that exist today, and his search for seeking a meaning in life greater than mere existence also led him to be guided by Allah.
Discovering Signs Within
Muhammad ﷺ used to reflect and think about life around him, the condition of people and the purpose of life. Although he was not educated formally, he always searched for meaning within himself—which is the human being’s first education.
The Quran not only describes things with amazing accuracy, but also in great detail. It is only after pondering and reflecting on verses from the Quran that my belief was strengthened and increased. By no means have I reached perfection, but I know compared to where I was before that there is a mountain of difference in my personal faith. Searching for knowledge and truth is obligatory in Islam.
Our souls flourish when we are reflecting upon Allah’s signs and increasing our understanding by continual searching for knowledge as revealed by Allah.
Discovering Signs in the Book
There are clear proofs that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was truly a messenger of Allah. The Quran is directly from the Creator, the Sustainer, and the Controller: Allah, who is the All Knowing and the Exalted.
When I saw and read the Quran after that realization and whilst seeking answers, I was incredibly touched and enlightened by it. I wanted to shout the Shahâda from the rooftops and the mountains and say “I accept Islam!” It felt ridiculous and strange that having been a “born Muslim” I actually felt that that day was one in which I truly believed, and understood, in a way that I had never understood before.
It also made me think about how magnificent and supreme Allah is, the One who created all of this, and how big this world is, and thus how amazing and overwhelmingly great the Creator must be. It made me tremble that I had not prepared to meet Him on the Day of Judgment and it led me to ask myself what I would do if today were to be actually the last day.
Will Science Keep Up?
Where are the sun and the surrounding heavenly bodies of the Milky Way heading, and what are they floating and swimming towards?
Allah is the best of planners and only He knows what he has in store for his creations. He has given this life to us and after it has come to its end we will be examined.
Will We Keep Up with Allah’s Guidance?
Our beliefs and deeds will be scrutinized but He has provided us in advance with all the answers needed to guide us, and this is evidence of how exceedingly merciful he is. Despite all the messengers He has sent and revelations He has revealed, so many of us still can’t get it right and follow the truth. This points to the deficiency in our hearts and actions, our low îmân, which is a result of a deficiency of good deeds and effort.
It’s not enough to believe; we must action that belief, for this is what distinguishes a believer from a hypocrite, as Allah says:
Except those who believe and do righteous deeds [Sûrat Al-ʿAṣr, 103:3]
Earning Our Status as Believers
In order to attain Paradise you have to strive to earn that label, ‘Muslim,’ from Allah—and He is the best of judges. He knows what is in our hearts and can see us every second of our lives, no matter where we are. The five pillars of Islam are the minimum requirement and prerequisite for entry into Paradise. Our sincerity and intentions are more known and understood by Allah than are our own selves, so there are no excuses, and no hiding from Him.
Where, then, do we, all of us, go from here? We should question ourselves and see how much we really know Allah and the Prophet ﷺ. Allah’s attributes and names that he mentions in the Quran are also really helpful to our understanding and therefore to our believing in Him.
Only once we understand and believe in Him can we start moving towards actually obeying him in the way He deserves to be obeyed, and only then can we be happy with Allah as our Lord and with Muhammad ﷺ as our Prophet and with Islam as our religion and our way of life.
Starting Over from the Beginning
None of us can run before we learn to walk so we should base our beliefs on revealed knowledge and establish our tawḥîd, recalling the oneness of Allah in its every aspect, as a firm foundation for our Islam. We should remember to humble ourselves and think about how and why we were created, realizing that we have no power over our birth, death or earthly origin, which are indications that there has to be a force or deity controlling and sustaining us. Despite this fact, many of us are arrogant and ungrateful for the many blessings we have.
We are supposed to “hear and obey,” but only when we truly believe in the Quran as being from Allah can we sincerely hear and obey and also appreciate how big a task it was for Muhammad ﷺ to complete his mandate. He was truly the noblest and sincerest of men. It was his character and deeds that truly were superior, and so he deserves our respect and love; we should honor him and follow him, as he was chosen by Allah to bring us the Quran.
Signs for One and All
I have shared my story of how I came closer to Islam and found truth in the “signs” or “proofs” around me.
Allah can guide whomever he wills, however he wills, such that the Qur’anic miracle may appeal to, or guide others in whatever way that they need to be guided.
- Some people have been attracted to the Quran linguistically due to its poetic, pure and rich language which could not have been composed by a mere human.
- Some may be attracted to it by the justice and fairness that it has prescribed and by how it has transformed corrupt civilizations through its divine guidance.
- Some may be attracted by the science-friendly “proofs” or accurate descriptions of our observable world or by the clear proof of the oneness of God that can be derived from the Quran.
The Quran has something for everyone.
Making Worthy Our Deeds
Allah’s knowledge is unimaginably vast and we can never reach to knowing its full extent, but striving to think, understand and learn more can be both humbling and empowering. The ability to critically analyse, reflect and assess ourselves is crucial to improving and developing our intellects and lives.
Knowledge should be sought from the cradle to the grave. Although we will never reach the point where we know everything, we should always strive to know ever more so that we can understand our world ever better. With better reflection, we have stronger belief in the truths surrounding us. This will enable us to better our deeds and thus to be more worthy of success and reward as believers.