What would you do, when there seems to be no other choice left…?
“COME HERE!” my beloved mum yelled at me from the kitchen, announcing that lunch was ready. Trembling, I walked forward, not knowing what to expect. All I could see on the dining table were 2 bowls of rice, while the side dishes were…just a plate of sliced pork sausages, and nothing else.
Mind you, the most common thing in mind about Islam for not-yet-Muslims is that, Muslims don’t eat pork. Anyhow, I sat down, calmly picked up my chopsticks, and just took one or two of the supposedly delicious sausages onto my bowl. Not that I enjoyed it, but I did not wish to make a chaotic scene either. My mum silently ate her rice, her facial expression obviously showing a deep resentment and anger in her heart. Nevertheless at the same time, she was also understandably deeply concerned that I had joined a ‘the point-of-no-return cult’. Seeing that things looked fine without expected clashes, she uttered, “Think about it, what you have just done!” before leaving the kitchen.
It was 26th August 2011, just a day after I announced my reversion to Islam to my family. Yet, this test was far from over. Day in and day out, I was scolded, lectured for hours and was given little choice of dishes that are Halal by nature. My Solah (prayers) became more difficult to be performed. My whereabouts were often closely supervised. I ended up becoming exhausted physically & near-paralyzed mentally.
Is there any hope for me to continue being a Muslim? I kept wondering. All doors of solutions seemed closed. I felt like running away, but I didn’t know where to go. The thought of leaving Islam and converting to other “religions of convenience” were brewing in my mind, until one afternoon as I was praying Solat al-dhuhr in my bedroom, I broke down. During the prostration, I hit the floor with both fists. My tears soaked patches of the prayer carpet. Are you sure you can live as a Muslim in a Chinese family? I questioned myself, again. And again. Endlessly.
Wait a second. Much to my surprise, Allah responded in what feels like a freshly-revealed revelation. Allah Almighty proclaimed:
“And whoever is conscious about Allah – He will make for him a way out; and will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” 1
I found this verse unexpectedly while randomly flipping the pages of an English-translated Qur’an alone. Upon discovering this verse, my heart immediately clung to it as if I had found water in the desert. I put up a struggle to believe in His Words whenever trials after trials hit me hard for the next whole year. I wanted to believe in Him.
Two initial years surviving as an underground Muslim, with another two more years as a Muslim practising openly, albeit with difficulties, proved to contain various lessons and yielded strengths waiting to be discovered. Without my realizing it in the first place, my relationships with family members began improving bit by bit. My brother and I teased each other like before, and my mother gradually began to tolerate my Halal needs by cooking fish or chicken if she planned to cook pork dishes for the family. Both my dearest parents also accepted my space and time to perform my prayers. Alhamdulillah! Indeed Allah’s promise is true!
“Unquestionably, to Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth. Unquestionably, the promise of Allah is truth, but most of them do not know,” 2
Even in challenges outside my home, there was an unforgettable moment whereby Allah’s Mercy enabled me to love Him like never before. It happened recently on 9th of February 2015, and this miracle is still fresh in my mind up till now.
This time, Allah tested me with something that I held most dearly and was deeply attached with. My engagement of more than one year with my fiancée ended unexpectedly. I wasn’t able to understand any reason that could have led to this conclusion. So, when she conveyed her sincere intention to be just friends, I was greatly devastated. Struggling to remain calm, I had no choice but to agree with her decision, as we no longer saw things as we used to. At that time, this Hadith (Prophet Muhammad’s recorded sayings) was brought to my mind:
Whenever a calamity afflicts anyone he should say, “Surely from Allah we are and to Him we shall certainly return,” And he would pray, “O Allah, reward me for my affliction and compensate me with something better’” 3
The next day at early dawn, I went to nearby mosque to perform my Solat al-fajr in congregation. I dragged myself to the prayer hall despite the painful wound of the breakup still bleeding in my heart. However, Allahu Akbar (Allah is greatest!), that was when the miracles started to unfold for me. After the prayer, an uncle approached me and gave me a free packet of a warm breakfast, something that had never happened to me before at such time! I was taken aback by his unexpected kind gesture. It seemed insignificant, but surprisingly like a droplet of water, that was sufficient enough to soften my heart that was hardening in defense against the painful heartbreak. O’ Al-Latif (The Gentle, Subtly Kind One)! How gentle You are in tendering to my sadness like a mother tendering to a crying child. O’ Al-Khabir (The All-Aware One), You are never unaware of what I am going through no matter how small it is. The Mercy He showered upon me strengthened me tremendously. If I were to cry again reminiscing this incident, I would be shedding more tears because of the Creator’s love than because of the creations.
Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured. 4
Through His tests over people and matters that I cared about deeply, I learn to trust and depend on Allah more in facing life’s challenges bravely. Yes, there might be some disappointments here and there as I live my life. However, with persistent faith in His promise, my optimism increases and enables me to stay strong. The Qur’an has never been altered, and neither is Allah’s promise. Islam has taught me not just to believe in myself, but also to trust that all outcomes are taken good care of by Allah the Al-Ghayb, the One who knows the unseen future.
Thus, back to the first question. What would you do, when there seems to be no other choice left? When you wonder if you should continue to move forward or turn back, just remember, my dear readers, you have Allah. All you need to do is to call upon Him with all your heart for guidance. Get to know His attributes and guidance through Qur’an and Sunnah of Prophet (peace be upon him). InshaAllah, you will find that every drop of sweat and every tear is well worth the price.
Sahih Muslim 918, Riyad as-Saaliheen, Book 7, Hadith 921
Image credits to SeekersHub.org
About the author
Zhang Farish is a Malaysian from Chinese background who reverted to Islam in 2009. Deeply passionate in History & arts, he found Islam after studying the chapter about Islam in high school’s History subject. This first article above shares an experience of his close revert friend.