Initially I had intended on only posting a comment to ARG's recent remark, but it seems between my thoughts, a recent email I received and Allah constantly teaching me, I have more to say...
Brother Green you are entirely right when you say that as Muslims we need to be constantly monitoring our speech and actions as so many people in society are waiting for an opportunity to "blame Islam." I hope that the satire in my recent entry didn't offend anyone and was only taken as a "need to keep smiling approach" on days that I "can't believe my ears." That being said, here is what is on my heart today...
As a Muslim there is an expectation to show others the beauty and truth that is Islam. To be modeling this in a way that is modest and true.
For Muslima's that wear hijab, I think there is at times an additional pressure as we become a visible minority to the public. Any individual can look and think "there is a Muslim". Although both men and women are equally responsible to act in a way that is pleasing to Allah, I think it is especially important for the hijab-wearing sisters to be sure their actions are conducive with the religion. It is one of the areas I feel is a blessing from Allah on sisters. How wonderful to know that Allah has given us that additional opportunity to witness to non-Muslims. As it was recently said to me, you never know what action will help guide a person to Allah (of course Allah knows best.) Our speech, and our modesty may be a key factor in bringing someone to the point where they seek out Islam.
As a revert to Islam I also think there is added responsibility. Although there are days when I wish I was raised Muslim so I would know more of the Qur'an, have more Surrah memorized, and be more knowledgeable in the hadith etc. I am forever grateful to Allah that I am one of the people He chose (and only through His grace and mercy) to follow His religion at a later time in life. Being able to talk to others (especially non-Muslims) about why I would give up my Western life to follow Islam is a powerful thing. When people look at me they not only see a woman wearing hijab, but they see a Canadian, pale-skinned woman wearing hijab. Understandably so, this can draw an obvious amount of attention. But Alhamdulillah Allah has given me this opportunity. Alhamdulillah I have an opportunity to witness to others, and have an additional sense of accountability when I know that I may be more visible to the public than a Muslim male walking down the street.
I thank Allah for that opportunity.
However, today there is a heaviness that is weighing on my heart. A heaviness that is there for the sake of the community. As a revert to Islam I am constantly asked (especially by the Muslim community) how I feel about giving things up that I was used to and comfortable with as a non-Muslim and Canadian. Maybe this seems like a natural question, so I will expand my point in hopes to make things clear.
Another sister in (also a revert to Islam who was raised in Canada) recently declared her faith to the community. It was a beautiful thing. Alhamdulillah. This sister also has a beautiful child. When I announced the news to some of the brothers and sisters, that a sister had declared shahadda to the community one of the first things people talked about was that she had a child and they wanted to know who the father was. "DID YOU HEAR WHAT I SAID? A SISTER JUST GAVE SHAHADDA IN FRONT OF HER COMMUNITY!" How infuriating and deeply saddening for me that when we are talking about a person choosing to follow Allah and the true religion of Islam, some of the comments made were about this sister's past.
As Muslims, insha'Allah we will receive the mercy of Allah when the time comes. As reverts to Islam we are given a 'clean slate', all of our sins erased.... a fresh start, yet I see this constant focus by some brothers and sisters on the past. Rather than talking about what it is we have lost (although it isn't much of a "loss") why isn't it focused on what we have gained? I think at times there is a backwards approach and perspective.
Why does anyone want to talk about the sins of the past? Why do we want to put focus on them? Does that not only serve to give glory to Shataan? Sin is sin. The sinner needs to repent and and seek forgiveness from Allah, and insha'Allah by Allah's mercy and only His mercy will we be given that forgiveness. Outside of that, there is no need to focus on the past unless it is directly related to giving Da'wa.
As a revert to Islam there are enough things I know I personally have to live with... but Insha'Allah Allah has taken my sins away. Alhamdulillah. Let us focus on the future. Who we are as Muslims... who we can be in Islam.
It is like that classic quote says... "the past is history, the future a mystery, but this moment is a gift (Thanks be to Allah) which is why we call it the present.