OK, so you said the Shahadah (Testimony of Faith) and joined the ranks of Muslims.
So far so good.
But then your family and friends start bugging you about some of your lifestyle changes.
“What do you mean you won’t sit and have a beer with me?”
“Why can’t you go out dating any more?”
“Are you going to cover your hair all the time?”
“Isn’t it about time you shaved?”
“Come on, your aunt’s cooked a nice ham, what do you mean you won’t join us for dinner?”
That’s only minor stuff.
For some of you it gets really tough and your parents actually kick you out of the house. Friends may reject and ignore you. (A true friend will accept your decision, however.) You may find yourself treated as a pariah at school and work.
Just remember that you’re in good company. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was likewise rejected by most of his relatives, his tribe and most of the other residents of Makkah. Even strangers abused him and refused to listen to his message.
It’s hard to make jokes about such a serious issue and I won’t make jokes about the Prophet (peace be upon him), but I do think that the following incident in his life can inspire all of us—even those of us whose families don’t think we’ve “gone off the deep end.”
At some point before the Hijrah to Madinah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) went to the city of Ta’if with only his servant to invite the people there to Islam and to ask for their support.
Like so many others, they refused to listen to his message, and they even sent their servants to insult him and chase him out of the city. Muhammad (peace be upon him) took shelter near a wall, within sight of its owners. Pondering his defeat, he prayed (this is the good part, folks):
“O God, please consider my weakness, my shortage of means, and the little esteem that people have of me. Oh, most Merciful God, You are the Lord of the oppressed, and You are my Lord. To whom would You leave my fate? To a stranger who insults me? Or to an enemy who dominates me?
If you are not angry with me, then I do not mind! Your pleasure alone is my objective. Under the light of Your faith which illuminates all darkness and on which this world and the other depend, I take my refuge.
I pray that I may not become the object of Your wrath and anger. To You alone belongs the right to blame and to chastise until Your pleasure is met. There is neither power nor strength except in You.”
Here is a man who was rejected by nearly everyone. His dear wife Khadijah, who had always been a great comfort to him, had died, along with his uncle Abu Talib, who had protected him. The few followers he had in Makkah, though devoted, were mostly poor and powerless against their enemies.
Yet he didn’t rant and rave at Allah, “Why did You do this to me?” He didn’t despair. He didn’t ask to have the burden of prophethood removed from him. He didn’t even ask Allah to crush his enemies. All he cared about was that Allah was not angry with him! “If you are not angry with me, then I do not mind! Your pleasure alone is my objective”
Wow! That is powerful stuff! Think of that: as long as Allah is not angry with me, everything is all right.
How many of us can honestly say at the end of each day that we have done nothing—absolutely nothing—that might make Allah angry with us? (I don’t see too many of you raising your hands.)
How many of us can honestly say at the end of each day that we have put every waking minute to good use? (No fair sleeping all day just to avoid the question.)
How many of us can honestly say at the end of each day that the only thing we really want is for Allah to be pleased with us? (And I don’t mean in addition to that new car you want.)
There’s a lot of strength to be found in those words: “Your pleasure alone is my objective.” Of course, that is the whole purpose of our being here, to know, love and serve Allah. But we need to recall those words frequently, whether things are going bad for us or not.
If things are going well, those words can wake us up to examine our actions. Are we really acting to please Allah or to please only ourselves or others? If things are not going well, those words can give us comfort by reminding us that no matter how bad it gets, Allah’s pleasure is our goal.
Our reactions to our sufferings will either please Him or anger Him. We should neither be angry with Him nor despair, but do our best to deal with our situation and change what we can, always with the goal of pleasing Him.
The Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), that first generation of Muslims who are our exemplars in faith, used to cry out of fear of Allah for the most minor misdeeds. How very far we are from their example today. But if we could keep in mind those words, “Your pleasure alone is my objective,” we would begin to creep back to the path they tread.
The more we remember those words and their significance, the more we would follow their footsteps on the path of righteousness.