Consider this: I may have been inspired and guided to the light of faith by the way you carried yourself: by a smile, the appearance of modesty, the appearance of humility, a kindness imagined.
As Rumi says:
“Be like the sun for grace and mercy. Be like the night to cover others’ faults. Be like running water for generosity. Be like death for rage and anger. Be like the earth for modesty. Appear as you are. Be as you appear to be.”
Twenty-five years ago, I came down to London from the north east of England to study at university.
In the early days, I encountered believers who unbeknownst even to themselves guided me to the light of faith through their behaviour, manners and conduct.
Over the next year and a half, I set out upon a journey of faith, searching. Ultimately, towards the end of my second year at university, I embraced Islam, alhamdulilah.
Yet to my immense sorrow and pain, the very same people who had unknowingly guided me towards faith with their “silent dawah” all of a sudden took it upon themselves to anathematise me.
At the time, I was heartbroken, but I took two lessons from it:
- I was to take up the Path purely for the sake of Allah, not for the approval of any of His creation.
- It was my just desserts for my behaviour in the months leading up to my shahada.
If truth be told, I have spent the last twenty years rebuking myself for that behaviour, yearning to say sorry to one of those silent guides for my behaviour then.
It never occurred to me in all this time, that those same guides treated me the way they did not because of something I had done, but because of the company I kept in those difficult early days of faith.
I knew nothing of the conflicts which raged amongst Muslims in those days. Why should I have done? I was pursuing the Oneness of God alone.
My plea to the people of the Path:
Be an ally to the seeker in his/her early days of faith. Do not push them away because you have jumped to conclusions about his/her friends and his/her nascent beliefs. And even if you knew them before their profession of faith, and they made mistakes, give them a chance, just as Allah did.
Embrace them. Be a friend to them. Welcome them even. Be there for them. Never, ever push them away.
It may be that a kind word will turn their life around for eternity. It may be that your harshness will break their heart forever.
Alhamdulilah, by the Grace of God, I have been Muslim for over twenty years now. Glory be to the One in whose hand is my soul.
“Appear as you are. Be as you appear to be.”