Terrible to say, but I thrive on approval and support from people. Nafs, as some people very close to me have called it.
And, if you ask me, rightly so.
At a purely Cognitive or Mental Level, as if there is one, I know I speak and write for an Audience of One: Allah!
And I have all the right things to say whenever the occasion calls for them. And they are all strictly from the book -- chapter and verse.
Or books, I should say.
But at a very deep personal and emotional level, my very robust Nafs seems to feed on support from people.
It always has.
Even at college, recognition and support from others played a significant and often decisive role in my life and performance.
As a highly prized and medaled student commodity; as a student athlete and sportsman; as a student government mover and shaker; as a collegiate and inter-collegiate debating champion; as a campus leader and organizer; and as a student journalist, editor and media personality; college to me mostly meant people: my own professors; other professors; university administrators; townspeople; students; others.
Of course, whatever I set out to do, I did it to the best of my ability, and mostly did it very well. But my eyes were always peeled for the cheering squad. And my ears were forever attuned to their cheers and screams.
So, when I finally turned to Islam, and ended up becoming a Struggling Muslim, my soul is far from being totally purged and rendered free from some of its ancient dark spots.
Except that now at least I know where those danger signs flash red.
For, the first step to becoming a Real Muslim, the kind I would like to be, should Allah choose to accept me in that capacity, as opposed to being a Struggling Muslim, the kind I have been all my life, is to bury your Nafs a million feet deep.
For, your Nafs is where Shaitan cruises at a million-miles-an-hour, back and forth. And has complete choke-hold on your life.
And if you have not conquered your Nafs, you have achieved not a thing in this world.
No matter how impressive your Resume reads on paper.
That is why I always say: Everything I say and do in the name of Islam is nothing but my own autobiography. It is simply the story of my own personal struggle with Allah's Deen.
And its rigors and challenges. And its allures and its superlative powers.
Hoping that this long and laborious tunnel will someday end in the light of Allah's Rahmat.
A Rahmat that Allah says in the Qur'an Envelops Every Single Thing.
Rahmatee Wasi'at Kulla Shayin.