As Muslims, the Almighty is placed at the centre of everything we do. A hallmark of my upbringing is that we did not prescribe to any one particular culture. My mother is of Malay and European descent, my father is Indian. In our home, however, we sifted through the traditions and customs of both cultures, and adopted those that were not excessive, and that did not contradict the teachings and tenets of Islam.
A recent example in my own life of this, is my nephew’s engagement last year. As is normal, there was some anxiety before the day…but marriage is such a blessing for a family, and we found that the excitement and happiness grew exponentially as the day drew nearer.
The engagement was a small, intimate affair, held at the young lady’s home. We arrived to such a warm welcome from the bride-to-be and her family, having prepared a small feast for our family. What could easily have been a stiff, uncomfortable experience turned into a perfect complementing of two sometimes conflicting cultures. There was so much, in those 80 minutes we spent there, that made me grateful for being born into Islam, and for the way my parents and community chose to raise us. Marriage in Islam is brokered between the parents of families, and in this instance, the elders of the family were acknowledged and honoured, the couple in question was happy, families were brought together. Everything reminded me of the beauty of our way of life, and how possible it was to preserve culture without sacrificing faith.
About a month ago, we celebrated this nephew’s marriage.
The entire time leading up to the actual day was…I can’t even put into words how wonderful that time was. With all the stress that goes with weddings, the blessings and happiness of the occasion far outweighed the challenges. Again, for me, it was an imperfectly perfect demonstration of a successful marriage between culture and faith.
My whole life, it was drilled into me that success is always guaranteed when you conduct your life in accordance with the Almighty’s wishes and within His laws, but I did not always realise the truth of it. In all aspects of our lives – whether it is work, family, friends, business, interactions with strangers – we should be guided by what He expects of us. Yes, we are human, and we will make mistakes all the time…we will be seduced by temptations (especially living in a country where Muslims are a minority group, and where we are exposed to ways of life that are completely contradictory to ours), we will be tempted into giving in to what is easy, instead of what is right.
But when those times come, I will hold onto the way I’ve felt for the past 12 months – which at times has been so happy, that I’ve had no words to express the extent of it. I will forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made, learn from them, and work my butt off to not repeat them.
And I will remind myself that I’ve seen the ripple effect and potency of the blessings that comes when you do things the right way.