As I travel down this road in Islam, I have found myself learning and discovering new things. I have found myself falling and slipping, but never staying down for too long. In trying to live out Islam in a way that provides meaning and purpose, I have finally put together my top-five list of things in which I have learned due to Islam and it’s influence upon me. These things are subjective and may not be the case for you, but I definitely will say that I have learned these lessons as being true for me in my own personal-life. Islam is a way of life and one have to stay mindful of that as they experience life as a Muslim and individual. I am not the person I was five years ago and I will not be the same person I am currently ten years from now. We are constantly progressing and changing. We are not stagnant people. We are dynamic. We change for either the good or for the bad.
So, what are these life-lessons that I have learned from Islam?
1. Be kind to people.
Islam has taught me the beauty of kindess and being aware of the world around you. In my own personal experiences, people would love nothing more than to just see a friendly face and a smile. Sometimes this is all you need to turn your day upside-down. Whenever I am upset and just angry at the world I am quicky comforted by a smile. Also, kindness entails being patient with people. Sometimes we can get into an uproar and just go off on people, but would the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) do this? Anas bin Malik was once quoted saying that he had served the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) for ten years and he never criticized him or said “uff”. Also, being kind should entail gentleness with the people. One day, a man saw the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) kissing his grandchildren and the man said he never kissed any of his ten children. The prophet responded back to the man and said “Those that aren’t merciful to others will not receive mercy from Allah,” so that allowed the man to see how important it is to have mercy and gentleness toward others.
2. Just chill out and stop being hard on yourself.
It becomes very easy to just crack under pressure. We sometimes just feel as if the world is coming down on us from all directions. As I would say, just chill. We sometimes get caught up in trying to be angels when we forget that we are humans. Nobody said you had to be an angel. Angels aren’t given free-will and don’t make mistakes. However, we do. We are human-beings. God made us weak and subject to mistakes. It brings me to a story from the time of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and how Abu Bakr and his friend had both agreed that when they weren’t in the company of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) they would stop thinking about the hereafter and they would enjoy themselves, their families and enjoy the life of the world. So, they went to the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and told him that they were concerned because they would enjoy themselves within the world and in the company of the prophet they would remember the hereafter. The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told them both that if they were perfect than the angels would shake hands with them. So, the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was letting these two companions know that they are human at the end of the day. However, some of us may not understand what it means to be human so let me say this, “just chill out”. Islam is a way of life that is complete and clear. Sometimes you just have to chill out and stop being hard on yourself.
3. It’s all about mind, body, and soul.
What in the world am I talking about? Yes, Islam is all about the trinity. It’s all about: mind, body and soul. As a Muslim, I know that Islam doesn’t just teach about the soul, but it deals with everything. One of the beautiful things that I have found in Islam is this concern with enriching the human-being as a whole. It doesn’t leave anything out. It is from the Islamic-tradition that one should seek out a meaningful life through practicing Islam, but in leaving this incessant desire to have the world in one’s hands. Islam doesn’t restrict a person from accumulating wealth, but it is regulated. There’s zakat or the annual charity-tax. This tax is for those that have a surplus of wealth, thus it is given to those that are needy, poor, wayfarers, inclined to Islam and destitute. It purifies an individual from their greed. Also, Islam tells people to be mindful of their bodies and how they take care of it. We should strive to live healthy lives. In having a healthy-lifestyle it allows for an individual to perform their obligations as a Muslim, such as: daily prayers and hajj. These two obligations entail physical-movement. Also, Islam makes a person think and reflect on their existence. It’s not a way of life that tells you to blindly follow and to not think. It is encouraged to think and to ponder. Islam wants people to use their reasoning skills to sort through the reality of this life. As a critical thinker, I found that really moving. It makes a person really sit down with themselves, the Qur’an and think. It makes you think about the universe, the creation and your position within this space called Earth. Islam is all about mind, body and soul.
4. Time is of the essence.
I’m definitely not the most prompt of people when it comes to time, but time is definitely of the essence. Time shouldn’t be abused. I think I can learn from this lesson because I am struggling with it. I think I would fit best in a society in which time wasn’t a real issue. However, I have to work with what I got at the current time. So, one of the best chapters of the Qur’an is Surah Asr. Surah (chapter) Asr is about time.
103. Surah Al-Asr (The Time)
1. By Al-‘Asr (the time).
2. Verily! Man is in loss,
3. Except those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth (i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds (Al-Ma’ruf)which Allah has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds (Al-Munkar)which Allah has forbidden), and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allah’s Cause during preaching His religion of Islamic Monotheism or Jihad, etc.).
It’s laid out very plainly. We should use our time in a way that is constructive. We should be serving Allah in doing good deeds and encouraging others to do the same. In Islam, we are constantly in the service of someone. We can serve our parents, neighbors, friends, but ultimately we are serving Allah. Time is not something we should take lightly because at any time our lives can be taken away from us or something could prevent us from using our time the way in which we would like. Sometimes we just disregard time and put it off as if we can get back what we had lossed. However, you can’t get back time. Time is always going. There is no rewind. So, I have learned to become more prompt in my affairs even though I am struggling with this. It makes you aware that your life is limited and at any moment you can die.
5. Islam makes sense. Alot of sense.
In being a non-Muslim and going through Islam, I will say that Islam makes sense. In the life that I lived before, I felt as if my life held no meaning at all. There was no direction. However, Islam gives you a manual in how to live. It’s clear cut. There isn’t any guessing. Also, Islam cuts off many of the ills that we may see within our societies. It gets straight to the roots of the problem. It doesn’t play around. Islam is straight in your face. Yes, for some people the reality is hard to grapple with, but Islam makes sense. Islam isn’t only concerned with worship but the human-experience. It deals with: worship, relationships, friendships, personal struggles, sex, marriage, divorce, inheritance, neighbors, animals’ rights, business transactions, clothing, food, and etc. There’s nothing left out. Wow. I’ve never been in a way of life that deals with every facet of your existence, but Islam does. So, to me…Islam makes sense.