Ever felt disappointed on getting low grades in an exam or getting scolded by your boss at work? How’d you react? Guess, all of us have gone through this kind of a situation many times, at school, at university or at work place. So, instead of me describing the situation, we could as well individually “recall” it. (haha )
A grumpy face, teary eyes, head lowered down, ashamed to even utter a word, you silently walk away and once at home try to put your heart and soul into improving yourself. Like, if you’re a school or university student, you’d get into your room, open the text book of the subject you got low grades in and study. (or at least stare at it :|)
Why do we react in such a manner? It’s an easy guess. Because, we “realize” our mistake and live through it’s consequences, shame, guilt …the feeling is horrible. But, what if one doesn’t care a hoot about it? casually saying, “I at least passed!” Obviously, and out of experience (um, yeah *embarrassed*), he/she’d end up in the very same situation in the next exam too. Again, a C or worse, a D.
You guys might be wondering as to why I’m lecturing y’all about something that is so cliché and common among people. But, it does relate to an aspect of Islam, a major aspect. Well, if you haven’t guessed it by now, then I’m referring to faith. Yes, Eeman. Being Muslims, we take faith or Eeman for granted, so much so that, even though we are quick to observe the five daily prayers, give charity, fast, etc, we don’t really improve as Muslims. We should know that Eeman isn’t something that is simply there, safe (uh-huh), it increases as well as decreases. Just as it may increase and reach perfection (Ihsan – the topmost level, which all of us want to attain, don’t we?), it may also decrease and become less and less until it is nonexistent (God forbid). Freakin’ scary! SO in order to be on the “safe” side, we must be persistent in taking steps to increase our Eeman and not be slack in it.
The first step towards achieving a “more-faithful-you” is, assessing yourself. We’ll do this step by step, first, try imaging a staircase leading to Paradise, you’re standing on some step on it, which is determined by your deeds and intentions, in short your Eeman. So now, based on your level of faith determine that step. (Be honest!)
Are we even half way through the staircase? I doubt it. Do we feel the same sadness on realizing such an important aspect as on getting low grades? Hardly. Isn’t this bad? Definitely! This fact itself is enough to prove our level of faith. But hey, hang in there, don’t despair or lose hope! Because, you’ve realized now that you need to do something about it, so you’re already one step up!
So, the next step is, to make a firm resolution, or Islamically, a sincere intention (niyyah), which is, it should be solely for the sake of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala and for reward in the hereafter, which will no doubt, reap benefit in this world too. Once you’ve made a firm intention to strive to increase your Eeman, then remember that Alalh Subhanahu wa Ta’ala has made the religion easy.
“O you who have believed, bow down and prostrate yourselves and worship your Lord and do good – that you may succeed. And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. ”
(Surah al-Hajj 22:77-78)
SubhanAllah! Just reciting this verse makes you feel SO special and gives a kind of assurance of peace and security.
Finally, acting upon it. Here, we’ll have to differentiate between what is obligatory (fard) and what is voluntary or optional (nafil). The former is out of question, you gotta do it! but, not just monotonously, rather submissively. Now, what’ll make us strengthen our Eeman is doing the latter deeds along with the former, both solely with the intention of pleasing Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala. The voluntary deeds include any kind of good deeds, for example, showing kindness to animals, like stray cats or dogs, feeding the poor etc and the higher voluntary deeds include nafil prayers, memorizing the Qur’an, the night prayers (tahajjud) etc.
Abu Hurayrah radi Allahu anhu narrated that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Faith has over seventy branches or over sixty branches, the most excellent of which is the declaration that there is no God but Allah and the humblest of which is the removal of what is injurious from the path; and modesty is a branch of faith.”
Therefore, every good deed we do, following the example of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, increases our faith. This includes complying with everything the Prophet ordered us to do and keeping away from that which he forbid.
May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala keep us firm on our deen, bless us with good in this world and reward us with Paradise (Jannat ul- Firdaws) in the Hereafter and protect us from the Hell-fire. Ameen!