A week ago, I went on Twitter and saw a ton of commentary regarding a certain article where two Muslim women wrote about their decision to stop wearing the headscarf. I generally choose to not comment on such articles but just three weeks prior there was a blog post written by a young Muslimah where she claims that it is perfectly ok to practice Islam without engaging in many of the prescribed duties that Allah(SWT) tells us to and without refraining from what we've been told to refrain from. In essence, her article promotes the idea that one can be a good, practicing Muslim without actually practicing Islam. This blog post(I have chosen to not post the link because I refuse propagate this 'idea' any more that it already has) then spurned a few other blogs posts in support of this 'idea'.
Articles and blog posts such as these just adds to the list of Muslims encouraging each other to sin under the banner of "there's more to Islam than (insert fard action here), it's what's in your heart that matters". The problem with this idea though is that if Islam is truly in your heart, you will do everything within your power to please your Rabb(Lord) and the best way to do that is by doing what He has obligated us to do and refraining from what He had made prohibited for us. As of late, there's a group of Muslimahs encouraging others to pray while on their menses(an act that we all know is forbidden) and another group of Muslims that believe it is optional to recite in Arabic during salah(a practice that's been increasing over the last decade or so). I am extremely saddened by how easy it seems to be for some people to discard parts of the deen. There are many Muslims who tell other Muslims "you can grow to observe hijab, you can start praying all five prayers later, you can stop indulging in the dunya when you're old or after you're married, etc. In the meantime, as long as you love Allah, you're fine. Everything else is just extra".
Unfortunately, my fellow Muslimeen, that is NOT the case. Fortunately, observing hijab is not an option. Avoiding tabaruj is not optional. Praying is not optional. Avoiding zina is not an option. Keeping isbaal is not an option either. We've been told what to do by our Lord and RasulAllah(SAW). The only thing left for us to do is to say ok and comply. We can't simply say because our intentions are to please our lord, we can get the same benefits without completing the actual deeds. We must strive harder as an ummah to hold unto deen-ul-Islam instead of hurriedly slipping away. Allah is merciful but we must also be sincere. Of course our deeds alone will not gain us entrance into Jannah but Islam is comprised of the belief in our hearts and the actions of our limbs and we therefore must combine them.
As I end this article, I want to leave you all with two reminders:
First and foremost, let's remember that our intentions are important but we need to make our deeds match them. If you see someone drowning and just sit there but you had the internal intention to save them, is it the same thing?
Secondly, remember that whenever you encourage someone to sin, each time they do the action, you're also incurring their sins. If that alone does not cause you to rethink before telling someone it's okay to take off their headscarf and jilbab, or that it's permissible to drink or that they shouldn't be so "fiqhy", ask yourself if you want to risk receiving their sins. Ask yourself if you're prepared to feel the wrath of your Lord. Yes, Allah is merciful. Yes he is just but to receive his mercy and his justice we have to actually be trying to live in the way that he's told us to live.
I am definitely not perfect and constantly striving to improve in my embodiment and practice of Islam. I hope I never get so low in my faith and strength that I start making frivolous excuses for my indiscretions. All in all, we can't cut corners in our faith and expect to receive good from it. May we all be guided appropriately and remain on the Straight Path.
Many Muslims often struggle to perform religious duties because they are worried about the opinions and reactions of others. I have noticed that often times when I ask someone why they don’t fulfill a certain religious duty(staying away from bars/haraam events, eating halal only, utilizing proper manners, pausing casual interactions to go make salah), their response is usually that they do not want to draw attention to themselves. I have a really good friend and once we were discussing hijab( for women) and she stated that if she were to have a daughter she would not want her to cover to school because she might get made fun of. I also know parents who choose to not have their older children fast during Ramadan when there’s school so that they do not stand out among their classmates. Now as someone who has struggled with not wanting to stand out, I find this to be quite sad. Essentially, when we think that it is okay to not do what Allah(SWT) has told us to do simply because of the opinions of others, we are committing a form of minor shirk. We are saying that the opinions and decisions of the creation are more important than that of the Creator(Audhubillah).
In today’s society, there are many people who are throwing aside their deen for the sake of the dunya and worldly affairs and it is important that we strive to uphold our beliefs within ourselves, our friends and our families. It is impertinent that we consistently ensure that we are fulfilling all of our religious duties to the best of our abilities. When we are instructed by Allah(SWT) to do something, we must. Allah(SWT) tell us:
The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allāh (His Words, the Quran) and His Messenger (SAW), to judge between them, is that they say: "We hear and we obey." And such are the successful (who will live forever in Paradise). And whosoever obeys Allāh and His Messenger (SAW), fears Allāh, and keeps his duty (to Him), such are the successful ones.” Qur'an 24:51-52
From this we know that a key component for entering Jannah as well as a major characteristic of a Muslim, of a believer, is one who when they are told that Allah(SWT) or His Messenger(SAW) has instructed him/her to do something, their immediate response is to submit and obey to the best of their ability. Allah(SWT) also reminds us that:
Girl meets boy, girl likes boy, girl is Muslim, boy is not Muslim. They fall in love and want to get married….but it’s haram. Eventually, she finds a way to rationalize it in her head and finds an imam that will perform the nikkah. Girl and boy are now married and will live happily ever after. This scenario is one that is often heard, especially among Muslims in the West. The scenario if a Muslimah wanting to marry a non-Muslim.
Based solely on the Qur’an and Sunnah, it is not permissible for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim regardless if he is ahl-al-kitaab(People of the Book-Jews and Christians) or not. A Muslim man may marry a non-Muslim but only if she is from ahl-al-kitaab, is actually practicing and does not engage in shirk. That means that contrary to popular perception, a Muslim man cannot just marry any “Christian" woman, she has to be abiding by the rulings in her book and must not commit shirk which pretty much rules out Catholics and any others who believe in the trinity. If a Muslim man does find this woman and marries her, all kids born from the marriage must be raised Muslim and she must not bring about what is forbidden in Islam into her home. Many scholars also add that it is not recommended for Muslim men to marry non-Muslims in the west because that results in Muslimahs not having someone to marry.
So back to the scenario that I presented earlier. Though the imam performed the nikkah(marriage contract) it is not valid under the eyes of Allah(SWT). The couple might consider themselves married but Islamically they are not. That means that any carnal interactions that they have will be considered zina(fornication) and any kids borne of the marriage will belong to the bed. Often times, we Muslims are of the opinion that the permission or ruling of an imam is always correct and supersedes the rulings of Allah(SWT). This is wrong(unless of course you’re into the whole infallible imam thing). Just because an imam says something is okay or halal does not make it so. I've seen imams who condone domestic violence, imams who tell their congregation that saying “bismillah” on non-zabiha meat makes it halal, and imams who think its okay to lead salah late because of his discretion. None of these things are okay under the banner of Islam. Allah(SWT) says:
A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though if he attracts you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the fire but Allah beckons by His grace to the garden (of bliss) and forgiveness, and makes His signs clear to mankind; that they may receive admonition” Qur'an 2:222
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.”