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If Not You, Then Who?

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If you’ve been putting off your dreams because you feel that you don’t have enough money to get started, or don’t have the necessary education or qualifications, I’ve got news:  you may never have what you need to feel ready.

Do you think any of the Prophets felt ready when they were chosen? The Messenger of Allah Muhammad (sws) received the first revelation, then ran home and hid under a blanket. The Prophet Musa (as) was confused and frightened when he entered the valley and heard a voice commanding him:

“Verily! I am your Lord! So take off your shoes, you are in the sacred valley, Tuwa. And I have chosen you. So listen to that which is inspired to you. Verily! I am Allah! La ilaha illa Ana (none has the right to be worshipped but I), so worship Me, and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) for My Remembrance. Verily, the Hour is coming and My Will is to keep it hidden that every person may be rewarded for that which he strives. Therefore, let not the one who believes not therein (i.e. in the Day of Resurrection, Reckoning, Paradise and Hell, etc.), but follows his own lusts, divert you therefrom, lest you perish.” (Quran, Surat Taha, 12-16)

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When Musa threw the staff down and it became a snake, again he was frightened. Allah directed him to have courage, and pick it up, and when he touched it, it was restored to its former shape. When he was commanded to go to Egypt to free the Israelites and reform his people, he felt unready for this mission. He had a speech impediment and was afraid that he would not be able to speak convincingly. He sought permission from Allah to take his brother and fellow Prophet Harun (as), who was an eloquent speaker. Permission was granted.

This illustrates another important point – that everyone needs a wingman sometimes. We’re not always strong enough to do it alone. Sometimes we need a friend, an ally, a supportive spouse, just one person who believes in our mission and is willing to help, or just put an arm around our shoulders and say, “I believe in you.” If you have someone like that, he or she is a treasure and a secret weapon.

When it comes to the most important things in life, no one is ever ready. All you can do is stand tall, build a bonfire of resolve in your heart, and move. The time to do what you dream is now. Consider Abu Bakr (ra), who clearly knew how to embrace opportunities. When he saw the slave Bilal (ra) being tortured, he bought him from Umayyah bin Khalaf and freed him. He freed many other oppressed Muslim slaves in the same way. When Abu Bakr’s father saw this, he said: “My son, why are you buying these weak slaves then freeing them? Why don’t you at least keep them so that you can make use out of them?” Abu Bakr replied: “My father, I am only doing this to seek the Countenance of Allah.”

The Messenger of Allah (sws) told us that a man was granted Paradise for removing a thorny branch from the path. A prostitute was forgiven all her sins and granted Jannah for giving a thirsty dog a drink of water. Another man was granted a house in Paradise for donating a date tree to a poor family.

No good deed is insignificant, for it could be the grain of sand that tips the scale and saves you. No worthy project is too small, nor is it too large if you start with a single step, focusing only on executing that step well. When I face a large project, whether website development, writing, or cleaning a kitchen mess, I tend to get overwhelmed. So I narrow my focus and I tell myself, just do one thing. I do the one thing, then pick one more thing, and another, then I look around and SubhanAllah, the job is getting done!

If you find yourself disturbed by events around you – whether internationally, in your community, or within your family – and thinking, “Someone should do something,” well, you are the someone. You see the need, you have the capabilities that Allah gave you as His representative on earth, you have the same brain, heart and opposable thumbs as anyone else. You’re it, bro. It’s you, sister.

Yes, someone needs to raise funds for our starving brothers and sisters in Somalia, Syria, Yemen and other places. Someone must speak on behalf of political prisoners, educate people about Palestine, start a Humanitarian Day event in the local community, adopt Muslim orphans, establish Islamic institutions, represent Muslims in the media, write Muslim novels, make documentaries…

If not you, then who?

If you’ve been thinking of writing a book, or pursuing a graduate degree; or if you’re a medical practitioner and you’ve been contemplating going overseas to work with Doctors Without Borders; or if you’re interested in campaigning for human rights, doing da’wah, learning Arabic, studying martial arts, getting in shape, or improving your eating habits…

If not now, then when?

The time is now, the place is here, the person is you. You are hereby appointed. Fulfill the mission that Allah has placed you here to do. Exercise your unique talents fee-sabeel-illah. You’ll never hear a starting gun telling you to sprint. Just do it, slide one foot forward – cautiously if need be – then the other, and you will find yourself progressing toward your dream. Don’t worry about having all your resources in place before you begin. Don’t let thelack of funds stop you. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, the American minister and best-selling author said, “Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.”

Don’t be stopped by naysayers. Remember what Allah said to Musa: “…let not the one who believes not therein but follows his own lusts, divert you therefrom, lest you perish.” Do what’s in your heart, and don’t listen to those who would cut you down, mock you, or doubt your ability.

Raise your children as Muslims. Often Muslim parents do not actively teach their children the deen, thinking that the children will somehow pick it up by osmosis. Or they fool themselves into thinking that dropping the kids off for Sunday school at the Masjid is sufficient (it’s not). Don’t wait, and don’t count on anyone else to educate your children. Remember that your children do not belong to you, but to Allah. They are an amanah (a trust), and you are their shepherd, so raise your flock well. The time is now, and you are the person. Make time for your kids, teach them by example and by textbook, raise them with care as you would a garden.

So many of us want to be better Muslims. We envision a time in the future, near or far, when we will give up bad habits, perfect our salat, memorize more Quran, worship more fully in Ramadan, and ready ourselves for Jannah. And yet that time does not arrive… we’re not quite ready… But the Messenger of Allah (sws) said,

“Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth, before you become old; and your health, before you fall sick; and your richness, before you become poor; and your free time before you become busy; and your life, before your death.” (Musnad Imam Ahmad, Narrated by Ibn Abbaas).

This is the moment, while you have your youth, health, wealth, time and life itself. None of us is assured another sunrise, or another evening on this earth. Death waits for no man or woman, but comes upon us on the wing, like a raven in the night.

The time is now. The place is here. The person is you.

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Wael Abdelgawad's novels can be purchased at his author page at Amazon.com: Wael is an Egyptian-American living in California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including, Zawaj.com, IslamicAnswers.com and IslamicSunrays.com. He teaches martial arts, and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and ice cream. Learn more about him at WaelAbdelgawad.com. For a guide to all of Wael's online stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.

34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. SGM

    September 20, 2011 at 12:50 AM

    SubhanAllah, I was just saying how amazing it is that Allah advises us and speaks to us, in so many ways! I’ve been thinking about this VERY thing, how I am putting things off until I have enough money to do it and yet here I am STILL without that and not helping anyone or doing anything beneficial! I was just thinking today, in fact, that I could keep holding myself back waiting for that financial sustenance, or I could make the most of my time and go out there and do what I can with the resources I have.

    Regarding my own goals, I started brainstorming a way to do it simply, hoping that inshaAllah Allah will provide a way, that I should head in our desired direction FIRST and THEN the road will come, inshaAllah.

    This is precisely the reminder I need to get myself moving in the direction I need to go. JazakAllah khair!

  2. Yahya Ibrahim

    September 20, 2011 at 2:10 AM

    Bismillah,

    Very good message br.Wael. I enjoyed this immensely. Your message contains the secret of success…to get up and do it.

    Keep up the grdat writing.

    Yahya
    http://www.facebook.com/yahya.adel.ibrahim

  3. Zamzam Bayian

    September 20, 2011 at 3:08 AM

    Wonderful, thanks.
    Your article reminds me of myself ten years ago.
    I was talking with my friend, and I told her “I want to pursue my education, and…., but…” She told me, “You can achieve what you want. Just begin”
    Now, when I see how I have changed, and how many things in my life have change, I remember her words, “You can achieve what you want. Just begin.”
    Jazak Allah khaira

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      September 20, 2011 at 3:15 AM

      So did you pursue your education? And is that why your life has changed?

      • Zamzam Bayian

        September 20, 2011 at 4:46 AM

        The issue is not that I have pursued my education or achieved other goals, rather, what I want to mention here is that our life change when we find a goal to pursue and work to achieve it. Maybe we start our journey to pursue our education or any other goal, but as we go through this beautiful adventure we ascend high and whenever we achieve a goal we find another sublime goal which we were not be able to see at the place where started.
        Being an inhabitant of al-Firdous is a precious goal, and achieving it begins, after seeking the help of Allah, and being sincere, by taking the first step “BEGIN”.
        Allah is generous, and He helps those who seek His pleasure.
        O Allah! Guide us to what You Love. Amen.

  4. Pena Maya

    September 20, 2011 at 4:15 AM

    very very very inspiring.
    jzkk.
    assalamualaikum warahmatullah

  5. Orin

    September 20, 2011 at 4:59 AM

    Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah.

    This touched me deeply. A strong reminder that’s constantly needed. As Muslims, we’re blessed by Allah to know what our purpose in life is, but I often struggle knowing exactly what is within me, what qualities do I have to fulfil that purpose. I don’t feel like it’s very much, so I lose hope and delay beginning. But that’s the wrong way to be thinking because I have to trust in Allah. He can make anything possible.

    JazakAllah khairan, Br. Wael. May Allah reward you and keep you constant in your efforts, for His sake only.

  6. Umm Sulaim

    September 20, 2011 at 5:36 AM

    One group of people I can’t stand are those who insist nothing changes until ‘someone else’ solves it, while being an obstacle to improvement.

    And as you rightly mentioned, listening to the wrong people (family, friends, etc) is disastrous to ones psychology. And until one breaks away from them, one will never be at peace. I know from experience.

    Internal happiness comes from striving towards what makes one contented. I have always pursued just that despite popular opposition.

    Whatever knowledge and experience I have gained over the last 16 years were because I believed in myself and worked towards it with scanty resources. Now, I have the support of many respectable persons who believe in me.

    For over a decade during some of the worst traumatic experiences, I always told myself, ‘If I internalize the hurtful words of others and cease to believe in myself, then I am as they have said’.

    Ironically, the same tongues then full of venom now praise me, what I call lip service.

    With the exception of Allah, my destiny is in MY hands,
    Umm Sulaim

  7. Haleh

    September 20, 2011 at 5:57 AM

    Assalamo alaikom brother,
    I’m taking your article as a sign to take action and to take it to the next level. There are many aspirations I have that I have started, yet I have not given my all. You really inspired me with your style of writing and reasoning to go for it! May Allah reward you!

  8. Tareq

    September 20, 2011 at 6:32 AM

    Assalamu alaikum
    The motivation i got from this article cannot be expressed by just saying simply jazakallah/thank you..its way beyond that. But what i can do is to pray to allah (swt) for you, your family so that many other people can benefit from you which eventually benefit Islam…
    jazakallah

  9. Abdul-Qadir

    September 20, 2011 at 7:58 AM

    Assalamualaikum,

    Brilliant. It seems you read many personal development books. How long were you contemplating this artcle before you wrote it? The ayah from surah Taha also fit very well.

  10. Lubna

    September 20, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    Bismillahirrahmanirraheem

    Salam brother, would just like to convey my deepest gratitude for this article, especially the timing of it. Without going into too much detail, your article today coincided perfectly with the timing to tender my notice of resignation. It was a tough decision, one that was arrived at after months of deliberation, tears, duas, istikharah prayers; after long periods of bouncing around between hope and fear.

    Before I stepped out of my room to hand in my notice, I began to question again whether or not I was doing the right thing. I started losing my resolve, forgetting the reasons I had for wanting to leave in the first place. I started imagining what the naysayers would say.

    And that is when I happened to read this article, and Alhamdulillah, it reminded me again of why I had to do what I had to do, tough as it was.

    Thank you, and may Allah SWT bless you for writing this. It made me smile and thank Allah that He should have led me to reading this in the first place.

    Jazakallah khair, wassalam!

  11. MuslimNoise

    September 20, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Very inspirational and moving. I think everybody should take heed and set about creating and then fulfilling their goals with the permission of Allah. Be it memorizing the Qur’an or praying extra rak’at of salah every day. We have to remember, it only takes 10 extra rak’at to secure our place in Jannah. Start here and now.

  12. Yasmin

    September 20, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    This beautiful article reminded me of the fourh Khalifa Ali (ra) saying that a true believer should strive to make each day better than the one before!

  13. Nihal

    September 20, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    Awesome article, mA.

    May I ask where you got that picture from? It’s beautiful!

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      September 20, 2011 at 4:45 PM

      I really don’t remember, sorry. For years now, whenever I see an inspiring image on Google Images or Facebook I save it to a file. I love images that make me feel tranquil and at peace. In fact I’ve been thinking of taking up photography so I can start creating my own.

  14. Muslimah

    September 21, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    A really touching article mashaAllah!

    I really love the last part when you said,

    “The time is now, the place is here, and the person is you”

    it gets you all pumped up!

    Jazak Allah Khair for sharing!

  15. Atif

    September 22, 2011 at 8:45 AM

    JAK for the article. Sometimes we all need to be reminded of this. There is a lot of negativity out there and shaitan loves to tell those few who have stood up to sit down. Articles like this help us keep the fight on.

    The Qur’an is truly an amazing book. You read the same ayahs you’ve read before, but they keep opening themselves up to you more and more, again and again.

  16. ummabdullah

    September 22, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    I don’t know what to say.

    Allah has provided a gift to the author Allahuma barik..and don’t forget to thank Him for His gift and keep using it in the right way!

    How humbling…every gift is not given to everybody. Everybody has something unique they can bring to benefit others. May Allah keep you strong on His deen and grant you sincerity and raise you with the righteous. ameen.

    The article was very beneficial mash’allah.

  17. Pingback: If Not You, Then Who? (excerpt) « For the Pleasure of Allah s.w.t.

  18. Ali Ishtiaq

    September 23, 2011 at 2:59 AM

    JazzakAllah for this important reminder. May Allah Most High reward you for your efforts to educate others immensly. Keep doing the great work.

  19. Ahmed B.

    September 23, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    Salaams,

    Beautifully written piece mashaAllah tabarakAllah. It also happens to have been published at the perfect time for events in my life. Looking forward to reading more from you!

  20. jawad

    September 24, 2011 at 2:21 AM

    If we think we are not ready, then just remember we may never be ready. Masha Allah very inspiring. Jazaka Allah Khayr.

  21. yass

    September 25, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    I was crying when read this article. So inspires me to do something good. Myself is khalifah fil ardh…

  22. Aziza

    October 1, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    This was definitely a call to action. MashAllah you always write such deep, inspirational posts. Let’s use our brains, hearts, and opposable thumbs in the path of Allah!!!

  23. Pingback: It’s not about the money. « organised chaos

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