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Even if your Voice Shakes

A letter to my daughter, Ruqaya:

Sometimes I ask myself, why do I write what I write? Why do I strive how I strive?Other people who are better writers than me are writing aplenty. Other people who have a much vaster pool of knowledge than me are spreading their knowledge. Other people have a much higher platform to spread information and opinions than I do.

What is the use of my voice amongst the sea of other, sometimes louder and angrier voices?

I am reminded of the beautiful story in Surat Yasin where Allah (swt) explains that He sent two messengers to a city, but the people rejected them and refused to believe. So Allah (swt) sent a third messenger to support them, but the people still disbelieved…

“And there came from the farthest end of the city a man, running. He said, ‘O my people, follow the messengers. Follow those who do not ask of you [any] payment, and they are [rightly] guided. And why should I not worship He who created me and to whom you will be returned? Should I take other than Him [false] deities [while], if the Most Merciful intends for me some adversity, their intercession will not avail me at all, nor can they save me? Indeed, I would then be in manifest error. Indeed, I have believed in your Lord, so listen to me’” (36:20-25).

Here is a man who comes running (not walking – running) to support the messengers and their teachings. There were already three messengers from Allah (swt) sent to that city. The messengers certainly had more knowledge than this man. They certainly had more capacity and skill to spread the word of God than him – after all, God specifically chose them for this task.

And yet this man still came and used his voice as a believer to attempt to guide the people to the truth.

The following verses in the surah indicate that the man was killed by the disbelievers for what he said, and this is how he was rewarded:

“It was said (to him), ‘Enter Paradise.’ He said, ‘I wish my people could know of how my Lord has forgiven me and placed me among the honoured’” (36: 26-27).

Because of his use of his voice, Allah (swt) honoured him and entered him into paradise. His story has become an important analogy in the Quran. And Allah (swt) granted the man’s wish – now all who read these verses know that he was forgiven and honoured with Paradise.

So speak, and write and convey what is true; even if your voice is small and cracked and barely audible; even if you are frightened – and perhaps especially when you are frightened. Speak, write and convey until God strengthens your voice and allows you to gain the knowledge and courage you need on this path.

No believer’s voice is too insignificant. No effort is too small. Remember what the Prophet Muhammad (saw) asked of us: “Convey from me, even if it is one verse” (Bukhari). One verse.

So walk on the path of truth-telling and courage, even if it’s difficult. Spread what you have of knowledge, even if it’s little.

Then perhaps one day it will be you standing before your Lord saying, I wish my people could know of how my Lord has forgiven me and placed me among the honoured.

There is no better end.

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