June 23, 2005


By night, a city slicker patrols the streets. Seen but not seen, he’s just
another face in the crowd, unnoticed with trendy glasses and the slickest new
Rockport running shoes. He breezes in and out through bars and clubs. He chills
with his friends. And if she’s not mad, maybe he’ll call his girlfriend for
a date. Just your ordinary homeboy or girl. No hijab, no beard. No one knows
he or she is Muslim.

Dawn comes, a visual thread of white among the black of night. Bleary-eyed,
he makes wudu, dons his thobe, and transforms into…MuminMan! Faster than a
speeding hajji! Able to recite Surah Al-Baqarah in one prayer! It’s a bird!
It’s a plane! It’s MuminMan! (Or MuminWoman!)

Sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone?many Muslim youth today,
living in the West, face conflicting values. There are pressures from one side
pulling us back to our cultural or Islamic roots, and there are pressures from
school and friends, pushing us to be more ?Western?, an anonymous
face with no religion. These pressures force many of us to develop double identities
between Islam and un-Islam.

And is this hypocrisy?

Allah (SWT), in Surah Al-Baqarah of the Qur’an, describes all of mankind as
being of one of three groups of people: The believers, the disbelievers, and
the hypocrites. All of us need to look deep into our hearts and contemplate
on this. If we’re not truly disbelievers, and we’re not truly believers, then
where does that leave us?

Allah also says in the Qur’an: ?[The hypocrites] sway between this and
that, belonging neither to these nor to those; and he whom Allah sends astray,
you will not find for him a way (to the truth ? Islam).?[Surah al-Nisaa?

Living in the West ain’t easy, there is no doubt about that. Everywhere you
look, society is producing temptation, to stop us from being who we are and
practicing our faith.
How many of us, in order to be ?cool? and to appease our non-Muslim
friends, have shaved our beards, taken off our hijabs, and made statements like
?I’m praying because my family makes me? or ?I’m fasting because
I have to?? We should be aware that the disease of hypocrisy lives in
our hearts. But rest assured that recognizing it is the first step towards a

And if we find our hearts fertile soil for the disease of hypocrisy, what
should we do? Is there any hope?

There is always hope! Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an: ?Say: O My servants
who have transgressed against their own souls, despair not of the mercy of Allah.
Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.?
[Surah az-Zumar 39:53]
There are many steps that we can take in order to earn the mercy of Allah (SWT),
and to free ourselves from these characteristics, so that we establish an integral
connection with Allah (SWT), and purify our hearts in the process.

Ground Zero: Understanding. Understand that you cannot live
that double-life forever. Harmony may exist, but by and far, the two are opposing
forces. Which one do you choose?

Once you take the time to think it through, you’ll see that Islam is the answer
for the long-term. This life is limited, while the next life, the Akhira, is
eternal. Ask yourself: if I die, where do I wake up? Your heart delights in
supreme happiness only when it feels Allah (SWT). So purify your heart, resist
the call of temptation and have firm belief that you are going to change. You’ll
notice and experience the change within yourself with your own eyes.

Step One: Repentance. Make sincere, heart-felt repentance
to Allah for the sins you have committed. Pray the forgiveness prayer (two units),
and your forgiveness will be granted, inshaAllah. The messenger of Allah said
in a hadith, ?There isn?t a man who, when he commits a sin, rises,
makes ablution, and offers two units of prayer, but Allah forgives his sins.?

Step Two: Your choices. Ultimately, what happens in the next
life is your choice, the actions you perform now, today. To obtain true success,
choose the best choices that will allow you to maintain that fire in your heart.

Your friends. Take care in choosing your friends properly,
for our friends are a reflection of ourselves?we become like them, and
they become like us. Are our friends calling us to the religion of Allah (SWT),
and to Paradise, or are they calling us to Hellfire?

Your clothes. Clothing is a small, yet often-neglected part
of our personality. Your clothes are part of your identity, whether you choose
them or your mother chooses them for you. Choose your clothes well?make
sure they are clean, neat, presentable, and, above all, modest according to
the standards of Islam. Jeans and shirts should not be tight and revealiing,
but loose and baggy.

Your activities. In a hadith, the Messenger of Allah said,
?Health and free time are two of the gifts that many people are deceived
with.? Your free time is the only time you have. Once it’s gone, it never
comes back. If you spend your time doing things which take you away from Islam,
you enlarge the gap between yourself and success. Instead of spending 5-6 hours
in front of the TV, why not try studying the Qur’an for 10-20 minutes, or praying
some extra prayers? You’ll feel the difference, inshaAllah.

Your school. If you have the luxury of choosing a school,
choose one that will help bring you closer to Allah (SWT). If you are in high
school, ask your parents if they can enroll you in an Islamic school. If you’re
graduating, pick a university with a good Muslim Students Association. Involve
yourself in the remembrance of Allah (SWT) constantly.

Step Three: Put a plan. Set up a goal of where you would like
to be within a certain time frame?next week or next month. Personalize
your own development plan and modify it as you proceed. Plan carefully! Don?t
run, because you?ll burn out quickly. Instead, maintain a regular pace
of development.

Step Four: Never despair. Never despair of the mercy of Allah
(SWT), for Allah says in a hadith: ?I am close to the thought that My
servant has of Me, and I am with him whenever He recollects Me. If he remembers
Me in himself, I remember him in Myself, and if he remembers Me in a gathering
I remember him better than those in the gathering do, and if he approaches Me
by as much as one hand’s length, I approach him by a cubit. If he takes a step
towards me, I run towards him.?

If you follow these steps diligently, then inshaAllah your iman will increase.
You can do it! Stick to your plans, and inshaAllah you will find yourself further
and further away from hypocrisy and disbelief. You will maintain the fire in
your heart, feel that Allah (SWT) is with you everywhere you go, and you will
inshaAllah transform into a true MuminMan or MuminWoman.

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