Five Ways to Cleanse Your Thoughts

11775The Quran contains details of the previous nations so that we may take heed and not repeat their mistakes. Allah (swt) mentions the tales of both the obedient and the disobedient, giving us a choice as to which group we want to be from.

When the obedient people received a command from Allah (swt), they surrendered before Him and accepted it right away. For example, when Prophet Ibrahim (as) was asked to submit: “He said: I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, Jinns and all that exists).” (Al-Baqarah 2:131) No further questions.

When the other group was commanded to do something- they transgressed, rejected and ridiculed the message. For example: “And (remember) when Musa (Moses) said to his people: Verily, Allah commands you that you slaughter a cow. They said: Do you make fun of us? He said: I take Allah’s Refuge from being among Al-Jahilun (the ignorant or the foolish).” (Al-Baqarah 2:67) A prophet does not make fun of others. He is sincere to his cause and wishes the best for everyone.

Why did they deduce a different meaning than the one intended?

The problem was in their thinking. They did not give due respect to their messenger; they always undermined his sincerity and harmed themselves.

Often in life, we make the same mistakes. Without understanding the intentions of others, we engage in arguments, risk relationships, and see only one side of the coin. This is called mental slavery. Generally, people fashion their thoughts based on their experiences and not the truth. This promotes racism, hatred, and other evils. But, we do not need to live in this slavery – we can change it.

And here is how:

1. Study Your Thoughts
Before you react to a conversation or any event, pause and think. What makes me think what I am thinking right now? Is that really the truth or am I being biased? Recognize your biasness. And throw it out.

2. Restrict the Ego from Taking Over
Social media threads and political talk shows often end up in arguments and severed ties because each participant allows his or her ego to take over. Allow other people to have their opinions. The way your thoughts were shaped by your environment and experiences, the other person went through a similar process. He is entitled to think differently. Give respect. Do not abuse.

3. Broaden Your Information Sources
Diversify your information bank. Do not always read or follow opinions that match yours. Pick up a book or listen to someone who thinks differently. Similarly, improve your company. Seek learned, truthful, respectful, and positive thinkers. Seek the truth, not attention.

4. Stay Busy
Knowing that every word spilling off our tongues is being recorded should encourage us to speak only when spoken to. Speak a good word, and do not always be opinionated.

5. Study the Seerah of the Prophets
Learn from the best. Allah (swt) chose and shaped the prophets to overcome life’s challenges and carry forward His message. The Companions adopted their teachings and moulded themselves. Study their lives. How did they live in this world while focusing on the hereafter?

Navigating Our Mind

thinkingAbu Hurairah has narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “To harbour good thoughts is a part of well-conducted worship.” (Abu Dawood)

Often we, as human beings, have thoughts, of which we are ashamed of and feel glad that no one can read our minds. The Most Merciful forgives us for our evil thoughts, as long as we do not utter them or put them into practice. The following is a practical example explaining the Hadeeth, which encourages positive thinking.

Surrendering to our Thoughts

Many thoughts are uncontrollable; sometimes they are from our own Fitrah or nature, while at other times, they occur from the whisperings of Shayateen. However, the Hadeeth above is a proof that we can and should monitor our thinking and foster good thoughts. Various prominent Shuyukh teach that when we commit a sin, Shaitan tells us we are worthless, not worthy of gaining or even asking for forgiveness from Allah (swt); therefore, we should not even try to acquire it. Despite all this, it is of utmost importance for us to remember that Allah (swt) is Ghafoor ur Raheem (the Most Forgiving). He is even more forgiving than us to our own selves, and He is the Most Merciful. Remembering this attribute of Allah (swt) pushes us towards the act of seeking forgiveness from Him, and we repent immediately. Similarly, it is the backbone of our religion to have complete trust in Allah (swt) and have a good opinion about Allah (swt), for Allah (swt) says, “I am as my servant thinks of Me.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Success is in our Hands – Take the Control!

Let us analyze this Hadeeth from the following perspective. Say you got hired somewhere and it was your first real job. It did not even last for two days. You had a bad experience at your internship, and you did not do well in college as well. Needless to say, these are depressing thoughts. It is important to first realize that you are entering into a thick fog of negativity, which will blind you from seeing clearly. Success is when you learn from your mistakes and improve. You cannot progress in life, if you think that you can never succeed. Negative thoughts are a great hindrance to your progress. If you keep trying, keep learning from your mistakes and keep strategizing, then, by the Will of Allah (swt), you will move forward – this is success.

We face such a challenge, when it comes to our five times prayer. It is important to keep our daily prayers at the top of our list, because if we miss even one, we are likely to miss two. And then they pile up, and it may become harder for some of us to make up for them. We might start thinking that there’s no use of praying even once or twice a day, because we can never manage all five of them. But we should never let these thoughts occupy our minds. We should always acknowledge that we succeeded in performing one or two of the daily prayers and realize that there is always a need and room for improvement. Hence, we should keep on trying to perform the other three prayers as well. Not only our thoughts of incapability are bad for our Deen, they are also bad for our overall mental and physical health. We should always think in affirmative: “Yes, I can do it! And I will do it as soon as possible and then follow through.” It is guaranteed that a positive and can-do attitude in our religious rituals will overflow into our worldly affairs without us even realizing it; thus improving our well-being Bi-idhnillah.

Similarly, when practicing a Sunnah of our Prophet (sa) or doing a good deed, we should never think that we are not good enough to perform this action. Rather, we should think of the deed as an opportunity to improve ourselves. If we ever think we are not noble enough, this is an indicator of a buffer inside us, and we should take immediate steps to fill it with goodness.