I grew up in a pretty stable environment. My parents loved each other. My dad was a proactive involved father and my mom was a hard working, nurturing mother. I had three brothers who played a significant role in shaping me and extended family who were supportive. We all happily spent time together. I didn’t grow up seeing family politics or turmoil. If anything, I was probably the problematic one, skipping school, getting caught in the wrong crowd and just being generally rebellious.
Despite all that – my relationship with my parents never wavered. My dad, in particular – was a solid example for me. Not only was he a God fearing man, he was the perfect role model. From his core, he was an amazing human being. He was pure, not problematic and his priorities were based around his family and religion. Through example, he showed me that it was sinful to lie, even if it was to the same telemarketer calling you over and over again and you want to fib and say the person they’re asking for isn’t home. He’d get disheartened by things we consider small, like when he got his first driving ticket and he felt like he disobeyed the law. I remember when I was leaving for Hajj, I had compiled a book of prayers. I had everyone write their requests in that book. He wrote 10 duahs. 8 for my mom. 1 for his children and 1 for himself. The one for himself read “Ask God to keep me healthy, so I can continue taking care of your mother.” So selfless. They don’t make them like that anymore.
Having your father raise you to fear/love God through his actions remains the greatest experience of my life. He really gave me the tools I needed to navigate life events through the foundation of religion.
It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I got deeper with religion. When you seek God in everything, you will see Him in everything.
At this current point in my life (or at least for the last 7 months) – I’ve really been diving into revelation and proactively practicing being a better Muslim and let me tell you, its tough. Not the practicing part. But the inner struggle. The challenge is to unlearn so much of what you think is normal. Resisting certain human tendencies. Uprooting your entire personality to force yourself to be softer, more patient and speak less. Those are my current goals. My whole existence has revolved around my humour, my hard persona and zero patience. So to change – is an everyday battle with yourself.
There is so much you outgrow or want to grow apart from. Judgment, talking behind someone’s back, people who you are close to. It’s a massive shift. Your life almost gravitates around your faith whereas before, you might have had a few elements of practice in your life. You even question your identity. I know I can’t just go to a lounge and dance the night away with my girls without knowing it’s wrong. That kind of stuff starts to eat at you.
You see how much of your day needs to change and that feels heavy. But then comes the reward. Your peace. Your prayers being answered. Your purpose changes. So do your priorities. Life doesn’t feel as complicated. It’s calming to see your growth. To see that the things that once impacted you no longer do.
So you sit. On your prayer mat – asking God to make the transition easy. To keep you close to Him. To forgive you for what wrong you’ve done and what you may not know. For the beauty of our religion is that the reward is dependent on the sincerity of trying, and not in the attainment of the result.
And as for my dad – may Allah grant him the highest heaven (Ameen) – I wish he was here to see how he sculpted my unshakable faith.