The more you get into skincare, the more complicated it gets. There is seriously a step-by-step program to get your skin out of acne-land and into clear territory. At least, that’s what my latest purchase of skin products claims.
So, it is time to bring out the cleanser, the toner, the moisturizer and so on and so forth for coaxing your skin to become smoother, cleaner, clearer and under control.
I wish it was that easy to clean and clear out my heart from all the garbage gathered in it over the years. It’s a one-step program, though. Put one step on your Nafs (your base desires) and put your next step into Paradise. However, stepping on your Nafs is like trying to pin down greased lightning. In other words, it slips out of the way and out of control.
The beautiful thing is that it’s your effort that counts. Put in the best effort, and the results are not in your hands. Purification of the Nafs and the soul is Allah’s (swt) job. Doing the struggle is our job.
Funny enough, it is the same with skincare. We cannot force the products to work. The function of the products and the way our body responds to them are not in our hands either, which is good. Just imagine having to physically push the moisturizer into the skin and make the skin absorb it and then make it soften the skin. You get my point, I hope.
So, what’s the secret?
The secret to unlocking the door to a blessed life is…it’s possible to do it. It’s within reach. It’s right there, and it’s yours. That’s really all there is to it. It’s only our own self that gets in the way, with its inclinations towards laziness, indulgence and entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with having a slow/lazy day, indulging in a treat or entertaining yourself, but if you allow them to stop you from practicing Islam, then it’s a problem.
Action plan for revitalization
Usually, by the time we realise we need to work on our hearts, they are quite dead. If your day goes by and you don’t feel the need to open the Quran, it means you are being fulfilled by the distractions of this world; therefore, you are not seeking the goodness of the afterlife. The principle in play here is that the very things that seem difficult to us (focusing in prayer, making heartfelt supplication and reading the Quran with understanding) are the things we need in order to get out of this rut.
Fortunately, the very routine that sucks us into a monotony of soul-breaking activities can be set up in such a way that it benefits us. Take up three simple things in your life:
- Miswak (brushing with a tooth-stick)
- Sleeping the Sunnah nap after Dhuhr prayer
- Sleeping early after Isha prayer, getting up on time for Fajr prayer and not sleeping after the Fajr.
These things will bring Barakah (value, goodness) into your life.
How to follow the action plan?
It’s easy enough to figure out, which habits of yours hold you back from making the most of your real potential as a Muslim. The key here is to find that one good habit that you can use to chip away at the road block of heedlessness. It can be a recitation of a certain Surah of the Quran, or a recital of a supplication, or a lecture series/book you are really into. Find that one thing and hold on to it with both hands. Don’t engage in it mindlessly. Do it every day within a set time slot, and do it with your heart. If you don’t or can’t do something new in your routine, do something you already do with heart, with feeling and focus.
How do I know it is working?
I have news for you. You will never get a celebratory fanfare with the spotlight on you and a big screen with ‘you did it!’ on it, with confetti falling on you, and the crowd screaming in delight (you get the picture) – you will not get it in this life for anything Islamic you do. It’s not like you will pick up the prayer beads and suddenly your heart will undergo a permanent transformation for the better. Be realistic. That little flutter in your heart, when you finally connect with the words you speak, while going over those prayer beads? Awesome. Just don’t make it the aim of your worship. The aim of worship is not to experience enjoyment. It is to humble ourselves before Allah (swt).
To give a direct answer to the question: love is a verb. It means, when you care about someone, you give them importance by doing things for them. In this scenario, it means you express your love to Allah (swt) by dedicating your life to Him. The very fact that you are bringing Islamic activity into your life means that the change for the better has taken place.
Any last words?
We usually expect Islam to ‘fix’ our lives and make them harm-proof the moment we act upon it. That’s not the purpose. Life is hard and it will remain so. However, there’s a big difference between simply existing and going with the flow and actual living for achieving something.
Whether it’s softening skin or softening hearts, the same rule applies. We just have to remember it.