She wakes up. Delicately rises from her bed, and whispers a prayer, grateful to be alive one more day. She walks towards her bathroom and begins her morning routine. After exiting the bathroom, she walks towards her beauty shelf, and gazes with wonder at the sight of the beautiful makeup. Her limbs freeze as she stands there, fighting a battle from within, questioning whether she will apply some or not. Her colleagues at work all wear it, she will be the odd one out for not having foundation and lipstick on, she wants to look pretty, but she knows leaving the house with makeup on isn’t permissible in her religion. She fights back her desires, and turns in the opposite direction, towards the front door. Her mind is conscious that her Islamic outfit is hanging inside her closet, silently calling her to wear it. People could think she is a terrorist. She might be attacked. She allows those thoughts to consume her from within to repel her desire to wear her hijab. But again, her thoughts about Allah’s commands prevail. She goes towards her closet and wears her Islamic outfit, allowing the soft material to drape loosely over her, concealing the treasure she holds. Her anxiety is present, but so is her trust in Allah. She takes a deep breath, and steps outside. Away from the comfort of her home, into the jaws of society.
Beauty, intelligence, success, we have it all defined for us. We live in a time where we are constantly influenced in altering our personalities, bodies, features and values. Society has defined virtually everything for us, from what it means to be beautiful, to what the definition of success should be, and we are being swayed by the current of it all. For Muslims today, the pressure is intense. On one hand, we have our desires calling us to become enslaved to societal standards, following the latest trends and ‘living it all’ no matter how immoral it is, on the other, we have Islam. A beautiful, just and pure religion dictating how we should live our lives, instructing us with a manual – the Quran, and guiding us away from the darkness and into the light.
The struggle of practicing Islam is increasing. Muslims either practice Islam properly, don’t practice at all, or compromise the religion. Whenever someone is advised to stop whatever haram (impermissible) action they are engaging in, a series of excuses are thrown. With the media successfully manipulating those around us, Muslims have become fearful of how they are being perceived by other human beings, particularly in the West. Sisters mostly, whose Islamic identity is manifested through hijab, have lost their confidence in preserving the modest aspect of hijab, and resort to makeup, tight clothes, and other things that contradict the essence of this Islamic outfit, for many reasons that mainly stem from our lack of willingness to trust Allah and respect his commands. Sadly, we are more keen to defy His laws, if it means pleasing others and ‘fitting in’. We have lost our confidence when it comes to enjoining good and forbidding evil, once again afraid of the response we will get. Once, someone was expressing to me their fears about going somewhere with a particular group of Muslims, he asked: “What if they put music on in the car?”, “Well, you tell them to turn it off” I responded effortlessly. It wasn’t until later, that I realised this wasn’t a simple, careless question. It was a worry. It was something he had been contemplating, because he knew he might not have the courage to tell them to turn it off. I wondered later, what happened to rights of Allah coming first? Why are we so concerned with what others think of us? Muslims are indeed facing a major crisis with their Islamic identities.
Our ignorance towards knowledge of Allah and tawheed is one of, if not the sole reason why we have become ashamed of our Islamic identities. The thought of choosing Allah above all else does not sit peacefully within us because we do not know who Allah is. We know our fellow human beings, what they like and dislike, and we love them so we try to please them, but we do not love Allah enough and so we do not try to please Him. Knowing Allah and learning about Him isn’t an option for a Muslim, it is an obligation! The only way we can combat our inner crisis is by weighing within ourselves who is more important: Allah or everything else? Once we know Allah, we will know that He is more important. Like the example of the Muslimah in the short story above, we will choose Him.