Faith Friday: Dear Anonymous

Recently, an anonymous Australian Muslim woman commented on a few of my blog posts. I was particularly touched by what she said on my post entitled 'The Struggling Muslim: Hijab and Modernity', not because she said kind things about me but because she reached out to me with sincerity. She shared her struggle with me and it was something I could really relate to.

It's been a while since I wrote a 'Faith Friday' post. I have had my apprehensions on writing about Islam in the last one year or so because I don't feel I have the authority to write publicly about something as beautiful and nuanced (and to some extent, contentious too) as the Islamic faith. But even as a flawed Muslim I still love discussing about Islam and asking Muslims how they reconcile their faith with culture or with their line of work. Contemplating and discussing about Islam brings me peace and as much as the stubborn side of me tries to argue against it at times I have found this ayah to be true: "... truly it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find peace" (13:28).

Not too long ago, I received a comment that bothered me.

It was something along the lines of "I'm disappointed in the way you dress lately". The first thing that came to my mind was, "Wow, after writing almost extensively on how and why I've struggled with my faith and that I'm now trying to work on my personal relationship with Him, THAT'S all you can say to me?". I would have appreciated a prayer or a personal message but that comment just sounded like a judgement that was made simply by seeing the external without trying to understand what's happening internally. Eventually I brushed off the negativity I felt because I know I'm not a role model Muslimah and I struggle with my faith from time to time. The comment didn't get to my ego as much as it should because she (or he, who knows) was only reminding me of something I already know. To anyone who's concerned about me, thank you. I am working on my iman even if you don't see it or if you aren't aware of it.

To the Australian sister who commented on my blog posts: I will keep you in my duas, إن شاء الله and you're not alone, trust me.  I've learned that my iman is something I have to continuously work on (internally and externally) and my relationship with Allah (subhana wa taala) is something I try to be conscious of and improve on - if not moment to moment then day to day. Without consistency it's easy for our iman and our relationship with God to be affected and I, and most Muslims I know, are proof of this. Think of it this way: who are you most likely to feel closer to? The person you talk to everyday or the person you talk to every month or so?

I once asked an imam, "How do I know if I'm sincere with Allah?". He couldn't answer me and I respect him for saying "I don't know" instead of providing a response he wasn't sure of. Just recently I've realised that if you ever have doubts about your sincerity with Allah it might be a good idea to ask yourself: How consistent I am with my worship or voluntary acts of worship (i.e. giving to charity, reading the Qur'an or establishing the non-obligatory prayers)? Allah asks us to be sincere with Him not because He needs us to worship him but because He doesn't want us to give up on His love and mercy.

"To Allah belong all things in heaven and earth: verily Allah is He (that is) free of all wants, worthy of all praise." (31:26)

The next time you feel hopeless or confused about your state don't use that as an excuse to give up on something good and worthwhile - your relationship with God. He will send inspiration and help your way, especially if you seek Him sincerely. I love what Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan had to say about the dua on keeping the heart steadfast. Who is the true Bestower of Blessings, if not Allah?

P.S. Dear Anonymous, feel free to e-mail me if you ever need someone to talk to :)


Anonymous said…
Assalamu Alaikum sister..Nice post.
Very matured,philosophical and inspiring advise to your anonymous friend..May Allah always be with her and you.

Jazakallah Khair.
Your brother in Islam.
Aminah Luiza said…
Salam Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh sister! Lovely post, so inspiring!
May Allah keep us in right path! Sometimes I also ask to myself about my sincerity with Allah.
I think it is a nice way to keep us caring of our Faith!
May Allah bless you and our anonymous sister in Islam!
Queen N said…
Our ummah's greatest challenge I believe is judgement. We are so quick to judge others (I'm guilty of this myself at times) instead of making du'a for us and them. Everytime I find myself in that position I always remind myself that what you think of others is a reflection of our inner selves. We should try to become better people for the sake of Allah swt everyday and we all have our struggles (mine personally is wearing the hijab full time). We should try to lift each other up and pray for each other so that inshaAllah we will all meet again in Jannah and make this life a better world for everyone. Love this post Sha and although we've never met, and you don't know me, I really thought you should know that your posts, especially the religious ones have helped me so much in my journey :)
Shahirah Elaiza said…
Anon: Ameen. Jazakallah khayr.

Aminah: Ameen :)

Miss Travelling Scarfelle: Alhamdulillah, the good is from Allah, only the mistakes are mine. Your kindness means a lot to me. I don't know who you are but I think you might like this: :)
Shahirah Elaiza said…
Fairuz: Much love to you for sharing that with me. "It's important to keep renewing your heart". I love that. I'm going to message you soon, inshaaAllah.
Anonymous said…
Salam. I am surprised I missed this post! For some reason I did even though I am subscribed to your blog. So I was quite chuffed to go through your Faith Friday posts and find this "Dear Anonymous" post just now :-)

I can understand your apprehension in writing articles and sharing part of your life online. But I truly do feel like you are putting out some much needed positivity into the world and helping inspire fellow Muslimahs.

I have had my share of ups and downs with the Muslim community and have learnt to try my upmost best to associate with positive people whether that be in person or in the virtual world and I know following people such as yourself and other inspiring Muslimahs really does help give me a much needed boost at times.

May Allah reward you for the duas :-)and thank you for the advice. Oh and for the offer to email you if I ever need someone to talk to, weirdly I actually IG messaged you yesterday asking for some book recommendations.:-)
Anonymous said…
oh and PS
The other comment you received about your dress made me think of some notes I took from an Imam Shuab Webb talk a while ago:
He said
"Some of us have been taught a form of Islam and a way of thinking about Islam that makes us think we are better than others and look down on others.
Imam Ibn Al-Jawzziyya said 'the worst man is one who walks around with his thobe above his ankles and looks down upon the one who is walking around with their thobes below their ankles.'
A positive gets blotted out by a negative. The first part is a physical act (following the ruling of not having clothing below the ankles for men) but the second part (looking down on others) is a state of the heart so it’s worse."

I think you said in another post we are all struggling with something. Inner or outer. And unfortunately, we, generally as a community, are so focused on the outer and on the small issues that we forget the inner and the bigger picture of kindness and mercy.

That's why putting out your positivity and interesting view points is so vital. We are in need of more compassionate voices :-)