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Am I a True Muslim?

Question and answer details
Abdullah
2013/05/23
As-salam alaykum wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakatu. My problem is I am living in Europe and around me is a lot of haram (forbidden things). I am living with my family and they are not Muslim. I feel like I'm not a true Muslim. I pray the obligatory prayers but it's not enough for me. I want to be a true Muslim. What can I do to make my iman (faith) strong? There are not good Muslim brothers here, only people of bid`ah (reprehensible innovation in religion). How can I be a true Muslim? May Allah bless you all.
Ahmad Souza
Answer

Salam Abdullah,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Surprisingly enough, your dissatisfaction with your self is a good sign. If a person finds himself saying, "Ok, I'm not perfect, but I'm doing all right…in the end I'll be just fine," then most likely he has been deceived by Satan. Furthermore, it is often difficult for a person in this state of self-delusion to pass into true humility before Allah. A self-reproaching person, on the other hand, will have a much easier time progressing spiritually if he rolls up his sleeves and makes a concerted effort to reform himself. But let us not be disillusioned—this is no easy task.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “If a person were to remain in prostration from the day of his birth until the day he died, to please Allah Exalted, then nevertheless on the Day of Resurrection he will consider this deed to be small” (Reported by Ahmad).

In other words, it is impossible to thank and praise Allah enough for all the blessings that He has given us. Even the ability to recognize a single bounty and to thank Allah for it is taken from Allah’s quality of guiding and leading towards righteousness, and thus demands further gratitude. As such, we can never merit Allah’s pleasure, and it is only by His mercy that we will achieve success.

How much would you sell one of your eyes for? You have two—couldn’t you spare one of them for a million dollars? How about a billion dollars? Assuming your answer is no, then you are admitting that your eye is worth more than a billion dollars. How grateful would you be to a person who gave you a billion dollars? How much in his service would you be? Now carry this analogy to Allah, and we must also consider how much more He has given us.

In terms of practical advice, your companionship is key for building your iman. Even if your friends are regular in their prayers and attend the mosque regularly, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will increase your faith. Ask yourself, how much of your conversation is spent in discussing other people behind their backs?

You mentioned people of bid`ah, and I would strongly urge you not to spend your time discussing these matters with your friends. It’s enjoyable to discuss other groups and sects because it makes us feel better about ourselves, but keep in mind that this is exactly what Satan wants us to do. Let us assume that a group of people is deviant; is our discussing them and backbiting them improving the situation? Which scholar said that they are deviant? Is there a difference of opinion among the scholars, and if so, then why do we choose to consider one sheikh’s line of reasoning to be the only truth?

With all this in mind, there are three types of “religious” companions: those who talk about others, those who remind you of Islam, and those who remind you of Allah. The first category we discussed above. While they may even come in the guise of sheikhs, they base their Islam on the denigration of all other people, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Keeping the company of these people will lower your iman and take you farther away from Allah the Exalted.

The second group of people remind you of Islam in one form or another. They may be interesting to listen to or read, and often times they will be of great benefit towards your knowledge and even practice. Nevertheless, they will not raise your iman per se. Included in this category are talks on systems, aspects, and models within Islam (the Islamic economic model, etc.), and even the study of tawheed (oneness of Allah) as a theoretical science, among many other types of talks and discussions.

Finally the group who reminds you of Allah has understood the meaning of the verse:

{And continue to remind, for surely the reminder profits the believers} (Ar-Rahman 55:51).

They are able to take any conversation away from worldly matters and redirect it back to the Creator of all. They don’t teach tawheed as a theoretical science; rather they explain it practically and realistically. They have the reality of worshiping Allah alone, without partner, such that if they face any hardship, they immediately resort to Prayer and supplication without a second thought. These people will raise your iman, with Allah’s permission, though they are hard to find these days.

Nevertheless, they do exist, and Allah, in His mercy, has spread them throughout the globe in different forms and languages in order to benefit all of mankind. Pray to Him to lead you to righteous companionship.

You mentioned the situation with your parents, and my suggestion is patience, humility, and crying for their guidance in the middle of the night. Never confront them with Islam, and never raise your voice to them even if they are trying to anger you. Even though they are non-Muslim, the scholars say that you must obey them in everything short of breaking the Sacred Law. If your father asks you to help him with something, you must do it immediately, with a smile, and with the intention of opening his heart to Islam, even if he may seem like the farthest person in the world to becoming Muslim. If he asks you to get him a beer or skip your Prayer, then you should kindly and tactfully excuse yourself, but do not get angry.

Satan will try and take your da`wah with them away from talking about Allah and the need for iman in Him, and he will try and get your parents and you to debate secondary issues. We’ve all heard lines from our parents like, “Well, why is it bad to just have one glass of wine? Why don’t you eat pork? Why do you think dogs are unclean?” It is our job as inviters to Allah to take the conversation away from these secondary issues that do not win hearts in and of themselves, and bring it back to a reminder of Allah, the purpose of our existence, and the shortness of this life.

Of course, since these are the people that raised us since we were wetting our pants, it is extremely difficult on their egos to learn about the purpose of life from us. For this reason, the utmost tact and wisdom must be employed at all times with our parents. If we sense that our talk is hurting their pride or getting them angry, we must immediately change our approach in winning their hearts.

The true Muslim is able to take any situation, no matter how wicked, and improve it through his character and conviction. His iman is strong and stable through sacrifice for the sake of Allah. If we strive for the sake of Islam, sacrificing our time and energy, Allah will reward us with iman and guidance, for He says in the Qur’an what means:

{And [as for] those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways; and Allah is most surely with the doers of good} (Al-Ankabut 29:69).

And, in this verse lies the complete answer to your question.

Thank you and please stay in touch.

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