The history of Islam is the history of those who, by choice, became part of this great, final, religion of Allah. We may look upon present-day Muslim converts (reverts) as being "different" or even "special" because they, knowingly, and often at personal cost - particularly in Muslim minority situations, have chosen the Path of Allah over and above the paths of those held in high esteem by all who have had any meaning or influence in their lives. However, as these Muslims, themselves, realize, their being "special" lies only in the Grace and Leading of Allah. Incumbent upon them is the responsibility which goes with this Grace and Blessing.
We are told in the Holy Quran that Prophet Muhammad (s) is a beautiful pattern for all whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day. Therefore it is fitting for Muslims to remember that the very first to choose to walk upon this Path of Allah which led to the perfecting of His religion, Islam, was the Prophet Muhammad (s). Little by little, step by step, he followed, eventually all being revealed. This is something which is precious to all those who come into Islam from non-Muslim backgrounds. Knowledge with its attendant virtues cannot be hurried. Nor yet, however, may its seeking be put aside for a more convenient time.
The Holy Quran, that measure through which the Balance of Islam is attained and maintained, interestingly, gives us views of those who accepted Islam during those early days. In Surah Al Hujurat we find that all was not a simple matter. There were lessons which had to be learned - etiquette was to be observed; quarrels were to be allayed and reconcilliation sought; arrogance, suspicion, racism and backbiting were quite obviously prevalent at that time. And of course, why would they not be? After all, they had only begun their journey on that pathway which, step by step, was leading to perfecting of those traits of character which were capable of destroying harmony of the soul and causing upheaval in the community. These were men and women who had come from the Jahilliyah environs, for whom justice and goodness and Godliness were but a travesty.
While all areas are very important to all Muslims, two verses are outstanding when it comes to the situation of the Muslim who has come by choice:
"0 ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former)..."
In some very rare circumstances we do find that there are those who believe themselves to be better than others due to their having been born Muslim, and in some regions this is very marked. Being born into Islam does not give one the right or the privilege to denigrate the position of the new Muslim. Indeed we are told,
"The Believers are but a single Brotherhood.."
2) The second verse, although directed at that time to the Desert Arabs deals with a possible wrong attitude on the part of those who come to Islam:
"They impress on thee as a favour that they have embraced Islam. Say, 'Count not your Islam as a favour upon me: Nay Allah has conferred a favour upon you that He has guided you to the Faith, if ye be true and sincere."
(Quran, 49: 17.)
We are also given the indication that all were not true or sincere believers at that time, even though they may have purported to be so:
"Only those are Believers who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and have never since doubted, but have striven with their belongings and their persons in the Cause of Allah: Such are the sincere ones."
This measure of sincerity is the same here and now as in that far-off land so long ago. It is this measure which is the same for those who have come to Islam through choice, as for those who have had the privilege of being born Muslim.
We are one brotherhood, whether new to the Path of Islam, or whether born to it, we all have to make a choice to be Muslim. There is no such thing as inheriting Islam! Islam does not come through osmosis, but through a conscious decision to submit to the Lord of the Universe; to place one's feet upon His Pathway. Herein is the most wonderful of experiences for humanity, a true victory:
"Verily We have granted thee a manifest victory: That Allah may forgive thee thy faults of the past and those to follow; fulfil His favour to thee; and guide thee on the Straight Way; and that Allah may help thee with powerful help. It is He Who sent down Tranquillity into the hearts of the Believers, that they may add Faith to their Faith - For to Allah belong the forces of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is full of Knowledge and Wisdom."
May Allah, in His Great Beneficence, grant that we, as a people, experience fully the rejuvenating, purifying experience of true submission, thus escaping the many pitfalls of this present Jahilliyah era.
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