Prophet Muhammad’s dear uncle and supporter Abu
Talib, and Heraclius, the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire both chose not to
accept Islam. In both cases we can be fairly certain that it was a decision
they did not take lightly, however they both chose to bow to external pressures.
Instead of fearing God alone they found themselves afraid of what others would
think, say or do. Today, more than a millennium later many people find
themselves in the same position. They know or sense that Islam is the correct
or true religion yet they refuse the gift that God has bestowed upon them.
There are many pressures in contemporary society that
make converting to Islam a daunting issue. External pressures can put modern
day people in the same position as Abu Talib and Emperor Heraclius. However,
God does not call someone to Islam and then abandon them. If a person knows
beyond doubt that Islam is the right religion they can also be sure, beyond doubt,
that God has the authority and power to continue to guide them and ease their
journey. Sometimes the mountain in front may look large and looming but what
is a mountain except a part of creation totally submitted to the will of God?
“See you not that whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on
the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the mountains, and the
trees, and living creatures, and many of mankind prostrate themselves to God…”
God makes converting to Islam easy but we, human beings,
the sons and daughters of Adam have an uncanny way of making our own lives
difficult and filled with obstacles that in reality do not exist.
“…God does not want to place you in difficulty…” (Quran 5:6)
“…Whoever puts his trust in God then He will be enough for him…”
This Quranic statement about trust is easy to say and
easy to understand however when it comes to putting that complete trust into
action it is not always easy. This is for two reasons. Of course, when a
person is close to accepting Islam, Satan bombards him or her with tricks and
illusions designed to lead the person away from the straight path to God. And
secondly, people who do not fully understand the nature of God tend to fear the
reaction of their family, friends or colleagues. Abu Talib was afraid that he
would be thought of as a man without honour if he rejected the religion of his
forefathers, and Heraclius thought he would lose his position, his power or his
life. These things are of little consequence when compared to eternal bliss or
damnation, however human beings are constantly fighting a battle to detach themselves
from this illusionary world.
When a person converts to Islam some big changes are
bound to happen. The transition to Islam is emotionally charged. Each person
begins to feel like a changed person and consequently begins to act differently.
Questions, thoughts and scenarios fill our minds, and Satan works overtime. Abu
Talib might have addressed the same issues, Heraclius may have wondered whether
his life would be in danger if he pressed the point or revealed his intentions
to follow the teachings of Muhammad.
Nowadays we ask ourselves a different series of
questions but they disturb our rest just the same. Should I dress
differently? Should I tell my family? Am I still allowed to go out, drink
alcohol, date? Hundreds of questions, but the reality is that these questions are
really not relevant to whether a person wants to convert to Islam or not. If a
person believes Islam is the truth then he or she should convert to Islam
without delay. The details come later when a person establishes a relationship
with God, when he understands the nature of our Creator.
Each person has a predetermined lifespan. We do not
know when we are going to die and the next minute might literally be our last
in this world. For this reason alone a person must not be like either
Heraclius or Abu Talib. Both men let their love of this illusionary world
dictate their Hereafter. Conversion should take place and trust in God should
guide the new Muslim towards a lifelong relationship with Him.
Revealing that you are Muslim is not a condition of
accepting Islam. At the same time however we must be mindful of the changes
Islam requires and ask God to ease the way. Old habits must be broken slowly
but surely and learning about the nature of God and His laws will allow each
person to change into the type of person God loves. Although becoming a Muslim
is an instantaneous event becoming a better Muslim requires a good, continuous
effort on the part of anyone of us.