A Lifelong Struggle A Memoir by

When I first joined law school, we had a small seminar with the director who asked us various questions. One of them turned out to deal with the existence of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

I found that quite bizarre, because this was a law school that I got myself enrolled into, not a school of theology or philosophy. He especially asked me these questions, but that part didn’t really come as a surprise since I was the only Hijabi there. I didn’t mind at all and when he asked, “What would you do if someone tells you that God doesn’t exist?”,  I quickly replied, “I wouldn’t do anything, I think that everyone is entitled to their opinion, sir.”

First year came with all these struggles. I remember my Public Law Professor talking about the Taliban and then all of a sudden, he asked me, “Are you a Talibani?” (once again, just because I was the only hijabi in the class) and I just told him, “Sir I’m not one, but you sure do look like one”. He was shocked at my reply, at which he said, “You are probably saying that because of my beard – Well, the beard is a sign of protest for a free judiciary”. However, the next day, he had no beard.

Subhan’Allah, all of these things are just tiny struggles of everyday life. It’s just that this religion isn’t a sport or a hobby; it’s a full time commitment. It’s our submission to our Lord. It’s leaving what we desire for what He desires. It’s a lifelong test and it demands sacrifices, compromises, devotion and commitment.

We have to ask ourselves if we are truly committed. Our friends or the society that we live in may not think the way we do – they may not endorse our religious beliefs even if they are Muslims, they may not even wear a hijab or keep a Sunnah style beard, they may have pre-marital affairs, they may even smoke or take drugs, they may drink, go to clubs, take interest, etc. But all of that shouldn’t depress us, demotivate or make us feel that what we are doing is wrong.

Al-Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal reported from ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:

“Islam began as something strange, and it will return to being strange as it began. So, glad tidings for the strangers.” He was asked: “Messenger of Allah, who are the strangers?” He replied: “Those who are outcasts from their tribes.” And this was narrated by Abu Bakr al-Ajuri with the wording: “Those who are righteous when the people are corrupt.” And others narrated this, and he also has the wording: “Those who flee for the sake of their religion from trials and tribulations.”

The majority of people walking on the road to perdition shouldn’t make us feel that we are the ones who are wrong in our beliefs, with our struggles. There is an Arab Proverb that states, “Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it”. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says,”

And the worldly life is nothing but amusement and diversion; but the home of the Hereafter is best for those who fear Allah. Will you not then understand? [Surat al-’An`am, 6:32]

Malcolm X once said: “If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything”. If our religious beliefs teach us to tolerate, to love for others what we love for ourselves, to work towards peace and harmony, to uphold the ties of kinship, and to forgive, then our religious beliefs are the best ones to adopt. We should never be ashamed of committing to our religion, or practicing it in the true sense.

To counter all of these questions and struggles that we face on a daily basis, it is imperative that we:

We have to realize that if our decision is in consonance with the Quran and Sunnah, then it is the best one. We have to create a new environment around us of peace, love and tolerance. We have to become the Ummah of Rasulullah (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam), and I pray that we become successful in doing so. Ameen.