Home Religion & Spirituality Discovering the Truth: My Spiritual Journey

Discovering the Truth: My Spiritual Journey

My family wasn’t a religious one. I was fourteen years old when my brother passed away and I did not even know who exactly was prophet Muhammad ﷺ. I had neither read the Quran before nor knew Arabic. But after the death of my brother, by Allah’s mercy, my family and I were inclined towards reading and listening to Quran recitation, especially with the Qiraat of Shaykh As Sudais, and started to offer Salah. Since I did not know Arabic, I began by reading the translation of the Quran. It was my first proper introduction to God and religion and it led me to my interest in theology.

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“Hello son? … Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon…”. My grandfather hadn’t even kept down the phone yet and he held his head in his hands and started to weep. My grandmother then took the phone and she too started to cry loudly. I couldn’t understand anything. I didn’t even know what ‘Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon’ meant. It might be apparent to others what that crying and suffering implied but it wasn’t for me. It was a call from my Abba who was at the hospital with my mother as my younger brother was in the ICU.

My brother returned home multiple times from the hospital after being seriously ill. His frequent visits to the hospital were a normal thing to me since I was ten years old when he was first diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, a rare lymphatic disease, and went for his chemotherapy sessions on a routine basis consistently for three years, and often times past midnight, to emergency wards when his platelet count would drop too dangerously low. This time again, I was certain that he might return home recovering safely and we would watch cartoons again the next day, together, as usual.

Realizing that one day the other person will leave us and perhaps we might never be able to spend a blissful time together again (as none of us is sure that we will enter Jannah), we incline to become more compassionate, generous, and patient with them. Indeed, death is a heart softener. When I returned to our now lonely house after burying my brother, I saw the tablet lying on my bed, in which we used to play games together. I used to forbid him from using the coins that I had achieved by clearing many levels in the games and would get angry at him for wasting them which he wouldn’t do knowingly, as he was no older than four years, but it was me who was a miser and not understanding.

I was now crying, wishing that I would have not forbidden him. I was ready to do whatever possible to hear his laugh, for at least one more time. I felt ashamed of the times I was angry at him. I was hating myself. But I learned a lesson that how short and fragile this life is to hold onto such materialistic things or any grudge in our hearts against anyone in general. It directed me to ponder upon ‘my’ purpose in this life or say ‘the’ purpose of this life. Life seemed to be more than just living round the clock, living around the expectations of society, to win a name for ourselves. 

My family wasn’t a religious one. I was fourteen years old when my brother passed away and I did not even know who exactly was prophet Muhammad ﷺ. I had neither read the Quran before nor knew Arabic. But after the death of my brother, by Allah’s mercy, my family and I were inclined towards reading and listening to Quran recitation, especially with the Qiraat of Shaykh As Sudais, and started to offer Salah. Since I did not know Arabic, I began by reading the translation of the Quran. It was my first proper introduction to God and religion and it led me to my interest in theology.  

I loved reading the Quran a lot and ‘blindly’ believed in every verse. Perhaps it isn’t entirely wrong to ‘blindly believe’ but this naiveness might become troublesome when we get out of our homes and people throw questions at us and make us doubt things as we do not know the answer to those questions, and this is exactly what happened with me.

The Christian white American friends of my father would teach me nasty things about Islam when my parents weren’t around, and quote verses and twist them to serve their hypothesis. They even called Allah, the lucifer who was thrown from heaven and Muhammad ﷺ had found him as Jibrael (nauzubillah). Even twisted history to show that Islam is a religion of war and terror, and Muhammad ﷺ as a warlord (nauzubillah). I was 14, new to religion and stuff, not knowing the answers to these questions, and thus was deeply disturbed by these. They then preached to me their gospels and contrasted Islam with the ‘lovely and peaceful’ Christianity.

I was not sure which religion is the truth. I believed in God though, as I was also a science enthusiast, and looking and studying how the universe was created, I thought to myself that if there cannot be ripples in stagnant water without any pebble or thing disturbing it then how could the Big Bang have happened at the first place, without anything or anyone triggering it? And how can things come into such perfection, like their own self, from a random explosion? Doesn’t everything seem to have a planner or a preserver? Isn’t the grand universe a witness to itself? Later, knowing that the great theoretical physicist Albert Einstein himself was a monotheist with similar reasons as mine, made me feel confident with my theory of God ‘having to exist’ as most of the physicists were atheists. Another lesson I learned is that not all majority opinions are correct as once even the entire world believed the earth is flat. 

Though I believed in God, I didn’t know which religion truly belonged to Him. Though one religion had to, as God would surely not create everything and then not send guidance for His people or keep Himself unknown, it was just illogical. I then began by studying all the major faiths and rejecting paganism was the easiest as even if an idol was a true picture of God, I would rather worship God Himself than His portrayal. And besides being illogical, they had no authenticity of their religion – historically – and all that history stated, especially of the Hindus, was that the early Aryans were monotheist (as can be found in their oldest source of religion, The Rig Veda) and worshipped the unseen God and it was the later Aryans who brought in the worship of idols as if God suddenly started appearing to them.

Now, amongst the rest, what attracted me the most was the Abrahamic faiths. Having read the Quran a bit, I loved its theology and was so mystically in love with Surah Al Fatiha and the method of Salah that though I was doubting Islam, I did not stop offering Salah every day. I felt the words of Al Fatiha, an address to that One God who is the Lord of the worlds (Quran 1:1). Anyone who believes in God can recite Al Fatiha from his/her heart. 

I also believed in Heaven and Hell, as all religions seemed to have this concept and thus there must have been some truth attached to it, and it did make sense to me as the life of this world would have been unjust if people were not rewarded for their actions. The good for the good and the bad for the bad.  

From the Abrahamic faiths, I started studying Christianity and Islam, together, as these two were the most popular and Judaism seemed to be an older version of these two. I wasn’t yet ready to follow Islam, though my heart mystically wanted to run towards it, because I feared that I might then be following Islam because my family follows it and not for the truth. I wanted to be content with evidence that Muhammad ﷺ was a true messenger and that the Quran is a book of God and not the work of a man. 

I used to spend a lot of my time studying the authenticity of these two religions as my belief in heaven and hell had made me anxious and scared that what if I enter Hell for not having followed and believing in the true religion before dying. 

Between the two religions, studying Christianity was tougher as it was a mix of truth and falsehood. It was through the lectures and collective works by Dr Bart D. Ehrman – a skeptic theologian who himself was a Christian at school – that I was able to understand the truth behind Christianity, as otherwise, it was confusing for me as to where to start and how. He argued in his books, with all the historical documents, how the trinity was invented over the years and took the present shape. It was a result of influences of the then cultures and ideologies of the people of each century.

He also questioned the authenticity of the gospels as Jesus spoke Aramaic, while all the gospels we have are in Greek and none of them spoke it there. Also, the very first gospel in the Bible, the Gospel of Mark, was written after forty years of Jesus’s so-called crucifixion thus, where were these stories for so long, who noted them, and how do we then know to what degree they are authentic? Even if we were to assume them to be authentic then why is it that in the first three Gospels, Jesus is shown as a Messiah and like any other prophet of the Jews. While it was only in the last Gospel, the Gospel of John that Jesus became God in such a contrasting manner that as if the earlier Gospel writer had forgotten to mention Jesus’s godly properties which are totally impossible to happen!

He then with the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible proved how many verses of the Gospel of John have been termed fabricated which were widely used in quoting Jesus’s godly nature, He then further questioned if a few random verses can be fabricated then how do we know which others are or aren’t? I thus was convinced with the falsehood of the Gospels and had by now been convinced with Islam, as I was studying it at the same time. 

Islam was easier to study as most of the historical evidences were preserved well. Especially due to the hadith tradition and the loyalty and the faith of the narrators. The Quran in itself too, as people had memorized it in their hearts. What was tougher to do was to understand its theology. To read verses and connect them with the historical actions (amal) of the Prophet ﷺ and his companions as that seemed to be the true Tafseer of the verses. Studying the Gospels taught me that we can’t understand a verse fully by just reading it outside of its co-text and context. 

On studying the Seerah of the Prophet ﷺ and practically thinking the reason behind the retaliation which was actually after severe and long oppression for no crime but for preaching the people to abandon the worship of stones and to worship the One Unseen God who provides for us and wants nothing in return, and it made perfect sense to rationality, at least of mine. Even the accusation of the Prophet ﷺ copying the Quran was impossible as the story of Yusuf AS was very similar to that in the Bible and no translation of the Bible was done till then, as it was a time when the paper did not exist as such and people used to write on certain types of leaves and on bones and leather.

And none could have actually translated the story of Yusuf AS to such a perfect Arabic unless the person was highly proficient in multiple languages while the Prophet ﷺ was famously unlettered and even if he ﷺ wasn’t so, there seemed no reason to translate the story of Yusuf or any part of the Bible and suffer oppression by his own people, when he ﷺ was already rich and respected by his people, as history suggested. Even his claim on Jesus being a prophet and not a son of God or God himself was another of his miracles as again, it would require a thorough study of Christianity as he was consistently ‘claiming’ than ‘guessing’ this and there is a huge difference between the two.

And no person could ever be fully proficient in languages, history, religions, and also be a full-time preacher at the same time, as each requires a mastery of its own, and thus no human could possibly do it, and thus, only God could have revealed these to him. Moreover, many of the prophecies that he ﷺ ‘claimed’ have come true already, like Makkah having buildings taller than its mountains, for example, the Clock tower and many others. But what’s more interesting is that how can a man in the deserts of Arabia, in the fourteenth-century ‘claim’ such a thing while they themselves lived in humble homes and must not have ever seen anything of ‘technology’! He ﷺ had to be a prophet of God as even the theology that he ﷺ was preaching intertwined perfectly with my rationale, or perhaps with my ‘fitrah’.  

Though I have accepted Islam, after more than four years of study, the journey isn’t over yet as there is so much more to study, ponder, and internalize from the knowledge (ilm) of our religion (deen). This knowledge is divine and thus even needs the purification of intention (niyah), which is Ikhlas, and good character (ikhlaq) towards others to internalize this knowledge and act upon them, which is the ultimate goal. Coming from a skeptical background, I was turning into an extremist in religion (deen) but again, Allah SWT from His mercy blessed me with teachers who helped me to internalize the qualities of a true and traditional student of knowledge and seek ilm in the traditional manner, that is learning from the chest of the scholars than from non-living pages of books only.

My teachers taught me that Islam is not a ‘way of life’ but a ‘state of being’ cause ‘way of life’ seems mechanistic and a set of rules while ‘state of being’ is the intertwining of mind, emotion, and spirituality, and that is why Allah SWT sent a human to teach His book than just the book alone. 

During the period of doubt and exploration, the temptations (waswasa) from the devil (shaytaan) were adding to my doubts and anxiety and slowly making me go insane but I used to pray to that One God to guide me to His religion and so here I am, writing my spiritual journey for an Islamic article with hopes that the readers might find something of spiritual benefit from my experience as I could have today been a kafir, living in an illusion if it had not been for Allah’s mercy upon me to let me experience this beautiful religion, read and desire to follow the noblest man to have ever walked on the face of the earth and his pious companions and those who followed them, have the beautiful family of Muslim-hood, and spend the rest of my life in trying to seek the pleasure of my Lord with love for who He is and fear for who I am, and thus fulfill my purpose in this world. May Allah SWT accept it from us all, Ameen. Though I must not forget to mention that we all are struggling in whatever milestone we are in this Journey to our Lord (Rabb).

Even while I’m writing this, I’m not a perfect Muslim and always have room to improve, which I must. Perhaps our striving for Allah is the journey itself and it reaches its destination when Allah gets pleased with our sincerity and us having served that destined number of people in this journey. So, keep traveling, oh my fellow companions, for Allah is waiting for you at the other end. 

1 COMMENT

  1. Masha Allah very well written……may Allah bless us all with the understanding of deen with daleel….

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