…and only 10 minutes to tell someone about islam, what would you say?
For some reason, an incident long passed has been in my mind as of late. I was on the bus riding home when a woman sat next to me. She greeted me with salaams, and I returned them. We struck up a conversation, and I found that she was in a prison work release program and was contemplating converting to islam. She emphasized how much she wanted to do it, and how she’d already given up the pork, and did I have any advice I could offer her, something more she could do until she got in touch with a muslim who did ministry to prisoners?
So I have but a few minute to tell this soon to be sister something, anything about islam. Allah (swt) revealed the religion to His Prophet (saws) over a 23 year period. How on earth could I summarize that all in just 10 minutes?
If the world had been perfect, I would have whipped out a set of prayer cards and given them to her and tried to explain how to make salat. But, I didn’t (and come to think of it still don’t) have any in my purse.
I’m not very good at speaking on the spot. Even when I quickly dash out and publish a blog post, I’ll usually re-read it right away and edit it a half dozen times (probably should just not publish it until I’ve edited it, but that would be too obvious).
So what did I tell this woman? I tried to convey to her the importance of remembering Allah (swt) in every action, in every moment. Alhamdulilah you’ve given up pork, because that is something Allah (swt) has forbidden to us. So make sure that every bite you do put in your mouth, you thank Allah (swt) for it, and remember His mercy in providing it for you.
And, I taught her formulated dhikr, how we can praise Allah (swt) using La ilaha il Allah, Alhamdulilah, Allahu Akbar and SubhanAllah. How you can do that when you’re sitting, standing or lying on your side. How you can do it when you’re working, riding the bus or just relaxing.
Now, years later, I reflect on what I said, and contemplate if I am living up to my advice. What is islam? La ilaha il Allah, Muhammadur rasul Allah. There is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is the one to whom we turn to find the best way to worship our Beloved. The Prophet (saws) gave us plenty of things that we should not do, and many things we should. But how to summarize that into a short, succinct explanation, because somethings 10 minutes is all we have to explain la ilaha il Allah?
I think, when Islam is distilled down to it’s essence, it really is all about remembering Allah (swt). That is the reason for all the halal and the haram, so that we are conscious of Allah (swt) in our every action. I don’t drink alcohol because Allah (swt) said so. I pray 5 times a day because Allah (swt) said so. So to it’s logical conclusion, every word I say, every move I make, every action I take, I should be doing so only to seek the pleasure of the Divine. If we strive to remember Allah (swt) always, inshaAllah our natural behavior will incline towards submission to Him.
How would you explain islam to someone in 10 minutes?
I wonder where this sister is now, if she made shahada, if she was released from prison, and if life has turned around for her.
Please make dua that it has.
photo by mrehanoo