A short reminder from one Passive Muslim to Another:
Recently I came across this video by a South-Korean musician, Daud Kim, while browsing Facebook pointlessly about his journey to Islam. And he mentioned something in that video which I found very insightful, something we can all take a lesson from. Daud recalled that one of the reasons he was hesitant about taking the Shahadah was because of fear of his own imperfection; he was unsure whether he was ready to follow the religion perfectly and justly, with all its rules and rituals. He stated in the following words how he reconciled this reservation:
“About the perfect preparation. There is no perfect human. There is no perfect thing except Allah. But “I can’t be a Muslim because I am afraid of the mistakes I will make in the future?” I think this is excuse for myself. Of course, I will make a mistake because I’m not perfect. I already have a lot of mistakes. But I believe He will lead me back in the right way as He led me here. I’m in His plan, so I know He helps me.”
This struck a chord with me because I think this is something many Muslims can relate to, regardless of whether they were born Muslims or became Muslims later on
. Whenever we try to think about leaving a certain sin or finally deciding to come back to religion, there is always that doubt created at the back of our mind by Shaytaan about how a sinner like us will accomplish that and be true to the promise we have made to ourselves. The road back seems like a tall mountain seemingly impossible to climb. Shaytaan reminds you of all your imperfections and how impossible it is for you to reach the level of a “Pious Muslim”. Often due to which we become disheartened and anxious about possible mistakes and stop trying altogether and become what I call a “Passive Muslim”. It’s a state where you concede that piety is far beyond your reach so at the very least you vow to stay away from the major sins while doing the bare minimum to complete your obligations. This state is one of being is a standstill where you are neither making spiritual progress nor indulging in deliberate sin.
From my experience, the problem with this middle ground starts if a person stays there for too long. The inertia of stagnation becomes too strong and it becomes increasingly difficult to take small steps towards change. What happens is that since our lifestyle and actions have an impact on our spiritual heart; love for that increases which you practice consistently. If one is taking small steps daily towards increasing their righteous acts, over time, they will move closer to righteousness while those who are taking small steps towards sin, their spiritual heart will weaken, and this will become normalcy. It is in this way that Shaytaan very subtly deviates us Passive Muslims who felt secure in our faith and avoidance of major sins. This is also the reason why some people have a sudden realization one day of how far they have deviated spiritually with no idea of how they got there. They never consciously with full intent took the big steps but those small steps daily piled up to have the same effect.
When Daud says that he feels as though he is making an excuse for himself by demanding perfection from himself, he isn’t very different from us. It’s the same mistake us Passive Muslims make; we demand perfection from ourselves which we are not actually capable of. In any domain of life, perfection is not a productive goal, because it is unattainable. This sort of procrastination is often a result of setting goals that are impractical or undoable, which as a consequence, demotivates us from even making an effort. This idea of a perfect Muslim is not consistent with the kind of Muslim Allah expects us to be. And I derive this conclusion from the following Ahadith:
Abu Ayyub Ansari reported that Allah’s Messenger (S.A.W.) said: “If you were not to commit sins, Allah would have swept you out of existence and would have replaced you by another people who have committed sin, and then asked forgiveness from Allah, and He would have granted them pardon.” [Sahih Muslim 37:6621]
Allah’s apostle said, “Every son of Adam sins, the best of the sinners are those who repent.” [Tirmidhi 2499]
Daud’s story is resonant of this Ahadith. By our very nature of being human, we are bound to make mistakes. What differentiates a pious person is that they seek forgiveness from Allah after sinning; it is that simple. God does not demand results from us, just sincere effort and perseverance. Once we are sincere, we do not need to worry because as Daud says “He will lead me back in the right way as He led me here. I’m in His plan, so I know He helps me”. I hope this encourages us Passive Muslims to be less critical of ourselves and regardless of ourflaws, take an active approach towards religion. This will not only allow us to be kind towards ourselves and others, but will also be a good step towards living more intentionally and mindfully.