By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com
Don’t get discouraged if your imaan (your faith) is low sometimes. You are not a lost case. Imaan is organic and can be cultivated. Just as a tree needs sunshine, water and good soil; imaan needs salat (prayer), dua’ (asking Allah), sawm (fasting), dhikr (remembrance of Allah), sadaqah (charity), Quran recitation, contemplation of Allah’s signs and blessings, and the company of good people and mu’mineen.
Authentic Islamic knowledge is also important. The more you increase your knowledge, the more you understand the depth of Laa ilaha il-Allah. The more you study, the more you are awed by the Majesty of Allah; the more you appreciate the beauty of Islam and its completeness, the more your mind feels certain, and your heart feels assured, and your soul feels peace. All of this leads to taqwa (Allah-consciousness) and increased imaan.
You don’t have to change your life in one day, or adopt all these behaviors at once. Try to implement them in your life one at a time.
When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sent Mu’adh ibn Jabal to the people of Yemen to teach them about Islam, he said, “O Muadh! You are going to a community who are of the People of the Book. So, first invite them to bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. If they accept this, then inform them that Allah makes five prayers in a day and night obligatory for them. If they accept this, then inform them that Allah makes charity (i.e., Zakat) obligatory for them. (It is) to be taken from their rich and given to their poor.” [Bukhari]
You can start the same way. Keep Laa ilaha il-Allah on your tongue all the time, and start doing your salat. You will feel the difference in your imaan right away, as it takes root and grows.
Of course avoiding sins and making tawbah (repentance) for past sins is part of the formula too, but don’t despair if you are still committing sins. Start doing the behaviors of imaan as I described, and this will lead you in a very natural way to giving up sin, and making tawbah. You will not have to force it. Just as a river washes the dirt from your skin, actions like salat and dhikr will wash away your desire for sinful things, and you will find your connection with Allah getting stronger and stronger.
Abu Hurayra (ra) narrated, “I heard the messanger of Allah (pbuh) saying, ‘Suppose one of you had a river running at his door, and he washed from it five times a day: would any dirt remain on him?’ They (the companions) said, ‘No dirt will remain on him.’ He (the Prophet pbuh) said, ‘That is the likeness of the five prayers. Allah remits sins with them.'” (agreed upon)
Of course you should ask Allah to renew the imaan in your heart and always make it grow. But you must also strive and struggle. Allah says:
“Verily, Allah does not change the condition of a people until they (first) change that which is in their hearts.” (Quran, Surat ar-Rad 13:11)
You must put in the work. You can do it. Your soul is as capable of purity and imaan as anyone else’s. Your soul obeys the laws of creation that Allah has set down. It will respond to these actions of imaan. Go ahead. I know you can do it, Insha’Allah.
Some people say, “I can’t pray, I am too corrupted. I have committed too many sins. I would feel like a hypocrite, and I’m sure Allah would not accept my prayer. I have to stop all my sins first, then I can pray with a clean spirit.”
That’s like saying, “I can’t take a shower because I am too dirty. I need to get clean first, then I’ll take a shower.”
The salat is the purifier. You perform salat for many reasons, one of which is to wash away your sins. Even if you continue to commit sins, keeping on doing your salat, just as you bathe every day because you get dirty ever day.
If it doesn’t feel like it’s working right away, give it time. Keep on performing your actions of imaan. Don’t give up. When you plant a seed, you don’t see anything at all for many days. And then all you see is a tiny shoot. Give your tree time to grow. Give yourself time to change. Trust the process that Allah has given us. Your imaan will come back Insha’Allah, and will soar to the sky.