As a young Muslim, I knew my life was a journey and that I was journeying to God. My understanding, however, had no roots in deep knowledge or love- it was quite rudimentary. So, not surprisingly, I made little effort to embark on this extraordinary quest.
I didn’t have a proclivity for deep reflection. What was I sent here for, exactly? Where am I heading after my life in this world is over? What steps can I take to build my eternal home? These profound philosophical questions were not questions that would inhabit my mind.
Occasionally I would feel this pull to walk in the right direction, but it wasn’t a strong enough tug. I had other pressing preoccupations. If I was not busy studying, I’d wander around the shopping malls or immerse myself in all sorts of fiction. Now that I wonder about it, perhaps it was happiness that I was after.
I went on to pursue a degree in English literature, and in the summer of my final year I was contacted by a friend. My friend was quite excited because there was this inspirational, Islamic speaker who was coming to a London University to deliver an absolutely amazing course. She happened to be around our age, too. My friend asked me if I wanted to go and as I was quite curious I took up her offer.
Upon arriving at the lecture theatre, I noticed it was full of lovely looking sisters masha Allah. It made me feel quite warm and supported inside. We took our place and waited eagerly for the speaker to make an appearance. She was indeed quite amazing, as she had the ability to arrest the attention of her audience. The focal point of her speech was the heart: she described how it functioned not just physically but that it was a spiritual organ also. As this sister continued in her speech, something came over me- I wouldn’t be able to tell you what exactly, but I felt something internally. When she gave her final delivery (it was a week-long course) something happened to my sight. I don’t mean in the physical sense, of course, I mean there was a considerable shift in my perspective. I was drawn to deliberate over those very questions that previously didn’t hold a special place in my heart. I was on the verge of having one of those moments of sudden realisation, an epiphany you could call it.
Centring My Purpose for My Creator
There is a term contained in our shahadah known in Arabic as ‘ilaah.’ An ‘ilaah’ is something which is so important that it’s placed at the centre of one’s existence; it’s what ones loves most, obeys most and sacrifices for. It is, essentially, what one worships. I was overtaken by a sense of guilt and fear as I thought about who or what my ‘ilaah’ could be.
I decided to hold myself accountable. I made a promise. It wasn’t to another person. It wasn’t even to Allah (SWT). I was too sacred to give my word to Him. I made a promise to myself. From now on, I said to myself, my days are going to centre on my creator. That didn’t mean, of course, that my intention was to climb into a cave and forget about everything else! It meant that I was going to bring Allah into my life. What could I do for Him? How can I interact with others in a way that will bring me closer to my creator? What am I going to choose to follow or not follow?
With these recently developed concerns now inhabiting my mind, I embarked on an exciting journey. The journey which was going to help me understand why I was sent here to this world, where I was heading after my fleeting stay here is over and how I could strive towards building the foundations of my eternal home.