To become a true believer, one does not merely recite the Shahaadah and consider himself to have fulfilled his duty. On the contrary, to become a faithful and true Muslim (Mumin), one must ensure he submits entirely to the will of Allah alone. Indeed, in Surah Al-Hujurat, Allah corrects some Bedouins who declared that they have believed. He pointed out that they should actually say they have submitted, as they didn’t have true faith yet. This was because faith only genuinely swells in one’s heart when one obeys Allah and the Prophet (PBUH).
A sincere and true Muslim strengthens his faith in Allah
Establishing and enhancing our faith (Iman) is of paramount importance in this regard. Having strong faith in Allah is the primary need of every Muslim, to be prioritized over everything else. It is what gives us direction in our quest to attain the ultimate success in the Dunya and Akhirah. Having a true understanding of Tawheed (oneness of Allah) is a critical prerequisite of faith. One must also display a full commitment to performing all obligatory (Fardh) acts of worship without fail. A true Muslim must also abstain from all that Allah has forbidden.
To further invigorate our Iman, we ought to focus on increasing the amount of time we spend worshipping Allah (Ibadah). This can be accomplished by performing voluntary (Nafl) prayers in abundance, particularly the night prayer (Tahajjud: a time when Allah descends on the lowest heaven to respond to our sincere Duas). Moreover, we ought to read the Quran frequently, contemplate its meanings, observe voluntary fasts regularly, and so on. Also, we should look to perform as many good deeds as possible. Examples include giving charity, being kind and caring to our parents, etc. A Muslim who is always occupied with pleasing Allah will thus have stronger Iman. He will find it easier to shun his evil desires and the whispers of Satan.
To be a true Muslim, one must sincerely strive, purely for the sake of Allah. Thus, all our actions, be they acts of worship, noble deeds, or avoiding something harmful or evil, should be performed with the sole intention of pleasing Allah. A famous Hadith narrated by Umar (RA), in which the Prophet (PBUH) declares that actions are evaluated and rewarded based on their intentions, further stresses this point (Bukhari).
Remember the true purpose of life
In Surah Adh-Dhariyat, Allah emphasized that worshipping Him is the sole purpose of mankind’s creation. Therefore, it is imperative to keep this indisputable reality in mind at all times, in all situations. By recognizing and embracing this fundamental principle of life, we ensure that we adhere to the straight path. For, it is easy to go astray and deviate if we forget why we were created.
Furthermore, worship is not limited to rituals, as Islam is a comprehensive way of life. Hence, worship encompasses every aspect of our lives, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Only through perpetual devotion to Allah, can one be a true believer who does justice to his life’s actual purpose. Even something as routine as using the toilet, while following proper Islamic etiquette as outlined in the Sunnah, turns into a legitimate act of worship. Keeping this reality in mind, we should expend all our energy on aiming to achieve the pleasure of Allah. This will (Allah-willing) enable us to succeed in the test of this temporary life. After all, there can be no motivation superior to the prospect of attaining the reward of eternal bliss in Jannah.
A true Muslim follows Islamic role models
This is a crucial point, particularly in today’s age, where so many people have fallen prey to the culture of placing celebrities and famous personalities on a high pedestal. Muslims need to ensure they avoid falling into this trap. We have been blessed with an ideal role model (uswatun-hasanah) in our Prophet (PBUH). His praiseworthy character and conduct were lauded in glowing terms in the Quran itself. Allah hailed him as a “mercy to all mankind” in Surah Al-Anbiya, and his conduct further received lavish praise in Surah Al-Ahzaab.
To become a true Muslim, one must study the Seerah (Prophetic biography) and endeavor to emulate Allah’s greatest creation to the best of one’s ability. In addition, we have superb true Muslim role models in the Sahaabah (companions), Taabi’een (second generation), and Tabaa Taabi’een (third generation). Indeed, these first three generations of believers were accorded a lofty status. They were dubbed the very best from amongst his Ummah (nation) by Muhammad (PBUH). We would do well to take them as role models after our Prophet (PBUH), rather than getting caught up in admiration of the flawed individuals we revere in this misguided era. One must also keep virtuous company. Our friends should be pious and upright, as the people we spend time with inevitably affect our behavior and actions. We must likewise steer clear of any negative influences.
Hasten to perform good deeds and shun procrastination
As Muslims, we should thoroughly utilize all our time while remaining dedicated to the foremost goal of earning Allah’s pleasure. A commitment to perform beneficial acts as a daily routine shall empower us to evade sinful activities. Keeping oneself preoccupied with good deeds also helps to repel the whispers of Satan (Shaytan). Warding off our unlawful desires is only possible when the mind is not left idle. In a pertinent Hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) mentioned that we will be questioned in respect to five matters on the Day of Judgment: How we spent our lives, what we did with our youth, how we earned our living, how we spent it, and how we used the knowledge we gained (Tirmidhi). Productive, true Muslims who spend their lives fulfilling the rights of Allah and His creation will most likely breeze through those questions.
Propagate Islam (Dawah) through your words and character
Every sincere and true Muslim should invite others to Islam by giving Dawah and being a shining example of a devout, sincere Mumin. One who consistently adheres to enjoining good and forbidding evil. We must observe piety (Taqwa) at all times, and remain God-conscious in all we say or do. Considering Allah’s wish, rather than trying to please humans, should be the priority. For it is Allah’s approval alone that will benefit us in the Afterlife. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) explicitly stated that there is no superiority based on race or ethnicity. Verily, it is based solely on Taqwa (Musnad Aḥmad). This makes it abundantly clear that strengthening one’s faith and piety are the keys to becoming a true Muslim.
A true Muslim is one who tries his best to follow Allah’s commands all the time and focuses on fulfilling the purpose of life. Allah says he created humans and jinns to worship Him. Hence, we must try to fulfill that purpose by giving it our best effort. It’s important to remember that worship of Allah doesn’t only mean literal acts of worship.
Islam is a complete religion, and doing lots of regular things in the way Allah has told us to do makes us true Muslims. So, we should try to learn and understand Islam’s rulings on various matters and implement them in our lives. These will help us to become better Muslims. Simultaneously, we will be able to become role models and examples for our fellow Muslims. No one can be perfect, but trying our best will work in our favor.