In the Early Hours (Reflections on Spiritual and Self-Development)
IMPEDIMENTS IN `HOLDING ONTO ALLAH'
There are some character traits that you must take care to rid yourself of as you strive to `hold onto Allah'.
One such evil and impediment is kibr or pride. This represents the antithesis of humility and is a devastating moral ailment. The efforts which we make for tazkiya, it is hoped, will make us successful. But if one is successful, the greatest cancer that can eat everything away, is kibr. The Messenger of Allah said:
The day you feel that you have attained something special is the day of your spiritual death. Thus, the entire effort which you make should continue to be permeated with humility. Always remember that whatever you have achieved is by the grace of Allah, not through your own efforts.
Secondly, know that the ideal for you to emulate is the uswa of the Prophet. His example is so high and exalted: And you [Muhammad] stand on an exalted standard of character. [al-Qalam 68:4.] One of the reasons the `ideal' standard is so high, is to ensure that we always strive to better ourselves. If the ideal is easily reachable, then once a person has attained it, he will feel content, and contentment will set him off on a downward slide. Because our ideal is high, we are always in a state of aspiration. We are perpetually in a state of effort, striving and spiritual development. Should kibr arise in this state, it can only be an act of Shaytan, who is there just to test whatever one has achieved in the field of knowledge or action. Kibr will destroy whatever you have achieved, so protect yourself against it. Remember that it comes in very attractive, very concealed and very deceptive channels and forms. So, be ever vigilant.
The characteristics of a Believer whose heart is free of pride and filled with ikhlas and humility are described in a hadith qudsi. Allah Most High has said:
You should thus strive to become like one who doggedly keeps on working for the cause of Allah. You may not necessarily read details of him in newspaper columns, nor does he appear on television screens, nor does he win applause by making beautiful speeches in large gatherings and commendations for writing good pieces. He is not plagued by doubts. He does not waver in the face of defeat and failure. He does not calculate the chances of success but he knows very well that the only chance of success for him is to do his duty, and do it to the best of his ability. He is the backbone of the Islamic work and the Muslim Umma.
Another evil that destroys all that the Believer has achieved, or is trying to achieve, is nifaq. Nifaqentails hypocrisy, showing off, and pretending to have what one does not possess. The Prophet condemned this in the strongest terms. He said:
He also said:
Hypocrisy serves only to cloud your consciousness of Allah. It is a moral ailment which eats away one's character as a moth eats away cloth. Nifaq is the opposite of ikhlas whereas ikhlas is the most essential ingredient of faith and good deeds. You should therefore assess your motives and actions frequently.
A third danger is that of qunut or pessimism. You must try to rid yourself of qunut, the feeling of hopelessness and pessimism. Allah calls qunut an act of kufr or disbelief and rejection: He says: who despairs of the mercy of his Lord, those who go astray? [al-Hijr 15: 56.]
If you have tried and failed a hundred times, your efforts would still have won incalculable gains. The feeling of disappointment and pessimism and of losing heart should never occur. The promise of Allah is true and will come to pass: And those who strive in Our way We will certainly guide them to Our paths. [at-Ankabut 29:69.] Always adopt a hopeful and positive outlook. Be an eternal optimist.
4. Uncontrollable Anger
A fourth danger is that of uncontrollable anger. Once you begin to truly `hold onto Allah' you will find that life becomes pleasant and easy. To work for the cause of Islam becomes a joy. Inter-personal disputes, family problems and organisational problems will be resolved amicably. Most problems which persist in affecting our social relationships and organisations are due to lack of sincerity and lack of exclusiveness for Allah.
If you begin to do everything for Him, there is no need to be angry if somebody insults you since he or she cannot harm you at all. Only Allah's displeasure can harm you. Remember the words of Allah:
Why should you become angry? Uncontrollable anger and unnecessary rudeness and disputes that take place are counter productive especially when you are working in a jama'a, hand-in-hand with your fellow Muslim brother and sister for the cause of Islam. Remember that we are working only to seek the pleasure of Allah. Do not ruin your good deeds by corrupting your heart with kibr and letting your nafs or selfish desires get the better of you. Identifying a practical method of controlling anger, the Prophet advised:
The Prophet also used to make dua constantly in order to avoid negative emotions and behaviour:
There are many more Prayers and supplications of the Prophet for similar things. They are food for the soul, food for the qalb and a source of sustenance for living this worldly life, for doing business. for studying, for working, for bringing up children and for dawn. Remember, if we do things for worldly objects, these objects will perish and our own actions will also perish.
5. Abuse of the Tongue
A fifth danger is abuse of the tongue. We should be careful how we use our tongue for its misuse is the fastest way to Hellfire. Lying, slandering, backbiting and obscenity should never be part of our speech. We should be exceedingly careful with what we say about others. The Prophet said:
Janna has been promised for those who are careful with their speech. The Prophet said:
The key to control of the tongue is to infuse our conversations with remembrance of Allah. The Prophet said in this regard:
6. Lustful Sexual Passions
The sixth and last impediment I wish to highlight is that of lustful sexual passions. Sex is a powerful driving force that Allah has blessed us with. In the Quran, Allah praises men who guard their sex organs [an-Nur 24: 30], and women who guard their sex organs [an-Nur 24: 31]. Despite great temptations, true Believers are able to control their sexual desires and in the process preserve their chastity.
The abuse of one's sexual organs leading to either fornication or adultery (zina) is described in the Quran as a great abomination:
The verse warns against approaching any avenue which excites passions, opens ways for illicit relations between a man and woman, and promotes indecency and obscenity. For this reason we are advised by Allah and His Prophet to observe the following regulations:
The Quran has laid down certain guidelines for staying on the Straight Way. The first is to `hold on to Allah' and life's journey will be easy.
`Holding onto Allah' means that you must be grateful to Him for everything, worship only Him, love Him more than anything else, strive to become a hanif, and make jihad only for Him.
Likewise, be aware of the following impediments in `holding onto Allah': pride, hypocrisy, pessimism, uncontrollable anger, abuse of the tongue and lustful sexual passions.