How to face your first challenges?
By Dr. Imad Benjelloun
1. Challenge: Difficulty to fulfill all Five Pillars of Islam
Solution: Gradual progress is the recommended solution. You have already fulfilled the 1st and most important Pillar of Islam, by bearing witness that there is no deity worthy of being worshiped except God and that Muhammad is His messenger. Congratulations! Now, you work on fulfilling the 2nd Pillar, which is to establish your obligatory five daily ritual prayers starting with learning and practicing the performance of both the minor ablution [wudu’] and the major one [ghusl]. Then, you work on fulfilling the 3rd Pillar, which is to pay the alms dues [zakat]. Then, you work on fulfilling the 4th Pillar, which is to fast the month of Ramadan every day from dawn to dusk. Then, you work on fulfilling the 5th Pillar, which is to perform Hajj once in your lifetime, if you are able physically and financially. If you can work on fulfilling all of these Pillars at once at the start of your new journey as a new Muslim, that is great and that is the goal, but don’t overwhelm yourself from the start to the point where you find yourself giving up.
2. Challenge: Rejection by parents/family/friends/co-workers/neighbors
Solution: Becoming a better person is the recommended solution. Some of the people close to you are either misinformed or not informed about Islam. So, help them discover the true Islam by showing in words and deeds how the latter has transformed you into a better person, professional, and citizen. Display better character and attitude, provide more help and support, perform a better job, and show more humility and modesty. Have a lot of patience with their unease, actively listen to and calmly address their concerns about Islam, and most importantly ask God to guide them to the right understanding and path. Don't give up or speed up because It might take them some time to see the better child/spouse/friend/co-worker/neighbor you have become because of Islam. They will then appreciate the true Islam, and hopefully embrace it.
3. Challenge: Difficulty to find someone to trust for learning Islam
Solution: Supplication is the recommended solution. God the All-Knowing is the best to show you whom to trust for learning Islam. So, constantly and sincerely pray to God to guide you in finding such person or people to trust. Consult with knowledgeable people that are well respected in the community. Have no doubt in God’s ability to help you in your search. Preferably, perform a 2-unit prayer in the last third part of the night, followed by such supplication. Most importantly, don’t stop praying to Him until you find such person or people.
4. Challenge: Difficulty to practice Islam, and achieve nearness and love of God
Solution: Joining an organization whose core is righteous companionship is the recommended solution. A single Muslim is weak by himself/herself but strong when being in the company of the righteous who are bonded within a well-established organization. That is because God is always with those who are bonded as such for His sake. So, you will get the support and help needed to practice your new Islam while making a significant contribution to the betterment of society. And most importantly, you will be able to embark on a successful journey towards achieving nearness and love of your Lord Most High. That is the ultimate real success in this life!
5. Challenge: Difficulty to move away from pre-Islam sins
Solution: Supplication and righteous companionship are the recommended solution. No matter how serious your sins are, do not lose hope or give up. Have full faith in God that He can empower you to move away from pre-Islam sins and any sins for good. So, constantly and sincerely ask Him to grant you such power. Seek and stick to the company of the righteous who are true knower of God. Also, continue to increase your good deeds.