Change came about, but how?
Q: I was a person who cared very little about religion. I almost ridiculed religion and those who were religious. I have even rejected the existence of God and demonstrated that rejection in an outrageous manner. Yet, one day in November last year, it all changed. Waking up one morning, I started crying and kept saying “please forgive me, my Lord.” Since that day, I have stopped smoking, drinking and all other sinful habits. How could all this have happened?
A: Everything which is made or manufactured provides a testimony to its maker and its manufacturer. If it is of high quality, then we conclude that the one who is responsible for making it is an excellent professional or a master craftsman, etc. The universe which is all Allah’s creation, gives a most eloquent testimony to the great power of its Maker, Allah, glorified be He. There are so many signs, indicators and pointers throughout the universe, in the world around us, in our lives and within ourselves which emphasize the basic truth of Allah’s existence and His supremacy in the universe. Allah has given all these indicators and asked us to contemplate on them and to draw out conclusions. He knows that when we think logically about creation and about the universe, the basic truth will inescapably stare us in the face. It is up to us to accept it and act upon it or pretend that we do not see it. When someone aggressively tries to emphasize his rejection of faith, he is subconsciously trying to justify his attitude of willfully turning a deaf ear to the call of faith. He wants to smother the voice within him which tells him that he is following the wrong way. He continues to do this until such an attitude of arrogant disbelief becomes a second nature to him.
As human beings, we are all amenable to accepting faith in the same degree. As you undoubtedly realize, Allah requires everyone of us to believe in the same set of truths which form the true faith of submission to Him alone. This applies in the same degree to simple, uneducated people as well as to the most educated and sophisticated minds. When we remember that Allah’s justice is absolute, we conclude that we must have the same amenability or susceptibility to accepting the faith and conducting our lives on its principles. Hence, there is no human being who can be described as a natural disbeliever. Indeed, if people remain true to their nature, they will want to know their creator and they will continue to pursue a proper satisfaction of their inherent desire to be believers. The best proof of this susceptibility is the fact that Allah addressed us all with his message in the same language and in the same manner. The Qur’an, Allah’s revealed book which contains the final and complete version of His message to mankind, speaks to all people alike. It does not distinguish between those who are highly educated and those who have never been to school. There is no doubt that people who are endowed with knowledge can have a profound understanding of Allah’s message. It is equally true, however, that Allah’s message touches certain cores within man which make us all willing to submit ourselves to Him.
When we reflect on this fact, we recognize that Allah’s grace has been bestowed on us in abundance. It is He who sent us messages to point to us the way which will lead us to happiness in this life as well as in the life to come. It is He who has brought this process of sending messages to its final stage when he sent Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, with the complete and final form of the divine message. It is He who has guaranteed to preserve this message intact for the rest of time so that all generations will have access to it whenever they want. It is He who has made us responsive to His call and facilitated for us acceptance of it by making that acceptance the door which leads us to a life of happiness in this world and one of greater happiness in the hereafter.
Had Allah left things at that and imposed on us the duty to believe in Him and live up to our faith, His grace would have been most abounding and we should have no excuse for not responding to His message and following His messenger, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who conveyed to us Allah’s last message. But Allah has bestowed on us much more of His grace. In the life of every single one of us, there are moments when we find ourselves literally at the cross-roads between faith and unbelief. These moments represent chances offered to every single one of us to follow the right direction. We either take the chance so offered or we allow it to pass as though meant for someone else. What is special about these moments or these chances is that at these particular points in time, we see the issues involved most clearly. We are actually beckoned in a most appealing way to follow the path of Islam. Yet, many of us deride that chance and choose to go in the opposite direction.
I know someone whose determination to diligently follow the path of Islam is exemplary. Yet nothing in his upbringing could have helped him make such a choice. Neither of his parents cared about giving their child any sort of religious education. They sent him to a school which regarded religious education a luxury that could not be afforded. He told me about one moment in his life when he could feel that the choice was put to him in front of his eyes. The issues were so clear that what he saw could have very well been in the material world.
How do these moments or chances come about is something that Allah alone knows. What we know is that they do not come to all of us in the same way, nor does the chance repeat itself in the same manner twice. These are moments when our spiritual vision, as it were, of the facts of existence is at its clearest. These moments are part of the guidance with which Allah has provided us. None of us is forgotten. Each one of us is responsible and is given his chance.
Perhaps what has happened to you was that you have experienced such a moment. It may be something at which you could not point finger, but it is nevertheless real. Allah has enabled you to see things as they truly are and to make the right choice. For that you must thank Allah for the rest of your life, since you undoubtedly are enjoying the blessings of being at peace with yourself and with the universe around you. It is that peace which brings to the faithful a happiness that is inexhaustible.