With the American holiday of Thanksgiving
just around the corner, it’s a good time to reflect on the
many things we have to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is a wonderful
holiday—its very name speaks of our appreciation to our Creator.
There are so many gifts from God in our lives. We have to try to
remember to be thankful for each of them. I think sometimes overlooked
is the ultimate gift that makes everything else possible—and
How does an American woman raised in the Episcopal church find
her way into an exotic religion like Islam? My mother asked me that
once, assuming I would name some person who brought me into it,
but at that moment I realized without question that it was God who
brought me here. The Christian tradition in which I was raised doesn’t
really allow for God’s involvement in our day to day activities.
So this was an alien concept to my mother. But with this gift of
guidance comes the understanding that God is doing everything; He
is running every moment of my life; He is with me continuously.
Without His guidance to that understanding, I would have continued
blundering without knowledge.
God is so incredibly merciful. He doesn’t just tell us we
have to worship Him or we won’t make it to heaven. He spells
out how to achieve this. Then He sends scripture, messengers and
individual guidance. He told Adam and Eve and their descendants:
"Go down therefrom, all of you. When guidance
comes to you from Me, those who follow My guidance will have no
fear, nor will they grieve.” (2:38)
God offers this guidance to everyone.
There are many moments in our lives
when we either recognize that guidance, accept it and follow it,
or ignore it and carry on in darkness. God then enhances that choice.
In our contact prayers, 17 times a day, the one thing we ask of
God is: Guide us in the right path, the path
of those whom You blessed; not of those who have deserved wrath,
nor of the strayers. (1:6-7)
We were all of us in darkness until God guided us into the light,
into understanding and knowledge. He tells us at the end of 2:198
You shall commemorate Him for guiding you; before
this, you had gone astray. Being thankful for that guidance
is an important thing for us to remember. God
guides those who seek His approval. He guides them to the paths
of peace, leads them out of darkness into the light by His leave,
and guides them in a straight path. (5:16)
Very early in sura 2, God describes the righteous: who
believe in the unseen, observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), and
from our provisions to them, they give to charity. And they believe
in what was revealed to you, and in what was revealed before you,
and with regard to the Hereafter, they are absolutely certain. These
are guided by their Lord; these are the winners. (2:3-5)
If we are guided by God, we are winners. Therefore, guidance is
a gift without price. In many verses, God reminds us of the power
of this gift.
They act as if they are doing you a favor by embracing
submission! Say, “You are not doing me any favors by embracing
Submission. God is the One who is doing you a great favor
by guiding you to the faith, if you are sincere."
Whomever God guides
is the truly guided one, and whomever He commits to straying,
these are the losers. (7:178)
This guidance is not an arbitrary gift. God doesn’t pick
and choose at random. He is fully aware of those who deserve the
guidance, those who will recognize it and follow it, and those who
will listen heedlessly and then turn away, following instead their
Had God willed, He could have made you one congregation.
But He sends astray whoever chooses to go astray, and He guides
whoever wishes to be guided. You will surely be asked about everything
you have done. (16:93)
You cannot guide the ones you love. God is the only
One who guides in accordance with His will, and in accordance with
His knowledge of those who deserve the guidance. [28:56]
Another interesting thing about guidance is that it seems to be
a process. If we allow ourselves to receive it, then God increases
it; the sequence and timeframe will be appropriate to each individual.
God describes this process of receiving guidance in almost physical
terms. Our whole being cringes away from the awesomeness of God;
then God actually softens the hearts and minds of those who are
striving to let Him in. God makes a comparison in terms we can understand.
He describes someone willing to accept Submission as having a wide-open
heart. And someone unwilling to seek God’s guidance is like
someone at the top of Mt Everest, his chest constricted until it
is physically painful.
Cont’d on page 3