Impact & Effect of Sin
When Allah commands us to give up sins and to avoid them it is not because our sins will harm Him. It is only us who will benefit by avoiding sins. Likewise, we alone will be affected by the sins we commit. It was the habit of the righteous ancestors to think about their sins whenever they were faced with hardship in anything. In fact, sins have many bad effects on the lives of the sinners.
How can sins change our lives?
What are the effects of sins on our well-being?
Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyah explains to us these effects in his well-known book Al-Jawab Al-Kafi:
- Prevention of knowledge: Knowledge is a light which Allah throws into the heart and disobedience extinguishes this light.
- Prevention of sustenance: Just as righteousness brings about sustenance, the abandonment of righteousness causes poverty. There is nothing which can bring about sustenance like the abandonment of sins.
- Prevention of obedience (to Allah): If there was no other punishment for sin except that it prevents one from obeying Allah then this would be sufficient.
- Disobedience weakens the heart and the body: The fact that it weakens the heart is clear. Disobedience continues to weaken the heart until its life ceases completely.
- Disobedience reduces one’s lifespan and destroys any blessings: Just as righteousness increases one’s lifespan, sinning reduces it.
- Legacy of the cursed: Every type of disobedience is the legacy of a nation from among those which Allah destroyed. Sodomy is a legacy of the people of Lot, taking more than one’s due right and giving what is less is a legacy of the people of Shu`aib, spreading mischief and corruption is a legacy of the people of Pharaoh and pride, including arrogance and tyranny, is a legacy of the people of Hud. So the disobedient one is somehow a part of those nations who were the enemies of Allah.
- Disobedience is a cause of the servant being held in contempt by his Lord: Al-Hasan Al-Basri said: “They became contemptible in (His sight) so they disobeyed Him. If they were honorable (in His sight) He would have protected them.”
- Effect of sins on others: The ill-effects of the sinner fall upon those around him as well as the animals as a result of which they are touched by harm.
- Living in sin: The servant continues to commit sins until they become very easy for him and seem insignificant in his heart and this is a sure sign of destruction. Every time a sin becomes insignificant in the sight of the servant it becomes great in the sight of Allah.
- Disobedience brings humiliation and lowliness: Every aspect of honor lies in the obedience of Allah. Ibn Al-Mubarak said: “I have seen sins kill the hearts. And humiliation is inherited by their continuity. The abandonment of sins gives life to the hearts. And the prevention of your soul is better for it.”
- Disobedience corrupts the intellect: The intellect has light and disobedience extinguishes this light. When the light of the intellect is extinguished it becomes weak and deficient.
- Sealing of the heart: When disobedience increases, the servant’s heart becomes sealed so that he becomes of those who are heedless. The Exalted said: [But no! A stain has been left on their hearts on account of what they used to earn (that is, their actions)] (Al-Mutaffifin 83: 14).
- Sins cause various types of corruption to occur in the land: Corruption of the water, the air, the plants, the fruit, and the dwelling places. The Exalted said: [Mischief has appeared on the land and the sea on account of what the hands of men have earned; that He may give them a taste of some of (the actions) they have done, in order that they may return] (Ar-Rum 30: 41).
- Disappearance of modesty: Modesty is the essence of the life of the heart and is the basis of every good. Its disappearance is the disappearance of all that is good. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Modesty is goodness, all of it.”
- Sins weaken and reduce the magnification of Allah the Almighty in the heart of the servants.
- Sins are the cause of Allah forgetting His servant: Sinning also causes Allah to abandon him and leave him to fend for himself with his soul and his Satan and in this is destruction from which no deliverance can be hoped for.
- Being removed from the realm of benevolence: When a persons sins, benevolence is removed from his heart. When benevolence fills the heart it prevents it from disobedience.
- Disobedience causes the favors (of Allah) to cease and makes His revenge lawful: No blessing ceases to reach a servant except because of a sin, and no retribution is made lawful upon him except because of a sin. Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “No trial has descended except due to a sin and it (the trial) is not repelled except by repentance.”
Imam Ash-Shafi`i said: “I complained to Wakee` about the weakness of my memory, so he ordered me to abandon disobedience and informed me that knowledge is light. He said that the light of Allah is not given to the disobedient.”
[Based on Al-Jawab Al-Kafi by Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyah (Rahimahullah)]
Sin and its effects on the one who commits it
I did Hajj for myself, and a few months after Hajj I still had not seen any sign that my Hajj was accepted in the sense that I turned to worship more. On the contrary I committed a lot of sins. Last year I resolved to do Hajj on behalf of my mother who has passed away. I asked one of the shaykhs and he said that I should do Hajj on her behalf as I had intended, and I should pray a lot for forgiveness and beseech Allaah. So I did Hajj on behalf of my mother, traveling with one of the groups. During Tawaaf al-Wadaa’, the overcrowding was very severe, so we did one circuit (of Tawaaf) and part of another circuit, then we went up to the roof, because of the severe overcrowding. Because of the overcrowding we were not quite sure of the exact spot where we had stopped on the lower level, but we did our best to make sure that we started our Tawaaf on the roof from the place where we had stopped on the lower level, and we continued with our Tawaaf until it was completed.
After my last Hajj, if I committed any sin – and I did many of them – I felt some tightness and constriction in my chest, and if I did any act of worship or obedience I felt happy and full of sincere feelings towards Islam and its people at this time… I am worried about the two pilgrimages and about the Tawaaf. Please advise me, may Allaah reward you.
Praise be to Allaah.
Firstly: we advise you to keep away from all sin, minor and major, and to beware of it and avoid it, for sin is bad news for the one who does it. We will quote here some of the effects of sin, as described by Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him):
1 – Being deprived of knowledge for knowledge is light that Allaah causes to reach the heart, and sin extinguishes that light. When al-Shaafa’i sat before Maalik and read to him, he admired him because of the intelligence, alertness and understanding that he saw in him. He said, “I think that Allaah has caused light to enter your heart, so do not extinguish it with the darkness of sin.”
2 – Being deprived of provision. In Musnad Ahmad it is narrated that Thawbaan said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘A man is deprived of provision because of the sins that he commits.’” (Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 4022, classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah).
3 – Sense of alienation that comes between a person and his Lord, and between him and other people. One of the salaf said: “If I disobey Allaah, I see that in the attitude of my riding beast and my wife.”
4 – Things become difficult for him, so that he does not turn his attention towards any matter but he finds the way blocked or he finds it difficult. By the same token, for the one who fears Allaah, things are made easy for him.
5 – The sinner will find darkness in his heart, which he will feel just as he feels the darkness of night. So this darkness affects his heart as the physical darkness affects his vision. For obedience is light and disobedience is darkness. The stronger the darkness grows, the greater becomes his confusion, until he falls into innovation, misguidance and other things that lead to doom, without even realizing, like a blind man who goes out in the darkness of the night, walking alone This darkness grows stronger until it covers the eyes, then it grows stronger until it covers the face, which appears dark and is seen by everyone. ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas said: “Good deeds make the face light, give light to the heart, and bring about ample provision, physical strength and love in people’s hearts. Bad deeds make the face dark, give darkness to the heart, and bring about physical weakness, a lack of provision and hatred in people’s hearts.”
6 – Deprivation of worship and obedience. If sin brought no punishment other than that it prevents a person from doing an act of worship which is the opposite of sin, and cuts off access to other acts of worship, that would be bad enough. So the sin cuts off a third way and a fourth way and so on, and because of the sin he is cut off from many acts of worship, each of which would have been better for him than this world and everything in it. So he is like a man who eats food that is bound to cause a lengthy sickness, and thus he is deprived of many other foods that are better than that. And Allaah is the One Whose help we seek.
7 – Sin breeds sin until it dominates a person and he cannot escape from it.
8 – Sin weakens a person’s willpower. It gradually strengthens his will to commit sin and weakens his will to repent until there is no will in his heart to repent at all… so he seeks forgiveness and expresses repentance, but it is merely words on the lips, like the repentance of the liars, whose hearts are still determined to commit sin and persist in it. This is one of the most serious diseases that are most likely to lead to doom.
9 – He will become desensitized and will no longer find sin abhorrent, so it will become his habit, and he will not be bothered if people see him committing the sin or talk about him.
For the leaders of immorality, this is the ultimate shamelessness in which they find great pleasure, such that they feel proud of their sin and will speak of it to people who do not know that they have done it, saying, “O so and so, I did such and such.” Such people cannot be helped and the path to repentance is blocked for them in most cases. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “All of my ummah will be fine except for those who commit sin openly, and that includes cases where Allaah conceals a person’s sin, but the following morning he exposes himself and says, ‘O So and so, I did such and such last night, so he shamelessly exposes himself when all night his Lord had concealed his sin.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5949; Muslim, 2744).
10 – When there are many sins they leave a mark on the heart of the person who commits them, so he becomes one of the negligent. As one of the salaf said, concerning the aayah –
“Nay! But on their hearts is the Raan (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn” [al-Mutaffifeen 83:14] this means sin after sin.
How this starts is that the heart gets stained by sin, and if the sin increases then the stain grows bigger until it becomes the raan (covering of sin and evil deeds), then it increases until it becomes a seal, and the heart becomes covered and sealed. If that happens after a person had been guided and had understood, then his heart is turned upside down, and at that point the Shaytaan gains control over him and directs him as he wants.
Secondly: you say that you did Hajj and did not see any signs of acceptance, rather you committed a lot of sins. The answer to this is that acceptance is from Allaah, and no one can be certain whether your deed has been accepted or not.
The believer does righteous deeds and does not know whether Allaah has accepted them or not.
Indeed, Ibn ‘Umar said: “If I knew that Allaah had accepted even one good deed from me, death would be the most dear thing to me, because Allaah says, ‘Verily, Allaah accepts only from those who are al-Muttaaqoon (the pious)’ [al-Maa’idah 5:27 – interpretation of the meaning].”
Man is required to do a great deal of righteous deeds, and to strive to make sure his actions are in accordance with the commands of Allaah and His Messenger. In this manner he will free himself from any blame, then he must ask Allaah to accept his deeds.
So if you did you Hajj properly and avoided everything that is forbidden during Hajj, then you do not have to repeat it. As for your falling into sin, that has nothing to do with the validity or otherwise of your Hajj, but you will be brought to account for it, so you must hasten to repent from it before your appointed time (of death) comes.
Thirdly: you say that you did Tawaaf then went up to the roof because of the overcrowding.
This is the issue of continuity in Tawaaf. The Standing Committee was asked a similar question and replied that there is nothing wrong with interrupting Tawaaf and completing it on a higher level (of the mosque). See Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 11/230, 231, 232.
With regard to the start of Tawaaf, it should begin in the same place where it ends. With regard to your efforts to figure out the place, if it is not possible to be certain then you should act according to what is most likely to be correct, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, concerning one who is uncertain as to whether he has prayed three rak’ahs or four, “Let him try his best (to work it out), then complete it on that basis – i.e., he should base it on what he thinks is the case – then let him say the salaams and do two prostrations after he says the salaams.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 401; Muslim, 572; see also al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 3/461).
Based on the above, then your completing your tawaaf on the roof and your striving to start from the place from which you interrupted your tawaaf are both fine in sha Allah. And Allaah knows best.
Summary of the Effects of Sins
One: Prevention of Knowledge: Knowledge is a light which Allaah throws into the heart and disobedience extinguishes this light. Imaam Shaafi'ee said: I complained to Wakee' about the weakness of my memory So he enjoined upon me the abandonment of disobedience And informed me that the knowledge is light And the light of Allaah is not given to the disobedient.
Two: The Prevention of Sustenance: Just as Taqwaa brings about sustenance, the abandonment of Taqwaa causes poverty. There is nothing which can bring about sustenance like the abandonment of disobedience
Three: The prevention of obedience (to Allaah). If there was no other punishment for sin other than that it prevents one from obedience to Allaah then this would be sufficient.
Four: Disobedience weakens the heart and the body. Its weakening the heart is something which is clear. Disobedience does not stop weakening it until the life of the heart ceases completely.
Five: Disobedience reduces the lifespan and destroys any blessings. Just as righteousness increases the lifespan, sinning reduces it.
Six: Disobedience sows its own seeds and gives birth to itself until separating from it and coming out of it becomes difficult for the servant.
Seven: Sins weaken the hearts will and resolve so that the desire for disobedience becomes strong and the desire to repent becomes weak bit by bit until the desire to repent is removed from the heart completely.
Eight: Every type of disobedience is a legacy of a nation from among the nations which Allaah Azza wajall destroyed. Sodomy is a legacy of the People of Lot, taking more than one's due right and giving what is less is a legacy of the People of Shu'ayb, seeking greatness in the land and causing corruption is a legacy of the People of Pharoah and pride/arrogance and tyranny is a legacy of the People of Hud. So the disobedient one is wearing the gown of some of these nations who were the enemies of Allaah.
Nine: Disobedience is a cause of the servant being held in contempt by his Lord.Al-Hasan al-Basree (rh) said: They became contemptible in (His sight) so they disobeyed Him.If they were honourable (in His sight) He would have protected them. Allah the Exalted said: And whomsoever Allaah lowers (humiliates) there is none to give honour.
Ten: The ill-effects of the sinner fall upon those besides him and also the animals as a result of which they are touched by harm. The servant continues to commit sins until they become very easy for him and seem insignificant in his heart and this is a sign of destruction. Every time a sin becomes insignificant in the sight of the servant it becomes great in the sight of Allaah.
Eleven: Ibn Mas'ood (ra) said: Indeed, the believer sees his sins as if he was standing at the foot of a mountain fearing that it will fall upon him and the sinner sees his sins like afly which passes by his nose so he tries to remove it by waving his hand around. [Bukhaaree]
Twelve: Disobedience inherits humiliation and lowliness. Honour, all of it, lies in the obedience of Allaah. Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak said: I have seen sins kill the hearts And humiliation is inherited by their continuity The abandonment of sins is life to the hearts And their prevention is better for your soul
Thirteen: Disobedience corrupts the intellect. The intellect has light and disobedience extinguishes this light. When the light of the intellect is extinguished it becomes weak and deficient.
Fourteen: When disobedience increases, the servant's heart becomes sealed so that he becomes of those who are heedless. The Exalted said: But no! A stain has been left on their hearts on account of what they used to earn (i.e. their actions)
Fifteen: Sins cause the various types of corruption to occur in the land. Corruption of the waters, the air, the plants, the fruits and the dwelling places. The Exalted said: Mischief has appeared on the land and the sea on account of what the hands of men have earned; that he may give a taste of some of their actions in order that they may return.
Falling into Sin
In today's society, what can one do to protect his iman, 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 Isa 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 iman, 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 abouther experiences. She just wanted to be left alone...
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, iman 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 din-your iman-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 iman:
"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 iman are a result of one's own deeds and a reflection of one's own behaviour 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
Iman 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 iman, 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 iman does not only show itself in the apparent deeds; true iman actually fills and saturates the heart. Allah's Messenger, salallahu alayhe wa sallam, pointed out
"Three (factors), whoever has them will find the sweetness of iman: 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, salallahu alayhe wa sallam said,
"(He has) experienced the taste of iman, 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 iman is deeply rooted into our hearts. A person may repent to Allah, following the path of righteousness, yet iman 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 iman with Islamic knowledge
Just as a person needs iman 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 iman 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 iman (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 iman even though he lacks knowledge. An iman like this one could be snatched from his heart -like the iman of Bani-Israel after they saw the calf.
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 iman or cause him to deviate will be minimum.
Slough the dead skin of sin
"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 iman:
- Claiming perfection leads one to not feel the need to improve himself through good deeds and other means of nurturing his iman. But iman 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 iman 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 iman 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 Muhajirin or Ansar who defected? Were there any defectors among those who witnessed the battle of Badr? Or the Ridwan 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 iman 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 iman and taqwa. To attain iman 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, salallahu 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 iman 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 iman 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 iman 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, salallahu 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, salallahu 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:
- The first is acquired in the company of relatives, neighbors, school and all those with whom a person is compelled to spend time.
- 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 iman and the influence of either a bad company or a group who are less serious with Islam and more inclined towards desire.
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 iman by performing righteous deeds as Allah says,
"O you who believe, believe in Allah and His Messenger..." [4:136]
Usually, iman 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]
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, siyam, 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 iman, 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 iman 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 iman 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 iman. 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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