The upper and the lower limits…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The upper and lower limits of what, you ask?
Of your iman (faith), of course.
[I know, I know. The title sounded sort of calculusish.]
Let me explain.
Generally, our days can be categorised as good days, bad days and so-so days.
Now, when people say “I had a really good day today”, they usually mean from a dunya (worldly) perspective.
However, we need to look at our days from the akhirah (hereafter) perspective.
So, for example, perhaps a person got married on Feb 1st 2011. She would call it a great day.
However, let’s assume that she didn’t pray all day. Was that a good day, iman-wise? No, it was a horrible day!
So, from the akhirah perspective, that was a very bad day.
Let me give you another example. Suppose a person lost his job on March 23rd 2010. However, when he heard the news, he was patient, did dua (supplication) and remained steadfast in his ibaadah (worship).
Was this a bad day? Dunya-wise, yes, because he is now unemployed. Akhirah-wise, no, because he remained patient in the face of a trial. And as the akhirah is what ultimately counts, this was a good day.
Of course, one should also understand that everyone has a different perspective on what makes a day great (iman-wise).
For some people, praying all 5 prayers (within their times) is a GREAT day. For others, a great day is praying the fard (obligatory) and the rawaatib (voluntary) prayers. Just praying the fard would be a “low iman” day for them.
So, everyone has an “upper limit” and they also have a “lower limit”. The upper limit would be the high iman days and the lower limit would be the low iman days.
So, what am I trying to say?
Okay, let’s take this step by step so as to makes things clearer:
[Such are the (very) few days where I actually miss teaching. It would have taken me 5 minutes to explain this on a whiteboard.]
1) Everyone should know what their upper and lower limits are.
What does “high iman” mean to you? What days are those? Are they fairly frequent or do they just occur in Ramadan?
What does “low iman” mean to you? What days are those? Are they fairly frequent and what type of incidents lead to these days occurring?
To summarise: We should all know what our high/low iman moments are what causes them.
Once we know what causes them, we can try to avoid what causes the low iman days and we can try to move towards what causes the high iman days.
2) The higher limits should get higher.
Let’s take Person A.
Let’s suppose that on Person A’s best (iman) days, he prays all five fard prayers. Now he needs to take it to another level. He needs to try to pray all the 12 rawaatib prayers as well.
So pretty soon, insha-Allah, he’ll be praying all the 12 rawaatib on his best days.
Therefore, the days that he doesn’t pray them will go from being “great” to “so-so”.
3) The lower limits should get higher too.
Let me explain.
Let’s assume that on Person A’s worst days, he does not pray all five prayers. He needs to make sure that his iman never dips that low ever again.
So, he’ll try to make sure that he always pray 5 times a day NO MATTER WHAT.
So, his bad days will be…less bad. Sorry, I’m not sure how else to phrase that.
4) The difference between the good days and bad days should keep getting less.
Sometimes, our iman levels tend to look like this, and they shouldn’t.
They shouldn’t be bobbing up and down that way.
Yes, iman increases and decreases and it’s not going to be a straight line i.e. we will have days of high iman and other days of not-so-high iman.
However, I’ve seen people who pray ALL the prayers (fard, rawaatib, nawafil, tahajjud) on their high iman days.
And on their low iman days? They don’t pray AT ALL.
And that’s just ridiculous. It shouldn’t be that way at all. The difference should not be that huge.
5) A Pictorial Summary of the whole rambling post.
[Please be easy on me. I’m not an artist.]
[Oh and please ignore the fact that the lines are getting longer. That’s just my dreadful drawing skills.]
So, here are Person A’s initial days:
As you can see, his lower limit is…quite low. His upper limit is okay. However, there’s a large gap between the two.
Person A improves his best iman days and also improves his worst iman days (by making sure that it’s not as bad as before). So, both his upper and lower limits are higher:
So, the two lines are higher and are also closer together (meaning that there is less of a difference between his best and his worst days).
Now, suppose that Person A strives harder and tries to improve more, also making sure that his iman does not bob up and down to the degree that it used to:
So, the two lines are both higher and are much closer together.
Now, Person A strives EVEN more. He wants to get better. So now his upper and lower limits look like this:
As you can see, his high iman days are much better than before, as are his low iman days.
In fact, his current “low iman” days are much better than his previous “high iman” days!
Also, there isn’t as big a difference between his good days and his bad days, as there was before.
So, that’s basically what we need to do: strive hard so that we can improve the quality and quantity of our ibaadah and increase the level of our iman. We also need to more consistent.
[I really hope that the whole post made sense. In my defense, I tried. I even made a few nice diagrams.]