I was born to a Muslim family and lived in a Muslim country most of my life. But I had the privilege of living in England and the US for almost 10 years during the prime years of my life, my twenties.
During the first four years living away from home in England, I strayed away from Islam in many ways. I womanized, skipped my daily prayers, smoked, skipped fasting in Ramadan and spent endless nights from one bar to another and from one nightclub to another.
Superficially, it was fun, it was cool and it was everything. But deep inside I was not happy and I kept feeling that something was terribly wrong. It felt like there was a big gaping hole was permanently present inside my heart, my soul, my very self.
It was funny, because one of my girlfriends who stayed with me the longest time had come to know that when I am feeling really bad and down, that the best medicine was to pray. She would say "why don't do some prayers, it will make you feel good again".
After a short period of self-reflection and assessment, I knew that I was fooling my self. This is not the life I was meant to live. So, I went back to my regular five-times-a-day prayers, I gave up sex (toughest part :) ), I did my Ramadan fasting and read Quran on regular basis. I felt alive again. The gaping hole fully sealed.
It was amazing. It is true what say about not appreciating something until you lose it. I am happy that I did not lose myself as a good Muslim permanently.
That was 14 years ago and to this day, I have been living my life according to the teachings of Islam to the tiniest details. I work, vacation, eat, drink, socialize, raise my kids, invest my money, speak, write, read and just enjoy life to its fullest according to the teachings of Islam. I consider my self a very happy and content family man.
To me Islam is not just a system of believe nor is it just performing acts of worship. It is both and more. It is a way of life in every single detail. From the order of steps you take to walk into the bathroom (left foot first) to the way you invest your life savings.
For example, when I teach my kids not to litter or to be conscious of the environment, I do so with a connection to the teachings of Islam. When I tell them not to use bad language or not to speak badly of other people, I don't only tell them it is bad manners or rude or anti-social. I tell them it's against the teachings of Islam and Allah does not like it. This in my opinion instills these positive traits in them permanently and I hope it will stay with them all of thier lives even when being environmentally friendly is no longer the fad or even when thier parents are not watching what kind of languange they use with thier friends when away from home.
Finally, I would like to point out something that I find very important and wish to share with you. This is something that I discuss with my friends on regular basis and I know that all of them feel the same way (note: most of my friends are Western educated professionals, some of whom are universtiy professors). It really saddens us greatly when we see influential countries and international organization of the West and the East try to push for a so-called "Moderate Islam" and mistakingly end up pushing for Secularism which in our opinion is the Anti-Islam in its purest forms.
If only they would treat the issue in greater depth and genuinely understand Islam and Muslims instead of the superficiality with which it is usually treated, life would be much peacful and tranquil in this tumultuous world of ours.
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