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:
Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish salat. Salat precludes indecency and wrongdoing. And remembrance of Allah is greater still. Allah knows what you do.” (Quran 29:45)
As we all know, Muslims are obligated to pray five times a day and there are very few exceptions to this obligation. To not perform all prayers during their prescribed time is a grave sin that you will have to answer for on the Day of Judgement. Along with our five mandatory prayers, the Prophet(SAW) was known to also pray extra prayers which we have come to know as "Sunnah salah" these prayers are in addition to the five that we already have to do and more blessings are earned for praying them.
Whenever I'm engaging in a conversation with someone about the importance of prayer a common question is "why is the prayer so formatted? Why can't someone just sit down and pray to God?" I think this questions stems mainly from our understanding of what prayer is. In Islam, the prayers that we engage in five times a day are called "salah" which are referred to as ritualistic prayers. These prayers come with their prescribed sayings and movements and must be done in the proper manner. In Islam, we also have the concept of "dua" which is most often referred to as "supplications". This is when we simply sit down and ask/tell Allah what we want.
Salah has been ordained upon us for numerous reasons. This first and foremost reason is that it is a sort of test, a way to gauge our obedience and submission to our creator. Allah(SWT) is asking us to wake up from our sleep, pause whatever work we're doing, turn off our favorite tv show to worship him. He's testing us by seeing if we will truly disengage from our worldly affairs and worship him. Salah also gives us a chance to connect with Him and His word. During our busy day, He is giving us an opportunity to stop at least five times to just remember Him, to talk to Him, to connect with Him. The Prophet(SAW) tells us that “When any one of you stands to pray, he is communicating with his Lord, so let him pay attention to how he speaks to Him.” as well as that “The closest a person is to His Lord is when he is in prostration” Observing our salah helps to build a closer and better relationship with our creator.
By enjoining the act of salah upon us, Allah(SWT) is also giving us the opportunity to remember him and remember his guidance and mercy. Seventeen times a day(the amount of rakat total in the 5 prayers) we recite Surah Al-Fatiha. That means that 17 times every day, we remember through our recitations that Allah is merciful, that He is The Master of the Day of Judgement, that He is The most compassionate. Seventeen times a day we make dua to Him to help us stay on the straight path. Simply by stopping what we are doing five times a day for no more than 10-15 minutes, we are able to engage in such a rewarding practice.
Salah is also important because it guards us from evil and helps us stay away from sins. When we make salah we are seeking Allah’s help and protection. We are asking him to protect us from the temptations of Shaytan and assist us in remaining steadfast. Observing salah protects us from committing sins because if one is sincere in their salah, they will most likely not finish their salah and then go engage in haraam activities. Alongside this, if one is engaging in haraam behaviour and still values their salah, stopping to pray removes them from sinful situations.
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.”