No, Sheryl Crow has not converted to Islam. In fact, I have never met Ms. Crow in my life. Yet, she nevertheless has taught me a very important lesson about Allah. I recently downloaded (legally, thank you very much) her song "Light In Your Eyes" and burned it on a CD. I absolutely love it. I can listen to it four or five times in a row without even beginning to get bored. In fact, I am listening to it right now as I write this. It is such a wonderful, uplifting, and soothing song.

In it, she says: "You gotta talk to the One who made you/Talk to the One who understands/Talk to the One who gave you...All the light in your eyes." I almost always cry when she says, "Talk to the One who understands." It makes me think of Him and how He has always understood me and has been there for me, even though I have forgotten Him on too many occasions. He truly understands the hypocrisy of the human condition, and yet He doesn't slam His door in my face, even though I deserve it. His door is always open to me, and I love Him for it.

The main message of the song, "You gotta talk to the One who made you," is a concept of such vital importance in our lives today. It is one about which I frequently preach in my Friday prayer sermons. And it is one which eluded me for a very long time in my life. When I was growing up, my mother (bless her heart) raised me to always be fearful of God's punishment. She would always tell me that if I sinned, God would punish me here and now (and then let her find out about it). Frequently, amazingly enough, this exact scenario would come true.

And it largely worked for me: I more or less kept out of trouble as a young Muslim growing up in America. Yet, I can see how such a tactic can backfire for a lot of young kids. It can conjure up an image of a vindictive, spiteful God who continually waits in the wings for us to sin so He can slap us down with His mighty stick of justice. That is not the God that I know. The God that I know is a loving, soothing, merciful Lord who always is there when we need Him. He understands that we are not perfect, and He continually waits for us to come back to Him so He can shower us with His soothing mercy.

And He loves it when we talk to Him. Growing up, I used to pray to God for a lot of things: good grades, a good college, a good wife, a career in medicine, etc. Yet, the relationship I had with God was one of a towering, powerful Lord--which He is--and a humbled, frightened servant. As I got older, however, this gradually changed, and I began to see God differently. Now, I feel I do the things He wants me to do because I love Him. Don't get me wrong: I am always afraid of being punished by God, but it is different now. I see the Lord as my friend, something which was developed during my hajj in 2003.

Listening to Sheryl Crow's song continues to remind me of how wonderful and important it is to talk to God. We really do have to talk to the One who made us, because He truly understands. Whenever we slip up--something we are bound to do--we have to talk to Him, tell Him we are sorry, and vow not to do it again. We have to ask Him never to close His door on us, even though we may have stayed far away from Him for an entire lifetime. Talking to God on a regular basis fills our heart with a feeling that is almost indescribable, and listening to her song gives me a little bit of that feeling each and every time. That's why I love it so.

Moreover, I find the message of her song in the Qur'an: "When My servants ask you [O Muhammad] concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on Me: Let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way" (2:186). God also says: "And your Lord says: 'Call on Me; I will answer your (prayer)..." (40:60). God is just waiting for us to talk to Him; so, why don't we?

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would also always talk to God. Many of the Prophet's biographers called his conversations with God "prayers," such as this one:

"O God, to Thee I complain of my weakness, my lack of resources and my lowliness before men. O most Merciful! Thou art the Lord of the weak and Thou art my Lord. To whom wilt Thou relinquish my fate? To one who will misuse me? Or to an enemy to whom Thou hast given power over me? If Thou art not angry with me, then I care not what happens to me. Thy favor is all that counts for me. I take refuge in the light of Thy countenance, by which all darkness is illuminated. And the things of this world and next are rightly ordered. I wish to please Thee until Thou art pleased. There is no power and no might save in Thee".

The Prophet had said these words after being violently expelled from the city of Taif, a city to the south of Mecca. When I examine this "prayer" much more closely, I realize that it is more a conversation than a prayer. The Prophet is telling God about his feelings; he is bearing all to the Lord. And the Lord was listening. In fact, the Lord is always listening, and He is just waiting for us to talk to Him; so, why don't we?

Some Muslims may find it objectionable that I find God in a rock song, especially one sung by a woman with musical instruments. Yet, the Prophet (peace be upon him) once said that wisdom is the "lost animal" of the believer: wherever it may be, he should seek it. One of the places I have found such wisdom is Sheryl Crow's song. Every time I hear the song, it reminds me of God and how wonderful He is. I'm not saying that her song replaces the Qur'an, or the Prophet's sayings, or the writings of Islamic scholars. Absolutely not. But, sometimes I just like to kick back and groove to some music. And when I hear "Light In Your Eyes," it makes me think of my Best Friend. What's so wrong with that?

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