Written By *Ameenah Damagum*
Leaving my friends and coming back to a smaller town was a very difficult experience for me. I kept on thinking of all the parties I would miss, the prom dress I would never get to wear and the exciting memories I would never get to tell. I really thought my life had come to an end.
Much as I loved to travel back and visit them, I always ended up feeling ‘out of place’. During gists I had no exciting or daring stories to contribute, no beautiful snapshots of gatherings I had been to and slowly and painfully I began to realize how much of a bore I had become. For how could I have told them that while they were enjoying the good things of life, I was locked up in a single-sex Islamic college from morning till evening learning both the Islamic and western education? There was nothing really exciting about my life and so sometimes, astaghfirullah, I invented stories.
Looking back, I feel so ashamed of myself- for envying them, for seeing myself as inferior, for ever thinking I would never measure up to them, subhaanallah, I feel really terrible.
Now, knowing the right from the wrong, I look at the great scholars of islam- my mentors, my teachers and even some of my friends and think, ‘when will I ever attain their level of knowledge?’ and then each time I think like that, I say a quiet ‘alhamdulillah’. For if I, who has spent the better part of my teenage years learning about my religion still feel under-read, then how about my friends whom I was foolishly envying?
There’s a saying ‘ Knowledge is light’. I don’t think there is any statement truer than this. Through the knowledge of islam, one gets to increase his faith. Allah SWT says ‘…it is only those that have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah…’ (35:28). In another verse, He says ‘…Allah will exalt in degree those of you who have been granted knowledge…’ (58:11)
One hadith that makes me exceptionally happy that I left my former life is the saying of our dear prophet SAW ‘ the feet of a slave will not move on the day of judgement until he has been questioned about four things: his youth- how he spent it; his knowledge- how he acted upon it; his wealth- how he earned and spent it; his body- how he used it’. (At- Tirmidhi). Subhaanallah! Imagine we would be asked to account on how we spent our life. How do we now stand before Allah and talk about the parties we’ve been to? We are told on the day of judgement we would regret a single second we spent not engaging in adhkaar, Allahu akbar. In another hadith, the messenger of Allah SAW has said that on the day of judgement, there are seven types of people to whom Allah SWT will give shade to. It is stated in Al- Bukhari that on the day of judgement there will be no shade except for Allah SWT’s shade. And from amongst these groups will be those youth who spent their youth in the worship of Allah. Again, Allahu Akbar!
In the light of this,I want to use this media to tell my brothers and sisters who find themselves in an Islamic environment at an early stage (yes, no matter how boring it is) to feel happy and proud. We should know that the younger years are the best years to start learning as when one grows older his brain might not be able to grasp as much. We should therefore thank Allah SWT for making us able to start at an early stage. Instead of envying them, we should be able to make our friends on the other side know what they are missing. Remember in islam only two types of people are allowed for us to envy and one of them is the one to whom Allah has given knowledge by which he judges or teaches people. So why not strive to get that wonderful position?
I end my little piece by quoting from an Islamic scholar, Az-Zamakhshari;
‘O who tries to attain my level by wishful thinking! How much difference there is between the one who finds the pain of climbing to be too much and the one who climbs and reaches the summit,
Do I toil through the night, while you sleep through it, yet you hope to surpass me?
How noble is enlightment! And through it, how happy the soul!
[first published on gratefulmuslimah.wordpress.com]