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Spiritual Struggles and Experiences

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sunrise.jpgReading and hearing the stories of converts and reverts to Islam, I truly admire how they faced so many tests and trials in life, only to emerge with strong faith and belief in God – which led them to Islam.

So many of these people have experienced things – miracles, almost – that despite whatever difficulties they may face, they are always secure in their belief in God. Yes, they may have low points in their Imaan too, but they still have that core certainty in Islam, because they found it for themselves amidst all the dirty fitnah of life and Shaytaan‘s misleading whispers.

Yet… what about people like me? Born into a Muslim family, raised upon Islam… it’s the only thing I really know. I’ve often been told what a gift it is, but I don’t always think so. Why? Because it means that I’ve never had to search for and discover my faith, my purpose in life. It’s something I’ve grown up – and continue to grow up – knowing, something as comfortable and familiar as the blankie I’ve slept with for years. It makes me feel… uncomfortable, inexperienced, almost cheated out of something that might’ve made me a better person, made me wiser, perhaps.

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And it’s not just that I was born into a Muslim family – plenty of other people were born into Muslim families, but still ended up searching for the truth and having spiritual experiences. As the daughter of an Imam, my whole life has been a religious experience – thus ceasing to be an experience at all, really. I wonder if anyone else has felt this way… that growing up in a strong practicing Muslim household has made it somewhat harder to really achieve a ‘spiritual experience’, as it were. This actually reminds me of the story of the Prophet Ibrahim (‘alayhis-salaam):

When Abraham said: “Show me, Lord, how You will raise the dead,” He replied: “Have you no faith?” He said “Yes, but just to reassure my heart.” Allah said, “Take four birds, draw them to you, and cut their bodies to pieces. Scatter them over the mountain tops, then call them back. They will come swiftly to you. Know that Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (Al-Baqara, v. 260)

That’s how I feel… I believe, but I truly want to experience something that will reassure my heart and strengthen my Imaan – which really needs strengthening, especially right now.

So… how does one go about achieving this spiritual experience? Is it something that we need to actively seek – by trying to comprehend the Qur’an more clearly, for example? Or is it something that will just happen, whenever Allah wills it? Is it possible that some of us may never experience such a thing at all?

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Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women's issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She holds a diploma in Islamic Studies from Arees University, a diploma in History of Female Scholarship from Cambridge Islamic College, and has spent the last fifteen years involved in grassroots da'wah. She was also an original founder of MuslimMatters.org.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. inexplicabletimelessness

    March 11, 2007 at 7:05 AM

    As salaamu alaikum:

    MashaAllah you have a lot of good points. Allahu a’lam about the answer to your question. I don’t know if we can say that there is a general or specific answer to your question, but here are just some of my thoughts:

    1. The fact that you are even thinking of this and feeling inadequate in any sort of way may be the spiritual experience you are seeking. Now, instead of being Muslim because you are the Imam’s daughter, you want to be Muslim because YOU believe in it.

    2. Not all life changing experiences are the same. THey can be stages of growth and wisdom adn learning. MashaAllah sis, I think what you are doing in this blog is a step outside the box and what you learn from the students of knowledge here and the other contributors may help you gain that wisdom you need to increase your eeman, insha ALlah.

    3. The best spiritual experience without a doubt is Qiyam alLayl. No doubt about that, wAllahu a’lam. May Allah make us of those who prayed at night for His pleasure, ameen.

    It’s hard definitely and I agree with you and know what you mean to keep your eman strong when superficially those around you are Islamic and by name you are Muslim but sometimes, lacking the true spiritual connection with Allah. Of course, no matter what, this spiritual expeience needs to come from the Qur’an and sunnah and Qiyam will really increase your stamina as a Muslim. We can do anything we want all day, read all the Islamic blogs and visit our favorite Islamic forums all day, thinking our eeman is going great. But what we do when we are alone in front of Allah, I think, shows the pinnacle and height of our eeman.

    So I tell myself first, then everyone else, that we should come back to this Sunnah. Insha Allah, ameen.

    wassalam :)

  2. DMZ

    March 13, 2007 at 7:45 PM

    “So… how does one go about achieving this spiritual experience? Is it something that we need to actively seek – by trying to comprehend the Qur’an more clearly, for example? Or is it something that will just happen, whenever Allah wills it? Is it possible that some of us may never experience such a thing at all?”

    Mouse, I have a lot of respect and admiration for you and you are just a punk kid and I am a person well into my 30s (more than 10 years in fact).

    So, you have a lot of responsibility because you have a lot of potential. You are really smart, honest and religious.

    Ask Allah: OK, You gave me all these head starts, all these gifts. What should I do with them? How do I not waste them? If there is an Allah, you will get an answer. Just be really honest with God and God will be really honest with you.

    You never know where the Message will come but it will come.

    Good luck to you. If I had a lot of money and you were a company, I would definitely invest. You could be big.

    Salaam

  3. Amad

    March 13, 2007 at 7:53 PM

    wasalam DMZ, thanks for stopping by. We saw the potential in our little sister and booked her for this venture! We all look forward to seeing her flourish (Islamically) inshallah.

  4. AnonyMouse

    March 13, 2007 at 8:01 PM

    As-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatu,

    *Blushes*
    Awwwwww, shukran, guys! :D

    May Allah make us *all* successful in this world and in the Next, ameen! :)

  5. AmatulWadood

    March 16, 2007 at 7:53 AM

    wa alaykumassalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

    I just wanted to comment that I agree with the first sister about qiyaam ul layl. You feel like Allah is so near to you while you pray to Him and mankind is fast asleep. And also fasting, I feel so much more closer to Allah azza wa jal and just knowing that the fasting person’s duaa is never rejected gives me chills. Fasting 3 days a month should be a goal we should all strive for, or continue doing bi’ithnillah.
    And I also agree about the Qur’an; it is the greatest miracle Allah ta’ala has put forth and Allah says in His Book that it is a healing, a light, a mercy…so we should make duaa that Allah makes the Qur’an the light of our heart and the spring of our chest and the reliever of our distress and sadness. (Allahumma tajal Qur’aana rabee’a qalbee, a noora sadree….) And how can you not rejoice when you know that you get 10 rewards for one letter! Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar. Read surahs that are “special” like Surah Mulk that will intercede on those who read it on the day of Judgement, Surah Baraqah and Al-e-Imraan–“the two shining ones”, surah Yaasin, surah Waqiah.

    Try and make yourself cry. Stay in sujood for however long until you can cry, and when you read the Qur’an, make sure that you know the meaing because some ayaat are just…subhanAllah. rasul Allah salAllahu alayhi wa sallam said, “”O people! Weep! And if you cannot weep then make as though you were weeping, for the people of the Fire shall weep in Jahannam until their tears run over their faces like streams. Then the tears will stop, blood will flow, and eyes ulcerate, so that if ships were launched therein they would float.” (Sahih at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb) May Allah protect us from the hell-fire. ameen

    I also think that seeking knowledge really increases your emaan and gives you a lil boost. If it’s reading books, or listening to lectures or taking AlMaghrib classes—or even the jumu’ah khutbah, I think it really helps. For example, reading the seerah, I feel so close to rasul Allah salAllahu alayhi wa sallam when I read about his life or his words. Just flipping through Riyadh as-Saliheen is a emaan booster.

    You should make duaa and more duaa and more duaa, subhanAllah Allah azza wa jal Loves for us to call upon Him and duaa is the most noble act to Him tabarak wa ta’ala.

    You should keep good company, mashaAllah some of my friends really help me in my emaan and I thank Allah azza wa jal for blessing me with them.

    Don’t forget to go see the spiritual doctor…ibn Qayyim rahimuhullah. He wrote this amazing treatise called Patience and Gratitude, subhanAllah it is great, and you wouldn’t think so after seeing how small it is…i’d say it’s about 80 pages if I remember correctly.

    Lastly, the best spiritual experience that i’ve ever had–hands down–is going for Umrah. SubhanAllah, where do I start! lol I know my post is already tres long so i’ll just say that I’ve never felt so close to Allah, so blessed by Allah, so humble to Allah, so feeble in front of Allah….I just daydreamed for about a mintue :-). Wallahi, the air of Madinah is sweet, and masjid Al-Haram is so calm…and i don’t care what people say about “the people of Makkah” etc etc, go there for Allah azza wa jal and you won’t notice it (or you won’t care). Alhamdulillahi Rabbil alamin!

    O Changer of Hearts! Make our hearts firm upon your deen. ameen

  6. Aishaah

    May 18, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    asalaam aleykum wa rahmatullaahi wa baraketu,

    Inshallaah you are in good health and high emaan.

    I read through your blogs awhile ago, but this one touched me. I’ve heard so often how lucky I am to have found Islaam. For a long time it made me feel sad for born muslims. But then I was visiting a masjid and a sister was giving a talk about Islaam. Mashallaah she made me feel better.

    She said that when the born Muslims embrace Islaam, truly, they have to struggle against all the cultural influences that have watered down their faith. They have to struggle against family who is not wholly supportive of their belief because they feel it as an insult to them and their practices. (She really talked alot about this). There is still alot of struggle for the born Muslims. She reminded us that it is similar to the first generation of Muslims who had to struggle with their own families and people to establish their faith.

    Anyway, I know this is an older blog. Inshallaah you will find this note. Jazaak Allaahu khair for your wonderful writing. I love to visit this site and read everything.

    wa salaam aleykum,

    your sister in Islam,

    Aishaah.

  7. Ali

    January 6, 2019 at 6:59 PM

    one suggestion, read / learn / listen Seerah. Life changing.

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