Imaan (faith) – sail against the tide!
If we place a corpse on a gushing stream, it will move smoothly along with the flow. Yes, even a corpse can move with the gush, but it needs life and soul to swim against the current. It’s very easy to journey through the gush of years as a sluggish and heedless being. Indeed, it’s hard to swim against. Many flow monotonously through the alluring evils- indeed an effortless deed. In fact, believers will be able to journey against the swarming waves of falsehood. Because within them live a ‘SOUL’ that pours in the energy and impulse to glide against- that SOUL is called Imaan or Faith. It is the name of the enthusiasm which befriends no evil. Even a breeze Imaan can push a dry leaf afar. But there are strong trees which can withstand even storms- trees with deep roots and strong trunks. A believer who abides with the strong root and trunk of faith and righteousness can stand steadfast against any pouring rains and trembling storms.
Nowadays, it is very hard to preserve our Imaan. Many of us own a deteriorated and lifeless ‘faith’. We treasure some vague perceptions, named them and that do not influence our way of life or deeds anymore. It does not yield a zealous tenancy or a consoling cognition. Thus it withers in front of the reality of life because, Imaan lies asleep within us. Those who abide by vigorous Imaan would never bow in front of hardships. For such people Imaan out-pours as a spirit that can’t be conquered by anyone. Allah wants us to be in such a state where we could absorb the faith with its blazing radiance. The Imaan which abides as energy and asset! The faith which sprouts fortitude. The Imaan that fully shines in our ways as a never fading lamp.
Qur’an solicits the purification that begins deeps down from our heart. Such a purification is begotten through our Imaan. A mind that has achieved the radiance of Imaan will be closer to virtues, stay away from sins and fight evils.
Imaam Gazzali mentioned about 4 stages of inner cleanliness that yield a pure life and Imaan.
(1) The first stage is the purification of external organs from excrement and filth.
(2) The second stage is the purification of bodily organs from sins and faults
(3) The third stage is the purification of heart from evil traits and vices.
(4) The fourth stage is the purification of inner-self from everything except God.
The last stage is of the Prophets and the saints (sidheeqeens). Nobody will attain a higher stage unless he first goes through the lower one… He can’t attain real purity of heart till he purifies it from blameworthy vices and adorn it with praiseworthy qualities. He can’t purify the heart till he purifies his organs from prohibited things and makes it firm with religious acts. The more honorable the objective is, the more difficult its attainment will be, the longer the road that leads to it, the greater the obstacles will be. Don’t think that this can be attained with ease and without efforts.
He who is blind to these stages of purity will not understand the above mentioned four stages. He will understand the lowest stage of cleanliness. It is like the outer husk of a crop or like skull in relation to brain. He understands that the outer cleanliness is the desired object and makes exaggeration in it and spends much time and wealth in abstention (Istinja), in cleanliness of cloth, body and in the use of water and thinks that the noble purity comprises these outward and external cleanliness. The early Muslims concentrated their entire attention and energies on the purification of their hearts and were lenient in their outward cleanliness.
Even Khalifa Umar (RA) , being placed in a high position, made ablution with the water from a jar which belonged to a Christian woman. They used to say prayer kneeling and prostrating directly on the ground in the mosque and walk barefooted on the roads. These things have now changed. The people termed cleanliness for ironed cloth and say that it is the foundation of religion. One group spend most of their time in beautifying their bodies just like a new bride.. (Ihya-ul- uloomidheen- page 35)
In a Hadith authenticated by tharbaani Prophet (May Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon Him) reminds us that Imaan can deteriorate. He also warned us that like how a discarded piece of cloth deteriorates over time, the luminance of Imaan can dwindle. When Imaan is spurned in such a way that it no more influences our thoughts and deeds, it will begin to diminish in its radiance and will eventually become futile. As years pass, it will vanish. This is a warning from Prophet (PBUH).
It is narrated on the authority of Sufyan bin ‘Abdulla al-Thaqafi that he said: I asked the Messenger of Allah to tell me about Islam a thing which might dispense with the necessity of my asking anybody after you. In the hadith of Abu Usama the (words) are: other than you. The Prophet (PBUH) remarked: Say I affirm my faith in Allah and then remain steadfast to it ( Sahih Muslim Book 2, Hadith 168).
This Hadith authenticated by Sahih Muslim conveys the broad meaning of Imaan; though it contains only two phrases. A life with isthiqaamah (steadfastness) is the powerful fruit of Imaan. ‘Isthiqaamah’ indicates a life devoid of falsehood; a straight path of righteous toils with no cripples! Today, can we find the pure Imaan freed from errant and crooked paths? Indeed, it is hard to find. Life and Imaan flow in opposite directions. Imaan seems to have deteriorated not to inspire our makings and musings any more. Many have mistaken the ‘Ibadaths’ (that we perform everyday) as the proof of our Imaan. Is that true? More than being an evidence of Imaan, ibaadaths pave way for us to achieve Imaan.
Imaan should be an experience. The Messenger of Allah (May Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “None of you [truly] believes until his desires are subservient to that which I have brought” (Imam Nawawi’s 40 Hadith). This is what our beloved Prophet taught us. He also said that until we love Allah and His Prophet, no one will taste the sweetness of Imaan. Narrated Anas (RA): The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Whoever possesses the following three qualities will have the sweetness (delight) of faith:
1. The one to whom Allah and His Apostle becomes dearer than anything else.
2. Who loves a person and he loves him only for Allah’s sake.
3. Who hates to revert to Atheism (disbelief) as he hates to be thrown into the fire.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 16)
Deen, our deen, let that be the love of our hearts. Let Allah and His messenger be the prime love of our heart. If so, the steadfastness and fortitude we would achieve will be boundless.
‘Ibaadaths’ (our worships) are meant to rejuvenate and reestablish our diminishing Imaan to the state of fithra (original purified state we born); and are the rare moments to rediscover our lost faith through our merciless introspection! Through many Ramadans we passed by, we have practiced the fortitude to refrain from our worldly likes, to spank the alluring evils and to empower our mind and body to be steadfast for the cause of Allah. Let’s ensure that every day in our life will be brightened with a heart in purified and cleaned state that we display during Ramadan days, in sha Allah.