وَأَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ ۖ فَاحْكُمْ بَيْنَهُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ ۖ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ عَمَّا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ ۚ لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنْكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا ۚ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَٰكِنْ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُمْ ۖ فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ ۚ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ
"And We have sent down the Book to you with truth, confirming and conserving the previous Books. So judge between them by what Allah has sent down and do not follow their whims and desires deviating from the Truth that has come to you. We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you. Had Allah willed, He would have made you a single community, but He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you. So compete with each other in doing good. Every one of you will return to Allah and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed." (Qur'an, 5: 48)
If you feel like you're struggling with your religion, it is most likely that you are struggling with yourself as well as the influences of Shaytan. Emancipation from this will most likely come in the form of introspection followed by a sound plan of action, all rooted in sincere intentions. But even this cannot come about if one is not curious. This curiosity should lead one to the conclusion that one's own method (minhaj), which is based off of our whims and speculations, is incapable of delivering oneself from this situation. This should hopefully then lead one to the conclusion that Islam is, while broad and expansive, something specific, as noted in the verse about, "We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you."
Allah's Words are vast and great benefit will come to those who chose to take the time to reflect on them. For example, in the same verse above, Allah states, "Had Allah willed, He would have made you a single community, but He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you." Let us examine this verse. First off, is the “Had Allah willed”. This linguistic technique is known as rhetoric, what is referred to in the Arabic language as balaghah. One of rhetoric’s many uses is for “interrogation, exclamation, and amplification” in relation to a point. To use the example of these three tools, we can see (A) interrogation here is about “what God wants”; (B) the exclamation being that God specifically wanted a diverse community of thought; (C) the amplification being that God “wanted to test you regarding what has come to you”. The lesson I’m getting at here relates back to the “introspection” and “curiosity” mentioned above. “What is it I am doing in or with my life that is displeasing to God? And am I not willing to change that?”
Therefore, interrogate your life. Ask yourself, “what are you doing, or not doing!, daily, that needs change or improvement?” Cross-examine your life: honestly and sincerely!, with what it is that God wants from you. All too often we try to “lawyer up” on what it is that God wants from us instead of simply submitting.
This change in direction can range from altering one’s habits (dropping bad ones as well as acquiring new good ones) to changing acquaintances (again, same rubric applies).
As believers, all too often we have a tendency to fixate on what God does while paying less attention to what God wants (know as ‘iradah kawniyyah and ‘iradah shar’iyyah, respectively). I feel this is an important and overlooked emotional, and even theological, concept to digest. After all, one’s theology, in Arabic referred to as ‘aqidah, lit., “that which binds”, is what will tie one to God.
In conclusion, we should amplify or elevate the iradah shar’iyyah, the desire of God, the Law of God, in our lives. For me, this is real emancipation of false idols and deities: a real affirmation of the ‘illa’Allah (إلا الله) in la ilaha illa’Allah (لا إله إلا الله). This combination of interrogation, exclamation, and amplification, will make clear to one that Islam is a particular thing; a wide, vast, and accommodating way of life that, while making room for our personal likes and dislikes, it ultimately curtails them to fall firmly within the Boundaries (i.e., the Shari’ah), leading to a life of contentment (which is not to be mistaken for spiritual complacency), deep fulfillment, and perhaps most importantly, certitude, in knowing that one’s life—mistakes, missteps, and accidental omissions aside—is genuinely seeking, and obtaining!, God’s pleasure. From here, dignity flows like water downstream.
 Technically, this is not only a function of balaghah (rhetoric), but is also grammatical in nature. This has to do with the various forms and uses of the particle “waw” (و). While the scope of these various uses and forms is beyond the scope of this article, a summary with more information can be had (Arabic-only) here: http://www.drmosad.com/index171.htm.
 G. Neville Ussher, The Elements of English Grammar (1803), 79.
 For a more detailed understanding of this rhetoric in reference to these verses, see 'Abd al-Wahid al-Shaikhli's Balaghah al-Qur'an al-Karim fi'l I'jaz I'raban wa Tafsiran bi Ijaz (Maktabah Dandis, Amman. 2001.), Vol 3, 95.
By Marc Manley , 24 Sep 2014