Living Islam Daily
- The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said,
'Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death.'
Indeed, we all, at some point in our lives, are reminded of the passage of time... It may be due to an affliction that has befallen us, a word we have read or an incident that we have witnessed. We literally feel the seconds ebbing away from our lives and we are filled with a sense of desperation. What have we achieved? What have we done with our lives?
We are reminded of our aspirations we had once had that have lain dormant... buried... while we are engrossed with building our lives in this dunya. We are reminded of how we wanted to be the true and successful servants of our Creator and we become sick with worry and shame. We see how we have not moved an inch closer to this goal.
We want to make amends ...
we KNOW we can do it.
And so we start all over again. We begin to piece together our ideas and resolutions. This time we will not forget and we will not fail, inshaa Allah. We will fast more, pray more, recite the Qur'an more... we will change the world and make it a better place.
We set out with promise and enthusiasm but as the months go by, our determination fizzles out and our good actions are forgotten. Our resolutions once again remain in the realm of good intentions... until the next time something prompts us into introspection.
How do we avoid this? How do we convert our good intentions to consistent actions?
I do not dare to say I have all the answers. I can only share what I have learned in my own struggle with good intentions and resolutions.
Here are some tips that I hope you will find useful in trying to live Islam daily:
 Purify your intentions and remember that you wish to seek the pleasure of Allah
Sincerity in all we do is a commandment of Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala):
"Say, 'Indeed my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first (among you) of the Muslims.'"
[Surah al-An'aam, 6: 162,163]
He also says:
"So worship Allah (alone) by doing religious deeds sincerely for Allah's sake only, (and not to show-off and not to set up rivals with Him in worship). Surely, the religion (i.e. the worship and the obedience) is for Allah only."
[Surah Az-Zumar 39:2-3]
Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) said,
"Deeds without sincerity are like a traveler who carries in his water-jug dirt. The carrying of it burdens him and it brings no benefit."
 Seek His help through du'a
Allah has told His Messenger (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) that He is close and answers the supplication of any servant who calls to Him. He said:
"When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them), I respond to the prayer of every supplicant when he calleth on Me."
[Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 186]
Indeed, when we are faced with distress, it is He whom we should turn to:
"Or, who listens to the distressed (soul) when he calls on Him, and who relieves his suffering?"
[Surah An -Naml: 62]
 Do not procrastinate
It is easier for one to put off a goal until tomorrow so that one can rationalize not disciplining oneself today. How often have we said, "Inshaa Allah, I will make a change tomorrow" but never actually get around to doing it? One of the early scholars said, "Beware of procrastinating. It is the greatest of the soldiers of Satan." Do not make half-hearted promises - you are fooling no one but yourself. Carry out your resolutions with zeal and optimism.
 Take baby steps and set realistic goals In our zeal
We often chart ambitious plans only to be discouraged when we cannot sustain our efforts. Remember that no good deed is too small - the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) was asked, "Which deed is most beloved to Allah?" He said, "The one that is continuous, even if it is little."
[Sahih al-Bukhari, Fath al-Bari 11:194].
Small changes work a great deal better than giant leaps, so don't bite off more than you can chew. Start out with small deeds and you that you can accomplish easily and consistently before moving on to more challenging ones. This will motivate you and make you feel more successful. Insha'Allah, you will find that over time, you will have made a big difference.
 Build a good support system
Ibn Hazm said,
"Anyone who criticises you cares about your friendship. Anyone who makes light of your faults cares nothing about you."
It is said that reminders benefit the believers, so surround yourselves with good companions who will give you sincere advice and who will support you with your resolutions. Avoid those who will chip away at your self-esteem or who will tempt you away from your resolutions.
Bear in mind what 'Ali radhiallahu 'anhu said:
"Mix with the noble people, you become one of them; and keep away from evil people to protect yourself from their evils."
 Track your progress and be consistent
Write down your goals - hang this list up on the wall, keep it in your notebook, fold it into your wallet or stick it in your locker. You can even keep a log or journal of how you are doing - start a web log even! Be honest with yourself and recheck your goals. The idea is not to slacken. Indeed, when the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) did something, he kept it up.
Take a look at the hadith Qudsi in which Allah says:
"… 'My slave keeps drawing nearer to me with naafil (supererogatory) deeds until I love him.'"
The phrase maa yazaalu ["keeps (drawing near)"] gives the impression of continuity. The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) also said,
"Continue doing Hajj and 'Umrah."
 Avoid burnout
It is inevitable that we sometimes feel as if our iman has hit rock bottom or that we lack the spirit to continue in our striving.
The Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said,
"Iman wears out in one's heart, just as the dress wears out (becomes thin). Therefore, ask Allah to renew iman in your hearts."
[at-Tabarani and Al-Hakim]
Continuing to do acts of worship and good deeds does not mean one exhausts oneself to breaking point. We continue with the obligatory acts. When we have the energy and inclination, we strive to do more and when we do not, we do as much as we can.
The Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam)said:
"Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection…"
According to another report, he said:
"Be moderate, and you will reach what you want."
 Seek inspiration
The best sources of inspiration are in the mighty Qur'an, the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam), his companions, the pious predecessors and the scholars.
Look at Abu Musa al-Ash'ari. He used to apply himself so much in worship at the end of his life that he was told, "Why don't you slow down and be gentle with yourself?" He replied, "When the horses are released for a race and are close to the finish line, they give all the strength they have. What is left of my life is less than that." It is said that he maintained this level of devotion till he died.
Look at Amir ibn Abdullah who was once asked, "How can you tolerate being awake all night, and thirsty in the intense heat of the day?" He replied, "Is it anything more than postponing the food of the day to nighttime, and the sleep of the night to daytime? This is not a big matter." When the night came, he would say, "Remembrance of the heat of hellfire has taken sleepiness from me." And he would not sleep until dawn.
Look at Ar-Rabi' ibn Khuthaym. Abu Hayan related that his father said, "Ar-Rabi' ibn Khuthaym was crippled and used to be carried to the congregational salah. So people told him, "You have an excuse (for not coming)." He said, "I hear 'hayya 'alas-salah', the call to salah; so if you can come to it even by crawling, do so", paraphrasing a hadith.
 Do a variety of acts of worship
Allah in His Infinite Mercy has blessed us with a variety of acts of worship to do - some are physical such as prayer; some are financial such as zakat and sadaqah; some are spoken such as du'aa and dhikr.
Perhaps the wisdom behind this provision is that it addresses the different inclinations and abilities of the people. Some people may enjoy some kinds of worship more than others. Indeed, Allah has made gates of Paradise according to the different types of worship.
According to a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (radhiallahu anhu) the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam)said:
"Whoever spends on a pair for the sake of Allah will be called from the gates of Paradise, 'O slave of Allah, this is good.' Whoever is one of the people of prayer will be called from the gate of prayer. Whoever is one of the people of jihad will be called from the gate of jihad. Whoever is one of the people of fasting will be called from the gate of al-Rayyan. Whoever is one of the people of charity will be called from the gate of charity."
 Do not waste even a minute
As mentioned earlier, there are a variety of deeds one can do. There may be days when one is busy with chores, work or commitments to family and friends. This does not mean that one does not have time to incorporate one's resolution to live Islam daily. One can make dhikr while cooking, one can memorise a du'aa while waiting for the bus, one can listen to an Islamic lecture when driving home from work… the list goes on. The bottom line? Do what you can when you can.
May Allah give us steadfastness and may He give us the best in this world and the hereafter