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It’s True: The End Is Very Very Near

bostonI remember growing up in the midwest in the 80’s. I was a teenager ready to experience everything. Listening to KAEZ radio, discovering music and literature, fine dining and dance. I was an 80’s baby for sure and simply could not digest my parents decision to raise us in the middle of nowhere. Cows, horses, farmland what was a teenager to do.

I always looked forward, always believed that something grand and amazing was so close that I only need stretch my hand out just a little further and I would be apart of brillance. My parents of course were guarded, protective and heartbroken when I packed up and made my way to the big city.

I always knew that life was good. That it was some type of special gift bestowed on us by a loving, generous Lord. As a matter of fact, most people who know me describe me as always smiling, happy and positive no matter what the circumstances. I never bought into the naysayers agenda or chicken littles insistance that the sky was indeed falling. I would often scrunch up nose and look funny when folks would start down that path of “the end is near”.

Over the years I have known triumph and sadness. Had amazing success and failures so intense the guilt still haunts me. But today, as I sit and watch what is unfolding in Boston I realize I am tired. I am so very tired of the constant and unending violence. The daily assaults on people, on our morals and values. The need to exploit every possible corner of innocence. I am sad to witness the loss of my own innocence. I know I am too old to still think of myself as innocent. But I just always wanted to believe in the good of my fellow man. Because it was knowing that we all were good that confirmed no matter what I did there was still good in me.

As a muslim I firmly believe that no man can know the day or time. But the truth is that we do not have much time. I’m not even sure we have time to come back from all of it to any quantifiable degree. There is so much work to be done and with each new battle, each bombing, each mass murder, each new law that infringes on my right to live a moral lifestyle, with each kidnapped child, abused woman, drug addicted genius, I lose a little more hope for us all.

In this age where so many defend the desire to own assault weapons, or the desire for same sex marriage, no one wants to hear about the history of other civilizations that also blindly and blatently defied our Lord.  We dont talk about Sodom and Gomorrah anymore. The truth is that once a people becomes so arrogant as to believe they know better than Allah (swt) what is best for His creation then the countdown has begun.

My first inclination is to run. To lock my doors, close my blinds, shut my eyes and wait for it to all be over. But that is not the answer either. The only answer is Allah (swt). Turning to Him, seeking His pleasure, living a life that is solely focused on drawing nearer to Him. He is our only salvation, our only hope and it is only His Mercy that can save us. So on this, yet another day of heartache and tragedy, lets take a moment and pray. Not only for those who were lost and wounded but for all of us.

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An Easy Path

From the moment I took shahada 17 years ago I have been reminded over and over that this religion called Islam was made easy.

Yet I struggled to learn how to properly offer salat.  Initially finding it nearly impossible to remember the number of Fard rakats or Sunnah rakats, the appropriate time to make each. Or the subtle nuances of proper annunciation of the arabic recitation. Whether I should or shouldn’t learn the transliteration, and the dua’a’s to be made.  Learning salat was not easy.

And then there was my first Ramadan.  Rising even earlier than Fajr to eat a filling and hearty breakfast (suhoor) and drinking a lot of water and then nothing. No food, no water, no gum, no toothpaste, for hours. Fasting my first Ramadan was not easy.

Then of course there were the lifestyle changes.  Accepting that my moral/religious beliefs could not be in contradiction with my political beliefs.  Throwing off what I had always been taught was beautiful and replacing it with modest clothing. Wearing hijab. Changing my life was not easy.

Finding someone to share my life with, without dating and getting to know each other.  Spending only “chaperoned” time together.  No intimate contact, no kissing, no holding hands, not even sitting too close together at dinner. Getting married was not easy.

I often hear myself telling new Muslims what I was told, “Alhamdullah, Allah has made our religion easy” and I realize now I should qualify that statement.  The ease of the religion of Islam is conditional.  It requires something from us.

For many who come into Islam it is with all the joy and expectation of a small child who comes in from school to smell fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. We know this is going to be good. We can almost envision how wonderful our lives will now be.  We see ourselves attending Arabic classes at our local masjid, or becoming entrepreneurs with booths at the next big conference.  Expending our knowledge and having spirited debates about schools of thought, figh or fatwa’s. Better yet we envision a life of harmony with our Creator, speared on with the burgeoning knowledge that this Ummah is one brotherhood, that people will now see me and rush from across a crowded parking lot just to give me the salaams. We are Muslims.

But this knowledge, I humbly submit, is not what makes our religion easy. Nor is our religion made easy by strict adherence to the five pillars, or works of charity, or hours spent offering dawah. All things we strive for as Muslims but not what makes our religion easy.  So what is it, what has prompted our Lord and Creator to deem a religion that requires much, easy.  The answer is so simple and yet of such great significance I am cautious to say it.

The answer is submission.

Now I know that is obvious, “of course we have to be submitted”, will come back the reply. But I am not talking about the value found in the submission to offer our prayers, pay zakat, fast during the month of Ramadan or make Hajj. I am talking about the type of submission that causes every thought, every action, every emotion to begin and end with Allah subhana wa ta alla honestly. And of course many of us believe that when we take shahada we are in fact submitting.  But I challenge you to consider the following.

Submission is not a singular act. It is not something we accomplish once and then move on to the next step.  It is not something we achieve or possess. Submission is an interactive movement.  One for which we must constantly and continually be in training. It must precede everything we do, say and feel. Submission to Allah (swt) must be the single driving force for every accomplishment, the motivation from every failure, the sought after feeling of every emotion.

Submission to our Lord means that EVERYTHING is about Allah (swt). How I style my hair, where I spend my time, the words I chose to express my discontent. When I speak to someone it is with the conscious knowledge that I will answer for every word I utter and not only will I answer for the words but I will answer for the condition of my heart and the intention behind each word as well. When I dress in the morning to leave the house, I am far more concerned with what Allah will say on the day of judgement about my clothing than what anyone who sees me will think.

Submission to Allah (swt) means that I am supremely cautious when discussing someone who is not present, lest anything I say or feel be deemed fitna (not to the ones I’m talking to but to Allah). It means that my heart is always filled with joy at the sight and/or thought of my husband not because of what he provides but because he was provided to me by Allah (swt). And if by chance an event, a person or circumstance leaves me less then joyful it is my submission that is a refuge for me because with submission comes trust, comes faith, comes unbridled love.

And who can deny that when you are in love everything seems easy.