Some weeks ago, the STEPS Curriculum students at SeekersHub Toronto were asked a simple yet thought-provoking question, leaving many of us in deep contemplation.
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani presented a scenario and asked us to respond to it based on what we’d learned in class:
Someone you have just met asks you a few questions about your beliefs.
After you answer, they are quite satisfied, and would like to know how they can become a Muslim, too.
You tell them to recite the Testimony of Faith after you, and you then congratulate them on their entering into Islam.
Now, you only have three minutes to explain what their next steps are, as they have to catch their plane to go back home to a remote European village.
What do you tell them?
Advice to a new convert
The students’ answers varied, but can be summarized as seven:
(1) The importance of sincerity
As Believers, our goal in this life is to sincerely seek Allah – pleasing the One who loves us more than we love ourselves.
Sincerity is an important quality we should adorn our hearts with. This can be acquired by working and reflecting on our intention, making all of our actions purely for Allah.
(2) Put your trust in Allah
The human being is created weak.
However, this weakness can be a blessing, as it reminds us to turn to the Most Powerful and connect to Him.
What seems difficult for us, is easy for Allah, and we need to trust that Allah will always take care of us.
The Hadith Qudsi below is an empowering one, as it displays the balance between responsibility and trust.
Allah the Almighty said:
“I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a cubit; and if he draws near to Me a cubit, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.”
(3) Actively seek knowledge
The basis of our religion is knowledge.
Without knowledge, we are unable to know our Creator and act on His commandments, which leads to all forms of distress.
Of the most important things to learn about is the character and life of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
We should have a daily routine of connecting with him (Allah bless him and give him peace), because he was sent to us as the best of examples in every aspect of life.
This knowledge and connection leads to love of Allah and love of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). In turn, this love will translate into leading a life that is pleasing to Allah.
(4) Reflect and remember
The signs of Allah are all around us to reflect on. These signs point us to the One Reality: Allah.
For the believing heart, creation is a mirror and a manifestation of Allah’s Divine Attributes.
Seeing and reflecting on the signs of Allah is the first step to beholding Him.
To be able to reflect, we need a heart that is awake with remembrance (dhikr).
A simple, potent, remembrance is: “There is no god but God”( la ilaha illa Allah).
(5) Seek and be in good company
Islam is a practical religion that gives guidance regarding all aspects of human life.
The need for companionship should be fulfilled by finding and being with good people. We should seek to be with those whom we look up to and want to emulate.
At the same time, we should not forget our friends and family.
We should be good to them, as that’s what the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has taught us.
Our parents are doors to paradise. We should not neglect them in our pursuit of truth, as neglect of our parents and family is a grave sin, and would be contrary to the example we are called to follow.
(6) Be grateful
Gratefulness should be one of the Believer’s main characteristics, as we have the greatest blessing bestowed upon us: the gift of faith.
Being grateful for this gift will only increase us in it, as Allah promises us, “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you.”
(7) Ask Allah
All of this may seem too much and too difficult to do, but as Believers, we do not depend upon our own abilities. Rather, we depend on the One who has created us and sustains us at all times.
Therefore, we need to ask Allah to assist us in all that we aspire to do and become.
If we are having trouble with being sincere, we can ask Allah to make us sincere.
If we are having trouble seeking reliable and traditional knowledge, we can ask Allah to guide us and bless us with beneficial knowledge and understanding.
Ask with the certainty that Allah will answer your call, for He says:
“ If My servants ask you about Me, I am near. I respond to those who call on Me. So, let them respond to Me, and believe in Me, so that they may be guided.” (Surah Baqarah: 186).
Some students also pointed out two things they would do after having to leave the new convert:
Pray for the Muslim Community
They would ask Allah to guide the new convert, and all of the Muslims, in the best of ways.
Give charity on their behalf
Out of gratitude to Allah for blessing them with knowledge, and for facilitating this benefit for them and the new convert, they would give charity with the intention of donating the reward to them.
As one of the students who had to work on this project, I realized the meaning of one of the lessons we were taught at the last SeekersHub Toronto Retreat; this religion is not only about doing, but also – and more importantly – about being and becoming.
Growing up, I was taught to do this and to not do that, but I never learnt the beauty behind all these commandments.
The love and mercy that is the essence of Allah’s commands is an aspect of the deen that we are taught by our teacher, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.
The knowledge we receive from him is in itself transformative and empowering, but it is up to us, as students, what we will do with it.
We ask Allah that He gives us success in practicing what we learn, that we do what we are commanded, and that we strive to be amongst His beloved servants. Ameen.