Reflections of a Muslim female student on the multi-cultural challenges in present times

Like the rest of the world women, the modern Muslim woman is expected to travel across the globe in search of education, employment or migration, hence,

exposing herself to diversity of cultures which may pose a challenge to her own culture and faith. Ibtesam Binte Noor is a Final Year Undergraduate student in Pharmaceutical & Biological Chemistry at York University, Toronto, Canada. She was born in Bangladesh and passed her childhood in Sweden where she did her primary education. In the year 2000, she moved to Canada with her parents. In the multicultural society, Noor observed that many of her Muslim fellow students and friends were lacking in peace and tranquility of heart. Frustrations, worries and restlessness were their lot. She thought of addressing the situation with her views from the standpoint of Islam.

This consciousness-raising message entitled “Every Flower Will Bloom: Every Soul Will Find Its Path” highlights how one may manage the challenges imposed by cultural diversity and is intended to benefit all Muslim women who may be planning to pursue further studies in the West.
The message is also relevant for those in other parts of the globe who may be searching for true identity and meaning in life. We wish to share her views with all our readers.

Every flower will bloom: every soul will find its path

My dear sisters in Islam,

Allah (SAW) has carved a unique pathway for all of His servants. Although, Allah places this path in front of all of mankind, many of us fail to dwell in our Lord’s love. Such blindness is due to worldly desires and selfish ambitions that prevent us from seeking the true pathway that we were all gifted with during Alam Al Arwah (the world of souls existing before we become an entity in the womb). As all other living organisms, we  all set goals and strive to accomplish each of our desires. Whether it is a predator hunting its prey, or a human working hard for a raised salary, all of Allah’s creatures are gifted with the ability to work hard and earn what the mind desires, of course, as long as it is maintained within the sacred limits of Allah and keeps away from forbidden things. However, by observing today’s corruptions and chaos in the world, and our Ummah straying from the lighted path of Allah, it is evident that we have all to certain extents abused the gifted ability of striving for what the heart and mind desires.

This corruption has been created  by mingling what ones heart desires with what ones mind desires. Subconsciously, every human’s heart desire love, peace, and serenity. It is the mind that seeks for earthly possessions and worldly desires. A famous German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, was quoted saying, “a man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants”. Thus, although, a man can struggle for what his mind desires, be it crossing seven oceans or robbing a bank, it is true that only Allah can ultimately provide him with what he wants. So why then, do most of mankind seek for earthly possessions and worldly values that we are to depart from one day? Perhaps, it is due to our greed that we are so consumed with what is offered by dunia (the world), and fail to recognize the rewards that will be bestowed on us if we seek and confidently walk on the unique pathway that Allah has created for each of us.

Perhaps, it is because we are afraid of what is invisible to us( the Day of Judgment) but is visible to Allah and we deal with such fear by avoiding the importance Allah plays in our lives. Whatever the reason may be, or more correctly speaking, whatever the excuse may be, we cannot discard the fact that it is Allah we are to answer when all in this world is finished, for it is true that none of us can promise that we shall dwell in this world forever. It is very easy to stray from the right path, and it is very difficult to follow what is healthy for our soul. It is very easy to blame the world we live in today and very difficult to point out our own faults. The lack of faith  in Allah results in disease of the soul, which ultimately becomes reflected as degradation of our physical health and disruption of our mental peace.

To all my dear sisters in Islam who may be  suffering from several disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bulimia and anorexia caused by such lack of faith, there are a few things to consider and practice: Firstly, always remember with pride that the first person to embrace Islam was a woman, Khadija bint Khuwaylid (RA), our beloved Prophet’s (SAW) first and most loved wife. It is wise for us women to use her manners, behaviours and values as a guide. Also, remember that it is only women who have given birth to all of the Saints and Heroes of Islam. Mashallah, that is indeed a beautiful gift that Allah (SAW) have provided us women with. To satisfy Allah, we must be regular in our prayers and fasting and fear Allah from the heart. We must preserve our modesty by practicing hijab; repent and turn to Allah through all situations in life whether good or bad; thank Allah for all that He has provided us with; carry a smile that will feed the souls of those we encounter; and honour our parents and teach our children the values of Islam. As stipulated in a hadith of the Holy Prophet (SAW): “If a woman obeys Allah by offering her five daily prayers and by preserving her honour, she will enter the Paradise of Allah.”

Clearly, Allah does not want us to punish our selves by dwelling in past mistakes but rather, Allah wants us to learn from such mistakes, repent, and modify ourselves to build resistance from committing such mistakes in the future. However, the key to this is to avoid committing any past mistakes again strengthen your relationship with Lord Almighty. Grieve and worry does not correct your past mistakes and neither will it return what you have lost. Thus, only Allah can compensate for the loss or guilt that you experience. My dear sisters in Islam, It is never too late to seek for that unique path which has been deposited under layers of greed, selfishness, and jealousy. It is critical to realize that only Allah can understand one’s pain because He knows that which you don’t and He knows what is best for your  soul as He is the Exalted, the Most Merciful. If you feel afraid, seek shelter from Allah, and you will learn that just like every flower will bloom, every soul, including yours, will find its path. May Allah bless all of our souls and prevent us from straying from the Right Path. AMEN!

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