It was the Imam Faraj’s high reputation as a beneficial consellor in many life situations that attracted many people, including infidels, to lose shyness, women to cover their shining hair with hijabs obediently, to visit him inside the mosque, where the Islamic Cultural Centre was located, and to ask for simple advices in complicated affairs.
He was a man of deep faith, a devoted and modest servant of Allah, living in peace and knowing his path, place and purpose well, who could see desirable simplicity in the shadows of complexity of life, saying much by just a few words, impressing listeners, who had to think about his words for very long time, many coming back to know more about Islam, or even to be accepted into the Ummah, the community of all Muslims.
In the neighbourhood of a large Austrian city, Imam Faraj was both loved and feared by local citizens, some feeling gratitude to have him and the mosque as a good neighbour, a calm and peaceful place inside the postmodern Western world of chaos, unrest, instability and uncertain future, but another people were full of rejection, fear, afraid of rising influence of Islam in those lands, and increasing number of converts to Islamic faith, who found and decided to follow the straight path of Islam, having their previous sins forgiven, blessed by Allah with a new, fresh start, finding the purpose of life, happiness, freedom and peace.
Imam Faraj always maintainted calmness, providing good examples and clear inspiration in his answers, expressions and sermons patiently, that Islam is more than faith, it’s the ultimate way of life for all people anywhere, the most satisfying and beneficial one, not only for a believer himself or herself, but also for his or her vicinity, as he or she is bound with this faith to be a good person, who makes good deeds, who is moral, who keeps his or her word and who forgives, as these good deeds also worship Allah, the creator of all mankind.
The person in her late 20’s who came to visit him that day was more than impressive in the sense of female beauty. Tall and well-built, with long slim legs, she could stand on a fashion show beside Alexandra Pianka, Alena Seredova or Tereza Lipanova immediately, but she has chosen another path for her, as her simple business dress indicated: a demanding corporate career.
Her big brown eyes, emphasized by a high-quality mascara, were watching the interior of the modestly furnished room, where many books could be found in shelves, including a Qur’an in a beautiful cover, laying on the table in front of Imam, who offered a glass of water to the woman, and he seemed to be not concerned with her presence and visual qualities, which caused almost all men to lose any inner peace at once.
But here, the woman had her hair and neck covered with a borrowed blue hijab, being inspired to understand, that another values and beliefs rule here in the mosque firmly, than physicality outside its walls.
In the corner, there was another woman sitting on a bench, Fatima, who had the work duty to introduce and help women to feel in this sacred place well, explaining to them with patience and empathy, that divided spaces for women are for their convenience, privacy and protection, not a symbol of any oppression, as Allah created men and women equal.
The visitor woman had mixed feelings here. The first was doubt, what would her family, friends and boyfriend say, if they would know where she is right now submitted to Islamic rules, and voluntarily. This feeling made her sweat and desiring to run away at once, back to “the world”.
But she made the trip here for a reason, for a very serious reason. And she was proud of herself to avoid all that fortune-tellers, tarot card readers, “coaches” and similiar entities who promised to help for a payment, as she felt that they are no use for her anymore.
It was different inside the mosque than she expected. Modest and simple, and she was welcomed without any pressure to become a new follower, to accept “their” faith and truth. But still, it was so strange, so different. She won’t have to pay money here, but still, there will be a price to pay.
“Imam Faraj,” she started herself cautiously, with deep breath, when she noticed that the room was still silent, there was no one who would challenge her to start, who would make her easy favors and too friendly gestures, as could be expected outside the mosque. Here, the things were kept in natural order, and Allah knew about everything. But how to speak with an Imam? She decided to be simple in her words, avoiding all phrases and excessive thanks.
“It’s Spring out there, the sun is shining, but I am still not happy,” the woman confessed and her beautiful, symmetric face suddenly looked sad. “I have everything I need for happy life, but there is a hard question that came to me several days ago: what is the purpose of my life? I mean, why was I born? Why am I here? I am 27 years now, but I never asked this question, and nobody asked it about me, and this really surprises me. Isn’t this question important in life too?
I was always a good girl who follows what she is expected to do, so I went to all that schools to build an impressive CV, and I started my professional career soon. I did always the right things and decisions, flowing through life with success, beloved and supported by my parents and family, even pampered, so there was nothing missing. I survived all diseases and health problems and risky situations and heavy highway traffic… I am still alive and healthy, it’s a blessing, I am grateful, but… why is all that?
Some time ago, I suddenly started to see things around me a different way, the career, even people. It was a matter of sudden discomfort, lack of trust to my superiors and family, even anxiety. But I continued on my journey, only with diffuculties with sleeping.
I wanted so much that everything remains the same, that I will live this fulfilled dream, this paradise forever… but something happened, and my peace, confidence and trust is over. Now, there is emptiness inside me, I have everything, but it makes me not happy, it everything ceased to have any value for me.
I have a thousand of friends from all over the world, I like to travel and meet new people, but… these are different people, and this is me, and I feel not well inside. They can’t help me… I see their faces and I know that if I would ask them the simple question: ‘Why am I born?’, they would just stare, or they would say something as ‘to be happy’, ‘to help others’, ‘to love’… and this is not an answer for me. Are they the real friends, if they can’t help me with this question? Or do they have limits in options of what they can do for me?
Anyway, this is what I need to know now, regardless how preposterous it seems. But there is no one I could ask such question…so I thought about going to a church, I mean, a Christian church, but I had doubts, as I never trusted that people, except when I was an innocent child without sense, but later, when I started to grow up, all affection disappeared so quickly… I am a Christian only formally, as the majority of people in Austria, but I always saw some undesirable softness and indifference inside that people, the clergy, the pope…
I was thinking, what makes me so uncomfortable about them? Why don’t I trust them, even if they would tell me every day that God loves me, telling me thousand pretty sentences about love and forgiveness?
They say, ‘we are helping to those who are in need’, but do they help me? What did they ever do for me? They say, ‘you should help here and there’, but there is nobody to help me, when I also have a problem, once in my life!
No, I don’t trust them, they always help to somebody else than me, it seems. And if they don’t help me, what use are they for me? Why should I embrace them? Call it selfish, but I can’t live only with love! The present world forces you to be hungry and climbing up all the time to survive, to pay the bills… so I do it, and I live without any God, as I don’t see any God around me.
Then, just yesterday, I accidentally spilled some water on the ground in the bathroom, and when I was cleaning, I knew suddenly, where to go: here!
I always noticed that you Muslims seem to have more faith, you seem stronger, more decisive, more firm. I was always eager to know, why is that? What makes Islam so special and different? And could this difference help me in my current situation? Just answering my simple question that seems forbidden to ask: why was I born? Why I am alive, why am I here, in the world? Is there a purpose why I am still alive on this Spring day?” the woman finished with slight disappointment in her voice, like if she wouldn’t believe that Imam can help her.
Imam listened to her, nodding occasionally. When she ended her long speech, he seemed surprisingly satisfied.
“It’s a very good question you asked, sister,” he complimented her. “You were blessed by Allah also with a sharp mind, with intelligence, not only with your beauty. You received all these gifts, and it’s quite natural that you ask now: ‘What is the purpose of having it all, living the life?’
Islam has a very clear answer for this critical question, be assured. Even before you came here and before you spoke, before you revealed what you feel, there was always an answer, as Allah knows everything. There is no need to search for the truth anymore, to wander, to ask here or there, hearing thousand different answers. The real answer can’t be more simple!
The mankind was created by Allah with simple purpose: to worship Him, not only by prayers, also doing good deeds, helping and protecting, living morally and according to Islam, the complete and perfected religion. You talked about a Christian God, but you should know, that Christianity is only a deviated religion, and Jesus, peace be upon him, was a prophet and faithful servant of Allah.
Now, your question could be put a different way: Why did Allah bless you with the gift of life, and many another gifts and blessings?
And the answer remains the same: you were born to worship Him. Even if you haven’t accepted Islam, you enjoy your ‘freedom’ of a modern woman and you are not willing to submit to Him, still, just by doing good deeds you worship and please Him.
Yes, you have a purpose, a very important one: improve yourself, improve the world! Do good things, be a good person! But you should remember: Allah knows about all things. He knows what you do, and He controls your life through interventions of Angels, without you knowing it.
If your life should become fulfilled, if you want to feel the purpose of it all, then it’s necessary to submit to Allah. All that people around you are just mortals, who are often weak, who can disappoint you or leave you, hurting you. But it’s necessary to have a firm, basic point in life, that is never affected by worldly affairs, life or death, because otherwise, you are only a feather in the wind, moved by another powers, who can’t control her destiny.
It’s good to have friends and family, but for your own benefit, Allah needs to be always at the first place. He teaches you through Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, how to live, He provides you a critical firm foundation of a house that can’t be damaged by any wind or water or fire.
Then, you can add family and friends, you can love them, and you can forgive them: but below, the foundation has to remain unchanged all the time, so you can find the desired stability in your life. Anything happens, apparently good or apparently bad, remember Allah, who has full control: and then, you can be free of wordly influences, you can become a good person who has a clear purpose and improves the world with confidence, who finds inner peace and freedom of choice, not under pressure of others, living by very simple rules. In other worlds, you are only one simple decision far from everything you really desire and need, and you won’t be ever disappointed or in doubts again. Then, you will secure all help and support you need for yourself, and nothing can get you down,” the Imam concluded with smile, to indicate, how easy it all is.
But for the woman, it was hard to accept that peace can’t be achieved through worldly affairs, as they always told her outside: through sucess, social acceptance, money or property, through love.
Imam looked at the watch: it was a time for prepare for a prayer. The session was over.
“Now go back to the world, sister, blessed and guided by Allah, the Most Compassionate and the Most Merciful,” Imam said instead goodbye. “Now you know the answer you needed, and you know the place where the future, satisfaction and happiness is awaiting you with endless patience and mercy. With Allah’s permission, you will do the right decision one day, one moment… and that will be the moment you will win in life. Then, there will be no more struggle in life, fighting with people and circumstances… there will be everlasting peace, wherever you will go, whatever will happen. Thus, you will be free, as you always desired.”