Being born and raised as a Muslim, it still confounds me how ignorant I once was, chasing after nothing. It was like trying to fill baskets with water; the more I tried the emptier I got. It makes me reflect on the stupefying ignorance of man; searching through earth’s denizens for what is right in our hands!
I have heard people say; “if your desire is strong enough, you can always achieve virtually anything.” In retrospect I wonder if my desire for guidance was weak. Maybe I never really tried. Perchance I was too afraid of what people would say or what I would have to give up. All the same I lived my life recklessly chasing a mirage of desires.
Depression was my companion. My ‘best friends’ were non-Muslims. My justification was simple; they embraced, listened to and shared with me while Muslims sometimes wouldn’t even respond to my salaam greetings. Yet upon my head hung the undignified crown of my non-Muslim friends’ words; “You are different. You are not like the other extreme Muslims.” I realize now it is because they never saw me read the salah.
The Call to Hidayah (guidance)
One day I woke up with a heavy heart. I had quit my job in a school of music and dance because I suddenly felt that I didn’t belong – how could I have? The network marketing business I was involved in was no longer appealing but I had banked on surviving on the little money I had until I was able to secure another job. But then something strange happened. I slowly began to lose what little funds I had to fraudsters. Within the space of a week, my wallet was stolen, my account was debited by a huge sum and the little I had left was lost in transit as I tried to pursue the case. Somehow, all the haram income I had earned from my previous jobs was gone. To say I was depressed would have been an understatement!
Because I could not understand what was happening to me, my life was at a standstill. I tried to call to Allah (SWT) but I was too ashamed to even look at the sky. I knew without doubt that only He could restore my sense of order but what right did I have to call on Him? I couldn’t remember the last time I had prayed as I had been immersed in my worldly affairs. I felt like a hypocrite. I couldn’t forgive myself.
After a week of plodding through life like a ghost, my sister told me she was coming to stay. She had just finished her masters and couldn’t understand why she felt driven towards me. I love my sister but she is the perfect definition of a mother hen and indeed, she knows how to naggingly cluck until I listen to her.
The first thing I noticed upon her arrival was that she had become more religious – what I, at the time, called “extremism.” I felt devastated; how would I escape her preachy tongue when she was right in the house? Being the best insinuator ever, her penetration strategy was a killer. I mean off-handed statements, religious stories, and lectures… It took me a while to understand what she was doing and when I did, though she was undeterred, I tried to shut her out; my heart was that hard.
I still can’t remember how it all happened but eventually I found myself becoming curious and asking questions.
After about two months of searching for knowledge and learning a lot, I started to forgive myself. Like snow kissed by the first sun in spring, I could feel the ice melting away. My salah became firm. The third month was during Ramadhan and I began listening to religiously inspiring lectures. But something was still wrong! I didn’t want to remember my sins and didn’t seek the forgiveness of Allah (SWT); I didn’t think I deserved it.
One day, I woke up from a dream in which it had been Judgement Day. The people around me were taken into jannah but the keeper of jahannam came for me. In fear and hope, I called out to Allah (SWT) and sought His aid and an angel came to rescue me. I cried that day like I had never cried in my life; it was the day I had been waiting for. So did I ask Allah (SWT) for forgiveness?
Soon, waking up for Tahajjud (night prayer) wasn’t, and still isn’t, easy but I started to try. Then I disposed of my indecent clothing and kindly stayed away from my non-Muslim friends. I was happy! Gloriously contented! The serenity I felt was similar to the pre-dawn mornings of the Ramadhan months.
Early last week, my “best friend” came to visit. I knew she wouldn’t be able to stay but I welcomed her anyway. She took in my full appearance and tried not to comment. Then she went on about a movie production company needing a writer. “It would be a big break for you so I gave them your bio,” she said.
It would have been tempting eight months ago. I probably would have rejoiced over my big break as well. But now – I have already been purged of my greed and only welcome iman-boosting jobs. I smiled at her and said; “Thank you. I know you have my best interests at heart but I won’t do it.” Her jaw dropped in exasperation! She started to say something but stopped; words seemed to have deserted her. I guessed what she was thinking; that I had joined the group of deadbeats. What she probably wouldn’t understand was that I was trying not to test my toddling iman.
After about a minute of tense silence, she said in utter disbelief; “Indeed Medina, you have become a stranger!” And I smiled and said to myself; “Alhamdulillah. This means that, finally, I have become a Muslim!”
Medinat Musa I. is a creative entrepreneur, a script and novel writer and a fashion designer in Abuja, Nigeria.