Living in this dunya is testing and tempting, as Allah SWT tells us in the Qur'an. But living in the West is a whole another ball game.
People assume that to carry the dawah for Islam in the Muslim world is the most testing thing you can do, and the most testing place you can be. Because in some parts of the Muslim world, to speak for this deen means hardship, means imprisonment and even torture - We look at our brothers and sisters undergoing this in Egypt and Uzbekistan and breathe a sigh of relief - What would I have done if that was me? A test beyond our capabilities we may even believe, in a quiet moment.
However my dear sisters, I would like those of us who look at the Muslim world and then count our blessings about our ease here, to actually stop and think. Step outside our bubble and actually think. Those of us who cover according to the Ahkam of Allah, don't have a haram mortgage, try to pray all of our salat and maybe even do the recommended fasting - Have we made it? We live by the haram and halal of this deen, because of our conviction of Islam and our acknowledgement of our creator and his Messenger SAW - But is this enough? When we look back to Aishah RA, of course she fasted, she prayed, she was a good wife, but she also held onto nothing in this dunya, except for Allah's deen. She never even allowed herself to keep any wealth - even what she needed, but she gave it away as sadaqah; she left her home and everything in it to move to Madinah purely for the sake of Islam and when Muhammad SAW her husband, offered her the comforts and ease of this world over marriage to him and continuing hardship - without a flinch she chose him and the deen. It's the question you probably know is coming, but what would we have done? Because living in the West, I truly believe that our tests are not necessarily less, they are just different. The tests which pull us away from our deen in the West, are of the more subtle and deceiving traits of Shaitan - Where tests and temptations are not even recognised as what they are.
We need to have the most modern aesthetically slick TVs, flawlessly modern newly fitted kitchens, our children dressed in a selection of the cutest of clothing armed with the most latest of toys and us ourselves clad in the latest and most hippest of clothes even our hijabs and jilbabs. Whatever the material asset, it's about the need to consume and keep up essentially with the joneses - Although our yardstick may not necessarily be the joneses, but our own pitless desire as human beings to consume wealth, fuelled by the Capitalist society we live in. As the Prophet SAW said 'The son of Adam, if he had a mountain of gold he would wish for another.
'Just distinguishing the haram and halal which we need to live by in Western society, is by no means enough for us to actually live by what we are trying to live by - Islam. Because this means that although we have understood we need to follow Allah's rules and laws, we have not actually understood why we are here in the first place. That it is not just about abiding by the rights and wrongs of Islam, but still having the same objective in life as non-Muslims - making ourselves happy. This happens when sisters cover, pray and fast etc but are always seeking ways of fulfilling the pit of personal happiness which is fuelled in the West, so they say 'being Islamic doesn't mean being boring you know!' - An innocent statement, but if meant in a particular context a dangerous statement to make. That although I abide by Allah's laws, I still need to fulfil my real purpose in life which is having fun, being happy, having a lovely Islamic house with a decent car, the nicest jilbabs and the whole range of toys available on the market for my kids. This may also mean needing to entertain ourselves by attending women's dinners, nasheed concerts etc - All in the name of happiness.
The reason why a Muslim is on this earth is
Allah (swt) says in the Qur'an:
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
'I have created jinn and man for no other reason but to worship me' Surah Adh-Dhuriyat
She is not here just to have fun, or just to be happy even if its all in an Islamic way. A Muslim is here live purely for Allah and his deen. The quest for personal happiness is not a quest for this dunya. It was not a quest for Aishah RA, Asma RA, Khadijah RA, Maryam AS, Asiyah RA. These great women who have surely gained Allah's pleasure did not gain it by holding onto the thread of do's and don'ts of Allah's message - They have gained Allah's pleasure because of the fact that the deen was the centrepoint of their lives, for which they were willing to, and did(!!) sacrifice everything putting Allah's pleasure constantly above their own.
Allah SWT says:
قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
'Surely my Prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are (all) for Allah, Lord of the Worlds.' (Al-An`am 6: 162)
My dear sisters, the hardest test is the fact that falling into the ditch of Capitalist consumerism, materialism and the quest for personal happiness is almost unnoticable. It's so easy to concern yourself with buying the latest high street trend, the most nicest of new furniture for the home and before you know it we too have been sucked into this bottomless pit.But the Muslim is the thinker. I am not saying that having material things are themselves the shaitan, but it is the concepts that come behind them for us. We must ensure that it is only the material things, not the concepts which we take from this Western society. As the concepts are in aversion to Islam and will steer us away from living for this deen, and living for this dawah.
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