Friday 24 July 2009

Self-help applied to Faith

I’ve always been a big fan of self-help books since I was a teenager, and one of the key things I have learned (apart from they all like to state the obvious) is that if take any action towards our goal, no matter how small the step, it can really motivate us to get out of our mind-set of having doubts and being fearful.

Most people apply this to their career or life-goals and I had thought about this, but then came to the conclusion that the area that really needs the most work is my faith.

A long period of illness earlier in the year has meant that I had dropped the habits of reading from the Quran or of trying to read any Islamic books and have only been praying the basic fard (obligatory) prayers. I don’t think I have lost my iman (faith), in fact I feel like Allah’s (SWT) promise of ease after difficulty has been proven more than ever for me. However, I also feel that it is the nafl (non-obligatory) prayers and actions that strengthen our iman and help it to grow, perhaps because they are over and above what we have to do. I also feel like omitting these things had made a difference in other ways – forgetting to say a prayer before I leave the house or when putting the kids to bed, something I would never have done before.

With this in mind, I wanted to see what changes I could make, perhaps read a little Quran in the morning, or after esha prayer, perhaps read the nafl prayer after maghrib (evening prayer), maybe start learning some new dua’s or memorising parts of the Quran my dad taught me as a child and I have forgotten since. Looking at the matter this way has made me realise that faith isn’t something that you are either blessed with or not, but something you have to ask Allah for and work hard on.

Another suggestion I found was on this post on 100 lists which basically states that you should take a topic or problem and then lists 100 answers or solutions to it. The first thirty are supposed to be easy, the next 40 is where your subconscious mind becomes engaged and some more abstract solutions start coming through and the last thirty on the list is where the gems are supposed to be and where the possibility of a shift in perspective exists. I might just give this a go with “How Can I be a Better Muslimah” as the heading.

What suggestions can sisters out there give me to increase my iman and taqwa (god-consciousnes)?

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) related from Allah Most High that He said “… And my servant continues to draw closer to me by voluntary actions until I love him…” [Bukhari]


  1. I am in the same boat than you at this point in time and would love to get some advice as well. I guess, the clue is not to overdo it at first but making baby steps and trying to improve in small areas at first. I remember a hadith where the prophet saw spoke about consistency in worship and how we should try to find something we can stick to, even if it's small and keep on doing it. May Allah help you on your quest!

  2. Lovely post, Umm Saalihah. As Hijabee said, starting small, making the change consistent and then building up on it.

    -Dua's for Allah Taala's help with your endeavour - I think this is the most important, for we can achieve very little without His help.

    -Will email you 2 dua's that I find helpful

  3. I agree with the other ladies ahead of me in responding, but would add that whatever small 'ibada that is done is done with full concentration, reflecting upon the meaning and even history of the prayer or worshipful act in order to really put your heart into it. In this way, even some small or short prayer will retain it's purpose and also increase your imaan as you will see its effects working in your life. There is no such thing as an insignificant prayer, even if it is short.
    With regards to taqwa, what springs to mind is the Hadith Sharif with the Holy Last Messenger pointing to his blessed breast three times saying "Taqwa is here..." I'm not giving an exact quote, but it is a hadith in the 40/Arbaeen Nawawi: Then Nabi Muhammad, peace be upon him, said to consult your heart regarding piety/birr. Piety brings tranquility to the heart. Sin is that which disturbs the soul and agitates the heart no matter if someone counsels you to do it.
    In my personal opinion, I've found that if you listen to your heart when it is telling you to do good things (like extra prayers, etc.) to follow it. And the more you follow it, the more good it prompts you to do. Then eventually a person becomes the sort of person who very much dislikes to do those things that agitate the heart and displease Allah, and their taqwa increases...
    I hope very much that this helps.
    wa salaam,

  4. Assalam-alaikam,

    Sister Hijabee,
    with Ramadan coming, I'm trying to include small actions in my day which will make a difference insh'Allah and that I can stick to.

    Sis MJ
    thank you for your advice and the dua's, I think I might print them and stick them up somewhere where I can read them regularly.

    Sister Noora,
    this is good advice. I have read before that if you have trouble concentrating in your salah to focus on the meaning of what you are reading.

    There is no point in lots of ibadah if your heart is not in it. I think this is central to my problem - concentration and focus.

    I love the quote you give, I beleive deeply in intuition and your conscience guiding you and this tallies with that thinking.

    Jazakh'Allah-khairun for giving me some really useful food for thought.