By Hira Amin
Memorising Qurʾān, tahajjud, praying fajr, extra dhikr and nafl prayer all sound like familiar goals which race through our minds during īmān-boosting lectures, courses and blessed times such as Ramaḍān, Dhul-Ḥijjah and the like. We can feel the zeal and the passion oozing and the buzz of “this is it”. This is the day I will finally move forward and regularly memorise a portion of the Qurʾān a day. This is the day I will consistently wake up and pray fajr. This is the day I will consistently add dhikr after each prayer and in the morning and evening. This is IT!
Yet, as the sun sets so does our enthusiasm and as the time approaches to do the deed, excuses to postpone begin to emerge. I’ll start from tomorrow. I did not have a good night’s rest, tomorrow I will sleep extra early and then be fresh. I haven’t got the right book or I don’t want to get out of bed and wake the rest of the family! The time passes and frustration settles in.
The cycle continues and sometimes we get a few wins; some days we do the extra good deed but then revert back to our “normal cycle”. We have the passion, the zeal, the desire; we experience the spiritual high yet we cannot continuously follow through. What is the missing ingredient? What is the missing piece of the puzzle?
Here are some answers from the Qurʾān and hadith-
But this process must start with swallowing that bitter pill until you get accustomed to the taste. This is why Ṣabr (patience) is of three types:
- The first being patience with performing good deeds. Performing good deeds requires patience, as it is a struggle against your nafs.
- The second being patience is abstaining from prohibitions as the nafs is inclined towards them.
- The third kind is being patience with the qadr of Allah. Establishing good acts and abstaining from sins requires patience, perseverance and struggle; desire is not enough.
In order to overcome your nafs you must FORCE YOUR SELF and go through a process of pain and sacrifice in the beginning. Once the routine is established then practice Ṣabr to remain steadfast.
So this Ramaḍān take advantage of the fact that the shayāṭīn are chained and it is easier on your nafs to do good deeds by taking the first step and start developing long-term habits. As the famous saying goes, “Bad habits are easy to develop but hard to live with. Good habits are hard to develop but easy to live with.”