The Question & Answer Series – How Can I Fix My Character? This video illustrates the importance of honestly looking at your own self and overcoming certain addictions that we may have. Narrated by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan.
1. A lot of things are running through our heads right now.
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient” (Qur’an, 2:155).
New converts to Islam have just made the biggest decision of their lives, and changed their religion to one that they are unfamiliar with in many ways. There are a lot of stimuli around us that we are not used to, being in the mosque, hanging out with Muslims, hearing foreign languages other than Spanish, etc. Often, new Muslims might look uncomfortable because they are not used to their surroundings. A big change has just occurred in the convert’s life, and each person will respond differently to these situations.
While we are learning the basics of Islam, either before or after our shahada (testimony of faith), we are constantly coming across new things that we’ve never heard of before. It takes a long time to be able to have a consistent foundation that’s strong enough to feel any amount of comfort in the religion. This process is similar to moving to a foreign country, not knowing the language, customs, or environment that surrounds us. We often have no idea about the origin of certain customs and whether they are from Islam or a person’s culture, and it takes time to be able to discern between the two.
2. Our family life is uncertain.
A man asked the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him): ‘What is the right of parents on their offspring?’ The Prophet ﷺ replied: “They are your Paradise and your Hell.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
People who are born into Islam have the benefit of having a foundation with their parents and family. The Qur’an is on their bookshelf, Arabic words are mixed into conversation without needing definition, and there is an environment of tradition that provides a reference point for looking at the world. A convert is experiencing the total opposite. He or she doesn’t have any sort of religious connection with their family anymore, and there is sometimes backlash from parents and extended family about the decision to become a Muslim.
Even if there’s no significant backlash, there are no blood relatives to talk to about Islam, no one to clarify things, and no family support to be offered in the entire process. All of these things can cause an immense amount of stress and disillusionment. It’s common for converts to have moments of breakdown where they feel like nobody is on their side. For those who are lucky enough to have a close friend or mentor to help them in situations like this, it’s still not the same as having family help. Converts need an exceptionally good amount of emotional support from individuals in their community to feel empowered as Muslims. This doesn’t require a full-time therapist, but just people to make them feel at home.
3. Our friends are leaving us.
“A man follows the religion of his close friend, so each of you should be very careful about whom he takes as a close friend.” —The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi)
Friends are known for being brutally honest. When a convert tells his friends that he or she just became Muslim, they are going to receive a wide range of reactions. Even if their friends are supportive, they will still be really puzzled and they will ask a million questions that most born Muslims would have trouble answering. And while most converts don’t get a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies before becoming Muslim, they’re going to sometimes feel pushed into a corner when tested by their friends.
Their friends might stick around for a while, but chances are their habits are not always what a new Muslim wants to be around. After you deny a few invitations to go to parties, they might stop calling all together. Friends who seem to have abandoned you can cause a lot of depression and loneliness, and it will always take a while to replace a decent group of friends with a good group of Muslim friends.
4. We don’t know how to spend our free time.
“Whenever a Muslim is afflicted with a hardship, sickness, sadness, worry, harm, or depression –even a thorn’s prick, Allah expiates his sins because of it.” —The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Bukhari, Muslim)
After the distance is created with friends and family, it’s hard to fill free time or stay busy enough to not start feeling down sometimes. Converts will notice a gap in their schedules that was previously filled with something else like hanging out with friends, going to concerts, or partying. This is especially hard to cope with in a smaller city where there isn’t much else to do and not enough Muslims to spend time with.
In this situation, there might be a desire to go back to old habits to feel “normal” again, or there will be an urge to stay alone and away from other people. While Islam doesn’t allow monasticism or hedonism, this causes a problem for converts to Islam when it’s a minority religion in the society. Eventually the situation will get easier and there won’t be any problem in staying busy, but initially it can be very hard to stay positive.
5. We don’t know what to learn and who to learn from.
“Make things easier, do not make things more difficult, spread the glad tidings, do not hate.” —The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Bukhari)
Converts usually experience some trouble in the beginning with differences in fiqh (jurisprudence). Their background is usually from a religion with a narrower view of right or wrong. Often converts will think: “So do I raise my hands after bowing or not? Which one is right and which one is wrong?” The fact is there are many correct opinions regarding such issues in Islam. Converts will often find themselves in the dilemma of whether to take the easier opinion or the stronger one.
At the very best, this will cause only a small amount of confusion at first. Remember that converts don’t have a family to help form their opinions about these things, and they are getting information from all sides. A common decision converts will make is choosing between zabiha (ritually slaughtered) and non-zabiha meat. In reality it’s a fact that there is a difference of opinion among scholars regarding the meat of Ahl-al-Kitab (People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians), but converts can feel pressured to take one opinion over the other based on someone’s limited knowledge of the issue.
The Prophet (peace be upon him said), “There are two blessings which many people waste: health and free time.” [Bukari]
Vimeo link: https://vimeo.com/75062407
Asalaamu alaikum Quran Weekly.
MashAllah. Today we’d like to speak about something very important, something we all take for granted or a lot of us take for granted and this is why Rasool Allah salAllahu alayhi wasallam has warned about it as well. Many of us have good health, mashAllah. Thank Allah for it. And use it, use it to do what? Use it to do that which will achieve the pleasure of the Almighty. Your eyes, you can see by. There might come a day when you cannot see so read the proper books and read that which will be beneficial. Look at that which will help you. Don’t look at that which will earn the wrath of the Almighty. Don’t look at that which you are not supposed to be looking at because these are your eyes. The same applies to your hands. Today you can move them. Move them to achieve that which will earn the pleasure of the Almighty. Tomorrow you may not have that mobility. Today mashAlalh we can walk, today was can read salah. People are crying because they have not read salah until they get to an age when they cannot bend their backs anymore, they cannot go into ruku, they cannot do sujood. So, why is it that we sometimes become oblivious of the gift of health? Really, the gift of health is a gift that many of us take for granted. And this is why is it very important for us to look at the gift that Allah’s blessed us with, some people cannot eat. Some people cannot eat a lot of the food stuffs. So when we can eat it, let’s eat in moderation. Let’s remember Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala’s gift upon us. Say, the prayer before eating and perhaps after eating as well. Thank Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala for the food. And ask Him to help use the energy that is derived from that food in something good. And let’s make sure that we eat that which is permissible and which Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala will not be upset by.
What is extremely important is we also realize that our organs inside, they operate automatically, completely. They have no batteries, they have no human being sort of remote control in them, it’s the control of Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala. The heart pumps in a magical way. More than one hundred thousands heart beats in no time, subhanAllah. And whose battery is that? It is just the automatic plan of Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala. Look at the brain, how sophisticated it is. The ears, look at the mouth, look at the lips, look at the for example the tongue and how it tastes and the taste buds and look at how medicine and science is discovering new things every single day. And this is all the gift of Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala and we have it. And we do not thank Allah for it. And we do not use it in the right direction, subhanAllah. How can that be? When we are believers we know that definitely it is going to come to an end. We know definitely these eyes of mine will not see at a certain time because I have to die at one stage and I have to return to Allah Alhamdulillah. I have to go back to my Creator, my Maker. So let me use it in order to please Him and not to displease Him. And mashAllah tabarakAllah, many people are becoming more and more conscious of it. Whilst we have a voice, let us try to recite the Quran. Whilst we can, let us try inshAllah to do the best of things.
The other thing that a lot of people take for granted is the issue of time. We have free time. People use it to watch television, to sit and see this soaps mashAllah and you know the soaps they wash. What do they wash? Your brain. MashAllah. So that is why we say subhanAllah, the soap. I hope we can have a different name for something beneficial inshAllah. And we have programs of a beneficial nature. We have perhaps a weekend out, perhaps a little bit of sacrifice to go to the masjid to listen to some good lecture, to attend the lessons that the ulemah has. To be able to benefit, to sit in the halaqah and try perhaps to rectify the Quran, the understanding of the Quran, perhaps learn something that others have even if it is something that may not directly be connected to the religion. For example, a person has free time and they want to improve their handwriting. mashAllah you want to do a course in calligraphy, something that will benefit you somehow. And you can use that talent inshAllah not only to earn a little bit of money but even by the will of Allah to build your akhirah, to build your Paradise. May Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala grant that to us.
It is important for us not to waste our time because as the Prophet salAllahu alayhi wasallam said, “The two gifts that Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala has bestowed upon us that many people take for granted. The first one is the health. And the second one is free time.” So when there is free time, use it. Use it, do not abuse it. SubhanAllah. People sometimes say, “Oh, I’ve got some free time. Let me go to bed. I can go and sleep.” Are you depressed? Well if you are maybe you might think sleeping will help you, it won’t. To be honest with you, we all need sleep and we all need a certain amount of it but sometimes we need to correct ourselves. We need to develop a link with our Maker. In order for us to be able to understand that we have a short space of time to pack in it as much goodness as we can before the time expires and our health expires. So these two things are definitely going to go because my health even if I die a healthy person but I’m dead. When I die what happens? My health is irrelevant, completely irrelevant. A few days ago I spoke about a very interesting point inshAllah, I may share it with you in one of the episodes to come. But, what I’d like to share with you right now is the fact that even time. Time, when it comes to us will definitely come to an end. May the Almighty bless us all and may He make us use our time whilst we have it in the best possible way.