“Sheikh!” my friends call out jokingly, pulling on my ever lengthening beard. What they see on the outside is not necessarily a reflection of what is on the inside, which is good because Islam teaches us to only speak good about each other and not to advertise our sins.
I want you to know that I am not perfect.
My appearance as being young and keen on the deen should not be seen as an anomaly as many might make it seem. Do not automatically think to yourself that this is not for you, that this was not who you were meant to be; I am telling you it is not an easy choice to be a religion-oriented youth. The path to success will always be a struggle. Do not wait for old age: we don’t know whether we’ll get there. Sayyidina Anas ibn Malik reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “A time will come on the people when the patient among them on his religion will be like one who holds live coal (in his hand),” and it seems to me we are currently living in that time.
I am not perfect.
I err because to err is human. Sometimes, I may say unpleasant things or I may gaze too long at the non-mahrams passing by, and I may have some thoughts that aren’t quite permissible: that makes me human. Allah loves that we go back to Him and ask for His forgiveness so much so that if there were a perfect people, he would replace them with people that err that would return to the path by seeking his forgiveness.
That is why I acknowledge that I am not perfect...
and neither were many of the most righteous people we know about, both past and present. Many had times in their lives where they were not quite on the straight path but Allah guided them back. Before Salahuddin, founder of the Ayyubid dynasty and a leader known for his chivalry and brilliance, embarked on the journey that would lead him to reconquer Jerusalem, he was a prince who enjoyed the desires of this world. Before Nouman Ali Khan, a world-renowned professor and speaker, fell in love with the Qur’an, he had a period where he was distant from Allah. They took the first step, and Allah took them back.
Being Muslim does not mean being perfect. It means having an affinity for Allah so much so that when you err, you desire to get back to the straight path and seek forgiveness. Never lose hope. Allah says: “O my servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is forgiving, the merciful (English translation of the Qur’an, 39.53). May Allah grant us all guidance, ameen.
I am not perfect and that is why I will think twice before judging you. I know that I am full of faults, though you may not see them. I will try to give some advice if appropriate, but brother and sister, I will do my best not to judge you.
So I let them call me sheikh, however playful it may be, and I hide my shortcomings from them as I seek forgiveness from Allah. I hope it will inspire those around me to reach the levels of higher iman so that they can in turn be my inspiration.
Phot by danna (curious tangles) CC via Flickr