We live in a generation in which all of our conversations offline (in person) or online (“social” networking) are centered around satisfying our ego. For example, we have a tendency to talk negatively about someone else in every social setting. “I hate cops” … “The cashier at McDonalds is a beez” … “Why is she wearing that?” … “he’s a douchebag” … We have an inherent need to feed our ego by insulting others because we feel it defines our worth.
“Let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them” [49:11].
The people we talk about might be better than us but we don’t know it. We do not know.
At the same time, when someone texts us, we wait a while to respond and elude a “not caring” attitude to , perhaps subconsciously, feel superior. Or if no backbiting, we satisfy ourselves by making fun of the person we are directly talking to, sometimes excessively. Some relationships are only built on making fun of each other, and a lot of times, we do not realize when we cross the limits.
I’d also like to add that a lot of us have the want to get likes, shares, reblogs, retweets, in person appraisals, etc but we should always be careful not to let this get to our head. Once again learn to control or ego.
“If you are praised, then be careful not to let praise and self-admiration overcome you. Praise makes people content with their deeds so they do not worship or do good as much because they are happy with their situation.”
Once, the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) heard a man praising another, and he responded to him, “”May Allāh ’s Mercy be upon you! You have cut the neck of your friend.” [Bukhāri].
Don’t make it your main goal.
Social interaction has changed so much since the last decade, I believe for the worse. We should at least acknowledge within ourselves when we do this and then make it a point to change. Baby steps at a time.
Some advice for my friends and family!
If getting “closer” to deen makes you more intimidating, less gentle, less compassionate, and more judgmental, then there is definitely something majorly wrong.
“It’s those moments when your forehead touches the ground when you’re praying, or when you walk outside all covered up in blazing weather or when you’re reading the Quran and there’s tears in your eyes. Those moments when you know that you don’t need anything or anyone but Allah. Those are the moments I live for”
We find it really easy to point at others and talk about the flaws within our society, but we find it hard to carry out God’s obligations ourselves(the fard, not talking about the sunnah). I do not think reminding others is wrong nor right; who knows what experience can change ourselves or others…? I cannot predict that. My point is this: although other people’s actions can be really frustrating a
I do think that one on ones are different though. If we see that a particular brother or sister is going the wrong direction, we should make it a point to remind.
I understand that hijab is required, and I’ve been wearing it for some time now but I feel like putting it on might have been a mistake. I don’t feel like it’s made me become a better Muslim, and I feel almost like I’m deceiving people because they look at me as an example even though I’m still struggling with a lot of things. Also, if I take it off, is it really something Allah will punish me for? It seems like such a petty thing. Isn’t the most important thing having a clean heart?
Assalaamu `alaykum dear questioner,
Thank you for asking this question which opens up a number of important issues, and for entrusting us enough to share with us some of what you’re struggling with. I ask Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala – exalted is He) that He makes the words that I write beneficial to you and others who are reading, and that He leads you to the best decisions.
I’d like to start by addressing what I believe is the least important factor in this equation, and that is ‘what other people might think.’ It should never be the case that we alter our practice of Islam or our worship for the sake of other people, or what they might think or assume. People may be quick to judge or jump to conclusions, but whatever thoughts or opinions they have are strictly their responsibility, and not something we should be overly concerned with.
You said that you’re worried that wearing hijab may be deceiving, because people see you as better than you really are. But in truth all of us are sinners, and it is only from Allah’s mercy upon us that He is as-Siteer - the One who veils our faults and our flaws, and makes us seem better than we really are in others’ eyes. One famous scholar said, “If sins had a smell no one would come near me because of the stench!” Every single one of us has deficiencies and weaknesses, has made mistakes, has taken missteps or is presently taking them. We only do the best that we can, and any good deed that Allah grants us the opportunity to perform should be considered a blessing that we take advantage of. Instead of worrying about not being good enough, we can instead consider this as an opportunity to be thankful to Allah for concealing our negatives, and pray, “O Allah, forgive me for what they do not know about me, and make me even better than what they think.”
You will be hard-pressed to find anyone on this earth who can be considered ‘worthy’ of being a representative of Islam, because everyone has one dimension or another in their faith or practice in which they are lacking. However that doesn’t mean we should stop encouraging each other by whatever means are available to us. There is a very beautiful hadith related to this issue:
Anas relates that,“We asked the Prophet ﷺ, ‘O Messenger of Allah ﷺ, shouldn’t we refrain from calling others to goodness if we don’t practice all good things ourselves, and shouldn’t we refrain from forbidding wrong things until we ourselves have abstained from all the bad?’ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘You should call others to goodness even if you don’t do all good, and you should forbid bad things even if you don’t abstain from all of them yourselves.’” (Al-Tabarani)
Remember that by wearing hijab you are not saying to others ‘I am Islam’, but simply that ‘I am a Muslim’, meaning – I am someone who is trying to follow this religion, who accepts it as truth, sees beauty in it and hopes to beautify myself with it. I remember a quote attributed to Yusuf Islam: “Islam is not a state of being but it is a process of becoming,” – becoming more, become better, striving to reach that state of perfect submission and connection with Allah Most High, and May He help all of us achieve that, ameen.
You also said that you feel hijab has not really made you a better Muslim. A lot of times when a person first starts performing a good deed they feel an iman ‘rush’, a feeling of happiness at doing something good for the sake of Allah and energy to do more, improve themselves, etc. However, after some time, when that action starts to become just another part of a daily routine, it loses that power, and that increase in iman and excitement dissipates.
What a person needs, instead of focusing on those ‘rushes’, is a steady and constant diet of good deeds and spiritual nourishment. We cannot rely on one particular deed to ‘make’ us better Muslims. Instead, we have to take the reigns and make sure we are doing things regularly that increase us in iman, like recitation of the Qur’an, performing salah with consciousness and focus, dhikr, and so on. Wearing hijab can definitely be one of those things, but it is only one part of a whole that needs to be constructed. Just like exercise is important for good health, yet it has to be combined with eating right and many other things in order for the person to see the desired results in the end.
Also know that there is a direct relationship between a person’s actions and their inner state. We know that when someone is in a high state of iman it’s natural for him or her to start performing more good deeds. However, we may overlook the fact that the opposite is true as well – that just performing good deeds, even if one may not be ‘feeling it’, can affect us and change us. The limbs are inroads, and performing good deeds with them can soften a hardened heart, bring enlightenment to a closed mind, and give a person a feeling of rejuvenation and desire to come closer to Allah and do more positive things. I heard a scholar say that if one is feeling troubled, confused or in a low state of iman, “go quickly to action”; because good deeds can bring about that inner reawakening one may need. If we don’t see a change happening in us when we do a good deed, that doesn’t mean we should stop it but that perhaps we need to supplement it with others in order to gather the momentum needed to see results.
Thirdly, you are absolutely correct when you say that the most important thing is for us to have purified hearts. Allah (swt) emphasizes this in the Qur’an when He states that on the Day of Judgment nothing will be of benefit to the servant except “one who brings to Allah a clean, sound heart” (26:89). The question is, how does one achieve that? What purifies us and cleanses our hearts?
In our times we find that some people feel that we’ve reached a more ‘enlightened era’ in which spirituality can be derived solely from philosophy and ideas, and need not be bound by rituals and details of religion. However those who propound this notion forget that Allah did not create us as minds and souls alone – but coupled them with our physical bodies. We cannot deny the fact that we are body and soul, content and form, together, and each has its own needs and specifications for refinement. This is a sunnah of Allah in the way that we were created, and why prayer, fasting, and all our spiritual endeavors have very specific physical components. These forms house within them dimensions of meaning, but it is only from enacting them precisely that a profound spirituality can be achieved.
Purifying our hearts is the goal, but the means to reaching that goal is through the very real and specific physical prescriptions and commandments that Allah (swt) has given us. It is through His obedience and through following the teachings of our deen that we clean and polish our hearts. It is for this reason that I have to say that hijab is not something trivial. Anything that leads us to spiritual awareness, elevation, and purification – that helps us come closer to Allah – cannot be considered trivial or petty. Perhaps it is more likely that there are hidden depths within it that we do not perceive, or that we are not putting it in the proper context of its deeper purpose and meaning.
About punishment from Allah: a better way of looking at this issue is not considering the smallness or pettiness of the sin, but the greatness of the One whom we are sinning against. From His infinite wisdom, all-encompassing knowledge and vast mercy, in accordance to His Law – which is at its core about attaining benefit and warding off harm – He has instructed us to perform this action. In the Qur’an Allah says, ‘It may be that you dislike something and in it is goodness for you’ (2:216); ‘It may be that you dislike a thing but Allah brings about from it a great deal of good.’ (4:19) If someone chooses to step away from a prescribed action knowingly, we cannot deny that this is a sin, and that Allah holds us to account for our sins. However we always have hope in and pray for Allah’s mercy and kindness, as we know He can forgive all sins if He chooses.
In closing, I want to leave you with a beautiful quote from a Hadith Qudsi. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said:
“My servant draws not near to Me with anything more beloved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him.” (Bukhari)
Know, dear questioner, that if you feel far from Allah, the solution is not to stop what you are doing and find a different way, but to persevere and continue on the path you are on, even though it is hard. This will make you beloved to Allah, and one who feels the happiness of being close to Him and being shaded by His Loving Mercy and care.
May Allah enliven and enlighten our hearts and grant us closeness to Him. May He make us people who love to worship Him, and through our worship become close to Him and gain His love. May He make our hearts firm and steadfast on our deen, and grant us strength and bravery in our spiritual struggles. May He guide us to the best decisions and make easy for us the path of khayr [goodness]. Ameen ya Rabb.
WAllahu a`lam – and He alone knows best.
I am muslim too. But my imaan isn’t as strong as yours. how do you do that, believe that deeply?
Asalaam Alaikum warahmatullah my beloved brother/sister in Islam,
I must admit, I don’t have quite near the strength in Imaan you might believe. But what little I do have, has come from the Almighty Himself. But I will tell you that I was never forced into Islam. I have had contact with people from all sorts of life, each preaching his or her own version of Islam. Conservatives, Liberals, Progressives, Hardliners, you name it.
I believe in Allah so deeply because everywhere I look around, I see signs of how much Allah loves me. All the tragedies in our lives, they always have served a single purpose: To bring us closer to Allah. This is because it is Allah’s Divine Will that He has exercised Mercy on all of Creation, but has reserved His Love for those who believe in Him. It is up to the believer whether he takes tragedy as a reason to hate God, or he realizes it was a means of God showing how much He loves that believer. And when I first became aware of that Love, is the day that everything changed for me.
I wasn’t always practicing. I’ve been through university, experienced everything, seen it all pretty much. I’ve had my fair share of tragedies, lost people who were very dear to me, done some pretty stupid things, so I’m not someone who grew up inside the masjid. I’m just your average person.
I also didn’t just wake up one day and discover I had full faith in Allah. In fact I still don’t have full faith, because every time I watch a scary movie I think something’s out to get me. I’ve seen true believers, they can look Death in the eye and not flinch. Insha’Allah one day I’ll attain that level.
The way I have connected with Allah has been my intense focus on the Sunnah’s of the Prophet (SalAllahu ‘alayhi wasallim) that most people tend to ignore or forget. For example, I make wudhu every night before I go to bed. I sleep on my right side. I read surah Mulk every night. I try to always obey my parents, no matter how obviously wrong they are. I won’t cross the street if its red even if there’s no car there, because I am taught that the laws of the country are to be followed as long as they do not contradict the laws of Islam. little things like that.
Honestly, if you want to reach a deep level of Imaan, start doing little sunnahs, and become conscious of every sin that you do. They say a true believer sees every sin, no matter how small it is, as a huge mountain. While the believer who lacks imaan sees every sin as a fly buzzing around that he simply swats away and forgets about it. Once you become conscious of every sin, and you do your level best to follow one or two sunnahs without fail, you’ll see an immediate change in your life.
Also, wake up to pray at night. This is KEY to bring about a serious change in your Imaan level. I have never had such an awe inspiring experience as I’ve had when I’ve woken up out of my own will, done wudhu, and performed two rakats of prayer solely for Allah, after which I’ve made a du’a which has always, literally ALWAYS been accepted, whether it happened immediately or after some time.
If you have a sin that you commit all the time, you should ask Allah to forgive you for it and promise Him and yourself that you’re never gonna do it again. If its an addiction, obviously you and Allah both know it won’t happen overnight but you have to go with that mindset. That way, you’ll have greater control. Maybe you’ll go back once, twice, but eventually Allah will remove that addiction from your heart. Its how I left music. I used to be big into house music, even wanted to DJ for a while, but now I can’t even stand the sound of it and try to avoid it as best I can. Its all about that determination, and how bad you want to return to Allah.
I listen to a lot of lectures. I personally love Mufti Ismail Menk, Shaykh Sulaiman Moola, Shaykh Zahir Mahmood, Shaykh Mumtaaz ul Haq, and Shaykh Hasan Ali. From time to time I’ll listen to Nouman Ali Khan as well, but because I adhere to the Hanafi Madhab, I have a slight bias towards those scholars. If you have no idea what I’m talking about when i mention madhabs, then just listen to Mufti Ismail Menk and you’ll be good insha’Allah. He’s an amazing speaker and always touches on important topics like Anger, Patience, Jealousy, Marriage etc.
Trust me, do things the halal way. If you want something, ask Allah for it but if it doesn’t happen then NEVER ask Allah why He did it, but instead literally say it out loud to Him when you talk to Him in prayer “Allah I wished for something but I didn’t get it, but because I believe in You and Your Messenger I know You have promised me that You will always give me what is best for me, so something better must truly be coming.” And trust me it always happens. You always get something better.
I can think of a billion other reasons why I got close but I think this is good for now. If you really want me to give you additional ways, insha’Allah message me again and I’ll list a few more that I can remember.
Final piece of advice: Love everybody. Never have any hatred and malice and jealousy for ANYONE. I don’t even know you but I love you because you are someone who wants to get closer to Allah and that is a very admirable goal, which insha’Allah you will achieve.
I pray that Allah grants you success and happiness in this world and the next.
Wa SalAllahu ‘alayhi wa ‘ala alihi Muhammad wa as sahaabi ajma’een.
Walaikum Asalaam warahmatullahi wabarakatu
I consider myself very dumb. I think about this very often. I want to go on a path of gaining knowledge. I do love to study, I just hate school. And after the knowledge that was bestowed on me this morning, I see that there are more like me; that it is in fact, perfectly fine not to like the grading system. I don’t want to be standardized. I want to experience knowledge.
It is the one trait I possess that not many people know of, that being my thirst to gain knowledge.
Furthermore, I like to be intellectually stimulated and I love instances that make me think, whether they are topics concerning religion, politics, movies, music, etc. I love movies that don’t have a closure due to this very reason. It makes me think. I love listening to Quran because it makes me reflect. I used to love listening to music which was accompanied with good lyrics, because at the end of the day, I always valued inspirational lyrics more than harmonious melodies. For no other reason but that lyrics enabled me to reflect. Now my inspiration comes from Quran and inshAllah it will continue to be that way.
Unfortunately, many people I am around don’t stimulate me. As bad as I feel about this, they actually bring me down. I sense a degradation of my imaan when I am around them for too long. And as odd as it is, when I sense my imaan degrading, so does my thirst for knowledge. A person can regurgitate as much information as they have memorized or accumulated in their mind from their life, but it does not make them any wiser. True knowledge is a light that brightens the heart. It enlightens you. When my imaan degrades, consequently the light within slowly dims. Imaan is the fuel to keep the fire burning. And as long as that light persists, so does my inspiration to be more knowledgeable.
Going back to topic, when I’m around these peers, I notice a darkness growing in my heart. These people are amazing and I do love them, but they are not outwardly God conscious, which pays a major toll on me. I often times think about limiting my time with them, but then there are times when I influence them to be better Muslims. I reconsider. “Maybe I do have a purpose in their lives.” I need to keep a watchful eye at my inner state while in their company.
The path to knowledge requires a lot of sacrifices. True knowledge will not enlighten you if you are around sin or deal with issues that darken your soul. I just need a path and some guidance to carry out a solid, tangible plan. I think I will start today.
InshAllah I become who I aspire to be. InshAllah you all become who you inspire to be, as long as our aspirations please Allah (exalted is He). Ameen.