When Faith is Shaken…

Question and answer details
As-salamu `alaykum, I am a convert Muslim from Christianity. My problem is that I am still weak in faith - not in Islam, but personally... I wish to be more brave and courageous. How is it possible? I pray 5 times a day in full reverence, but still I sometimes worry a lot. I am a divorced mother of 3 beautiful children and I have to struggle for them without any other income but my own. I even like the idea of wearing the hijab, but I am afraid of losing my job, knowing that I am working for a Jewish doctor. What would you advise in this situation? Please help me.
Ælfwine Mischler
Salam Rayhana,

Thank you for your question and welcome to Islam!

All of us do go up and down in our iman (faith) and we all need to work more in order to increase and enhance it. I am glad to hear that you are praying the five daily prayers. I advise you also to try to pray sunnah prayers [following the example of the prophet in praying extra prayers] before or after the obligatory ones. For example, two rak`ahs before Fajr; two before and/or two after Zuhr; two after Maghrib; two after `Ishaa and then one rak`ah of Witr).

In fact, salah (formal prayers) is a major instrument, by which you can strengthen your faith and connection with God. Actually the word salah is driven from the Arabic word selah, which means ‘connection’. So, your salah is your means of connection with Allah.

One way also to enhance your faith and courage is to spend as much time as possible with other devout Muslims. Good company helps you maintain a good way of life. If your mosque does not have a regular educational and support program for new Muslims or for women, perhaps you can get them to start one. Notice that God has said in Surah 18, verse 28:

*{And withhold yourself with those who call on their Lord morning and evening desiring His goodwill, and let not your eyes pass from them, desiring the beauties of this world's life; and do not follow him whose heart We have made unmindful to Our remembrance, and he follows his low desires and his case is one in which due bounds are exceeded.}*

Another way to enhance your faith is to read. Try hard to read a bit of Qur’an - or at least its translation - every day. Also, make an effort to learn to read the Qur’an in Arabic. Reading it in translation is not the same. Once you can read it well, you will find it helps you to relax and not worry so much.

Also, I recommend you read stories of the beloved companions – men and women. Reflect a little on their lives and what they went through, especially in the early years of Islam.

As for worrying, it is sometimes a difficult habit to give up. We humans love to think we are in control, and we have to remind ourselves now and then that we are not in control of anything. We simply need to remember that we have to give our problems to Allah.

I find the story of Lady Hajar (may Allah be pleased with her), the wife of Prophet Ibraheem (Abraham, pbuh) inspiring. When Ibraheem left Hajar and her infant Isma`eel (Ishmael, pbuh) in the desert, she didn’t run after him and scream: “You man! Why are you doing this to us?”

No! She asked him: “Is this from Allah?” He nodded in reply. Then she simply said that Allah would never get her – or her baby – lost. What faith! She then put her baby down and ran back and forth between the two hills to search for water. She came back to find the water of Zamzam had sprung, where her baby had kicked the sand!

You need to reflect on this simple anecdote and see what her strong faith and peaceful submission to God’s will brought her… Consider how her total trust in Allah brought her divine rescue! This is how real faith should be.

I highly recommend the book of supplications from the sunnah called Hisn al-Muslim. It is available in translation under various titles such as Citadel of the Muslim or Fortification of the Muslim

One of these supplications, for anxiety and sorrow, is translated as follows:

“O Allah, I am Your servant, son of Your servant, son of Your maidservant, my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You, which You named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Noble Qur’an the life of my heart; the light of my face; a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety.

In fact, whenever I read this du`aa and then read Qur’an afterwards, I always feel better.

As for hijab, I am glad to hear that you like the idea of wearing it. You have overcome what is a hurdle for many.

Before September 11, 2001, a sister in the US or Canada could wear hijab, and if her employer gave her any problem, she could simply sue him. Now I’m not so sure the law would be interpreted in her favor. In your particular case I would advise several things.

First, develop a lot of contacts and friendships within your local Muslim community. This will give you some, much-needed, moral support and possibly some sort of financial support or a new job if you should lose yours.

Second, try to find a new job where you will be able to wear hijab without harassment. Perhaps you can find a position similar to yours with a Muslim doctor.
Simply pray and ask Allah for help with this.

Third, ask some trusted Muslim friends to help you find a good Muslim husband, who would support you and your children. Then, you might not need to work where you don’t want to do so. You would only work then for self-fulfillment, not for money.

Fourth, if you can’t wear the full hijab at work - or at least not at first -try to wear it to and from work, and whenever you go out of the house, whether shopping, visiting, going to the mosque, or anywhere else. At least this way you will be obeying Allah some of the time, and it will also make you stronger as you get used to wearing it. Concerning this point, it is very important to consult our Fatwa Section, for they would advise you more about what is halal (permitted) and what is haraam (forbidden).

Fifth, switch to wearing hijab gradually. Don’t suddenly show up at work in a jilbab (long coat-like garment) and long scarf. This will probably be easier on your budget, also, and will give you a chance to get used to it gradually. My personal advice is to start to wear long, mid-calf skirts or dresses, preferably with heavy stockings, and wear loose fitting, long-sleeved tops. You probably won’t be able to cover your hair at first, but when you feel ready for it, you might start with a small scarf tied behind your head.

While you are gradually coming to wear hijab, remember that this is a compromise until you can wear complete hijab. Always ask Allah to forgive your compromise and ask Him to make things easier for you, both psychologically and job wise.

May Allah bless you and guide you, Rayhana, and help you with all your needs!

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