I still remember this incident which took place many years ago. I was in the car with my sister when she put on the Quran. SubhanAllah, I couldn’t stand the sound of the Qari reciting. No, it wasn’t the volume…no, it wasn’t the Qari’s voice (which by the way isn’t an excuse)…it was just the sound of the Words of Allah. I was moving my head around trying to avoid listening to it because there was something inside me that felt like it was being tormented by this sound. As soon as I got home I ran to my room, put on music in my headphones and it felt like relief. I felt that pain going away and started enjoying the songs I was listening to.
But it wasn’t just when I heard Quran, anytime my mom reminded me to recite Quran I would find it the most difficult task in the world to simply open the Book of Allah…even that I couldn’t do. Salah even felt like a burden. I would have to force myself to go to Jumuah as well, never enthusiastic about it.
Many years have passed since then, and honestly it wasn’t like one day everything changed, it was perhaps more gradual. But with all that behind me, I learned many things
Perhaps the most important aspect was that all I kept hearing around me were rules and restrictions. Rules for which I didn’t care for at the time. Do-this, do-that. But how long can one do something when he/she doesn’t have full conviction on why it’s being done?
One of the most telling quotes (a quote I always use) is by Aisha (wife of the prophet pbuh) when she said:
"If the first thing revealed in Quran was ‘do not drink khamr (alcohol)’, the people would have said “We are never going to stop drinking”. And if the first thing that was revealed in Quran was telling people ‘do not commit Zina (fornication)’, then the people would have said “We are never going to stop committing Zina (fornication)”. But the first things that were revealed in Quran were the surah(s) of Musafal, which talk about and mention Hellfire and Paradise. (When and) until the hearts were attached to Allah (swt), only then the orders of Haram and Halal came down."
This quote nailed it! SubhanAllah, even in the lives of the sahabas the Deen came down gradually. The first surahs which were revealed were not about fiqh issues and how many salahs one needs to pray, but the first verses were almost entirely about the Hereafter (Day of resurrection, Hellfire and Paradise). And when people’s iman increased, then following rules and regulations was a simple task. Because now they KNEW why they were doing it.
In fact, when the verse forbidding alcohol did come down, some sahabas threw away their drinks, some tried to throw up so it would leave their system, others started to empty the bottles in the streets. As such, the streets of Madina were described as “flowing with whine". No one gave excuses, no one had a hard time accepting what came down...they simply wanted to make their Lord happy with them.
From my personal experience, my heart really opened up when I heard these 3 topics.
1) Paradise – All its wonders and beauties. But key point, most people are not SPECIFIC when they speak about it! When one speaks about paradise, saying things like: ‘you'll have a nice house, nice garden’ just doesn’t cut it. You’ll need to speak about how houses are built with gold bricks; there are hollow pearls 60 miles long built as homes for the believers; there are trees in which a horse would have to speed hundreds of years to just get across its shade.
2) Day of resurrection – Same concept here; the specific details of the “believers” that Day. They will be happy to meet Allah, and He will be happy to meet them. Their faces will shine and illuminate on that Day. For someone who is really far from Allah, scaring them by mentioning what will happen to the disbelievers would be a more risky element to start from.
3) About Allah and His pious servants – Everything good from Him. How He helped those pious servants of His who were in trouble (i.e: prophets, sahabas). How He is the most Merciful, how His Mercy overcomes His wrath. How He is the Most-Loving. And again specific examples of this.
These 3 topics are honestly ALL one needs to get going. Someone who is far from Allah is simply overpowered by Satan and his allies, so that person will frequently turn to movies, music, shopping, etc. Anything to stop the pain they’re in.
I remember my own experience so vividly. I felt like there was a covering around my heart. I felt like I was standing alone in a spacious land where all the clouds had blocked away the sun, and even though people around me were reminding me of good (which was the sunlight trying to get through) my sins (the dark clouds) and the power I had given to the whispers of Satan (more dark clouds) were overwhelming and covering every bit of the sun. But Alhamdulilah there is always hope. No matter how dark the clouds, the sun’s light can still overpower it when it comes closer. And a sun behind the clouds is better than no sun at all.
Alhamdulilah I'm extremly grateful for those around me that never gave up on me and provided me with that sunlight because if there is no sun to begin with, then clouds or no clouds, a person remains in darkness.
This reminded me of the days I used to play outside as a child. I would sometimes cry when I had to come back home as I watched the sun depart. The sun going away meant to me that the joys of that day had come to an end and perhaps I would never see them again.
But the most beautiful part about having Iman (faith) is that it’s ALWAYS there. In fact, in the darkest hour of the night is when the sun is at its brightest and the distance between a servant and his Lord is at its shortest.
O Allah, provide for us all a sunlight in our lives and help us towards doing good. Take away the dark clouds which take us in darkness and give us no sense of which days were in. O Allah, help us and forgive us
- your brother in faith, Mohammad Z.