"The true believers are those who believe in Allah and His Messenger and, afterward, doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah. Such are the sincere."
We call ourselves believers--Muslims. Our parents are Muslims, our grandparents are Muslims, our ancestors embraced Islam, the adhan was called out in our ears, we believe in Allah, but is that what really makes us Muslims? The word "Islam" means to submit; submission to the will of Allah, as the above ayah summarizes. A Muslim is one who submits to Allah in His obedience. A true Muslim is one who submits fully to Allah in obeying Him and striving for His pleasure in all circumstances, situations, misfortunes, or good times during one's journey through life. A Muslim is not one who has a Muslim name or one who was born into Islam or one who simple recited shahadah.
"It is not righteousness to turn your faces to the east or the west, but righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the books and the messengers; who spend of their wealth for love of Him to the kinsfolk and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and for those who ask and who free slaves; who observe proper worship and pay the poor due (zakah/charity) and fulfill promises when they make one and who are patient in times of tribulation and adversity and times of stress. Such are the sincere. Such are the God-fearing." (Suratul Baqarah 2:177)
We, who accepted Islam as our faith, have received free hidayah, free iman, free belief, the right to follow our religion the way it was prescribed to us by Allah, without any interruptions or hindrances by anyone or anything. We live in what they call a "free country." Then why is it so hard for us to live by Islam? Why is it so hard for us to worship Allah? Why is it so hard for us to obey Him when we have full knowledge of the Truth? Full knowledge of the consequences? The truth is that Islam is not a hard religion, but we make it hard for ourselves.
"Allah desires for you, ease. He desires not hardship for you." (Suratul Baqarah 2:185)
The main aim of a Muslim is to attain Paradise. And we can only attain Paradise by obeying the Creator, the Almighty, through the words of the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of His final Messenger, Muhammad (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam). Without obedience to Allah and His Messenger, without Allah's pleasure, we will be what Allah calls losers on the Day of Judgement.
"Who make mischief on the earth: those are they who are the losers." (Suratul Baqarah 2:27)
"Nay, but whosoever has done evil and his sins surround him, such are rightful owners of the fire. They will abide therein." (Suratul Baqarah 2:81)
We are coming to a very sad day, a day that the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) warned us would come when the world would come to an end. He said, "It will be the end of this world when there remains not a single soul to hymn the name of Allah and it is only by the holy name of Allah that the system of this universe is running." Though, there are some devout Muslims, who spend every moment of their lives in Allah's remembrance and worship and in striving for His pleasure, there are more of us who have forgotten Allah, the Almighty, All-Powerful.
Unlike a lot of Muslims, we have been given the freedom of religion in this non-Muslim country. Canada, for example, is also a non-Muslim country, but in that country Muslims don't have the freedom that we have here, in America. In Canada, Muslim girls get kicked out of school for wearing hijab, a scarf on their head! Of course, that is discrimination and it's also totally unfair. One piece of cloth, for some reason, offends the Canadians. Another example is the country of Turkey. Even though Turkey is known to be a Muslim country, it also does not allow Muslim women to wear hijab. In America, though this is a Satanist country, it is different. We see doctors in hijab and managers praying in their officers and no non-Muslim can stop them. Though this is quite unusual because most of us have forgotten our main purpose of existence.
The Sahaba (radiyallahu anhu) endured such unimaginable hardships by the non-Muslims just to follow Islam and live Islam and teach Islam, but they never even had one thought of renouncing Islam so that they could be freed of the physical torments, for they knew the torments of Allah were far worse.
Every Muslim probably knows of one of the most closest companions of the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam), a black Abyssinian slave called Bilal (radiyallahu anhu). He was the slave of Ummayah bin Khalaf, the worst enemy of Islam. Therefore, Bilal's conversion was naturally not liked by Ummayah. This staunch enemy of Islam used to make Bilal lie down on the burning sand of Makkah, one of the cities of the hottest countries in the world, during midday. A massive rock would be placed on his chest and he would be told by the enemies of Allah: "Renounce Islam! Or swelter and die!" Even under these harsh afflictions, Bilal endured the pain by saying, "Ahad! Ahad!" (i.e. The One (Allah)! The One (Allah)!) Imagine that! This made the torturers even more motivated and provoked to torture the servant of Allah. At night, Bilal (radiyallahu anhu) would be whipped and with the cuts thus receive from the whipping, lying on the burning sand of Makkah was even more painful, but his love and devotion to Allah was such that no amount of pain could shake his faith. And, Alhumdulillah, he was rewarded for his patience by receiving the blessing of, not only being freed, but as being the first and only adhan caller for the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam). He was to remain with the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) at all times to call out the adhan.
Life is obviously not perfect. We will definitely stumble across times of stress and panic, fear and disappointment, trials and hardships. And these come in to our lives by the will of Allah to test our faith and our devotion.
"We shall most certainly try you with fear and hunger and with the loss of goods or lives or the fruits of your toil. But give (O Muhammad) encouragement to those who patiently persevere." (Suratul Baqarah 2:155)
Difficulties and hardships are not uncommon in this world to the people of Allah. These are bound to come. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) said, "The worst trials in this world are reserved for the Prophet (alaiyhimus-salam), then for those who are next to them and then for those who are best of the rest." We must remember that everything happens by the will of Allah, whether good or bad and everything has a purpose, a reason, an aim, though we may not understand it. We, as Allah's servants, must stay patient and firm in our belief, our iman, and we must devote ourselves to Allah, so that we may be successful.
"Who say when a misfortune strikes them: Lo! We are Allah's and lo! Unto Him we are returning." (Suratul Baqarah 2:156)
"Or do you think you will enter the Garden without such trials as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those who were with him cried: When will the help of Allah come?" (Suratul Baqarah 2:214)
Our biggest trial is living in this country, a country filled with arrogant, satanically-influenced non-Muslims. They strive to take the believers off the path of Paradise and on to the path of Hell, which is where they are headed.
"Hatred is revealed by the utterance of their mouths, but that which their breasts hide is greater. We have made plain for you the revelations, if you will understand." (Suratul Ali Imran 3:18)
"They utter with their mouths a thing which is not in their hearts. Allah is Best Aware of what they hide." (Suratul Ali Imran 3:167)
But we keep supporting the disbelievers at the cost of our own religion, at the cost of our own souls! Allah's words are:
"Those who purchase disbelief at the price of faith, harm not Allah at all, but their's will be a painful doom." (Suratul Ali Imran 3:177)
On the one hand, we must realize our mistakes and the fact that, living in this country, we have fallen into the trap of Shaytaan, the modern, un-Islamic world. We must make the effort to strengthen our iman and we must make the effort to please Allah, not the kuffar. If we displease Allah, whatever punishments we receive, either in this world or the next, is exactly what we deserve. On the other hand, we must realize that even though we are living in a non-Muslim country, there is nothing to stop us from practicing Islam, the deen of Allah. We must refrain from all things that are forbidden by Allah and undesirable in His sight. Allah loves those who after committing sins, turns to Him in repentance and amends, meaning, they don't commit the same sins again. We should remember our examples, the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) and his companions (radiyallahu anhu), on how to live our lives as true Muslims. And we have to realize that there is a God watching over our every move, Who hears our every thought, Who knows ALL that we do, whether hidden or open, intentional or unintentional, sinful or rewardful. He is the Supreme Being and none is worthy of worship except Him, the True, the Almighty, the Owner, as well as the Creator of all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth.
Allah gives us proof of His sovereignty through miraculous signs all over the world. For example, in Germany, there is an area in which branches have grown from the soil of the earth and these branches spell out: 'There is no god, but Allah' in Arabic and, through it, many Germans have embraced Islam, but we shouldn't need these signs to persuade us to keep our duty to Allah, to obey Him, which is the only way we will be successful in the next world, which is yet to come.
May Allah give us towfique to sacrifice our worldly desires for His pleasure so that we may be successful. May He include us among the muttaqeen. May He guide us and show us the Straight Path and may He protect us from the evil influences of the jinn and mankind. May Allah guard us from the fire prepared for the hypocrites and disbelievers. Ameen. Alhumdulillahi Rabbil Alameen.