Tuesday, 9 January 2007

How To Improve Myself - Istiqamah


One of the easiest things to do is to find fault in others. To point out their every shortcoming and to overlook whatever good they may possess, in an effort for self-aggrandisement and seemingly moral superiority.

On the other hand, one of the hardest things to do is to find fault with ourselves. Self-criticism is one of the most difficult things to do; yet it is a necessary variable in the equation for self-improvement. If a person takes a long, hard look in the mirror, most probably than not, he or she will find yet another "gaping chest wound" in the makeup of his/her Islamic character.

One of the most common faults a person will find in him/her self is Inconsistency. For example, we find people say - start at the beginning of the month, doing all Sunnah prayers, but then by the end of the month; only one or two are done. Some start off fasting every Monday and Thursday, and then later on - not so every Monday and Thursday. Many of us start off fast and furious, but then often crash and burn in mid-stream.


The trick is to start off strong, but to maintain enough momentum to see ourselves through the long haul. This is the Islamic way, the way of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, and his Companions RA.

It has been narrated by Alqama RA that he asked Aishah RA:

"Did Allah’s Messenger (SAW), use to choose some special days (for fasting)?"

Aishah RA replied:

"No, but he used to be regular (constant in his service of worshipping). Who amongst you can endure what Allah’s Messenger (SAW) used to endure?" (Bukhari)

It was also narrated that Masruq RA once asked Aishah RA:

"What deed was the most beloved to the Prophet (SAW)?"

She said:

"The regular constant one."

I said:

"At what time did he use to get up at night (for the Tahajjud night prayer)?"

She said:

"He used to get up on hearing (the crowing of) the cock (the last third of the night)." (Bukhari)

Allah SWT says:

"And those who are constant, seeking the pleasure of their Lord, and keep up prayer and spend (benevolently) out of what We have given them secretly and openly and repel evil with good; as for those, they shall have the (happy) issue of the abode." (Surah 13: Ayat 22)

Allah also says:

"Peace be on you because you were constant, how excellent, is then, the issue of the abode." (Surah 13: Ayat 24)

We can see from the above Ahadith and verses of the Qur'an, that constancy of nature is something loved by both Allah SWT and His Messenger SAW.

But how do we cultivate this constancy in ourselves?

One of the ways, and this is one of the ways of the salaf, is to implement things easily and slowly into our routine.

For example, we can start off with doing what is obligatory and then add the nawafil (optional), one at a time, learn to maintain it, and then move on to something else.

This is true because Abu Hurairah RA narrated that Allah’s Messenger SAW said:

"The deeds of anyone of you will not save you (from the Fire)."

They said:

"Even you (will not be saved by your deeds), O Allah’s Messenger (SAW)?"

He (SAW) said:

"No, even me (will not be saved) unless and until Allah bestows His Mercy on me. Therefore, do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and worship Allah in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night, and always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course whereby you will reach your target (Paradise)." (Bukhari)

Another tool for building consistency is to do in private, what you do in public.

Once Umar ibn Abdul Aziz RA was advised:

"O' Umar, beware of being the ally of Allah in open, while being His enemy in secret. If one’s nature in open and in secret do not equate then he is a hypocrite, and the hypocrites occupy the lowest level in the Hellfire."

We should beware of the Shaytaan's tricks, and not fall suspect to them, if we usually make two or four raka'ats of Sunnah before Zuhr solat at home, then we should do the same when we are out. So the next time we feel the need to point out the beam in our brother’s eye, make sure that we first acknowledge the log in our own eye.

It was Saiyidina Umar ibn Al-Khattab RA who said:

"Call yourselves to account before you are brought to account. Weigh them up before they are weighed, and prepare for the greatest parade. The Day that you shall be presented (for judgement), not a secret of yours will be hidden."

Being constantly critical of one's ownself and remaining constant in obedience to Allah SWT, leads to bliss.

For Allah SWT says:

"And whatever is in the heavens and the earth is His, and to Him should obedience be (rendered) constantly; will you then guard against other than (the punishment of) Allah?"

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