“Do not ask me about that which I have left [unspecified], for verily the nations before you were destroyed by their excessive questioning and their disagreeing with their Prophets. So if I order you with something then do as much of it as you are able, and if I forbid you from something then keep away from it.”

—Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) (Muslim)

'I Can't Do This Anymore'

“Muslims can't do anything,” the man said. “Everything is forbidden—art, philosophy, reading non-religious books, writing fiction or poetry, watching movies or television, listening to music, singing, dancing, and even looking good, for goodness sake!”

When I speak to those who are struggling most severely in their faith, often on the verge of leaving Islam, I find that in most cases the pain comes from the difficulty in making religiousness and spirituality meet.

When our heart, mind, and lifestyle pull us in one direction and our soul demands we go in another, we often grow weak and say to ourselves, “I can't do this anymore.”

But in many cases, this apparent contradiction between us and our soul has its roots in how we have come to understand Islam—not from the demands of the religion itself.

A Reflection from My Journal

A few months ago, as I was reflecting on yet another story of a former Muslim, I penned these thoughts in my journal:

'My sister's friend left Islam, and when she was asked why, she said, “It's too hard.”

'But I couldn't help wondering where she learned her religion, because the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “[The Angel] Gabriel came to me and gave me the good news, 'Verily, whoever dies amongst your Ummah without associating anything with Allah will enter Paradise.'” The Companion Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) asked in shock, “Even if he committed adultery and theft?” And the Prophet said, “Even if he committed adultery and theft.” Abu Dharr asked again, “Even if he committed adultery and theft?” And the Prophet said again, “Even if he committed adultery and theft.” And, still, Abu Dharr said, “Even if he committed adultery and theft?” And, again, the Prophet said, “Even if he committed adultery and theft” (Sahih Muslim).

'So whoever turns away from Islam because they think being Muslim is too hard cannot possibly know the definition of Muslim.'

A Heartbreaking Reality

It's one of the most heartbreaking things to witness: Many men and women enter Islam or grow up in Muslim homes inspired to give their all “for the sake of Allah.” Yet, years (or months) later, they walk away wounded and defeated, barely hanging on to their Islam—or they've let go of Islam altogether.

Whenever Allah allows me to speak to struggling Muslims or near-apostates, I find that most often their common denominator is one of two things (if not both): their definition of Islam is based on a particular group, ideology, shaykh, or school of thought (and they simply cannot adhere to the “rules” anymore); or they've been mistreated repeatedly by Muslims, often in the name of Islam (and they refuse to subject themselves to it any longer).

You Don't Define Islam, Allah Does

A question that has stumped me for quite some time is why many Muslims who invite others to Islam or who teach religious classes don't simply define Islam as it is defined by Allah and His Messenger and stop there.

Islam first and foremost is based on belief in the Oneness of God and in Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and adhering to this belief until one's death. Fundamentally, this belief is divided into two categories: faith and submission.

Our faith (internal belief) entails six matters: belief in Allah, His angels, His books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and Divine Decree; and our submission (external action) entails five matters: testifying to believing in Allah, praying the five daily prayers, giving the required charity, fasting in Ramadan, and going to Hajj at least once in a lifetime (for those who are able).

Of course, it's not incorrect to teach beyond these basics, but extra lessons are not appropriate in classes that purport to teach Islam itself, especially to new Muslims or to students who imagine they are learning something fundamental.

Though it is undeniable that non-foundational matters can give us a deeper understanding of Islam, it's important to remember that they cannot define Islam. To many of us, this might seem like a small point. But for many struggling Muslims and near-apostates, understanding this is the difference between remaining Muslim and letting go.

Submit to God or the Shaykh?

I remember years ago when I myself was struggling to understand certain “Islamic” opinions. I was so stressed that it negatively affected my īmān (faith). At the time, Islam felt so confusing and overwhelming that I honestly thought I couldn't go on. And what made this feeling so terrifying was that I really wanted to hold on, but I just could no longer bear the never-ending list of ḥarām (prohibited matters).

Almost everywhere I looked, no matter what group, shaykh, or school of thought Muslims claimed to follow, their practice of Islam essentially boiled down to following “rulings” from a favored imam, scholar, or shaykh—not clear teachings from the Qur'an and Sunnah itself.

And this confounded me.

…Until I realized that my shahadah (testimony of faith) had only two parts—and these “rulings” were neither.

'Muslims Can't Do Anything, Why Be Muslim?'

When I think back to my own struggles before finally understanding the difference between what Allah requires of me and what many Muslims claim Allah requires of me, I honestly understand how someone might believe that Muslims can do nothing. No, it's certainly not true. But it's understandable how someone could believe that.

So to avoid unnecessary confusion, it's best to define Islam from only two sources—Allah and His Messenger.

After this, if someone wants to join a favored group, follow a specific shaykh, or adhere to a certain school of thought, they are certainly free to do so.

But let's call this choice what it is—and it's not “Islam.”

 

Umm Zakiyyah is the internationally acclaimed author of the If I Should Speak trilogy and the novels Realities of Submission and Hearts We Lost.  She is now writing juvenile fiction stories under the name Ruby Moore. To learn more about the author, visit themuslimauthor.com or join her Facebook page.

Copyright © 2013 by Al-Walaa Publications.  All Rights Reserved.

WRITTEN FOR MUSLIMMATTERS.ORG

81 Responses

  1. Mohammad Yusha

    “Muslims can’t do anything,” the man said. “Everything is forbidden—art, philosophy, reading non-religious books, writing fiction or poetry, watching movies or television, listening to music, singing, dancing, and even looking good, for goodness sake!”

    Looking good is not forbidden. Allah is beautiful and he loves the beautiful. As for the rest, Allah SWT does not require perfection. He knows that we are weak. Now for the question – why be a Muslim? Well, I can’t score 100% in every subject – why be a student?

    Allah is very forgiving. Losing hope in Allah’s mercy is the biggest sin

    Thanks for the article.

    Regards.

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    • Mustafa Mujahid

      I am muslim, a believer. Most of my friends are muslims. I’ve never yet met a muslim that couldn’t do anything. I think it has a lot to do with how we perceive Islam. Islam is from Allah. I’ve met some who confuse cultural traditions and other ideas with Al Islam. I’ve met some who do not know for themselves what Allah is actually is saying in Quran. Some whose Islamic knowledge is limited to the friday sermon or what they have heard someone who studies someone who said something about Al Islam.
      The majority of muslims in the world are not reading the Qur’an for themselves. Reciting and reading are not synonymous. If we are not reading Allah’s word for ourselves and coming to our own personal understanding of what our Maker has for us, then we don’t have any first hand knowledge.
      A witness (shahid) is one who has first hand knowledge. Anyone who is witnessing Islam will tell you that muslims can do anything; anything if we put our hearts and minds to it, inshaAllah.

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      • human

        I’m glad I’m not a Muslim and got out of Christianity, I also hate being called atheist, I’m just a human of the world, the world is too unique and complicated, differences is what causes wars, but that’s exactly what these forces do, keep humans separated, fighting each other while the one’s who don’t care about either side take life and live it full. We are too young to understand life, God has allow wars for centuries, so it can be said he won’t intervene if there are more wars either, it’s up to us to not allow war, God is gone, but not in a bad way, we are here to grow, learn and love from each other and our mistakes. I’m glad I don’t have to beat my self down with rules, rules takes the life out of humans, because humans are not perfect, that’s our nature, so your leaders have set rules knowing this, and if these gods of the old testament still exist today I sure won’t follow them, humans and life have evolved because of our own efforts, not because a God came down with he’s hand and developed society. but take heart if you want to believe and get out of religion just watch some near death experiences, the end is just the beginning, and it’s always good, we are eternal, and hell was invented by man, how can God hate this world and it’s people, it’s too Beautiful.

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      • gunal

        Human, how can you say this world is beautiful? Do you not look around and see all the suffering, people inflicting pain on other lives just for the fun of it (not in the pursuits of religion), hunger, children becoming orphans…? Unfairness of it all! You also say; religion “……….keep humans separated, fighting each other while the one’s who don’t care about either side take life and live it full.” It sounds like you have chosen to be one of those humans. Well, enjoy your beautiful life within this beautiful world of yours while I and others believe we have to help the sufferers and explain to them that it makes total sense to have hope because this life is just a test,;an oportunity to show we have grown and understood beyond what we can see here and now; we can see far beyond and after; the unknown. For us this life is not as complicated as you think of it.

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    • Amani

      I’m a Muslim girl and I can dress beautiful and cute. I wear regular jeans and shirts just like Christians do and I can do lots of things. I can read fictional books that aren’t religious, I can write fiction or whatever, I can watch all sorts of tv and movies, I can sing, I can dance, and I listen to all sorts of music. I just think y’all looking at Islam in the wrong way. We’re nothing but humble people trying to live right. Is that so bad?

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      • Umm ZAKAriyya

        ( just FYI I didn’t give you that thumbs down)

        Yes,Muslims can do everything , as long as we fulfill the conditions set by Allah , to the best of our ability.
        And our Lord know what is best for us .

        A muslim girl dresses cute and wears fashionable clothes ., in the presence of her spouse, family , relatives( mahram) and girl friends . It’s ONLY in the presence of unrelated men( non mahrams to be more specific) that she takes extra care to to modest and plain . This she does to obey her creator .

        Same goes for all the things you mentioned.

        The first thing a muslim needs to do is to establish the connection with his/her Creator . Once this is clear , a muslim doesn’t feel bad about the rules that Allah has made for him/her to live the awesomest life possible . Most non-muslims desire such a structure that we muslims have in our life . Alhamdulillah .

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      • T

        Most of the people in your religion think nothing of the Christian religion and don’t respect how we in America live. We let you in our country free of charge, we can’t do it in countries that Muslims are in basically the Middle East. Why can’t you respect our religion? It use to be that everyone said Merry Christmas in the USA, now its the holiday season. Why should we change, you Muslims don’t do anything for us? It was much better growing up here in the 50′s,60′s and 70′s. I never heard of Muslim until the late 80′s now that’s all u hear about. I think you should all go back to your Muslim countries and deal with the mess u made there and don’t bother us with your problems. The USA would be a lot better place like it used to be then it is now. Why should we change for you and you not for us and I have to live with here where I was born. Go back to your country!

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  2. Ubaid Seth

    Excellent article! Sadly, a good friend of mine experienced this same issue with his church and left Christianity because of it.

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    • Gibran

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • T

      So did I. Then I found Islam… but I only did it for me, not because of any teaching that I “must.” Islam matched up with what I already believed, though there will always be things I understand differently. I wish your friend luck in whatever his endeavors. And you, too. :)

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  3. gunal

    Everything that is worth having, comes with as much struggle! Heaven has many levels. Just like in this life we have to aim for the highest so that we can guarantee sometimes just the bare minimum. So why going to heaven should require any less? Do we get anything in this life by giving up?

    I am kind of angry that God is (portrayed in all his books, including Christianity and Muslim etc. as) ‘The Most Forgiving’. I think I am angry because, once I realised who God is and what He is trying to achieve for me ‘I wouldn’t forgive myself’; for ignoring Him all these years; for being stupid not to realise; and, for not being able to work out His purpose sooner.

    I was born and raised a Muslim but lived most of my adult life amongst Christian, Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic, and Naturist society. Read in books and been influenced by the lives of our ancestors who believed in and worshipped many Gods. For a while I ignored the Halal meat rules commanded to me. For a while I thought by praying with a Hindu person but reciting my own Muslim prayers was okay, because I thought everyone knew there is only one God but everyone prays differently, until I heard one Hindu person swore (what she thought obviously a different God) to a Muslim person’s God. Believe me there are more samples of my stupidity! I will be here many moons if I try to list them all.

    I don’t know everyone else but so many times I found myself done something wrong and later realised that I was warned of its consequences before yet I didn’t take the advice and learnt it the hard way. I feel this is mostly the only way ‘for me’ to learn due to my lack of intelligence. My individual nefs, I call it my humanly-flaw.

    There are still a lot of other advices that I don’t follow in my day to day life. I try to give REASONS rather than EXCUSES for not taking those advices. The last day is also called the ‘Judgement Day’ for us Muslims. And it is said in Qur’an that on that day many of us will be giving a lot of EXCUSES for our bad actions, and not any valid REASONS.

    Ask yourselves; if you find believing in God is so difficult therefore you want to quit, what else will you be living for? Will you say that you live in a Godless world and don’t care about afterlife? How will you justify that action in the last day?

    For me being an atheist is the most stupid thing. I am amazed that how many intelligent persons in my life fail to work out this following reasoning;

    If you were given two life paths. They are both identical. They are the copy of your life on this earth. Same mother, same father, same wonderful friends, same struggles, same offered solutions, same rules (ie you have to be good, you must not lie or cheat, or murder, (and all of these intelligent people are good as far as I know)…)…. But what you cannot see is the difference at the end of the each path. In one path you believe in and value God, (and through which) don’t fall for the tricks of Satan, and through which don’t make negative assumptions about others’ belief, nor mock God. At the end of the day you know that you have to be good towards everyone right? So why be nasty towards believers by talking down to them as if they are so stupid that they believe in hocus pokus or make assumptions that our most treasured books are nothing but man-written horoscope stories. How can these intelligent people who think they ought to be good regardless of God’s commands yet be so Nasty and hurt believers where it hurts the most?

    So please take care of the path you decide to follow after quitting! That’s All.

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    • Disciple of Christ

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Zaheer

        Hi, me again:

        You claim religions “like Islam” teach that Allah is “harsh” and “looking for ways to condemn you”.

        From your other comments here, I assume you’ve studies the Qur’an fairly well. You must then know about the following verses:

        ‘Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”‘ – [39:53]{http://quran.com/39/53},

        “And it is He who accepts repentance from his servants and pardons misdeeds, and He knows what you do.” – [42:25]{http://quran.com/42/25}, and

        “O you who have believed, fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice.
        He will [then] amend for you your deeds and forgive you your sins. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly attained a great attainment.” – [33:70-71]{http://quran.com/33/70-71}

        Further, you should also know that Allah Himself describes himself, fairly often, as “Forgiving, Merciful”.

        But you’re probably right. These must be bad translations, or something. Or just maybe, you’re the one with a “hateful” view of anything other than that which fills your own mind. You’d be surprised, what you could learn, if you let go of that kind of mental attitude…

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      • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

        Dear Disciple of Christ

        Again your comment shows that you really have not studied Islam and are speaking from reading a few articles from “hostile” sources on the internet. I would again suggest you read authentic Islamic sources. Because you will find out what status Jesus (may Peace be Upon him) has in Islam and also of the nature of God.

        Regards
        -Aly

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      • gunal

        Disciple of Christ, forgive me if I am wrong. It looks like you have directed your above comment in response to my comment. The reason I say I might be wrong is because few times I clicked on wrongly myself. Since you haven’t mentioned my name I am not sure…

        I believe you. You were genuinely angry at yourself, (like me), for falling short of God’s grace. But as you said we are only human (and like I said I have humanly flaws). Thank you if you are genuinely concerned for my understanding of religion and the path I am on. I offer my comments with an understanding that my views may be wrong and would like to be challenged. Because, it is horrible to look back and say I was wrong so many times, why did I get it wrong for so long? Once I think I got it, it seems like it was a simple equation after all.

        I feel I need to defend the people, “long dead hateful men” you called. My comment may have brought this wrong view of yours. I don’t believe you have understood the Bible well. Jesus (sav) specifically says not to judge others’ faith in God, because, you cannot see what is in their hearts. Only Father can. (Paraphrased). Although YOUR hateful (disrespectful) feelings about a prophet of whole lot of nations, is evident in your comment, I cannot pass judgement about the true nature of YOUR heart. For us- the Islamic nations, there is NO indication that Mohammed (sav) was a hateful man. On the contrary He was the most gentle for his generation. My point is; although your hate (disrespect) is evident to me I withhold myself passing any judgements about your personal faith, because Jesus’ words had an effect upon my understanding. And because Mohammed said Jesus was the Messiah therefore we must respect Jesus and his teachings… and also respect all the other prophets ‘long dead and gone’ before Jesus, who all tried hard to explain what is a difficult concept to understand, to their best ability… These were the kind of things Mohammed was saying.

        I feel I need to defend all Books too. I hope when you said you read the bible you meant the Old Testament too. As some others have mentioned in response to your comments, the Bible mentions a lot of punishments of God and God’s anger. There are many others I could add but I won’t. Instead, I want you to think of the following:
        We have a part in our brain that constantly tries to find and only focuses on what our subconscious feelings/desires are. Therefore, if you are not respectful of others’ views and claim that only what you know and understand is correct, than this part of your brain will make you focus on only your views and automatically disregard and not see the others. Everyone has for themselves valid reasons to why they believe what they believe. Just saying someone you are wrong without a good- enough valid reason, will not accomplish anything. If you are genuinely concerned about Islam please respond to what you think about our given reasons. If you have any other concerns I am happy to offer you my reasoning to why I strongly believe Islam is the continuation (not just verification) of Judaism and Christianity.

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    • Sadeeqa

      Well, on the Day of Judgement we’ll see what happens to you. AstagfirAllah! If you don’t want Islam, leave it be and it will leave you standing astray! I hope you find what happens to you in time! Don’t come out writing about it if you don’t like it, keep it to yourself and Allah!!!

      Thank you!

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    • fouziya

      Agree with you, God (Allah) Knows better what is good for us that’s why he has made (hadud) Limits.those who are defying surely will be facing trouble!

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  4. Abu Asiyah

    Jazakillahu khayran sister for this article. However, as with your previous articles, I find that you are oversimplifying things. The issue is not following scholars that is ruining people’s deen. I’ve met people who are very confused by trying to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah without any outsider opinion. The issue is more along which scholars we follow.

    I’m not trying to promote an elitist or sectarian version of Islam. My point is simply this: among the speakers and scholars here in the West, from both sides of the ideological divide, there are individuals who understand life here and have wisdom in approaching every day matters and those who don’t. The issue is following the latter.

    I myself became Muslim at the hands of a scholar and I learnt my deen from the very beginning from scholars. My teachers were very conservative in matters of fiqh and did indeed abstain from a very large number of things in their own lives. However, they also had wisdom in directing my life as a new convert, telling me about the alternative, easier opinions, focusing me on the priorities of the deen (the ones you mention), and reminding me always about the spiritual aspect of Islam.

    The issue is often that scholars will 1) focus so much on the outward practice that they forget the inward and 2) they forget to acknowledge that there are differences of opinion and if following an alternative opinion (even if weaker) will lead to much benefit, such as preservation of one’s religion or better relationship with one’s family, then one should follow that opinion.

    I recall a story one shaykh mentioned of a scholar who had a student who was a recent convert and wore a mohawk. All the scholar’s students kept coming to the scholar urging him to tell the mohawk-wearing brother to fix his hair. The scholar simply replied, “He loves that mohawk so much, if you tell him to abandon it now, he will leave Islam.” The scholar never bothered this man and he eventually abandoned the mohawk on his own accord and adapted the dress according to the sunnah.

    That’s real wisdom. It’s knowing how to deal with converts, what to teach them, and how to approach their challenges. I personally found that having wise scholars to direct one’s path is extremely beneficial and is in fact conducive to NOT falling into confusion. However, following “there is only one way to practice Islam” shuyookh does become confusing and burdensome.

    Whenever I read your articles, you point out the bad effects of following unwise scholars and call for simple Qur’an and Sunnah, but I find it more nuanced than that. Truly wise scholars help us understand Qur’an and Sunnah better than we can on our own.

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      • Mahmud

        Lol, a -8 because I expressed surprise we need a scholar to show hikmah to a guy with a mohawk? Yes, if we need a scholar for that basic sense, we are in deep trouble.

        The Quran and Sunnah is what we need. What the scholars job is, is to explain that for us. There job is not to force us to blindly follow them and incite their devotees. Many of these very people are the ones who promote bidah in iman and actions and even shirk.

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      • maruf

        It was narrated that Qays ibn Katheer said: “A man came from Madeenah to Abu’l-Darda’ in Damascus and he said, ‘What brought you here, my brother?’ He said, ‘A hadeeth which I have heard that you narrate from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).’ He said, ‘Have you come for any other reason?’ He said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Have you come for trade?’ He said, ‘No. I have only come to seek this hadeeth.’ He said, ‘I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say, “Whoever follows a path to seek knowledge, Allaah will make easy for him the path to Paradise. The angels beat their wings in approval of the seeker of knowledge, and those who are in the heavens and on earth pray for forgiveness for the scholar, even the fish in the water. The superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like the superiority of the moon over all other heavenly bodies. The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, for the Prophets did not leave behind dinars or dirhams, rather they left behind knowledge, so whoever gains knowledge has gained great good fortune.’” (narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2606; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani).

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    • asiahkelley

      What a beautiful dream: that every convert will have access to scholars, and wise, helpful, considerate, empathetic, kind scholars to boot! May Allah make it a reality, ameen.

      But it’s a dream, a prayer, not reality. I’m so truthfully happy for you brother, that you have had this experience, so that now you can pass it on, and pay forward what amazing treatment that you were beneficial to receive. But in my experience as a convert, and in meeting other converts, what you experienced happens about 5% of the time (I’m rounding way up) and the other 95% it’s what Umm Zakkiyyah is describing.

      Taking into account that majority of converts are women, who do not have the same access to scholarship that your privilege buys you, it should not be surprising to hear that true knowledge is hard to come by.

      This is the 2nd article that Umm Zakiyyah has posted for MM concerning this disheartening that converts face, and I hope to see more. Maybe MM is not the best audience for it, as the main readers seem to be born Muslims who want to hear more success stories such as Abu Asiyah’s. While I too am sincerely happy to know that some converts are being treated well, that’s not the norm, and Muslims need to address these problems of faith in their communities. If we don’t acknowledge the issues, we will be unable to continue to provide great stories like the one above. Without knowing the pitfalls that converts fall into, that wise shaykh could not have been patient with the mohawk brother.

      So it is your experience that proves the need for more stories and articles like Umm Zakiyyah so we can turn out and produce more of these wise scholars that you have benefited from.

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      • Abu Asiyah

        assalaamu ‘alaykum,

        I think you misunderstood my point sister.

        First of all, I’m not sure what you mean “scholarship that your privilege buys you” – I’m not rich, I wasn’t rich, the vast majority of my studies were done at no cost to me. Alhamdulillah, there are many avenues for learning available now that do no charge the student.

        You are right in that it’s a huge blessing that I was able to fall with the right scholars, that was I able to learn the deen from people who truly understood it, etc. I’m not denying that. Neither am I denying the fact that I’m a fairly rare species of converts.

        I wasn’t saying that Umm Zakiyyah should stop writing. I hope she continues to write. The issue I take with her posts is that she continuously puts forward the simplistic equation “Follow scholars = be confused, follow ‘Qur’an and Sunnah’ = be guided”. The reality is much more complex than that. I’ve met many “Qur’an and Sunnah” (whatever that means) people who are just as confused. And I’ve met people who follow scholars who are far from confused.

        The problem isn’t solved by this simplistic call for abandoning scholarship altogether. The problem is solved by a slow, methodological process to create REAL scholarship in the West. To train the leaders of our communities in dealing with the problems of this society. To teach our communities the need to have leaders like that.

        It’s a slow process, but one that is currently going on. We currently have the first generation of locally-trained scholars emerging in America (I think this happened in England a decade ago or so) – people who didn’t need to go abroad to study Islam. Insha’Allah, there is hope to be found in that.

        So my point wasn’t that Umm Zakiyyah stop writing, rather it was that her consistent blaming of following scholarship for the problems of the converts as misplaced. The problem isn’t with the following, but with the scholars themselves. Once we have more real scholars in our community, many of these problems will disappear, insha’Allah.

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      • Umm Zakiyyah

        As salaamu’alaikum warahmautllaahi wa barakaatuh, Abu Asiyah,

        Thank you for taking time to read my article and take part in the discussion.

        When I read your initial comment, I liked it, as I felt it created a balanced, supplement to the very point I was making in my article, maashaAllah: that we should define Islam based on the Qur’an and Sunnah, and when we teach Islam properly (as scholars, du’aat, or laypeople), Muslims will understand the Qur’an and Sunnah properly; but the problem is when we do not teach Islam properly. However, after reading your response here, particularly this point, I feel that your perspective represents the very problem plaguing the ummah, as we constantly create disagreement where none existed in the first place: “The issue I take with her posts is that she continuously puts forward the simplistic equation “Follow scholars = be confused, follow ‘Qur’an and Sunnah’ = be guided”.

        SubhaanAllah. Is this really what you believe I’m writing about?

        My point is simply that the *definition* of Islam cannot be based on a particular scholar, fatwa, or school of thought—although it is not incorrect in Islam to *follow* a particular scholar, fatwa, or school of thought (if you find this helpful in your practice of Islam). But what you find “helpful” in practicing Islam cannot replace the definition of Islam itself.

        I’m deeply concerned that any Muslim would disagree with this, esp. someone like yourself who appears to have benefited from balanced and wise scholars, maashaAllah.

        Do any of the scholars you learn from teach that the *definition* of Islam should be based on themselves or their school of thought? Do you yourself believe that the *definition* of Islam should be your scholars or school of thought? If not, then we are in agreement with each other. If so, then you are in disagreement with the teachings of Islam itself.

        The sad reality is that for many converts, they come to believe that the *definition* of Islam is connected to certain scholars, opinions, schools of thought or fatwas. So when they feel they can no longer follow these “rulings”, they think they must leave Islam itself (b/c they believe Islam *is* these “rulings”). This is the problem I’m addressing. But you state: “The reality is much more complex than that.”

        I agree—to a certain extent. But your making this point in *this* context is like saying the same in response to Allah saying “I only ask that you worship Me alone” or when the Prophet, sallallaahu’alayhiwa sallam says, “I leave behind me only two things: the Qur’an and my Sunnah”

        You state: “I’ve met many ‘Qur’an and Sunnah’ (whatever that means) people who are just as confused. And I’ve met people who follow scholars who are far from confused.”

        BarakAllaahufeek, I’m glad you made this point, as it shows where the problem lies, as your “whatever that means” remarks speaks for itself. This condescending remark regarding following Qur’an and Sunnah points to one of two things:

        1. You are speaking sarcastically when you say “whatever that means” in reference to “Qur’an and Sunnah people” (i.e. you do not honestly believe these people are following the Qur’an and Sunnah and intend only to make fun of them).
        2. You are speaking truthfully about your observations and thus honestly believe that there’s a genuine difference between following the Qur’an and Sunnah and following scholars—and that, to you, the latter approach is superior.

        If the case in number 1, then this is not a genuine observation and thus holds no relevance or place in a serious discussion aimed at helping the ummah.

        And if the case is number 2, then this represents the very thing that many converts to Islam are learning after they become Muslim—and the very thing that inspires them to leave Islam in the first place: that if you wish to follow Qur’an and Sunnah without *my* scholars or school of thought, you are confused and astray.

        May Allah help us.

        In my view, following true Islamic scholars automatically means following the Qur’an and Sunnah, as true scholars teach only the Qur’an and Sunnah—and they define Islam likewise.

        But I respect your right to disagree.

        Your sister in Islam,
        Umm Zakiyyah
        themuslimauthor.com

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      • Abu Asiyah

        wa ‘alaykum assalaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu Umm Zakiyyah,

        Alhamdulillah I’m very honored that you responded to me :) I was hoping this conversation with you (otherwise, what’s the point of posting comments?). I think it did clear up a few misconceptions I had with regards to your writing.

        First off, I agree with you that the danger for converts lies in associating Islam with its definition by a particular scholar or group. Like I mentioned in the my first post, the scholars that I learned from made a point of never disparaging the scholars with whom they disagreed (even when the disagreement was on the fundamentals of the religion). They never staked the claim of having the one correct interpretation of Islam. In fact, they encouraged me to follow other opinions when those opinions would be of more benefit. While the scholars that are adamant that their way is the only way are perhaps beneficial for some people to follow, I do find a lot of problems with that approach, the most prominent being the convert issues that you mentioned. (And they’re not limited to converts, we have jaded Muslims coming out of that type of environment as well)

        I have to apologize for the “whatever that means” remark. I did not intend it to be condescending, as you have interpreted it. I also don’t think either of your interpretations of that statement is what I meant by it.

        Rather, the point I was trying to make with that statement is “following Qur’an and Sunnah” can mean a whole wide variety of things. Everybody claims to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah. The scholars that stake the claim that their interpretation of the religion is the only correct one say they’re following the Qur’an and Sunnah. The balanced scholars I’ve learned from also said that they’re following the Qur’an and Sunnah.

        The issue, in my eyes, comes when people untrained in any of the Islamic disciplines (namely Arabic, grammar, usool, fiqh, adab, hadith, etc) decide that they will follow “Qur’an and Sunnah” by opening up a translation of Qur’an and a copy of Sahih Bukhari. I’ve known an individual who knew absolutely 0 Arabic and was leading a weekly halaqa of 25+ people by teaching them his tafseer of the Abdel Haleem translation of Qur’an. I’ve known brothers who destroyed the peace in their families and in their communities by taking one hadith and adhering to it strictly, without knowing that hundreds of other ahadith exist on the issue. This kind of approach I find outright dangerous.

        Forgive me for misunderstanding, but what I got from the articles I’ve read from you, was that you were advocating the latter option: opening up the original Islamic texts and making your own derivations and finding your own understanding of the religion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for opening up our source texts – much is to be gained from that. I just find a problem with the idea that we are all our own muftis and we don’t need the scholars at all.

        If you are not advocating this idea, then I would likely to humbly request that you explain this a bit further in your articles. That’s the feeling I got from them. Perhaps I was not careful enough in reading through them and if that’s the case, the blame is on me. However, you must also remember that there’s other Muslims who don’t read your articles carefully either.

        And if you are not advocating this idea of self-mufti-ism, then the words “Qur’an and Sunnah” are empty to me, because they can mean a whole bunch of different things. In the end, we all try to follow Qur’an and Sunnah.

        I think where it comes back to is this: unless you favor making your own interpretations of the religion, you will HAVE to learn from people. And if you do end up taking knowledge from people, you will fall into the problem of “well, which people do I learn from?” For converts, this usually means they choose whoever introduced them to the deen. And that’s really a lottery system – you may find proper scholarship or you might not.

        So in the end, I believe it comes down to reforming the leaders of our community. And I believe that if you do try to help converts, the best thing to do is to point out to the characteristics of a true scholar – i.e. not claiming the sole correct interpretation of Islam. What I understood from your articles was different. Since I misunderstood your point, I seek your forgiveness.

        I do hope that you will follow up with a response to this insha’Allah. Once again, I am very happy that I got to discuss this with you. Please forgive me for any offense I have caused. This is due to my bad manners and lack of knowledge.

        JazakumAllahu khayran katheeran.

        Abu Asiyah

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      • Umm Zakiyyah

        Thank you, Abu Asiyah for taking time to clarify. And I thank you for your suggestion of clarifying my point of view in another article. This is something I will definitely consider bi’idhnillah.

        However, here are my current thoughts: Why is a clarification needed for asking Muslims to define Islam based on the Qur’an and Sunnah—especially since this is what Islam itself states? Where would a Muslim get the impression that calling to what Allah and His Messenger, sallalllaahu’alayhi wa sallam, (i.e Quran and Sunnah) means something other than what Allah and His Messenger meant by it?

        You state: “following Qur’an and Sunnah” can mean a whole wide variety of things. Everybody claims to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah.”

        Well…. following a trustworthy, wise, balanced scholar can mean a wide variety of things. Nearly every Muslim group claims to follow trustworthy, wise, balanced scholars.

        So where does that leave us as Muslims in clearing up confusion?

        Do we tell people the “simplistic” answer offered by Allah and HIs Messenger (i.e. follow the Qur’an and Sunnah)? Or do we offer the “simplistic” answered offered by devout followers of certain scholars and schools of thought (i.e. follow a particular scholar or school of thought)?

        Either way, there’s opportunity (and likelihood) for confusion and misguidance…
        But only if we *don’t* follow the first advice in the way it was meant in the Divine texts. Therefore, the only solution to both problems goes back to my “simple” solution offered in the article: Define (and follow Islam) based on the Qur’an and Sunnah.

        As for confusion and misguidance happening on this path, well, I’m of the belief that any person who sincerely takes this path will not be misguided even as they make human mistakes. Otherwise, they aren’t following this path in the first place, as the Qur’an and Sunnah path is mutually exclusive to misguidance since it is guidance itself.

        Yes, I’m aware of “self-mufti-ism.” But I’m also aware of “scholar worship” and people genuinely admiring and following scholars more than they do the Prophet, sallallahu’alayhi wa sallam. And as for my response to self-mufti-ism, I find the answer as simple as the one I offered in my article: Follow the Qur’an and Sunnah.

        And in the Qur’an, Allah says, “Ask those who know if you do not know” and His Messenger says, “The scholars are inheritors of the prophets.”

        …The issue is that “those who know” are only those who “inherit” from the Prophet…without adding their own “wealth” to that inheritance, which is nothing other than the Qur’an and Sunnah unadulterated.

        Honestly, I love this about Islam. It’s so simple… It is we humans who complicate matters.

        Umm Zakiyyah
        themuslimauthor.com
        ummzakiyyah.com

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      • Abu Asiyah

        Jazakillahu khayran for following up. I had to think about what you said for a while and it helped me formulate what I was trying to say better.

        I think where I’m getting hung up is that when a person says “follow Qur’an and Sunnah”, that statement doesn’t explain HOW to do it. One person might respond, “I am following Qur’an and Sunnah! My shaykh teaches me all I need to know about it!” Another might say, “I am following Qur’an and Sunnah! I’m reading this translation of Qur’an, check out this novel radical understanding of this ayah that I just came up with!”

        When the Prophet (saws) commanded to adhere to Qur’an and Sunnah, the people around him knew how to do that. They knew who to ask if they didn’t know, they understood the Arabic and its grammar, they could find out the sabab an-nuzool, and they could ask the companions about specific hadith, etc.

        This is no longer the case. What is the method for correctly following Qur’an and Sunnah? How do we help new converts distinguish the path of the Qur’an and Sunnah and “scholar worship”?

        One might say it’s easy: check what the scholar says against the original texts, but a layman runs into trouble there. I recall a brother in my community who published a book on how the Hanafi madhhab goes directly against the sunnah by mentioning the positions of the madhhab vs specific hadith he quoted. The reality was that he did not know the usooli principles through which these positions were derived.

        Oftentimes that which appears to be against Qur’an and Sunnah turns out to actually adhere to it, or vice versa. So a layman can’t just start comparing positions to hadith just like that.

        So what guiding principles do we give to new converts so that they can distinguish the real path of Qur’an and Sunnah vs what pretends to be that path?

        I don’t have a good answer to this, but I’d humbly like to know yours. I think you hit the nail on the head that if a person is sincere, they will be guided. At the end of the day, Allah Ta’ala guides whom He wills.

        However, this does not remove the responsibility of the scholars that create the fitnah that you have pointed out. So to me it still comes down to encouraging legitimate scholarship.

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      • Umm Zakiyyah

        “I think where I’m getting hung up is that when a person says ‘follow Qur’an and Sunnah’…that statement doesn’t explain HOW to do it. …So what guiding principles do we give to new converts so that they can distinguish the real path of Qur’an and Sunnah vs what pretends to be that path?”

        BarakAllaahufeek. I understand where you’re coming from, as this very question stumped me for years…until I realized that the answer itself is in the Qur’an and Sunnah.

        I believe that Allah has made the truth clear, as He states Himself, as well as His Messenger. And certainly, they speak the truth. Thus, for anyone who truly wants guidance, they will get it. It really is that simple.

        But accepting this truth boils down to the answer to these questions, “Do we really believe in Allah? Do we really believe He guides?” If the answer is yes, then we have nothing to tell converts except this: “Before making any decision to follow any path or understanding of Islam, make du’aa. Then research as best you can and ask those whom you trust. And make du’aa again. And always make the final measuring stick for truth vs. falsehood the clear teachings of Allah and His Messenger (pbuh). And for sure, you will be guided.”

        There is no human answer to “how” this ultimate guidance will happen. Allah says, “Be” and it is.

        And in all honesty, here is what I truly believe regarding all your concerns and questions (as they were once my questions and concerns): After we’ve done our best to teach truth vs. falsehood, if we continue to ask these questions, it shows how we as humans insist on stressing over the affairs of Allah. But He doesn’t need our help.

        We need His.

        And that help is in the Qur’an and Sunnah.

        Umm Zakiyyah
        ummzakiyyah.com
        themuslimauthor.com

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      • Abu Asiyah

        BarakAllahu fikum. I’m glad we’re on the same page.

        My concerns with your article were not based on the idea that we guide instead of Allah – He is far above needing His servants – rather it was how do we as humans “do our best to teach truth vs falsehood”.

        After you clarified your stance on these issues, I understand your article as addressing the people who associate Islam with a particular interpretation of it, so that once that interpretation becomes untenable for them, they think they must leave Islam. You were trying to make the point that the real Islam is that which is taught by Allah and His Messenger (saws) – and that is not always what individual scholars teach.

        I think because you didn’t address how we should strive to find the way to follow what Allah and His Messenger (saws) taught (I really like your bit about du’a – that’s what I had in mind after thinking about this issue for a while), it came off to me as a call for “self mufti-ism” and a riddance of all men of knowledge, which I now understand is not what you are calling for.

        On my end, I am very happy to understand your point, to benefit from this interaction, and to clear up my misunderstandings. However, for the benefit of your other readers, I do suggest trying to be a bit more clear about what we discussed in your future writing. Like I mentioned, I’ve been misinterpreting your writing for some time now (I had these concerns with your other articles), so it’s not just about this particular piece.

        Of course, I am but one reader and you have far more experience than myself in this matter, so I do not claim to be the guru on writing. It’s just a suggestion on my end – insha’Allah you will do what you think is best.

        JazakumAllahu khayran for taking the time to respond to me and to discuss this with me. May Allah Ta’ala elevate you in ranks, accept your good deeds, overlook your slips, and make you among the as-saabiqeen, ameen.

        Wassalaam,

        — Abu Asiyah

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  5. siraaj

    Salaam alaykum Umm Zakiyyah,

    Agreed with the need for simplification – a good number of well-intentioned individuals unnecessarily complicate religious teachings for lay muslims with tertiary and esoteric matters far beyond the realm of what is required of them to have a deep and fulfilling iman-based relationship with Allah (SWT).

    Siraaj

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  6. katie

    this is not true.. im a muslim and we can do most things anyone else can do. we watch movies, read books not related to religion and we can look good! we just have to cover in front of men not related to us, we can look and dress however we want in front of women and men from the family . we can sing.. and listen to music. do not judge if your not sure

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  7. Omar

    I think what a lot of people miss is the spiritual aspect of faith. The Ego/nafs (dont know what to call it exactly but that part of us that says “I want”), needs to be let go and in doing so we open ourselves up to the world of the heart, and God-consciousness (what would God want me to do?) and true humility (seeing ourselves in the right perspective). Even religiousness can be taken over by the Ego as we define our faith in contradistinction to other’s faiths and schools of thought and strive to prove we are more right, more moral, bigger and better than others and pride ourselves with how great our tribe is. I guess what I am trying to say is that on the level of the heart we are all brothers and sisters and that heart-felt connection to others we feel is enough to sustain us and impossible to get tired of but on the level of the Ego we are mostly concerned with accomplishments, achieving our goals, arguing with others and being right. It’s easy to get exhausted with the Ego-based life.

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  8. abdul ansari

    The angel Gabril (as) was shown the hell-fire and said, “none of them (speaking about mankind), will enter it”. Then Allah ta ala showed him the things that concealed it (i.e. the pleasures of this world), and he said “none of them will be able to avoid it. Then He(swa) showed him (as) the paradise, and he (as) said, “all of them (i.e. mankind) will enter it, but when he was shown what surrounded it (i.e. struggle and sacrifice), he (as) said “none of them will attain it”. This is an excerpt from a hadees that is considered sahih. What are its lessons……..

    The attainment of the best of the life to come sometimes means foregoing some of what this life has to offer (but NOT always). Conversely, attaining the best of what this life has to offer (depending on your interpretation) means losing out on the best of the life to come. The decision is easy for the believer, but the fool has difficulty with it.

    This life is 100 years (usually much less) but the next will HAVE NO TIME element.

    think

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    • Bashiru Ismail

      “The decision is easy for the believer, but the fool has difficulty with it.”
      I think non-believer will be more appropriate and not “fool” as you never can tell who might be reading and hoping to benefit from this.

      Insulting people cuz they’re not muslim. I do think that’s wrong.

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  9. RCHOUDH

    Good post and the above sentiment can be expressed by almost any Muslim living in non-Muslim countries, even elementary-school aged kids (I’ve heard such things expressed by younger members of my own families). And the article’s explanation that we should learn not to be so rigid with whatever opinion/school of thought we carry is a valid one. Brother Abu Asiyah also makes a valid point about how we as Dai’s should learn to be flexible with how we approach different individuals. A similar phenomenon even goes on in Muslim countries nowadays, where you have members of the secular liberal elite class believing that religion (namely Islam) makes life too “hard” to live. Even though it’s easier to ignore them and pretend such people don’t exist, we really should learn how to interact with them too and give da’wah to them using tact and wisdom. Instead of always focusing on the rules (particularly on whatever is deemed haraam) with someone who is having a hard time following them, just try to help them increase their iman by focusing on the spiritual aspects of Islam (the Aqueeda, Akhirah, benefits of salah, etc). We should remember that whatever issues and problems are affecting the greater society will also affect our community too, so long as we live in such a society. Instead of getting shocked every time someone goes astray, we should try to help them back on the Right Path through thoughtfulness, compassion, and wisdom.

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  10. asiahkelley

    Umm Zakiyyah, loved the article. Please keep writing. I know so many Muslims, converts and other, who have found themselves in this place. Islam is simple, we need to nix this idea of the “ideal muslim/muslimah.” Perfection does not exist except in jannah.

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  11. RCHOUDH

    I wonder if it would be possible for MM to devote a series of articles towards the many effective ways to give da’wah using tact and wisdom. Or if such articles have already been published, I think it would help to insert the links here for all MM readers to access. Thanks!

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  12. A.

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Abu Asiyah

      Hi A.,

      I’m not sure who you learned your religion from and I’m not sure how they explained these concepts to you, but as a convert I can personally tell you that I do not find the problems that you claim to have with the religion.

      If you’re still open to a conversation, you can contact me at muslim1543 AT gmail. If not, I advise you to seek other scholars who may perhaps explain the concepts you’re struggling with. I can suggest some for you over email.

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      • A.

        Your comment “not sure who you learned your religion from” is very telling. That is the usual response given to anyone who has left Islam due to various reasons, I have used it myself a couple of times when I have discussed with former Muslims.

        Everyone has gotten it all wrong and you (not personally you, but “you” in general) are the only one who has TRULY understood. Well, I have studied under the recognized scholars of ahl al sunnah wa jamaah for many years so I would neither count myself amongst the “scholars” nor the “laymen”. I have studies subjects like usool, fiqh, aqeedah, hadith and tafsir. If I would mention their names everyone would know them. I just won’t do it quite yet since I won’t risk being recognized by anyone just yet due to my circumstances (perhaps a bit paranoid, but better safe than sorry)

        In the beginning, a person just wants to believe so hard that he or she will swollow almost anything, even when you encounter something that your concsiense or reason knows is wrong or incorrect. You will either ignore it, white-wash it or say that it is just a “misunderstanding”. Or you will even try to rationalize it by giving one lame excuse after the other. This can be seen in women who argue and fight for their own opression…

        I have done all of this, the difference between me and you is that I have come to my senses (no offence). I have already gone through that process so to speak. For example, the misogyny that is Islam cannot be explained. Or at least, the explenations and excuses do not hold for very long especially for the converts who haven’t been indoctrinated since their very first breath… You as a Muslim male of course have far more privileges than I as a (Muslim) woman, so you perhaps do not need to be confronted by these issues on a day-to-day basis.

        Do not misunderstand me. Religion can be something very beautiful and beneficial for a person. Faith can be something that keeps a person going. In Islam, just as in any other religion, you can find much beauty. But all that beauty cannot conceal the injustice and horror that can be found as well, and Islam is no exception. I do not regret that I became a practicing Muslim, I only regret that I didn’t leave sooner. But at the same time, I am immensly happy that it wasn’t too late, I have my whole life ahead of me… and some youth still left.

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      • Umm Zakiyyah

        A, thank you for taking time to participate in the discussion.

        Of course, I don’t know everything that led to your final decision to give up belief in Allah completely, but I can relate to some of your struggles before you came to that point. As I mentioned in my article, I once reached a point where I really felt I couldn’t go on though I wanted to.

        I won’t ask the specific teachings that you believe are misogynistic (anti-women), but I will say this: When I got to my lowest point (and it was connected to the way many “trustworthy scholars” teach about women, even quoting Qur’an and Sunnah as “daleel”), Allah blessed me with this epiphany:

        What if you wake up on the Day of Judgment, and Allah says one thing to you that grants you clarification and understanding of everything that confused and distressed you in this world? Would you want to say, “Ah! I would have never guessed that meant that!” and then go to Paradise (because you held on to your faith despite being unable to understand something in this world)? Or would you want to say “Ah! I would have never guessed that meant that!’” and then be denied Paradise forever (because you let go of faith because of what you thought you disagreed with, but simply did not have the capacity to interpret or understand)?

        Well, for me, the answer is the former; and I said to myself, “I’ll leave my questions until the Day of Judgment. But for now, I believe in Allah, and if that means leaving these issues alone completely, that’s what I’ll do. But I am determined to meet Allah as a Muslim.”

        I say this to you because when I read your comment, I sensed that Allah is slowly but surely guiding you back to Him…but this time how it should have been in the beginning, with a personal relationship between you and Him, unclouded by what this or that verse or hadith means about women…but beautified and blessed by what your very existence means to you, and to Allah.

        Allah says, “I am Forgiving and Merciful.”

        As long as you’re alive, it’s never too late to benefit from that forgiveness and mercy.

        May Allah ease your pain and remove your distress so that you can believe in Him with peace in your heart and happiness and success in your life…and wholeness as a woman.

        And may you meet Allah as a believer.

        your sister,
        Umm Zakiyyah
        ummzakiyyah@yahoo.com

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      • Mahmud

        ” I sensed that Allah is slowly but surely guiding you back to Him”

        Dangerous, you don’t know if she is not going to be guided.

        “Showing the way” is better.

        I’m glad you know the consequences of your disbelief. However, it can’t help you unless Allah guides you.

        So if you really want to be guided, your going to have to ask Allah aza wa jal to guide you.

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      • Umm Zakiyyah

        ‘I sensed that Allah is slowly but surely guiding you back to Him. “Dangerous, you don’t know if she is not going to be guided.”

        It’s not dangerous to feel, think, or sense things; as feelings, thoughts and senses can be right or wrong.

        We all have feelings, thoughts, and senses; so let’s understand statements in the context that they were intended.

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      • ummabdullaahbdullaah

        Hello A,

        I don’t intend to psychoanalyze you, but state my observation of your text. I hope that you’ll be able to see it from this prospective.

        It seems that you’re no longer Muslim or of any religious belief, because of how you were created (female).

        You see not listening to anyone tell you about how you’re suppose to be according to a god as freedom to do and be whatever you want without accountability.

        The most interesting part of your statement is the prelude highlighting your background and knowledge (BA in Islamic studies several years of education amongst recognized scholars, etc.) for the purpose of not allowing anyone to think that you don’t know what you’re doing or talking about.

        Allaah does say that there is no compulsion in the Deen, which means the opposite (if you believe that), choice.

        You’ve made your choice based on what you feel and think is correct.

        Interesting, all so interesting.

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      • A.

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Umm Zakiyyah

        A., thanks for your detailed reply.

        Everything you’ve said I’ve heard before; but alhamdulillaah, Allah has blessed me to never view Islam or God himself in this way.

        Some of the issues you mentioned are certainly ones that need to be addressed, just as I’m sure in the circle of many atheists, there is a need to address issues like Darwinism and racism that form the foundation of many atheistic beliefs (though certainly not all) that lead to mass genocide of entire groups of people.

        But I assume you don’t associate with that “brand” of atheism…just as I don’t associate with *your* brand of Islam.

        But I understand it’s easier to deny God in your case. It makes disbelief easy…for now.

        But as I say often, God doesn’t cease to exist just because you’re an atheist. And you’ll find that out soon enough, prayerfully before your soul is taken and you meet Allah.

        A, it’s certainly arguable that my suggestion is “weak.” And it might be…based on your definition of weak.

        To me, your thinking and approach to life are weak…based on my definition of weak.

        But hey, you have a right to your weakness, and I have a right to mine. :)

        “Reality is perception” as they say, so I leave you with yours.

        Umm Zakiyyah

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      • Abu Asiyah

        If I could butt in here to add my two cents to the discussion.

        1) I’d like to repeat – I’m not sure who you learned from, based on your comments. My scholars were willing and actively discussed the issues you described (we’ve all heard them before). Of course, they cautioned that we shouldn’t try to FIND ways to create doubt in one’s faith – but if we HAVE doubts, then they need to be addressed. I’ve had discussions on the issues you describe above and I personally find Islamic rules on gender relationships to be far superior to the modern norm. You might say I’m a guy (that was your line of attack, as if a man cannot relate to a woman, ever) – but I’m happily married to a Muslim woman who is far stricter than me in the deen and yet loves Islam much more than I do. She is a student of knowledge and learns from other female scholars who likewise do not find an issue in the treatment of women in Islam.

        My suggestion is to discuss this with other scholars from those you have learned from – I can give you their contacts if necessary. I have never had my teachers discourage me from asking questions, no matter how controversial, which the reason why I only increase in faith as I learn more about Islam.

        2) “I will not accept all this just because there MIGHT be a god and that god MIGHT be as misogynist as the Islamic holy texts depicts him to be…” That’s really the argument of every single atheist I have come across (including the big shots). It claims to be based on logic, but the end argument is always “God say/does this – I don’t like that, therefore I won’t believe in God.”

        Liking something God does or commands is not a logical reason to not believe in Him. God controls everything, He owns everything, and has the right to do with His creation as He wishes. So if He were to command you to worship Him non-stop all your life and still throw you into the Hellfire, that would not be unjust of Him – because He is the Creator and we are the created.

        To me, the issue of belief is simple – if it’s true, we should follow it. As regards to what it commands us to do – that’s not the job of man to judge. God says in the Qur’an, “He will not be asked for what He does, but you will be asked for what you do.”

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      • gunal

        Abu Asiyah, I was laughing my head off when read your last 2 paragraphs. I am not a proud person. But reading and thinking upon those paragraphs made me think; maybe the reason I don’t have anything (in material) value in my life is because I have great tendency to being proud. Not giving me anything of material value might be my Allah’s mercy upon me… I sure don’t agree with your saying:

        “He owns everything, and has the right to do with His creation as He wishes.”
        Also you have quoted from Qur’an:
        “He will not be asked for what He does, but you will be asked for what you do.”

        I think only commenting on the above quotation will explain my views on both paragraphs. To me that quotation has to be looked at within the context of other quotations from Qur’an, describing ‘our end’:

        “In the end everything will all be clear to you”. Hence “you will ask to be brought back to earth for another chance, to undo your mistakes”.

        So my understanding is that not because we will not have the right to ask what He does, it is because we will already understand why things happened the way they did.

        Dear A, when I read your first comment I thought that you are in too deep to come back to believing. You have put in the seed of atheism and must have already nourished the seed by justifying your thoughts too greatly due to your studious background. But, it can also help you.

        I was a social science student quite a while ago. I used to get so frustrated by the amounts of different opinions and school of thoughts on the each topic I was required to write an essay on. And what was even more frustrating, I was not allowed to put in any of my thoughts about the subjects. I had to either argue for or counter argue the arguments with the arguments already out there… This is how our scholars think we learn best. And they probably are right. I can’t say. What I personally learnt is that those people I was arguing for or against were at my stage before- Arguing and counter arguing according to their own individual understandings of things argued. So due to your studious background you will understand the following better.

        As you will see from the above interpretations of Qur’an that what is read can mean something different to each individual. It would be disrespectful of me saying -how you understand depends of your level of understanding. Some people may think it is the level of your understanding. Maybe so, but for me it is ‘what matters the most to each individual’.

        I overheard one individual trying to explain Islam to another (also) Muslim- A Muslim with a similar frustrations ;his questions about his religion cannot get answered. One of his questions:When Adam and Eve ate the apple why the animals had to suffer too? Why are they in this cruel world too?

        Dear A, I hope you don’t mind me labeling your loss of faith as ‘a problem’ but I think the only problem is you either have not learnt, or, not acknowledged the most fundamental thought behind any religion should be- your most perfect God. You have to analyze every book and every argument with this perspective. Would your perfect God allow it and if He did allow it what were His perfect reasons behind it? I personally need a perfect being to get me through this life. If I don’t have Him to help me through this life, and answer my request (;to get my son through this life), then I would have absolutely nothing else! He is everyone I need in my life all in one. Even your most respected or influential parents can’t sort out the issues you face in this life.

        Wow! This has taken a great deal of time for me to write. I hope my points are clear. I have dyslexia so I can be very abstract in my thoughts and leave a lot of gaps in the sequencing of my reasoning. If so, sincere apologies.

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      • Mahmud

        Well, he is right about this. Our description of the fire far exceeds any other religions in existence. The same goes for our description of Paradise.

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  13. Fatima Ariadne

    Prophet (pbuh) has messaged, “religion is easy and whoever overburdens themselves will be defeated (can’t keep that way)”. “Beware of extremism in religion because indeed people before you were only destroyed because of extremism in religion”. And that “I was sent with a lenient, upright religion”. But sadly many people make this deen SEEMS hard by imposing too many limiting rules that shouldn’t be there in the first place. I’m agree that everything should be returned to Qur’an and Hadith rather than following blindly certain groups of people.

    Sadly some people also, too much pressing it on the rules aspect of Islam, while near void on the spirituality. Spirituality is assumed to be fulfilled when we’ve done the physical ritual. I have to learn spirituality lessons from non-Islam (secular) sources to seek fulfillment, only to find out in the end that Islam have it all, but many people are oblivious about them.

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    • Disciple of Christ

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      • maruf

        Some scary verses from the Bible below.

        Deuteronomy
        Chapter 2

        32-37
        And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit his land. 32 Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz. 33 And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. 34 And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain. 36 From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us: the LORD our God delivered all unto us

        So Moses and his army killed women and children according to the Bible.

        Joshua
        Chapter 8

        23 And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua. 24 And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword. 25 And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai. 26 For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27 Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua. 28 And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day. 29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcass down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.

        Another battle, another massacare of women and children.

        There are many other such verses which preach similar violence.

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      • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

        I would like to thank all for their comments. However, we don’t want full out debate on Christianity vs Islam in the Comments Section as that is not the appropriate forum for such a discussion. Thus, I would request all to cease further posts on this thread.

        Best Regards
        -Aly

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      • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

        Dear “Disciple of Christ”

        Thank you for your comment. I would advise you to study Islam from proper sources instead of rehashing content from the internet that pick and choose things out of context or are just plain false.

        This will lead you to a better understanding of the religion and allow you to comment on specific topics rather than making comments like the one above.

        While we value comments from all readers, Muslim or not-yet-Muslim, it has to be according to the MM Comments Policy http://muslimmatters.org/about/etiquettes-of-discussion-on-a-blog-comments-policy/.

        Your comment is neither relevant to this post, you are not using your name to comment, etc. Thus, you are requested to comply to the Comments Policy.

        Best Regards
        -Aly
        Comments Team Lead

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  14. Adnan

    I myself have been ever troubled recently of this dilema and been finding it so hard to think of a way how to balance what to do. At the bottom of my heart i know Islam is the truth and the best religion! Thanks a lot for the clarification. May Allah bless the author of this article! Put my mind to ease.

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  15. Hilmi

    I’m born Muslim, (Alhamdulillah) regretfully to say once i was so far away from islam and now i’m back on track again all thanks to Allah who guided me.
    Seeing reality now, Indeed it is true Allah will bring a nation to islam if HE wants to, if ever some of us choose Dunya over Allah. The mere statement “muslim can’t do anything” is already a sign of lack of understanding of the Deen, i recommend Nouman Ali Khan talk about meaning of AHAD in suratul Iklas.
    I myself still struggling to scrape away all the diversion of this Dunya, my advise is whenever you are confused ask for Allah guidance and understanding. This happens to me many times over which keep me away from misguiding so called “syeikh”, my habit is to always call for Allahurabbi with mouth or heart surely He the Most Merciful will guide our strayed heart.

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  16. Disciple of Christ

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    • maruf

      I suggest you read the verses of the Bible first with an open heart. Here are some verses of the bible.

      “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”

      John 8:31 – New International Version (NIV)

      So let us pause for a while and think about this truth, as it is stated in the Bible.

      The message that was brought by the Messiah (peace be upon him) was the call to worship God, the One, the Lord of the Messiah and the Lord of the worlds:

      “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent”

      John 17:3 – NIV

      “A certain ruler asked him: ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

      ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone.’”

      Luke 18:18-19 – NIV

      “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.

      And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendour, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.

      So if you worship me, it will all be yours.’

      Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”’”

      Luke 4:5-8 – NIV

      Believing in and worshipping Allaah alone, besides Whom there is no other god, is the greatest teaching brought by the Messiah, and it is the greatest teaching brought by all the Prophets.

      “One of the teachers of the law came and noticed them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

      ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.

      Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

      The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’

      ‘Well said, teacher,’ the man replied. ‘You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.

      To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’

      When Jesus saw that he has answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.”

      Mark 12:28-34 – NIV

      But do not think that this advice was given to Israel or to his own people only. Rather this is the basis of the teachings of all the Prophets. The same advice appears in the Gospel of Matthew, in similar wording, after which he says:

      “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

      Matthew 22:39 – NIV

      All these verses above point to the falsehood of ascribing divinity to Jesus (peace be upon him) for Allaah alone is the One who deserves to be worshipped and He has no offspring-far exalted is He above what the disbelievers associate and attribute with Him.

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    • Mahmud

      Interesting, because Jesus (AS) didn’t speak Greek. So really, your study was irrelevant.

      But thanks for the reminder to read the Quran. I need to be reminded why I’m grateful to not be a Christian. Whoever violates the first commandment, and you Christians do, has been forbidden Paradise, and his place is in the fire without any helpers.

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    • Zaheer

      Hi,

      What exactly gives you the idea that Islam was forced onto people, “through pain of death”? Many of us have, as a matter of fact, read the Qur’an, and understood its verses. In fact, our scholars have been doing this for hundreds of years.

      I’d also like to understand how you derived your figure of 95% for the oh-so-deluded American Muslims. I’m not American, so can’t claim to speak for this group, but I’d also like to know how you came up with this figure.

      Lastly, you claim to “know the bible”. What do you know about it? For instance, what have your studies taught you about the textual integrity of the bible? Now compare that to the same quality of the Qur’an. Let’s start there and see whether we can take the discussion further.

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    • Abu Asiyah

      First off, even with the Greek, you’re missing a heck of a lot. Like the fact that Jesus (as) spoke Aramaic. Or those hundreds of gospels that didn’t make the cut a few hundred years after Jesus’s (as) time.

      But particularly, if you really read the Bible, then surely you have noticed that there is not ONE verse in which Jesus (as) claims to be God, right? I wonder why the most important belief of the Christian tradition was never taught in clear terms by the person you believe founded the religion.

      As for your accusations against Islam and our Prophet (saws), go read some texts on Islam written by Muslims, or at least neutral individuals. You know, just to make sure you’re not missing anything.

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      • Mahmud

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        “But particularly, if you really read the Bible, then surely you have noticed that there is not ONE verse in which Jesus (as) claims to be God, right? I wonder why the most important belief of the Christian tradition was never taught in clear terms by the person you believe founded the religion.”

        My point exactly………I was thinking of telling a Christian, the fundamental core of their beliefs is an extrapolation of some verses here and there in the Bible…..pretty crazy. In contrast, Paradise and the fire are the most important things to humanity-it’s our eternal destination. And that is mentioned constantly in the Quran.

        It’s pretty clear where the truth lies.

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      • Abu Asiyah

        wa ‘alaykum assalaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

        Just a correction for the benefit of giving effective da’wah:

        It’s not extrapolation, it’s taken directly from Paul. There is a good amount of Trinity/Jesus’s divinity/Dying for our sins in Paul’s epistles. The point is that JESUS (as) never says anything about those things and Paul never saw him and has a shady story about his conversion. So while they do take it from Paul, if he’s really teaching what Jesus (as) taught, then you should find similar things in the words Jesus (as). That’s not the case.

        And yes, I’m surprised every time I meet a person who’s a serious student of the Bible and has not become Muslim.

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  17. tep

    AA. Excellent article!
    Are there any articles up yet which address the conceptions/misconceptions about Islam and misogyny, a Muslim woman’s worth, etc? Some, if not all of these concerns need addressing. I know of a sister myself, who left Islam due to feeling that as a woman she was second-class and worthless by rulings of this faith… she instilled doubts in my mind too. Any help advice is appreciated, please pray for my friend too.

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  18. Raz

    I think the problem of finding religion too hard stems from following a certain brand of Islam, as opposed to the real and easy Islam. I was reading this brother’s story about travels to different parts of the world and people he met, and I think it is a thought-provoking post he has written on finding true and easy Islam. His post can be read on lonerangerlife.blogspot.com

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  19. ina

    greetings !
    reading the Posted by: Umm Zakiyyah June 24, 2013 ,
    i am female. i owe a company , i am over 30 signal and i socialize ,i travel , i enjoy life , culture .
    you follow any religion you will come across a certain rule.
    being a muslim my best friends are hindu and Christians, Buddish
    hindu has hard rule on food for example , u cnt eat onion n garlic on food- vegetables all the way.
    my christian friends too follow hard rules since they are catholic – they rule are hard too.

    Ever rule in a religion has certain values.

    Didnt adam and eve had rule in paradise they cant eat that apple ! rule that human knowledge cant understand … /
    lets not forget this life is a test!

    you want to understand islam and
    Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him ) said ” seek knowledge even to china”

    i follow 3 step
    1 be a muslim. sink in to the faith … WHEN YOU ARE A MUSLIM THEN ONLY YOU CAN LOVE ISLAM AND FEEL IT .
    2 have … follow the rule… umar bin khattab has make fiqiH – USE THAT AS REFERENCE …. INDEED HAVING A GOOD TEACHER IS A MUST. BUT DONT OVER SMART YOUR TEACHER OR LEADER : Fiqih READ IT AND LEARN IT- TO UNDERSTAND IT … TAKE TIME.
    3. Do … do the compulsory … prayers ….

    IN MY LIFE I NEVER MEET ANY MUSLIM SAYING THAT THE ITS TOO MUCH RULE IN ISLAM.

    GOD BLESS

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  20. Nasser

    Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Raheem Asalaamu alaikum http://turntoislam.com/community/threads/quran-and-sunnah-is-the-basis-for-muslim-unity.47435/ Here’s a link for anyone who’s being confused by satan the cursed everyone’s faith weakens and gets stronger everyday we have to make dua to Allah SWT to strengthen our faith in our hearts no Muslim is perfect everyone sins some more then others that’s why we have to pray 5 times a day and not only that but gain knowledge of Quran and Hadith not people’s personal opinions. It’s a mental test for us and we say oh it’s hard look at the reward, heaven forever! for a few years of struggle inot like we are guaranteed to live for a long time anyway we don’t know how long we have so let’s try our best don’t let satan tell u it’s hard ur not capable, motivate urself read about what the prophet SAW went through his test and trials and ours are nothing in comparison still Allah will reward us for these struggles the sahaba their trials were huge they did it for Allah SWT and so should we. so the shahada is elevated throughout the times and reaches future generations inshaAllah. The prophet SAW and the Sahaba use to pray during battle when I read this I was amazed and I get lazy when praying in a relaxed enviroment shame on me. The struggle is short the reward is immense inshaAllah don’t let satan and deviant people lead u astray ask Allah for all u need everyday and he will answer ur prayer everyday and the closer u get to Allah SWT the faster u will see the results I know this is my opinion but it’s how I’ve come to realise how far I am from Allah SWT and loads if us are in a similar situation so maybe I can help someone and then one day they do a dua for me and Allah SWT accepts that dua and rewards me with something better inshaAllah and that’s what brotherhood is right? Lookin after each other physically and by making dua:) this world with all it’s shine and glitter is heaven for the unbelievers and a prison for the believers. So my dear brothers and sisters please make dua that Allah SWT blesses me with knowledge and wisdom so I can safeguard my Akhirah from satan the cursed and the Imaan grows in my heart till my last breath inshaAllah and May Allah SWT do the same for u and ur children and family and friends asalaamu alaikum :) without knowledge we are easily misled :( May Allah SWT protect me and my brothers and sisters in faith from the corrupters :)

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  21. Harrislam » ‘Muslims Can’t Do Anything, Why Be Muslim?’

    […] A question that has stumped me for quite some time is why many Muslims who invite others to Islam or who teach religious classes don’t simply define Islam as it is defined by Allāh and His Messenger and stop there. Islam first and foremost is based on belief in the Oneness of God and in Prophet Muḥammad , and adhering to this belief until one’s death. Fundamentally, this belief is divided into two categories: faith and submission. Our faith (internal belief) entails six matters: belief in Allāh, His angels, His books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and Divine Decree; and our submission (external action) entails five matters: testifying to believing in Allāh, praying the five daily prayers, giving the required charity, fasting in Ramadan, and…. Click here to continue reading… […]

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  22. Balooh

    Struggles of faith is part of the struggles of life. Who is content with every aspect in their lives? You will meet very little people in life who are truly happy with everything in their lives, it is natural, it’s a bumpy road we’re on, only the weak will give up on their road to success and give in to their nafs, but the true muslims in the end will always find peace with their Rabb, despite the hardships facing them. May Allah swt make it easy for us to keep our lives free from what has been prohibited and keep within the limits Allah swt has set for us.

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  23. Sam

    As the saying goes, “If you want to know the real truth, go to the source of truth (i.e. Quran and Sunnah), not the people.”

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