One of the reasons why this e-mail has taken a few days to write is because I wanted to address this section at length (but not too long ;) ). First, remember that the length of time in making a decision is not so important (as long as you make the right decision ;) ). I think what it all boils down to is, what type of relationship do you want to have with God? I would call this the one inescapable relationship. When someone dies, Muslims will say, "Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raje'un," meaning, "From Allah do we come and to Him do we return." Of course, many people think that they can escape this inescapable relationship (atheists and the like), but we all go back to Him in the end, when we will be judged and then sent either to Heaven or Hell. A lot of people don't like to believe in this, but that's their nafs talking. (Some people take a "universalist" approach - as in the Unitarian Universalists, which I used to belong to a long time ago. A Universalist would argue, "I can't believe that God is willing to send any human to Hell." That's their nafs, their ego, talking.)
And I think a lot of nominal Christians (and members of other religions) are going to be surprised on the Day of Judgment when they say, "Well, I lived a good life. I didn't do too much wrong." I don't think that excuse is going to fly either. Every now and then, I hear of someone's dream that, real or otherwise, sounds like it has a kernel of truth to it. One dream I heard of a few months ago was the dream of a man who had a friend, an Islamic scholar, who had died. And the dead friend said in the dream something to the effect of, "All that other stuff that we did, it didn't count for so much. What really counted was our prayer." (I told this to Milady and asked her what her parents would say in reaction to this story; she said her parents would say, "Of course!" :) )
I think we need to recognize that we need Him, but that He doesn't need us. We depend upon Him for our sustenance, whether it be physical, intellectual or spiritual, but that the way will not be easy. Of course we will go through challenging times. Does that give us the right to whine during those times, or to ignore Him as soon as the danger has passed? (There's a great pair of ayat in the Qur'an that deals with this issue, 10:22-3, where sailors pray to Allah (swt) while out on the ocean in the middle of a storm, but return to insolence once they're back on land.) Are we grateful to Him? Do we show it? I know I don't show it nearly enough. Reading the Qur'an the past couple of nights, I've read through passages that say how wonderful Heaven will be. Lounging around, eating and drinking. And I think to myself, if I reach there, insha'allah, will I be satisfied with all that? Or am I the sort of person who might say to Allah (swt), "What can I do for you, here, now?" And I realize that this is the question I need to ask myself now. What can I do for Him, here, now?
November 27, 2007
What Can I Do For Him, Here, Now?
Just before Ramadan, a non-Muslim friend asked me if I'd be willing to talk to his wife, who's been looking into Islam. She fasted part of Ramadan with us (alhamdulillah), but she's still unsure of herself. So I wrote the following as part of my most recent e-mail back to her. I'm posting a slightly revised copy of my response here, not for her sake (she's already received my e-mail), but for the sake of others who may be considering a reversion to Islam, insha'allah.