There are many of us who identify as Muslim simply because we were born into the faith. There are also many who identify as Muslim because they consciously decided to accept the idea that there is no deity but Allah and Muhammad(SAW) is His messenger. Being able to say you accept and agree with the Shahada is definitely the first step in becoming Muslim but BEING a Muslim involves a lot more than that. The term “practicing Muslim” is often thrown around to indicate someone who not only claims to be a Muslim but also actively practices the tenets of the faith. I honestly do not like this term because the label “Muslim” on its own should mean that you are actively engaging in the tenets of Islam. Being a Muslim is not just about abstaining from pork, attending Jummah salah or praying all the rakat of taraweeh during the nights of Ramadan. As Muslims, we should always strive to be the best we can be for our creator. The word “Islam” means submission but also stems from peace, so in essence, Islam means the attainment of peace through submission. If Islam means peace through submission then a Muslim is one who attains peace through their submission to the will of Allah. Allah(SWT) says to us “I have created the jinn and humankind only for My worship.” (Qur'an 51:56). We worship Him through our ultimate submission to his commands. We submit to Him, our creator, by doing what He and His Messenger(SAW) have told us to do and staying away from what they have told us to stay away from. The point that I am getting at is that before we can proudly say “I am Muslim”, we should ask ourselves, “Am I honestly trying my best to submit to the will of Allah?”, “Am I staying away from all that is forbidden and adhering to all that is obligatory?”. If you can honestly say yes to these questions, without any hesitation or buts, then yes, you are truly BEING Muslim.
This is not say that being Muslim means you're perfect, that you don't struggle. Instead, what I mean is that if we are really trying to Muslim in every meaning of the world, we are always seeking to submit ourselves to the will of Allah. Yes, you might have hard time remembering to pray your salah, yes you might be struggling with refraining from the haram but are you sincerely trying? If so, then you are submitting yourself to the will of Allah, you are being Muslim.
Growing up, the extent of being Muslim that I was taught involved always being told to pray salah, learn how to read the Qur’an and fast during the month of Ramadan. When I started reading the Qur’an more indepthly and really began to explore my faith, I learned that there was more to my deen than what I had been doing. Personally, prior to me fully embracing the deen, I constantly made excuses for doing things that I wasn’t supposed to do as well as making excuse for not doing things that are obligatory upon me. It was ok if I wore nail polish with my wudu or wasn’t fully covered while praying salah because those things are so minimal, of course my salah will be accepted. That was my mentality. Even after I started getting close to the deen, there were things that I made excuses for including observing all salat, eating halal only, observing proper hijab and other things. As I continued to grow I started to think, “will I really be able to face my creator on the day of judgement and say ‘despite all that you have given me in this life, despite the monumental amount of guidance you have provided, I did not do such and such activity because I didn’t think it was important or because it wasn’t cool or because my family wouldn’t like it’?” The answer to that is NO. That explanation will not pass with Allah(SWT). Instead of spending time trying to make excuses and rationalize our transgressions, redirect that time to trying to incorporate the guidance of your Lord, based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the prophet(SAW) into your daily life.
Understandably, this is not necessarily the easiest thing to do,especially when you have gotten so used to rationalizing your lack of submission. Just think, if your professor or boss gave you an assignment to do, no matter how hard it was, you would try and complete the task to your best of ability. In this scenario, you know that the key to getting the biggest reward is to give the professor or boss exactly what they want, you would hesitate heavily before trying to cut corners or omitting a huge portion of the assignment and in the end, you will submit what was asked. This is the same approach that we need to take with our faith. When Allah(SWT), our creator, asks something of us, we should do it to the best of our ability because only in that will we get the highest of all rewards-the permission to enter into Jannatul Firdous. The important thing to remember is that if you want to fully embrace this faith and way of life, to fully be the receiver of all of its benefits, it is important to worship and submit to Allah(SWT).
A huge part of lack of submission, stems from this habit of picking and choosing, a topic that I will discuss more in detail at a later time. inshaAllah ta’ala, my words were able to highlight the importance of submission to the will of Allah.
I sincerely hope that anyone who reads this does not think I that I am stating that someone who is not actively practicing Islam is not Muslim. Anyone who has accepted shahadah is Muslim. What I am saying is that, if one is truly trying to be a Muslim, in the complete sense of the word, they should be submitting themselves to the will of Allah and obeying Him.
As humans in this dunya we are inundated by many distractions, misguidance, and falsehoods therefore making life much more confusing and difficult. What are we thinking, saying, observing, and experiencing in our lives? Are we truly living by Islamic ideals? This is where we can choose to actively “Strive For Clarity.”