I recently read a post in an online group where a young lady posted the following:
"I used to be a gung-ho hijabi and never missed a Jummah. I loved listening to Islamic lectures at every opportunity and being transported to an ideal land of Islam.
In the last few years, I have gotten married, become a mother, and have changed careers. This has led to shifting priorities and questioning of religious beliefs.
How can I rekindle my passion for Islam and reconnect with my previous sense of enthusiasm and devotion?"
My Dearest Sister,
Your post reminded me of the time when my three daughters were very young, and I convinced my husband to watch them for a weekend so I could attend an Islamic seminar. I looked forward to the event for weeks. When it began, it was everything I had hoped for. Two days whizzed by like a dream. I immersed myself in learning, making new friends, and taking in every breath of the excitement. The seminar filled me with visions of the perfect world of Islam that you also mentioned in your post. When it ended Sunday evening, I walked out the door brimming with excitement.
Sadly, that feeling did not last long. A strange sadness crept up as I walked to my car, and I suddenly felt engulfed with the most intense loneliness. I drove home, dreading to open the door because I knew my husband had done a great job of entertaining the girls but probably did not get a chance to clean up the mess created in the process. My fears were confirmed when I opened the door. I had the urge to turn around and go back. But where would I go? That perfect world that I had lived in for the last two days did not exist anymore. The banquet hall of the Muslim community center had been cleared, the chairs and tables put away, lights turned off, and the doors shut. The door in front of me was open and welcoming even though it concealed a lot of the imperfections that were my life.
Many years later, when I studied Islamic history as a graduate student (a late-in-life project that I started when my oldest daughter was in college), I realized that the perfect world of Islam had never existed except for the few years of the Prophetic era. What has existed are imperfect Muslims, like you and I, doing their best to hold on to their faith so one day they meet their Lord with a sound heart. Reinventing themselves when the world around them changed and gathering morsels of knowledge as they navigated through life. So my dearest sweet sister, continue to cherish that gung-ho hijabi. She may be a few years older, but she is much wiser, more graceful, and still beautiful. Her energy will keep inspiring you as you reinvent yourself at different stages of your life. Keep walking and learning.
Show compassion to yourself and those you meet along the way. Take yourself into account but don’t judge yourself. Walk with your head held high, but don’t forget to lower your gaze. Protect the inroads to your heart so when you meet your Creator, you bring with you the coveted prize; a sound heart.
Irum Ayub is a student at Bayan Islamic Graduate School and is pursuing a MA in Islamic Theology.