For quite sometime now, I’ve been pondering over something quite huge.
In Islam, the way to salvation (being saved from the Hellfire and admitted into Jannah (Paradise)) is believing with full conviction that there is NO GOD/DEITY worthy of (your) worship except Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). It’s as simple as that. In Islam, Jannah is not something you attain based on your ethnicity, creed, or belief that someone died for your sins. Jannah is something that is earned first and foremost by recognizing the Oneness of your Lord and worshiping Him alone with no partners or intermediaries. Basically, the key to Paradise in Islam is the statement “La illaha illa Allah (There is no god but The God).” Allah (swt) tells us in the Qur’an:
“And whoever desires other than Islam as religion – never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.” (Qur’an, 3:85)
However, having the key to Jannah is not enough. If you attempted to enter my home with your key, you’d find it impossible. Why? Because every key has different ridges. Likewise, the statement “La Illaha illa Allah” comes with conditions. Thus, it is not enough for a Muslim to have faith in their heart while their actions contradict the commands of Allah (swt). Which is why some Muslims will enter the hellfire (may Allah protect us from this - Ameen); because although they had faith, the evil of their deeds would admit them into the fire.
However, the Muslim who enters the fire will eventually (after a time known only to Allah) enter Paradise. Why? Because as evil as their deeds were, they still had iman (faith, the belief in Islamic Monotheism). Therefore, after being purified of their sins in the fire, they will achieve ultimate salvation. The point is that eventually, all (true) Muslims will enter Jannah, with the permission of Allah (swt).
Now, onto where I had started to ponder. Many of us are born Muslim, right? It’s not something that we had to work for and instead, it was something that was literally handed to us.
After realizing this, I began to think.
Have you ever stopped and asked yourself: “What did I do to deserve Islam?” I thought long and hard about this question, but failed to come up with an answer. “Muslim” is a title I was born with. “Muslim” was simply what I have identified with since I was a child—and I’m sure that those of you who were born as Muslims would agree.
To those who found Islam later on in their lives, I pose to you the same question: “What did you do to deserve Islam?”
Honestly—can any one of us answer this question?
Speaking for myself, I can say that I can’t, and it is this truth that has caused me to ask myself: then why me? Why did Allah (swt) choose me, of all people, to be a Muslim? Out of the almost 7 BILLION people who live in the world today, why did Allah (swt) choose me to be among the last remaining nation who worships their Creator without associating any partners with Him? Why did Allah choose to honor me with the title of Islam?
My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, have you ever wondered this about yourselves?
I’ve realized that although I may never know the answers to these questions, I do know that Allah (swt) does not do things without a greater purpose, for He tells us in the Qur’an:
“Then did you think that We created you uselessly and that to Us you would not be returned?” (Qur’an, 23:115)
Knowing that Allah (swt) does not create in vain, and that there is a deeper purpose behind everything that He has created has led me to realize that despite the fact that I don’t know why Allah (swt) chose me, I do know that I am special. And for those of you who are also Muslims—regardless of whether you were born into Islam or you accepted it later in your life—SO. ARE. YOU.
(*And for those of you who are non-Muslim and still breathing—you have potential!)
You see, what I’ve slowly realized is that Allah (swt) sees something in me that I clearly do not. As a matter of fact, He sees something in all of us. This is why He has blessed us with the deen (way of life) of Islam. There is a potential that is in each and every single one of us that is waiting to be cultivated. The torch of “La illaha Illa Allah,” which has been passed down for centuries, has finally reached our hands, and it is Allah (swt) who has chosen you and me to carry it!
You may be depressed, self-hating, self-limiting, negative, worried, anxious, and a list of other things. But above all of these things, you are still a Muslim and it is important for you to realize that Islam gives you worth. Islam gives you beauty. Islam provides you with the peace of mind and heart that you deserve. Islam makes you unique, wonderful, amazing, fantastic, and incredible despite the fact that you may feel otherwise about yourself and despite the fact that you may be suffering from issues such as low self-esteem, envy, hate, self-loathing, etc.
I ask you to throw all of these things behind you and bring to the forefront of your mind this statement: I AM SPECIAL. Say to yourself: Allah (swt) has chosen me to worship Him. Allah has saved me from worshiping inanimate objects, animals, worldly materials, ideologies, or other people. Allah has blessed me with the ability to use my rational mind and see the reality of this dunya (world) for what it is. Allah (swt) has chosen me to place my head on the floor at least five times a day out of praise, love, and worship towards Him. Because of the deen of Islam, I know how to properly clean myself, eat pure, clean food, and I do my best to refrain from lying, stealing, cheating, and backbiting. I guard my chastity and lower my gaze. In a busy, bustling world where it’s always go go go! I am able to become immersed in the remembrance of my Lord and put my trust, hope, and reliance on Him alone. I am among a select few people in THE WHOLE WORLD who, during the 21st century, still recognize the status of all of the prophets including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Solomon, Moses, David, Jesus, and the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon them). In an era of iPhones, wireless internet, laptops, home entertainment systems, video game consoles, and the likes, I am among those who find true solace, comfort, and joy from the words of my Lord alone.
How then, knowing the above, could you ever feel down? How then, could you ever beat yourself up about something that is out of your control? How then, could you ever think lowly of yourself when Allah (swt) has elevated you to the ranks of those who worship Him alone with no partners? Our Lord tells us in the Qur’an:
“Indeed, [O Muhammad], you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided.” (Qur’an, 28:56)
Allah (swt) chooses to guide whom He wills and He willed for YOU to be guided to Islam. So be happy, grateful, and thankful! Say “Alhamdullilah (all praise and thanks is to God)” and hold your head up high. Do not be hard on yourself, and certainly do not be hard on other people.
In the past, some of the most horrible, cruel, backstabbing people I have ever met were Muslims. They lied about me, talked about me, and simply hurt me. I felt resentment and anger towards them and I became disgusted at the fact that they had—what I saw as—the audacity to call themselves Muslims. However, I have now realized that despite the pain they may have caused me, and the transgressions they made—and might still make—against themselves, they still utter the words “La illaha illa Allah.” And it is this realization that helps to prevent me from judging Muslims who drink, gamble, smoke, neglect the hijab, and do a number of other things that are against the commands of Allah (swt). I’ve realized that Allah (swt) has recognized something in these people which is evident in the fact that they still have iman. Who am I, then, to judge them when I have no clue as to what their heart truly contains? How do I know that their disobedient actions aren’t simply a manifestation of some sort of pain and suffering that they might be going through internally? Despite all of this, they are special. They are still my brothers and sisters in Islam and thus, I must treat them as such.
So the point that I want to drive home is one of self-reflection. I ask you to look deeply into yourself and transition from asking, “Why me?” to realizing, “Alhamdullilah, He chose ME.” And for any non-Muslims who may be reading this, know that your Creator has guided you to this post for a reason.
And Allah knows best.