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The Migrations of Faith -Ruth Nasrullah

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When I was 12 or so my best friend and I spent hours looking for hidden meanings in the lyrics of Beatles songs. We played in the barn at her family’s country home in the Catskill mountains and acted out the lyrics to “Norwegian Wood.” We didn’t realize it was a song about a one night stand. We made up our own story and ran around jumping in hay and shouting out the words. Those are some of my strongest childhood memories.

We all have thoughts of the past, and lives that are segmented in some way – by the passing of time, changing relationships, life events, new attitudes. Converting to Islam creates a clear-cut point of change. It’s like migrating to a new land. I’m probably not alone in that feeling among converts.

I’m wistful sometimes when I think of my “before” life. I grew up with the American ethos of personal freedom, one fed by a vague morality that centered on kindness and fairness but lacked any specific grounding. In my generation there was the additional idea of freedom to experiment, to risk, in the name of individual choice and personalized ethics. It was even taught at school. In my high school curriculum there was an assumption that students engaged in sexual activity and experimented with drugs. They weren’t trying to stop us as much as guide us in hopes of minimizing the damage we might do to ourselves.

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Around 15 years ago my first husband and I divorced and I went through a period of personal mayhem that lasted several years. After a decade of living under my husband’s thumb I just wanted to have fun. But “fun” is illusory. You think it feels good until it starts to feel bad, and even then you can’t let go if you’ve lost sight of anything meaningful. I had become Muslim in the early 80s, gradually lost my grip on the deen and by the mid 90s I had gone all the way back to life before Islam. Really, I was lost until I returned to seeking the straight path in 2001.

The lesson for me is that faith can be fragile if you’re not vigilant – and vulnerable if you’re not steadfast. To maintain your faith you have to change, to move mentally to a place of submission to God and trust in His guidance.

The companions migrated from their homes for the sake of Allah. They wholeheartedly embraced their new way of life – and many of them suffered for it. Theirs was a true migration – one that required courage in the face of danger and tenacity in the face of tests.

So who am I to set my own standards, to risk my faith for the sake of parties and fun? My migration from the “before life” was at times difficult because my heart wanted to cling to the old points of reference, old culture, old concept of freedom. They were all easier. But being Muslim requires not following the whims of your heart, but rather steadying your heart and letting it incline towards the good. May Allah keep us all steadfast in our faith.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Mujahideen Ryder

    July 27, 2007 at 5:08 PM

    Very interesting. You went to Islam then back to jahilliyah then in 2001 (what a year) back to Islam again.

    MashaAllah!

  2. Ummaziza

    July 28, 2007 at 12:20 AM

    Jazakyllahu khairun for sharing your experiences. Alhumdulilah that He has guided us thus far. May your path be illuminated to Jannah. Ameen

  3. Erie Haryanto

    July 28, 2007 at 10:24 PM

    SubhaanAlLaah, walhamdu lilLaah, AlLaahuakbar…..

    Being muslim is just only the beginning; finding beliefs is our next challenge. However, jannah is only for believers who do good deeds. Jannah is only for the righteous ( muttaqien ). So, keep improving your faiths ( beliefs about GOD the ONE only, about aakhirat-the Hereafter, and also with regard to the unseen ) while do something for GOD’s sake inclusive of asking HIS forgiveness.

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