Last week my husband alerted me to a halaqah (study circle) for sisters at our local masjid (i.e., the one across the street). I’ve since been recommended to this particular halaqah by a few other sisters in the area, so I’m getting the impression it’s supposed to be pretty good. I’ve been twice now-last Friday and this one-and don’t think I’ve really gotten the chance to see what others see.
The first week, the instructor wasn’t there as she’d recently been visiting with family overseas. This week’s halaqah involved a little bit of catching up, and then it was planned to be short due to some activity at the Redmond Masjid-I can’t seem to figure out what it was though. But it was further cut short by a new sister wanting to take Shahadah (Testimony of Faith).
That actually took 15-20 minutes, even though the sister had studied Islam plenty before choosing to make this decision, I guess it is the protocol here to run through a crash course in `aqeedah (Islamic creed) for anyone who wants to take Shahadah, so the remainder of the halaqah was spent reviewing the articles of faith and pillars of Islam.
In Raleigh, we would basically quickly articulate the primary tenets of faith and practice if the convert was new to the masjid, but not nearly so extensively as I heard tonight. So I begin to wonder how other masjid react when someone wishes to say Shahadah?
But more than the `aqeedah crash course, a new Shahadah is always a reminder of guidance in our lives, a reminder that Allah guides whom He chooses. Maybe if we busy ourselves with da`wah we start to think we have a hand in people finding Islam, but so often people just show up at the masjid, ready to take Shahadah (this happens a lot in Ramadan.)
The guidance truly is from Allah, and He leads people to Islam. While we should definitely try to be as active in da`wah as we can (as it’s from the Sunnah and has the promise of a beautiful reward), it’s plain that we only ignite, and we cannot guide.
Watching someone say their Shahadah also brings to mind the overwhelming feeling of truly embracing Islam. From a hadith qudsi (Divine Hadith) we know that Allah comes closer to us as we come closer to Him, and it’s been my experience that certain acts of worship, performed with sincerity, nourish the soul beyond the imagination.
For me, saying Shahadah was the first such experience I had being overcome with faith in this way, and I’ve seen that experience reflected on the face (and in the tears) of many others when they also embrace Islam. Do you wonder why so often converts cry at their Shahadah?
At the very least, their sins have been forgiven. Even if they don’t know it, all their bad deeds are now written as good, and the effect of that beautiful purification-as we are being purified of our sins by Allah-is not merely academic. It can be felt in the heart, and so it’s extremely emotional.
Tonight, getting to see that, just reminded me of what I should be striving for.