Imam Faraj, a man in his 50s, was standing at the courtyard of an Austrian mosque, where he served to Allah with devotion through his life, watching the peaks of Austrian Alps on the horizon, where cute Alpine Marmots were running on the green meadows freely, under the blue clear sky.
But the mosque was never completely empty and silent, it was a place of many meetings, gatherings and the centre of social life of local Islamic community, the Ummah, plus, many people came to the mosque to visit, including non-believers, infidels, allowed every morning from Monday to Thursday, during designated hours, if they were willing to keep the local rules.
A young, well dressed man approached the Imam. “Salaam Alaikum, Imam Faraj,” he greeted the older man, and they shook hands.
“Alaikum Salaam, brother Karim. How are you, everything well?” the Imam replied with warmth in his voice, as Karim visited this mosque since his childhood, and it was Imam Faraj, who advised Karim, a promising football player with a painful knee, to choose another way of life, more sustainable, than to stick to the sports career.
So Karim, after he finished his University studies, with specialization in Islamic banking, started another professional path, and he accepted this change as necessary, as a hidden blessing, and the will of Allah, who wanted Karim somewhere else, as the Imam explained to him.
“Everything is quite fine, thank you,” the visitor smiled. “Oh, I just met a strange woman, when I was coming here. Tall, well dressed in Chanel. She looked serious, do you know her?” the young man wondered.
“She is allegedly some Austrian aristocrat,” the Imam explained without any excitement. “She came here, accompanied with three roughly looking men, speaking Russian, threatening, that this mosque has to be closed, that it doesn’t belong here, into these lands. There was only one answer she could get in return for this honesty, that it’s only the matter of Allah’s will, what will happen with this sacred house, she is not the one who decides the fate. But in the end, she left in peace, when she was told, to do what she has to do. She promised to return, and she was assured, that she is always welcomed here, and she will be provided all the answers about Islam she needs, so she can get the peace she desires,” Imam Faraj concluded the description of the meeting with calmness.
“Maybe the brothers should know about this,” Karim said with agitation. “Threats and insults on sacred ground like this are not legal, permissible, acceptable or tolerable.”
“Oh no, she is just an unsecure soul, who needs to direct her anger and fear somewhere, so she chose this place, but it means nothing,” the Imam disagreed. “She saw herself, that she is nothing in comparison with Allah. She understood, that another laws are valid here, and she can’t ever succeed, as nobody is afraid of her, her alleged worldly powers and her companions here. It’s not the downtown.
One day, she will return in peace, and she will be welcomed, with her sins forgiven. She will be shown the only real path to peace, happiness and harmony: accepting Allah as the only God and Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, as His servant and messenger.
But let’s not talk about some foreign woman, who has yet to find the Straight Path! What you keep in your mind, it grows in strength and power over you. That is why you were always advised to think about Allah every minute of the day, Karim! Only then, you can keep your mind free from outside influences, only then you can keep on the Straight Path.
Now, let’s go inside, Fatima will prepare some refreshment for you, and let’s talk. You came here with some affair in mind? Something serious?” the Imam was curious. For him, Karim was almost a son. He was always a good believer, only in need to show the right direction sometimes.
“Actually, yes,” Karim confessed. “I came to ask you for an advice, Imam Faraj. I feel that I am at some life crossroads, yesterday I was the most certain, how everything should be, but today, some doubts came, so I skipped a business meeting to visit you, with a thought, that if Allah will permit, I will be able to orientate better, and I will be able to do, what is right, and what Allah wants.”
“Good thinking, you know that you are always welcomed here,” the Imam flattered him. “Hearing you, seeing your eyes, it seems, that the matter is somehow connected with you career, no?”
They sat in the Islamic Cultural Centre, where the Imam accepted his visits and Fatima served them refreshing water. The men accepted it without saying thanks: Imam always learned Karim, that too much thanks corrupts people, and particularly women, who can feel weakness of a man with their sixth sense.
‘Your gratitude belongs to Allah at the first place, not to people. All you get in life is a gift from Him, not them. You don’t need them, you need only Him. Only then you are free, not dependent on them, on their favors, on their egos and weaknesses. So save your emotions and feelings towards Him, keep the distance from others; there will be enough remaining for them,’ the Imam said during a Friday sermon long time ago, and Karim remembered it well until nowadays.
“Behind this town,” Karim started in detail, “there is a modern office park, as they call it, you know that place, full of tall houses from glass, steel and concrete. A company is residing there, a big and a powerful one, a multinational one, and I feel that my skills and abilities are perfect to go there and to offer my services to them, as they could provide me many opportunities I want and need.
Yesterday, I was really devoted to them already, thinking, what good could I do to them, so they would like me, to be their favorite, so they will share their treasures with me? But they are big and mighty, and I am feeling so small suddenly, so weak. They will ignore me, I mean nothing for them. I know these corporate rats, sorry for the word, so selfish, so proud, so distant, so indifferent, guarding their treasures with jealousy, not willing to share.
I have to confess, that my feelings changed from admiration and desire to hatred and disdain. I feel insulted by them already, without even going there and humiliating myself in front of them. Now, is it me who is wrong, or them? Do I perceive them correctly? I don’t know. So mixed feelings I have now, changing from a mood of strength, positivity, optimism and destiny to doubts, leading me to a nearest bar, to drink the bitterness, to be a loser, to commit a sin.
Still, I think that them and me could make good business, it could be mutually advantageous. But this feelings are ruining everything for me, now I can’t even go there, with this negative attitude.
What to do now, Imam Faraj? To forgive them all sins, to perceive their approach only as a measure to filter the useful ones from losers? I feel so divided inside… but that building attracts me so much, the big career, opportunities, I could help them to create a new Islamic branch of their bank, I could be somebody, I could serve Allah well. But there is something bad and weak inside me, keeping me away from all this good future.
I was thinking, that I should turn to Allah for an advice. Allah is mighty, but them… you would have to know them, Imam Faraj, you would have to know who they are, what they are, how they treat people. You are only a fly for them, they show no respect, no, they despise you, they are up and you are down, you are nothing for them, they don’t need you, but you need them, and they know that. And in the end, there is no peace,” Karim admitted his own mistakes and sins.
Imam was never a man who would reply too quickly. Before he spoke, he always had a look outside the room, to the direction of Kaaba, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where all prayers of all Muslims were directed at, five times a day.
“The truth is, that life journey is not straight, and it leads through many detours,” he said after a while. “But you will always end where you are supposed to be.
You have chosen the corporate way of life, brother Karim, like many others, and this is what Allah wanted for you, as the Islamic banking is the only right way of treating the money and wealth properly, for Muslims and infidels alike. And there was also a rational thinking of you: you knew that you can get money, future, material security, stability, social respect, self-appreciation, acceptance from your vicinity, and hope for getting a strong female partner, if you are moving in the right social circles, living the right way of life.
It’s not a bad choice: you follow the crowd instinctively, and without any doubt, you made it farther than many others, as working abroad for a top multinational company, in a foreign language and cultural environment, is a very big challenge.
But ask yourself: are you the creator, or only the follower, dependent on favors of your employer? Sure, travelling via business class to all that high-profile business trips abroad is exciting, makes you feel good, feel like somebody, naturally, and your ego is pleased. But isn’t it just a fake dream? Is it the real happiness, the real freedom? Isn’t it a pride, what rules you?
Who are you now, who have you become? And whom do you serve? Is this what life is about?
It’s so easy to get off the path, to incline to bad masters, because fear inside you persuades you, that you need them, their money and opportunities, although it’s a lie. What good did ‘they’ ever do to you? Nothing, that’s the sad but clear truth.
And still, like a scared weak rat, or a miserable bootlicking dog, you watch them with eyes full of desire, thinking like crazy, how to be likeable for them, so you would become their favorite, and they will give what your ego desires.
There is only one way how to get out of this endless slavery: to remember who you are and where you belong, who guides you, leads you and protects you, that you don’t need anyone or their favors, as you don’t need any mediator to connect with Allah, the Most Compassionate and the Most Merciful.
Remember, that Allah is, was and will be always near you, unlike ‘them’, protecting you from all harm. Why did you survive everything in life, all threats and dangers, why are you still alive, healthy? Do you have a mission? And which one, if you are only full of doubts, when you let your ego to rule?
Allah teaches you, that the purpose of life is to worship Him, by making good deeds, that’s simple. And why were you granted all that talents and skills? To help some corporate rats downtown to realize their malicious plans, to be just a pawn, fully replaceable, meaning nothing?
No, you should live only for Allah, spread his fame and mercy and opportunities which He brings to people, you should help people to find Him, in order to save themselves, to find peace and happiness He provides to His believers, liberating them forever, as this is for life, and there is no need to turn back, ever. Being a servant of Allah simplifies life so much, and you will lose all doubts and fear, if you confide into His hands with trust.
When the first Austrian bank started to offer Islamic accounts, it was a gift from Allah for infidels, like the woman who visited here today, so they can find a way how not to feel robbed by banks, they can see now, that the Islamic rules of managing the wealth are right, proper and correct, that it liberates people from slavery of money and hungry faithless bankers, who cause another economic crisis, and they go for a lunch, smiling and relaxed, as another ones will pay for their mistakes and sins.
Allah created the whole mankind, including you. Allah is the only things that holds your flesh and bones together. He sees and hears and knows everything, He owns everything. He gives and takes away, not your will gives or takes, or the will of others. Money are the gift of Allah, it belongs to Him: but there is a need for people like you, Karim, to manage financial matters right, in His name.
Just remember: you serve to Him, you are submitted to Him, not ‘them’. You are the one who has a purpose, a mission, and you are needed. Not you need them, on the contrary: and they will be forced to understand, as the Ummah is calling for substantial changes in the way the banking is realized in Europe and abroad. This is your place, serving Allah and the Ummah with your skills. Just imagine all that Muslims out there, who need you to improve the world for them.
Now you know for whom you work, for what cause you serve, where is your place. So, stop thinking about ‘them’: think only about Allah’s mercy and how to make the world better, as a matter of worshipping Him by making good deeds for the world, and the others,” the Imam finished his speech.
“But Imam… to change things, I need to get there at first, but I am still far, far away. They won’t let me, I am afraid, it’s their territory, their kingdom, their rules,” Karim expressed his lasting doubts.
“The change must start inside you, brother,” the Imam stood up to prepare for a prayer. “Watch Allah, think about Allah, pray to Allah, worship Allah, live with morality, maintain peace inside you, remember all the brothers and sisters standing for you, and this is the strength that no one can resist.
That women in the HR department of the company, you know them, just imagine them… who are they? You know how weak they are because of their faithlessness, they desire to be conquered, to feel the superiority of a man. They are not a fortress, just a couple of insecure souls.
Just go there, with Allah’s lead, and you will see, how the things will be different. Use your gifts, show the world how strong is your belief, and the world will yield. You have something they lack, you have something they need, you are blessed. Isn’t Islam just beautiful, and still, so powerful?” the Imam asked a rhetoric question, without waiting for an answer from the visitor, and he left for his religious duties.