I recently read a story about a slave in the Middle East who inspired an Arab Muslim to ponder over his faith. The story relates how a young slave boy made dua (supplication) for immediate rain and God answered his prayer. The Arab was so moved that he embraced his faith on a deeper level and he gained a new perspective on his journey as a Muslim.
As a Muslim woman, I’m always reviewing ways how to make my journey heartfelt and productive. In my own observations, there is religion and there is faith. While it’s ideal when the two are combined, there are times when it’s important to make the distinction between the two. Religion is a way of life, but faith is far more involved and is your mindset, being and core. Islam helps to guide, protect and nourish your faith. Have you pondered over your faith? Does it include belief in the oneness of God, the message of the Prophets, belief in the angels, the books and the Day of Accounting. The way in which you live your life can be an offspring and an outward example of your faith and with all the intricate details of what it means to live, it’s important to observe, reflect and ponder upon how to evolve within your faith as we saw in the morale of the story of the Arab and the slave.
To observe involves noticing or perceiving something. It’s a good idea to observe your environment with an Islamic perspective. The fruits of your observation should increase your imaan (faith) and draw you nearer to your Creator. If your observations don’t support your imaan, either by creating a desire for you to do more good deeds, to make dua, give praise, or confirm what you already know, then you need to work on the lens through which you view the world. One of the blessings of being a Muslim is the perspective and countless blessings that Islam brings through a healthy perspective and an ideology on how to travel along your journey in life.
To ponder is to think about something deeply and to consider the consequences. Thinking is an attribute of pondering which can lead to the path of self-enlightenment and awareness. To a Muslim, pondering leads to taubah (repentance) and zikr (remembrance of Allah, swt). Given our cultural values and daily routines, most of us struggle with inflexible schedules, lifestyles, and responsibilities which can hinder the ability to ponder and experience deep thinking, so it can become challenging to know how we can improve and even to be thankful for the simple blessings. Taubah and zikr can help purify our thoughts, intentions and actions and can become the fruits of pondering.
To reflect involves thinking deeply and carefully and it goes hand in hand with pondering. How many times have you seen in the Quran Allah admonishing believers to reflect? The word ‘reflect’ can be found in several verses starting from Sura Baqarah 2:266, Sura Al Imran 3:191, Sura Al Anam 6:50, Sura Al Araf 7:176 to Surah Yunus 10:24 as Allah, swt, reminds Muslims to be introspective, to reflect and to consider that all things have a purpose and a destiny. These reflections can strengthen your faith, purify your perspective and lighten your heart.
Bringing it all Together
As in the story of the Arab and the slave, the Arab is the observer who ponders and reflects over the sincere dua of the slave and its acceptance with Allah, swt. This experience helps me revisit his values and to embrace a deeper understanding of his relationship with his Maker, and perhaps even help him enter Paradise. In today’s fast-paced world, we can find peace and comfort in this journey of introspection so that we too can draw closer to our Maker.