By Hasan Rasheed
In The Name of the Most High
I seek refuge in Allah from the shaitan. I ask Allah to continue to shine a light on His last Prophet and his whole family.
Coming into the month of Ramadan, we always ponder the conditions around us and in us. In reading the 13th juz’ (12:53–14:52), a few messages stand out. Each Muslim of African American decent whether first, second or third generation after enduring the pain of rejection from kith and kin can find solace in Surah Yusuf ayat 103 and 106.
“And most men will not believe though you desire it eagerly”
Often after converting/reverting to Islam, we feel so much enthusiasm in our new and invigorated relationship with The Creator of all things that we, at all cost, attempt to introduce our families, our friends and associates to our newfound way of life. However, as the ayah noted because of the nature of the individual(s), most will not understand. We spare no opportunity to introduce Islamic ideals and concepts into our conversation whether in groups or one on one with those we like and love. Maybe these are what people call or relate as fanaticism in the convert. However, this may not, and in most cases, is not so. It is that the clarity one feels, the joy that one has come in contact with having been guided to the truth. That feeling is something that one can’t help but want to share.
In verse 106, we read, “And most of them do not believe in Allah without associating others with Him.”
This verse, like Surah Ikhlas, points us in the way of understanding that the majority do not understand the concept of Tawheed. Therefore, we find many associations with Allah. These associates may come in the form of messengers sent with His message, other saintly men and women and inanimate objects that any human may hold sacred. The polytheistic ideology of today has moved on to our ideals that are not in conjunction with Islam, be it our culture, science, technology and other things.
We see these things as we grow and try to separate ourselves spiritually, but at the same time be present with our families and associates who do not share the same beliefs. We do so in an effort to be living examples of the higher calling Allah has led us to.
So our daily activities and interactions are a gentle calling toward Tawheed, whether verbally or silently in our hearts. Our thoughts express the meaning of Surah Ibrahim.
My Lord! Make me keep up prayer and from my offspring (too), O our Lord, and accept my prayer.
O our Lord! Grant me protection and my parents and the believers on the day when the reckoning shall come to pass! — 14:40–41
Each revert travels a different path before settling in. The fact is that Islamic guidelines take time to understand and adopt into our lives. We seek purification from a polytheist headspace and heart. As we become accustomed to a different diet, way of dress, fasting and incorporating salaah into our lives, often we quarantine ourselves from the humdrum of daily happenings seeking spiritual healing. So when the month of Ramadan approaches, the heart of the Muslim becomes excited as we see this time as a time to recharge our spiritual batteries, renew relationships with family and community members and purge ourselves of the negative spiritual and psychological trappings that have plagued us.
Some converts, particularly from the first through third waves of conversions in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, lost family connections partly, because of the convert’s zeal. However, many converts endured severed family ties because their families had a hard time understanding how the convert would turn away from the way in which they were raised.
The plight of the convert particularly in my case is always praying that my mother, father, and siblings would accept Islam. After my conversion from Christianity, my parents were quite accepting. My mother even purchased a set of pots and pans for me. Though I lived some 5 hours away, that set would be boxed up and used only when I came home. That lasted about 2 years, then the pots were cycled into regular household usage. My family struggled much more to understand why I didn’t eat meat from the regular grocery store, but with each inquiry came a gentle reminder. After a few years, it finally took hold because I would travel with my own meat or just buy fish.
My stepdad, however, who I actually had a tumultuous relationship with my junior and senior years of high school, would always joke with me. I remember one instance in particular, he told me, “You know they season those boiled peanuts with bacon!” In the South, there is no beef bacon, it’s practically unheard of. When I went to throw the peanuts out he laughed and said, “Man, I’m joking!” I credit Islam with having helped heal my relationship with him. On a memorable phone call as I drove home from work, I remember him saying before we got off the phone, “I love you son.” That was the first time he’d ever initiated “I love you.” Other times, he would say it but it was because I would hug him and refuse to let go until he said it back. Before he died several years ago, we would speak about many, many things. Things like his parents never having verbally expressed, “I love you,” his vices ( his drinking and adultery), etc. About one month before he passed away, after he read a duʻa, Duʻa Mashlool, he asked me why do we say Allah and who is Muhammad. After I explained why, he told me that that made sense. After years of not hearing, but seeing the changes in my life and when life slowed down for him and he became more reflective, the explanation of “Allah and Muhammad” made sense.
To be successful, we must always pray for the protection and guidance from Our Lord and Cherisher.
May Allah protect and guide the Ummah, may He lead us to unity and grant us success.
Hasan Rasheed is a lover of Allah and Prophet Muhammad. He converted to Islam in 1997 after having served in the Marines. Since that time, he has enjoyed the adventure of learning to be a human being by reading, learning and trying to follow the example of the Holy Prophet and the noble ones after him (PBUT).