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.