The beautiful thing about true Islam is that it draws one closer and closer to their heart, and in that they open up to the world around them. Love flows.
How Islam is Making Me a Better Human
Say the word Islam in the West, and you’ll get mixed reactions. From being highly misunderstood (uh, yes, Jesus is actually a prophet in Islam), to being feared and hated, there is so much that is misconstrued about the religion. As with anything, the less one knows about something, the easier it is to fear and objectify it.
My path as a white, Midwestern female who has chosen Islam may come as a shock to many. Yet, I chose it because I saw how powerful Islam was in the lives of my friends and family members; how it made them kinder, more peaceful, and more alive. Here are just a few of the many ways Islam is making me a better human being.
It Centers Me
Never before in my life have I needed structure in my life so greatly. Having made the decision to be a stay at home mother with my son, my days are very loose, and oftentimes, very isolated. There’s no school bell marking the hours passing, nor is there the comradery of lunch break with coworkers or meetings throughout the day for social interaction. Though I have certainly found a rhythm to the day, the passing of time through the five prayers has been an incredible source of strength and peace for me.
Though I’ll admit I don’t generally make all five prayers, the mere reminder that it is time for prayer from my iPhone, helps to ground and recenter me. Amazingly, my three-year-old son also knows what the call to prayer (Azan) means, and now reminds me, “It’s time to pray, Mama.”
It Puts Things into Perspective
The West is really famous for believing we have everything within our control. From a young age we are told, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’ Certainly, I believe in the power of manifestation, but the older I get, the more I must succumb to the truth that we just aren’t in charge.
We can’t change when cancer comes for a loved one, or whether or not we get chosen for that dream job. We can only do our best, and follow the plan that Allah has made for us. And coming from a long-standing place of perfectionism, this comes as a huge relief. Instead of trying to constantly control things, I can be in the moment, resting in that is all with purpose, whether it is a difficult chapter of life or a celebratory one.
I Am Never Alone
There’s a great quote by Abu Bakr Kharraz, the first ruler of the Caliph following the death of the Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him), that states:
has the right
to say “I”
I love this short poem so much because it is so full of truth. How often do we get caught in our ego, thinking that we are alone in our experience? When we open to the truth that we are all one, and what we are experiencing is universal, life becomes so much less lonely.
The Rust is Shed From My Heart
There’s a saying in mystical Islam, Sufism, that when you do the practice of Zikr—or chanting Allah’s name—the rust falls from one’s heart. Ask anyone how they feel after singing for an hour, or playing music, and I promise you they are more alive than when they began.
The beautiful thing about true Islam is that it draws one closer and closer to their heart, and in that they open up to the world around them. Love flows. The light seems brighter, and the air tastier. There is a presence that fills one’s self that is more clear and true than without this path.
I’m Making Better Choices
Islam is a full lifestyle, one that directs not only matters of the heart, but also the body. Before I came to really identify with Islam, I was very nonchalant about what I put into my body. Often I ate a very sugary diet, frequently drinking alcohol. With every step that I take in raising my consciousness, an equal step is asked of me through my consumption.
Though I don’t necessarily think that a slice of cake is bad, nor that a glass of wine is inherently evil, the words of the Quran ring true, “The sin is greater than the benefit (al-Baqarah 2:219).” In fact, because there is nowhere in the Quran that explicitly states that alcohol is forbidden, I think it makes the responsibility of the person even greater as they use their good judgment.
I’m (Trying) To Be a Better Parent and Partner
With every step, I aspire to be a better mother and partner to my husband. Having a guide in the Quran and in the practices of Islam, I find I am able to do so. Surely, I mess up and have to try time and time again, but I am so relieved to not have to make the rules up myself.
Accepting that I am only human and do not know the way is my first step in submission to Allah. When I allow Allah to enter my heart, I open myself up to become an instrument to Allah.
I’m Surrounding Myself with Amazing People
There’s a psychological effect of surrounding oneself with positive, God-centered people. You lift each other up to a higher vibration, encouraging positive practices of Salah, fasting, and Quranic study. Some of the best people I have met in the past few years are those who are connected to Islam.
Al-Muhasibi says, “Your best friend is the one who: seeing him reminds you of Allah, speaking to him increases your knowledge, and his actions remind you of the hereafter.”
Gratitude to Islam
Not having been raised in Islam, I am always aware of what I am learning in the Deen. Islam has become a gentle gem to me, revealing my inequities through the love and grace of Allah, but also offering up a second chance to really know and understand God.
Though these are only a few facets of the way that my life has been affected positively by Islam, they are all important ways that my life has improved since taking Shahada, Alhamdulillah.