My Life as a New Muslim
Fear of God Root of all Wisdom
I am Fathima Liebenberg, a white Muslim woman converted to Islam in 1995. I am very proud to say I am a Muslim, but if it was not for my son I would never have been a Muslim. For me it was a hard and long struggle because it cost me my job, friends and family.
As for my life before Islam, I was a very pious Christian who went to the Pentacosta churches. I used to collect the street children and take them to the church and Sunday school. My life consisted only of reading and studying the Bible, until my son told me about Islam.
My son came home one day and said, “Mummy! Why don’t you become a Muslim?” I was shocked at the very idea and said, ‘Never’. He said, ‘Mummy! Islam is such a pure and clean religion, they pray five times a day’. That is when I decided to read the books and the translation of the Noble Qur’an. The more I read the Qur’an, the more I was convinced that Islam was meant for me. I turned to Allah and finally I found peace and tranquillity. I hid it from my family until one day I decided to call my brother and tell him I was now a Muslim.
My brother was so shocked, because we were very devoted and pious Christians, and I was the only one to be converted to Islam. My family phoned me about a year ago and told me never to contact them again as I now was no longer their sister. I love my family very much and miss them but I know one day we will meet again. Inshah Allah.
I was so happy when I received my ‘Muslim Identity Card’ that I felt like standing on the roof tops and shouting out to the world that I am a Muslim. I lost my family, but gained a new family in Islam. My new family, the Muslims, were so wonderful, I cannot express it.
Appa Tasneem Jazakallah, when I am in your Madrasah with all the little ones, it feels like I am in Jannah surrounded by little angels. I am so happy that Allah Ta’la has chosen me to be a Muslim. I have worn the Hijaab since I became a Muslim and will never take it out. My only wish is to go to Makkah even though I doubt that it will be possible but Inshah Allah, one day Allah will provide me with the means to reach there. Each time I want to be closer to Allah, I read the Sunnats of our Beloved Prophet (Pbuh).
Paper will not be enough for everything that I wish to tell you about Islam. I also want to thank every one who supported me and also to our brother Ahmad Deedat who is so ill. May Allah Ta’la cure him fast.
Now Islam is a way of life for me. It means peace and a
Muslim is one who strives for peace through his submission to Allah Ta’la. A Muslim’s first duty is to Allah the Almighty and it is out of your deep love for Allah that your duties become acts of devotion. It is no easy task for me as a white Muslim lady, living amongst Christians, but I keep my head high and I am so very proud to be a Muslim.
So, my dear brothers and sisters if you are born Muslim but have not been a dutiful one it is not too late. If you have not started yet, you can start right now.
Taqwa, whikch simply put means persistent fear of God for self-righteousness, epitomises the entire teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). A study of the Holy Qur’an will show that every aspect of its teachings is directed towards the creation of this spiritual condition of fearing God in every action of the believer. According to the Holy Qur’an, Taqwa should be the ultimate result of all forms of worship.
The Holy Qur’an says: “O ye people! Adore your Guardian-Lord, who created you and those who came before you, that ye may have the chance to learn righteousness” (2:21). Again, the same virtue is emphasised as the object of fasting: “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint” (2:183). The Haj is also enjoined with the same objective: “And whoever holds in honour the Symbols of God (in the sacrifice of animals), such (honour) should come truly from piety of heart” (22:32). Animal sacrifices are also offered with this very aim: “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches God: it is your piety that reaches Him.” (22.37)
In the sura Ale Imran, Taqwa is bracketed with steadfastness and patience, and in the sura Baqarah, it is linked with making peace among mankind. Even in conducting wars, when values are generally overlooked, Muslims have to abide by the dictates of Taqwa. This condition of heart transforms both the thinking and actions of man. The Holy Qur’an repeatedly asks us to observe Taqwa, to abide by the decisions of the Holy Prophet, to act according to the injunctions of the Shariah, to refrain from prohibited acts, and to attain glory.
A Muslim surrenders to God and does what he is ordered to do and refrains from what he is told to shun. Taqwa, the fear of God, is the only force that can restrain man from evil and wickedness. It is this fear of God that keeps the heart of a believer awake and enables him to distinguish between right and wrong. Besides, Taqwa is the only virtue that brings honours to a believer, man or woman, in Muslim society. The Holy Qur’an says:” O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you.” (49:13)
Justice and Taqwa are two principles that merge as necessary corollaries from the doctrines of the oneness of God, which, according to the Holy Qur’an and the Traditions, is the basic article of faith, whereas the disciplines and the do’s and dont’s of the canon law are merely its outward expression, or means to the attainment of Divinely-ordained ends of man in his collective as well as individual existence. In Islam, being pious and God-fearing are the basic characteristic of a Muslim. The Holy Qur’an says: “Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God, for God is well-acquainted with all that ye do.” (5:9)
The holy Qur’an aims to create an ideal society based on Taqwa for the good of all humanity. The fear of God, the root of all wisdom, finds expression in the individual’s awareness of the impact that his/her action or failure to act will, at the various stages or levels of his/her social connections and relationship, have on others. It is admitted that the primary concern of Islam is to develop the personality of the individual as a god-fearing man, and equip him with the talent to live in peace with himself and with others.
Imam Abu Hanifa laid great stress on the acquisition of Taqwa as the main objective of education and as a requisite qualification of a Muslim. Education, to Abu Hanifa, means “the understanding of what makes or mars a soul; the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong in regard to this world and the next and to choose the right conduct so that the misguided intellect of man may not lead him astray”. The Holy Prophet exhorted his followers to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave. The idea was to develop an awareness of mans responsibilities to his fellow beings. It is in fact, an essential part of Taqwa. In this sense, every individual becomes a trustee in thought, word or deed. He has religious obligations towards those who come in contact with him in the course of business, or in a professional capacity, or in any kind of social contact. Once the Holy Prophet pointed at his heart and said: “Taqwa is here.”
Syedna Ali is reported to have said that unless the following five virtues are acquired, Taqwa cannot be achieved. These are: laborious living is to be preferred to the life of ease and comfort; submission to the will and mercy of God is preferable to the confidence in one’s own capacity; to be humble is better than to aspire for greatness and glory; simple food is to be preferred to the extravagant; and life in the next world is to be preferred to this life. It is said that there are three stages of Taqwa.
The first is to keep away from unlawful things, the second is to refrain from all that makes one sinful and the third stage is to abandon everything that makes one forget God. Refraining from unlawful things is possible only when one knows what is enjoined and what is forbidden. The chief formative factor in the life history of Muslims is the ethical ideal that Islam sets forth and a definite type of polity that is based on it.
Without organisation, there is no progress, material or spiritual. Islam puts forth a standard of conduct for Muslims: “Enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong.” If the spirit of Taqwa is created by precept and education and by example, it will serve as a powerful incentive for doing good and as a strong deterrent against anti-social activity.