From time to time, the levels of our Iman (Faith) do tend to dwindle. This weakness of Iman manifests itself in absence or degraded quality of acts of our Ibaadaat (Worship), negligence in Zikr (Remembrance) of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), feeling indifferent to His commands and, in general, us having a doubtful heart. Experiencing any of these symptoms or others akin to them is an indication of a weakness of Iman that in turn may be depriving us of peace, tranquility, and closeness to our Creator and Sustainer.
This weakness or weariness of Iman, whether due to a weak understanding of Truth, or the strength of external negative forces, we at times experience. We may recall a time where we felt really close to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and then now we feel like we are distant from Him and we feel like we have gone back on some of the things that we were able to attain and we start wondering “What happened?”
Consider what the Prophet, Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said in this context:
إِنَّ الْإِيمَانَ لَيَخْلَقُ فِي جَوْفِ أَحَدِكُمْ كَمَا يَخْلَقُ الثَّوْبُ الْخَلِقُ فَاسْأَلُوا اللَّهَ أَنْ يُجَدِّدَ الْإِيمَانَ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ
”Verily, the Iman (Faith) of one of you will wear out within him, just as garment becomes worn out, so ask Allah to renew Iman in your hearts.” (Mustadrak al-Haakim and Mu’jam al-Tabaraani)
Now, think about this. If we throw our garment into the washing machine over and over again, it starts to lose its color. We bought it new, and even if we are taking care of that garment, it starts to lose its color just by the amount of washing that it goes through.
So the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) is saying that it is natural that our faith is going to wear out the same way that our garments would wear out.
Now, there is a difference between taking our garment and getting stains allover and not washing it when the stains come on it or tearing holes into our garment.
So we can take care of this and still it will lose some of its color. But there is a difference between someone who takes of it and someone who doesn’t take care of it at all.
Nevertheless, the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) is telling us it is natural that your faith is going to wear out.
And here is the thing about our Iman. It may be one color or it may be that it was strong because of a particular incident that happened to us in life or some sort of occurrence or something that really touched us at that particular moment.
And maybe what is going to renew it is something entirely different because Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has opened many doors for us to be reminded of Him and to have our faith renewed.
What are some signs of weak Iman?
• Having a hard heart and no desire to recite the Quraan
• Feeling lazy to offer Salaah
• Losing determination to do good deeds
• Not moved by advice (Lectures) of Pious Ulamaa (Scholars)
• Committing sins and not feeling any guilt.
• Feeling lazy in Zikr of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)
• Not worried about the punishments, mentioned in the Quraan and Hadeeth
Here are a few steps that we can take immediately to renew our Iman.
Seeking Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Help
Before we get any of other practical tips here, it starts off with asking Allah (Subhaan-ahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Ask Him, the one who enables our heart, the one who puts Iman in us, the one who responds us… ask Him to renew our Iman and that should be frequent in our Du’aas to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).
So while we praying for a new job, or while we are praying for some sort of sustenance in this world while we are praying for something to happen to us, for a new car, to ease the path of something for us… don’t forget to constantly ask Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) to renew our Iman because our Iman is our greatest blessing, it is our most precious asset.
If that is gone, then everything else is not going to benefit us in anyway. If it is strong, then everything else of this world can be bore.
So the Prophet said: “Ask Allah that He would revive your Iman.”
Hadhrat ‘Abdullah Ibne Mas’ood told us a supplication and we should memorize it on the basis of this Hadeeth. He used to say:
اللھم زدنا منہ ایمانا و یقینا و فقہا
(Allaahumma zidna imana wa yaqina wa fiqha)
"O Allah! Revive us in our faith, in our certainty, in our understanding.”
So ask Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) for increase in our faith, in our conviction, our certainty, and in our understanding, anytime we raise our hands for Du’aa.
As the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) mentioned, we should first and foremost beg Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) to renew and reinforce the Iman in our hearts. We should make this request an integral part of our regular Du’aas (Supplications). In doing so, we should also be mindful of why we believe in the message of Truth in the first place. We believe because we can relate the message of Truth revealed in the Quraan to the realities of this universe and what we find within ourselves and our hearts. We believe because as humans, a deeper intellectual and spiritual introspection has caused our hearts to resonate with the message of Truth. We believe because after having pondered over the messages of the Quraan, we comprehend them and have internalized them in our psyche. But more importantly, we believe in the Truth of the Quraan because of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s unchallengeable, unequivocal and logical assertion as the Creator, Sustainer, and Sole Power of this universe. Thus, being convinced of His Deity and Majesty and the nobility of His Last Messenger, the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam), we have consciously chosen to believe and live that message of Truth.
Zikr (Remembrance) of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)
Various Zikr have been prescribed by the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) in Ahaadeeth. Some are general and some are time specific; while others are tied with actions, events and occasions. The most significant of all Azkaar (plural of Zikr) is the recitation of Quraan. The Book of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) covers all sort of remembrance and hence has great impact on strengthening Iman.
Mentioning of Mugheebaat (the Unseen)
The reading, speaking, listening and thinking of Mugheebaat (the Unseen) influences our hearts. The Unseen, beside others, include the existence of Lord Almighty Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), His creations i.e. Jannah (Paradise) Jahannum (Hell) etc., the Day of Qiyaamah (Resurrection), the Angels with or without specific assignments, so on and so forth. More we speak, listen the Unseen, stronger become the belief on them.
Environment of People having Iman
Significance of the friendship of good people in Ahaadeeth is now accepted in the modern theories of motivation. The Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) described:
الرَّجُلُ عَلَى دِينِ خَلِيلِهِ فَلْيَنْظُرْ أَحَدُكُمْ مَنْ يُخَالِلُ
“A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let (every) one of you look at whom he befriends.” (At-Tirmizi)
The kind of friends you hang out with have a direct impact on your relationship with Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). We should have around ourself friends who remind us of Him, so when we feel down, we can always go back to them to lift us up. We have to always be on guard and make sure our Iman does not get corrupted. For weak Iman turns the life into something totally meaningless and purposeless. What is in our heart will manifest in our tongues, in turn driving our limbs towards it. So when our heart is filled with Iman, our tongue will only utter words that are pleasing to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), and our body will rush to do deeds that please Him.
Reinforce Truth with Knowledge
Next, let’s get clear about the meaning of Truth as Islam has defined it. The clearer the message of Truth in our hearts, the stronger our Iman will be. Part of the renewal is therefore to actively engage in understanding the message of Truth in our hearts and minds through studying the Quraan, studying the Ahaadeeth (Traditions) of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) as documented in the books of Ahaadeeth and poring over the knowledge of pious and authentic Ulamaa (Scholars) of Islam who have helped elaborate on that message. The process of renewing our Iman thus requires an active and personal effort to reach out to learn the Truth depicted in various cases and is well-defined in the light of Islamic teachings. The more we strive for it, the more we will increase our levels of awareness and faith.
Remember, the longer you keep your heart locked up from learning more, the less you will be able to reason and comprehend the message of Truth, and the more you will rely on blind faith alone to live the message of Truth.
As Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says in the Quraan:
أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ أَمۡ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقۡفَالُهَآ (24٢٤)
”Then, do they not give serious thought to the Quraan, or do they have locks on their hearts?” (Muhammad 47:24)
Taubah (Repentance) and Istighfaar (Seeking forgiveness)
Sins have a direct effect on our hearts and souls, making us feel spiritually drained. Constantly engage in repentance, even if you don’t feel like. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) notices the struggle that is going on in our heart, and He will help us come closer to Him. So doing Istighfaar (Seeking forgiveness) even 100 times is less. Because each and sin puts a black dot on our heart which may cover whole of the heart. Taubah and Istighfaar wipe out the sins and erase he blackness of hearts.
Living the message of Truth, therefore, requires us to abandon stubbornness (an attitude when we know deep in our hearts that we are wrong), denial (blindly ignoring facts), arrogance (thinking that accepting truth will demean us), hypocrisy (pretending to be someone while concealing the truth), mockery and derision (we mock truth and the righteous to go along with others) and avoidance (for one reason or another we try to avoid the message of truth). Once we eliminate these negatives that may have stained our hearts and open our minds to the message of Truth, we will be on our way to renew our Iman. In that process, we will also sense that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) is continuously watching us what we are doing in our lives and we will certainly feel the sweetness of Iman.
Let’s remember the saying of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) as reported Hadhrat Anas: “Allah says: ‘When a slave of Mine draws near to Me a span, I draw near to him a cubit; and if he draws near to Me a cubit, I draw near to him a fathom. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.” (Bukhari)
It was asked from one of the Mothers of Believers and pious wife of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam), Hadhrat Umme Salamah that what was the Du’aa that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllao Alaihe WaSallam) used to make the most when he was by her. She said, “The Du’aa he used to make the most was:
يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِى عَلَى دِينِكَ
Yaa Muqallibal Quloob Thabbit Qalbee ‘alaa Deenik…..
“O Turner of hearts! Make my heart firm upon Your religion.” (At-Tirmizi)
Therefore, when asking Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) to purify our soul, ask the Enabler to enable us. Ask the one Who can truly purify us. Ask of Him. And that’s the best thing that we can do for our Iman is to constantly ask Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) as He forces us to say in our Salaah (Prayer) every single time when we recite Soorah Faatihah (the opening chapter):
ٱهۡدِنَا ٱلصِّرَٰطَ ٱلۡمُسۡتَقِيمَ
”Guide us to the straight Path”
May Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) give us Taufeeq to keep a check on the status of our hearts at all times. Aameen!