One of my favorite parts of being at Bayyinah is a small 5 minute chunk of our day where we learn various Arabic expressions that are very short yet so eloquent and deep. In years past, students had to memorize almost 300+ expressions but this year, Alhamdulillah the list is much shorter. One of my favorite expressions that we’ve covered so far was on Day 2 and it’s still one that I reflect on from time to time. The expression is:
الفُ ميلٍ تبدأ بِخَطوةٍ
A thousand miles begins with a single step.
Often times in the course of our life, we make plans, we set goals, we dream big, and rightfully so. But the destination, the goal, and the dream seem so distant and difficult…like a thousand miles away and the fear of failure intimidates us, it cripples us. As much as we want to attain it, thinking of the long tiring road ahead leaves us overwhelmed, unproductive, and still at stuck in the same position. But you have to start somewhere. You have to take the first step. And little by little, step by step, du’a by du’a, the daunting task, the long road starts to seem tangible, starts to seem even enjoyable. Its often the first step that’s the hardest because it’s surrounded by fear, insecurity, baggage, and doubt. Once you overcome that, the steps that follow become more familiar and more comfortable.
This can apply to almost every aspect of our life- education, career, relationships, personal development and even in our faith. In our journey to God, we often carry heavy baggage whether that’s in the form of our sins, our own doubts, our past, our fears and our pain and we let those things weigh us down. We feel like we’re too far, too bad, too messed up with too much baggage to start over, to become better. In our minds, the road to becoming closer to God seems to be “a thousand miles”, our perception of what it means to be a “good Muslim” seems to be such a far stretch but we just have to take the first step and Allah (swt) says: “Take one step towards me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards me, I will run towards you.” [Hadith Qudsi]
We just have to take the first step. Instead of looking at the thousand miles ahead, instead of being overwhelmed and crippled, even with faith we have let go and start step by step. What can I do better today? What can I take away that is pulling me away from Allah? What can I do to get closer to Allah? And slowly but surely, when we start sincerely turning back to Allah, when we put in that effort, when we turn back through istighfar and tawbah, through salah and du’a, Allah will not let those efforts go to waste and He guides the hearts that are sincerely seeking Him. It all starts with a single step.