April - June 2003, Islam

Living in Islam

By Ghadah Ali Gutierrez

As a relatively new Muslim and a revert at that, I constantly find myself falling short of my religious goals. Each and every day I rise with the intention to get all five salats in, to do some random act of kindness, to read a chapter of the Quran, and yet most days I fail. Life just somehow seems to get in the way and time is something I’m always too short of. Words cannot express the depth of meaning that the following haddith holds for me.

Narrated Abu Huraira (RA): The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshiping in the mornings, the nights. ” – Bukhari 1.38.

So many times, I see Muslim acquaintances who are very dedicated in the deen. Never do they miss making salat, no matter where they are. They dress in full hijab whenever leaving their home. They are able to recite long passages of the Quran from memory. It doesn’t help that many of these people have been Muslim for less time than I. Am I inferior? Am I less devoted to the deen? What exactly is wrong with me that I can’t seem to put the same amount of effort into something that means so much to me? Is it me? Am I just lazy? Endless questions plague me because I feel myself to be lukewarm in my devotion.

In Christianity, it is preached that being a lukewarm Christian is worse than being ice cold. Perhaps this concept is what makes me feel like a failure time after time. Although I would like, I simply do not think of my religion 24 hours a day. Too many other demands are made upon my time and thoughts. I feel a certain degree of shame admitting this because our religion should permeate and dictate all aspects of their daily lives. But, should it be a conscious permeation? Or should it be allowed to gently inhabit the daily life of the believer?

I have noticed that those born into the deen seem a little less rigid than many reverts. To them the deen is simple and natural. It comes easily. In fact, I have been told that they find the fanaticism of some newcomers amusing. To those born in the deen, it is a part of every fiber and molecule of their being. It is very simple. In the mere act of “being,” they are practicing their deen. Perhaps then, this is what I should strive for rather than kicking myself every time I miss salat. I am not saying that neglecting salat, or any of the pillars of Islam, is right. Rather, maybe being a Muslim is just that……being a Muslim.

Nearly every major religion teaches that in all things one should strive for balance. I have to constantly remind myself that what is balance for me may not be balance for you. While you may be able to devote hours each day to the study of Islam, I cannot. It does not mean that my religion is any less important to me than yours. I have merely chosen to approach my practice of Islam in a different way that does not overburden me. We must continue to strive toward perfecting our Deen. The words of the Prophet (pbuh) seem to support this, and for that I am eternally grateful!