One of the greatest struggles for Muslims is keeping our imaan from fluctuating from day to day. One reason for this, and this pertains particularly to Muslims living in the West, is the lack of an Islamic environment. When living in a socially secular society, it is unseemly to display one’s religion in public. There is an aura of shame when religion is mentioned in the presence of non-Muslims, as if it is something which should only be circulated in our own communities. However, as Muslims we should be proud in our ability to be openly religious and have our faith transcend the public and private domains. Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) said: “I fear the day when the disbelievers are proud of their falsehood, and the Muslims are shy of their faith.” Clearly, that day has come, and we are living it. The reality for many Muslims is that they suffer from low imaan because they are afraid or ashamed of being a Muslim in public.
The solution to this is to be unapologetically Muslim, and to be mindful of Allah in everything we do – to be a reminder to ourselves and others of our beliefs and values. Even though we have our busy lives, our regular nine-to-fives, it is essential to keep our attentions turned towards Allah, and when we do, the results will be palpable. Being faithful to the five daily salah is the first step in having a solid imaan. Salah is the way in which our whole day becomes grounded and rooted in Allah. By having set times to remember Him at regular intervals, it becomes easier to remember who we are and why we are here, instead of getting sucked into this temporary world. Praying salah on time therefore helps us to keep things in perspective. If you are struggling with the fardh salah, try to plan your day around your prayers, instead of squeezing your prayers into your day. Don’t be afraid to ask for a space to pray at work or school, and don’t be embarrassed to leave your friends or colleagues for ten minutes to go and pray. While it may seem that others will think you strange for breaking away from the norm, they will in fact respect your integrity.
Another reminder to ourselves is our manner of dress, and the image we choose to display to the world. A woman’s hijab or a man’s beard and modest dress are reminders to oneself and others that you are a Muslim. This constant, visible reminder helps keep us in check. Through our dress we become representatives of the religion, and while this doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to make mistakes, it can save us from engaging in sinful behaviour. In addition to our dress, we should keep Allah in mind in the way we conduct ourselves. The way we talk, our conversation topics, and the people we mix with are all part of our Islam. If we conduct ourselves in a particular manner for the sake of Allah, it becomes an act of worship, and a way of increasing imaan.
One practical way of being mindful of Allah is invoking Him in our everyday conversation. Simply saying “Insha’Allah”, “Masha’Allah”, or “Alhamdulillah” reminds us of Allah’s influence in every aspect of our lives. When praising a friend or family member, make a dua such as “May Allah increase your success.” This is a great way to consistently utilise the gift of dua, and to remind ourselves that all power lies with Allah. Changing your speech to include Allah turns even the most mundane parts of quotidian conversation into an imaan-booster.
While it may seem that Islam is something we only truly connect with while in the mosque or on the prayer mat, this does not have to be the case. By shifting our frame of mind to keep Allah as the primary focus, we can make every aspect of life a way of gaining the pleasure of our Lord and increasing our faith.
Abu al-‘Abbas ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas(ra) reports:
“One day I was riding (a horse/camel) behind the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, when he said, ‘Young man, I will teach you some words. Be mindful of God, and He will take care of you. Be mindful of Him, and you shall find Him at your side. If you ask, ask of God. If you need help, seek it from God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together in order to help you, they would not be able to help you except if God had written so. And if the whole world were to gather together in order to harm you, they would not harm you except if God had written so. The pens have been lifted, and the pages are dry.’ ”
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