The Muslimah I am today – Seeing the Bigger Picture
When we talk about the concept of unity in Islam, we often talk about it in relation to the oneness of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and our understanding of Him as entirely self-subsisting and undivided. However, the concept of unity goes beyond this to an understanding of a world which is entirely an expression of Allah’s will, and we as human beings are included within this, expressed within a hadith Qudsi:
“When I Love him, I become his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks.”
In striving for Allah’s love, how do we express this concept within our lives? One aspect is the obedience to Allah, and working towards establishing a lifestyle whereby our choices are aligned with Allah’s instructions. But we often find ourselves in situations not of our choosing. Looking at the Mulsimah I am today, it is these situations where I can see the difference between the young woman I once was, and the (middle aged) Muslim woman I now am.
In my early 20’s, before I was Muslim, I was trying to establish a career. I moved from a low paid job which I loved, to a higher paid job which should have been a good career move. Unfortunately I hated that job. Every morning I would wake up with a sense of dread, and tearfully get ready for work. I felt despair, and hated being there. Thankfully I managed to find something else quite quickly, but when I look back at that period of my life, I wonder how I would have handled it now, and I like to think that my outlook would have been different.
I became Muslim in my mid 20’s, as a young, single woman with a good education. Life was spread before me and it could be anything I could imagine for myself. In my 40’s, I am living out the decisions I made over the last 20 years. Alhamdulillah, I am fortunate in so many ways, but it is also a time of realisation and humility – the choices have been made and compressed into sediments and rocks, and the realisation has dawned that life doesn’t always go exactly as planned, and there is no going back to take a different path.
….the realisation has dawned that life doesn’t always go exactly as planned, and there is no going back to take a different path.
What would the 20 year old, non-Muslim me, make of the life I lead? What would the newly Muslim 25 year old feel about these things? Alhamdulillah for the seed of Islam which was planted in my heart and grew. Whatever I might wish I had done differently, this is the life that I have. Most importantly, this is the life that Allah has pre-destined for me, for Allah knew my choices before I made them. There are so many things I say Alhamdulillah for, and in those moments in sujood where I summon that thankfulness into my heart, I have a great deal of blessings to choose from.
But like most people, there are challenges in my life. Things that, despite my best efforts and passionate duaa’s, do not get any easier with time. And this is where I see the difference between the me of now, and the me of old, between the blindness of pre-Islam and the blessings of knowing Allah is in charge. I don’t feel despair, because I know that Allah has put me here to teach me, and as part of his greater plan:
“You are an individual, but you are part of Allah’s destiny, and so Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala may be using you for something beyond you…sometimes difficult situations in our lives lead to easier situations in the future, not only for ourselves but for others…have contentment with the destiny of Allah” (Ustadha Umm Sahl).
Of all the concepts in Islam, pre-destiny may be the one that our minds are least able to fully comprehend. I think of it as life being like a giant tapestry – while it is being sewn we can’t see the patterns and pictures that will emerge – the back of the tapestry is just a lot of threads that don’t make too much sense. But Allah knows what the tapestry will look like in the end, and our lives are the threads He is using to make that beautiful vision.
So far I have thought about ‘the bigger picture’ in a merely personal sense. But current political events are gradually edging their way in to my personal life, and I’m sure many Muslims feel the same. On Friday the 14th December 2019 I awoke with a heavy feeling in my heart, knowing what I would find when I checked the news. I must admit the feelings of powerlessness and despair crept into my heart, until I remembered that once again, this is all part of Allah’s plan, and moreover, He told us this would happen through our Prophet Muhammad (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam):
“There will come to the people, years of treachery, when the liar will be regarded as honest, and the honest man will be regarded as a liar. The traitor will be regarded as faithful, and the faithful man will be regarded as a traitor; and the Ruwaidbidah will decide matters.’
It was said ‘Who are Ruwaibidah?’
He said: ‘Vile and base men who control the affairs of the people.’”
(Hadith, Ibn Majah and Ahmad)
Perhaps each generation feels itself edging ever closer towards the end of time. Perhaps each generation fears the world its children will have to live in. But as Muslims, alhamdulillah we know what we need to do. We need to continue to fulfil our duties to Allah, our families, and our neighbours and communities, and leave the bigger picture to Allah.
About the author:
Fatima-Minna is a mother to two little boys and works full time in a job she loves. In the little spare time she has, she loves writing, reading and sewing.