Thursday, June 4, 2009

The journey of seeking Islamic knowledge as a muslim convert

~ sharing my own experience with new converts~

Assalamualaikum my beloved brothers and sisters,

All praise is for Allah, the Lord and Cherisher of the Universe. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the weaknesses of own deeds. Whomever Allah guides, cannot be lead astray and whomever Allah does not guide, none can guide him. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, alone without associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Messenger. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his household, his companions and all those who follow them in righteousness till the Day of Judgment.

Life as a Muslim convert is VERY challenging especially when we are in search of knowledge, living in a non Islamic environment and still maintaining close family ties with non Muslim family members. In order to understand Islamic knowledge and gain wisdom, we need guidance and support. We need a pious murshid (a teacher ) to guide us in understanding in order that we can implement the Islamic practice in our lives in the right way on the straight path. We must know that Islam is not a self-interpretation religion, we cannot just try to gain our knowledge in Islam through reading books, surfing the internet etc as there are many web sites that can be very deceiving. We should not be panic if we received message stating about certain websites propagating falsehood Islamic teaching. At the same time there are also many websites created by good Muslims who have good intentions of bringing someone closer to Allah and His Prophet (pbuh). When we are guided, we can differentiate the truth of Islam from the created falsehoods that are being propagated as Islamic teachings. So, in learning Islam, self-teaching by referring to websites can draw us into many pitfalls and lead us astray if we are not guided. Allah mentioned in the Holy Quran, “If you know not, then ask those who have got knowledge of the Book.” (Translation: Surah An-Nahl: 43).

Classical Islamic education was taught through direct contact with teachers for many centuries. Through this wisdom and knowledge are acquired and application of the way truly put forth by Allah and His Messenger (pbuh) is practiced. Furthermore, we should not stop learning as learning is a continuous process; never stop from being a learner. One of attributes of learning is humility. To be a learner we need the sense of humility. Besides that, Imam Ghazali said “Nobody is born learned. Learning is to be acquired. The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: If a man seeks the path of acquiring knowledge, God guides him to a path leading to Paradise. He said: Angels spread their wings out of cheer for the seeker of knowledge. He said: To rise up at dawn and learn a section of knowledge is better for you than to pray one hundred rak’ats.” There are also some people whom Allah open the khasyaf. When a person has acquired the knowledge and practice it sincerely and wholeheartedly, always reciting the Holy Quran and dzkr, Allah will bless him and increase his piousness and open the khasyaf , it’s the hidden knowledge which Allah gives to those He loves. But this is only for Allah’s chosen ones.

Finally, we should also be very careful of the authenticity and genuineness of a murshid (a teacher ). Some of the qualities of a true murshid are having true akhlaq, his life is dedicated to Allah, his face reflects his piousness and his taqwa, his actions reveal his wisdom of knowledge. When we are guided by a true mursyid, we can gain wisdom through the knowledge we learn from him. Knowledge with wisdom will make us LOVE Allah, walk in the straight path and not just follow Islam blindly. When we love Allah, we will dedicate our whole life to Him. Thus a good teacher will help us along the path to Allah. May Allah grant us sense of humility and humanity and may Allah bless us and guide us in His Light of Truth as we trod further on the pathway of our journey returning to Him.

Laa haulawala quwwata illa billa hil alyyil aadzim

With love and duas always,
sister nur sakinah thomas
2nd June 2009

Because of the importance of knowledge, Allaah commanded His Messenger (pbuh) to seek more of it. Allaah says (what means): "and say: `My Lord! Increase me in knowledge" [Translation Surah Ta-Ha:114]

The Prophet (pbuh) said: "When a man dies, all his deeds come to an end except for three — an ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge or a righteous child who will pray for him." (Muslim)

On the authority of Zayd ibn Arqam radhiallaahu `anhu that the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam used to say, "O Allaah, I seek refuge in you from knowledge which does not benefit, from a heart which does not feel humble, from a soul that does not feel contended and from an invocation that is not answered."[Muslim]