Muslims can only define and describe their true personal identity in relation to the connection they have with Allah . Because, as true Muslims they must submit and surrender fully to the Will of Allah as revealed in the noble Quran and exemplified in the life of Prophet Muhammad .
Imagine a stranger walking up to you and asking, ‘Who are you?’
What words will you use to describe yourself. How will you verify your identity?
Pause here and think for a minute.
You may quite easily relate to your gender, nationality, language, culture, career, educational background, hobbies or other social affiliations. No doubt, all of these contribute in many ways to who you are. But, is that all there is to you as a human living on planet Earth?
You should know the answer is a resounding NO. Those are actually secondary identities which could be delimiting if your nafs makes you consider any of these a mark of superiority over others. Just as Iblees considered himself superior to Adam .
“And [mention] when We said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam”; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.”(Al-Baqarah, 2:34)
So the question remains, what is your primary identity? Which is your true identity?
“So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah . That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know.” (Ar- Rum, 30: 30)
The inborn identity of a true believer is tied to the creed – La ilaha illah llah, Muhammadur Rasulullah sal Allahu alayhi wassalam. These words are confirmed by the tongue and acted upon by the limbs – an external manifestation that the world can see.
Therefore, the essence of your life as a Muslim is based upon the definition and practice of the shahadah in alignment with the natural fitrah – in your personal and public life, if you remember that you were born upon an instinct to worship Allah, our Lord, the One and only Creator.
The Prophet said, “Each child is born in a state of “Fitrah”, then his parents make him a Jew, Christian or a Zoroastrian, the way an animal gives birth to a normal offspring. Have you noticed any that were born mutilated?” 1
And what will help you develop and maintain this goal?
It’s by submitting and following the orders of Allah and abandoning all that He has forbidden no matter how insignificant it may seem. This act of submission is captured eloquently in the following verses of the Qur’an.
“Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah , Lord of the worlds.” (Al-‘An`am, 6:162)
“O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy. (Al-Baqarah, 2:208)
Elements that Tamper with Fitrah
Living by the shahadah and aligning to your true fitrah has become more and more challenging in the times we live. Some of the elements that tamper with the fitrah and ultimately our Islamic identity include peer, cultural and family pressures. Others are technology, education and employment systems, etc. These elements could induce inner paralysis coupled with Shaytan’s whispers that make you believe that you are ODD or STRANGE.
I have good news for you. No need to fear…
Dare to be Different
There’s nothing wrong with being odd, strange or different for the purpose of striving for superior goals in this world and the next, aiming to gain Allah’s pleasure and earn Jannah by His Mercy.
You can develop, maintain and model a true Islamic Identity in its pure and pristine form using the acronym O.D.D.S which I coined up during my research for a presentation I made at a recent convention.
D: Du’a and Dhikr Drive
D: Daily Drills
S: Support System
Using this formula, you can beat all odds to uphold an Islamic personality, insha’Allah.
Identity issues can come up at your workplace, school or in your local community. They can stem from being the only Muslim employee in your organization; living in a predominantly non Muslim/ non practicing neighborhood; getting invited by school mates to bars, night clubs etc., and/or being faced with free-mixing in many settings like weddings, workshops and charity events amongst others.
You need to just answer ONE question correctly to guide you through situations that will challenge your identity. Can you guess what that ONE question is?