I’d been exposed to the blog world by my husband (thanks for wasting my time…which I already lack!). But I must admit it is quite addictive and I can now understand his unbreakable bond with his laptop!

So in my recent venture to the blog world, I came across a few ‘from Salafi to Sufi’ kind of posts. Many of them talk about their ‘conversion’ to Sufism simply because lack of spirituality and a connection to Allah azzawjal in Salafism! Salafism being the ‘ism’ of books only, reading Qur’an etc. etc., and Sufism being the ‘ism’ of spirituality and remembering Allah for quite a few hours of the day. I hope I understood this right.

I recently moved away from the place I spent more then half of my life at, my family, my friends, and more importantly my positive-influences and to say the least, the repercussion of my move was an iman-abate. As I felt the deadness of my heart, my prayers no longer had an effect on me, Qur’an wouldn’t making me cry…certainly something was wrong for I had lost the ‘connection’ I once had.

It took me a while to realize that although I had my books, my lecture tapes, my ability to concentrate in my prayers etc. I was unable to use any to strengthen my iman, mainly because I was lacking the company of good folks. I didn’t have the luxury of being around those people who were motivated and would motivate me to come closer to Allah, my study circles with shayookh had come to an end (because there weren’t any in this city), I hadn’t heard uplifting stimulating stories in a while, I hadn’t prayed behind someone who would cry leading salah, and no wonder my heart was hardening keeping me from remembering Allah…It indeed was/ is a sore time!

We all go through these ups and downs of iman, some of us more then others, some of us take longer to get back on track then others and (may Allah protect us) some get lost in their ‘down hill’ times. However, in our perfect religion of Islam, this weakness had been recognized and well addressed. As I love to say, we are not left to be misguided like the nations before us, all we have to do is dig back in the Divine Text, example of our beloved Prophet and many many stories of our companions (indeed the best generation to walk this face of earth).

We are not the only ones who feel this ‘lack of iman’ and ‘disconnection’ at times, and find it difficult to be what we were before or what we want to be. Generations before us have gone through the same, even the people who were better then us, but does it mean that we leave one ‘ism’ for the other, or the methodology in itself has problems?!

In my personal experience, when we fall ‘downhill’, it shows our own weakness and lack of motivation and positive influence. Did I need a ‘tareeqah’ to get back in shape? To be quite honest, I don’t completely comprehend ‘tareeqahs’ neither have I ever been exposed to them. But I knew for a fact, that my answer is within the realm of the Sunnah of my Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasalam).

Doesn’t Allah (SWT) says in Qur’an:

“And We sent down from the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism).” [17:82]

A healing to what? To the very disease we all cry about, ‘disconnection’ ‘dryness of soul and heart’. I believe and have experienced, that if we read Qur’an even if we don’t understand Its meaning, It has an effect on the heart, It moves your soul but this comes with consistency and Yaqeen (confidence).

How can a person not be moved when Allah’s promises, warnings and punishments are mentioned, reading about the previous nations, prophets of past are indeed uplifting. These stories were revealed to uplift the spirit of our beloved Prophet Muhammad when he felt disheartened, how can it not boost our iman then?!

Prophet (saw) said: “Hud (chapter 11) and its sisters (chapters 56, 77, 78 and 81) have brought me white hairs before their due time.” [As-Silsilah As-Sahihah].

SubhanAllah, when a surah can worry our Prophet (saw) so much so that his hair turned gray, the person who knew would not be touched by the punishment, the person who knew would enter Jannah before anyone else enters Jannah, then what effect should it have on us?!

Abu Bakr and Umar (ra) would cry over the verses of punishments. I often wondered why would they cry when they knew they were saved, what then about us who have no guarantees?!

Indeed Qur’an is the remedy to the lack of iman. Indeed the first step to cure that fatal disease. Increasing prayers, making long sujood, ruk’u, pretending to cry if real tears don’t come out, all are remedies found within the examples of pious predecessors. It is said that when our Salaf would reach a portion of the Qur’an were Sujud (bowing down) is warranted, they treated this incident different than ordinary people. A man once recited, “And they fall down on their faces weeping and it adds to their humility.” [17:109], and then fell in Sujud. Then, he said to himself, “Here you are, you do the Sujud, so where is the crying?”

And lastly the knowledge of our religion. It is through the knowledge that we find our way to Allah (by Allah’ permission). I must admit that ever since I moved I haven’t touched my books, my AOU exams have been pending for more then an year now and I feel so ‘disconnected’!

I don’t want to make this entry an AOU/al-Maghrib vs. other institutes, but I will state my experience which may have been very different from others. Since AOU and al-Maghirb are the so-called ‘Salafi’ schools and my main exposure to knowledge, I have no option but to mention them.

If worship and adhkaar makes you closer to Allah, the knowledge is not only a ‘tareeqah’ (way) to boost iman but to build a good PR!

In my little experience of studying at AOU, it was after writing a term paper for one of my classes I discovered my way to improve my relationship with my in-laws. I still remember the night while absorbing my research material, I started recognizing my faults and as I wrote the conclusion I couldn’t help but ask myself, “what is the point of writing this, if it doesn’t reflect in your actions!” (iyyadhobillah, by no means I intent boasting but it was my start of a long journey to improve my manners).

It was only after attending the first AlMaghrib class with Muhammad Al-Shareef I gathered the courage to walk up to the imam of a Masjid and apologized to him for calling him a modernist before. (may Allah forgive me).

I remember when I wrote a term paper criticizing a ‘Sufi’ sheikh and, proudly when I called my AOU professor for my exam, I got a long lecture instead! I was confused… what?! I thought I was supposed to get an “A”. But how could I?! The class was about ‘Muslim Ethics’ and I had heavily criticized the author of a book! My professor rebuked me for my method of criticism, my manners and what had I learned from a class which was supposed to teach me tolerance, patience and overlooking mistakes and appreciating the good in others! Let’s just say I ‘passed’ the class! I may not have gotten an ‘A’ in the class but what I had learned was worth much more then an A, a lesson I could never forget. I called each and every sister whom I had talked to about the author I had criticized, and explained that I was wrong and there is much good in him then his mistakes.

It is for these reasons, perhaps, that when I see criticisms of Salafis it only saddens my heart. I don’t defend the wrong actions of those who associate themselves to the methods of Salaf yet follow least of that methodology, but please do not generalize everyone under the same category. Salafism-the way it exist now may have become an ‘ism’ but in its originality it is only the way of our beloved Prophet (saw) best understood and practiced by his beloved companions; a way that had no evil, that knew no evil, that did no evil!

wAllahu ta’ala ‘alam