Live your Dream!
As a young woman growing up, I had fairly typical suburban dreams: go to university, get a good job, meet a nice guy, get married, have kids (a boy and two girls) and bring them up with the help of a nanny in a big house with a garden and a pool. My dreams were mainstream, ‘me-focused’ and totally within my reach – or so I thought.
Islam came into my life in my second year of university and, with it, a change of plans. The description of the ‘nice guy’ changed, the house didn’t seem so important and the number of children increased. My dreams as a Muslim were shaped by what I read, by those around me who were on the same path as me.
I graduated from university as a Muslim, married, wearing jilbab and niqab, living in a one-bedroom flat. The dreams of my pre-Islamic self seemed, literally, a lifetime away. With a new focus on living an Islamic life and seeking the pleasure of Allah swt, my other ambitions fell by the wayside. I downsized my dreams.
In a way, this was an important step, a necessary shift in focus, from the life of this world to the Hereafter. Everyone who comes to Islam, whether as a revert or a returnee, must make this choice. For some reason, though, I thought that was the end of it, that dreams of achieving great things were no longer my prerogative.
Until I heard a da’ee say those unforgettable words: ‘Establish something great for Islam.’
In that moment, I was reminded of all the promise I had shown at school, of the many ideas I had filed away, of the opportunities for action and engagement I hadn’t taken. I had come to think that this was the route to piety but, after hearing those words, I began to re-examine my ideas and re-focus my energies. I returned to dreaming but, this time, it wasn’t the suburban ideal that had informed my life vision before Islam. Now my dreams were bigger, more beautiful, less short-termist and more focused on serving a greater cause, pleasing a higher power: Allah swt. This finally gave me permission to dream again. I began to write, to draw, to reach out – and Allah swt started making my dreams come true, one after the other.
Things have changed since I was a new Muslim. Through positive da’wah messages, life coaching and real-life examples, sisters within much of the practising Muslim community are being encouraged to dream, to fulfil their potential, to do great things both in and outside the home. Because dreaming big is not confined to the public stage; it is also manifested in our private lives: how much dedication and passion we put into or roles at home, with our families, on a community level. Living with passion is open to all who apply.
So, whether your dream is to memorise the entire Qur’an or learn Arabic, to make hijrah or travel the world, to homeschool your children or get a PhD, to open an orphanage or write a book, to start a business or leave the city life, to wear the hijab or niqab, marry a shaykh, or be happy being single, may you pursue it with passion, with a pure intention, with dedication and heart.
Dream, my sister. Dream big, beautiful dreams that are worthy of you as a Muslim and as an individual. If the dreams you once had don’t fit into your Islamic values, change them, modify them, or replace them with something better.
At the end of the day, we want our dreams – our ambitious plans and wild ideas – to raise us, not before the people, but before Allah swt. It is Him we wish to please by honouring our potential for greatness. It is Him we wish to draw close to by using the gifts and talents He blessed us with in His cause. It is His approval we should seek by aiming for excellence, always.
Now, if this sounds like a life of striving, of struggle, of never giving up, make no mistake, it is. But that is what we are on this earth to do: to strive and struggle for the reward of the Hereafter.
I pray that Allah swt blesses you with noble dreams that are pleasing to Him and that He gives you the means to live those dreams.
And may Allah swt bless all the sisters who shared their dreams with us in this issue. May He continue to bless them and increase them in good, ameen.
Na’ima B. Robert
This piece was the SISTERS Magazine Editorial in October 2012