WHAT SAVES PEOPLE FROM HEEDLESSNESS?
The desire to meet Allah SWT and attainment of His pleasure is the driving force of the believer. All his actions are governed by this desire and this zeal is what saves him from falling into heedlessness. Everyone is personally responsible and cannot blame his circumstances to excuse himself. It is a personal duty from which there is no escape.
Allah SWT tells His righteous slaves in the Qur'an:
… So there has [now] come to you a clear evidence from your Lord and a guidance and mercy. Then who is more unjust than one who denies the verses of Allah and turns away from them? We will recompense those who turn away from Our verses with the worst of punishment for their having turned away. Do they [then] wait for anything except that the angels should come to them or your Lord should come or that there come some of the signs of your Lord?
Say, "Indeed, my Lord has guided me to a straight path - a correct religion - the way of Abraham, inclining toward truth. And he was not among those who associated others with Allah." Say, "Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims." Say, "Is it other than Allah I should desire as a lord while He is the Lord of all things?
And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return, and He will inform you concerning that over which you used to differ." And it is He who has made you successors upon the earth and has raised some of you above others in degrees [of rank] that He may try you through what He has given you. Indeed, your Lord is swift in penalty; but indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Al-An'am 6: 157—165)
Since heedlessness is a disease, Allah in His fairness and mercy has also given us various remedies for heedlessness in the Qur'an, as well as ample warning of behaviour which is to be avoided:
• And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect. (Al-Kahf 18:28)
• And remember your Lord within yourself in humility and in fear without being apparent in speech - in the mornings and the evenings. And do not be among the heedless. (Al-A’raf 7:205)
• You who have believed, fear Allah and be with those who are true. (At-Tawbah 9:119)
• So let not their wealth or their children impress you. Allah only intends to punish them through them in worldly life and that their souls should depart [at death] while they are disbelievers. (At-Tawbah 9:55)
• … those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah - give them tidings of a painful punishment. The Day when it will be heated in the fire of Hell and seared therewith will be their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, [it will be said], "This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you used to hoard." (At-Tawbah 9:34-35)
• Say, [O Muhammad], "If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people." (At-Tawbah 9:24)
• And let not their wealth and their children impress you. Allah only intends to punish them through them in this world and that their souls should depart [at death] while they are disbelievers. (At-Tawbah 9:85)
• Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase, and invoke [ Allah 's blessings] upon them. Indeed, your invocations are reassurance for them. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (At-Tawbah 9:103)
The Prophet SAW said:
“Should I not inform you of the best of your deed, and the purest of them with your Master, and the highest of them in your ranks, and what is better for you than spending gold and silver, and better for you than meeting your enemy and striking their necks, and they strike your necks?” They said: “Of course.” He said, “The remembrance of Allah [Most High].” [Then] Mu’adh bin Jabal [may Allah be pleased with him] said: “There is nothing that brings more salvation from the punishment of Allah than the remembrance of Allah.” (Tirmidhi Hasan)
This hadith clearly explains that the remembrance of Allah – His attributes, the moment of death and the Day of Judgment – will cause one to spend his time and money for the cause of Allah. Remembrance of Allah is the food for the soul, it leads one closer to Allah and opens up the path to spiritual awareness.
In his book Invocation of God, which explores 120 benefits of remembrance of God and is highly recommended for every Muslim), Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziya mentions one of the merits of remembrance of God: “It endows him with proximity to God. His proximity to God is in proportion to his remembrance; his distance in proportion to his heedlessness.”
He continues: “Since the heart is tarnished by two things—heedlessness and sin—it is polished by two things: remembrance and asking forgiveness.”
WAYS TO AVOID HEEDLESSNESS
Therefore, the solution is simple. It can be summarized as follows:
• remembrance of Allah SWT
• keeping in the company of good people
• curbing the desire and temptation for excessive worldly possessions
• avoiding the company and lifestyles of heedless people
• spending in the cause of Allah
• putting your devotion to Allah above the devotion to your family.
If we remember our meeting with the Lord, and keep our hearts, minds and limbs occupied with this imminent day, we will come to realize our humble and insignificant status. When we realise our total paralysis when death comes, we will come to realize the insignificance of this duniya and all its temporary existence. This translates into our detachment from the material world, which has the consequence of bringing us closer towards Allah SWT.
This sounds abstract in theory, and the reader must be wondering how to implement this in practice. A few hints are set out below:
• Allocate your time towards the remembrance of Allah SWT – in the beginning, during your spare time, working up towards the condition where you are in the constant remembrance of Allah SWT at all given times.
• Remember death. Read about death in various Islamic publications. Alternatively, make a trip to the graveyard. Observe how quiet and devoid of visitors it is, and how lonely existence is in that part of the world. When you realize that you might be next in line, it will draw you towards Allah SWT.
• Visit the sick people in hospital. When you see the humility and desperation in the eyes of the ill, you will realize that a point of time will come where no amount of medical equipment or advanced technology can protect you against the inevitable.
• Spend money in the path of Allah. This means a significant amount of money, not just loose change. The idea behind this is simple. As basic human nature, your love and devotion will transfer to what you spend on. For example, if you spend money on a car, your love and devotion will be transmitted from the money that you saved to the car that you paid for. Similarly, when you spend for Allah SWT, your love and devotion will be transferred to what you spend on, which is the achievement of the love for Allah SWT.
• Keep in the companionship of learned people, that is to say, people who have the knowledge of Allah SWT. Keep away from those who occupy your time with nonsensical and empty babble, or from those who spend their time in obvious heedlessness of Allah SWT.
• Spend some time in a secluded environment where you can contemplate about Allah SWT's majesty in peace. Seclusion is a powerful way of realigning your focus in life and it isolates you from the continuing interruptions of duniya.
• Work for the path of Allah SWT – whether in the form of donations, or in doing good deeds, helping the needy, or contributing your time to elevate the message of Allah SWT.
• Read about the Companions of the Prophet SAW and people who died with status in the eyes of Allah SWT. As human beings, we love status and we should feel so sad at how far these people have exceeded us. If we are normal, we would try to imitate them and strive to reach their level.
All this takes time and effort for there is no magic formula. It is a personal journey that all of us have to embark on at an individual level – one that we have to live, experience and sacrifice for. There is no shortcut to keeping our nafs (base instincts) and our love of duniya under check. It is an on-going endeavour.
Work for the path of Allah and see the results. This is not something that can be experienced second hand by just reading about it. Effort has to be made, and the change must be generated from within.
WHERE DO WE STAND?
As a final note, all the verses quoted above were originally directed to the non-Muslims. However, on reflection, hasn't our love for duniya consumed us to the point that if we continue on this path, one day we will not be able to differentiate between our way of thinking, our way of life, our goal in life, and our core values, from that of a non-believer? We are rapidly replacing our fundamental role in life – preparation for the hereafter – with our more immediate requirements – maximum comfort, amusement and enjoyment in this world.
A true believer, as exemplified by the Prophet SAW and his Companions, prioritizes on accumulating the maximum amount of good deeds pleasing to his Lord in preparation of his infinite stay in the Hereafter. The believer minimizes his association with duniya, and whatever contact he has with the material world is for the sole purpose of achieving the closeness and pleasure of his Lord. He does not know when his end will come, so his constant preoccupation is the preparation for his meeting with the Lord.
Let us think and contemplate – do our modern lifestyles personify the values set by the early Muslims? Our tongues profess our Islam but so many of our everyday actions, apart from the smattering of rituals, belie our heedlessness. If we fall into this category, we must wake ourselves up from the trance and oblivion, which has overshadowed our awareness, and start preparing for that inevitable day where insha Allah, we can tell Allah with sincerity that we tried our best.
May Allah protect us from ghafla and give us the wisdom and sincerity to take the right course of action, ameen.