Assalamu alaikum. In recent times perhaps more than often I've been inundated with calls from concerned Muslims both male and female about a critical issue in our lives as believers in Islamic monotheism. Looking at the life of most Muslims today it can safely be said that we are indeed suffering from identity crisis, we seem to be double faced. Indeed the greatest possession in the custody of a believer is the gift of Islam. Allah says in Suratul Fussilat: "And who is better in speech than he who [says: "My Lord is Allah (believes in His Oneness)," and then stands straight (acts upon His Order), and] invites (men) to Allah's (Islamic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds, and says: "I am one of the Muslims."
Islam as we all know is the culture of the Muslims a complete way of life, leaving no loopholes as far as our existence on this earth is concerned. The Islamic identity is not exclusively defined by our going to the masajids, nor is it kept exclusively in our dressings or appearances but it is much more than that. It encompasses everything that has to do with us. Allah says in Suratul An'am: 162: "Say (O Muhammad SAW): "Verily, my Salaat (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the 'Alameen (mankind, jinns and all that exists)". Are we living up to the expectations of this magnificent verse of the Qur'an? of course NO!
In the early parts of Islam, the religion was widely spread among non-believers as a result of their interactions with the Muslim community. The Muslims were morally upright and trustworthy, inundated with the constant remembrance of hereafter and were never ashamed to disclose their Islamic culture and identity. How can you have a gift of the latest car in town and be ashamed to ride on it, is it possible? obviously no. But then why is the Muslim youth and those in position of power paranoid about Islam and most at times present themselves and the religion apologetically?. Do we really believe that Islam is the complete way of life and do we really believe in this verse of Suratul Ma'idah verse 3: which says: "This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion" If our answer is in the affirmative, why then do we still fail in implementing Islamic rules in our lives and instead are cut in the web of blindly emulating and following western culture religiously?
It is quite unfortunate that today being a Muslim means something else, a lot of us are only Muslims by name but not in deeds. We feel so stressed whenever an opportunity presents itself for us to talk about Islam and more often than not we tend to harm Islam more than benefiting it. A disbeliever came to the Masjid of the Prophet (SAW) with the intention of assassinating the Prophet (SAW) but he became a Muslim after getting exposed to Islamic culture. The most amazing transformation in the life of an individual was that of Umar (RA), who on a previous day embarked on the notorious mission of assassinating the Prophet (SAW) but walked side by side with the Prophet (SAW) the subsequent day to make a formal declaration of faith in the precincts of Ka'abah, an act that was seen as absolutely impossible in the early life of Islam. Umar was bold enough to identify with Islam even when such action was a formal invitation to death.
Look at our lives today, we live in the comfort of our homes, drive in exclusive cars and wear the most expensive clothes yet we suffer a complex reflecting the true Islamic image. Always want to be seen as a moderate Muslim. Wallah! Allah is going to ask us about all these comforts and our contributions to the Islamic awakening. Allah says: "Then, on that Day, you shall be asked about the delight (you indulged in, in this world)!" At-Takathur:8. Are we able to convince others about the beauty of Islam? No! why? because they simply can not see any difference between us and them. We are desperately trying to be like them in all aspects of our lives so we are at no vantage point.
We dress like them, eat like them, talk like them, we consume Khamr (all intoxicants) on the same table with them, we fornicate as they do, our sisters expose their hair as the non- Muslims do, they wear tight and see-through clothes as they non-Muslims do, our brothers drop their trousers below their ankles, shave their beards and we also cheat in our transactions, we lie a lot, we break our promises and are simply not trustworthy. Now tell me how on earth can we convince a cat that its got a best-friend in a mouse? Al A'rifi said; 'the best preacher is the one who preaches with his actions before his words'.
Our Master (SAW) was so passionate and concerned about us, his Ummah. His night and day was filled with an unequaled passion for our salvation, in Isra and Miraj it was you and I, on his death bed it was still this Ummah and also on day of judgment he will be resurrected asking about our salvation and yet we suffer a complex reflecting his image. The ultimate question is, if a non-Muslim is not ashamed to disclose and be identified with his religion and dodgy ideological inclinations, why then are we the Muslims ashamed to be identified with the truth? We all have to go back to our drawing boards and re-orient ourselves ethically and convince ourselves that Islam is our way of life and we make no excuses about it.
Let me end by quoting the famous statement of Sheikh Sulaiman Moola: "We do not have to do anything to improve on the image of Islam, you and I only have to undo the contamination we have put on its image and it has its natural beauty" he also said: "If we can not become ambassadors of truth then for Allah's sake do not become an obstacle to the truth and let it not be that my actions at anytime tarnishes the image of the Muslims, or soil their reputations or blemishes their character"
We should never allow ourselves to compromise on any Islamic provisions ranging from our Ibadat to our social interactions with the fellow beings. Our strict adherence to the provisions of the Qur'an and Sunnah makes others see the beauty of Islam and not the other way round. May Allah make us ambassadors of positive change and give us the strength and the wisdom to be steadfast in His deen.