Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE MOST BENEFICENT, THE MOST MERCIFUL
Any great goal you want to achieve requires you to make a solid plan and put effort to achieve this dream goal. Right…?
Now, how come we’d think of our faith as something we take for granted, or something we don’t need to put effort in to grow and strengthen…?
The Prophet himself (peace and blessings upon him) taught us a dua in this regard. Shahr bin Haushab reported: “I asked Umm Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her), “O Mother of the Believers! Which supplication did the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) make frequently when he was in your house?” She said: “He (pbuh) supplicated frequently: ‘Ya muqallibal-qulubi, thabbit qalbi ‘ala dinika (O Controller of the hearts make my heart steadfast in Your religion).” [At- Tirmidhi].
This day and age with all the temptations, distractions and tribulations that are happening around us, we need to have a plan to achieve our ultimate goal of earning Allah’s Pleasure and Closeness and reaching a beautiful eternal Paradise after we leave this world, insha’Allah.
So here are some ways to keep you steadfast in faith.
Sincere daily dua (supplication)
Allah teaches us a great lesson every day. He has instructed us to say 17 times a day through our 5 daily prayers:
“It is You we worship and You we ask for help.” (Qur’an 1: 5)
This is not a coincidence. This is a reminder that no one can achieve success and steadfastness in faith except with the Help of Allah Almighty. We don’t just worship Allah; we need His Incomparable Help to remain on the straight path.
In a beautiful hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) he taught one of the most learned companions, Mu’adh (bin Jabal), words to recite in order to seek the Help of Allah.
Mu’adh bin Jabal (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
Messenger of Allah (pbuh) held my hand and said, “O Mu’adh, By Allah, I love you and advise you not to miss supplicating after every Salat (prayer) saying: ‘Allahumma a’inni ‘ala dhikrika wa shukrika, wa husni ‘ibadatika,’ (O Allah, help me remember You, expressing gratitude to You and worship You in the best manner.” [Abu Dawud and An- Nasa’i].
Dua is absolutely essential to receiving Allah’s guidance. The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said, “Verily supplication is worship.” [Related by the four Imams].
So let not a day pass without making supplications to Allah to help you and aid you. Speak to Allah in your own language and in your own way in supplication if you want. As long as you’re sincere and conscious of what you’re saying, then Allah will respond and will protect you and open doors for you. Allah is our Best Helper (AnNaseer) and He is Our Protecting Friend (Al Wali).
Reciting and Studying the Qur’an
The Qur’an is indispensable to one’s guidance and steadfastness. The best way to get closer to Allah is through His Own Words.
Continuing to listen to the words of Allah and recite them and explore their meanings will keep the heart engaged and will open it and guide it and keep it firm.
The Qur’an responds to everything that goes in your chest. Allah’s Infinite Wisdom and Mercy on His slaves is expressed in this timeless Book that speaks to the hearts and Minds that HE created.
From the beginning of the Book Allah Almighty says:
“This is the Book about which there is no doubt, guidance for those conscious of Allah” (Qur’an 2: 2)
So, studying the meaning of the Qur’an (tafseer), perfecting the recitation (tajweed), spending time with the Qur’an in contemplation and reflection (tadabbur) and reciting it on a daily basis is a very strong mean to strengthen the heart.
“[…] Thus [it is] that We may strengthen thereby [the Qur’an] your heart….” (Qur’an 25: 32)
Studying Seerah (biography of the Prophet) and stories of the Prophets and Companions
Allah has sent the messengers to deliver for us the message and teach us how to deal with all life matters. His life (peace and blessings upon him) is rich with stories and incidents and reminders that would help us deal with anything we face in life. There is so much solace and guidance in being reminded of his Seerah.
Allah Almighty says:
“Certainly did Allah confer [great] favor upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error.” (Qur’an 3: 164)
So studying the Seerah of the Prophet is a means of remembrance of Allah, purification of the self and learning of wisdom.
And Allah Almighty has sent the Prophets before and taught us their stories through the Book and hadiths to guide us and open our hearts and minds to the wisdom of what we see around us and how to deal with different tribulations.
“And each [story] We relate to you from the news of the messengers is that by which We make firm your heart. And there has come to you, in this, the truth and an instruction and a reminder for the believers.” (Qur’an 11: 120)
And He Almighty says:
“There was certainly in their stories a lesson for those of understanding. Never was the Qur’an a narration invented, but a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of all things and guidance and mercy for a people who believe.” (Qur’an 12: 111)
Practicing what one learns
Our iman (faith) can go really high up after listening to lectures or attending circles of knowledge. But few days, weeks, months later, we can lose this feeling and become spiritually drained. This is mainly because of not being consistent or practicing what one has learned.
As Allah Almighty says:
“But if they had done what they were instructed, it would have been better for them and a firmer position [for them in faith].” (Qur’an 4: 66)
Sometimes we delay following the instructions we hear or fear them or submit to the negative whispers of Satan. But if instead we strive to implement what we learn, then this definitely opens more doors of goodness and light and strengthens one in faith.
“And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” (Qur’an 29: 69)
Having good companions always
Seeking righteous companions and remaining among those who are seeking the closeness of Allah Almighty is something that aids and strengthens one’s faith significantly.
As Allah Almighty The Most Knowing says:
“And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect.” (Qur’an 18: 28)
And the Prophet says: ‘The example of a good pious companion and an evil one is that of a person carrying musk and another blowing a pair of bellows. The one who is carrying musk will either give you some perfume as a present, or you will buy some from him, or you will get a good smell from him, but the one who is blowing a pair of bellows will either burn your clothes or you will get a bad smell from him.” [Sahih Al Bukhari]
Being among the wrong company is very dangerous on one’s uprightness and steadfastness. It weakens one’s iman and moves one from remembrance to heedlessness and from great striving on the path to negligence and weakness.
In contrast, righteous companions keep one reminded of Allah, they call each other to doing good, they advise each other against doing sins, they compete in good deeds…etc.
So make dua to find right companions and be among them as they are brothers and allies and a safety boat to one another.
Constant Repentance and following bad deeds with good ones
This is a very important step. We must do all we have in our capacity to remain steadfast. But if for any reason one weakened or fallen into sin, then learn how to get back up immediately and take control of your life. Don’t let the sin control you or define you.
Shaitan whispers to people to commit sins, and when they do, he makes them think that they’re hopeless and can’t be forgiven or that their repentance won’t be accepted. DON’T EVER FALL INTO THIS TRAP!! EVER!
No matter what happens, no matter how many times you’ve fallen into sin and repented and fallen into sin and repented, you should NEVER give up. Allah will always accept the sincere repentance of His slaves. So long as your soul is still in your body and you’re not associating anything or anyone in worship with Allah, then He will always forgive you and accept your repentance.
“Allah, the Exalted, has said: ‘O son of Adam, I forgive you as long as you pray to Me and hope for My forgiveness, whatever sins you have committed. O son of ‘Adam, I do not care if your sins reach the heights of the heaven, then you ask for my forgiveness, I would forgive you. O son of ‘Adam, if you come to Me with an earth load of sins, and meet Me associating nothing to Me, I would match it with an earthload of forgiveness.”‘ [At- Tirmidhi].
So, if you’ve ever weakened or fallen into sin, then immediately follow it with good deeds. As Allah says:
“And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember.” (Qur’an 11: 14)
Remember that for repentance to be accepted, one has to 1- stop the sin immediately. 2- Regret it sincerely, and 3 – have sincere desire to not go back to the sin.
You can also perform the prayer or repentance.
The Prophet says: “There is no one who commits a sin then purifies himself well (does wudoo’/ablution) and stands and prays two rak’ahs (two units of prayer), then asks Allah for forgiveness, but Allah will forgive him. [Abi Dawood]
So, repent, pray, do dhikr, give some money in charity, help your parents, call family member, read Qur’an, do as many good deeds as you can even if small….
In short, strangle the sin with good deeds and do not let it strangle you!
And remember that Allah says:
“Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality, while Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” (Qur’an 2: 268)
So, never give up on Allah and His path because His doors are always open for us, just seek Him and put all effort in the purpose that He created us for and the rewards that He has prepared for us. It is all worth it. Always.
May Allah help us and strengthen us and grant us from all the goodness of this life and the next and bring our hearts back to Him firm and sincere.