By Syifa Sjah
I spent Wednesday night reunited with my people – high schoolers. On campus at the seminary, I’m always struggling to finish my homework or struggling to keep up in class discussions. At Plano East High School’s MSA event, I lived it up amongst my true peers. Sheikh Abdul Nasir and my classmates Jannah and AbdulRahman spoke about Muslims in America that evening. To be precise, they taught us that being a Muslim means fulfilling the rights Allah has over us and fulfilling the rights of others, and they taught us how to take that from its ideal to its reality. Masha Allah, every single thing they said was so beneficial and rang completely true, and gem after gem I was scrambling to take notes.
The first thing that stuck with me was actually something an MSA brother said: Our faith shouldn’t have to depend on anyone else – it’s just you and Allah. Taking that idea further, I always thought Muslim identity meant being an island. Sheikh Abdul Nasir described it as “The more Muslim you are, the more alone you are.” It never occurred to me that this shouldn’t be the case. It’s true that being a believer is about your relationship with Allah, but it’s also true that the Prophet (S) said you won’t believe until you love one another. He also said, “المسلم من سلم الناس من لسانه و يده”. The Muslim is the one from whom people are safe, people aren’t afraid that the Muslim will hurt them with his hand or with his tongue. Part of being a believer is your relationship with people, being good to them. Making sure to forgive others when they hurt you, and to apologize and make things right when you hurt them. It’s tough to be good to people, it requires being generous with your time and energy, two very limited resources. It’s only possible when no matter what the situation, your relationship with Allah comes first.
Putting Allah first might seem like the lifestyle of someone with superhuman strength, or maybe an occurrence that springs up in the rare moment of a spiritual high. But what about those days where you feel like you don’t care about anyone or anything? Don’t worry, you’re not broken or doomed to Hell. Just like a lamp needs a power source, we need a power source – not an electrical source, but a spiritual one. Reconnecting with Allah is the key, and it’s the mundane little things that are a really big deal in maintaining your connection with Allah throughout the day. Counting your blessings, saying words of gratitude for even the littlest things, acknowledging that it’s Allah who’s taking care of your needs every single second of every single day. The least we can do is thank Allah.
And what takes your relationship with Allah from rare moment to lifestyle habit is dua. Again and again, Jannah and AbdulRahman brought in the power of dua. We all have a long way to go when it comes to fulfilling the rights of Allah over us and fulfilling the rights of people over us, so ask Allah to help you, to make it easy, to make things happen. Jannah shared a beautiful dua, one that the Prophet (S) taught us: اللهم كما حسنت خلقي فحسن خلقي. Allah, make our characters beautiful, just like You made our appearances beautiful. And if you feel like your character is far from beautiful, follow Sheikh’s advice: do whatever little things you can do, like counting your blessings throughout the day, or remembering the one who gave you your food before you bite into it. He says it’s like painting a house. You could worry for weeks about which end of the house to start painting from, but if you start painting a little here and a little there, you’ll eventually get the whole house done. May Allah make us true believers, make us people of the Prophet (S)’s character, and furnish our houses in jannah.