What’s the first thing you associate with the word “Muslim”? What about “Muslim community?” Odds are, it’s not something positive.
Many Muslims today suffer from a defeated mentality. Instead of longing to visit Damascus or Istanbul, many of us would rather visit the bright lights of New York or the cafes of Paris. That’s where all the fashion, glamour and art are, we tell ourselves.
Believe it or not, Andalusia, the capital of Muslim Spain, was once called the Ornament of The World. We had street lamps during the Dark Ages. Andalusia had a 100% literacy rate during a time where the king of Europe could barely write his name. Jews and Christians in Muslim Spain rushed to send their children to learn Arabic so they could get somewhere in life. Sound familiar?
Stop living in the past, you can argue. Look at the sorry state of Muslims today! But that’s not the point. The point is your relationship with Allah. Reconnect with Allah, the purpose of your existence, and today’s tribulations fade in the light of eternity. You were brought on this Earth to know your Lord. When Muslims remembered this, we had the dunya in our hands, and the akhirah in our hearts.
There’s a saying: He who knows himself, knows His Lord. How can we know who we are, as Muslims?
1) Learn your history
Islamic history is your history. You don’t have to be Arab to appreciate this. Islam reached China! Read about the fascinating and inspiring expansion of the Muslim empire. By learning your history, you will anchor yourself to a proud and inspiring legacy of piety, chivalry and strength. In this fractured post-modern world, seek cohesion in the oneness of Allah.
2) Connect the dots
Realise how much of today’s scientific, academic, artistic and medical advancements come from the hands of Muslims! This is a small list of Muslim inventions: coffee, three-course meals, glass cups, gardens, hospital wards, the concept of quarantine, universities and navigation via the stars.
3) Visit blessed sites
Make dua that Allah brings you to these sacred places. When you walk the cobblestone streets of Damascus, trace the footsteps of Imam Al-Ghazzali to the Ummayd masjid. When you visit Morocco, think of the proud Berber warrior scholars who crossed the straits to unite Muslims in Andalusia. When you visit Istanbul, think of the Muslim empire that ruled for over 600 years.
4) Watch the company you keep
Your standards of religiosity will rise or fall according to your close friends. Ask Allah for friends who will support you in nurturing a love of Allah and His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and naturally, your heart will incline towards what pleases Him.