Aspiration and Growing in Faith (Reviving Relationships Part 2)

Reviving Relationships Part 2: Continuation of 3 Wishes.
For Part 1: Click Here 

Inna lillahi wa inna alayhi rajioon.

To God we belong and to Him we are returning. This is the reality we live in, no matter who you are you, you belong to God and you’ll return to Him. So we are going back to God whether we like it or not or whether we are ready or not, the secret of life is going back to him doing what pleases Him.

So how do we stop making our lives about chasing spiritual highs and actually have a real relationship with Allah subhanawata alaa. Too many of us go from conference to conference, lecture to lecture, and retreat to retreat trying to feel spiritually good, but how about being spiritually healthy and growing. When does Islam stop being about just feeling good into being good and doing good. We have to look at our spiritual state the same way we approach things in actual life, because there are commonalities. The transformative quality of Islam and faith is only accessed with effort.

I have a cousin who has lost 100 pounds mashaAllah. I asked him how he did it. Basically 3 things needed to be done, have a goal, eat healthy and exercise regularly. This can be applied to being healthy spiritually too.

We can’t ride our Shayukh and their speeches and their connection to Allah to pretend we too have that close connection. Your Imam isn’t going to be in sujood with you telling you to be humble before God while you glorify Him and His perfection. Your Imam isn’t going to be in your heart giving you tranquility as you feel your closeness to God and His rahma descending. Only you can do that.

1. Himma – Aspiration:
So first we need to have actual spiritual goals, spiritual aspirations, or as we call it Himma. Ask yourself, what is your aspiration? Too many of us make our aspiration feeling good or “spritual high for days”. Actions are but by intention and if thats our intent to seek knowledge, that’s all we are going to get. Its like someone who  gets a gym membership, pats himself on the back for making a healthy choice and doesn’t go back for months. Aspire to be a Muhsin, an excellent believer or an Arif, a knower of Allah or a Wali of Allah, a friend of Allah. Each himma requires different types of knowledge and work, the same way that physical goals will change the type of workout you do regularly. The workout for abs isn’t the same as the workout for your legs. The same goes for the spirit. If you aspire to be someone who draws near to God through generosity there are good deeds for that for your growth. If you aspire to draw near to God through service, that too has a difference prescription.

2. Health Diet

Once you have made an aspiration, look at your diet. How healthy is it? Healthy in this sense means to evaluate your deeds especially sinning. As Imam Malik advised Imam Shafi’ about his heart as a teenager about how it was apparent the light of knowledge was in his heart so he should be careful not to extinguish it with sin. Look at what sins may be weighing you down. Repent from them sincerely and create a strategy ways to avoid them. Avoid the environments that lead up to that sin such as the company you keep, the place you commit it, or even the things done throughout the day that affect your heart to incline to it. The one who cannot control his desires at the end of day, should look at all the small ways he contributed to it in the day. Most importantly replace that time and that sin with something good. If someone quits lewd music, find a halal alternative such as nasheeds.

So like working out, building spirituality and a healthy relationship takes removing negative things and doing positive things. You can workout for hours but if you are still eating unhealthy, it’ll inhibit your results.

Your sins are like overeating. They harm your relationship with Allah subhana wata alaa, except there is an easy out Allah gave us, sincerely repent to him and its like you never ate it.

3. Excercise:
Start small. Have a high goal, but work slowly towards it. If you ever raise your voice with your parents, work on stopping that, but aim to treat them amazingly. We have the mother’s day syndrom, or valentines day syndrome: one day of good treatment, or expression of love and 364 bad days. Big gestures aren’t worth as much as consistency.

Imam Zaid taught me that for most people if you ask them how their iman is doing, and they reply negatively, almost always you can ask them how has their worship increased overtime. They’ve been doing the same worship for years. No wonder, they never put more weight on the bars. Little by little add more worship into your life, keeping adding weight to the bar. Remember the hadith qudsi I narrated earlier where The Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam narrates to us that Allah says:

“If the servant draws near to Me a hand span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; and if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I come to him running” Narrated by Al-Bukhari.

There’s no shortcut in Islam. Islam is work. Keeping up good relationships is consistent work. We are taught that Allah loves the deed most that is consistent even if its small. If you can only go to Allah a handspan, do that, and if only a finger do that. Let Allah make things big, just work on starting small and working your way up.

Imam Junayd of Baghdad, one of the foundational scholars of Ihsan, was told about a people by his students who said that “they arrived”. And by that it meant that there was a group of people claiming that they had arrived to a certain station with Allah that they didn’t have to pray anymore, etc. Imam Junayd heard this and he said the only place they have arrived is the hell fire.

Islam is work, but we can all do it, just do little by little because I promise you, if you do, Allah subahana wata alaa will facilitate it. If you go to him an arm’s length, he’ll facilitate so much khayr in your life from that one act you do everyday. My whole life changed and my whole relationship with Allah and spiritually changed just by adding two extra rakats into my life. Its a small action and Allah makes the results big. Alhamdulillah.

An easy almost shortcut:

The best advice that changed my life was, change the way you begin the day, and the way you end it, and everything in between will be facilitated. For me it just meant changing my alarm, and waking up saying some type of dhikr before sleep and after sleep. Quran in the morning will change your whole day.

Mornings determine your day. That’s why I call my mother at Fajr time, honoring my mother and worshiping Allah, aren’t two different goals. They are both part of pleasing Allah. One of the happiest days of my life, I was talking to a friend and I we made a dua together, that our mothers be pleased with us. The next morning, I call my mom and for no reason, she tells me she’s happy with me as a son. I remember thinking, maybe this is just a fluke, maybe its because of just this one moment. The next day, during fajr, I call her and she tells me the same thing twice. This is one of the best moments of my life. I’m not claiming I’m the best son ever, but you have to start somewhere. It took years of work. I have a long way to go, but Allah will provide rest stops to remind you you are heading in the right direction.

Ya Rabbi, if I please my mom, I would have lived a  meaningful life. Ameen.

How hard is it to please someone who loves you unconditionally? Why are we making it so hard.

So think about your spiritual aspirations and do little things that will get you there, because the most beloved deeds to Allah are the ones that are small but consistent. So today make the intention to do one extra good deed, everyday. Even if its only reading one  line from the Quran.

Almost shortcut number 2: Sending one extra salawat on the Prophet salalallahu alayhi wasalam. Remember that sending salaams is a dua and that the Prophet returns our salaams. Imagine what his dua is like compared to yours? Allah also sends 10 blessings back onto you for each one you do.

You know those moments when you are sincere with Allah, your heart is all in and you make dua to Allah, like you’ve never made dua like that before, or that prayer that was so sweet that you just want to sit there until the next one, if you add one small good deed, that will become more common. But you have to take it one day at a time, one deed at a time, there isn’t a secret shortcut except effort and sincerity, maybe Salawat on the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam.

And if you keep doing little by little, its like that hadith Qudsi :

God, ever blessed and exalted is He, says: “Whoever treats a friend of Mine as an enemy, on him I declare war.  My servant  draws near to Me by nothing dearer to Me than that which I have established as a duty for him.  And My servant does not cease to approach Me through supererogatory acts until I love him.  And when I love him, I become 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.  And if he asks Me [for something], I give it to him. If he seeks refuge with Me, I place him under My protection.  In nothing do I hesitate so much as I hesitate [to take] the soul of a believer.  He has a horror of death, and I have a horror of hurting him”

Reported by al-Bukhari, according to Abu Hurayra.

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