You’ve got to reach. There is this human tendency where people have a need to be connected to others. Not only do we aim to be connected, but we oftentimes wish to gain certain benefits by virtue of these connections.
Some feel that because we studied with so and so, or took the path of so and so, or go to the masjid of such and such person that we are automatically more enlightened, more blessed, or better off than others.
This is important because of the cliché, “Don’t look at Muslims, look at Islam.”
Despite the fact that we all have the connection to the religion, that connection isn’t enough.
Islam is here to improve the human condition, to give us a beautiful set of morals, it has a purpose.
You’re being connected is only the first step, and if you stop there you will never truly embody Islam. It doesn’t matter who your shaykh is, what path you’re on, what madhhab you follow, or how much or little you have studied.
You will not progress in Islam until you’re ready to fight the demons within. You have to reach out and grab the paddle if you wish to take your boat to Paradise.
You can quote all the Rumi and Tabrizi until you start speaking Persian in your sleep. You can Qawwali till the sunsets. You can read Quran with all the fluency and Tajweed. You can live vicariously through our rich history until you attempt to make your home, or community into model versions of Madinah.
But you will never create Madinah without the self-sacrifice and subjugation of the ego that came in Mecca.
Your connection will always be there, but it has potential to grow when you pray even when you don’t want to, when you don the hijab when everyone is taking it off, when you stop sliding in her DM’s even though she’s cute. Your connection can and will grow when you put God’s wants over your own.
When you do that, when you’ve grabbed hold of the reality of Islam, then you’ve become a Muslim in the truest sense of the title. You’ve ceased living vicariously through the Prophet but instead decided to take his path. A path that will end in his warm embrace, and the face of the Divine.