The essence of ummah

The word Ummah is defined in English as community.  This Arabic word is given to the community of believers.  He considers Muslims to be a community of believers.  In this same respect consider how the word convert or revert is not mentioned.

I myself am a revert or convert if you wish to use that title.  This will be my second Ramada soon as a matter of fact.  I’ve been blessed recently to see how many reverts there are and some of the stories they share are so inspiring.  Yet many imparted a story that seemed sad as well.  Often there is an undertone of loneliness and family abandonment, so I find myself asking them the same question I had during my first year in Islam, “Who is there for you?”.  Often I received the same answer I gave when I was asked.  “Nobody knows I’m a Muslim.”  That’s when it occurred to me why Allah never used the word convert or revert in mention to the Ummah; if you know the brother you pray with and truly care for him he won’t feel like a revert.  It’s a duty of a believer to know his fellow brother.  That’s one of the reasons why brothers and sisters give Salaams as they enter the masjid.  Often the prayer As Salaam Alaykum is used as a simple greeting, but its meaning is so much more than that.  The connection between the smile and the heart is something that cannot be understated.  The action, if genuine warms the soul of those who great each other with a smile and follow it with a greeting and prayer of peace “As Salaam Alaykum”.  

 

I will never forget a group of sisters that were speaking so negatively towards a recent convert.  The convert sister was trying to get used to wearing the hijab and it just so happened I knew her.  I walked up to the ladies, introduced myself, and asked, “Are you talking about that sister?”  They fell silent.  I continued, “No it’s ok, I just thought you all may like to know that she’s a recent convert.  Her family is not too supportive on her wearing a hijab.  They take a huge offense to her wearing it.  She told me that she feels at peace wearing it, but likes to pray alone because she feels like she’s being judged at home and at the masjid! She said in prayer alone she finds the most peace.  There’s no one judging her and she can have her tears to herself.  You ladies have to realize the level of conviction that it takes to wear it.  She’s not born into a family that is used to the hijab so the last thing she needs is someone else tearing her down.”  I left it at that and walked away.  The next week out of the blue I saw the convert sister at Walmart and she seemed so happy.  I chatted with her and she told me, “I don’t know what happened, but after prayer a sister invited me to her home and she just wanted to know me.  I told her my story and she cried.  She and I got to be so close…..wait there she is!”  I looked up and of course it had been a sister that mocked her at first.  I looked at her and said, “Thank you for spreading Islam.”  

 

That incident proved to me that no matter your race, your color, or what brought you to Islam, you share a unique story.  It’s a story only you can tell.  Allah wants us to share those stories so we can gain a deeper appreciation for those we pray with.   In the process we gain an ability to show Allah’s grace to the world by portraying aspects of Allah’s names.

 

Allah has ninety nine names and those new to the faith may not understand why Allah is He who possess this many names.  Yet if we understand why He possess this many names, then we understand the essence of the Ummah.  A text I read defines this correlation perfectly, “As humans in a worldly society we depend on each other.  We need emotional support and human love, and society cannot function well to maintain human life unless every member contributes.  But the true Sustainer, the true Beloved, is always God.  Everything else, the institutions of society, the way in which human beings support and bless and exhort and protect each other, is really nothing but the play of His Names in the field of this world.”  As one can see, the Ummah should reflect parts of Allah’s names.

It’s difficult to institute these esteemed qualities because as people we have flaws.  For instance one of Allah’s names is Al-Nur,“The Light”.  We as humans can never become the light, yet we can spread the light of Islam.  The same way the sister came away from darkness to shed light to the recent convert to bring her from her dark corner of loneliness.  Or for instance one of Allah’s name is Al-Hakim, “The Wise”.  If we wish to truly be wise, we have to develop our character so that we can recognize Allah’s signs.  It’s difficult to walk in the light of Islam but Allah gives us opportunities each day to strengthen our bonds in the Ummah.  He grants us this occasion by allowing us to say, “As Salaam Alykum” a prayer for all those around us.  I want us all to take time and know our fellow brothers and sisters, don’t let the convert story be such a heavy burden to bare.