Weakness Of Faith Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid English islamic book PDF

١

Islam Way
Islamic Library
Weakness
Of
Faith
Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
٢
Introduction
Praise be to Allah, we praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge
with Allah from the evil of our own souls and from our evil deeds. Whomever Allah guides,
none can lead astray, and whomever Allah leaves astray, none can guide. I bear witness that
there is no god except Allah alone, with no partner or associate, and I bear witness that
Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. “O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be
feared, and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims), with complete submission to
Allah.” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:102 – interpretation of the meaning].
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam)
and from him He created his wife (Hawwa), and from them both he created many men and
women, and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the
relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” [al-Nisa’
4:1 – interpretation of the meaning]
“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the
truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And
whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e.,
he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter Paradise).” [al-Ahzaab 33:70-71 –
interpretation of the meaning].
The phenomenon of weak faith has become very widespread among Muslims, and
many people complain about the hardness of their hearts. So often we hear the words, “I feel
hardness in my heart,” “I do not find any joy in worship,” “I feel that my faith has hit rock
bottom,” “Reading Qur’aan does not move me,” “I fall into sin so easily.” The effects of this
affliction can be seen in many people, and this problem is the cause of every disaster and
adversity.
The issue of people’s hearts is an important and sensitive issue. The heart is called qalb
in Arabic because it changes so quickly and frequently (taqallub – alteration, variation, ups
and downs). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The heart (qalb)
takes its name from its constant changes (taqallub). The likeness of the heart is that of a
feather at the root of a tree, being turned over and over by the wind.” (Reported by Ahmad,
4/408; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2364). According to another report: “The likeness of the heart is that of
a feather in an empty plot of land, being blown over and over by the wind.” (Reported by Ibn
Abi ‘Aasim in Kitaab al-Sunnah. No. 227. Its isnaad is saheeh, see Zilaal al-Jannah fi Takhreej al-Sunnah
by al-Albaani, 1/102).
Man’s heart changes constantly, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him) described: “The heart of the son of Adam changes more quickly than a pan of rapidly
٣
boiling water.” (Ibid., no. 226. Its isnaad is saheeh: Zilaal al-Jannah, 1/102), According to another
report: “It changes more than a pot of rapidly boiling water.” (Reported by Ahmad, 6/4; Saheeh
al-Jaami’, no. 5147).
Allah is the One Who turns hearts around and controls them. ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn
al-‘Aas reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him) say: “The hearts of the children of Adam are as one between the fingers of the Most
Merciful, and He turns them in whatever way He wills.” Then he said: “O Allah, Controller of
the hearts, direct our hearts to obey You.” (Reported by Muslim, no. 2654).
Allah tells us that:
“… Allah comes in between a person and his heart (i.e., He prevents an evil person
from deciding anything)…” [al-Anfaal 8:24 – interpretation of the meaning]
no one will be saved on the Day of Resurrection “except him who brings to Allah a
clean heart [free from shirk and hypocrisy].” [al-Shu’ara’ 26:89 – interpretation of the
meaning]
“those whose hearts are hardened” [al-Hajj 22:53 – interpretation of the meaning] are
doomed
and the promise of Paradise is for those “who feared the Most Beneficent (Allah) in the
Unseen, (i.e., in the worldly life, before seeing and meeting Him), and brought a heart turned
in repentance (to Him).” [Qaaf 50:33 – interpretation of the meaning].
So the believer must check his heart, find out the nature and cause of the problem, and
start treating it straight away, before it overwhelms him and destroys him. The matter is of the
utmost seriousness, for Allah has warned us against the heart that is hardened, closed, sick,
blind and sealed.
There follows a discussion of the symptoms of weak faith, what causes it and how it
may be treated. I ask Allah to benefit me and my Muslim brothers through this work, and to
richly reward all those who have played a part in producing this book, for He is the One
Whom we ask to soften our hearts and guide us. He is our Protector, He is sufficient for us
and He is the Best Disposer of affairs.
Symptoms of weak faith
There are a number of symptoms of the sickness of weak faith, including the following:
Falling into sin and committing haraam deeds: there are some sinners who commit a sin
and persist in it, and some who commit many kinds of sin. When a person commits many
sins, sin becomes a habit which he gets used to, and then he no longer feels that it is
abhorrent. He gradually reaches a stage where he commits the sin openly, and thus becomes
one of those referred to in the hadeeth: “All of my ummah will be fine except for those who
commit sin openly, an example of which is a man who does something at night, and when
٤
morning comes and Allah has concealed his sin, he says, ‘O So-and-so, I did such and such
yesterday.’ His Lord had covered his sin all night, but he has uncovered what Allah had
concealed.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath 10/486).
Feeling that one’s heart is hard and rough. A man may feel that his heart has turned to
stone which nothing can penetrate or reach. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Then,
after that, your hearts were hardened and became as stones or even worse in hardness…” [alBaqarah 2:74]. The person whose heart is hard will not be moved by reminders of death or by
seeing deceased persons or funerals. He may even carry a dead person to his grave and throw
earth into the grave, but when he walks between the graves it is as if he is merely walking
between rocks.
Not doing acts of worship properly. His mind wanders and he fails to concentrate
properly when praying, reading Qur’aan, making du’aa’, etc. He does not think about what he
is saying, and he recites the words as the matter of boring habit, if he does these regularly at
all. If he has the habit of praying a certain du’aa’ at certain times, according to the sunnah, he
does not think about the meaning of what he is saying, and Allah “does not accept the du’aa’
of one whose heart is heedless of Him.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 3479; al-Silsilah al-Saheehah,
594).
Laziness and carelessness in performing acts of worship. If he does them at all, they are
just empty movements, devoid of any real feeling. Allah has described the hypocrites thus
(interpretation of the meaning): “… and when they stand up for prayer, they stand up with
laziness…” [al-Nisa’ 4:142]. This also includes neglecting to make the most of special
occasions and times for worship. This indicates that a person has no interest in earning
reward, so he may delay going for Hajj although he is able to do so, or fail to go for jihaad
when he has the strength to do so, or fail to attend prayers in congregation, or even Salat alJumu’ah. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “People
will keep holding back from being in the first row (of congregational prayers), until Allah
throws them into the Fire.” (Reported by Abu Dawood, no. 679; Saheeh al-Targheeb, no. 510). This
kind of person does not feel any remorse or guilt if he sleeps and misses one of the obligatory
prayers, or a sunnah prayer that is strongly encouraged, or a wird [regular du’aa’ and dhikr].
He does not want to make it up later, and he deliberately omits doing anything that is sunnah
or fard kifaayah (a duty which, if carried out by some of the people, is no longer obligatory on
all, but if no-one does it, all are held accountable). So he may not attend Eid prayers (although
some scholars say that they are obligatory), or offer the prayers to be said at the time of lunar
and solar eclipses, or attend funerals. He does not care about reward at all, which is the
opposite of the ideal described by Allah in the Qur’aan (interpretation of the meaning): “…
they used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call on Us with hope and fear, and
used to humble themselves before Us.” [al-Anbiya’ 21:90]
Another example of laziness in performing acts of worship is the neglect of sunnah
actions which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) performed regularly,
and praying at night (qiyaam al-layl), setting out early to go to the mosque, and other naafil
prayers, such as duhaa, never even occur to him, let alone the two-rak’ahs of tawbah
(repentance) and istikhaarah.
٥
Tightness in the chest, mood swings and depression, which weigh a man down and
make him quick to complain about the slightest thing. He easily gets upset with the people
around him, and no longer has any tolerance. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be
upon him) described faith when he said, “Eemaan is patience and tolerance” (Al-Silsilah alSaheehah, no. 554, 2/86), and he described the believer as being “one who makes friends and
with whom others feel comfortable. There is no goodness in one who does not make friends
and with whom others do not feel comfortable.” (Al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, no. 427).
Not being moved by the aayaat of the Qur’aan, by its promises of Paradise or its
warnings of Hell, by its commands and prohibitions, or by its descriptions of the Day of
Resurrection. The one who is weak in faith gets bored when he hears the Qur’aan being
recited, and cannot continue reading it. Whenever he opens the mus-haf, he soon closes it
again.
Not focusing on Allah when remembering Him (dhikr) or making du’aa’, so dhikr
becomes difficult for him, and when he raises his hands to make du’aa’, he quickly lowers
them again. Allah has described the hypocrites (interpretation of the meaning): “… and they
do not remember Allah but little.” [al-Nisa’ 4:142]
Not feeling angry when the limits set by Allah are violated, because the flame of zeal
has been extinguished in his heart, so he no longer takes action to stop evil, or enjoins
evildoers to do good, or denounces wrongdoing. He never gets angry for the sake of Allah.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) described this heart
ravaged by weakness in the saheeh hadeeth: “The heart will be subjected to trial after trial,
and there will appear a black stain on any heart that is affected, which will spread until the
heart is completely black and sealed, as it were, so that it will not recognize any good deed or
denounce any evil, except whatever suits its own desires.” (Reported by Muslim, no. 144). Love
of good and hatred of evil have disappeared from a heart like this; all things are equal to such
a person, and he has no motive to enjoin good or forbid evil. He may hear of some evil that is
being done on earth, and may accept it; in this case he carries the same burden of sin as one
who witnesses evil and approves of it, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him) said in the saheeh hadeeth: “If sin is committed on earth, the one who witnesses it and
hates it [one time he said, ‘denounces it’] will be like one who knew nothing of it. Whoever
does not witness it but approves of it will be like one who witnesses it.” (Reported by Abu
Dawood, no. 4345; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 689). This approval, which is an action of the heart, makes
him like one who witnessed the sin.
Love of fame and prominence, which may take many forms, including the following:
Desire for leadership without understanding the serious responsibility involved. This is
what the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) warned us against
when he said, “You will be very keen to be leaders, but you will regret it on the Day of
Resurrection, for although it seems easy in the beginning, it becomes a hardship later on
[literally: the breastfeeding is a luxury but weaning is miserable].” (The meaning is that at the
beginning, leadership brings wealth, power and enjoyment, but later it brings the risk of being
assassinated or deposed, and one will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection).
(Reported by al-Bukhaari, no. 6729). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also
said: “If you wish, I could tell you about leadership and what it is. Firstly, it is blame;
٦
secondly, it is regret; and thirdly, it is punishment on the Day of Resurrection – except for one
who is just.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 18/72; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1420). If it were the
case that a man wanted to carry out duties and responsibilities, where there is no one better for
the job than him, with the intention of doing his best and being sincere and just, as Yusuf
(peace be upon him) did, then we could say that this is fair enough. But in most cases it is the
matter of a strong desire to lead and put oneself forward although there is a better person,
denying the opportunity of leadership to those who are qualified and wanting to be the only
one to issue instructions and prohibitions.
Loving to sit at the head of gatherings, to monopolize the discussion, to make others
listen to one’s words, and to have power. The head of a gathering is the “slaughterhouse”
about which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) warned us when he said,
“Beware of these slaughterhouses.” (Reported by al-Bayhaqi, 2/439; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 120).
Loving to have people stand up when one comes into the room, because this makes the
one whose heart is diseased feel great. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him) said: “Whoever feels happy to have the slaves of Allah stand up for him, let him occupy
his house in Hellfire.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 977; see also Silsilah alSaheeh, 357). Once when Mu’aawiyah went out to see Ibn al-Zubayr and Ibn ‘Aamir, Ibn
‘Aamir stood up whilst Ibn al-Zubayr remained sitting (according to one report: and he [Ibn
al-Zubayr] was wiser and more stable in character). Mu’aawiyah said to Ibn ‘Aamir, “Sit
down, for I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say,
‘Whoever likes to have men stand up for him, let him take his place in Hellfire.’” (Reported by
Abu Dawood, no. 5229, and by al-Bukhaari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 977; al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 357).
This kind of person will get angry if the sunnah is followed and people start from the right
(and not with him, when passing out refreshments, etc.); when such a person enters a
gathering, he will not be happy until someone gets up and gives him his seat, even though the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forbade this when he said, “No man
should make another get up from his place so that he can sit in it.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, alFath, 11/62).
Stinginess and miserliness. Allah praised the Ansaar in His Book by saying
(interpretation of the meaning): “… and [they] gave them [the muhaajiroon] preference over
themselves, even though they were in need of that…” [al-Hashr 59:9]. The Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) explained that the successful are those who avoid
miserliness, and that weakness of faith generates stinginess: “Stinginess and faith never exist
together in the heart of the believer.” (Reported by al-Nisaa’i, al-Mujtaba, 6/13; Saheeh al-Jaami’,
2678). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also described the serious
nature of stinginess and its consequences: “Beware of stinginess, for those who came before
you were destroyed because of stinginess. It commanded them to be miserly, so they were
miserly; it commanded them to cut family ties, so they cut them; and it commanded them to
be immoral, so they were immoral.” (Reported by Abu Dawood, 2/324; Saheeh al-Jaami, no. 2678).
When it comes to miserliness, the person whose faith is weak can hardly give anything for the
sake of Allah, even when there is an honest appeal and it is quite obvious that his brothers in
Islam are suffering the impact of poverty and are stricken by disaster. There is no more
eloquent statement on the matter of miserliness than the words of Allah (interpretation of the
meaning): “Behold! You are those who are called to spend in the Cause of Allah, yet among
you are some who are niggardly. And whoever is niggardly, it is only at the expense of his
٧
own self. But Allah is Rich (Free of all wants), and you (mankind) are poor. And if you turn
away (from Islam and the obedience of Allah), He will exchange for you some other people,
and they will not be your likes.” [Muhammad 47:38].
Not practising what one preaches. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “O you
who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? Most hateful is it with Allah that you
say that which you do not do.” [al-Saff 61:2-3]. No doubt this is a kind of hypocrisy, and the
person whose deeds do not match his words is blameworthy before Allah and despicable in
the eyes of his fellow man. The people of Hellfire will soon discover the reality of the one
who enjoins good but does not do it, and forbids evil, but does it himself.
Malicious enjoyment of the failures, losses or disasters suffered by one’s brothers in
Islam, when the blessings that they had enjoyed are taken away, or when the thing that made
another person appear more distinguished than him is gone.
Looking at matters in black-or-white terms of whether they are sinful or not, and taking
the matter of makrooh lightly. Some people, when they want to do something, do not ask
about what good deeds they could do, instead they ask, “Will this be counted as a sin, or is it
‘only’ makrooh?” This way of thinking leads them into the trap of issues that are not clear-cut
and deeds that are makrooh, and eventually ensnares them in haraam deeds. The person who
thinks like this has nothing to stop him from committing makrooh or doubtful deeds so long
as they are not actually haraam. This is exactly what the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him) was talking about what he said , “Whoever falls into doubtful matters
falls into haraam, like a shepherd who grazes his flock around a place where he is not allowed
– he will soon enter it…” (Reported by al-Bukhaari and Muslim; this version narrated by Muslim, no.
1599). When some people ask for a fatwa about something and are told that it is haraam, they
ask, “Is it very haraam or not? How much sin is involved?” People like this have no interest in
avoiding bad deeds; indeed, they are prepared to commit the first level of haraam and they
take small sins lightly, with the results that they they have the guts to transgress even further
and violate the limits set by Allah. For this reason the Messenger (peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him) said: “I will certainly recognize people who will come on the Day of
Resurrection bringing good deeds as great as the white mountain of Tuhaamah, and Allah,
may He be glorified, will make it like dust in the air.” Thawbaan said, “O Messenger of
Allah, describe them to us and explain this so that we will not unwittingly be among them.”
He said, “They are your brothers and they look like you. They pray at night as you do, but if
they had the opportunity to violate the limits set by Allah, they would do so.” (Reported by Ibn
Maajah, no. 4245. He said in al-Zawaa’id: its isnaad is saheeh and its men are thiqaat. See also Saheeh alJaami’, 5028).
So you will find such a person committing haraam deeds without any hesitation or
reservation, which makes him worse than the one who does so after pausing and hesitating.
Both are in danger, but the former is worse than the latter. This kind of person takes sins
lightly as a result of his weakness of faith, and does not think that he has done anything
wrong. For this reason, Ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) described the attitude
of the believer and of the hypocrite as follows: “The believer sees his sins as if he were sitting
beneath a mountain which he fears will fall on him, whilst the sinner sees his sins as if it were
a fly passing his nose and he says such-and-such to it” – i.e., he shoos it away with his hand.
(Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 11/102; See also Taghleeq al-Ta’leeq, 5/136, publ. by al-Maktab alIslami).
٨
Thinking little of good deeds, and having no interest in doing small hasanaat. The
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught us to pay attention to small acts of
goodness. Imaam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) reported from Abu Juray alHujaymi who said, “I came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, we are a desert people. Teach us something by which
Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, will benefit us.’ He said, ‘Do not look down on any act
of goodness, even if it is just emptying your bucket into the vessel of one who wants to drink,
or speaking to your brother with a cheerful expression.’” (Musnad Ahmad, 5/63; al-Silsilat alSaheehah, 1352). If someone comes wanting to drink from the well, and you lift up your bucket
and empty it for him, this is a good deed; even though it appears insignificant, you should not
think little of it. The same applies to greeting your brother with a cheerful expression, and
cleaning dirt and garbage from the mosque, even if it is as small as a straw. This deed may be
the cause of your sins being forgiven, for Allah will appreciate good deeds of this nature and
will forgive sins because of them. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
said: “A man passed a branch of a tree lying in the road and said, ‘By Allah, I want to remove
this out of the way of the Muslims so that it will not hurt them,’ and he was admitted to
Paradise.” (Reported by Muslim, no. 1914).
There is something wrong with the person who thinks little of simple acts of goodness.
It is sufficient punishment for this attitude that he is denied the great advantage described by
the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “Whoever removes something
harmful from the path of the Muslims, one hasanah will be recorded for him, and whoever has
a hasanah accepted, will enter Paradise.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, no. 593;
see also al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 5/387). Mu’aadh was walking with another man, and he picked up
a stone from the road. The man asked him, “What is this?” He said, “I heard the Messenger of
Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say, ‘Whoever removes a stone from the
road, one hasanah will be recorded for him, and whoever has a hasanah, will enter Paradise.’”
(al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer by al-Tabaraani, 20/101; al-Silsilat al-Saheeh, 5/387).
Lack of concern about the Muslims’ affairs and lack of any involvement whether it be
by making du’aa’, giving charity or helping them. Such a person has a cool attitude towards
the oppression, suppression and disasters suffered by his Muslim brothers in other parts of the
world, and is content merely with his own safety. This is the result of weak faith, because the
believer is the opposite of that. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“The believer’s position in relation to his fellow believers is like that of the head to the body;
the believer feels the pain of his fellow believers as the body reacts to the pain suffered by the
head.” (Musnad Ahmad, 5/340; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 1137).
Breaking the ties of brotherhood between two who used to be close. The Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No two people are friends for the sake of Allah or
in Islam, but they will be split apart by the first sin (according to another report: they will only
be split apart by the first sin) committed by either of them.” (al-Bukhaari, al-Adab al-Mufrad, no.
401; Ahmad, al-Musnad, 2/68; see also al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 637). This indicates the bad effects
which may impact upon and even destroy the bonds of brotherhood. This alienation which a
man may feel between himself and his brother is a result of the lowering of faith caused by
committing a sin, because Allah causes him to lose his standing in the eyes of His slaves, and
so he is in the miserable position of having no respect and misses out on the fellowship of the
believers and the protection of Allah, for Allah protects those who believe.
٩
Not feeling any responsibility to work for Islam and spread this religion, which is
unlike the attitude of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him), who as soon as they entered this religion felt this responsibility straight away, for
example, al-Tufayl ibn ‘Amr (may Allah be pleased with him), who became Muslim and went
to call his people to Islam straight away. He was only a new Muslim but he felt that he had to
go back and call his people to Islam, and he went and did this, yet nowadays many people
wait for a long time after they become committed to Islam before they reach the stage of
calling others to Allah, may He be glorified.
The Companions of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), as a result
of entering Islam, used to feel enmity towards the kuffaar, and they would disavow
themselves of them and draw a clear line. When Thamaamah ibn Athaal (may Allah be
pleased with him), the chief of the people of al-Yamaamah, was taken prisoner, he was held in
the mosque, and the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told him
about Islam. Then Allah caused the light of Islam to shine in his heart, and he became
Muslim. He went for ‘Umrah, and when he reached Makkah, he told the kuffaar of Quraysh,
“Not one grain of wheat will reach you from al-Yamaamah except with the permission of the
Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath,
8/78). This declaration of opposition to the kuffaar, imposition of economic sanctions and
offer of all resources at his disposal to serve the cause of da’wah all took place immediately,
because strong faith demands action.
Fear and panic when disaster strikes or problems arise. So you will see such a person
shaking and losing his equilibrium, with no focus, staring wild-eyed and having no idea what
to do when faced with calamity. He is ruled by his fears and can see no way out; he cannot
face reality with a strong and steady heart. All of this is the result of weak faith, for if his faith
was strong he would be steadfast and he would face the worst disasters with calmness and
strength.
Excessive arguing and disputing. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him) said in a saheeh hadeeth: “No people will go astray after having being guided except that
they become argumentative.” (Reported by Ahmad in al-Musnad, 5/252; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5633).
Arguing with no proof and for no good reason leads one far away from the Straight Path, and
most of people’s futile arguments nowadays are conducted without knowledge or guidance or
(reference to) a Book giving light (i.e., the Qur’aan). We have sufficient motive to avoid futile
arguments in the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “I
guarantee a house in the outskirts of Paradise to the one who forsakes argument even when he
is in the right.” (Reported by Abu Dawood, 5/150; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1464).
Attachment to this world and rejoicing in it. A person may be so attached to this world
that he feels pain if he misses out on some share of it, such as money, power, authority, or
housing. He feels that he is unfairly treated because he has not got what others have. He feels
more stress when he sees a brother in Islam who has something of this world that he does not
have, so he envies him (hasad) and wishes that he will lose that blessing. This goes against
eemaan, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Eeman and hasad
do not exist together in the heart of the true slave.” (Reported by Abu Dawood, 5/150; Saheeh alJaami’, 1464).
١٠
He talks and thinks in a purely rational manner, devoid of the characteristics of faith.
There is hardly any trace of a reference to the Qur’aan and Sunnah, or the words of the salaf
(the early generations of Islam – may Allah have mercy on them), in the way such a person
speaks.
Going to extremes in the way one cares for oneself, in food, drink, clothing, housing
and means of transportation. So you see these people showing excessive interest in luxuries,
trying to be sophisticated, buying only the finest clothes, spending extravagant amounts on
their choice of housing and spending too much time and money on such unnecessary
adornments whilst their Muslim brothers are in the greatest need of that money. This carries
on until they sink into the soft life of luxury which is forbidden, as is reported in the hadeeth
of Mu’aadh ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him): when the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) sent him to Yemen, he advised him: “Beware of luxury, for
the slaves of Allah do not live a life of luxury.” (Reported by Abu Na’eem in al-Hilyah, 5/155;
Silsilat al-Saheehah, 353. A similar version was also reported by Ahmad in al-Musnad, 5/243).

Causes of weak faith
There are many causes of weak faith, some of which are the same as the symptoms,
such as committing sin or being preoccupied with this world. There follows a list of some
additional causes:
Keeping away from a faith-filled environment for too long. This causes weak faith in a
person. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Has not the time come for the hearts of
those who believe to be affected by Allah’s Reminder (this Qur’aan), and that which has been
revealed of the truth, lest they become as those who received the Scripture before (i.e., Jews
and Christians), and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened? And
many of them were faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” [al-Hadeed 57:16]. This
aayah indicates that spending too much time away from a faith-filled environment leads to
weakness of faith in the heart. For example, a person who stays away from his brothers in
Islam for a long period, because of travel or work, etc., is going to miss the atmosphere of
faith in which he was living and from which his heart gained its strength. The believer is weak
on his own but strong with his brothers. Al-Hasan al-Basri (may Allah have mercy on him)
said: “Our brothers are dearer to us than our families, for our families remind us of this world,
but our brothers remind us of the Hereafter.” If this absence goes on for too long, it creates
alienation in the heart, which eventually changes into disdain for that faith-filled atmosphere,
which in turn hardens the heart and fills it with darkness, extinguishing the light of eemaan.
This explains the complete change of heart on the part of some who travel to other lands on
vacation or who relocate for purposes of work or study.
Keeping away from the good example of righteous leaders. The person who learns from
a righteous man gains beneficial knowledge, does a righteous deed and strengthens his
eemaan at the same time; (that leader) takes care of him and passes on to him the knowledge,
good morals and virtues that he has. If he keeps away from that teacher for some time, he
begins to feel hardness in his heart. For this reason when the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him) died and was buried, his Sahaabah said, “We looked at our hearts and felt
١١
that there had been a deep change.” They felt alienated and lost because their teacher and
example (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had died. According to some reports,
they were described as being “like sheep on a rainy winter’s night.” But the Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) left behind great leaders, giants among men, all of whom
were qualified to take up the reins of leadership, and some of them became examples to the
others. But nowadays the Muslims are in desperate need of examples close at hand to them.
Failing to seek knowledge and to be acquainted with the books of the salaf (early
generation) and religious books which will uplift and revive the heart. There are many kinds
of books which the reader will feel stir up faith in his heart and motivate him to fulfil his
spiritual potential, foremost among which is the Book of Allah, may He be exalted, and the
books of hadeeth, followed by the books of scholars who are good at writing about issues that
soften the heart and who explain ‘aqeedah (correct belief) in a manner that moves the soul and
uplifts the heart, such as Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Rajab and others. By ignoring these books
and reading only intellectual works, or books of fiqh rulings which do not quote their daleel
(evidence), or books of grammar rules and usool (bases of ‘aqeedah), is something that may
have the effect of hardening the heart. This is not a criticism of those books per se, it is only a
warning to the person who keeps away from books of Tafseer and hadeeth and hardly ever
reads them, even though they are the books that bring one closer to Allah. For example, when
one reads al-Saheehayn (al-Bukhaari and Muslim), you feel the atmosphere of the age of the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the Sahaabah, and you feel the breeze
of eemaan by sharing the events that happened in their time.
The people of hadeeth are the people of the Messenger; even if they did not have the
chance to be with him, they are with his words.
This problem – keeping away from religious books – clearly has an effect on those who
study disciplines which have no connection with Islam, such as philosophy, psychology,
social science, etc., disciplines which have been developed far away from Islamic teachings.
The same applies to those who love to read fiction and love stories, or who follow worthless
news stories in newspapers, magazines and so on.
Living in an environment that is filled with sin, so you see one boasting about his latest
misdemeanour, another humming popular songs to himself, a third smoking, a fourth reading
a pornographic magazine, a fifth cursing and swearing, and so on. As for talk about who said
what to whom, gossip, backbiting and discussion about the latest football match, there is no
end to it.
Some environments remind one only of this world, as is the case in most gatherings and
work-places nowadays. Discussions about business, work, money, investments, work-related
problems, raises, promotions, assignments and so on take precedence in the minds and speech
of most people nowadays.
As for what goes on in the home – there is a lot we can say about the disasters and evil
deeds that cause the Muslim shame and hurt him deeply. Muslim homes are filled with
shameless songs, vile movies, forbidden mixing of the sexes and so on. No doubt in such an
environment hearts are stricken with the disease of hardness.
١٢
Preoccupation with this world, so that the heart is enslaved by it. The Messenger of
Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “He is doomed, the slave of the dinar
and the slave of the dirham” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, no. 2730), and, “All that is sufficient for
any one of you in this world is the supply of the traveller” (reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer,
4/78; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2384) – meaning a little of something that will help him to reach his
destination. This phenomenon (preoccupation with this world) is very apparent in our own
times, when material greed and the desire to acquire more worthless worldly goods have
become widespread, and people are now running after trade, manufacturing and shares. This
confirms what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah, may He
be glorified, says: ‘We have sent down wealth for the establishment of prayer and the
payment of zakaat, but if the son of Adam has one valley, he will wish that he had a second,
and if he had two valleys, he would wish that he had a third. The stomach of the son of Adam
will be filled only with dust (i.e., he is never satisfied) then Allah will accept the repentance
of the one who repents.” (Reported by Ahmad, 5/219; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1781).
Being preoccupied with one’s wealth, wife and children. Allah says (interpretation of
the meanings): “And know that your possessions and children are but a trial and that surely
with Allah is a mighty reward.” [al-Anfaal 8:28] and, “Beautified for men is the love of things
they covet: women, children, much of gold and silver (wealth), branded beautiful horses,
cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present world’s life, but Allah has the
excellent return (Paradise).” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:14]. The meaning of these aayat is that if the love
of these things, especially women and children, is given precedence over obedience to Allah
and His Messenger, then it is regarded as being bad, but if the love of these things is within
the bounds of sharee’ah, it helps a man to obey Allah and in this case it is praiseworthy. The
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “In this world, women and good
scents have been made dear to me, but dearest of all to me is prayer.” (Reported by Ahmad,
3/128; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3124). Many men follow their wives in doing haraam deeds, and allow
their children to distract them from worshipping Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him) said: “Children are the cause of grief, cowardice, ignorance and
miserliness.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 24/241; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1990). When he said
that they are the cause of miserliness, he meant that if a man wants to spend for the sake of
Allah, the Shaytaan reminds him of his children, so he thinks, “My children deserve the
money, I will leave it for them when I die, so he is miserly in the sense that he refrains from
spending it for the sake of Allah. When he said that children are the cause of cowardliness, he
meant that when a man wants to fight in jihaad for the sake of Allah, the Shaytaan comes to
him and says, “You will be killed and will die, and your children will become orphans, lost
and alone,” so he stays home and does not go out for jihaad. When he said that children are
the cause of ignorance, he meant that they distract a father from seeking knowledge and trying
to acquire learning by attending gatherings and reading books. When he said that children are
the cause of grief, he meant that when a child gets sick, the parent feels grief; if the child asks
for something that the father cannot provide, this grieves the father; and if the child grows up
and rebels against his father, this is a cause of ongoing grief and distress.
This is not to say that one should forego marrying and having children; what is meant is
that one should beware of becoming preoccupied with them and letting that lead one to
commit haraam deeds.
١٣
Concerning the temptation of wealth, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him) said: “Every nation has its fitnah (trial or temptation), and the fitnah of my ummah is
wealth.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 2336; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2148). Eagerness to acquire wealth is
more damaging to a person’s religion than the wolf who attacks the sheepfold. This is what
the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) meant when he said: “Two hungry
wolves sent against the sheep do not do more damage to them than a man’s eagerness for
wealth and standing does to his religion.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 2376; Saheeh al-Jaami’,
5620). For this reason the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) urged Muslims
to take just what is sufficient, without hoping for more, which could distract him from
remembering Allah. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“All that you need of wealth is a servant and a means of transportation to go out for the sake
of Allah.” (Reported by Ahmad, 5/290; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2386). The Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allah be upon him) issued a warning to those who want to accumulate wealth, except for
those who give in charity: “Woe to those who want to accumulate wealth, except for the one
who says with his wealth, ‘Here! Here! Here!’ (i.e., giving it away) to one on his right, one on
his left, one in front of him and one behind him,” (reported by Ibn Maajah, no. 4129; Saheeh alJaami’, 7137) – meaning all forms of charity.
Hoping for a long life. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Leave them to eat
and enjoy, and let them be preoccupied with (false) hope. They will come to know!” [al-Hijr
15:3]. ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “What I fear for you is following your
desires and hoping for a long life, for following one’s desires makes a man ignore the truth,
and hoping for a long life makes him forget the Hereafter. (Fath al-Baari, 11/236). Another
report says: “Four things are causes of doom: dry eyes (i.e., never weeping), a hard heart,
hope for a long life and eagerness for this world.” Hoping for a long life generates laziness in
worship, procrastination, desire for the things of this world, neglect of the Hereafter and
hardness of heart, because softness of heart and clarity of vision can only be achieved by
remembering death, the grave, reward and punishment, and the horrors of the Day of
Judgement, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “… and the term was prolonged for
them and their hearts were hardened…” [al-Hadeed 57:16]. It was said: “Whoever does not
hope for a long life will have less worries and his heart will be filled with light, because he
calls death to mind and strives to obey Allah…” (Fath al-Baari, 11/237)
Another cause of weak faith and hard-heartedness is eating too much, sleeping too
much, staying up too late, talking too much and mixing with people too much. Eating too
much makes the brain slow and the body heavy, which prevents a person from worshipping
Allah and makes it easy for Shaytaan to tempt him, as it was said: “Whoever eats too much,
drinks too much and sleeps too much, loses a great reward.” Talking too much hardens the
heart, and mixing too much with people stops a person from having time to be alone and
reflect on his own state. Laughing too much drains life from the heart. The Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) said in a saheeh hadeeth: “Do not laugh too much, for
excessive laughter deadens the heart.” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, 4193; see also Saheeh al-Jaami’).
Time that is not filled with worship of Allah also leads to hard-heartedness, as a person pays
heed to neither the rebukes of the Qur’aan nor the advice of faith.
The causes of weak faith are many indeed, and it is impossible to list them all, but what
we have listed above will give the reader an impression of others which we have not
١٤
mentioned here. The wise person understands this innately. We ask Allah to purify our hearts
and protect us from the evil of our own selves.
Curing weak faith
Al-Haakim reported in al-Mustadrak, and al-Tabaraani reported in al-Mu’jam, that the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Faith wears out in the heart of any
one of you just as clothes wear out, so ask Allah to renew the faith in your hearts.” (Reported
by al-Haakim in al-Mustadrak, 1/4; see also al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 1585. Al-Haythami said in Majma’
al-Zawaa’id, 1/52, “It was reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer and its isnaad is saheeh.”) What he
meant is that faith wears out in the heart just as clothes wear out and become old. The heart of
the believer is sometimes overwhelmed by clouds of sin, and so it goes dark. This is the
picture drawn for us by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in
the saheeh hadeeth: “There is no heart that is not covered by a cloud like the cloud covering
the moon when it is shining, and so it suddenly goes dark, but when it (the cloud) goes away,
it shines again.” (Reported by Abu Na’eem in al-Hilyah, 2/196; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 2268).
Sometimes the moon is covered by clouds, which conceal its light, but after a little while they
go away, and the light of the moon comes back to light up the sky. In the same way, the heart
of the believer is sometimes covered with dark clouds of sin, so its light is veiled, and the
person finds himself lost in darkness, but when he strives to increase his eemaan and seeks the
help of Allah, that cloud goes away, and the light comes back to shine in his heart as before.
One of the most important principles which must be understood in order to treat the
problem of weak faith is that faith increases and decreases, or waxes and wanes. This is one of
the basic principles of the ‘aqeedah of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, who say that faith is
something to be spoken in words, to be believed in in the heart, and to be put into action.
Faith increases with obedience and decreases with disobedience. There is evidence for this in
the Qur’aan and Sunnah, for example, Allah says (interpretation of the meanings): “… that
they may grow more in Faith along with their (present) Faith…” [al-Fath 48:4] and “…
Which of you has had his faith increased by it? …” [al-Tawbah 9:124]. The Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him
change it by his hand (by action), and if he cannot, then by his tongue (by speaking out), and
if he cannot, then by his heart (by feeling that it is wrong), and that is the weakest of faith.”
(Al-Bukhaari, Fath, 1/51).
The effects of obedience and sin, which increase and decrease faith respectively, are
well known from observation and experience. If a person goes out walking in the marketplace, where he looks at uncovered women wearing make-up, and hears the shouting and idle
talk of the people, then he goes to the graveyard and stops to think and let his heart soften, he
will see the difference between the two environments and how quickly his heart changes.
Another factor in this discussion is the words of one of the salaf: “One of the signs of
proper understanding is when a slave takes care of his eemaan, and pays attention to what
decreases it, and knows when it increases and when it decreases, and recognizes the
temptation of Shaytaan when he comes to him.” (Sharh Nooniyah Ibn al-Qayyim by Ibn ‘Eesa,
2/140).
١٥
It is important to know that if a decrease in faith leads to one neglecting one’s duties or
doing haraam deeds, this slackening is very serious and one must repent to Allah and start to
do something about it at once. If it does not lead to neglect of duties and doing haraam deeds,
but just makes a person fall short in doing mustahabb (recommended) deeds, for example,
then a person still needs to know how to sort himself out and correct himself until he returns
to the proper level of energy and strength in worship. This is what we learn from the words of
the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), “Every deed has energy and strength,
and then this energy and strength is followed by a slackening, so who’s slackening is in
accordance to my Sunnah he will be fine, and who’s slackening is to other than that [i.e.,
doing unlawful or forebidden deeds] he will be doomed.” (Reported by Ahmad, 2/210; Saheeh alTargheeb, no. 55).
Before we discuss how to treat the problem of weak faith, there is something we should
note: many of those who feel that their hearts are hard look for an external solution, hoping
that they can rely on others, even though it is within their reach – if they want – to take care of
themselves by themselves. This is how it should be done, because eemaan is the relationship
between the slave and his Lord. Below, we will discuss a number of ways prescribed by Islam
by means of which the Muslim can deal with his weakness of faith and hardness of heart, after
he puts his trust in Allah and resigns himself to the fact that he faces a struggle to achieve his
goal:
Pondering the meanings of the Qur’aan, which Allah has revealed to explain everything
and as a Light by which He guides whomever He wills of His slaves. There is no doubt that it
contains a powerful and effective cure. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And We
send down from the Qur’aan that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe…” [alIsra’ 17:82]. The method of treatment is to think and ponder its meanings.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to ponder the
meanings of the Book of Allah and recite it when he stood in prayer at night (qiyaam al-layl).
On one occasion, he stood in prayer at night and recited one single aayah from the Book of
Allah whilst he was praying, and he did not go any further than that (one aayah) until
morning. The aayah in question was (interpretation of the meaning): “If You punish them,
they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, verily You, only You, are the All-Mighty, the
All-Wise.” [al-Maa’idah 5:118]. (Reported by Ahmad, 4/149; see also Sifat al-Salaah by al-Albaani,
p. 102).
He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to ponder the meaning of the
Qur’aan, to the greatest extent. Ibn Hibbaan reported in his Saheeh with a jayyid isnaad from
‘Ataarah, who said: “‘Ubayd-Allah ibn ‘Umayr and I entered upon ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be
pleased with her) and ‘Ubayd-Allah ibn ‘Umayr said: ‘Tell us of the most wonderful thing
you saw on the part of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).’
She wept and said, ‘He got up one night (to pray) and said, “O ‘Aa’ishah, leave me to worship
my Lord.” I said, “By Allah, I love to be near you, and I love what makes you happy.” He got
up, purified himself and stood up to pray, and he kept weeping until his lap got wet, then he
wept and kept weeping until the ground got wet. Bilaal came to call the adhaan for him, and
when he saw him weeping, he said, “O Messenger of Allah, are you weeping when Allah has
forgiven all of your sins, past and future?” He said, “Should I not be a thankful slave? This
night some aayaat have been revealed to me, woe to the one who reads them and does not
١٦
think (about their meaning). Among them is (interpretation of the meaning): Verily! In the
creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed
signs for men of understanding, those who remember Allah (always, and in prayers) standing,
sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and
the earth…” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:190-191].”’” (Al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 1/106). This indicates that it is
obligatory to ponder the meaning of these aayaat.
The Qur’aan speaks of Tawheed, and contains promises of reward, threats of
punishment, rules and regulations, reports, stories, etiquette and good morals, and its effects
on the heart are various. Some soorahs fill the heart with fear more than others, as is indicated
by the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), “(Soorat) Hood and
its sisters made me grey before my time.” (al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 2/679). According to another
report: “Hood and al-Waaqi’ah and al-Mursalaat and ‘amma yatasaa’aloon and Idha’l-shamsu
kuwwirat” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 3297; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, no. 955). The Prophet’s hair
turned grey because of what these soorahs contain of the realities of faith and great
responsibilities, which filled his heart and had a visible effect on his hair and body. “So stand
(ask Allah to make) you firm and straight (on the religion of Islamic Monotheism) as you are
commanded and those (your companions) who turn in repentance (unto Allah) with you…”
[Hood 11:112 – interpretation of the meaning].
The Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) recited the
Qur’aan and pondered its meaning and were moved by it. Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased
with him) was a gentle, soft-hearted man, and when he led the people in prayer and recited the
words of Allah, he could not stop himself from weeping. ‘Umar became ill after reciting the
words of Allah (interpretation of the meaning): “Verily, the Torment of your Lord will surely
come to pass, – there is none that can avert it” [al-Toor 52:7-8]. (This report and its isnaad are in
Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 7/406). His sobs could be heard from the back of the congregation when he
recited Allah’s words about Ya’qoob (peace be upon him) (interpretation of the meaning):
“He said, ‘I only complain of my grief and my sorrow to Allah…’” [Yoosuf 12:86]. (Manaaqib
‘Umar by Ibn al-Jawzi, 167). ‘Uthmaan (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “If our hearts
were pure and clean, we would never have enough of the Word of Allah.” He was killed
unjustly as a martyr and his blood fell on his mus-haf – the reports from the Sahaabah
concerning this are many. Ayyoob said: “I heard Sa’eed (ibn Jubayr) reciting this aayah
twenty-odd times: “And be afraid of the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah…” [alBaqarah 2:281 – interpretation of the meaning]. (Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’, 4/324). This was the
last aayah to be revealed of the Qur’aan, and the ending of it is (interpretation of the
meaning): “… Then every person shall be paid what he earned, and they shall not be dealt
with unjustly.” [al-Baqarah 2:281]. Ibraaheem ibn Bashshaar said: “The aayah which ‘Ali ibn
Fudayl was reading when he died was (interpretation of the meaning): ‘If you could but see
when they will be held over the (Hell) Fire! They will say: “Would that we were but sent back
(to the world)!…”’ [al-An’aam 6:27]. When he reached that point, he died, and I was one of
those who prayed for him [at his funeral], may Allah have mercy on him.” (Siyar A’laam alNubala’, 4/446). Even when they prostrated as required when reading Qur’aan (sajadaat altilaawah – prostrations required when reciting certain aayaat of the Qur’aan), they reacted in
different ways. One of them was the man – may Allah have mercy on him – who, when he
read the aayah (interpretation of the meaning), “And they fall down on their faces weeping
and it adds to their humility” [al-Isra’ 17:109], prostrated as required, then he rebuked himself
by saying: “This is the prostration, but where is the weeping?”
١٧
Among the features of the Qur’aan which are most deserving of contemplation are the
examples and parables which Allah sets forth and urges us to ponder and think about. He tells
us (interpretation of the meanings): “ … Allah sets forth parables for mankind in order that
they may remember” [Ibraaheem 14:25] and “… Such are the parables which We put forward
to mankind that they may reflect.” [al-Hashr 59:21].
One of the salaf once read one of these parables of Allah and could not grasp the
meaning, so he began to weep. He was asked, “What makes you weep?” He said: “Allah says
(interpretation of the meaning): ‘And these similitudes We put forward for mankind, but none
will understand them except those who have knowledge (of Allah and His Signs, etc.)’ [al-
‘Ankaboot 29:43], and I do not understand the parable. I am not one who has knowledge, and
I am weeping for all the time I have wasted and not gained knowledge.”
Allah sets forth many parables for us in the Qur’aan, such as the following
(interpretation of the meanings): the one who kindled a fire [al-Baqarah 2:17], the one who
shouts to the (flock of sheep) that hears nothing [al-Baqarah 2:171], the likeness of a grain (of
corn) that grows seven ears [al-Baqarah 2:261], the dog who lolls his tongue out [al-A’raaf
7:176], the donkey who carries huge burdens of books (but learns nothing from them) [alJumu’ah 62:5], the fly (which none but Allah can create, even if they join together for that
purpose) [al-Hajj 22:73], the spider (which builds a house for itself, but it is the frailest of
houses) [al-‘Ankaboot 29:41], the blind and the deaf and the seer and the hearer [Hood
11:24], the ashes on which the wind blows furiously on a stormy day [Ibraaheem 14:18], the
goodly tree [Ibraaheem 14:24], the evil tree [Ibraaheem 14:26], the water which is sent down
from the sky [al-An’aam 6:99], the niche within which is a lamp [al-Noor 24:35], the slave
under the possession of another who has no power of any sort [al-Nahl 16:75], the (slave)
man belonging to many partners [al-Zumar 39:29], and others. The point here is that we
should refer to these aayat and pay special attention to them, pondering their meanings.
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) summed up what the Muslim has to do
to remedy the hardness of his heart with the Qur’aan. He said: “There are two main things you
have to do. The first is to move your heart from dwelling on the things of this world and move
it to dwell on the Hereafter, then focus all your heart on the Qur’aan and ponder its meanings
and why it was revealed. Try to understand something from every aayah and apply it to the
disease of your heart. These aayaat were revealed (to treat) the disease of the heart, so you
will be healed, by the permission of Allah.”
Trying to feel an awareness of the might of Allah, learning His names and attributes,
pondering their meanings, trying to understand them and to establish these feelings in the
heart so that they may have an effect on one’s actions. The heart is the controller of the
faculties, which are like soldiers and followers; if it is sound, they will be sound, and if it is
corrupt, they will be corrupt.
The texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah which speak of the greatness and might of Allah
are many. When the Muslim reads them, he is shaken and becomes humble before the Most
High, the Most Great, the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing, and his fear and submission to the
Lord of the first and the last increases. Many of His names and attributes are mentioned in the
Qur’aan. He is the Most Great (al-‘Azeem), the Watcher over His creatures (al-Muhaymin),
the Compeller (al-Jabbaar), the Majestic (al-Mutakabbir), the Most Strong (al-Qawi), the
١٨
Subduer (al-Qahhaar), the Great (al-Kabeer), the Most Exalted (al-Muta’aal). He is the Living
Who does not die, although jinn and men die. He is the One Who has irresistable power over
His slaves. The thunder glorifies and praises Him, and so do the angels because of His awe.
He is All-Mighty, All-Able of retribution. He is the Self-Sustaining who does not sleep. He
has full knowledge of all things. He knows the fraud of the eyes, and all that the breasts
conceal. He has described His vast knowledge in the following terms (interpretation of the
meaning): “And with Him are the keys of the ghayb (all that is hidden), none knows them but
He. And He knows whatever there is in (or on) the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but He
knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry but is
written in a Clear Record.” [al-An’aam 6:59]. One of the aspects of His greatness about which
He has told us is (interpretation of the meaning): “… And on the Day of Resurrection the
whole of the earth will be grasped by His Hand and the heavens will be rolled up in His Right
Hand…” [al-Zumar 39:67]. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him) said: “Allah will seize the earth on the Day of Resurrection and will roll up the heavens
in His right hand, then He will say, ‘I am the King, where are the kings of the earth?”
(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 6947). The heart trembles when one reads the story of Moosa and how
he said (interpretation of the meaning): “ ‘O my Lord! Show me (Yourself), that I may look
upon You.’ Allah said, ‘You cannot see Me, but look upon the mountain, if it stands still in its
place, then you shall see Me.’ So when his Lord appeared to the mountain, He made it
collapse to dust, and Moosa fell down unconscious…” [al-A’raaf 7:143]. When the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) explained this aayah, he said, “Like this,” and
gestured with his thumb on the highest knuckle of his little finger, then he said, “and the
mountain trembled and collapsed.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 3074; Ahmad, 3/125, 209. Ibn
Katheer quoted its isnaads in his Tafseer, 3/466. Ibn al-Qayyim said: Its isnaad is saheeh according to the
conditions of Muslim. Al-Albaani quoted it and classed it as saheeh in Takhreej al-Sunnah by Ibn Abi
‘Aasim, hadeeth 480). Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, has “a veil of light, and if He
lifted it, the glory of His countenance would burn all of His creation as far as he could see.”
(Reported by Muslim, no. 197). Another aspect of Allah’s might was described by His Messenger
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “When Allah settles a matter in heaven, the
angels beat their wings in humility and submission to His words, (with a sound) like a chain
(beating) on a rock. When they settle down, they say, ‘What did your Lord say?’ They say,
‘What He says is the Truth, and He is the Most High, the Most Great.’” (Reported by alBukhaari, 7043). There are many such texts, which indicate that feeling the greatness of Allah
by pondering the meaning of these texts and others is one of the best ways of dealing with the
problem of weak faith. Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) described the greatness
of Allah in the most beautiful way: “He is controlling the affairs of all the kingdoms. He
commands and prohibits, creates and gives provision, and gives death and gives life. He raises
and lowers people’s status, alternates night and day, gives days (good and notso good) to men
by turns, and causes nations to rise and fall, so that one nation vanishes and another emerges.
His command and decree are carried out throughout the heavens and on earth, above it and
below it, in the oceans and in the air. He has knowledge of all things and knows the number
of all things. He hears all voices, and does not mistake one for another; He hears them all, in
all the different languages and with all their varied requests and pleas. No voice distracts Him
from hearing another, He does not confuse their requests, and He never tires of hearing the
pleas of those in need. He sees all that is visible, even the walk of a black ant across a solid
rock in the darkest night. The unseen is visible to Him, and secrets are known to Him…
‘Whosoever is in the heavens and on earth begs of Him (its needs from Him). Every day He
has a matter to bring forth (such as giving honour to some, disgrace to some, life to some,
١٩
death to some, etc.)!’ [al-Rahmaan 55:29 – interpretation of the meaning]. He forgives sins,
eases worries, relieves distress, helps the defeated person back on his feet, makes the poor
rich, guides the one who is astray and confused, fulfils the needs of the desperate, feeds the
hungry, clothes the naked, conceals faults, and calms fears. He raises the status of some and
lowers the status of others… Even if all the inhabitants of heaven and earth, the first and the
last of them, mankind and jinn alike, were to be as pious as the most pious among them, this
would not increase His sovereignty in the slightest; if they all, the first and the last of them,
mankind and jinn alike, were to be as rebellious as the most rebellious among them, this
would not decrease His sovereignty in the slightest. If everything in heaven and on earth, the
first and the last of them, mankind and jinn, living and dead, animate and inanimate, were to
stand in one place and ask of Him, and He were to give them everything that they asked for,
this would not decrease what He has by even an atom’s weight… He is the First, before
Whom there is nothing, and the Last, after Whom there is nothing, may He be blessed and
exalted. He is the Most deserving of being remembered, the Most deserving of being
worshipped, the Most deserving of being thanked. He is the Most Compassionate of kings, the
Most Generous of those who are asked… He is the King Who has no partner or associate, the
One who has no rival, the Self-Sufficient Master, Who has no son, the Most High, and there is
none like unto Him. “Everything will perish save His face” [al-Qasas 28:88 – interpretation of
the meaning], and everything will vanish except His sovereignty… He will not be obeyed
except by His permission, and He will not be disobeyed except with His knowledge. He is
obeyed, so He shows His appreciation, and He is disobeyed, so he forgives. Every punishment
on His part is justice, and every blessing from Him is a favour. He is the closest of witnesses
and the nearest of protectors. He seizes people by their forelocks, records their deeds and
decrees the appointed time for all things. Hearts conceal nothing from Him, for secrets are
known to Him. His gift is a word and His punishment is a word: ‘Verily, His Command, when
He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, “Be!” – and it is.’ [Yaa-Seen 36:82 –
interpretation of the meaning].” (Adapted from al-Waabil al-Sayib, p. 125)
Seeking Islamic knowledge, which is knowledge that leads one to fear Allah and which
increases one’s faith in Him, may He be glorified. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“… It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah…” [Faatir 35:28].
Those who have knowledge and those who do not are not equal in faith. How can one who
knows the details of sharee’ah, the meaning and implications of the Shahaadatayn, the things
that will happen after death – such as the torment of the grave, the horrors of the final
gathering, the stages of the Day of Resurrection, the delights of Paradise and the punishments
of Hell, the wisdom of sharee’ah in prescribing halaal and haraam, the details of the Prophet’s
seerah, and other kinds of knowledge… How can one who knows all this be equal in faith
with one who is ignorant of the religion and its rulings and what Islam says about matters of
the Unseen. All the latter knows about his religion is mere imitation, and the little knowledge
he has is of poor quality. “…Say: Are those who know equal to those who do not know? …”
[al-Zumar 39:9 – interpretation of the meaning].
Regular attendance at gatherings of dhikr (remembrance of Allah). This leads to an
increase in faith for a number of reasons, such as the mentioning of Allah, the descent of
mercy and tranquillity, the angels surrounding the people present, and Allah mentioning them
to the chiefs (angels) on high, showing His pride in them to the angels and forgiving their
sins. This was mentioned in saheeh ahaadeeth, for example, when the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No people sit together remembering Allah, but the
٢٠
angels surround them, mercy envelops them, tranquillity descends upon them, and Allah
mentions them to those who are in His presence.” (Saheeh Muslim, no. 2700). Sahl ibn alHanzaliyyah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘No people gather together to remember (Allah) and
then disperse, but it will be said to them: “Get up, you are forgiven.”’” (Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5507).
Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “When he spoke of remembering Allah
(dhikr), he meant doing it regularly and persistently, by doing acts that are obligatory or
encouraged, such as reciting Qur’aan, reading hadeeth, and studying with other people.” (Fath
al-Baari, 11/209). Another indication that gatherings of dhikr increase one’s eemaan is the
report narrated by Imaam Muslim in his Saheeh from Hanzalah al-Usaydi, who said: “I met
Abu Bakr, and he asked me, ‘How are you, O Hanzalah?’ I said, ‘Hanzalah has become a
munaafiq (hypocrite).’ He said, ‘Subhaan-Allah! What are you saying?’ I said, ‘We sit with
the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he tells us about Hell
and Paradise until it is as if we can see them, then when we leave the Messenger of Allah
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), we get involved with our wives and children and
earning a living, and we forget a lot.’ Abu Bakr said, ‘I feel the same way.’ So Abu Bakr and
I went to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and I said,
‘Hanzalah has become a hypocrite, O Messenger of Allah.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘Why is that?’ I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, we sit
with you and you tell us about Hell and Paradise until it is as if we can see them, then when
we leave you, we get involved with our wives and children and earning a living, and we
forget a lot.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said, ‘By the
One in Whose hand is my soul, if you continued to be as you are when you are with me, and
to make dhikr, the angels would shake your hands in your beds and on the road. But, O
Hanzalah, there is a time for this and a time for that’ – and he said this three times.” (Saheeh
Muslim, no. 2750).
The Sahaabah, may Allah be pleased with them, were keen to sit toegther for the
purpose of dhikr, which they used to call eemaan (faith or belief). Mu’aadh (may Allah be
pleased with him) said to a man: “Let us sit and believe for a while.” (Its isnaad is saheeh; Arba’
Masaa’il fi’l-Eemaan, revised by al-Albaani, p. 72).
Doing a lot of righteous deeds and filling one’s time with them. This is one of the best
ways of dealing with weak faith, and is clearly very effective in strengthening faith. Abu Bakr
al-Siddeeq (may Allah be pleased with him) set the best example of this, when the Messenger
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked his Sahaabah: “Who among you got up
fasting this morning?” Abu Bakr said, “I did.” He asked, “Who among you has attended a
funeral today?” Abu Bakr said, “I have.” He asked, “Who among you has fed a needy person
today?” Abu Bakr said, “I have.” He asked, “Who among you has visited a sick person
today?” Abu Bakr said, “I have.” The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be
upon him) said, “No man does all of that but he will enter Paradise.” (Reported by Muslim,
Kitaab Fadaa’il al-Sahaabah, Baab 1, Hadeeth 12).
This story demonstrates that Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq (may Allah be pleased with him) was
keen to make the most of every opportunity and to do a variety of acts of worship. Because
this was an unexpected question on the part of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be
upon him), this indicates that Abu Bakr’s days were filled with acts of obedience and
worship. The salaf (may Allah have mercy on them) reached the highest levels in their efforts
٢١
to do righteous deeds and fill their time in this manner. An example of this is what was said
about a group of the salaf among whom was Hammaad ibn Salamah. Imaam ‘Abd alRahmaan ibn Mahdi said: “If it were said to Hammaad ibn Salamah, ‘You will die tomorrow,’
he would not be able to do more good deeds (than he was already doing).” (Siyar A’laam alNubala’, 7/447).
The Muslim should pay attention to the following when doing good deeds:
He should hasten to do good deeds, because Allah says (interpretation of the meanings):
“And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as
wide as are the heavens and the earth…” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:133] and “Race one with another in
hastening towards Forgiveness from your Lord (Allah), and towards Paradise, the width
whereof is as the width of heaven and earth…” [al-Hadeed 57:21]. The meaning of these
aayaat motived the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
and stirred them to action. Imaam Muslim (may Allah have mercy on him) reported in his
Saheeh from Anas ibn Maalik that at the Battle of Badr, when the mushrikeen approached, the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Get up to Paradise the width of the
heavens and the earth!” ‘Umayr ibn al-Himaam al-Ansaari said, “O Messenger of Allah,
Paradise the width of the heavens and the earth?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “That’s great!” The
Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “What makes you say,
‘That’s great!’?” He said, “Nothing, by Allah, O Messenger of Allah, except that I hope I will
be one of its people.” He said, “You will be one of its people.” He took some dates out of his
pocket and started to eat them, then he said, “If I live to finish eating these dates it will be too
long.” He threw aside the dates then fought them until he was killed. (Saheeh Muslim, 1901).
Long before that, Moosa had hastened to meet his Lord, and said, “…I hastened to You, O my
Lord, that You might be pleased.” [Ta-Ha 20:84 – interpretation of the meaning]. Allah
praised Zakariyah and his wife by saying (interpretation of the meaning): “…Verily, they
used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call on Us with hope and fear, and used
to humble themselves before Us.” [al-Anbiya’ 21:90]. The Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him) said: “Deliberation in all things,” but according to another report, he
added, “except in deeds that pertain to the Hereafter [i.e., good deeds].” (Reported by Abu
Dawood in his Sunan, 5/175; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3009).
Continuing to do good deeds, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be
upon him) said, transmitting the words of his Lord in a hadeeth qudsi: “… ‘My slave keeps
drawing nearer to me with naafil (supererogatory) deeds until I love him.’” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari,
6137). The phrase maa yazaalu (“keeps [drawing near]”) gives the impression of continuity.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Continue doing Hajj and
‘Umrah.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 810; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 1200). This is an important
principle when it comes to strengthening one’s eemaan and not neglecting oneself to the point
of stagnation. A small deed that is continuous is better than a big deed that is not done
regularly. Continuity in righteous deeds strengthens eemaan. The Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked: “Which deed is most beloved to Allah?” He said,
“The one that is continuous, even if it is little.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath, 11/194). When the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did something, he kept it up.” (Reported by
Muslim, Kitaab Salaat al-Musaafir, Baab 18, Hadeeth 141).
Striving one’s utmost to do good deeds. Dealing with a hard heart should not be the
matter of a temporary solution, where eemaan strengthens for a period of time then becomes
٢٢
weak again; rather, it should be an ongoing effort, which can only be achieved by striving
one’s utmost in worship. Allah has mentioned the efforts of His slaves in their worship in
several places in the Qur’aan, such as (interpretation of the meanings): “Only those believe in
Our aayaat (signs, etc.) who, when they are reminded of them, fall down prostrate, and glorify
the Praises of their Lord, and they are not proud. Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their
Lord in fear and hope, and they spend (charity, in Allah’s Cause) out of what We have
bestowed on them.” [al-Sajdah 32:15-16] and: “They used to sleep but little by night
[invoking their Lord and praying, with fear and hope]. And in the hours before dawn, they
were (found) asking (Allah) for forgiveness, and in their properties there was the right of the
beggar and the mahroom (the poor who does not ask from others).” [al-Dhaariyaat 51:17-19].
Reading about how the salaf achieved the qualities of true worshippers is something that fills
one with admiration and makes one try to follow their example. For example, they used to
complete the recitation of one-seventh of the Qur’aan every day; they used to pray at night
(qiyaam al-layl) even when they were fighting on military campaigns; they used to remember
Allah and pray tahajjud even in prison, standing on their feet with tears streaming down their
cheeks, thinking about the creation of heaven and earth. One of them would lie down next to
his wife until she slept, just as a mother lies down next to her child to get him to sleep, then he
would slip away from the bed to pray qiyaam al-layl. They divided their nights between
themselves and their wives, and their days between fasting, studying, teaching, attending
funerals, visiting the sick and attending to people’s needs. In some cases, years passed and
they never missed the takbeerat al-ihraam (beginning of the prayer) with the imaam; they
would wait for prayer after prayer. One of them would check on his brother’s children after
his brother died, spending on them for years. In this way their faith would increase.
Not exhausting oneself (avoiding “burnout”). Doing acts of worship continually or
striving one’s utmost does not mean that we have to fall into the trap of becoming bored and
fed up. The idea is that we should not give up striving in worship when we have the energy
and inclination, and when we feel tired, we should just do as much as we can. All of these
ideas are indicated in the ahaadeeth, such as when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah
be upon him) said: “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion
will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to
perfection…” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, 39). According to another report, he said: “Be moderate, and
you will reach what you want.” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, 6099. Al-Bukhaari (may Allah have mercy on
him) entitled the chapter Baab ma yukrah min al-Tashdeed fi’l-‘Ibaadah (Chapter on what is disliked of
extremism in worship)). Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) entered (the mosque) and saw a rope strung between two
pillars. He said, ‘What is this rope for?’ They said, ‘This rope belongs to Zaynab, when she
feels tired, she holds on to it.’ The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
‘No, untie it. Let one of you pray so long as he has the energy, and when he feels tired, let
him sit down.’” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, 1099). When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be
upon him) learnt that ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas was staying up to pray (qiyaam allayl) the whole night, and fasting for days on end, he told him not to do that, and explained
why: “If you do that, your eyes will become weak (because of staying up late too often), and
you will feel exhausted.” The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“Do what you can of (good) deeds, for Allah will never get tired although you get tired. The
most beloved deed to Allah is the one that is continuous, even if it is little.” (Reported by alBukhaari, Fath, 3/38).
٢٣
Making up for what one has missed. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah be pleased with
him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “If a person
sleeps and misses the part of the Qur’aan that he was supposed to read at night, or a part of it,
and then reads it between Salaat al-Fajr and Salaat al-Zuhr, it will be recorded for him as if he
read it at night.” (Reported by al-Nisaa’i and others, al-Mujtaba, 2/68; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1228).
‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him), if he prayed a prayer, he would always do it. If he missed
praying at night because sleep or pain overwhelmed him, he would pray twelve rak’ahs
during the day.” (Reported by Ahmad, 6/95). When Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with
her) saw him praying two rak’ahs after ‘Asr and asked him why, he (peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him) told her: “O daughter of Abu Umayyah, you asked about the two rak’ahs
(I prayed) after ‘Asr. Some people came to me from ‘Abd al-Qays, and distracted me from
praying the two rak’ahs after Zuhr, so these two rak’ahs are what I prayed just now.” (Reported
by al-Bukhaari, Fath, 3/105). If he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not pray four
rak’ahs before Zuhr, he would pray them afterwards. (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no 426; Saheeh
Sunan al-Tirmidhi, no. 727). If he missed the four rak’ahs before Zuhr, he would pray them after
Zuhr. (Saheeh al-Jaami’, 4759). These ahaadeeth indicate that one should make up sunan
rawaatib (Sunnah acts that are done regularly) when one misses them. Ibn al-Qayyim (may
Allah have mercy on him) made more than three points about the Prophet’s fasting in
Sha’baan, the first of which was that he used to fast three days in every month, but maybe he
had been distracted from this fasting for several months, so he put them together to make up
for what he had missed before the obligatory fast (i.e., Ramadaan) came. (Tahdheeb Sunan Abi
Dawood, 3/318). He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to remain in retreat
(I’tikaaf) during the last ten days of Ramadaan, but when he missed it one year because of
travelling, the following year he spent twenty days in I’tikaaf. (Fath al-Baari, 4/285).
Hoping that one’s deeds will be accepted whilst fearing that they may not. After
striving one’s utmost in deeds of worship and obedience, one should fear that they may be
rejected. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “I asked the Messenger of Allah
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) about this aayah (interpretation of the meaning):
‘And those who give that (their charity) which they give with their hearts full of fear (whether
it has been accepted or not)…’ [al-Mu’minoon 23:60] – were they those who drink alcohol
and steal? He said, ‘No, O daughter of al-Siddeeq. They are those who fast and pray and give
charity whilst fearing that these deeds will not be accepted from them. “It is these who race
for the good deeds” [al-Mu’minoon 23:61 – interpretation of the meaning].’” (Reported by alTirmidhi, 3175; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 1/162). Abu’l-Darda’ (may Allah be pleased with him)
said: “To be certain that Allah would accept just one prayer from me would be dearer to me
than the world and everything in it, for Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘Verily,
Allah accepts only from those who are al-muttaqoon (the pious).’ [al-Maa’idah 5:27].”
(Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 3/67). Among the attributes of the believer is looking down on one’s own
self when it comes to fulfilling one’s duties towards Allah (i.e., always thinking that one has
not done enough or done them properly). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him) said: “If a man were to be dragged on his face from the day he was born until the day he
died of old age in order to earn the pleasure of Allah, he would think that was too little on the
Day of Resurrection. (Reported by Imaam Ahmad, al-Musnad, 4/184; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5249).
Whoever knows Allah and knows himself will see clearly that whatever good deeds he may
accomplish will not be enough, even if he brought the good deeds of all of the two races (men
٢٤
and jinn), but Allah, may He be glorified, accepts them by His grace and mercy, and rewards
for them by His grace and mercy.
Doing a variety of acts of worship. It is a part of the mercy and wisdom of Allah that
He has given us a variety of acts of worship to do, some of which are physical, such as salaah,
some financial, such as zakaah, and some combine both physical and financial aspects, such
as Hajj. Some of them are spoken, such as dhikr and du’aa’. One type of worship may be
divided into fard (obligatory) and sunnah mustahabbah (encouraged), both of which also vary.
For example ,the (sunnah) prayers number 12 rak’ahs, some of which are lower in status, such
as the four rak’ahs before ‘Asr and Salaat al-Duhaa, and some are higher in status, such as
Salaat al-Layl (praying at night). There are also different ways of doing these prayers, such as
praying them two by two (as a series of two-rak’ah prayers), or four by four. Witr could be
five or seven or nine rak’ahs, ending with one tashahhud. Whoever tries to do acts of worship
will find a great variety in numbers, times, ways, types and rulings. Perhaps the wisdom
behind this is so that no one will get bored; instead his interest will constantly be renewed.
People are not all the same, and they do not have the same motivation all the time or the same
abilities. Some people may enjoy some kinds of worship more than others. Glory be to the
One Who has made gates of Paradise according to different types of worship, as is stated in
the hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurayrah. According to this hadeeth, the Messenger of Allah
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever spends on a pair for the sake of
Allah will be called from the gates of Paradise, ‘O slave of Allah, this is good.’ Whoever is
one of the people of prayer will be called from the gate of prayer. Whoever is one of the
people of jihaad will be called from the gate of jihaad. Whoever is one of the people of fasting
will be called from the gate of al-Rayyaan. Whoever is one of the people of charity will be
called from the gate of charity.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, no. 1798). What is meant here is those
who do a lot of different types of naafil (supererogatory) deeds. As far as fard deeds are
concerned, there is no option – they must be done by all. The Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him) said: “The father is the middle gate of Paradise” (reported by al-Tirmidhi, no.
1900; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7145), meaning honouring and respecting one’s parents. This variety is
of benefit in dealing with weakness of faith by doing more of the acts of worship to which one
has an inclination, as well as continuing to do obligatory acts which Allah has commanded us
to do. Thus when the Muslim refers to the texts which speak about acts of worship, he will
find unique types of worship which will have a beautiful effect on his soul, an effect which
can be found nowhere else. Two examples of this are as follows:
Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There are three whom Allah loves and three whom
Allah hates. As for the three whom Allah loves, (they are) a man who meets a group of the
enemy, so he keeps fighting them until he is killed or he penetrates (the enemy lines) for his
companions to follow; people whose journey at night becomes so long that they long to touch
the ground, so they make camp, but one of them stays aside and prays until he wakes them up
to resume their journey; and a man who has a neighbour who disturbs him but he bears the
annoyance with patience until they are separated by the death or departure of one of them.
(Musnad Ahmad, 5/151; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3074).
A man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) complaining
that his heart was hard. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to him,
“Would you like your heart to become soft and to get what you want? Show mercy to the
٢٥
orphan, pat his head, feed him from your own food, and your heart will become soft and you
will get what you want.” (Hadeeth reported by al-Tabaraani; there are also corroborating reports. See
al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 2/533). This has direct relevance to the topic of dealing with weak faith.
Fearing a bad end, because this will motivate the Muslim to worship Allah and will
renew the faith in his heart. There are many causes of a bad end, including weakness of faith
and indulging in sin. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) mentioned
examples of this, such as: “The one who kills himself with a piece of iron will have the piece
of iron in his hand, stabbing himself with it in the fire of Hell, for ever and ever, without end.
Whoever drinks poison and kills himself will be sipping it – drinking it and swallowing it
slowly – in the fire of Hell, for ever and ever, without end. Whoever throws himself down
from a mountain and kills himself, will be throwing himself down in the fire of Hell, for ever
and ever, without end.” (Saheeh Muslim, no. 109). Some such events happened during the life of
the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), such as the man who was with the
Muslim army, fighting in a manner unlike anyone else (i.e., recklessly). The Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “He is one of the people of Hell.” One of the
Muslim men followed him to see why. The man was wounded severely and he wanted to
hasten his death, so he put his sword against his chest and leaned on it, killing himself. (The
story is in Saheeh al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 7/471). The stories of how people met with a bad end are
many, and the scholars have explained a number of them. For example, Ibn al-Qayyim (may
Allah have mercy on him) said in his book al-Da’ wa’l-Dawa’ that one of them was told,
when he was dying, to say “La ilaaha ill-Allah,” and he said, “I cannot say it.” Another was
told to say La ilaaha ill-Allah, and he started humming a song. A businessman whose trade
had made him forget the remembrance of Allah was told, when death was imminent, to say La
ilaaha ill-Allah, and he started to say, “This is a good piece, this fits you, this is a bargain”
and so on, until he died. (Tareeq al-Hijratayn, p. 308). It was reported that when one of the
soldiers of the king al-Naasir was dying, his son started telling him to say La ilaaha ill-Allah,
but he said, “Al-Naasir is my master.” His son kept saying the same thing, and his father kept
repeating “Al-Naasir is my master, al-Naasir is my master,” then he died. Another was told to
say La ilaaha ill-Allah, but instead he said, “Such-and-such a house, repair this and that in it;
such-and-such a garden, do this and that in it.” One of those who deal in interest was told to
say La ilaaha ill-Allah when he was dying, but he started to say, “Ten for eleven,” repeating it
until he died. (Al-Da’ wa’l-Dawa’, pp. 170, 289). Some of them turned black, or turned away
from the Qiblah. Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “I heard one of those in
whom I thought there was a lot of good saying on the night of his death, ‘My Lord is treating
me unjustly’ – exalted be Allah above what he said! He accused Allah of being unjust on his
deathbed.” Then Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “I remained depressed
and in despair of finding something that would help me when I face that day (my own
death).” (Sayd al-Khawaatir, 137). Subhaan-Allah, how often have people seen this, but they do
not know about what really happened to those who were about to die; they do not know the
half of it.” (al-Da’ wal-Dawa’, 171)
Remember death often. The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
said: “Remember often the destroyer of pleasure, meaning death.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no.
2307; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1210). Remembering death deters one from sin and softens the hard
heart. No one remembers death at the time of hardship but he will feel ease, and no one
remembers death at the time of ease but he will feel constricted. One of the things that remind
a person of death most is visiting graveyards, so the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be
٢٦
upon him) commanded us to visit them. He said, “I used to forbid you to visit graves, but now
(go and) visit them, for this softens the heart, makes the eyes weep and reminds one of the
Hereafter, and do not speak in an obscene manner.” (Reported by al-Haakim, 1/376; Saheeh alJaami’, 4584). The Muslim is even permitted to visit the graves of kuffaar in order to derive a
lesson from this. The evidence for this is the report in al-Saheeh which says that he visited his
mother’s grave and wept, making those around him weep too. He said, “I asked my Lord for
permission to ask for forgiveness for her, and He did not allow me to do so, then I asked Him
for permission to visit her grave, and He granted me permission, so visit graves, for they
remind one of death.” (Reported by Muslim, 3/65). Visiting graves is one of the best means of
softening the heart. The visitor benefits from remembering death, and the dead benefit from
the du’aa’s offered for them. An example of this reported in the Sunnah is when the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Peace be upon you, O dwellers of this
place, believers and Muslims. May Allah have mercy upon those of us who have gone on
before and those who will follow later. In sha Allah we will join you soon.” (Reported by
Muslim, no. 974). The one who wants to visit graves should observe the correct etiquette and
have the proper presence of mind when approaching them. The purpose of his visit should be
to earn the pleasure of Allah and to reform his corrupt heart, and also to learn a lesson from
those who are under the ground, cut off from their families and loved ones. He should think
about the condition of his brothers who have passed away, how they achieved their worldly
ambitions and gathered wealth, but then were cut off from all of that and their wealth is no
longer of any avail to them. The earth has wiped out the beauty of their faces, their bodies
have disintegrated in the grave, their wives have become widows and their children have
become orphans. Let him remember the error of being deceived by material means and of
relying on good health, youth and the inclination towards leisure, for he will inevitably share
their fate. Let him think of the state of the deceased, how his legs are destroyed, his eyes have
become liquid, the worms have eaten his tongue, and the earth has consumed his teeth.
(Adapted from al-Tadhkirah by al-Qurtubi, p. 16ff).
[Poetry omitted]
Whoever remembers death frequently will benefit in three ways: he will hasten to
repent, he will become content, and he will be active in worship. Whoever forgets death will
be punished in three ways: he will delay repentance, he will no longer be content with what is
sufficient, and he will be lazy in worship. One of the effective ways of reminding oneself
about death is to see those who are about to die, for seeing the dead, witnessing the death
throes and thinking about how a person looks after he has died will put an end to empty
pleasure and keep one awake at night, and will motivate one to do good works and to strive
harder. Al-Hasan al-Basri once went to visit a sick person and found him in the throes of
death, so he saw the distress and anguish that had befallen him. He went back to his family
with a different colour from when he had left them (i.e., he was visibly shaken by what he had
seen). They said to him, “Come and eat, may Allah have mercy on you.” He said, “O my
family, go ahead, eat and drink. I have seen death, and I shall never stop working hard until I
meet it.” (Al-Tadhkirah, 17).
One way of increasing awareness of death is to attend funerals, carrying the deceased
on one’s shoulders, going to the graveyard, participating in the burial and throwing earth into
the grave. This reminds one of the Hereafter, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be
upon him) said: “Visit the sick and attend funerals; this will remind you of the Hereafter.”
٢٧
(Reported by Ahmad, 3/48; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 4109). In addition to that, attending funerals brings a
great reward, as was stated by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):
“Whoever attends a funeral from the house [of the deceased] {according to one report:
whoever attends the funeral of a Muslim out of faith and in hope of reward} until he prays for
the deceased, will have one qeeraat, and whoever attends until the person is buried will have
two qeeraats of reward.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, what are the two qeeraats?” He
said, “Like two great mountains.” {According to another report: “Each qeeraat is like [Mount]
Uhud.”}. (Reported by the two shaykhs and others. The above is compiled from a number of reports.
Ahkaam al-Janaa’iz by al-Albaani, p. 67).
The salaf (may Allah have mercy on them) used to think of death when they advised a
person who was committing a sin. One of the salaf (may Allah have mercy on him), when
there was a man in his presence gossiping about another, warned him by saying, “Remember
the cotton which they will put on your eyes,” i.e., when shrouding him for burial.
Remembering the different levels of status in the Hereafter. Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah
have mercy on him) said: “If his mind is clear, he will have insight, which is a light in the
heart, with which he will see the promise and the threat, Paradise and Hell, and what Allah
has prepared in each for His friends and His enemies, respectively. He will see, in his mind’s
eye, the people coming forth from their graves, hastening towards the call of Truth; the angels
coming down from heaven and surrounding them, and Allah coming to His Throne which is
set up for judgement; the earth filled with His light and the Book being set forth; the Prophets
and martyrs being brought; the scale being set up and the records flying into their owner’s
hands; the disputants being brought together; every creditor hanging on to his opponent; the
appearance of the hawd (cistern) and the bringing near of its cups; intense thirst, but only a
few being allowed to drink; the setting up of the bridge and the jostling of the people to cross
over it; the sharing out of lights because the bridge to be crossed is very dark; the Fire of Hell,
parts of it consuming other parts beneath the bridge; the huge numbers of those who fall into
the Fire, many times more than the numbers of those who are saved. When his mind’s eye is
opened to all of this, one of the stages of the Hereafter will dwell in his heart, so he will see
that the Hereafter will abide forever whereas as this world is just a transient, passing thing.
(Madaarij al-Saalikeen, 1/123). The Qur’aan frequently describes scenes of the Last Day, in
Soorahs such as Qaaf, al-Waaqi’ah, al-Qiyaamah, al-Mursalaat, al-Naba’, al-Mutaffifeen and
al-Takweer. The books of hadeeth also mention this, in chapters such as those on al-qiyaamah
(resurrection), al-riqaaq (reports that soften the heart), al-Jannah (Paradise), and al-Naar
(Hell). It is also important to read the books of scholars on this subject, such as Haadi alArwaah by Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Nihaayah fi’l-Fitan wa’l-Malaahim by Ibn Katheer, alTadhkirah fi Ahwaal al-Mawtaa wa Umoor al-Aakhirah by al-Qurtubi, al-Qiyaamah alKubraa and al-Jannah wa’l-Naar by ‘Umar al-Ashqar, and others. The point here is that one of
the things that increase faith is knowledge about the events of the Day of Judgement, such as
the resurrection and bringing forth from the graves, the gathering, intercession, the reckoning,
reward and punishment, the scales, the cistern, the siraat (bridge over Hell), and the place of
eternal abode, Paradise or Hell.
Interacting with the signs of Allah that exist in the Universe. Al-Bukhaari, Muslim and
others report that when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
saw a cloud or noticed a wind, this would be visible in his face. ‘Aa’ishah said, “O Messenger
of Allah, I see that when the people see a cloud they are happy, because they hope it will
٢٨
bring rain, but I see that when you see a cloud, it is clear from your face that you do not like
it.” He said, “O ‘Aa’ishah, how can I be sure that there is no punishment in it, for some
people were punished by the wind, and some people saw their punishment but said, ‘This is a
cloud bringing us rain!’ [al-Ahqaaf 46:24 – interpretation of the meaning].” (Reported by
Muslim, 899). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to be alarmed
when he saw an eclipse, as is reported in Saheeh al-Bukhaari from Abu Moosa (may Allah be
pleased with him): “The sun was eclipsed, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be
upon him) stood up in alarm, fearing that it was the Hour.” (Fath al-Baari, 2/545). The Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) commanded us, in the event of an eclipse, to
hasten to pray. He told us that both solar and lunar eclipses are among the signs with which
Allah instills fear in His slaves. There is no doubt that the heart’s interaction with these
phenomena and its alarmed reaction renew faith in the heart, and remind one of Allah’s
punishment, wrath, might and power. ‘Aa’ishah said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) took my hand then pointed to the moon and said, ‘O
‘Aa’ishah, seek refuge with Allah from the evil of this, for this is “the darkening (night) as it
comes with its darkness” [al-Falaq 113:3 – interpretation of the meaning].”’” (Reported by
Ahmad, 6/237; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah). Another example is being affected and moved when
passing by places which were struck by the punishment of Allah, or passing the graves of
wrongdoers. Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to his Companions, when they reached alHijr [??], “Do not enter upon these places which were punished by Allah, unless you do so
weeping. If you do not weep, then do not enter them, lest what befell them befall you also.”
(Reported by al-Bukhaari, no. 423). Yet people nowadays go to such places as tourists and take
pictures there. Go figure!
Dhikr (remembrance of Allah) is a very important method of dealing with weak faith. It
brings cleansing and healing to the heart that is suffering disease, and it is the very spirit of
righteous deeds. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “O you who believe! Remember
Allah with much remembrance” [al-Ahzaab 33:41]. Allah promises success to those who
remember Him much (interpretation of the meaning): “… and remember the Name of Allah
much, so that you may be successful.” [al-Anfaal 8:45]. The remembrance of Allah is greater
than everything else, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): “… (and the remembering
(praising, etc.) of (you by) Allah (in front of the angels) is greater indeed [than your
remembering Allah in prayers etc.]…” [al-‘Ankaboot 29:45]. This was the advice of the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to the man who thought that the duties of
Islam were too much; he told him: “Keep your tongue wet with the remembrance of Allah.”
(Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 3375; he said, this is a hasan ghareeb hadeeth, See also Saheeh al-Kalim, 3).
Dhikr pleases al-Rahmaan (the Most Merciful) and keeps away the Shaytaan. It dispels worry
and distress, and brings provision and opens the door to knowledge. It plants the seedlings of
Paradise and helps one to avoid the evils of the tongue. It offers consolation to the poor who
do not have the means to give charity; Allah has compensated them with dhikr, which takes
the place of physical and financial acts of worship. Neglecting dhikr and not remembering
Allah cause hardness in the heart.
[poetry omitted]
So the person who wishes to remedy his weakness of faith must increase his
remembrance of Allah. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “… And remember your
٢٩
Lord when you forget…” [al-Kahf 18:24]. Allah explains the effect that dhikr has on the heart
(interpretation of the meaning): “…Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.”
[al-Ra’d 13:28]. Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said, concerning the remedy
of dhikr: “In the heart there is hardness which can only be softened by remembrance of Allah,
may He be exalted. So the slave must treat the hardness of his heart with the remembrance of
Allah, may He be exalted. A man said to al-Hasan al-Basri (may Allah have mercy on him),
‘O Abu Sa’eed, I am complaining to you of the hardness of my heart.’ He said, ‘Soften it with
dhikr.’ The more forgetful the heart is, the harder it becomes, but if a person remembers
Allah, that hardness softens as copper melts in the fire. Nothing can soften the hardness of the
heart like the remembrance of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted. Dhikr is healing and
medicine for the heart. Forgetfulness is a disease, the cure for which is remembrance of Allah.
Makhool said: ‘Remembrance of Allah is a cure and remembrance of people is a disease.’”
(Al-Waabil al-Sayib wa Raafi’ al-Kalim al-Tayyib, 142).
By means of dhikr, the slave can overcome the Shaytaan, just as the Shaytaan
overcomes those who are neglectful and forgetful. One of the salaf said: “When dhikr
becomes well-established in the heart, if the Shaytaan gets too close, a person can defeat him.
Then the shayateen gather around him (the shaytaan who tried to get close to the heart of the
believer) and say, ‘What is wrong with this one?’ and it is said, ‘He was harmed by a human!’
(Madaarij al-Saalikeen, 2/424). Most of the people who are harmed by the shayaateen are
neglectful people who do not protect themselves with awraad and adhkaar (du’aa’s and
prayers), so it is easy for the shayaateen to overwhelm them.
For some of those who complain of weakness of faith, it is difficult for them to do some
of the things that can cure it, such as praying qiyaam al-layl or observing naafil acts of
worship. It is appropriate for them to begin with this kind of treatment (i.e., dhikr) and be
eager to do it. They should learn some general adhkar which they can recite continually, such
as “Laa ilaaha ill-Allah la shareeka lah, lahu’l-mulk wa lahu’l-hamd, wa huwa ‘ala kulli
shay’in qadeer (There is no god but Allah, He has no partner; to Him be the sovereignty and
the praise, and He is Able to do all things),” and “Subhaan Allahi wa bi-hamdih, wa subhaan
Allah il-‘Azeem (Praise and glory be to Allah, and glory be to Allah the Almighty),” and “La
hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah (There is no strength and no power except in Allah),” and so
on. They should also memorize the du’aa’s which according to the Sunnah should be recited
at certain times or in certain places, such as in the morning and evening, when going to sleep,
when waking up, when seeing visions and dreams, when eating, when going to the bathroom,
when travelling, when rain falls, when hearing the adhaan, when going to the mosque, when
making a decision (istikhaarah), when stricken with calamity, when visiting graveyards, when
there is wind, when seeing the new moon, when getting into or onto a means of
transportation, when greeting someone, when sneezing, when one hears the cock crow or the
donkey bray or the dog bark, when a gathering comes to an end, when seeing someone who is
afflicted with suffering, and so on. No doubt whoever perseveres with this will see a direct
effect on his heart. (Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah wrote a very useful book on the topic of adhkaar,
entitled Al-Kalim al-Tayyib, which has been abridged by al-Albaani under the title Saheeh al-Kalim alTayyib).
Confiding in Allah and humbling oneself before Him. The more the slave humbles
himself before Allah, the closer he becomes to Him. Thus the Messenger of Allah (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The closest the slave can be to Allah is when he is
٣٠
prostrating to Him, so make lots of du’aa’ then.” (Reported by Muslim, 482). Prostration is the
position of humility, quite unlike any other posture or position. When the slave puts his
forehead – the highest part of his body – on the ground, he becomes as close as he can be to
his Lord. Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) spoke in the most eloquent terms
expressing humility before Allah and the contrition of the one who repents to Him: “Oh how
sweet are the words of the one who speaks thus: ‘I ask You by Your power and my humility
to show mercy to me. I ask You by Your strength and my weakness, by Your independence of
me and my dependence upon You. Here is my lying, sinful forelock in Your hands. Your
slaves other than me are so many, and I have no refuge or sanctuary from You except with
You. I ask You in the manner of the poor and wretched, I pray to You in the manner of one
who humbly submits, I call on You in the manner of one who is fearful and blind, one whose
neck is totally bowed to You, whose eyes shed tears for you, whose heart is humbled before
You.’ When the slave comes whispering words such as these, his faith multiplies
exponentially in his heart.”
Showing one’s need for Allah also strengthens faith. Allah has told us how much we
need and depend on Him. He tells us (interpretation of the meaning): “O mankind! It is you
who stand in need of Allah, but Allah is Rich (Free of all wants and needs), Worthy of all
praise.” [Faatir 35:15]
Not hoping for a long life. This is a very important facet of renewing faith. Ibn alQayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The greatest thing we learn from these aayaat
(interpretation of the meanings) – ‘Tell Me, if We do let them enjoy for years, and afterwards
comes to them that (punishment) which they had been promised! All that with which they
used to enjoy shall not avail them’ [al-Shu’ara’ 26:205-207] and ‘… (it will be) as if they had
not stayed (in the life of this world) but an hour of a day…’ [Yoonus 10:45] – is that the
whole length of this world should not make a man hope for a long life or say, ‘I will live, I
will live…’ One of the salaf said to a man, ‘Lead us in Zuhr (prayer).’ The man said, ‘I will
lead you in Zuhr prayer but I cannot lead you in ‘Asr prayer.’ He said, ‘It is as if you hope to
live until the time of ‘Asr; we seek refuge with Allah from hoping for a long life.’”
Thinking of the insignificance of this world until the heart is detached from it. Allah
says (interpretation of the meaning): “… The life of this world is only the enjoyment of
deception (a deceiving thing).” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:185]. The Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him) said: “The food of the son of Adam is set forth as a metaphor of this life;
see what comes out of the son of Adam even though salt and spices were added to it, he
knows how it is going to end up.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 1/198; al-Silsilat alSaheehah, no. 382). Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be please with him) said: “I heard the Messenger
of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say, ‘This world is cursed and what is in
it is cursed, except the remembrance of Allah and what is connected to it, and knowledge, and
teaching.” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, no. 4112; Saheeh al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb, no. 71)
Respecting the limits set by Allah. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Thus it
is. And whosoever honours the Symbols of Allah, then it is truly from the piety of the heart.”
[al-Hajj 22:32]. The limits set by Allah are the rights that Allah has over us. They may be
with regard to people, places or times. With regard to people, for example, there is paying
proper respect to the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him); with regard to
places, for example, there is respect for the Haram [in Makkah]; with respect to times, for
٣١
example, there is the month of Ramadaan. “… And whoever honours the sacred things of
Allah, that is better for him with his Lord…” [al-Hajj 22:30 – interpretation of the meaning].
Another way in which one may respect the limits set by Allah is not to think of minor sins
(saghaa’ir) as insignificant. ‘Abd-Allah ibn Mas’ood reported that the Messenger of Allah
(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Beware of sins that are seen as
insignificant, for they will keep accumulating until they destroy a man.” The Messenger of
Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) explained this by comparing them to people
who stop to camp in the wilderness and decide to build a fire, so one man goes out and brings
back a stick, and another man brings a stick, until they have gathered enough, then they light a
fire and cook whatever they throw onto it. (Reported by Ahmad, 1/402; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 389).
[Poetry omitted]
Ibn al-Jawzi said in Sayd al-Khaatir: “Many people are too easy-going in matters which
they think are not serious but which in fact destroy the bases of faith, such as looking at
haraam things, or, as some students do, borrowing text-books and not returning them.” One of
the salaf said: “I took the matter of a small morsel too lightly and I ate it; now forty years later
I am still slipping backwards.” He said this because of his modesty, may Allah have mercy on
him.
Al-wala’ wa’l-bara’ (friendship/loyalty versus enmity/disavowal), i.e., friendship and
loyalty towards the believers, enmity towards and disavowal of the disbelievers. When the
heart is attached to the enemies of Allah, faith grows very weak and the principles of faith
recede, but if one devotes one’s loyalty towards Allah, then one will befriend and support the
believing slaves of Allah and hate and oppose His enemies, and then faith will be revived.
Modesty also has an active role to play in renewing faith and cleansing the heart of
arrogance, because modesty in speech and appearance is indicative of modesty in the heart
towards Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Modesty (in
appearance) is a part of eemaan.” (Reported by Ibn Maajah 4118; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, no. 341.
What is meant is modesty in appearance and dress; see al-Nihaayah by Ibn al-Atheer, 1/110). He also
said: “Whoever refrains from dressing (in fancy, expensive clothes) out of humility towards
Allah, even though he is able to do so, Allah will call him on the Day of Resurrection at the
head of His creation and will give him the choice of whatever garment of faith he wishes to
wear.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 2481; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 718). ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf
(may Allah be pleased with him) could not be distinguished from his slave.
There are deeds of the heart which are important for renewing eemaan, such as loving
Allah, fearing Him, putting one’s hope in Him, thinking of Him in positive terms and putting
one’s trust in Him, accepting His decree, giving thanks to Him, being sincere towards Him
and having certain faith in Him, trusting in Him, repenting to Him, and other deeds of the
heart.
There are certain stages which the slave must follow in order to complete the treatment
(of weak faith), such as being righteous, returning to Allah, remembering Allah, adhering to
the Qur’aan and Sunnah, being humble, living simply (zuhd), fearing Allah, feeling that Allah
is always watching. Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) has discussed all these
stages in detail in his book Madaarij al-Saalikeen.
٣٢
Self-evaluation also plays an important role in renewing faith. Allah says (interpretation
of the meaning): “O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every
person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is AllAware of what you do.” [al-Hashr 59:18]. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah be pleased with
him) said: “Take account of yourselves before you are called to account.” Al-Hasan said:
“You will not meet a believer except he is evaluating himself.” Maymoon ibn Mahraan said:
“The pious person is harder on himself than a stingy partner.”
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Doom comes about because of
neglecting to evaluate one’s self and because of just following one’s whims.”
So the Muslim must take the time to be alone and evaluate himself and check how he is
doing, and what he has sent forward for the Day of Judgement.
Finally, du’aa’, calling on Allah, is one of the most efficient means which the slave
must employ, as the Prophet ) peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Faith wears
out in the heart of any one of you as clothes wear out, so ask Allah to renew the faith in your
hearts.”
O Allah, we ask You by Your beautiful Names and sublime Attributes to renew the
faith in our hearts. O Allah, make faith appear beautiful to us and adorn our hearts with it, and
make kufr, sin and disobedience abhorrent to us. Make us of those who are rightly guided.
Glorified be the Lord of Might above what they ascribe to Him. Peace be upon the
Messengers and praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.