What Does It Mean To Be A Muslim?

Deep question, eh? I’m sure every woman has her own definition on what it means t be female. Differing perspectives bring about differing opinions. Hard-core feminists will tell you that the essence of being a woman is to be free, independent, do anything a man can do and so on. Traditionalists will say quite the opposite.

So how do we decide then what the global standard of the feminine soul should be? Do we even need a standard to begin with? I mean, maybe we should just live our lives and be the people we are – that’s hard enough!- without worrying about how to be the ideal woman. What difference does it make anyway if we behave one way or another?

It’s so easy to let yourself off the hook sometimes and then blame it on being human. The fact remains that if you submit yourself to Islam, you are surrendering to a way of life. I can’t remember how many times we were taught that in madrasa – when we were barely seven years old – “Islam is not a set of rules, it is a way of life.” 

Teacher asks: “What is Islam?”

Students (chorus) “A way of life!”

Over and over, so we would never forget that phrase. The one thing they missed out on was explaining what exactly it meant. 

For so many years, despite knowing that Islam was a way of life, I lived it as a set of rules.   The very thing it was NOT supposed to be. And I wonder how many of us do the same.   We are Muslims because we say there is no god but Allah (SWT) and believe that Muhammad (pbuh) is the Last Messenger sent by Him. We are Muslims because we take the Holy Qur’an to be the Final Word of God. We are Muslims because we pray 5 times a day, we fast in the month of Ramadhan, give out alms and pay the poor-tax. We are Muslims because we perform Hajj if we can once in our lifetime. Right?

Wrong. So wrong.

All these things we do – these are acts that identify us as adherents to a certain faith, but does it automatically mean we have faith? Is Islam the way we live our lives or is it just something that we do in the process of living?

Being a Muslim is about submitting to a specific attitude and perspective. It means that everything you see, do, think and feel is coloured by your faith and what you believe in. 

Since Islam is the code sent by Allah (SWT), it means the tint on your lenses should be God-coloured. And no one can really say they know what looking at life through God-coloured lenses should like except the Ahlul Bayt (a).   When our lives reflect their lives and we can see a similarity in the way we behave and the way the behaved, or in the choices we make and the choices they made. Then perhaps we can begin to understand the view they had of life and what it means to be a Muslim.

It truly is the perfect system. God sends you away from Him to allow you to miss Him and yearn for Him, and because He knows you are ignorant of the ways and might not be able to make it safely back to Him, He sends guides to hold your hand and bring you back Home.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon
. From Him we come and to Him we return. 

This is Tawheed (Unity) in its most perfect sense.

S’laams,
Bint Ali

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