Week after week, sitting on the floor in reverent silence, enthralled by the eloquence of the woman gracefully perched on the couch, delivering a Dars (Islamic lecture), I was utterly mesmerized by the powerful message of the Book of Allah (swt). Satisfaction and pleasure would fill me up when Allah (swt) would address with pride ‘those who believed and did good deeds’. However, relief and something close to smugness would enter my conscience when hypocrites and non-believers were reprimanded. And this gave a head start to my journey towards a better understanding of my Deen.
Needless to say, I feel so embarrassed even when I think about that time in my life when I was truly heedless and thus, constantly needed to sooth my ego by reminding myself of how better I was than many others. I would think of others whenever a sin would be mentioned in the Quran or Hadeeth, and congratulate myself for even the minimum that I was doing. This thought of major self-deception makes me quiver. But Allah (swt) saved me with His Absolute Mercy.
I feel so embarrassed even when I think about that time in my life when I was truly heedless and thus, constantly needed to sooth my ego by reminding myself of how better I was than many others.
“… And you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it…” (Al-Imran 3:103)
Today, I marvel at myself as to how could I be so self-righteous when I was committing a number of sins myself. On one hand, I would justify a few sins as being minor and on the other hand delude myself that shunning the others was not in my capacity. I kept blaming external factors and features of the hour as culprits for my transgressions.
Alhumdullillah now, things have changed to a great extent. I do not know when this process actually began, for it happened gradually. It was definitely nothing great in my person that brought about this ‘shift in focus’. But it was purely Allah’s (swt) mercy and guidance that He has promised for those who take that first step towards His path.
“…Indeed, there has come to you from Allah a light (Prophet Muhammad) and a plain Book (this Quran). Wherewith Allah guides all those who seek His Good Pleasure to ways of peace and He brings them out of darkness by His Will unto light and guides them to a Straight Way (Islamic Monotheism).” (Al-Maida 5:15-16)
By the Mercy of my Rabb, now when I read Quran or hear any Hadeeth, my first thought is ‘Am I being talked about?’ My heart gets a little flip and I like to believe it is the flip of ‘Taqwa’, even though I know I am too far from being a Muttaqi. I earnestly start pondering upon my conduct whether consciously or sub-consciously I indulge in that wrongdoing or not. If I am not doing it, then relief washes over me. And if I am guilty, then the urge to resolve that problem fills my heart and incites me to change my ways. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not, sometimes I fall back into the same sin again, and repent, and the circle continues.
Perhaps, staying on the straight path is a grueling process because we cannot achieve a certain level of Iman and Amal, unless we maintain it by putting in countless efforts throughout our lives.
As our Prophet (sa) said: “The Qalb (heart) had been named so because of its inconstancy. The heart is like a feather hanged on a tree where the wind flips it side to side” (Al-Jami). Hence, in order to keep the heart steady on faith and good deeds, the tools to be used are hard work and constant reminders.
Alhumdullillah, I feel blessed that Allah (swt), the Most Merciful, has now given me the sight to see my own faults rather than those of others. The focus has shifted from ‘them’ to ‘me’ and it has greatly transformed the way I think and act.
this ‘shift in focus’ has not only shown me my numerous faults and made me overcome many of them by conscious effort, but it has also made my relationships better with those around me.
The best thing is that I can feel the effects of this ‘shift in focus’ in every aspect of my life. It is almost as if the ‘ego’ has taken a back seat and broadened my vision about life in general and myself in particular. Earlier if something would happen against my wishes or if I faced criticism and censure, I would get defensive. In cases where I could not react or defend myself, I would plunge deep in the mire of self-pity and harbour resentments against others. Whereas now, I examine critically what had occurred, and try to see where I was at fault in the situation. I do this because I genuinely want to rectify my mistakes and improve my character for the sake of Allah (swt). My heart truly believes that I will be held responsible for my actions on the Day of Judgement, and it is not just a theory anymore.
Moreover, this ‘shift in focus’ has not only shown me my numerous faults and made me overcome many of them by conscious effort, but it has also made my relationships better with those around me. For besides rectification of my errors which many a times caused conflicts in the first place, Allah (swt) has bestowed upon me the gift of tolerance and acceptance of the shortcomings and faults of my loved ones.
Equipped with this new ‘focus’ and a new zeal, I strive daily through the tests and trials that life throws in my way: Zeal to make myself a better person, a better Muslim, and zeal to accept, love and forgive others; for I hope Insha’Allah Allah (swt) would be pleased with my efforts and endeavours on the Day of Judgement. I wanted to share this with you as this new ‘focus’ has brought much ease in my life and I pray that Allah (swt) give all of us the right focus in our lives and correct our affairs Here and Hereafter. Ameen