I never tell this to anyone. But now I’ll just confess this brutal fact.
There was time when I passed 2 years without supplicating, at all.
Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Praying 5 times, yes. Fasting in Ramadan, yes. Supplication, zero. Let alone dhikrullah (remembrance of Allah) or increasing Islamic knowledge.
The reason was quite “complicated.” But suffice it to say, I was stupid enough to listen to whispers of shaytan, all those times:
“You have so much sins.”
“Your ibadah (worship) is not perfect.”
“Don’t you feel ashamed?”
“You ask Allah but you haven’t fixed yourself yet? Refrain from supplicating and wait until you’re perfect.”
And oh, here are the most favorite excuses:
“Too busy, not enough time for dhikrullah,”
“I can do this. I can do this by my own, even without asking God for it. I always obtain what I want by working hard for it.”
I was always a good student; always excelled in academic stuff without much struggle. It is a Divine gift that I’m able to quickly absorb anything I learn.
Also I’m a curious soul; always thirsty to explore different kinds of knowledge. But unfortunately, I didn’t use my gift to comprehend more about Islam or my Creator.
Until that very point.
It was like a culminating moment. I realized that no matter how many books I’ve devoured, no matter how excellent my grades were, and how good my life in general was, something was profoundly missing.
It’s like there was a hole in my heart. A soul-thirst that no mortal books could quench. It felt like a part of me was dead, and the other parts that still survived wept for its loss.
Is Allah Your Soul Priority?
I read Qur’an, but I treated it like when I read other books about metaphysics. I treated it intellectually, but not heartily.
I certainly adored the scientific virtue and beauty of the Qur’an, but didn’t go beyond that.
I looked at Islam as a merely “halal and haram” do’s and don’t’s checklist of rules, but heedless of its spirituality aspect.
I could accept that God exists, but I always considered Him as an entity who was “out there and away.” I viewed prayers as a compulsory checklist to complete, but they were all empty and unfulfilling.
Have you ever felt your prayers were empty too?
The simplified answer is actually like this:
- Who are you doing salaah for?
- Who are you devoting your worship to?
- Why are you wearing hijab?
- Why are you growing your beard?
Sure, you will answer “Allah.”
But if Allah is no longer your soul priority, if remembrance of Allah is absent from your heart, what will happen?
That’s when you hear this verse:
“Woe to those who performed prayers. Who are of their prayers, sahoon” (Suraa Al Ma’uun : 4 – 5)
In Arabic, the word “sahoon” generally means unmindful, oblivious, inattentive, and absent-minded.
Absent-minded from who? From Allah for sure.
Your prayers and good deeds are like an airplane. When you ride an airplane, you want that airplane to take you to a fixed destination. No one would say that the airplane IS the destination.
With the same token, Allah should be your destination. And your prayers and good deeds are vehicles to please Allah and get closer to Him.
Allah should be your goal, lest you’ll taste this choking emptiness despite your prayers. Any worship acts you do that’s not for Allah are in vain.
Recover the Broken Bond with Allah
1. Regardless of Your Perception, Allah is Always Near
If there is one ultimate root to all spiritual despair, this must be it: Thinking of Allah as a distant entity – out there and away.
At least this is what I’ve learned myself the hard way, and others who’ve told me directly that their spirituality is going downhill.
They almost always come up with a mentality like:
“What’s the use of praying? For what? I don’t think God will hear me anyway.”
“God? Are you kidding me? Does He even care?”
In their minds, Allah is a distant stranger.
But let’s refresh our minds back:
And when My servants ask you concerning Me, indeed I AM near. I respond to the invocation of supplicant when he calls upon Me. (Suraa 2 : 186)
……and We are closer to him than his jugular veins (Suraa 50 : 16)
That’s it, folks.
Allah is always near.
He knows you better than you’d ever know yourself. Allah is one knock away from your heart-door.
But being close to Him is your choice only. Will you choose to knock on that door, or keep it shut forever?
As long as you live, a chance to return to the Divine door will always open wide. Recovering your broken bond with Allah should start by realizing this one.
I am as My servants thinks I am. I’m with him when he remembers Me… (Bukhari)
2. Sincere Repentance
Imagine a house that’s never been cleaned for years. Ouch! Can you picture what will you see there?
For sure, every kind of dust and dirt you could ever imagine. Perhaps including rats and spiders.
The heart is the sacred house of your soul, and sinning will make it dirty. Only repentance will clean it.
“Verily, when a believer commits a sin, a black spot was formed in his heart. If he repents and abandons the sin and seeks God forgiveness, his heart is cleaned. But if he continued sinning, then the black spot will be increasing. This is the rusting of heart mentioned in the Quran” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah)
And this interesting Hadith Qudsi :
Indeed the Devil vowed, ‘My Lord, by Your honor and might! I will never stop misleading Your servants as long as their souls remain in their bodies!’. Hence Allah (Exalted Is He) responded, ‘By My honor, might and majesty, I will not stop forgiving them as long as they seek My forgiveness (Ahmad)
3. Prayers and Dhikrullah
Keep your prayers, it will be your compass.
Leave the prayers, and you’ll lost that compass and lose yourself.
In another hadith Qudsi :
My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than what I have obligated upon him. My servant continues to draw near to Me with the voluntary acts until I love him. Once I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he grasps, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask of Me, I would surely grant it to him. If he were to seek refuge with Me, I would surely protect him.
The scholarly meaning of “I am his hearing…” etc is nothing anthropomorphic at all.
It actually means that Allah will inspire His servant to love doing what he did to devote himself to Allah.
When I was teenager, my father brought me to a Sheikh of so I could learn Qur’an. With his other disciples, I was given some “spiritual prescription.”
For 4 months non-stop, we had to do 7 prayers a day. It was 5 prayers with Tahajjud and Witr, and then short dhikrullah afterward. Wanting to please my father, I reluctantly accepted.
For the first 2 weeks it felt like a torture!
But then, everything became easy and flowing.
I later felt the qiyaamul layl as intimacy moments with the Divine, rather than an “obligation.”
Dhikrullah also acts as a quick meditation to access my center when the world gone wrong.
During spiritual crisis, I was fool enough to ignore this prescription.
You might heard many lectures where the scholars will suggest you repetitively : “Recite Qur’an and ponder its meaning! Dhikrullah!”.
That’s really true. But beside that, you might want to add another element in your devotional attempt:
It is to serve Allah as if you see Him, and although you cannot see Him, He always sees you.
4. Remember Death
Imagine if your time of death is tomorrow.
Are you ready? Will you be ashamed or proud to face Allah with your current state of faith?
If you knew tomorrow you were gonna die, would you still waste time today? What will you do to change your current state now?
May Allah protects us from becoming the one who said in the Afterlife – “I wish I did this and that while I lived,” because it all will be too late.
Where Else is Your Home?
For closing, I’d like to share a story someone told me from the cyber jungle.
A child was disobedient to his mother, and hence she punished him. Upset about the punishment, the child ran away thinking:
“My mother is so cruel. I will find another home, and another mother.”
So he knocked at every house and every door, but no one was willing to accept him until he became very desperate. Finally, he knocked on the last door.
When it opened, it was none other than his own mother, whose eyes were filled with tears of worry. With happiness, they hugged each other and the mother said: “If only you were not disobedient, I would not have punished you! But now you’re back, and that’s all that matters!”.
Rasulullah (pbuh) once stated that Allah is more merciful to us than the mother’s compassion to her child. But when we feel our tie with Allah is broken, we try to find another home; another venue to fill the void.
It may music, movies, party, drinking, money, work, or any material and worldly thing you could think of.
Until the culminating point where you’re forced to admit that none of them truly fills the void. And you start asking: “Now what? What’s the point of all this?”
When the world perishes, where else could we seek refuge from? Where is another home we could be heading to, save Allah?
Remember my beloved, we’re coming from Allah, and only Allah is our true home where we will return.
Fatima Ariadne is a graduate student, writer, and book junkie. She blogs at Decoding Eden (http://decodingeden.com) where she shares insightful tips on spirituality and self improvement topics based on Islamic teaching, inner reflections, and practical psychology. Visit her blog where you can have some cupcake of inspirations and download the ebook “100 Positivity Hadiths to Spice Up Your Soul” for free.