By Idris Tawfiq
We make life so very complicated, don't we? It's not just the tragedy and the violence which we see on the television news that makes our lives so disjointed and confused. Even choosing a career or selecting a course at college becomes the reason for hours of anguish.
Shall I do this or shall I do that? What if I don't like my choice or I'm not good at the Course? Young people are faced with choices and decisions which seem ready to overwhelm them. Pressure from adults and even from our own friends makes us have to live up to others' expectations, when all we want is just to get on with our lives.
The pressure on young Muslims is greater still. A well as having the usual pressures of life, there is the additional pressure that society places on Islam and Muslims. We didn't blow anyone up, yet people look at us as if we did. We are just ordinary young men and women trying to complete our studies or to succeed in a chosen career, yet the media have managed to make us seem like the enemy within, somehow not a part of the very community in which we live. Sometimes it all seems just more than we can bear.
It's at times like this that we need especially to pause and to take stock of what life is really like. The whisperers and the cynics and those without belief in anything, would have us believe that there is no hope at all. "What is the use of praying," they would tell us, "since it won't do any good?"
Look Around You
Yet, just look around you. From that first moment in what seemed like the middle of the night when our alarm clock told us it was time for the dawn Prayer, Allah's signs have been all around us, calling us to Himself and assuring us that He is in control and that the world belongs to Him.
Maybe we went to bed too late, spending too much time chatting on the Internet, and so our eyes are not ready to see the beauty of the morning, but beautiful it is.
Maybe we didn't take the time to have breakfast, because we got up late and had to rush off to work or college, and so we didn't notice the other members of our family at the breakfast table. We didn't have the eyes to notice our dad, who goes out to work day in and day out to provide food for the table. We didn't have the eyes to see our mum, whose whole life has been spent watching out for us, looking for any sign that we are sad or hurt. And we didn't have the heart to see that younger brother, who so often is the greatest trial in our lives, yet who means so much to us and for whom we would move mountains if we could.
These are the miracles all around us, every day, which we fail to notice because we are too busy. What about all those other people on the bus or the subway who we are crushed next to on the way to work, school, or college? If only we could see into their lives! These anonymous people we stand next to every day have lives too.
What happened to them before getting on the bus? Did they have an argument at home, perhaps, or a letter demanding money which they haven't got?
Or maybe news of a new grandchild or an offer of marriage? Who knows? And yet, their lives, too, are controlled by Almighty Allah and it is to Him that they will return. These people want the best for their children and maybe are looking forward to a holiday after months in a job which they can't stand. Each one of them is a miracle of Allah's making.
When Was the Last Time…
What a beautiful world we live in, if only we could have the eyes to see it. When was the last time you took a walk in the park, just to feel with your heart the beauty of Allah's Creation?
When was the last time you walked along a riverbank, or just visited some people in need of help, or walked past a schoolyard full of small children?
Life is hard. Yes, of course it is, but life is also very wonderful. If being Muslim means anything to us, it should mean we can appreciate the world in which we live. It is Allah's Creation, and Almighty Allah doesn't make mistakes.
Allah is not only the Lord of this world, but of all the worlds. We say this every time we pray. Yet we have only to open our eyes to see His miracles all around us. Birds, trees, sunshine, rain, flowers, grass and people are all miracles waiting to be discovered.
Muslims never despair, because they are surrounded by proofs of Allah's existence and control of the world. Even in the midst of invasion or oppression, Muslims can see the signs of their Creator wherever they look. The care which one brother shows to another in time of need is surely a sign of Allah and the Ummah He has Created.
The kindness and the tenderness which a mother shows to her young child; wiping away the tears of bewilderment and fear, is surely an image of the tender love which Almighty Allah shows to those who fear Him.
You see, we don't need to live next to a beautiful park, filled with rows of well-tended flowers, or open our bedroom window every morning to see snow-capped mountains or crystal-clear lakes, in order to see the greatness of Allah. Even something as mundane as a cobweb or a spider crawling across the floor, is a miracle of Allah's making. Even grumpy people, pushing to get onto the bus out of the rain, are a sign of His Creation.
We proclaim with our lips many times a day, Allahu Akhbar, Allah is the Greatest. Do we pray and then forget what we have just said, allowing things around us to make us forget our faith and the One in whom we believe? Let us proclaim it with our hearts as well.
Instead of allowing the cares of the world to crush us and blind us to the beauty all around, let us see every day the greatness of Allah. His plan is being worked out even as we read these words. Let our faith be something real to us; not just mere words or rituals. And let the world see how much we, as Muslims, appreciate what we have. Maybe our wonder at the miracles around us will rub off on those people on the bus. Maybe our reactions to a cobweb or to our little brother will draw others to Islam.