Sunday, May 19, 2013

What one word would you use to describe Islam in your life?

  Have you ever been asked to use one word to best describe yourself or to describe some idea or event? Well, I thought I would try the Internet challenge to pick one word to describe what Islam means to me and my life. Of course it is impossible to have one word sum up all that Islam is and means to me but strangely one word did pop into my head and I couldn't shake it. I thought that this word might not be the best word because it could be misinterpreted a bit. I mean comfort could be taken as self serving or as good enough rather than as above and beyond. But those things aren't what I mean by comfort. I mean that to me Islam is one of the great comforting things in my life. I have a very personal relationship with Allah and am always striving to make that relationship stronger. Making salaat means I am called before my creator at least five times a day to focus on that relationship and to try and commune with the divine. If I do wrong or if I miss salaat Allah is still always there to welcome me back. Coming to Islam is like coming home. What greater comfort is there in life than home and family? Islam and Allah are those things.  I like that in salaat we ask for God's forgiveness and we also say that Allah listens to those who are coming to him and giving praise. And it is a beautiful feeling to give affection and praise to the One who gives so much to us and it is a comfort to my heart to know that there is no space between us. . . we ask for forgiveness and Allah in all of His mercy grants us forgiveness. How often in life is it easy to admit mistakes or to face the ones you have wronged? How often can we be sure that true repentance will lead to absolute forgiveness from another human being?
Islam is a comfort to me because it answers the yearnings of my spirit but it also speaks to my rational mind and this physical life. In Islam you must have faith in Allah but at the same time there is a good reason and rationality to the rules and guidance in the Quran. Islam promotes equality and fairness. No one is promoted above another for any reason beyond the quality of their hearts and of their deeds. It is a comfort to know in a world of man made inequality and unfairness and harsh judgements that we have a Creator who values us as His unique individual creations.Our prayers are not senseless. They give us comfort and draw us closer to our creator and help to focus us on who we want to be and why. Islam deals with a lot of the issues of this life. Of course Allah recognizes that we are physical beings with earthly concerns. We were sent a Prophet (PBUH) who understood this delicate balance because he was living between this world and the next. He was privileged with a closeness to the divine but he had an amazing understanding and sympathy for the human condition.  He appreciated beauty and the beauty in our relationships to one another and the beauty in comforting others. Comfort is something we also must project outward as Muslims. We should focus on comforting the sick, feeding the hungry and helping others when they are in need. They say that to smile is sunnah. Even the smallest of gestures matter and can bring some comfort to the hearts of others.  . . a smile, a compliment or a kind word can mean so much more than we realize.  Plus every good deed and gesture has a secondary effect of bringing good back to us. Don't you get happiness when you feel as though you have done a good deed? Doesn't it also make your day better when you feel like you have made someone elses day a little better? It is just so fundamentally true and simple.

It is a comfort to me that the guidance that Islam gives in the Quran feels so fundamentally true to me. I would believe in kindness and charity to others as the greatest deeds in this life even if I never heard of Islam. I would believe that the key to happiness is in our relationship with others and not in material gains or power or recognition (Granted I know we all want some of that stuff . . .but Islam says we can have some of that stuff . . . the danger is in getting lost in those things.).I believe things like the sanctity of marriage are good for us. Stability is a comfort and a foundation for love and family. And Alhamdullilah Allah allows for divorce with the understanding that sometimes our unions are ill-conceived and misery is a unnecessary imposition.
Even the beauty of the words in the Quran are a comfort. . . the ones I can memorize and understand and the ones I can't understand still give me comfort in their beauty when I listen to them. It is a comfort to me that even the Prophet (PBUH) had joy and sorrow and triumph and defeat and struggles and enlightenment. We have so many stories of the life of the Prophet (PBUH) and they are beautiful in his wisdom and fairness as well as in his humanity. He cries at the loss of his son, he forgives the man who killed his uncle but can't bear to see him, he feels the weight of being charged with being a Prophet and yet in every story he leaves some inspiration for us. The hardships that the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) endured were immense and yet his actions and his words and his accomplishments are a comfort and a blessing because they speak to what we can be as a people . We don't have to give up every comfort and indulgence in this life to submit to Allah and be a good Muslim. What is amazing is that the changes and deeds that we are called upon to make are so small in many ways. If as a people we made those tiny shifts in mindsets and lifestyles just think at what an amazing change we could affect in the world. The beauty of just knowing that is a comfort. . . .but the fact that in thousands of years of human history and who knows how many Prophets we have yet to meet these minimal standards is a little sad as well. I try not to dwell on that idea however and choose to strive to make improvements in myself and believe that we can and will make this life and this world a better place for ourselves and for our children and to please our Creator.
   So that is my one word that best represents Islam in my life. I would love for any of our readers out there to share their thoughts and perhaps even your choice for what word you would choose and why :D.
Salaam Ladies.

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