“Islam is a religion of mercy.”
“Allah swt is the most forgiving.”
“Actions are based on your intention (niyah).”
As a Muslim, these are sentences I often hear and repeat myself in many conversations. Lines which I do not doubt with a single fibre of my being. But the question that has been lingering on my mind, is when do we draw the line? The line between what we have been asked to do in terms of religious duties and using these few lines as an excuse for our shortcomings. A justification for being easy on our self. I mean at the end of the day Allah is merciful and it was in my niyah to change and if not He can forgive me.
Us in the West have got into this habit of making everything easier for ourselves based on the fact that it is harder to follow our duties to the best of our abilities here, more than in the East for example. For someone who has lived in both the East and the West, I can tell you that the challenges and difficulties are different. But its easier for us to get into this mindset in the West. The mindset of, “So what if I look at that inappropriate image.. It is everywhere around me.” or “I can wear this type of ‘hijab’ because that is what everyone does.” or “Fajr prayer is too hard to get up for”, and “I think this place is ‘halal'”, and “fasting is too long”, and, and, and… We get sucked into this spiral of “it’s okay, it’s no big deal”.
However, if you think about it, the religious obligations we have in place are not there for us to bend according to our pleasure. Or to find the easiest and fastest short cut there. Or completely omit certain things because they are too difficult.
With everything that this religion has taught us, one main thing is to be balanced in everything. Yes, Allah swt is the most forgiving, and our niyahs are important but Allah can also punish. Allah knows if we truly mean to change that intention into action or is it mere words that we say to make ourselves feel better.
Maybe it’s time to go back to taking the long hardcore route. The one that we have to suffer a bit more for. The one that makes the journey worth it. That makes you feel that you have achieved something. So instead of a two minute prayer right before it becomes Qatha’, or a type of hijab we wouldn’t be able to stand in front of the Prophet ص with. We can ask that restaurant owner, whether they are Muslim or not – just to make sure that halal sign is really true, or we can still respect that lecturer even when they have wronged us or we can walk away from those friends who are backbiting anyone and everyone.
Yes, we may be labelled as too strict. As backward. As extreme. As hardcore. But tell me one thing, are you willing to stand in front of God on the day of Judgement when he shows you what you could have been. The much greater person you could have become… If you were a little harsher on yourself. If you had struggled a little bit more. If you cared a little bit more. If you put in a little bit more effort. If you pushed yourself more.
Are you willing to stand in front of God and not be that person?
by Amina Taki