Connect with us

#Life

What’s The Matter? | Crisis of Faith This Ramadan

Published

Question:

I used to love the deen, but now I see it as I imagine a non-Muslim would; I often ask, what’s the point, why does it need to be so strict and complicated. I don’t feel a soul connection with the deen as I used to.

The issue is, I don’t have someone I can sit and speak frankly to about all of this because my community placed me on a pedestal because of how I used to be. They don’t realize I’m not like that anymore. Even if I try to be honest about what I’m feeling now, they unintentionally twist it to be a good thing, because they’ve always had a good image of me.

At the same time, I also feel embarrassed to show the truth. So I basically live a facade on the outside of a very practicing and God-fearing Muslimah, and have to hide what I feel on the inside. Talking to non-Muslim friends is also not an option because they also have always seen me defending my faith, and I would never want to be the reason someone looks down on Islam.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

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.

I have no one I can speak to about how I feel, and so the feelings are not going away. I want to believe that Islam is the sole truth and that everyone knows this in their heart, and that no one is truly happy without it – but I look around and sometimes I think to myself, well, these people look pretty happy to me.

I feel torn between two worlds, my old one full of religious Muslims and Dawah etc. and my new one in which I feel compassion towards the world, want to value individual choices of others, and see religion as a restriction on that.

Jazaka Allahu Khair,

Torn Between Two Worlds with a Crisis of Faith

[divider]

Answer:

Bismillah wasalaat wa salaam ‘ala Rasoolillah;

SubhanAllah, so many of us have been through such difficult times in terms of our imaan that may cause us to feel hypocritical because our actions no longer correspond with our internal struggles;  and it can be especially hard when people continue to place you on a pedestal.  It can be so hard to live up to people’s unrealistic expectations of us- there can be a fear that you will lose everyone if you falter just once and also a sense of loneliness in being unable to confide in anyone.  But, remember, do all that you’re doing for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and realize, “If Allah loves someone He calls (angel) Jibreel and says: ‘I love so-and-so, so you love him.’ Jibreel loves him and calls the other angels in Heaven to love that person. They love him, then his love is made upon earth, and he becomes loved.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

It can be incredibly stressful to have people admire and look up to you- and this can be a way that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is testing you to ensure that you remain humble (which it sounds like you have masha’Allah) and can also be a testament to His loving you (I ask Allah to make that true- ameen).  I ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to reward you for reaching out in trying to resolve the dissonance you feel and I ask Him subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to alleviate the doubts from you heart and mind and lighten the load on your heart.

Even though you perceive yourself as living a facade because your heart is not being impacted as it used to be by acts of worship, it is still praiseworthy to maintain them masha’Allah.  Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) did not command us to get an imaan rush with every salah, although we should work toward that, rather, He commanded us to pray our five salat on time everyday.  By doing so, you are obeying Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and insha’Allah you’ll be rewarded for that even if you don’t feel it like you used to. Contrary to what many people say, our religion is not simply one of heartfelt feeling; it is also one of action; and actions can strongly impact us as well.

There is a clear link, psychologically, between emotions, thoughts and behaviors.  When one changes, the other two can be impacted as well. As you maintain your worship of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), insha’Allah your thoughts and emotions will also change.  However, it may take time and effort.  Try to work on changing your thought process about this as well.

Consider viewing this struggle as a test from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to see whether you will continue to worship Him despite the emptiness you feel or whether you will stop striving to revive that sweetness of faith.  Also, remember that worshiping Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is for us, not for Him- He is not in need of our worship; rather, we are the ones who benefit from it.  Try to remind yourself that you worship Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) because He is truly the only One that deserves to be worshipped, rather than in an attempt to gain anything.  Remind yourself that all you have been given- from the air you breathe, to your physical capabilities, to your mind and to the kindness and compassion Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has placed in your heart toward others (because you are clearly a very kind-hearted person masha’Allah- it’s easy to tell from the way you presented your concerns)- is bestowed upon you from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).  So despite your doubts and the feelings in your heart, you realize that you’re praying, fasting, etc. because Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) deserves this honor.

And even more importantly than this- consistently make du’aa.  It sounds like you truly miss that feeling of worship resonating with you and impacting your heart.  Pretty much everyone experiences a crisis of faith at some level during the course of their lives (often several times)- it’s difficult not to be impacted by everything we’re bombarded with so much in terms of anti-Islam rhetoric and such a wide variety of moral standards.  However, what differentiates one person from another is how they choose to deal with it.  Do they give up?  Or do they consistently seek Allah’s help?  Never doubt that your du’aa will be heard and accepted.  It truly makes all the difference.

Looking at non-Muslims and viewing them with compassion is a great thing- both Islamically and psychologically.  Our religion does not prohibit valuing and appreciating individual choices; Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) created us all with free will and it is one of the tests and beauties of being human beings; and even if we disagree with a person’s choice, this does not necessitate devaluingthe person him/herself.

There are even examples from amongst the companions of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) where their actions were criticized; however, they as people were still exemplified as role models for us.  I remember making more non-Muslim friends than I ever had before when I was doing my Master’s degree.  It was a very different experience and I was exposed to the “human side” of issues that a lot of Muslims typically simply ignored (i.e. homosexuality, extreme liberalism in values, a variety of different religions, etc.).  You’re right- so many of them looked so happy; and they were!  But happiness is relative- we seek not only the happiness of this life but that of the hereafter; and instant gratification and pleasure may make us happy now but does not necessitate happiness later. There is a hadith where the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “The dunya is a prison for the believer and Paradise for the disbeliever” [Sahih Muslim]

One thing that I really took from those years that made a difference for me, personally, was taking the good from the people I encountered and leaving the bad.  Differentiate between what is permissible and impermissible Islamically and learn from the experiences others share with you; however, draw a line in what is approved of based on our deen.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t empathize with people whose lifestyles you disagree with- it simply means that, despite your respect for someone as a person, you can disagree with something they choose to do.

There are times when we feel far from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) but realize that He is never far from us.  We know this for a fact because Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says,

And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then [tell them] surely, I am near. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he calls on Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:186]

Hold onto that and realize that this is an opportunity to bring yourself closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by relying on Him and trusting Him to guide you and instill happiness within your heart.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) grant you tremendous peace and happiness and reward you for striving to become closer to Him subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Ameen.

 

-Sarah Sultan, LMHC

 

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

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.

Sarah Sultan is a licensed Mental Health Counselor and has a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She has experience in a variety of therapeutic interventions and has worked with several age groups including children with special needs, adolescents with emotional and behavioral issues, families undergoing difficulties and survivors of trauma and domestic violence. Sarah is currently working as a therapist at a residential treatment center for teens in crisis, where she works with adolescents dealing with suicidality, trauma, self-harming behaviors, aggression and a variety of other issues. She is also an instructor with Mishkah University, where she teaches a course about the intersection between Islam, psychology and counseling. She has been actively involved in serving the Muslim community over the course of the past 10 years through providing lectures, halaqas and workshops.

45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Mr.who

    July 10, 2014 at 3:32 AM

    I think the reply didn’t address the crux of the question (as I understood it). The questioner have no one to talk to! She needs some knowledgeable (and open minded) people who are able to effectively answer the questions. Type of the questions which are asked by non muslims (I am talking about sincere people with tough questions).

    If the questioner can’t find such a person in the community, try looking for answers in a different place. Turning to interner (MuslimMatters) was a good idea, but if she didn’t get satisfactory answers, she should try few other Muslim forums where discussion is promoted.

    Hang in there sister.

    • IAmTheQuestioner

      July 30, 2014 at 9:10 PM

      Jazaakallahu khair brother for your reply full of concern that I can really feel; I wanted to give the sister who answered this question credit for something. She reached out to me when she first answered my question. She emailed me her answer and invited me to discuss my reactions/responses with her. I was the one who did not respond… she later posted the question and answer here for others to benefit, as well. So she did try to give me someone to talk to :)

      • nadia

        August 2, 2014 at 4:14 PM

        Can I just say, if you really believe these people who seem happy, you should know they are not, listen to convert stories, they go through life doing whatever they want but deep down they are not happy. How can I be so sure? because when you are far away from Allah you are unhappy, muslim or not. Ya maqallabal Qaloob thabit Qalbi Ala deenik ” o turner of the hearts make my heart firm on this deen” Good luck sis

      • Sheima Salam Sumer

        September 7, 2014 at 8:16 AM

        May Allah (swt) bless you dear sister for reaching out and doing something about your crisis of faith. I really liked the response to your question by Sis. Sarah. I hope that you know that it is normal to have different levels of faith and to feel down sometimes. Just don’t give up and use your coping skills–actions that help you to feel better–such as exercising and especially talking to Allah (swt). He is very kind and he knows your pain and struggles, and He will reward you for your patience.

  2. ashikin

    July 10, 2014 at 6:23 AM

    I think Mr. who got his point, she has no one to talk to, but we never know what causes one’s heart to get the effect. Allah might choose that reply as the cause, Allahu’alam (but this doesn’t mean I encourage lack of critically analyzing the challenge/problem here). And maybe to face it alone is what needed for her.

    I used to be in the exact position as her- just how she explained herself. Thus, I write this with a hope it could add little more points, insya allah.

    Personally, it is the most painful period of time for me. I was doing my undergraduate study and the only group of people I thought would help me was my friends, but they didn’t take me seriously. They thought I just wanted to provoke and think too much. At that very moment, I was in the middle of studied Bible from Christians’ point of view in a church. Since I had no one to turn to, I asked my concern to one of the priests (when we read Bible, we’ll realize how much gentle & simple Allah’s Words used in the Quran, to educate us). But he had difficulty to answer my question too. A hard question, he said. So, the final resort, I had to go through it on my own. (It’s taboo questions for most Muslims and Muslim scholars not really present at that time, to address my question about God and His Law).

    Though solah became very difficult for me, and if you feel this way too, you need to just push yourself more. Force yourself to perform solah even if you don’t feel like to do it anymore. Allah will not give trial exceeding our capability to handle it. But still, it’s very difficult, it’s very painful experience, but just go through it. Push your limit. I pushed myself while crying, since I didn’t feel the need to do it anymore. For my case, eventually it turned into hatred. Since I only have Allah at that time, I expressed my innermost emotion to Him alone. It took 2 weeks for me been into that intense ‘fight’. Then His help came. It’s quite harsh though ^___^

    My answer is not something new. It’s just like what Sarah replied.
    ‘I don’t need you, in fact, you are in need of Me…you know nothing and I know everything…I’ll do it My way, whether you like it or not…’
    These kind of answers I got. Since I kept flipping the Quran to search for my answer, those points came straight into my thought, one after another. It’s like I never knew such things before. But, for this time, the feeling was totally different. There was sense of total understanding the difference places between God and His slave. Before that time, my feeling towards Allah was ONLY love. I loved Him sooo much! Those moment taught me that my understanding towards who Allah is, was still shallow. When I understood that part and I submitted to it, then only, at that moment, all my tense washed away. My head lighten and all the burdens totally gone. Straight away I took wudu’ and performed solah. As a born Muslim, that was the first time consciously I choose Islam as my way of life. The feeling is deeper, the love is deeper than before.

    Sorry for the long story. I just feel the need to explain it in detail for her.
    When I look at it back now, for me, that experience is essential and if you want me to summarize the problem in short, it’s knowledge. We lack of knowledge on our own deen. You have your own way on how to deal with your challenge, and I don’t know which way is the best for you either. If you want to start you quest seriously, my advice is:

    1) Start with du’a. Don’t ask for lack of tests (it’s Allah’s gift for slaves He loves to elevate or rank, insya allah), ask Allah to make ease of your struggle, guide you and make you able to conquer the struggle and test with excellent success.

    2) Study Quran more. So far, I find the explanation by Bro Nouman Ali Khan suits me the best. Sometimes we don’t really understand why Allah saying something in the Quran and it’s the best time to learn it again. During this month of Ramadan, he does daily Quran reminder. Only about 5 minutes daily. You can try listen to it. They update it daily here: https://www.facebook.com/QuranWeekly?ref=ts&fref=ts You can find his talks in numerous numbers wether in youtube or at his website, http://bayyinah.com/

    3) Your struggle, our struggles have to do with humanity. Not many scholars of Islam deal with this issue with deep analysis and present the works to public. Sirah teaches us many things, with really high standard bar on how to deal with other human being. But, to understand sirah is not really simple without giving deep contemplation on certain issues. I find it comfortable to learn on present humanity, social issues, on sirah with Prof Tariq Ramadan.He also does daily reminder for Ramadan each year. You can try to listen to his simple explanation in few minutes daily here: https://www.facebook.com/official.tariqramadan?fref=ts You can also read his articles in his website or read his books. His book, In The Footsteps of The Prophet is easy to understand sirah in present context. He wrote book for journey/quest like this, The Quest For Meaning, to assist us in dealing with doubts. I’m not finish reading it though, it’s too philosophic ^____^ But I listed to the lecture where he explained on that particular book. You can find it in youtube. Few months ago he gave talk in TED on Religion, spiritual and etiquette. It’s a good talk on religion and humanity. You can find it in his youtube account. And, his debate in you tube with Christopher Hitchens (the write of book god is not great, how religions poison everything) on Is Islam religion of peace.

    4) Nature. Gives more attention to nature. Nature always teaches us something. Try to pay heed to them ^__^

    Finally, may you go through this trial with great success. May Allah make ease your struggle.

  3. Blink Fit (@blinkfit)

    July 10, 2014 at 7:38 AM

    Subhan’Allāh I know exactly what this sister is talking about and I feel this crisis of faith at least once a year. The answer to that is simple yet so hard to do. Maybe this is the case for others but myself at least I have found that when I look at my actions, I notice that I start to do over indulge in entertainment (which can by nature include a lot of haram stuff). My faith or Iman rush doesn’t dwindle right away but just like stopping to workout it takes the muscles a long time to atrophy.

    Every time I begin to question Islam and Allah, I have learned to look back at how my actions have changed over the past moth or so and make a course correction and it takes almost a month to come back.

    Also about how you said you feel compassion for people’s individual choices and as a Muslim they wouldn’t be free to do that. If a child wants to free to go drink alcohol, would you feel sorry and bad to discipline that kid and protect them from their own stupidity? No. That is the only type restrictions in Islam, protecting us from our own stupid short sighted nature.

  4. Ahmed A

    July 10, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    I think it is comforting to know that many people are in the same boat.

    Being in a similar situation, after much reflection and soul searching, my current line of thinking is as follows:

    1) In the beginning, many of our deeni activities are based on others. Whether it be the social aspect of brotherhood/sisterhood or simply being involved in actions of a collective nature, our deen is defined by our position in the larger community. This is completely understandable when viewed in the context of “minorities” living in the west. I call it the “MSA effect”, although it need not be confined to one’s student life.

    2) With time, those relationships either change or they begin to sour. We see this often with Muslims who were active in their students lives. During that stage, they were surrounded by fellow Muslims of a similar age, interests and backgrounds. After graduation, Islamic activities no longer take place place within their circle of comfort. They are forced to deal with people with different ages, backgrounds and personal agendas. This change is further complicated by the fact that it is easier to see the shortcomings of others… so while our previous friends and Islamic co-workers also had faults, it was easier to over-look them because we liked them. When we are out of our comfort circle we are surrounded by people who we don’t have personal relations with and as such, it is much more difficult to over-look their short-comings.

    3) Being separated from our comfort circle also gives us the opportunity to be-friend people who are different than us, either in terms of religion or viewpoints. This brings us to the stage where we see the human side of people we previously looked down on or felt detached from, which causes us to question things which we had always assumed to be true. This is natural. At the end of the day, we are all human and our commonalities with other humans far out number or differences. Like it or not, our faith still represents just one aspect of our personalities… and thus just because we share faith with someone, doesn’t mean that we aren’t very different from them. Allah created our diversity… to deny diversity would be silly. Islamically, we are tasked with not acting in a negative manner based on these diversities… but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Especially being born and raised in the West, it is highly likely that you would find someone of a different faith to be much more “likeable” than someone who technically should be more “like” you… and it is perfectly normal (and expected) to develop a level of understanding with people that you like. Exchanging ideas and viewpoints is indicative of growth and not necessarily a weakening of one’s faith.

    4) You are not perfect. The people who look up to you are a blessing from Allah. Firstly, they allow you to be cognizant of your faults as you know that you are not who they think you are. There is a dua to this effect that “Allah elevate me in the eyes of other and make me worthy of that status” (I think I messed that up). The alternative is far worse… to be looked down upon for something you are not.

    Perhaps Allah wishes to take work from you down the road… so he has placed respect for you in the eyes of others to use you in a leadership position down the road. In a community where we have few leaders worthy of being respected, this is a good thing. Strive to overcome your current obstacles and to become worthy of that respect. Ultimately, it matters not what anyone thinks of you… these are all just distractions on the road of life. In this day and age, both enmity and friendship has become very cheap. Praise is largely meaningless and criticism is largely meaningless. Don’t pay too much attention to the praise of others as it really isn’t worth much… trust me, it wont take very much for those same people to begin to look down on you.

    5) There is a method behind all of this madness… and the purpose is to recognize that one’s faith is based on their relationship with Allah. In Islam, there are no intermediaries… whether that be some saint or the company and social circle one keeps. Emotional disconnection from one’s community and surroundings is in reality an opportunity to connect with what matters in a direct manner. It is an opportunity to emerge from the tunnel and to see the true light which exists at the end… all of these challenges are just grafiti on the sides of the tunner. At the end of the day, Islam is based on tawheed and our success as a Muslim depends on our ability to connect to that one true entity. Everything changes… nothing is forever… except Allah. All of this is baggage… the destination is Allah. Don’t dwell on the trivialities of the journey… focus on the goal.

    6) With anything emotional, the law of diminishing returns always applies. We see it in TV and movies all the time… there is nothing like one’s “first love”. Its the same reason why food at a restaurant tastes really good the first time and disappoints every subsequent time. Similarly, there is nothing like the first time you cry is salah, the first time you see the kaabah or the first time you reflected on the meanings of the quran and felt it resonate within you. However, our deen is not based on emotional activities. In the Urdu language, the differentiation is made between Josh (action in a rational, collected manner) and Hosh (emotion)… one of the stages of our Islamic growth is to transcend emotion and to practice upon the deen as a second nature to us; not because it feels right, but because we know that it is right.

    Often times, I find myself in exactly the same position you have described. But I tell myself to go back to basics. In my heart, I know that Allah exists. In spite of the many aspects of the deen which sometimes cause me to have issues, when I look past all of that and look into my heart, I see the heart of a believer. So I re-affirm to myself that “yes, I am a believer”. I have felt Allah and he has guided me and protected me at times when there was no one else to guide me or protect me. So yes, I am a believer… and once I have re-affirmed that I am a believer, then subsequently, the deen is a means to attain nearness to that Allah. Everything begins to fall into place. With Allah, everything makes sense… and in the absence of the presence of Allah, nothing means anything.

    Now having said all of that… there are many things that continue to annoy me, particularly among the Muslims much more so than with Islam itself. That is just the challenge of being an adult. As with everything else in life, learn to take the good… leave the bad. Being a mature Muslim requires maturity.

    I wish you all the best.

    Wassalam

    • IAmTheQuestioner

      July 30, 2014 at 9:32 PM

      “Being separated from our comfort circle also gives us the opportunity to be-friend people who are different than us, either in terms of religion or viewpoints. This brings us to the stage where we see the human side of people we previously looked down on or felt detached from, which causes us to question things which we had always assumed to be true. This is natural. At the end of the day, we are all human and our commonalities with other humans far out number or differences. Like it or not, our faith still represents just one aspect of our personalities… and thus just because we share faith with someone, doesn’t mean that we aren’t very different from them. Allah created our diversity… to deny diversity would be silly. Islamically, we are tasked with not acting in a negative manner based on these diversities… but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Especially being born and raised in the West, it is highly likely that you would find someone of a different faith to be much more “likeable” than someone who technically should be more “like” you… and it is perfectly normal (and expected) to develop a level of understanding with people that you like. Exchanging ideas and viewpoints is indicative of growth and not necessarily a weakening of one’s faith.”

      This may be the main thing that fueled this crisis. Although things have gotten better, this has not gone away. It’s just like you said, people I previously looked down upon all of a sudden became people I wanted to be like. A person who I would’ve never given the time of day became my favorite person to be around. At the same time, I stopped wanting to be around my old friends who were very practicing Muslimahs, because I felt like they could see that I was changing and became too “soft” towards the nonMuslims. There were, on top of this, other things going on in my heart which I couldn’t talk to anyone about, but that’s for another day, although that is also the main cause behind the crisis.

      I was feeling better during Ramadan, though I had my moments, but now that Ramadan is over I am feeling it more. Basically, if I have space to think and be alone, my mind can and will go there. This doubt. Not a feeling of, I don’t know if this is the truth. But more of, I wish this wasn’t true.
      And that makes my heart feel empty in salah, knowing that Allah knows that I don’t like His deen, that I am unhappy with some rules, or with the fact that we are all here being tested. Or that sometimes I do actually doubt and wonder, How can this be the sole truth when other people seem to have figured life out and seem happy -not in a drunk way, more like a sense of being at peace with this world and its inhabitants.
      I want to be like them, but I can’t, because I’m not even at peace with myself. I’m not at peace with the fact that my mind believes in something but my heart doesn’t always like it. And so in order to fake peace, I stay away from these amazing people who will make me question things again. One result of that, is a deep insecurity I feel around nonMuslims.

      I guess I’ll stop here for now, though it is no place to stop, really.

      I wonder if this resonates with you guys…from your responses, it seems like some of it definitely does. Some things that you guys wrote were so eery in their accuracy, that I wondered if my question was giving away too much, even though I tried to use vague wording.

      • Ahmed A

        July 31, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        For those who have never been there, no words can ever explain it…
        and for those that have been there, no words are necessary.

        There are two issues at play here:
        1) Who you are
        2) What others see you as

        Until you decide on who you are, what others see you as will always be wrong. Its not their fault, how can we expect them to hit a moving target. The first step is to figure out who you are… the rest will follow. Furthermore, who you are today is not who you were yesterday, nor will it be what you are tomorrow. Change is natural.

        Forcing things and being fake accomplishes nothing. Islam is all about the truth… so why are we faking the truth? Have faith in Islam that the deen is complete and can withstand any challenge. Don’t be afraid to grow… why can’t you co-exist with your non-muslim friends in a manner that does not endanger your deen? Go out for dinner… have a coffee… talk, laugh, discuss… DE-PRESSURIZE. As for Muslim friends, Muslims come in all different shapes and varieties as well. Seek out new friends within the deen… maybe you don’t belong in a “hardcore” environment. Different jokes for different folks. Make a conscious effort to find your “happy place”.

        Realistically, you aren’t going to solve all your issues over-night… far greater minds than ours struggled with similar issues to the grave. We all need to learn to compartmentalize. Thinking is a good thing, letting our thoughts over-power you is not. Doubt is not a sin… you don’t have to feel guilty for having doubt. We will be held accountable for actions we did of our own volition… thoughts are not under our control and thus we cannot be held responsible for them. Shaitaan knows our weaknesses and he goes after some people by making them think too much and others by having them not think at all.

        The bottom line is that you are OK and it is all going to be OK. We need to have faith in that. What you are thinking is not abnormal, but rather it is perfectly normal. Islam is the middle path… fear and hope. I’ll tell you right now, you will never be care-free again… just try not to let the worries overwhelm you.

      • IAmTheQuestioner

        September 7, 2014 at 12:28 PM

        Brother/sister, your words are on point for me. I re-visit them and each time, they feel just as accurate.
        Figuring out who I am is not as easy as I thought, at all. I thought it just required ‘alone-time’ – I’ve been having a lot of that lately. But it’s still not coming. I must be doing something wrong.
        I attended an Islamic event yesterday, and I did not feel good at the end of it. I didn’t know why. I came home and it was very late so I went straight to sleep but I couldn’t sleep. Before I sleep at night, I imagine myself in Jannah with Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasalam. He saws has been my only friend at times, the only person I could speak honestly to about my struggles – I speak and I imagine what he would say.
        Last night something strange happened though, as soon as I imagined myself in the garden with him, I cried to him and said, “I don’t belong anywhere!” – And that’s when I realized why I felt so terrible.
        I see old faces and new ones, and not one of them really knows who I am. Because I don’t really know who I am. I don’t feel at home with the hardcore muslims, or with the less hardcore ones, and I can’t hold a friendship with a single nonmuslim. I’m beginning to think that I am not meant to belong anywhere. I have thought this for a while now. I just want to be okay with that, and okay with being my own person within the limits of Allah swt.

        I have seen all of the responses to this question and I am so touched by peoples’ concern for me. Perhaps they identify with me in some way, or maybe they feel more afraid for my struggle because I was one of the callers to, and in service of, this deen. Alhamdulillah I was very influential and loved in my community. I feel embarassed to say that but I know no one knows me here. I am not in the same state I was in when I sent the question, alhamdulillah. And rest assured, I am not stepping away from Islam any time soon inshaAllah. It is exactly like sister Muslimah Mushkillah said, Once you’ve seen the truth, you can’t unsee it.

        This comment doesn’t need to be responded to. It has served its purpose already alhamdulillah because I got to share this thought, and I unexpecedtly cried while typing it, after which I felt much better.
        Please make dua that Allah swt grants me the strength and clarity, sincerity and resolve behind my decisions.

  5. Ahmed A

    July 10, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    … as an adendum to my own comment:

    I often find it shocking that in our Islamic communities, the foundations of which are based on faith, how little discussion there is where one questions one’s own faith. Especially living in an environment where people of faith are often ridiculed and looked down upon, we act as if someone having anything less that unshakable faith is some major crime… whereas in reality, I dont understand how anyone who has faith has not had opportunities in their life in which they have questioned their own faith.We are encouraged “not to think” or “not to question”… really??? In this environment, does that really make sense? As a father, as I really supposed to raise children by teaching them “not to think”???

    I find it appalling on a communal level how people are forced to feel stigmatized and looked down upon for vocalizing questions which should exist in everyone’s minds. It is the mark of an immature society in my mind and I feel that it is something which needs to be spoken out about. Not everyone is willing or able to be a mindless automaton… blindly accepting whatever I was taught in sunday school because of it is the “religion of my forefathers”. That doesnt mean that I think the teachings are wrong… or that they are wrong… it means that I was born and raised in an environment where “scholarship” is synonymous with “criticism” and as such there are times where I need a little bit more evidence to be convinced of certain things.

    The tragedy in all of this is that none of these discussions are new. Our deen has been challenged for centuries and there have been brilliant scholars in the past who have dealt with these issues and addressed them… hence titles like “hujjatul-Islam”. However because we are discouraged from speaking up and vocalizing the questions which exist within our hearts, we are unable to benefit from the brilliant scholarship which exists in our history.

    Can there be a bigger tragedy than to lose adherents to the faith as a result of illnesses for which we have the cure… but because we were afraid to speak up and discuss our symptoms, no one knew that we needed treatment?

    • Hyde

      July 14, 2014 at 7:25 PM

      You wrote your, i.e our concerns very beautifully, mashalla. Being a penchant loner and one who lacked any serious Islamic education, this hits very hard at home. Yes I have had days of a religious high, but then there are horrific lows and not being able to talk to anyone, just exacerbates the problem ten fold.

      It’s not even the struggle to pray or stay from the haraam, it’s the “doubting Thomas effect” i.e. I did all at for all my life to what avail ? What did I I get out of it ? Why are people who broke all the rules, get all the gold ? I out so many restrictions on myself at some point of my life, but now they seem hollow and pointless.
      I ask questions like what’s the point of Life, if loses their faith, yet why am I even asking myself those questions ?

      I believe in the pillars of deen-ul Islam in my heart, but sometimes the day to day jihad becomes so so so unbearable, I just see hollowness, hypocrisy, insincerity, laziness, misery. Life essentially becomes nonchalant. Self deluding lies become conspicuous. “If I had done such and such already, why not do this and that as well, what’s the difference, or why continually to linger on this and that; nobody else does that. Slowly the monotony of life sinks in deeper and deeper.

      And then you see people who have almost no faith or are increasingly lackadaisical about anything “religious”, and they seem to do just fine and then there are people who are doing so much good yet pertain no obligatory beliefs…life has a walking shadow, a poor player. That struts and frets his hour upon the stage…signifying nothing…
      :(

      • Ahmed A

        July 21, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        We all know the saying that “ignorance is bliss”… but we need to ask ourselves if we would trade the agony of self-introspection for the bliss of ignorance. My answer is no… and I don’t even have to think twice about that.

        There is no way back up the rabbit hole… and frustration and self-doubt is just part of the journey we have all imposed on ourselves. I look back at my earlier days and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at all the stupidity I put myself and those around me through as a result of my stubborn self-righteousness. Learn to live and learn though brothers and sisters… learn to live and learn…. and allow others the freedom to do the same.

        Alhumdulillah, we are all better off for having been through the process, whether we realize it now or not. Lessons are often learned the hard way, but what matters most is that we do learn our lesson and progress to the next set of mistakes… from which we can learn our next set of lessons.

        Spiritual progress is a long and arduous journey… sometimes the growth is so slow that it appears that we aren’t moving at all. However, Insha’Allah when we die and are presented in front of our lord at the very least we can say “Oh Allah… I tried. You are my witness to that Oh Allah, because only you know the anguish that I went through in my heart.”

        So we grind on… Sometimes, the amount of our progress is very little… but the reward for that very little is very large.

      • M

        July 22, 2014 at 12:33 AM

        Without doubt there would be no faith. Imaan is not supposed to be stagnant, it’s supposed to have it’s high and lows. This is nothing new. People at the time of the Prophet had highs and lows of faith, wondering when the assistance of Allah will come. they had a hard time while the unbelievers enjoyed the luxuries of this world. But that’s all part of the journey.

        Having no one to talk to can have it’s downsides, but you can always come here and talks to us :)

        I’ll pray to Allah that he makes things easy for you bro!

  6. Zaid Mohammad (@Zaid_m95)

    July 11, 2014 at 3:11 AM

    A lot of good responses on the comment thread. I think the core of your issue is that you need a reason to be convinced of Islam. I want to keep it short. The reason why you Islam is the truth is the Quran. So my advice is for you to study the Quran. Like another suggested, start with Nouman Ali Khan’s explanations. Just youtube him, perhaps start with his “Divine Speech” talk. For me, understanding the Quran is what keeps my faith strong.

    Beyond all of this, we all need a reason for living. Psychologically the minds of religious individuals are better than those of non-believers, because we have hope. Yet it would contradict the tenets of most faiths if we were to say that they are all correct paths. Islam is the only religion where we have everything authenticated. The Quran is a miracle. The hadith are also astonishing.

    As someone studying in the Arts, its also a struggle for me. If it wasn’t for my personal experiences with things like the Jinn and the fact that I’ve been to Hajj Alhumdullilah, I do not know where my thought processing would be. I find that psychologically, your environment plays the major role in determining who you are. If you find yourself surrounded more and more by non-muslims and non-muslim ideals, you need to balance things out. Find intelligent muslim friends, and start on a daily basis listening to talks about Islam from learnt scholars. Personally I always find myself listening to Sh.Yasir Qadhi, Nouman Ali Khan or someone else, on an almost daily basis. I need this to keep my soul in check, its part of my environment you see.

    Also read Quran on a daily basis no matter what. Try to read it with translation as well.

  7. The_Observer

    July 11, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Some good responses above. I would like to add just remember that it is Allah SWT who is our lord and we are his slaves, and it’s we who must submit ourselves in totality to Allah SWT wether we like or dislike it, understand or don’t understand.

    Also we need engage in tassawuf/tazkiya call it what you wish, this will help to cleanse our inner and remain steadfast inshaAllah as well as of course studying with real scholars.

    Finally read the biography of Imam Ghazali and the crisis HE WENT through and how he overcame it. The position he was in, why he left his post and in the end what he concluded with and the legacy he left behind. SubanAllah, an amazing man, a truly amazing journey. But the main thing of course is dua. May Allah SWT make us all firm on Islam and eeman and may he not deviate us after he has guided not even for a millisecond. Ameen!

  8. umme fatima

    July 11, 2014 at 11:21 PM

    I am going through a crisis of faith too. I have lived in Islamic countries and the west and was born and raised a Muslim. \
    The experiences with my fellow pious brothers and sisters have been negative. I cannot see how a faith so good can produce such evil results. Violence, treachery, abuse of the weak are unacceptable.

    • The_Observer

      July 14, 2014 at 2:39 PM

      SubhanAllah. May Allah SWT make me and yourself firm on eeman and Islam. Firstly If your experiences have been negative I don’t think you can call them Muslims PIOUS or they’ve been misunderstood. You were born a Muslim and you know our faith DOES NOT anywherre encourage or create these negative traits/actions.

      My sincere advice sister … Look deeply within yourself …what is it really, that is making you feel this way??
      Remember we can never generalise actions of a few to a whole religion to whole way/system of life.

    • The_Observer

      July 14, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      I would also like to recommend maybe you should speak with a scholar/Ustadh .. Someone like Mufti Abdur Rahmaan Ibn Yusuf (zamzamacademy.com) he is fantastic mA. Top scholar who deals with many many issues

  9. Salmaan

    July 12, 2014 at 4:40 AM

    I think the best way to approach this problem is by trying to place yourselves in the shoes of a kaafir. If I had no faith, if I did not believe in God, where would I be? Would I truly be happy? Or would I feel emptiness fill my soul, whilst I replace it with temporary objects. As a convert I can tell you that as I look back at my days of Jahiliyya I cannot fathom what I was doing with my life. Our Imaan undulates, we were created weak, but our fight with our nafs is the bigger Jihad, and that is between you and Allah SWT. Just keep fighting, Insh-Allah everything will be fine sister.

  10. umbudimary

    July 12, 2014 at 11:21 PM

    There are means to steadfastness that are known. My teacher did a fairly detailed lecture series on it.

    You probably recognise that the point you find yourself at did not occur overnight.

    It was steps.

    Righteous company
    Remembering death and hereafter
    Studying seerah
    Sticking to the Quran
    Istighfar and dhikr
    Beneficial knowledge

    These among others are means to steadfastness that we may neglect because it perhaps seems that our faith will remain the same.

    Faith increases and decreases.

    The prophet’s most frequent dua was to keep his heart firm on Allah’s deen. The prophet! Who are we then? We are in dire need of this dua.

    When the foundation gets weak the pillars seem heavy.

    You need to know that it might take some serious hard work to get back. You may have to force yourself and Seek Help in patience and prayer. Dua is your tool. Rely on Him in your race to Him.

    EVEN if you feel nothing keep going. Can it be that a slave sincerely desires closeness and Allah turns him away? Never.

    Also you need to take a very close look at what you are reading.

    And the hisn ul muslim book has a dhikr that one should say when afflicted with doubt.

    Also read surah baqarah every three days in possible. And stiiiccck to your morning and evening adhkar. In them we ask Allah for refuge from kufr. And recite lots of ayah kursi and istighfar EVEN if you feel nothing.

    Keep this up for however long it takes.

    Also realize you may have misconceptions about the deen which shaytan exploits. Know this;

    Allah is just. Allah is all knowing. And He is all wise.

    Don’t be2 every opinion of every scholar without investigation and think well of Allah.

  11. umbudimary

    July 12, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    You can also consider going for umrah or spending long hours in masjid doing dhikr and dua as a seclusion/itikaf.

    Give charity.

    Wake up in last 3rd of the night.

    And listen to tafseer.

  12. Safa

    July 14, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    The answer to this question was beautiful but it did not address her feelings completely. Sometimes we need to look at the Deen from a perspective other than our own. Sometimes we do get spiritually fatigued. Sometimes the ups and downs don’t make sense. Sometimes it is very vague. The hadiths and the quranic verses dont melt our heart. And that is when we stop and realize “what’s wrong with ME?”

    It is okay to feel that way. One of the companions of the Prophet SAW his name was Hanzalah and he was a very devoted companion. But once he went in the streets and cried out loud “hanzalah has become a hypocrite” and Abu Bakr RA asked him how can he say that when he has been such a great and devoted companion? to which he replied that when im the company of rasulallah SAW I feel rejuvenated and feel iman rush all the time. But as soon as im out of that company, I go back to sinning. Abu Bakr RA also agreed with this feeling and they bought this up to Rasulallah SAW to which he said that this is a sign of imaan. That you constantly check on yourself and which is why Allah SWT understands this problem. He understands its hard for us to be 100% perfect all the time. Being a dayee or being in the job of doing dawah does not mean that you automatically become amongst those who are infallible to mistakes or feelings. I’ve been in your position or maybe worse because I did major wrongs while people asked me to deliver halaqas for their daughters. So sister, I can feel what you are going through and I found my answer simply in seeking out knowledge.

    When our heart feels dead, we need to feel the reason for it. Maybe you preached but you never acquired knowledge for your own self. Maybe when you are reading the Qur’an, you dont reflect on some ayahs . Or maybe you never went forward more than reading Salah and doing Qur’an. Allah SWT does not say that worship is only between these two mediums but He constantly tells us to find His signs in the skies and other creation. Sometimes just go out on a walk to the beach or a stroll in your backyard or the neighborhood. Reflect, think about this life. How have you changed, how you were before and how you are now (financially , emotionally etc). We need these reflections. If you are a mother or you have seen someone closely who had a baby, reflect on the process. There are signs for us that certify Allah SWT’s existence.

    And lastly, the life of this world is so temporary. It’s so full of that litter that never sparkled in the first place. We see people happy and having fun but deep down everyone has some sort of problems. We dont know because we never put them under the microscope. Non Muslims, as good as they are, still try to find peace in something. But their life is filled with distractions. From partying to falling in love to dying. But there is no purpose. What is your’s?

  13. M.S.

    July 14, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    As salaamu aleykum

    MashaAllah, this is some really good advice from the commentary section. May Allah reward all of you, I learn some things myself.

    InshaAllah I would like to add:

    ON THE ISSUE OF ASKING QUESTIONS OR HAVING DISCUSSIONS:

    To ask questions in order to learn or investigate a certain matter that is not sitting well with you should be encouraged. I am sure many western Muslim scholars understand that this idea of “shut-up and sit in the corner” is not flying well and will not sit well with many Muslims here in the west. So, I highly encourage you to approach your local Imam, and if he is not wise enough for you, to try a knowledgeable person in your community, and if your community is not up to the task, to write/email a reputable scholar whose knowledge or teachings you find reasonable. There are many English speaking scholars who would be willing to share some answers with you. So, open a channel of communication with someone, and don’t hold back from having a meaningful discussion on what you see and what you feel about your faith. After all no one can read your mind or your feelings unless you talk to them with specific examples.

    However, there has to be a caveat on questioning as well, and that caveat is, what are you going to do, when you get an answer to your questions? Are you going to accept the answers you get, are you going to believe the evidence presented to you, or will you contest every answer that seems to be illogical to your way of thinking or mindset? Be honest with yourself and be real with yourself. If you have doubts, ask yourself if you are willing to accept proofs other people present to you. Islam as a religion is simple and straight forward, and this system of belief in Allah as the One and Only God worthy of worship, Creator, Sustainer, Giver & Punisher, is very logical and clear. Majority of the questions people ask about belief & faith have very logical answers, but some questions are sometimes illogical even though they may seem logical to the questioner. Islam is also very clear when it comes to explaining its theology, what its foundations are based on, where the proofs are, and how you can find them. There are no mental gymnastics of three-equals-one, or everything-equals-one, or love-everything-everybody-everytime. Also understand that questions like “why should I believe in God?” Or why should I belief in a Merciful God when all this trouble is happening in the world?” are just recycled regurgitated questions of the times we live currently live in. Most of the time there is an underlying issue or problem that is not being brought to the front to be discussed. Some people, in their quest to look “religiously Hip” resort to asking these types of loaded philosophical questions. InshaAllah, if someone truly wants good succinct answers, I recommend they gather their questions, have their cards ready, and approach a learned person with specifics. There should be no need to be shy in our faith.

    ON THE ISSUE OF HAPPINESSS:

    I learnt this from Shaykh Muhammad Al-Shareef, may Allah preserve & guide him. He used to give the hajj groups that he leads a blank sheet of paper with a “black dot”. And then he would ask the people, what they see. Most people would say “A black dot”. He would then advise people to not go through Hajj with a mindset like that (seeing only the black dot(s), the things that are wrong or could go wrong). He will tell them, there are millions of “white dots” (i.e. blessings) on every blank sheet of paper they are almost invisible. No one sees them. So one should focus on those instead! The “black dot(s)” will ALWAYS be present in situations if you look for it but “if you focus on the infinite white dots, and spend time counting those blessings, you will feel grateful and have a massive EmanRush all throughout the [Hajj] journey.”

    This analogy can be used for the happiness factor. The happiness you may see in others is just what you are seeing outwardly, but you do not know what they feel on the inside. Sometimes their sad days are worse than your sad days, and/or their days of anxiety could be more challenging than your anxieties and challenges. Say AlhamdulilAllah that at least on your sad day, as a believer, your Lord and Creator is telling you to run towards His guidance & His mercy. Do you know what majority of mankind is doing on their sad days (and sometimes on the happy days)? They are trying out alcohol, pills, experimenting with drugs, anti-depressants, some are even contemplating suicide and other destructive behaviors. And Shaytan, the cursed one, has them on his radar because he likes them alone, confused and clueless. No one can console a soul that is void of a connection with its Creator. InshaAllah, seek peace of mind with your Creator. May Allah give us peace and tranquility.

    ON THE ISSUE OF IBAADAT:

    I wanted to share this cool hadith.

    Mu’adh, radiyal Allahu anhu reported: The Messenger of Allah, salal Allahu aleyhi wa salim, took hold of my hand and said, “O Mu’adh! By Allah I love you, so I advise you to never forget to recite after every prayer: “Allahumma a’inni ‘alaa dhikrika, wa shukrika, wa husni ‘ibaadatika (O Allah, help me remember You, to be grateful to You, and to worship You in an excellent manner).” [Reported in Abu Dawud].

    Now isn’t it interesting, that a noble person like the companion Mu’adh radiyal Allah anhu – who we all read about for his tremendous benefit to the dawah of Islam, helping new Muslims, and his knowledge of the deen and his piety – would be advised to ask Allah for help after every prayer. Why? Do you think, there was something flawed in Mu’adh’s prayer? No, I highly doubt that.

    What the Prophet salal Allahu aleyhi wa salim, was teaching Mu’adh was to learn to reinforce his heart & mind by continuously relying on Allah in dua; hoping for Allah’s continuous mercy and blessings even when he concludes one of the best actions in Islam – which is the prayer. This is the path that leads to excellence in one’s worship, one’s faith and one’s resolve. The Prophet salal Allahu aleyhi wa salim, in teaching this dua to Mu’adh after having done a virtuous act like Salah, is very valuable. We should also learn this dua, keep practicing and seeking guidance from Allah after our prayers, so we do more excellent each time going forward. Aiming for perfection is unrealistic, Allah azah wa jal reserved perfection ONLY for Himself. The lofty goal for us humans and as Muslims, is to aim for excellence, Ihsan! Allah knows best.

    (The mentality of repetitious ritual of dua is sort of like what pro athletes do. But better. Take for example, a basketball athlete does this intense training of practicing that buzzer-beating shot over and over again – day in and day out, hour after hour. Even when that pro baller thinks he has got the money shot perfected, he puts in more practice; arrives early before games, and practices that same shot before the game starts and sometimes stays late and continues practicing that same shot. Until one day, you watch him make that shot flawlessly with 3 seconds on the clock. That is how legends and legendary shots are made! Our deen gave us dua, let’s use it & perfect it everyday inshaAllah.)

    O’ Allah we ask you in the best of names You have chosen for Yourself to guide us, bless us with your Mercy this Ramadan, help us excel in worship and reward us all with Jannatu al-Firdaus al-‘Alaa.

    Ws salaamu aleykum

  14. niha

    July 15, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    when you say,
    “… and my new one in which I feel compassion towards the world, want to value individual choices of others, and see religion as a restriction on that.”, i think that shows you dont judge people by the choices they make and that is something Allah SWT likes, isnt it? and if Allah SWT likes it, religion doesnt restrict it!

    and remember, Allah SWT says in the quran that He never burdens HIs slaves beyond their capacity so dont be afraid. this is something you can handle. even if you cant find anyone to speak to, you always have Allah SWT. just tell him everything. He knows about your problems of course, but it just feels good to just tell it.

    “verily after hardship comes relief”, so its going to be alright soon, Insha Allah!

  15. J

    July 16, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    Assalaamu ‘alaikum,

    I don’t know who will read this. I just wanted to share … what was supposed to be few words. I will try for my sister here in shaa Allah. I have experienced a few bumps here and there myself too. Most of us have. I have kept it simple but it is a long comment I’m afraid. It is mostly my reflection on dunya. Chances are there will be mistakes in my post. I am also learning.

    The answer was given beautifully. Yet, I felt like I wanted to chip in. I really wish I could be there for you in person but I hope my words are of some help, if at all. I’m not going to recommend any big books or go through complicated aspects. Right now what she or any one of us going through similar conflict needs to do is to calm down and focus on what is causing them to feel that way.

    I don’t know you personally or have any idea of what else that may be going on in your life. I can only guess. I’m not blaming you either but hopefully help you to think and ponder. Sometimes, we lose the sight of important things in life when we focus too much on one thing. In your case, being happy. Nothing wrong with wanting to be happy but if one weighs the whole life according to how happy she/he is, they will fail to appreciate the life itself. Anyway, I have divided my post in sections.

    1. Why are we Muslims? Rather, why Allah (SWT) gave us Islam?

    We do not follow Islam to make ourselves happy. Yes, we want eternal paradise and are afraid of hell fire. But, is Islam just to save us from hellfire or grant us paradise? We are reminded about hell fire and jannah a lot because as humans we do not take heed unless there is a danger or a gain involved. Also, because Allah (SWT) is just. So, we will be rewarded according to our deeds and efforts. But Is Islam not really to understand what life is all about? What we are all about?

    If we follow it correctly, then yes, it also makes us happy knowing that we have done the right thing even if we do not take into account how our wealth might be increasing or we might be doing well in studies etc. You cannot expect the impossible. One cannot expect to pass an exam if he has never studied and starts making du’aa the night before. That’s stupid and undermines the sincere efforts other students have put in who truly deserves good results.

    There is no denying we exist and someone sent us here. Think for a second.

    How would we be without Islam?
    How would we be without the knowledge of Allah (SWT)?

    If we did not have Islam, no amount of happiness would answer the purpose of life. We all are born as Muslims. A baby is a Muslim until it starts to follow the religion of its parents. It’s in our fitrah or nature to search for God. Some go about it the right way, while others give into wealth, fame etc to the point of worship.

    Qur’an came down as a guidance so that we can live fulfilled life which is not only pleasing to Allah (SWT) but also beneficial in the long-run, including the akhira. No greatness is ever achieved without hardship and hard work.

    2. Worth of Islam is not reliant upon the happiness of its followers

    Al-Tirmidhi (2398) narrated that Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: I said: “O Messenger of Allaah, which of the people are most sorely tested?”

    He said: “The Prophets, then the next best and the next best. A man will be tested in accordance with his level of religious commitment. If his religious commitment is strong, he will be tested more severely, and if his religious commitment is weak, he will be tested in accordance with his religious commitment. Calamity will keep befalling a person until he walks on the earth with no sin on him.” Classed assaheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 143.

    A believer may not necessarily have it easy all the time. Same goes for a sinner. It’s all in the context. People are not as back and white as we think.

    You cannot divide the whole world in groups of happy and unhappy people. Humans are far more complex. Using just happiness to gauge how well someone is doing is the wrong way to understand things. Calamity can befall someone for more reasons than one. Ultimately, it is upto us. If we want to remain steadfast, we can. If we want to further go into sin by going into despair and distancing ourselves from Islam, no-one is stopping us.

    What’s calamity for us may not be for someone else. For some, losing their favourite dress can be a calamity. Whatever it is, even if we are extremely unhappy, there is hope.

    [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)]

    We do wrong, yet we can hope for being on the right again. What else do we need to be happy?

    3. Freedom of choice for all

    “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.” (Surah Al Kafirun)

    Islam is not a restriction on other people’s choices. They are free to do what they want to their heart’s content as long as they are not stopping us from our faith. Only difference between us and them is that we try not to do things that displeases our Creator. Who better than the Creator Himself to tell us what is good or bad for us?! It is ok to pick up a thing or two from them as long as it does not compromise our faith. That is if one still values his/her faith.

    SInce you have been doing dawah, you must be familiar with how one should exercise wisdom while preaching. We are not allowed to force Islam on anyone, just in the same way no-one should force their opinions or beliefs onto us.

    I agree 100% with what she said when she said “despite your respect for someone as a person, you can disagree with something they choose to do.”. Guess what, sister. The non-Muslims do it, too. They would much rather Muslims did not exist at all or rather Islam did not exist. Most are civil enough to not voice that. It’s a two way street. I’m pretty sure they feel intimidated by how strong we can hold onto our acts of worship. Ramadan! They cannot imagine fasting without any water from sunrise to sunset. It takes more than guts to fast like the way we do. It’s faith in the truth. We do it for Allah (SWT) even if it is hard on us or we may dislike it. Our reward does not get reduced because we failed to like it but as long as we did it. Of course, it will be easier if we like it too. That can only happen if we educate ourselves about Islam and discipline ourselves. No pain, no gain as people say.

    4. Islam is perfect but we are not.

    A strong man is one who can control his anger, is he not? I’m pretty sure most men would hate the idea of having to control it. There are many houses that suffer because the men cannot control their anger and give into violence. World would have been more peaceful if people exercised that though. But it’s one more restriction on us. Too hard to do. Even though it is good and definitely good for people around us, let’s not bother. If everyone followed Islam to a T, how beautiful the world would have been? But the world is not supposed to last forever and the day of judgement must come. Also, we have free will. So, we all act in different ways.

    We are downright lazy, too. We expect to be in jannah merely because we said the sahada and prayed a few prayers. We expect everything to just click and fall into place. Really?!! Unless someone spoon feeds us, only then we take heed. Or if there is some sort of worldly gain, we take notice. Allah (SWT) of course knows us better than anyone. That is why we are reminded not to fall into that.

    “….Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth, so let not the worldly life delude you and be not deceived about Allah by the Deceiver”. (31:33)

    Islam is not strict and complicated. We end up making it so by refusing do what is good for us.

    Abû Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said “This religion is easy. No one becomes harsh and strict in the religion without it overwhelming him. So fulfill your duties as best you can and rejoice. Rely upon the efforts of the morning and the evening and a little at night and you will reach your goal.” [Sahîh al-Bukharî]

    The main reason why all these rules may seem hard and as restrictions upon us because we do not try to understand our faith or ponder upon the Qur’an. Of course, it is difficult to do something without understanding why we are doing it or who we are doing it for. Allah (SWT) has asked us time after time in the Qur’an to ponder. Islam is not about blind faith. If Islam was not the truth, it would not have that sheer confidence to ask the reader to actually challenge it. No other religion can ever lay such a statement. It is a bold one. Only Allah (SWT) can do that.

    Muslims often times overburden themselves with trivial aspects of faith, but neglects the prayer. No! Prioritise. Keep away from shirk, do the five pillars, and keep away from major sins. If one is struggling with even that the most important thing would be to really learn about Allah (SWT). I would recommend tafseer of Surah Al-Ikhlas by Nouman Ali Khan. In a talk he once mentioned, that sometimes people fail to connect with the faith because they fail to connect with their Prophet (SAW) or do not give the due respect due to lack of knowledge. He (SAW) was the walking Qur’an. If one has problem accepting him completely, he will have problem with Islam or become unhappy following it.

    So, read the seerah of our Prophet (SAW) even if you have done it in the past. Chances are small details are lost in your memory. Also think of the environment he grew up in and suddenly, this huge responsibility on his shoulders. At first, he struggled too. Sometimes, we overanalyse all the rules. When a verse would come down with a new rule, the companions of the Prophet (SAW) immediately acted on it without question because of their strong faith in Allah (SWT). Verse of the hijab came down, immediately all the believing women covered themselves. No questions were asked or a moment lost trying to find the logic in covering. Gradual prohibition of alcohol, and no questions asked in terms of the amount consumed etc etc. Allah (SWT) prohibited it, so it is prohibited. That’s what we do. No need to worry what the world is thinking. End of. The world, or even my own mother won’t be there for me on the day of judgement. Each to our own. We all are in need, starting from the very best to the least religious. That’s why we relate to each other so well regardless of age or race.

    5. Allah (SWT) gives us a LOT but asks so little in return and not because He needs it!

    In fact, if we take a moment to ponder on the blessings of Allah (SWT) in our lives everyday, we should be constantly engaged in worship. Even if we don’t think of it this way, for the amount of sins and idle matters we end up engaging in, we should be constantly repenting. But, Allah (SWT) does not even ask for that. The Prophet (SAW) was forgiven by Allah (SWT) yet he spent hours upon hours at night praying to the extent his feet would swell up. He (SAW) was doing this because he felt the need to show his gratitude to Allah (SWT). We fear Allah (SWT) because we love Him and hate to displease Him.

    Sometimes, I think Islam seems hard is because doing what’s good for us, or really good us, is actually hard to do even if we know it is good for us. Sometimes it’s laziness on our part. Shaytaan is onto us, too. That’s ok. You can turn to Allah (SWT) anytime even if you have sins the size of a mountain and feel as though you at a point of no return. You are not the only one feeling that way. We are only human and Allah (SWT) knows that more than anyone. Allah (SWT) loves us to turn to Him.

    Nouman Ali khan gave a beautiful kutbah titled “The supplication of the Muslim” where he spoke about the following verse which I also noticed being included in the answer.

    “And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided..” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:186]

    I will give you a gist of it. Allah (SWT) says “when” instead if ‘if’ meaning He (SWT) expects us to turn to Him. He (SWT) is very much eager for us to turn to Him. He (SWT) does not need us but He (SWT) knows we need him and that’s why He (SWT) stays close to us. Always near. No-one ever can be as close to us as Allah (SWT). People can say, friends or spouses can promise each other, but truly they themselves have their own issues.

    Nouman Ali Khan goes into in in detail and considers the way the Arabic was used here and also the grammar. Allah (SWT) has already promised to be near us. Now we have to fulfil from our side, too. It’s a two-way relationship. Allah (SWT) wants us to respond to him in obedience. He (SWT) does not ask us to do everything that is required of us but to at least try to do some of it. Promise of such a big gift from Allah (SWT), yet we have to do so little to attain it.

    6. Crisis of faith for the Ummah

    I suppose you are really not feeling it at the moment. Neither is the Ummah. We have a crisis of faith as an Ummah actually. We have prioritised the dunya so much and become so far removed from Islam, that we jump at the sight of almost anything thinking ‘this is it’! We keep searching for this x-factor when we already have the best thing we could possibly have. Islam. Sometimes, we do not even know what it is that we are after.

    That’s why we are suffering. If you look at every single Muslims country, the majority are Muslim in name only. Despite taking the sahada, they do not act on it. It is not as bad as shirk, but not that great either. The majority of us have hardly any knowledge of Arabic or even try to. On the contrary, the Muslims themselves (!) look down upon you if you wanted to study Arabic when you should be learning English. Because it will make you look cool or give you a better job. May be you can go abroad and earn loads. Fine, do English. Why skip Arabic for English? Without Arabic, depth of the message is lost. The beauty of it is not fully comprehended. How can we expect to just understand our faith at face value and hope to be fine? How can we expect to just make sense of life when we do not even understand the opening chapter of the Qur’an. It really is no surprise that we are suffering and we will continue to do so unless we pick ourselves up now and actively do something about it regardless of what others say.

    7. Grass is greener on the other side

    I believe you meant the non-Muslims seem happy. Sister, the whole Western society is under constant pressure to hold up the best image. This is more evident in the Japanese/Chinese culture, too. Just google and see. Everyone wants to show others that they are happy; they are holding up fine. It is a sign of weakness to seem otherwise. Because they really have no-one to turn to. Even if they believe in God, their perception of God is distorted. They themselves will struggle to connect with God.

    Allah (SWT) has told us already that non-believers will seem happy to us because when one desperately desires the dunya, he gets it. Getting the dunya is easy for anyone (even Muslims) but to attain the akhira requires action. Surely attaining eternal paradise and the chance to see our Lord is reserved for those who worked hard for it. Allah (SWT) is just, after all. It would not be fair if the disbelievers got the paradise too. Even things of dunya, like exams, we have to study really hard for. Almost everyone hates exams, but we bite the bullet and just try our best. These exams come and go. Once you have finished university, no-one ever asks you about your grades from high school.

    Non-Muslims will not come and tell you that they are unhappy just in the same way a Muslim would not go to them. Dig around and you will find they have been going to counselling or their relationships are broken. One affair after another. They need a Friday night booze to cope with life. Women live with their partners for years in the hope that one day he will marry her. 3-4 kids on and there is no word of that yet. But, its their norm and they have to accept it. This is their Western value which others fall for.

    Forget the young people. I meet a lot of elderly people who are at the mercy of a care home. Children are far too busy attaining their dunya. There is no real concept of love or relationship for them. Not all are like that but majority are. It’s all about me, myself and I. Superficially, they will seem as though they care for others but that’s just the social courtesy. They will do a lot of charity, very openly might I add. They will do a bit of it out of compassion but also to seem good on CV or to others. How do we do charity? In secrecy.

    They will “happily” open the door for you but also will not hesitate to say things behind your back. They don’t care if backbiting is haraam. For them, no-one is watching them. People say “sorry” far too often and “thank you” for everything. It’s all just on the tongue, but not in the heart. They do it for show. To show others that they are good. As for us, we are supposed to do it for the sake of Allah (SWT). Even our love for our sisters are for the sake of Allah (SWT). It means even if we do not like them we still strive to love them because we know Allah (SWT) will be pleased with us. We do not love our sisters so that we get something in return or that we “seem” nice and kind to them. We are supposed to be fair and kind to non-Muslims too. Islam goes far beyond the superficial emotions. We do not love what is wrong even if it means going against the norm or becoming unpopular. That is why, we find it hard. Because our hearts are corrupted.

    8. Even with the world at our feet, we won’t be happy because “Not all that glitters is full of gold”.

    Dunya is an illusion of happiness. I call it a roller coaster. We will always want more and more to be happy. If not education, then a job. If not that then something else. Once we got what we wanted, it does not seem as charming as when we did not have it. Then we move onto the next thing.

    We have a very bad habit of comparing ourselves to others. We all do it. We need to remind ourselves of the promise made by Allah (SWT).

    “Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds [that] for them there is forgiveness and great reward.” – (5:9)

    Two things: Belief and good deeds. Just believing without action is pointless, while doing all the good one can possibly do while disbelieving in Allah (SWT) and His messengers is also pointless. I will reinforce that later.

    You may also be familiar with the following hadith.

    Prophet ﷺ (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “This world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the disbeliever” (Sahih Muslim).

    You will see non-Muslims with high-fly careers and they seem happy. In reality, that’s the only thing they have. This temporary world they see as paradise. They have nothing else to live for. They truly live only once and go all out for it because there is nothing left after this life for them. As for us, this life is just one part of our story. It does not mean we cannot ask for things but we should not lose sight of the reality.

    I can say this because there was a time I prioritised my career, my dunya. I was fooling myself with the illusion for a while, thinking that I was happy. It’s the norm to burn out for a career in this society anyway. I should do the same, too. As a woman, the pressure is much greater. The pressure to prove our worth. With time, I became extremely unhappy. Career seemed like something I had to have to prove to others that I’m worth something. Being a Muslim should not stop you from excelling, but there must be a balance which should not be tipped because of others. It is very easy to fall into that if you are surrounded by people who take career as THE thing in their life. I’m just using career as an example. It could be anything in life.

    You feel as though you are doing something wrong if you are not frantically aspiring like them. To be honest, even they did not seem happy. They were just going through their daily routine like robots. Because everything was measured in terms of what you gained or how far you progressed. There was no real purpose for them. There was no contentment or hope like Islam offers. You are on your own and you have to keep producing the results to believe that life is worth something. When something small would go wrong, I was not surprised to hear them become distressed or mostly swear. They live for these small things.

    Bottom line is though I did not have a crisis of faith but I was extremely overwhelmed because my intentions were not long-term and became messed up. I knew I had to take time out to think as it is very easy to get washed down by the demands of the dunya or the demands that we put on ourselves to achieve XYZ. Alhamdulillah I took a year out to do something less strenuous in a different environment and I really had some time to really reflect on what it is that I’m trying to do with myself. Now I’m in my youth, but what it is that I want to achieve by the time I have reached 40, 50 or even 70? Career, children, house? Bit of that may be. But I will leave all that behind more and more as I walk more and more towards the appointed last day of my life. It is there, waiting, like no other day of my life. At that point in life, I’m pretty sure I’ll be filled with regret that I should have done more to please Allah (SWT). Life is short and goes very quickly. All those hours wasted in useless activities are wasted in the sea of time. Wasted and forgotten. I need to do bit more than just these worldly stuff.

    There was a time I badly wanted to walk the career path that I am walking now. And Allah (SWT) granted it. Alhamdulillah. I still ask for more. This takes me back to where I mentioned getting the dunya is so easy even then we are still unhappy. There was a time I would look upto people who were in the same career path as me in admiration. I am pretty sure there are others who look at me now in the same way and perhaps, think to themselves, “She has it all”. That’s what it seems like to them. Even I’d think that way if I saw myself from someone else’s perspective and didn’t know any better. In truth, I know I haven’t got it all and I can never have it all. Because we do not even know what this ”all” is? Where does it end or when does it end? Because I became more and more engrossed in the dunya, I was losing the sight of the reality. That made me depressed immensely because as a Muslim I knew there are greater things to achieve from life than the common old career and wealth. Anyone can have career or wealth or a string of women if they really went for it, but not many can have true faith. The real pure faith burning like no other desire. That is rare amongst the Muslims. That is something to be proud of. Feel happy for. Standing on the day of Judgement and knowing that you have tried your best. So, do not fall into the golden trap of this dunya, my dear sister. Even if you do, pull yourself up. You have Allah (SWT). Nothing else to fear.

    Life is actually a win-win for a Muslim. Even if we get everything we ever wanted in this dunya and we have still been trying our best to perform our religious duties, we have hope for even more after this life. Even if we do not earn everything in this life as long as we know we have been our best as Muslims, we still have hope. For them, the dunya and the hereafter are bleak. They work like dogs until retirement and most fall into despair in old age. They truly are lonely and that is why they surround themselves with all these activities.

    For the past two years I have been trying very hard to achieve something but I have been meeting one obstacle after another. Yet, I still kept at it. Only recently it dawned on me that I do not really want it anymore because I do not feel it will benefit my faith. Just a year or two ago, I was desperately working towards it. I left it to Allah (SWT) to make it easy for me if its good for me in this life and the hereafter. I learnt valuable things during this journey, and despite all the efforts and time that went into it, I feel no despair what so ever. Alhamdulillah. I’m content in knowing that I have tried my best. Just because we want something, does not mean it is good for us. I feel relieved that cutting down one more thing in life that is not good for me will bring me closer to that which will benefit my dunya and the akhira. In the end, it brought me closer to Islam as I invested more time trying to learn about it. An effort that is never wasted or in vain.

    I have no need to prove myself even to myself because Allah (SWT) has honoured us already. It’s my piety that counts at the end of the day.

    One may say what about the non-believers that do a lot of good in life. Again, priority. What is the point in doing good if one does not acknowledge the main reason why exist to begin with? What is the point in believing in a God of their own if it’s not THE God they are supposed to believe in? There is nothing worse than denying the existence of Allah (SWT) you has created you or denying Him the right to be worshipped the way He wants you to worship Him. This takes me back to the ayah which I mention earlier. Two things: Belief and good deeds. Qur’an is there for everyone to ponder upon before we start comparing ourselves to others and their values.

    9. Restrictions

    I don’t know which restrictions you were hinting at but prohibition of something hardly equates to being restricted in life. If one is feeling restricted, it just means they are in the wrong place or wanting the wrong things. If I was put in a place or situation that is filled with only haraam, of course I would feel restricted. Someone once said in a talk about Ramadan that if we can keep ourselves from even the halal during the day, surely keeping ourselves from haraam is much easier.

    Halal food!- We cannot eat outside as we wish because we have to look for halal food. Then, we do not eat outside. Not eating outside is not the end of the world. And there are always the vegetarian option. This is a problem for people living in the West. Allah (SWT) did not ask us to live in the West. There are plenty of Muslim countries where we could have lived in. But we or our parents chose not to. And chances are they were not exactly prioritising Islam when they migrated. It was all for a better life or money or something like that. So, we have to deal with the consequences. Even with all the restrictions, most Muslims are still pretty overweight. I say Alhamdulillah for not everything being halal!

    Relationships- We cannot have a boy/girlfriend as we wish. If we want we can. No-one is stopping us. But most of us choose not to because our hearts are yearning for something much greater. Why go for these flimsy relationships when we have marriage? Why do people blame Islam merely because their parents or society makes it hard for them to get married? We created this silly situation, so we must deal with it. It’s the same people that goes around moaning that their parents are not allowing them to marry will be the same ones who one day will also make it difficult for their kids. Most of them.

    Hijab- That’s a biggie for most. I really cannot see the fuss over it though. If we take so much care to cover most of our body, why is covering our arms or hair any less important when it looks pretty. There is a reason why women spend so much time and money styling their hair because it does something to their looks. Hair is beautiful, and not just some dead cells. Especially in the West, women live for approval from men and even, women. What happens when two women meet? They compliment each other. I have never heard two men say to each other, “Oh, you look handsome today.”

    As I said earlier , hijab needs no justification. We do not wear it because it makes men happy. On the contrary. Men hates not being able to see what they want. Only a righteous men would probably thank you for covering because it helps them to stay sane even though we do not cover to help them. Even we are told to lower our gaze. We do not suffer as much as them because well most men cover far more than they need to actually.

    We wear it for ourselves because Allah (SWT) told us that it will protect us from harassment. We simply do it because Allah (SWT) feels it is best for us to do so. Allah (SWT) would never ask us to do something that is harmful for us. Men are men. I cannot approach a man on the street and slap him for staring at me in an odd way. But the power is in our hands. They can stare all they want (though they are ordered to lower their gaze), but I have protected myself. Now I can mind my own business. If one does not mind the stare or actually lives for it, then she can choose not to cover. No-one is forcing her. Dignity is very easy to lose whether you are a male or a female. Only difference is we lose it for different reasons. The idea that men control us because we cover is silly and sign of insecurity. More like, we control what they can see with our hijab. The West will feed you silly thoughts because they cannot go a day without showing off their legs and feeling approved. The men will see them, admire them and also forget them as they move onto the next one on the street. She won’t be the first or the last one a man will come across. Its the same as when we admire a flower. In that moment, we admire them but after a while we forget the image as we come across more and more. They probably wonder how do these Muslim women stay so covered. Surely they must want to show off.We are being ‘deprived’ of being admired. We do show off to the ones who matter to us, just as they show off to us. I do not blame them for they do not know Islam. They live under the social pressure to attract a man for a relationship. They are not privileged like us to have the family help or someone approach us for more than just our looks. They have to use their body to entice first and most often, not go very far in terms of a real relationship. That’s the only option they have. I actually envy niqaabis without going into whether it is fard or not. They are such strong people. I feel so honoured and special when I get to see their face. It does feel like they in control of how much I can see.

    Even with all the ”restrictions” and rules, it does not take an ounce of joy from life because we can still be human. There are far too many things in this world to enjoy because the number of prohibitions far outweigh that which is halal. We can still enjoy food, have relationships and pursue things of interest. Only thing to bear in mind is not to get swayed by the wrong because it looks good to us.

    10. What to do?

    a. Take a step back and pause. Get off that escalator of life. It could be that you have taken on too many things on your hand and you are literally overwhelmed. Faith is still burning in your heart. Do not doubt that and that is why you are feeling the guilt. I felt it, too.

    Make du’aa in your sijdah in prayer. That’s when we are the closest to Allah (SWT). Repent, then ask. Just ask. Because you should.

    b. You need a very good friend who is also trying her best. Alhamdulillah I have a close friend and it turned out she was experiencing the same as me. It really helped. There is no such thing as a perfect Muslim. We all are struggling in different aspects of faith. There is a hadith about how a Muslim is on the religion of his friend. So, it is vital that we are careful about the company we keep. This does not mean we cannot have non-Muslim friends. But have a close Muslim friend.

    Try to slowly break it to someone you can trust. Also if you allow others to open upto you, sometimes you find how well you relate to them. Use that as an opportunity.

    Also see point f.

    c. Speak to a family member if possible. I suspect you are not able to do that. Do not try to drop the bomb on them. Try to speak about subtler aspects of your struggle. May be mention you do not like the fact that people look upto you too much when we can never be perfect Muslims.

    d. Try to review what you already know about Islam. Sometimes when people do dawah, they get bogged down with intricate stuff like proving that God exists and all these elaborate scientific theories. Islam is simple. It is for everyone. You do not need a masters or a physics major to prove that God exists. Signs are around us for us to notice. Islam needs no justification. Islam is what it is and it prides itself for being the truth. While some will accept it, others will find it bitter. Allah (SWT) does not need us at all, but we do. It does not add anything to Him (SWT) whether someone accepted Islam or left Islam. We are not doing Him a favour. But for as long as we ask Him to guide us, so as long as we turn to Him, we will find Him because He is already near us. SubhanAllah.

    Go back to basics is what I say.

    Read the seerah and try to relate to the Prophet (SAW) as a human being. Tafseer of Al-Ikhlas at least. If you can, go through the Qur’an gradually. Reading Qur’an is not a competition. No need to finish it in 3 days. I believe it is a life-long journey and relationship. Take your time to understand it. It is said that Umar (RA) spent 12 years to memorise and study Surah Baqarah with thorough meditation of its contents. He learnt the deep meaning and acted upon every single ayah or order. He was so happy after he completed memorizing it that he slaughtered a camel and invited all the people to come celebrate with him. He (RA) was not depressed thinking it was taking him so long just to learn and implement this one surah.

    If there is something hindering you relationship with the Qur’an, e.g.: struggling with arabic or poor tajweed, try to sort them out. Keep your heart open and take things at a step without overwhelming yourself. (Point f)

    Everything falls into place when a Muslim connects to Allah (SWT). Try to learn about him and all his attributes. Sometimes people have problems accepting the hadith. Some rules do come from there, too. You must read the seerah. The West will try to defame our Prophet (SWT) and if we do not try to understand him for who he was, it is very easy to start questioning his character. Then, it becomes a struggle to accept the rules that are derived from hadith. The Prophet (SAW) did not follow Islam or did things out of whim. If he didn’t do something the way should have been done, there were even verses revealed. Like when he forbade himself honey even though he loved it so much because he thought it made his wives unhappy due to its smell.

    e. There must be an event, environment or something that is making you feel that way. If it is something you can detach yourself from, do that. An unhealthy environment or friend will work against you. If it is lack of time, try to make some by getting rid of unnecessary activity or company.

    f. Try to include something Islamic in your weekly schedule outside of the obligatory prayers. Going to tajweed or Arabic classes can open doors to vast amount of knowledge. It will also help you see your faith in a new light. You will also meet other sisters and teachers. You will also be in a healthy environment. You need things like this to recharge your imaan because the chances are the dunya will take over you the rest of the week as you go about school, job etc.

    Go to weekend seminars every few months if possible.

    g. Sister, you have to make the effort to find the real meaning of life. No-one can teach it to you. Do not point at Islam for everything that goes wrong in life. The number of wrong moments are far less than the right ones, and that is why we can never remember the happier moments. There are far too many of them and instead we sulk over the bad ones. Being unhappy is not necessarily a bad thing and can be the means towards a better life. Sometimes, the unhappy moments are not really unhappy but we make it so. As humans, we do over-exagerrate things sometimes, especially if we are not connecting with Allah (SWT) or we have too much free time to ponder aimlessly while we should really be seeking out a solution.

    h. Be content.

    No-one can be happy 24/7. You will become bored of it and stop appreciating it! If one thing makes you happy, there will be something else that makes you unhappy. But, if you are content, it should not matter if things are going wrong or not because you have accepted the Qadr and have submitted yourself to the will of Allah (SWT).

    What is happiness? It is an emotion. You can be happy if you want to be. No-one can take that away from you. Be happy that you have Allah (SWT) on your side. Heed His words and you will think of solutions. Make peace with yourself.

    May Allah (SWT) really help us to attain the knowledge of this deen and truly understand it as this is the means to know Allah (SWT) and to become close to Him. May Allah (SWT) grant us the honour to taste the sweetness of imaan and hold fast to the rope of Allah whether in good or bad times in life. May Allah (SWT) make it easy on us all. May Allah (SWT) forgive me for any mistakes in my words. Ameen

    • Razan

      July 23, 2014 at 5:05 PM

      Assalamu alaykum,

      Thanks for this reply – it really does sum up, in the end, why one stays Muslim. I’ve always lived with these ‘restrictions’ and I don’t find them hard at all, it all makes sense to me. The Muslim community, the Islamic beliefs about God, and the Muslim lifestyle makes a heck of a lot of sense to me, more than any other one I’ve ever been in or found.

      However, there ARE a few questions beyond this – I think that sometimes, perhaps, people think that all Muslims who leave the deen do so because they just want to party it up and live unaware rather than with ‘restrictions’. I think that what really gets to religious people is some Islamic beliefs. Either they’ve been told that strict interpretations or opinions are the ‘only ones’ and if you’re not following them, then you’re a sinner or worse, an apostate. E.g. someone is literally pushed to leave Islam because they love listening to music or drawing, rather than being encouraged to take up the minority opinion that allows it with restrictions. Or someone is shown scholarly opinions that restrict women from places of public authority, from reciting Quran in public, from working with the opposite gender, call them the subordinate gender, insist that non-Muslims cannot be befriended, and insist that living in or traveling to non-Muslim lands is a sin. Or else Muslims begin to learn about Islamic history, and realize that it was often far from the utopia that primary school lessons painted it as. More seriously, Muslims find that they simply cannot accept the way that certain ahadith paint women as being inferior in some important aspects to men, or order the killing of apostates. These people are all told that if they do not believe in the above, and if they do not believe that an ‘Islamic state’ necessitates the above, they are not real Muslims.

      And as an end result, people simply cannot deal with it, and they leave Islam. We have created a false dichotomy, where people are either forced to follow extremely strict opinions, or they are outside of the deen as ‘progressives’. We need to stop, when faced with these questions, saying ‘but that’s not real Islam!’ Those are opinions that scholars made, and continue to make, and we need to acknowledge their presence and figure out what to do! It’s all very well to preach about the high status of women in Islam, and about freedom of religion, but many critics will simply say ‘you are being two-faced – how can you tell us about freedom of religion and of women, and then speak between yourselves talking of limiting women’s testimony and killing those who leave your religion?’ If we ‘gloss over’ these issues, we are the ones to blame when people sneer at us.

      I sincerely hope that no one takes this as some kind of attack – believe me, had I wanted to leave Islam I could have done so long ago. I am merely trying to point out what the youth are struggling with today – our problems, as “What’s the Matter” has exposed, are becoming ever more complex than those before us, and I sincerely want to see my religion preserved in the face of attack that might come from elsewhere.

      • J

        July 24, 2014 at 9:01 AM

        Wa ‘alaikum as salaam,

        Good points. Any Muslim will feel overwhelmed if he or she were to go through the Qur’an and Sunnah and judge themselves to that standard. We all fall short, starting from the most knowledgeable to the least.

        If one is struggling to accept the core belief of Islam, then every single small rule will be reason enough to make that person leave Islam. However, if one is convinced of the oneness of Allah (SWT) and accepts all the articles of faith, then establishing the 5 pillars I believe should be the main priority. As for the rest, it should happen slowly as the person gains more knowledge and insight into the religion. There will be many regulation we may dislike but we accept them because they are from Allah (SWT) and His messenger. Does one think Allah (SWT) will not see our willingness to please Him by submitting ourselves regardless of our wishes or desires? Islam is not a brand as it does not try to play itself down to please the crowd. It is a religion in every practical and realistic sense. It focuses on the relationship of an individual to its Creators, playing it all the way at the society level. Some things may not seem beneficial to us as individuals but those very same things are perhaps beneficial for the whole ummah or for the integrity of an Islamic society. Who other than Allah (SWT) can see the big picture and consider all angles?

        It is really upto the person how deeply they want to merge themselves in faith and embody it in their lifestyle, character, action and interactions with the world around them. If the conviction is not strong and taqwa is not there, then every guideline of life will seem suffocating and like a glass barrier.

        I really believe one must try to learn and study Islam. It has to come from within someone. Neither I nor anyone can make someone love Islam. We can direct them, we can help them but ultimately the person needs to connect with the deen at some level first.

        To Allah (SWT) no small deed gets unnoticed. Instead of stressing over everything, one ought to take it at a step. The reason why I think most Muslims struggle is because they were never actively educated about Islam when they were little and when they suddenly start to practise it, they become overwhelmed. Islam needs to be incorporated since birth, slowly slowly nurturing it and becoming more advanced in its practice with age, effort and time. There are people who can take on a lot in a short space of time and come out as really strong in faith. We all are different due to different upbringing, personality, education background, thoughts and principles. I think people ought to look at themselves and look at Islam, really prioritise and progress. Consistency is the key.

      • J

        July 24, 2014 at 9:05 AM

        I meant “The Creator”.

      • J

        July 24, 2014 at 9:38 AM

        I didn’t want to go into apostasy debate as it can take us away from the main point. I suppose, I ought have touched upon it in my last post since you brought it up. But, briefly, as far as I understand, if one leaves Islam AND starts to defame it publicly on purpose, then the person will be dealt with.

        Leaving the prayer persistently also takes someone out of the fold of Islam. Is there any order to kill that person?

        In terms of acting as a witness, this tendency of people to compare the male and female is tiring. We are simply different. This distraction with the gender takes us away from the need to have fair trials etc. Whatever the reason, the reason lies with Allah (SWT). Only thing I can say from His attributes of being the just, the all knower, is that the two women must be needed to achieve the goals of justice and fairness in the legal system. Here, it is not the honour of witness we should be worried about, but to serve a fair trial so that the perpetrator is punished appropriately. Just because I am equal to half a man in court does not make me any less of a Muslim than the next man. My concern as a Muslim would be to make sure my evidence gets the right person behind bars. Even if it takes 10 women to do that. We must not sway from our objective because it has to be always about us.

        I’m not well versed in the “why”s of these rules. One can come up with 100 different justifications for praying but in the end, it does not change the fact that one must pray if one wishes to be on good terms with his Master.

        It does not matter to me if a ruling makes sense or not, but whether what I do makes sense in the context of Islam or not. It’s who am I doing it for and how am I doing it, rather than why am I doing it.

        I don’t think one should consider the guidelines to see whether Islam suits him or her. The Qur’an does not start with these rules. The point is to make sure we understand the main message first. Otherwise, we will never be able to see the guidelines eye-to-eye or even consider the reality behind them.

        I consider myself to be a Muslim first, then a woman. Just as there are certain things a Muslim man will never have the honour of, there will also be things I will not be entitled to. But ultimately, we all strive towards a common goal and if we are successful, any reasons that we might have formulated during our time on Earth, would simply become pointless and forgotten.

        (My mac seems to self-correct my words sometimes, my apologies for any errors in typing)

  16. Your brother in Islam

    July 19, 2014 at 9:06 PM

    It appears to me brothers and sisters that are going through a religious crisis are raised Muslim but were never convinced of Islam as the true faith. Being Muslim may have merely been part of their identity. Additionally, some may have not been exposed to the complete knowledge of tawheed and all of his branches such as al wala wal bara. Or, it may be that a virus took hold of our faith and crashed the system because we didn’t take proper care of our imaan. It is a branch of faith heavily neglected by people whom many consider scholars of Islam. Let us all have a better understanding of Islam and its purpose and mission. We cannot merely rely on faith and knowledge without depth and purpose. I recommend for everyone to listen to shaikh Ahmad Musa Jibril’s talk about al wala wal bara. May Allah aza wa jal guide us all and strenghten us on the path of Islam.

    Entire lecture: http://youtu.be/bvtu5gwi3lw
    Short version: http://youtu.be/tJ8Vrno0htA

    • Ahmed A

      July 21, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      Well that’s awfuily self-righteous of you.

      Perhaps doubt is just a part of growth. Kaamil Iman is a goal… but the road is long and difficult.

      I’ve always been amazed by people who were born with complete faith. Must be nice.

  17. IAmTheQuestioner

    July 21, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    asalaamualaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh,

    I am the sister who sent this question in. I have been regularly checking this page for the responses, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to say something. I have been pleasantly overwhelmed with the concern that you all have shown, and I feel such love and appreciation towards you all. One of the main things that has kept me from walking away from everything is genuine concern and open-mindedness like this. As for the answer and responses, my heart has been greatly comforted by a lot of what I have read. I am tempted to mention a few of you by name/username to express my gratitude towards your answers which really hit me deep, but I don’t want anyone else to feel that their responses were of lesser worth, because they aren’t.

    Perhaps I will be back later to say more, but for now this is all I could bring myself to say. If I started typing more, I wouldn’t know how to stop.

    Signed,
    Grateful

    • Safa

      July 21, 2014 at 3:02 PM

      There is beauty in ONE UMMAH. InshAllah will always be here for you and may Allah SWT make your struggles easy ameen . Ramadan Kareem sister!

    • J

      July 21, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      Wa alaikum as salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

      Sister, do you know that you are lucky to have your questions chosen and answered by MM? Not every question gets answered. :) I was relieved and happy to read your reply. Good call on not mentioning names. Keeps the unity alive. I promise this post will not be long this time.

      I think I forgot to touch on ‘patience’ before. With everything big or small in life, take time and think before you leap. I have had situations where I was close to severing ties (very bad I know), but Alhamdulillah exercising patience stopped me from making those grave mistakes. Reflecting back, those situations were somewhat difficult but emotions also exacerbated it. It was a severe test of patience for me at that time to the extent I found myself crying many times as there was no other solution other than patience. I became bitter at times, too. Eventually after months it made sense and learnt some lessons, too. It was a very blessed tie. You see, I would have come out scarred if I acted upon my feelings and would have lost something also valuable to me spiritually. Alhamdulillah I learnt without making a mistake. All because of patience. Its hammered on a lot in the Qur’an. The two P’s I call it: prayer and patience. Just as how most of us are appalling in exercising kushu in salah, I probably won’t be further from the truth if I also said we are also not placing our trust 100% when we make du’aa. One cannot make a sincere du’aa with the doubt that it will not be accepted in one form or another or sometime in our lifetime. Most of the time, when things are going wrong or makes no sense, I try to look at the many holes that I have in my resolve and in me as a person. That usually has the answers.

      Taking time allows you to come across the right people, right resources or even the right perspective.

      If you have any further questions, there is more person than one to be here for you in shaa Allah. Forgive me if I have offended you in anyway.

      Ramadan is still here and we can still make the most of it!! Keep calm and fast. (goes off to see if there’s a mug for it. It’d be a good reminder not to drink even by mistake… a red mug!) BTW, drinking by mistake is not the end of the world. The fast still counts if you do not keep drinking once you realise. :]

    • Osman H

      August 7, 2014 at 1:37 AM

      “”I used to love the deen, but now I see it as I imagine a non-Muslim would””

      Asalamu alaykum my dear sister. I hope that you along with your family and friends Muslim and non-muslim are well. Your question truely and clearly shows your sincerity and love for the deen alhamdulilah.

      I would like to know what do you mean by when you said “”but now I see it as I imagine a non-Muslim would””

      First off my dear sister there is nothing wrong with having doubts in some aspects of the deen. What we must constantly remind ourselves is “look, I have not and will not understand the wisdoms behind certain things and this only shows how I am human. Only Allah is the ultimately wise and if we understood the wisdom of everything then we would be God”. This is the rational position to hold. The irrational position is the one that claims we must understand why Allah does things. Logically Allah is unlimited, the supreme, the all knowing. We are limited finite insignificant beings.

      Secondly sister you said ” I want to believe that Islam is the sole truth and that everyone knows this in their heart, and that no one is truly happy without it – but I look around and sometimes I think to myself, well, these people look pretty happy to me.”

      My beloved sister, one could be happy and enjoy life as a non Muslim. Islam does not say that non muslims all must take antidepressants because of their lack of faith. But sister the fact of the matter happy or sad, strong or weak, beautiful or ugly, smart or dumb, rich or poor, influential or uninfluential, we all need Allah.

      Our purpose of life is not happiness. Our purpose of life is to worship Allah. We attain happiness by worshipping Allah but one is not able to worship Allah by just being happy.

      “”I often ask, what’s the point, why does it need to be so strict and complicated. “”

      That is something that I myself used to wonder about. But I realized something about Islam and worshipping Allah. In fact, I would go as far as to say that worshipping Allah elevates us as human beings. Why am I making this claim? This is because we could either submit to society and its norms, our desires, or our creator the supreme rational being. If we submit to society and follow the latest trends, the fashion, or try to emulate such people then we have all became slaves to society. We sold our freedom in exchange for the shackles that society places on us.

      If we submit to our desires, i.e. “I dont need to be restricted by religion, I want to do what I want to do, I want to be free” as many claim, then we would be no different than an animal. They eat when they want to, they have sex when they want to, sleep when they want to, drink when they want to. We will be no different then them wallahi!! When people say I want to do what I feel like doing not what some God told me, In reality they are saying I want to lower and degrade myself to that of an animal.

      My dear and beloved sister in Islam, I sense from your question that you feel that Islam or religion is restricting us from what we want to do. But I also sense and strongly feel that you are a person of honor, of dignity, of love, of compassion, of understanding and of deep thought, And I know for a fact that you being such a person will never want to degrade yourself Alhamdulilah.

      We can either be an abd (slave) of society, an abd of our desires or abdullahs. We could submit and follow other fallible human beings, or our desires as animals do, or we could submit to the infallible being that knows what is best for ME better than I even know.

      My dear sister, life may hit you hard, life may beat you down to the ground but you have to make that push to get back up and outlast it. You can and you WILL win this battle inshaa Allah. Allah clearly states that he does NOT burden a soul beyond what it could handle. Keep fighting, keep on going. Because wallahi, you will finish this race to Jannah. And inshaa Allah you will be amongst those who say “”Praise be to Allah , who has removed from us [all] sorrow. Indeed, our Lord is Forgiving and Appreciative. He who has settled us in the home of duration out of His bounty. There touches us not in it any fatigue, and there touches us not in it weariness [of mind].”””
      35:34-35

      “”I don’t feel a soul connection with the deen as I used to.””

      I feel this myself, especially when I move away from the understanding and recitation of the quran. I would like to recommend for you to listen to Nouman Ali Khan’s lectures. He really connects the quran to our daily lives. And please keep on making dua as I will include you in my duas.

      I apologize if I could not address any issues. I need you to specifically explain what you meant by when you said Islam restricts and does not value an individuals choice and that you see Islam from the perspective of a non muslim sometimes. I would like to address these points to the best of my abilities inshaa Allah. And please do not forget to keep me and my family in your duas as we really need them.

      JazakAllahu Khairan.
      A concerned brother in Islam.

  18. Mohamad N

    July 26, 2014 at 6:54 AM

    Assalam walaikum sister,

    May Allah subuhana wata ‘ala reward you and give you and us all steadfastness upon his deen.ameen

    I remembered listening a speech by Haroon Moghul, in which he discuss his crisis of faith and what eventually brought him back to the deen. In his lecture recalls the key thing that preventing from leaving the deen. It was a quote from Iqbal, which was “you can deny God but you can’t deny Muhammad”.

    Lets reflect on this statement, say you are able deny Allah,(we seek refugee from this) but do you or can you believe that the Prophet saws is a lair and imposter? Because to say Islam is not true you then must conclude that the prophet saws is a lair.

    The brother Haroon mentioned he could not accept the concept of denying the prophet saws neither can I.

    When I reflect on this idea, i get emotional and tears fills up my eyes because I can not fathom that this man (prophet saws) is a liar and it renews my faith.

    My advise is listen to the tafseer of the quran (esp by NAK) and the seerah by Dr. Yasir qadhi, the seerah lecture series will change your life and give you a new appreciation for the prophet saws.

    JazakAllah khair wa barakallah feekum

  19. Abdul

    August 3, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

    “Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower.” Surah 3 Ayah 8

    See video explanation by Nouman Ali Khan on this Ayah “Keeping the Heart Steadfast” [5 Mins] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFdRxh9ABps

  20. Muslimah.mushkillah

    August 26, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    As salamu alaikum, I converted 6 years ago and I’ve gone through the same thing. I stopped praying entirely after 4 years because I felt resentful that I had to do things I didn’t want to. I felt the same feeling you mentioned about wishing Islam wasn’t true. Feeling like why can’t we just do whatever we want and not have to worry about heaven and hell, I actually wished that death was the end yet knew that it wasn’t and I knew everything in the Qur’an was true. I lived a normal western life again but my heart was sad that I couldn’t bring myself to practice islam. I had been distant from salah and sawm for a couple of years until very recently but alham dulillah I’ve found my way back.

    All I can tell you is from experience even if you try to turn your back on Islam you never can because once you’ve seen the truth you can never unsee it. I can’t say whether I would have found joy in Islam again without stopping everything but I think the hadiths that helped me were, Allah’s mercy is greater than his wrath and he only sent 1% of his love to earth so think about how much love he must have for us. Also he loves us more than a mother for her child. ( When a mother has to deal with her child sinning she is disappointed but she wants to help them and still loves them. )

    If you can judge yourself less you might be able to feel more love in your salah. If all you can do is pray asr and you feel you have to experience the world more then just never stop making dua. Sometimes the idea that Islam is all or nothing is too crushing , that if you miss one prayer it’s like losing the whole world is too difficult. Just try and feel grateful to Allah for the good things in your life and don’t lose sight of the fact Allah reaches out to those who reach out to him. Being a believer means you are entitled to paradise , all those ‘happy’ non believers out there are missing out on that and they’re missing out on seeing Allah’s creation through the eyes of a believer. Also without pain and struggle people don’t grow and learn. Your soul is developing , non believers miss out on this too.

    Please keep me in your duas that I dont abandon my prayers again and I’ll make dua for you too in your struggles :)

  21. Pingback: Confessions of a Muslim Skeptic - MuslimMatters.org

    • osman H

      October 20, 2014 at 8:06 PM

      Salaamu alaykum bro. If there are questions then they should be posted so that we could deal with them by the will of Allah. I sincere want to reach out to the questioner to answer some of my questions addressed to her in my above post so that we could best deal with these feelings and contentions. As one of the comments above show and my personal experience with dealing with Muslim youth with crisises of faith is that it stems from an emotional foundation. For example all of these arguments against Islamic morals are really just emotional and subjective. We just pressupose that our moral beliefs which are shaped by our society to a large extent to be the yardstick to measuring moral truths when in fact they are not. My advice which has helped myself deal with crisises in my faith is to write these thougts that are bothering me, forget it about it and look back at it a day later objectively using logic and reason. I find that they are for the most part emotional and have nothing to do withthetruth of Islam rather everything to do with my limited nature and my faults and false convinctions. I would really encourage the questioner to reach out to me and we could really talk about it. I am all ears :)

  22. Adam

    November 8, 2016 at 3:53 PM

  23. Wonderer

    June 27, 2018 at 7:27 PM

    I’m wondering what eventually happened to this questioner – whether she ended up feeling better or worse in the long run. If she’s reading this/checking this, I would appreciate a check in!

  24. Nasser

    July 4, 2018 at 1:58 PM

    Quran
    SAHIH INTERNATIONAL
    2:255
    Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.

  25. Nasser

    July 4, 2018 at 2:18 PM

    When the going gets tough the tough
    1. give up?
    2. Let’s others do the hard work?
    3. Get going?

    If it was easy everyone would be able to do it but then who would have a sense of achievement?

    A belief in the Unseen Lord is a tough test we all can agree with this but we should let our hearts guide us where our intellect cannot our hearts know that they have a Lord who Created and if we listen to our hearts they will remind us of Allah always even when we read about the day of judgement we remember that day as though we have seen it or we 100% know it is coming why? Because we believe if we did not we would just be carefree and living the worldly life but our concern is the indication that imaan is there and where there is a treasure there is always one who wants to loot it and this looter is Satan. . don’t give up ur treasure with ease to Satan well, don’t give it up at all.. He will lie cheat con in all sorts of ways but never accept a drop of water whereas u are promised an ocean promised by who? By Allah and His messenger and if u can’t believe them who can u believe? The disbelievers? Who don’t even know where they are headed the punishment of Allah will be for all those that die as criminals.. The example being Satan who was in the wrong yet tried to push the blame to Adam peace be upon him.. There are people who are similar in mentality they will go against all laws of God some even knowingly then they will try to gain the sympathy of people whereas if they were deserving of sympathy or mercy do u know of any who is more merciful than Allah? The truthful ones will accept Islam because Allah guides those with goodness in their hearts… All those that die upon falsehood have failed and all those that die upon La illah ha il Allah will have succeeded… There is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah… Life may become tough but Allah is most definitely with the patient… Make dua our brothers and sisters around the world are in need of our compassion…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

..
..
..

Ramadan Video Series

MuslimMatters NewsLetter in Your Inbox

Sign up below to get started

Trending