17 Jun

“So I’ve decided to start practicing. But…what now?

Where do I start?

What do I do?

Who do I go to?

What do I read?”

Islam consists of many incredible sciences, from jurisprudence, to the correct recitation of the Quran, to the language of Arabic, just to name a few! But despite its brilliance, its enormity can be overwhelming, and somewhat daunting for a newly practising Muslim.  And often, for sisters, the hijaab tends to steal a lot of the limelight when it comes to your list of things to do.

When I started practising, nearly five years ago, I can honestly say that I dived in head first. But much too fast. So fast that my well-intentioned dive turned into a massive belly flop. No sooner was I wearing hijaab, than I started wearing niqaab on and off (I don’t wear it now by the way). I decided to read various hadith (Prophetic traditions) from Bukhari (one of the most trusted collections of Hadith) to teach myself  how to pray. I’d frown at anyone who prayed differently from me because, well, “based on this Hadith in Bukhari you should pray like this…” (I could slap me).

Looking back, its funny. But back then, I thought I was being efficient. You see, in my panic to learn everything, I didn’t have time to focus. Jumping from one thing to the other creates the illusion that you’re getting alot done, but in reality, how much are you digesting? Are you really determined to learn, or are you just trying to learn everything quickly? The key word here is determination. You could be rushing around trying to swallow knowledge, but without determination to actually digest it, learn from it and use it, your hard work is of no use. Being determined to stick to something and learn it properly is far more rewarding than jumping from one thing to the next. My Shaykh once advised us- and I can’t remember his words verbatim, that focusing on a few things consistently is better than jumping from this to that in order to give ourselves short lived eemaan (faith) boosters.

Now I know that there’s a huge ocean of knowledge out there. That reading a book cannot possibly feed you intellectually or spiritually like a teacher can. That you cannot understand the depth of a hadith just by reading it. That you cannot learn to recite the Quran properly by just copying what a book tells you to do or just by listening to recitation. That, with regards to my judgmental nature back then, adab (manners/etiquette/correct way of doing things) is sometimes more important than having knowledge in abundance. But there’s one thing I am glad that I did. I started praying before anything else. And I really believe that this strengthened my connection with my Lord.

So now, when revert sisters or newly practicing sisters come to me, and are worried about where to srat or worried about wearing hijaab, I say this:

Take it slow. Learn to pray and establish those five daily prayers. Read about your Lord and learn to whom you have to fulfill these commands. Find some sisters who you are comfortable with, who can help you to learn. Start with the basics. Make sincere dua to Allah to give you strength to sincerely wear the hijaab for the right reasons. And only then will you love it when you put it on. Only then will you know about the manners and etiquette you must possess when you don the hijaab. Only then will you be equipped with the hunger to search for knowledge.

And most importantly, be determined. Be motivated. Don’t give up. Keep it simple. For example, not long after I started practising, I decided that transliteration was just not cutting it. I knew I had to read Arabic to at least start getting my pronunciation correct. I didn’t have a teacher at the time, and had no idea where to get one. One day, I just said “I’m gonna do it”. So I sat down with my “Gateway to Arabic” book and the tape it came with. I learnt the alphabet, I learnt how the letters looked in joint up form. And after some study, I tried it. But could I really read? I opened up my “Fortress of a Muslim” and read a dua (prayer). I read it really, really slowly, and probably with the WORST pronunciation- but I read it- in Arabic! I was overjoyed.  With that bit of determination, I was able to finally see how misleading learning from transliteration could be, and how wonderful it felt to be able to read Arabic- albeit incredibly slow!! The fact that I had taken my time, “kept it simple” and just gone for it really made the difference. I believe that this one little babystep I took on my own, opened up many doors for me thereafter, alhamdulillah.

It was only then I learnt that focusing and concentrating would be far more beneficial than trying to scoff knowledge, but not really enjoying its sweet taste. I learnt to take it slow, babysteps in fact. I’m not saying I never fell back into my bad habit of rushing, but this time I knew when to recognise what I was doing, and slow down.

No-one learns anything overnight, so there is really little point in putting mountains of pressure on yourself. With the right intentions, alot of dua, trust in Allah, and a whole heap of determination, everything will fall into place.

Babysteps will surely lead to brisk walking. It did for me.

And Allah knows best.

~Zara ‘ZAS’

Read more about Zara here


3 Responses to “B.a.b.y.s.t.e.p.s”

  1. zahrah June 17, 2011 at 1:58 am #


    I could relate to what you were going through, especially going in head first too quickly! Only recently I have begun to wear hijab again and read up about islam. My mum was always worried that because of the rapid change that it would be another phase, but subhan’Allah, with the right company and intention you can go far. I’ve learnt now to be a little more relaxed, a little deen and a little dunya 🙂


  2. shareda June 28, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    I really appreciated what you wrote. i started out trying to do to much and realize that i wasn’t in competition. i’m taking baby steps for max benefit . may allah blessed you for easing my burden.

  3. Zara 'ZAS' June 28, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    Wa alaikum assalaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    Thank you for your kind words sister Shareda, and ameen to your dua. Allah does not burden us with more than we can handle, May He make each of us a support system for the other- ameen.

    Thank you also for your comment sister Zahrah, it is really good to see that there are are others who felt the same as what I expressed, sometimes you just need to relax, as you said, and take one step at a time.

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