Chains Released


Is something holding you back from what you always wanted to do? Use this exercise to help spring you into action.

Here’s a question I’d like you to consider: Who do you want most from society to accept you if you decided to wear the hijab, abaya, or even niqab? Is it your parents? Your friends? Your neighbours? Your teachers? Your colleagues? Your boss at work? The bank-teller? Society as a whole?

Take out pen and paper, and list these people. Go on, write them down. Now draw a circle around those categories. Draw an arrow to this circle. Guess what? Whoever you listed inside that circle – you have just made them your personal slave-master. All humans are created to be Allah’s servants, but if we do not chose Allah as our master, then someone (or something) else will surely enslave us instead and become our slave-master. Our “idol.”  A form of shirk that we commit unfortunately regularly and in complete arrogance. Ouch.

The thing is, we really shouldn’t wait for any of those people, or anyone at all, to grant us permission to obey Allah’s commands. We should not be looking for acceptance from them.  Sheikh Muhammad Alshareef had a Leadership Workshop last month that came to my city, and ever since then, this point he made about making others our masters is what stood out most in my memory. We tend to unknowingly make mere humans our slave-masters. And we live by that slavery.

There is even a “mental exercise” he taught us related to this point. Imagine all these people that you listen to, take criticism from, or try to please as “idols.” Yes, Ibraheem-(alayhi assalam)-type-idols. Stone, date, and marble idols. And then imagine yourself holding a large hammer and crushing those idols, one by one, saying with each swing, “You are not my slave-master. I worship Allah alone.”

I can’t count how many times I’ve said that line in the last month: “You are not my slave master!” I’ve said it so much that I’m starting to sound like a little yellow Pokémon character who would say a line like that in a high pipsqueak voice against some dragon with two heads, then follow it up with some karate moves and shooting fireballs. All jokes aside, the meaning is so deep. The more you live with this meaning, the more you will feel liberated. Honestly this concept has taught me what it means to be Muslim. Muslim: surrendering to Allah alone. But what we forget is that by that definition we also don’t surrender to anyone else.

“You are not my slave-master.”

With this line in heart and mind, I have been able to accomplish so much without the constant worry of “what people will think,” “how people will react or understand a certain action,” and “whether or not people will agree.” It has given me the liberty to be Allah’s slave alone, and the enormous space to evaluate whether or not a certain action pleases Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, without external bias.

It is as if so many barriers have been removed from my life. So many chains cut, released, and tossed aside without another glance. Anything is possible, anything is doable – with only one condition: that it pleases Allah. And alhamdulilah, I have found that the list of things that please Allah far exceeds the list of things that please the people around you. I have found that the list of that which is “haram” (prohibited) is a mere speck compared to the mountains of what is taboo in society (especially if that list happens to be an additive list of more than one culture!).

So think deeply and contemplate. Who are your slave-masters? Eliminate their negative influence from your life. Whatever step it is that I know you can and want to take, make sure there isn’t a slave-master blocking your way, and take it. Make sure that step is for the sake of your Creator, your Sustainer, and your all-affairs maintainer. I promise that with this, you will feel a liberation like never before. The chains will finally be released.