As a Muslim living in a non-Muslim country, keeping yourself firmly upon your religion can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. We are surrounded by screens, posters, music, and behaviours that seem to garishly promote everything that Islam encourages us to avoid. If you live with non-Muslims, this can be true even inside your own home.
Of course we must remain grateful for the positives – living in safety with a roof over your head and food on your plate, which is a blessing many people around the world can only dream of. But there can be days when you totally relate to why Prophet Muhammad (SAW) liked to take himself off for days of seclusion within a cave.
While it might not be feasible to go and find a nice cave to retreat to for some much needed solitude and relief, there are alhamdulillah a number of ways that I find really help with shaking off the dunya–effect and resetting your focus firmly back upon your deen:
1. Reduce Your Schedule
Being excessively busy makes it all too easy to fall behind with salah. Plus, the tiredness of a hectic schedule is less likely to leave you with time or energy for reading Qur’an, or other books that might help with strengthening your imaan. When rushing from one appointment to the next, there is no time to simply contemplate or appreciate what we’re even rushing around for. Sometimes, a good hard look at our priorities needs to take place to make sure we’re keeping time and room for our deen rather than simply expending all our energy chasing dunya.
2. Spend Time Alone
This follows on from the first point above, as a quieter schedule allows the necessary time for quiet moments in your own company. Try going for a walk by yourself, and allow the space and surroundings to let your imagination out of its cage.
Being in the countryside surrounded by nature is wonderful for inspiring contemplations of Allah and His magnificence, as everything you look at reminds you of the Creator. If you’re unable to get to somewhere green, walking through busy cities, admiring the architecture, the history, and watching all the people busying themselves in their own unique and individual lives gives plenty of inspiration for contemplations too.
3. Spend Time with Fellow Muslims
Islam is all about balance, and beneficial as some solitude can be, sometimes there’s just nothing more strengthening than spending time in the company of like-minded believers. Just being able to say words like “alhamdulillah”, “insha’Allah”, “qadr Allah” out loud is so enjoyable. Being able to talk about life in the context of understanding our purpose, and the relevance of our trials can be so uplifting if you usually spend time with people who don’t share your beliefs.
Sitting in a gathering, listening to discussions of Allah that are filled with love as opposed to cynicism can have such a positive effect on your imaan. You can almost feel it as it increases, like the bars on your phone lighting up as it finds a stronger signal.
I love the quote of ‘Abdullah ibn Rawahah (RA), who was known for always saying to Companions of the Prophet (SAW) that he met, “Come, let us believe in our Lord for a while”.
3. Reading The Qur’an
Alhamdulillah for trusted translations! The miraculous qualities of the Qur’an are accessible even for those of us who cannot yet enjoy Qur’an in its original Arabic, and we only deprive ourselves by not reading it often enough. Reading Qur’an is so strengthening against worldly temptations and distractions. Just one page can reaffirm in your heart why you are Muslim, why you submit to Allah, and why there is nothing in this dunya worth being wholeheartedly devoted to. None of it matters; all of it is temporary.
4. Study Islam
Seeking knowledge is a huge obligation in Islam, and with good reason. By reading books or listening to Islamic lectures, you can gain a better understanding of Islam, of its many guidances and messages, and how to implement them to live a healthier life. Plus, the better understanding you have of Islam, the easier it is to face all those questions you’ve been receiving from non-Muslim family members and co-workers that can sometimes become exhausting. The more you know about your religion and the better you understand it, the more confident you feel in your identity as a Muslim. Knowledge is like the roots of a tree; the deeper it grows, the less you are rocked by surrounding winds.
“And say: My Lord increase me in knowledge.” (Qur’an 20: 114)
5. Make Du’a
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) 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” (Mustadrak al-Haakim). As with anything in life, it is always important to seek assistance from Allah, the Most High.
None of us are immune to sporadic dips in our imaan, as even the Companions of the Prophet (SAW) suffered the ever-changing conditions of the heart. But just like we know what to do when we want to cure ourselves of a physical illness, we have to be wise in taking action against our spiritual illnesses too.
“If you see yourself deteriorate, pick yourself up by repenting and seeking Allaah’s forgiveness and by asking Him to keep you firm. And don’t become careless, and neither say: “In shaa Allaah, my imaan will become stronger” (without doing anything about it). Instead from right now — from the moment you feel that you are ill — you must implement the cure.” – Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymīn, Tafsīr Sūrah an-Nisā (v. 2, p. 53).
If you have any tips of your own on how to give your imaan a healthy boost, I’d love to hear it! Share your thoughts in the comment box below 🙂