In life, we experience something amazing that makes us feel compelled to come closer to Allah, where we feel a sense of iman-rush. But after a while, dunya gets to us and our reality check makes us feel that we cannot be spiritual consistently.
Here’s a tip on how to remain consistently on the path towards the pleasure of Allah.
Throughout our lives, Allah s.w.t. sends certain circumstances or calamity – a form of a wake-up call – to jolt us out from our heedlessness and guide us back on the correct path. These wake-up calls could be a near-death experience, the pain of losing someone dear, or it could even be when we committed a sin but we realize the gravity of the sin and woke up from it. It’s easy to cry to Allah and abandon our bad habits when we are in dire need of His Mercy. So by sending trials, Allah s.w.t. actually gives us numerous opportunities for us to return to Him.
On the same note, deliberately disregarding these wake-up calls can truly be devastating to one’s iman. Allah s.w.t. says:
Has not the time come for the hearts of those who believe
to be affected by Allah’s Reminder and of the Truth which has been revealed,
and that they should not become like those
to whom was given Revelation aforetime,
but long ages passed over them and their hearts grew hard.
This ayah warns us from becoming like the people of the book before us. A long period passed after the wake-up call came to them, but they refused to take heed, and thus their hearts were HARDENED. Look at the story of Bani Israel as an example. Allah s.w.t. saved them from the severe torments of Fir’aun, they saw a powerful miracle where the sea split in front of their very eyes! Yet even after that…
And We brought the Children of Israel (with safety) across the sea,
and they came upon a people devoted to some of their idols (in worship).
They said: “O Musa!
Make for us an ilah (a god) as they have alihah (gods).”
…even after so many signs sent from Allah s.w.t., they still desired to commit shirk, subhanallah! Because of this, their hearts were hardened and as a result they went further astray.
On the other hand, look at the story of Fudayl Ibn ‘Iyad rahimahullah. He used to be a notorious highway robber before becoming an amazing scholar. One day, he heard the aforementioned ayah that we’re currently discussing (i.e. Al-Hadid 57:16) being recited, and out of fear of Allah, he immediately responded to the ayah. He made sincere tawbah, abandoned his old lifestyle completely, and Allah s.w.t. then made him a great scholar of this Deen – a complete turnaround! This reminds me of the hadith where Rasulallah s.a.w. said:
“Verily, when the slave (of Allah) commits a sin, a black spot appears on his heart. When he refrains from it, seeks forgiveness and repents,
his heart is polished clean.”
When we make tawbah, not only does it erase the sin, but it polishes the heart. What it means is that when we polish after something becomes unreasonably dirty, we might clean up BETTER than someone who constantly keeps a moderate level of cleanliness. This is one of the immense values of a sincere tawbah – people resurface stronger. So be like Fudayl Ibn ‘Iyad rahimahullah – when Allah s.w.t. sends those wake-up calls, grab it! Grasp that opportunity to turn back to Allah, make good changes in our lives, and leave our bad habits behind – Allah s.w.t. will reward us with something better!
IMPORTANT: When we capitalize on our wake-up calls, it also means that we continue to remain steadfast even after that moment of difficulty passes. Yes, it’s easy to turn to Allah when something bad happens, it’s easy to wake up for Qiyamulail or have khushoo’ in our salah, or making sincere du’a when we desperately need His help. But we have to keep that momentum going even after that moment of sadness or hardship is over. Don’t allow ourselves to fall back to our previous state of heedlessness and bad habits!
Imam Al-Hasan Al-Basri rahimahullah said that not capitalizing on those wake-up call moments will actually make us regress, take us further back. Because it means we are becoming accustomed to this hypocrisy, where we only call upon Allah when something bad happens, but we return to our old lifestyle when that moment passes.
Our relationship with Allah s.w.t. has to be more and has to progress BEYOND just
“I’ll call when I need You.”
When we go to Allah s.w.t., we can’t go with strings attached. That wake-up call can be the initial catalyst, but we can’t have a consistent form of spirituality if we just restrict our relationship with Allah only in times of hardship. If we want our spirituality to be nourished, then it needs to be constantly developed, in both easy and difficult times.
May Allah s.w.t. protect, nourish and increase our Iman, Allahumma ameen.