Being a Canadian Muslim comes with lots of baggage. As much as we want to maintain our foothold in society, we’re trying to keep a meaningful connection with our faith. We all feel a certain responsibility to our religious identity, and adhere to ways that we feel are more “Muslim.” But the gauge of “Islam” alters depending on where we are and who we are with.
When we come to the gatherings of Allah, we are all wearing the veils of religious obligation – our hearts, our minds, and even our physical appearance is tuned into our surroundings. We behave differently, we speak differently, and many of us even think differently when we are performing salaah at the masjid, when we’re at a conference or convention – or in the company of those who we feel are higher up on the ladder of deen. These ideally crafted situations feed and nourish “our Islam.” This is, in fact, a shot of adrenaline in our weakened emaan. These segregated moments which make us feel MORE Muslim and sometimes even a little arrogant when it comes to our own accomplishments in faith.
But the true question of belief lies in exploring our hearts, when we are in situations of this duniya—when the religious guard is no longer protecting us, and we are vulnerable to the ways of the world. Are we still capable of maintaining a religious standard? Or do we become hypocrites in our own eyes?
There are countless moments when we falter, and choose to become someone completely different because of the company we keep. But the world is not at our command. Should we limit our social circle to those who are compatible to our faith-practice? Or is it possible to venture out and explore the horizons without compromising our own religious identity?
Ask yourself one question, are you more Muslim at the masjid? Have you succumbed to two different identities? It’s an ongoing struggle to strike the perfect balance—to be as Muslim as you want, whether you are surrounded by other believers or not. Take a step back and give yourself a moment of personal reflection. Peer into your own soul and find the true essence which makes you a believer.
Don’t allow other people to determine your religious standards and the way you behave. If you’re having to alter your actions because someone else is watching, then you are not doing justice to your own self. This conflict of personal interest is going to cost you your sanity. Build an identity based on what you want for yourself. Be exceptional for the sake of Allah, aim to reach His expectations, not those set by society. It’s time to break those shackles and own up to who you are. Don’t use your faith as a crutch, it’s meant to be a lot more. Puffing your chest up at the masjid and pretending that you’re a Muslim jock doesn’t give you extra credit with Allah. Arrogance isn’t for the believers, our emaan lies within us. If you can maintain the best standards for yourself in total solitude, then you have attained a new level of faith.
The next time you stand in salaah alone at home, remember how you stand at the masjid. Is your posture just as straight? Is your head bowed in similar focus? Are you reciting the words in your head with the same speed and sincerity? Is each sujood held in reflection of your submission to Allah? Are you really praying as you would pray if you were standing next to others? Don’t use your Muslim identity as a cloak every time you enter a religious gathering. A good Muslim isn’t just suited to be best at the masjid. Instead, a good Muslim is the person who is best in society. Let your faith inspire you to embrace your inner instinct, and be a better version of yourself – both in the masjid, and out.