Marie : Hey, a couple of friends and I are going out tonight to a frat party. Want to come?
Salma : No I can’t.
Marie: Why not?
Salma: Because I’m Muslim, and I am not allowed.
5 minutes later…
Marie: We are going to take a couple of tequila shots before we go. Since you are not coming, take a few shots with us.
Salma: I’m not allowed to.
Marie: What will one drink do? A single drink can’t possibly be bad.
Salma: No, I can’t. Islam does not permit alcohol.
1 am… Roommates come back from the party with pizza.
Marie: Hey Salma. The party was fun! You missed out, but we brought you back pizza.
Salma: Oooo! Yes, pizza thank you! (Opens box) Oh, I can’t eat it.
Salma: It has pepperoni and my religion doesn’t allow me to eat it. But thank you anyways.
Marie: No worries. So I have to tell you about a cute guy I danced with. He was tall and handsome. I am thinking of asking him out.
Salma: Oh really? I am glad you had fun.
Marie: Wait, I heard that in Islam you are not allowed to date or have a boyfriend. Is this true? How do you decide to even get married?
Salma: Yeah, Muslims are not allowed to date or have a boyfriend/girlfriend.
Marie: Wow, it seems like Islam does not allow you to have any fun. No offense, but your religion seems very strict and full of rules that seem impossible to follow.
Have you ever been asked similar questions by your Non-Muslim friends why you can/can’t do certain things? Sometime when we answer, it seems as if we are blaming Islam for all these “restrictions”. Think about how we are portraying Islam to others, especially to our Non-Muslim friends who were never exposed to the religion. Instead, we should try to explain why we do the things we do because Islam was not made to make our lives difficult. Rather, Allah (SWT) gave us certain commands for our own sake, even if we may not realize it. There is a reason behind these rulings that can only benefit us.
Take for instance, the ruling on pork. Did Allah (SWT) just randomly choose this animal or was it the fact that consumption of pork causes various diseases? Maybe it is because the pig is one of the filthiest animals on Earth. It is the same with alcohol. Why is drinking even one glass impermissible? Maybe it is because it can cause a domino effect where one glass will lead to consumption of another. Do you open a bag of chips, eat one chip, and say that you are satisfied?
We may know the reasoning behind our actions, but non-Muslim brothers and sisters may not. Thus, we should make it a duty of ours to try to explain Islam in its true beauty. When explaining Islam, we also need to remember that Islam never forces anything upon its followers. We ourselves choose to follow its teachings.
Now go back to the scenario above and try to imagine yourself in Salma’s position. I definitely can imagine myself in her position because Salma was me. Now that I reflect back, I know that I could have done a better job explaining my actions. However, I also learned to take advantage of spreading Islamic knowledge when I am in these situations. How would you answer to your friend if you were Salma? Would you portray Islam as a religion filled with difficult rules or would you portray Islam for what it really is, a true blessing that was sent to guide us through life? May Allah (SWT) help us all give dawah (invitation) in the best way possible and help us improve our communication with others. Ameen.
“There is no compulsion in religion, the path of guidance stands out clear from error.” [Quran 2:256]