Approaching his devoted wife, he lovingly handed her a jewellery box, bound with a ribbon artistically tied. “Ooooh!” she exclaimed in delight, “You shouldn’t have! Jazakallah!”

Then, with bated breath, and hands trembling with excitement and suspense, she untied the ribbon and prised open the box, expecting to see diamond-inlaid earrings… only to see a simple lead pencil nestled in the velvet within! At that moment, viewing the pencil, she thought to herself, “A pencil? Honestly, my husband must think I’m a write off!”

The reality of the matter, however, is that the lead in a pencil is no different to a diamond. A diamond is essentially carbon, and the lead in a pencil is made from graphite which is also a form of carbon. In other words, on a basic level, pencil lead and diamonds are the same thing. In that case, why was the wife so upset when she received a pencil instead of a diamond? Furthermore, why are pencils so cheap and diamonds so valuable and prized when both are essentially the same substance?

To unearth the answer to this question, we will have to delve deep underground – approximately 100km-250km beneath the surface to be precise, for it is here that diamonds were formed. At this depth, the carbon that transformed into a diamond remained subjected to a tremendous amount of pressure. Imagine carrying the weight of 250km worth of combined soil and rock on your back!

Additionally, the carbon remained exposed to the extreme heat near the earth’s core – heat to the equivalent of 1050 degrees celsius!

It is this combination of heat and pressure that causes carbon to rearrange its molecular structure and transform into a diamond.

Finally, after the diamond has formed, it is volcanic eruptions that push the diamond upwards and cause it to rise towards the surface.

When a diamond is initially discovered or mined, it is still in its natural form and is regarded as ‘rough’. Its true beauty remains concealed and it cannot be appreciated for the gem that it truly is. For the diamond to reach perfection, it will require three things; cutting, polishing and setting.

First, the lapidary (gem cutter) will subject the diamond to a thorough analysis, determining its weaknesses and strengths, perfections and flaws. He will then cut it in the manner most appropriate so that it will have the best shape and it can be best appreciated.

Thereafter, the diamond will be polished until it glitters and gleams. However, being the hardest naturally occurring substance, it can only be polished using other diamonds.

Finally, the diamond will be entrusted to a master jeweller who will first hold it beneath his loupe (jeweller’s magnifying glass) and evaluate it. In rating the diamond, he will consider four qualities known as the four C’s; carats (weight), clarity, colour and cut. Finally, he will mount it into a piece of jewellery, crafting an intricate and ornate work of art to be admired by all.

It is this entire process that causes humble carbon to transform from a substance merely pencil-worthy to gold pendant-worthy, and gives it the qualities due to which people are prepared to pay a fortune for it.

In exactly the same manner, each and every one of us is like carbon – we have the potential to transform into an invaluable diamond. However, to become true diamonds, we will have to undergo the process of the diamond. We will have to withstand and tolerate the heat of our carnal desires and the pressure of Shaitaan, society and all the other external forces that invite towards sin.

At times, it may seem as if the pressure and heat are too much to bear, and we may certainly be tempted to throw in the towel (give up), but we have to persevere and remain committed to the cause. Without withstanding the heat and pressure, the molecular structure of our own desires and ways will never rearrange to fit the diamond structure of true Islamic values.

Thereafter, for us to progress from being ‘rough’ diamonds to reaching our full potential, we will require:

Cutting – we will have to subject ourselves to a thorough examination beneath the microscope of introspection. After determining where we are falling short, we will make an effort to change our ways, habits, actions and even mindset, until they are completely moulded and shaped by Islam and the sunnah.

Polishing – as a diamond can only be polished by another diamond, we will have to turn to the true diamonds of the Ummah – the rightly guided ‘Ulama – and follow their guidance. Through their guidance and teachings, we will gain the true lustre and radiance of Deen and the sunnah that will make us shine like diamonds.

Setting – as attractive as a diamond may be, if it is placed in the wrong setting, it will be spoilt and ruined. In this regard, Allah Ta‘ala has taught us that the best ‘setting’ for a woman is the confines of her home. This is where her beauty as a diamond can shine and be appreciated and admired by her husband. Hence, when she emerges from her home for some necessity, Islam commands her to conceal her shine by adopting the niqaab and veiling her beauty.

Just as the value of a diamond is judged by four C’s, our value will be judged by four S’s:

  1. Sincerity and whether we are striving for Him alone or for other motives.
  2. Suppressing our impermissible inclinations and desires when they burn most strongly within us or we are pressured towards sin by outside influences.
  3. Adherence to each and every Sunnah, whether related to the internal (e.g. not harbouring malice) or external (e.g. dressing).
  4. Steadfastness on the above three and on all injunctions of Deen.

Remember, a diamond does not form overnight. Similarly, we will have to remain firm and dedicated, and in time, Allah Ta‘ala will bless us with His acceptance and transform us into diamonds.

Also remember, it is through volcanic eruptions that diamonds rise and reach the top. Likewise, the extremely difficult tests and trials of life that we sometimes suffer are the ‘volcanic eruptions’ that will make us rise and reach the top. However, these tests will only serve as stairways to success if we pass them through remaining patient and steadfast.

Once we become true diamonds, we will shine with the noor (light) of Islam. We will see the radiance in our own lives and will become beacons of guidance for others as well. We all have the potential within us. ALL that we require is determination, perseverance and guidance.

May Allah Ta‘ala transform us all into the gems of this Ummah, aameen.