The very first Ayah revealed in the Qur’an to our Prophet Sall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam was:
“Read! In the Name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists). Has created man from a clot. Read! Verily, your Lord is Al-Kareem (the Most Generous). Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He taught man that which He knew not.”
Surah 96 Ayah 1-5; Holy Qur’an.
Notice the first Ayah revealed is not the first Ayah of the Qur’an. The first word revealed to an illiterate man was Read! SubhanAllah.
From one singular perspective it can be taken literally. (I tend to take everything literally) We know that as Muslims we submit to Allah, the Creator. We follow his orders no matter how difficult they appear to be. We follow His guidance even if it goes against our culture, our family or our own selves. “We read when we are illiterate” – we pray when we are tired, we fast when we are thirsty, we help others when nobody helps us, we are kind to those who insult us… we strive to please Allah SWT, we try to better ourselves, be better daughters, better friends, better spouses, better neighbours, better strangers… that’s what it means to be Muslim.
To be Muslim doesn’t mean you are better than anyone else, it simply means you are better than the person you were yesterday.
Sometimes the more we “practice” Islam the less Muslim we are. We wear hijab but we curse everything around us that doesn’t go our way. Men grow beards to follow the sunnah of the Prophet (saw) but don’t lower their gaze and talk to other women. We pray our daily prayers and then look down on those who don’t. Men go to the mosque and then smoke a cigarette as soon as they leave. We fast and don’t eat or drink but we don’t pick up the Qur’an or ponder its meaning. Men want 4 wives but can’t manage to wake up for Fajr.
Sometimes we “practice” our religion but forget what it means. Sometimes we fall short, make mistakes, so never think you are any less perfect than others based on what they do. Because no one knows what they do behind closed doors. Always assume the best of others like our Prophet Sall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam taught us to do.
Too many people sleep through the Adhan… work through Maghrib… Too many people ensure their kids homework is done but neglect their Deen… too many people pass by the masjid every day but never set foot inside… too many people rush the prayer to do needless things that they have made important… too many of us ignore the ones in need… too many of us go to pray without inviting anyone else… too many of us watch people sin and don’t correct them or help them…
I wonder, is this the most we can offer the world? Is this the best Muslim we can be? Are we capable of more? Are we going to be happy to meet Allah with the deeds we have done? Do you know smiling is a charity and a good deed. If that’s all you can offer the world then that is what you must do. Find your strength and ask Allah to increase you in it. Benefit this world before you leave it.
In the end if your hard work goes by unnoticed, if nobody on earth thanks you for your time or effort, if the whole world were to gather and disregard your effort, if everything you done was never appreciated – know that Allah knows. He knows the things you do, He knows when you put Him first. He knows when you do the right thing when no one is watching. He knows you. “For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” – Mother Theresa.
I’m a weak soul.
And I’m calling you with a heart darkened by its own transgression.
Forgive me for my sins that keep haunting me. And guide me.
Strengthen me, and forgive me, ya Rabb.