Falling into Sin

 

FALLING INTO SIN

al-Jumu’ah Magazine


 

 

IN TODAY’S SOCIETY, WHAT CAN ONE DO
TO PROTECT HIS EMAAN, IMPROVE HIS CHARACTER AND BE THE MUSLIM HE WANTS
TO BE?
 

As one of only two Muslims in a small Kentucky
town one summer, it was hard  not to notice the stares. Coming from
a mostly Muslim setting, it was a  difficult adjustment for the sixth-grader
visiting Christian relatives. “I  felt I went from being a perfectly
normal, happy child with many interests  and friends, to something
akin to a monster.” Everything about her suddenly  became wrong; and
so, beyond the eyes of the Ummah, some set about fixing  her. “The
funny thing is that I was taught to have a healthy respect for  Allah’s
revelations. And that, in part, is what they used against me. I was 
in a nightmare filled with emotional vampires and spiritual cannibals and
I  knew this was not the teachings of the honorable Prophet Eesa alayhes
sallam.  But I wanted to be liked and accepted.”

The second-generation Muslim, and seventh
generation American, left the town  with her faith shaken in a God
who could have put her through that, and in  her belief in the inherent
goodness and oneness of people. But mostly her  emaan, her faith in
Allah now felt just beyond her reach. Her better  instincts had been
dulled. She’d done a few things she felt ashamed of and  she sometimes
lapsed into small bouts of depression. There was a small ball  of
anger eating at her gut. She didn’t think she could ever tell anyone about 
her experiences. She just wanted to be left alone…

EMAAN

Your most valuable possession

In a time when faith in God is many times
considered a weakness, where the  relationship between cause and effect
are bandied about as negotiable, emaan  may seem like a fantasy at
best, an albatross at worst. The line between  right and wrong is
deliberately blurred, redrawn and blurred again.  Throughout time-ancient
as well as modern-examples of what comes of the  convolutions of mankind
abound. Yet still we allow ourselves to be guided  into the web of
the true delusion: that in going against the blueprint for  mankind
that Allah reiterates in the Qur’an, we can cheat the fate our own 
hands wring, that among ourselves we make adequate lesser gods.

Anyone who contemplates the verses of the
Qur’an will find people are ultimately responsible for their own deeds.
Allah is not unjust to anyone,  that the reason behind a person’s
deviations is one’s own self. Deeds, by  heart or limb, result in
steadfastness or perversion. They are linked  together in the same
fashion a consequence is linked to its cause and an  effect to its
influence. And sometimes Allah plots for you a course of hills,  valleys
and straightaways that will ultimately make the legs of your  deen-your
emaan-lean and well-muscled.

Shoring up your Character

Allah guides those who perform good deeds.
And the more we do, the more guidance we receive. Likewise, evil doing
feeds on itself. Ibn-ul-Qayyim  said, “This is because Allah likes
good deeds and rewards on them, and  abhors  evil deeds, and
punishes for them.” Scholars have taken this  truth and  crafted
the rule: “Recompense is according to deeds.”

Here are a few Qur’anic verses relating
to the loss of guidance and decrease  in emaan:

“So when they turned away (from the
path of Allah), Allah turned their hearts  away (from the right path).”
[61:5]
 

“I shall turn away from My signs
those who behave arrogantly on the earth in  a wrongful manner. If
they see all the signs they will not believe in them.  And if they
see the way of righteousness, they will not adopt that way.”  [7:146].
 

“And recite to them (Oh, Mohammed)
the story of the one to whom We gave our  verses (signs), but he turned
them away, so Satan followed him up, and he  became of those who went
astray. Had he willed We would surely have elevated  him therewith
but he clung to the earth and followed his own vain desires. So  his
description is the that of a dog; if you drive him away, he lolls his 
tongue out, or if you leave him alone, he (still) lolls his tongue out.” 
[7:175-176].

The last verse tells us that some even
have knowledge, but instead of applying it, they choose to follow their
whims and worldly desires. In the  end they lose their blessing and
stray from Allah.

The young girl was eventually ensconced
within the circle of her Muslim community but she had changed. She felt
disconnected somehow. “I always did  good deeds and tried to be helpful.
I made good grades. But I was trying to  sort out my relationship
with people and was trying to see myself. My anger  had turned to
hatred and I thought that feeling, that rush made me brave. But  it
wasn’t my nature, to feed off of that kind of negativity. It wasn’t who
I  thought Allah wanted me to be. It wasn’t what my family brought
me up to be.  I could never reach my potential holding on to that
baggage. “There was a  time when I feared nothing but Allah. And now
I had to admit that I feared  what people could do when they discover
you’re different. Going to school,  walking to the store, meeting
new people, voicing an opinion…” The more she  hid and tried to
blend in, the more obvious it became that she was different.  “I didn’t
gossip. I dressed modestly. I stood up for what I felt was right. I 
thought globally … I achieved things and some people admired me. But
that  made me uncomfortable because I knew that any good that came
my way or  through me was the will of Allah. I never really belonged.
I had yet to  really stand up for myself, to allow people to get to
know me on my own  terms. I had created something of a prison for
myself that only I knew I was  in.” Everyone is solely responsible
for his/her deviation. Allah does not  oppress anyone. Nor does Allah
turn away servants when they sincerely strive  for guidance. Allah
is the most just. And He is the most merciful.

Deviation from the right path and the degradation
of emaan are a result of  one’s own deeds and a reflection of one’s
own behavior and character. Muslims  must always be aware of that.
They should assume they will face challenges  sometimes and be ready
to protect themselves and to heal and to grow. The  first step towards
achieving that is to know why and how does it happen. Most  times
it isn’t the big wars that defeat a people, it is the little internal 
skirmishes which go unmet that eat away at character long before a clear 
enemy comes knocking on a half-opened door.

WHEN WE SLIP

Emaan is the core of all actions. It is
the motivation necessary for a Muslim  to accomplish whatever needed
to lead a good life. Depending on the strength  of his emaan, a person
may or may not be able to abandon sinning, strive  against his own
desire and compel his soul to take heed.

The strength of emaan does not only show
itself in the apparent deeds; true  emaan actually fills and saturates
the heart. Allah’s Messenger, sallallaahu  alayhe wa sallam, pointed
out “three (factors), whoever has them will find  the sweetness of
emaan: that Allah and His Messenger are more beloved to him  than
any thing else, that he loves a person solely for the sake of Allah, and 
that he hates to revert to disbelieve, as he hates being thrown into 
hellfire.” (Bukhari and Muslim) In another hadeeth, Allah’s Messenger, 
sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam said, “(He has) experienced the taste of emaan, 
who is contented that Allah as his Lord (Rabb), Islam as his religion and 
Mohammed as a Prophet.” (Muslim).

We have to be certain that our emaan is
deeply rooted into our hearts. A person may repent to Allah, following
the path of righteousness, yet emaan  may not have entered his heart.
So, at the first sign of destructive desires,  doubts set in and convictions
dissipate. Signs that this disease has entered  the heart include
rigidity of our hearts, courage in committing sins and  laziness toward
good deeds.

Balance emaan with Islamic knowledge

Just as a person needs emaan for motivation,
action and strength in the heart, he, likewise, needs knowledge, to do
what is right, rectify his worship and purify his turning to Allah alone.
When emaan and Islamic knowledge are deeply rooted into a person’s heart,
there remains no possibility for him to turn away from the path of righteousness.
“The seizing  of amanah (trustworthiness) and emaan (which has been
reported in the  authentic hadeeth) is not the seizing of knowledge,”
Ibn-Taymiyyah said, “For  it is known that a person may be bequeathed
with emaan even though he lacks  knowledge. An emaan like this one
could be snatched from his heart -like the  emaan of Bani-Israel after
they saw the calf.

“As for the one bequeathed with both, knowledge
and emaan, emaan is never  seized from his breast and such a person
never reverts from Islam.  Conversely, if one is bequeathed with Qur’an
alone or emaan alone, emaan can  be seized and this is the reality.
We have seen it often that the most to  revert from Islam are those
who recite Qur’an, without understanding or  emaan, or those who possess
emaan without knowledge and Qur’an. But as for  the one who has acquired
Qur’an and emaan, and hence obtained knowledge, for  this one, emaan
is never seized from his heart and Allah knows best.”  (Majmou’a al-Fatawa
18/305).

The mere memorization of the Qur’an and
concepts does not mean one has acquired knowledge, especially since the
Qur’an is read by the munafiq (hypocrite), the mu’min (believer) and the
illiterate. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “Knowledge is of two types; knowledge
in the heart and knowledge on the  tongue.” So knowledge in the heart
is the useful one while knowledge on the  tongue is Allah’s argument
against His servants.”

Seeking Islamic knowledge saves thoughts
from turning to desires and sins  because there is no spare time,
and because those things pale in the face of  the joy of the revelation
of truth. He will be so engrossed in the pleasure  of acquiring knowledge
such that the chance of him looking for activities  that may weaken
his emaan or cause him to deviate will be minimum.

Slough the dead skin of sin

Allah says, “You counted it a little thing
while it was very great in the  sight of Allah.” [24:15] Some companions
said, as reported by Anas, “You are  doing deeds which you view to
be finer than a hair, but we, in the days of  the Prophet, sallallaahu
alayhe wa sallam, used to consider them as major  sins.” (Bukhari).

Viewing sins as little things has adverse
effects:

-The sins multiply in the sight of Allah.

-The path of repentance becomes distant,
since he does not anymore feel a  need for it. It is the one who realizes
its severity, adheres to making  istighfaar (asking for forgiveness)
and regretfully seeks repentance from  Allah who has his sin erased.

-He is drawn to individuals similarly engrossed.
This alone is among the  major factors behind a person’s deviation.
Moreover, it results in him  avoiding the gatherings where Allah is
remembered. As a result,  opportunities  that would otherwise
help him remain steadfast on good  deeds are missed.

-The sin becomes a hard habit to break.
Even if the sins are minor, they  gather around a person leading him
to devastation, as Allah’s Messenger  warned. Abdullah bin Mas’ood
said, “Beware of viewing the sins as  little for  they gather
upon a person till he is devastated and  Allah’s Messenger, 
sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam, has coined a  similitude for it as a
group of  people stopped in a desert and the  cook among them
arrived. So a person would  go and bring one stick,  and another
one would go and bring one stick till  they gathered many  of
them, lit a fire and brought to ripeness all that they  have thrown 
in it.” (Authentic, Ahmad)

Arrogance and pride are traps

These two attributes are among the worst
for man to acquire. Arrogance and  pride led Iblis (Satan) astray,
although he was in the company of the angels.  That happened because,
Allah tells us, “I (Iblis) am better than him (Adam).  You created
me from fire and him You created from clay.” [7:12].

If one does not rid himself of arrogance
and pride, an end similar to that of  Satan is a sure result. But
even a little part of them-especially if related  to how one views
one’s worship-can very devastating to one’s emaan:

-Claiming perfection leads one to not feel
the need to improve himself through good deeds and other means of nurturing
his emaan. But emaan as stated by scholars either increases or decreases.
Therefore, it will certainly decrease when one does not work hard to increase
it with a lot good  deeds.

-Admiring one’s own deeds results in the
gradual relinquishment of worshipping Allah, because worship is based on
humbling oneself to Him and  acknowledging that all the gratefulness
is to Allah and to Him alone. How  could one be proud of his deeds
while Allah’s Messenger, sallaallahu alayhe  wa sallam, used to say,
“None of you will be saved because of his deeds.”  They asked, “Not
even you Oh Allah’s Messenger?” He said, “No, not even me,  except
that Allah bestows me with His mercy.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

-When one loses the fear of requital it
becomes easy to forget about falling  from the straight path. A sense
of security in this aspect can be the first  step towards falling
a victim to it. Would such an arrogant person  continually beseech
Allah for guidance and seek steadfastness on his path?

-Vanity leads to backbiting and rumor mongering.
Moreover, whomever mocks his  brother about a particular sin will
not die till he himself succumbs to it.

As the little sister grew, she continued
to work at healing and finally, through salah, good deeds and study was
able to rid herself of much of the  scars of the past. Though it was
painful, she admits she learned some  valuable lessons that helped
shape her deen and character, strengthen her  emaan and define her
sense of humanity.

Tackle Tarbiyah with Joy

After a person has turned to Allah in repentance,
he leaves behind an enormous amount of evil ideas, perceptions and habits.
It is not possible to  get rid of all the past by a mere repentance
to Allah. A personal training  effort (Tarbiyah) is required to erase
all the effects. An effort that  ingrains the right emaan and sufficient
Islamic knowledge to further pave the  road with a firm foundation.
Taking a quick look at the apostasy events that  occurred in the days
of the Prophet, sallaallahu alayhe wa sallam, much  evidence supports
this fact. Was there any among the Muhajireen or Ansaar who  defected?
Were there any defectors among those who witnessed the battle of 
Badr? Or the Ridwaan Pledge? Or those who accepted Islam in its initial 
phase? Were there any of those among the apostates about whom Allah says,
“Only those are the believers who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, 
and afterward doubt not but strive with their wealth and their lives for
the  cause of Allah. Those, they are the truthful.” [49:15].

Most of the apostates/defectors comprised
those who had just recently entered  the circle of Islam and had not
yet received the type of training that would  instill emaan and its
branches in their heart. Mere repentance and an  apparent change are
neither the first step nor the last. In fact, it is only  one step
in the right direction, which is followed by putting in an effort to 
attain emaan and taqwa. To attain emaan and taqwa, find a group which assists 
through regular encounters. One cannot be expected to experience the fruits 
of brotherhood and sisterhood, when isolated and not practically involved 
with others. Find an appropriate example that can help one stand up against 
daily challenges by holding tight to the rope of Allah altogether.

However, the being within a group must
hinder one from developing his own  formidable relationship with Allah
in the form of deeds far away from the  sight of people. One must
spend the effort in worship at night, charity,  siyaam, seeking knowledge
and so on. One must try to create an intuition of  individual responsibility
within himself as it is established in the Qur’an,  “Whoever goes
right, then he goes right only for the benefit of his own self.  And
whoever goes astray, then he goes astray to his own loss. No one laden 
with burdens can bear someone else’s burden.” [17:15].

Furthermore, Allah’s Messenger, sallaallahu
alayhe wa sallam, explains how a  person is responsible and accountable
for his own deeds by saying, “There is  none among you but his Lord
will speak to him without an interpreter. He will  look to his right
and will find only his deeds. He will look to his left and  will find
only his deeds…” (Bukhari & Muslim) All this and much more must 
make a person aware that his being in a group is good and recommended,
but  still it does not exempt him from the individual responsibility
he has to  account for on the Day of Judgment.

Predominance of desires

Deviation from the right path is caused
by one of the two factors- either  doubt which has mixed with clarity
and truth, or desires which predominated a  persons heart and hence,
deviated and obstructed him from the truth and  obeying Allah, a factor
clearly noticed in our days.

The ones who repent and turn to Allah are
just as human as any one else- they  desire as others do. The problem
of lustful desires begins primarily with an  evil look or idea and
ends with flooded actions or an erupted volcano-leading  a person
to perversion.

You find a person following the path which
pleases Allah but once he sights  something forbidden (e.g., a beautiful
woman), a struggle in his heart  begins; the light of emaan is kindled
within him calling him to repent and  turn to Allah. Eventually, the
pitch of this call is reduced and the call of  the desire rises. In
this way, an immense struggle within begins. At one  stage, the call
of emaan might predominate and he overcomes this hurdle, even  if
the dust of the sin might have touched him, which he immediately washes 
off with repentance and good deeds.

On the other hand, he might respond due
to a weakness in emaan and the light  of desire rises and predominates,
ensnaring his heart and obstructing any  chances of turning to Allah.
As a result, he falls victim to the sin and can  not turn to Allah
in repentance, which would raise him from this downfall. At  this
moment, he would say to himself, “You have already been affected by the 
dirt of sin, so you might as well keep on going. So many times you have
tried  to repent, but to no avail. You are weak, there remains no
hope for you to  repent, and your way is different from that of the
pious!”

The ugly gut of excessiveness

Whenever Allah commands us to do something,
Satan incites us to fall into  either extreme-either exaggerating
the act on one hand or be negligent and  careless about it on the
other. Even though the latter is a common phenomenon  with many, Satan
chooses to incite one towards the opposite extreme of  exaggeration
and immoderation. Accordingly, we have been warned against  taking
such an approach as Allah says, “Say, O people of the scripture, 
exceed not the units in your religion.” [5:77].

And Allah’s Messenger, sallaallahu alayhe
wa sallam, said, “Beware of ghulow  (excessiveness) in religion, for
indeed, what devastated those before you was  ghulow in religion.”
(Nisaai) In another hadeeth he said, “Those who go to  extremes (in
preaching their religion) were killed and destroyed.” (Muslim).

Being immoderate in worship is a deviation
in itself, but nevertheless, it is  not the end of the road. When
a person takes the first step towards  immoderation, he overloads
himself in a manner while an easier path could  have been opted for.

One might be capable of enduring this path
for some time, but eventually  after recognizing the tiresome effort
he had to sacrifice, he starts  contemplating a retrieve. But here,
the excitement which led him in the  first  place to chose the
road of extreme immoderation will not be  sufficient to  return
him to the road of balance and moderation. In  fact, it will transfer 
him to the opposite extreme of negligence and  carelessness. None
of this  overburdening approach is encouraged in  Islam since
we should always remember  that our deeds alone are not  good
enough for us to enter Jannah. Allah’s  Messenger, sallaallahu 
alayhe wa sallam, clarified this by saying, “Be  moderate and practice 
the same in proportion and know that your deeds will  not make you
enter Jannah and the most beloved deeds to Allah are those which 
are  regularly done even if they were little.”

Choose friends wisely

There is no doubt that the company of
friends influences the formation of our  characters. For this reason,
Allah’s Messenger, said, “A person is influenced  by his companions
religion, so watch who your companions are.” (Abu Dawood,  Tirmidhi)
This influence is acquired from two aspects:

1. The first is acquired in the company
of relatives, neighbors, school and  all those with whom a person
is compelled to spend time.

2. The second type of influence is acquired
within more religious company  which is likely to meet those who are
less concerned. Though they pray and  fast, they are less serious
in carrying the message of Islam, dawah,  sacrifice, etc. And if a
person’s faith is weak and is inclined towards  desire and negligence,
he will find comfort in this company.

The effects of this influence become apparent
through certain factors that  include doing things he never used to
do before. He begins considering those  on the deviated path as examples
in life and as a result, he starts imitating  them saying, “If he
can do this, why can’t I?”

He begins to please others at the expense
of pleasing Allah by performing  actions never done before or abandoning
some good deeds. He abandons, for  example, praying sunnah, or starts
showing up late for congregation salah,  starts getting used to watching
and hearing forbidden things- as a result, he  even stops forbidding
the evil. All this is no doubt a consequence of weak  emaan and the
influence of either a bad company or a group who are less  serious
with Islam and more inclined towards desire.

STEADFAST

On the Path to Righteousness

Change can happen sometimes in the blink
of an adjusted perspective. For many  Muslims living in the West,
it is simply the realization that it is just as  hard to live in a
self-styled prison of ego and desire as it is to strive  toward the
right path. Freedom of choice and religion only develops and grows 
when it is exercised.

There is no doubt that the diagnosis of
the causes behind an individual’s  deviation is a primary step towards
treatment. But what is the cure?

Concentrate on tarbiyah (constant self-development)
particularly from the spiritual aspect. See everyday challenges as an opportunity
to exercise truth, patience, good deeds, courage and constancy.  One
is encouraged to nurture his emaan by performing righteous deeds as Allah 
says, “O you who believe, believe in Allah and His Messenger…” [4:136] 
Usually, emaan is present in the hearts of people but still, they are 
encouraged to nurture and increase it.

Be sincere and truthful to Allah.

Ikhlaas (sincerity) is a privileged characteristic
for those who seek Allah’s  pleasure. Its absence displaces a person’s
deeds, and it is a requirement by  everyone as Allah says, “And they
were commanded not, but that they should  worship Allah, making their
religion sincere for him and offer salahs  perfectly and give zakah
and that is the right religion.” [98:5]

Ibn-Al-Qayyim, may Allah’s mercy be upon
him, further clarifies the effect of  Ikhlaas and truthfulness on
a persons perseverance on the path of Islam. He  said, “A person experiences
difficulty in abandoning (bad) habits and customs  only if he does
so for the sake of other than Allah. As for he who abandons  them
truthfully and sincerely with his heart, he does not experience any 
difficulty except in the first attempt, to be tested whether he was truthful 
or not. So if he remains a little patient during that difficulty, desire 
would not last any longer.”

Being fearful of an evil death

A sincere believer must be overwhelmed
with the fear of dying in a state that  would displease Allah. This
was the condition of the righteous predecessors-  due to a constant
fear of an evil death while in a state of Islam since, if a  person
falls victim to a sin, a state of negligence and transgression, it 
overpowers his heart and mind. A state in which his light is extinguished, 
and his vision blocked- a moment when no reminder would benefit- here,
death  might surprise him. He would die in a state that would attain
the wrath of  Allah. Therefore, one must always be fearful of an evil
death and hence, use  every moment in a manner that pleases Allah,
even though uncertain whether it  is accepted by Allah or not. He
says, “And those who give that which they give (good deeds) with their
hearts full of fear (whether accepted or not)  because they are sure
to return to their Lord (for reckoning).” [23:60]

Duaa (supplication).

Supplication is a Muslim’s refuge and
resort when he is encountered with  hardship in this world. One must
always turn to Allah and seek His  assistance. Allah’s Messenger used
to supplicate, “O rotator/turner of  the  heart, make my heart
steadfast on your religion.” (Tirmidhi) And  he also used  to
say, “O Allah, increase my knowledge and do not let my  heart deviate
(from  the truth) after you have guided me and grant me  mercy
from You. Truly, you  are the bestower.” [3:8] These and many 
other forms and occasions of  supplication makes one realize his need 
to invoke Allah for guidance  searching for its causes and abstaining 
from all that blocks a persons urge  to obtain it.

Persistence in doing good

The best of deeds and the most beloved
of it are those which a person does  constantly as Allah’s Messenger
said, “And the most beloved of deeds to Allah  are those which are
regularly done even if they were little.” (Bukhari &  Muslim)
Regular persistence in doing good deeds eventually becomes a habit 
and a part of ones daily life after an initial struggle to practice it.
This  persistence in good deeds (salahs, charity, siyaam, and thikr…)
will make  one live in the light of steadfastness and righteousness,
and far away from  deviation and its causes.

Advice and counseling

When someone starts showing the signs
of deviation, he must be immediately  advised, as it is one of the
rights on a fellow Muslim. Jabir bin Abdullah  said, “I made a pledge
to Allah’s Messenger to offer salah, pay zakah and  advice every Muslim.”
(Bukhari & Muslim) Counseling one another was the trend  practiced
by the companions of the Messenger of Allah and if any of them  showed
any signs of weakness, they would never hesitate in advising him. This 
must be our case. We must not ignore anyone at the time of his weakness
in  emaan, because such ignorance is a way of assisting Satan against
our brother.

Participating in the dawah work

There are many fruits obtained doing dawah.
One who strives in seeking guidance for people is certainly guided by Allah.
The one, who calls people  to do good deeds, will in turn be motivated
to perform the deeds he is asking  people to do. Being involved in
dawah keeps one from acts that might result  in deviation. There is
a sweetness of emaan a person feels when he observes  people turning
to Allah instead of observing things forbidden by Him.

After spending some time pondering over
this problem and its causes and remedies it is clear that emaan is a blessing
for which we each must strive.  If it is missing, it is we who misunderstand
or underestimate the power of  our relationship with Allah. We must
acknowledge the great value of strong  emaan. It is a lifelong challenge
we must accept with joy. And for those who  succeed, they will be
the first to acknowledge that it is not due to their  mental agility
or consistent efforts as much as it is a bounty from Allah, a  bounty
that deserves to be protected and cared for in our hearts and in our 
lives.

 

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