Project “Recover Ramadan” – Step 6: Realise that high levels of iman and knowledge are something achieved, not gifted
Many times, when I tell people about the great people I’ve seen (in terms of righteousness and Allah knows best as to their true state) and how they manage to adhere to the religion, the response is usual: “Oh, their iman (faith) is high.”
Or if I mention how some people are strong throughout their trials and that we should imitate them in this, I get: “Oh, one should have such a level of iman to withstand these trials.”
I know it might be a ridiculous thing to say but sometimes I feel that these people are blaming the good people for their higher level of iman!
The same thing happens if I mention some people who are very knowledgeable. The listeners tend to react as if these people were born with this knowledge and were lucky to be gifted it.
However, Allah says:
“And Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks (to Allah).” [Surah An-Nahl (16) : 78]
The above ayah (verse) shows that everyone starts with the same level of knowledge: zero.
Of course, nothing can compare to the reaction that I get when I mention the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum). These were the ones who accompanied the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam), who were praised by Allah and who were set as a standard for us. The response: “Oh, these were the Sahaabah.”
It’s almost as if people think that they were born that way (i.e. with all that righteousness)?!
Really? Was this high level of iman gifted to them or did they come from a completely un-Islamic background, learn about the religion of Allah, apply it and in doing so, achieve this high level?
Obviously, the answer is the latter. Nobody is born with knowledge and a high level of iman.
So, why am I telling you this? In order to remind ourselves that we shouldn’t use our ignorance or lack of iman as an excuse to explain away our weakness and our sins.
And we shouldn’t blame others who have knowledge and iman, because if they have both of these, it means that they achieved it and therefore they deserve it.
Rather, we should blame ourselves for not having spent our time achieving that amount of knowledge and doing the righteous deeds that lead to that high level of iman. In addition to this, we should make a firm commitment that we will take the necessary steps to gain knowledge and apply it in order to increase our level of iman, insha-Allah.
Want what, you ask? The pleasure of Allah, of course.
Do you want it?
Now, of course, you’ll nod your head and say “Well, obviously!”
Okay, let me phrase it in another way: Do you want the pleasure of Allah above everything else that you have in your life?
Let’s take a wild example. Suppose you were give two choices in life:
1) To be the best-looking, richest and most intelligent person on this planet who has everything one could possibly want in life but does not have the pleasure of Allah
2) To be the worst-looking, poorest and least intelligent person on this planet who has absolutely nothing one could want in life but has the pleasure of Allah
Now, you might think “Why can’t I have it all??”
Well yes, you could be the best-looking, richest and most intelligent person on this planet and have the pleasure of Allah. However, if you were given a choice between 1 or 2, which one would you choose?
Think about it carefully. See, it’s easy to avoid the question or say “Well, 2 obviously”, but what do you REALLY want?
Now, you might say “Cmon! I’ll never be given this choice so why bother to even waste time thinking about it?”
Well, you should bother because the answer will tell you a lot about yourself and who you really are. Ultimately, do you want worldly possessions or the hereafter?
Do you know why the Companions of the Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) were so successful? Because if given the above two choices, they would have chosen the second one without hesitation.
Proof? Read the Quran. Read the ahadeeth. Read the Seerah. Read their biographies. It’s all there.
So what do you want? This world or the next?
It’s amazing. The ones who truly want the hereafter also get this world but the ones who want this world do not get the hereafter.
“Glorious” past, you ask? What “glorious” past???
Allow me to explain.
I’ve met many sisters who tell me how they used to be more practicing in the past, and that depresses them.
Yes, it is quite depressing to remember the times when you were a much better Muslim and realise that it was in the past, not in the present.
And to some degree, all of us have been through this. We look back at those glorious times (which occur in Ramadan a lot of the time) and feel sad that we are not anything like we used to be.
Here’s where a change of perspective can work wonders. Rather than letting the past depress you, let it MOTIVATE you.
How? Well, tell me, who was that praying on time? Who was that who was spending so much time with the Quran? Who was that doing all those good deeds?
Past or present aside, that was YOU, not somebody else. Therefore, you know that you CAN do all these things, simply because you’ve already done it before.
So, if you can get to that level once, then don’t you think that getting there a second time will be easier, simply because you know for a surety that you can do it?
So, what do you do? Think about the time when your iman was at its highest level and resolve to get there again, insha-Allah.
After all, the second time is always easier (for most things anyway!).
[Side note: Would you mind filling out the poll on my tafsir blog? Jazakumullah kheira.]
Which boat, you ask?
– The Boat containing those who have trouble sustaining their Ramadan spirit.
– The Boat containing those whose iman goes up and down like a yo-yo.
– The Boat containing those who struggle daily to follow this great religion.
– The Boat containing those who have lots of problems.
You get my point.
I’ve noticed that many sisters* who’ve come to me with their problems seem to think that their problems are unique.
[*I keep mentioning sisters because I interact with sisters obviously, not with the brothers.]
And they’re quite surprised that I’m unsurprised at their problems (usually related to their iman). And I’m surprised that they’re surprised that I’m unsurprised at their problems.
Why? Because I’ve noticed that everyone has similar problems. I’ve yet to come across a completely unique issue.
And it struck me that this is Shaytan’s plan: divide and conquer. He makes a person feel as if he or she is the ONLY loser on this planet with this problem and shames him/her to a point where he/she:
– Feels ashamed to ask for help.
– Thinks that there is no solution.
– Feels that he/she is the biggest sinner in the world and nobody has done what he/she has done.
Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m not asking you to feel happy that everyone has problems sustaining the Ramadan routine, for example. It doesn’t matter if everyone failed to sustain it. We’ll all still be questioned by Allah about why we could do these acts of worship in Ramadan and not outside of it.
What I AM trying to say is: you are not the only who has this problem. We are all in the same boat. And, insha-Allah, we’ll all work together to solve this problem.
[Sorry, this post was longer than the last one.]
[Okay, you voted. And apparently, most of you want short posts on a daily basis. Alright then.
Starting from tomorrow, insha-Allah, I’ll be posting twice a day: once for the Recover Ramadan posts and another for the regular posts. However, on some days, I’ll just have the Recover Ramadan posts. Hey, Tita Umm Muawiyah needs a break too.]
So, how do get back into the Ramadan Routine of Righteousness?
Step 1 was to realise that your iman was in shambles.
Step 2 is to realise that you can change.
Huh, you say?
Erm, yes. I’ve met many sisters who seem to doubt their ability to actually become righteous. And this of course is from Shaytaan (the devil) because he wants to defeat us before we even begin!
Reformation starts from the heart and then it affects the limbs. If the heart does not believe that it can be more obedient to Allah, then do you think the tongue and the limbs will behave in a righteous manner?
So, what do we do? First we accept that we need to change. Second, we need to accept that we can change, insha-Allah.
[Hope this was “short” enough for the daily Recover Ramadan posts. Or do you want them to be shorter?]
Project “Recover Ramadan”(or “Restore Righteousness”) – Step 1: Realise that your iman is in shambles
Yes, it’s me again. And I just got another idea.
Now, you might be thinking: “What’s the difference between this project and the Remember Ramadan series (which we have yet to see) and the Post-Ramadan Teensie-Weensie Tips (we’re still waiting for the Learning Arabic post!)?”
[Er..I am planning on restarting both series, insha-Allah.]
Well, firstly, there’s a difference because I say that there’s a difference. Simple.
Secondly, the difference is as follows:
1) Remember Ramadan Series (first part is coming soon, insha-Allah): That’s for us to remember what makes Ramadan…Ramadan. See?
It’s to enable us to compare Ramadan and the other months from a variety of different angles. Or at least, that was the plan.
2) The Post-Ramadan Teensie-Weensie Tips was to maintain whatever we got from Ramadan and also some ways in which we can be ready for next Ramadan, insha-Allah.
3) The Project Recover Ramadan is as the name says. Unlike the above two, this will be a step-by-step guide to help us reach the level of Ramadan (or close to it). [The first two series will support this one.]
Look, ultimately the point is not to have a good Ramadan, it’s to have a good death. We don’t know if we’ll reach Ramadan again. What we do know is that we’ll all die. It could be before Ramadan or after Ramadan. In the end, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that we strive to be obedient slaves of Allah in our lives so that we attain His Pleasure and so get Paradise.
I can do one of two things:
1) Alternate between the above three and the other posts (which may contain post-Ramadan lectures/articles, resources, etc.)
2) Alternate between the first two and the other posts (which may contain post-Ramadan lectures/articles, resources, etc.) and have the Recover Ramadan on a daily basis. It will be short (seriously) and to the point (insha-Allah), with baby steps that we can take to improve ourselves.
So, what do you think? Comments please. Do you want the first option or the second option? Is there anything that you’d like discussed?
[It’s strange. I keep asking all of you but 99% of the time, I get zero response.]
The first step towards solving any problem is to accept that one has a problem and to want to change. And that acceptance is the biggest step that one can take towards solving the problem.
Now, you might say “My iman is really high! It’s not in shambles.” If so, that’s excellent, alhamdulillah. Just two questions though: 1) Is it as high as it was in Ramadan? and 2) Do all your actions reflect this?
I’ve seen many people who don’t seem to care that they were much more religious in Ramadan. It doesn’t seem to bother them that they’ve dropped off.
That, my friends, is a catastrophe.
So, my question to you is: If your iman has dipped after Ramadan, have you noticed? Does it bother you? Do you even want to recover what you lost? Do you want to be as righteous as you were in Ramadan?
If your answer is “yes”, then you might benefit from this series, insha-Allah.