We are all priceless people and our individuality must be nourished. Instead of trying to fit in, we should help and encourage children to dare to stand out in a crowd, from a young age. Dare to go against the crowd. Just because some norms have become ordinary doesn`t mean we can`t evaluate, adjust and make better norms. The society and we are gradually changing whether we want it or not. Even if we resist change, it won`t stop the earth from spinning in its course or the sun or the moon from shining. Maturity is to accept change. Not only accept it but be an active part in inspiring/motivating a change for the better. An hadith quoted by Prophet Muhammad pbuh said: That time Islam came it was introduced as something strange, because it differed from the society at that time. He pbuh goes on saying that it will return to something strange, so glad tidings to the strangers. Just because it has become a norm that it isn`t “normal” to i.e. pray regularly / not backbite / wear hijab etc, doesn`t mean we can`t go back to the Sunnah of our Prophet pbuh, renew our intentions and make a norm that we are going to try to achieve this and make it a norm in our life. Our Prophet pbuh has said that anyone who reminds people about forgotten Sunnah and is capable of motivating them to follow it will have the reward of all those who start following it, without it detracting the least from their reward. (Tirmidhi). Subhan Allah what an immense opportunity. Eventually it can become an ongoing charity that only increases and pass on for generations to come. We just need to start somewhere.
Everyone has to start from where they are.
Some knows much but follows little, other knows little but follows new things they learn. In the beginning when Allah guides us to Islam, either we are born muslim or convert to it, we start by focusing on the outward appearance. Proper salah, beard, hijab, pay zakat etc. When our zaahir / outwardly looks like a muslim, we can focus on the inwardly things that are invisible, baatin, like character, taqwa, intention etc. Just because a brother has beard or a sister has hijab doesn`t tell us whether they are mu`min one that does what is required in Islam and stays away from what`s prohibited and the extra voluntary Ibaadah as well or on the other side one that is just a muslim and believes in Islam but doesn`t follow all the rules. But to come anywhere near becoming a mu`min we need to start being a muslim. You know at the time of the Prophet pbuh and tabièn, people put more effort in improving their baatin, and had a not so good zaahir. They were the best of muslims. Nowadays people may have a beautiful zaahir but rather bad baatin because of bad character. Jealousy, envy, hatred, having bad thoughts about other, backbiting, spreading malicious gossip has become the norm rather than the exception. A good deed will still be a good deed, even if no one does it, a bad deed will still be a bad deed, even if everyone does it. Instead of supporting eachother in doing bad deeds, we should rather try to motivate eachother to do good deeds. What is within our capacity.
Friends for eternity
It is important that we look at others who are better than us in deen, to motivate us also to improve ourselves. Our friends has an impact on our personality. If we always hang around with righteous people, their thoughts and behaviour will rub off on us too. If we always spend time with people who are worse than us in deen, we might learn things that will misguide us further away from Islam. Allah is the only One Who guides. If one person in a circle of friends becomes better, he/she should also try to change his/her surrounding. If that is not possible than at least don`t let his environment change him/her and try to seek more righteous company.
Make others feel hopeful rather than hopeless
Iman rises with doing good deeds and decreases by sinning. Because the nature of humans is that they sometime or other will fall into sin, it is important that we turn back to Allah and repent as soon as this happens. Make it a habit to not let our sin make us feel hopeless. We need to be feeling hopeful of Allah`s forgiveness. He forgives everything as long as we have pure intentions and make amends. We should also have a responsibility on others that we always make other feel hopeful of Allah`s Mercy. Or else we will be made answerable for coming in the way of someone whom wanted to turn back to Allah, but because of our negativity, strayed. Hate the sin, but not the sinner, as everyone can and will sin. An awesome quote says: just because someone sins different from us, shouldn`t make us feel better than them. Allah loves the humble sinner more than those people whom becomes proud after he/she has done a good deed. We must know that anything good we have done, it is because Allah guided us. He is the only one whom guides. So he wants us to do it. It should make us feel thankful/grateful, that he chose us to be amongst those people whom does some good deeds, be it prayer, charity or someone whom helps other or anything that leads to good. Allah inspires good things to us. It is not because of ourselves.
People find faults even where there are few
We should not be scared of showing the world that we are muslims, by having beard/ hijab etc or performing salah. Though it is also important that if we have started with something good, let it become a norm before we share it with others. The evil eye is for real. There are some people whom no matter what good things you do, they`ll always pinpoint the mistakes, rather than appreciating the good you do. Don`t mind others. We will get back from Allah. People criticize, judge, find faults even if there aren`t many. Allah hides flaws, forgives, helps through difficult times, regardless of amount of sins. As long as we purify our intentions once in a while, we will always turn back to Him to put our trust where it belongs. He is sufficient for us. When our intention is to please Allah, we won`t mind what people say. Some times they are on your side, other times they are against you. People change quicker than the weather. If we rely on Allah alone, we will not be disappointed. There is no better support in the universe than Him. We dare to stand out in a gathering, only when we know we are on the right path. May Allah guide and keep us on the right path always. Ameen summa ameen.