We were all born with individual flaws and weaknesses, including degrees of hypocrisy. The only way of eradicating all these characteristics, and working towards becoming a Muslim, a Mu’min or Muhsin is to embark on a journey of iman, initiated by the constant remembrance of Allah. A Mu’min or a Muslim is conscious that every action potentially leads him to jannah or jahannam. Every thought, speech and deed is regulated and measured by the obedience to Allah.
Start your journey of iman by developing four basic qualities and habits, and be steadfast to these:
- Busy your tongue with the remembrance of Allah (zikrullah)
- Hold your heart tight towards Allah and scrutinize your actions constantly
- Do the opposite of what your nafs desires and do not allow your nafs to enslave you.
- Purify your niyyah or intention constantly so that the heart, and then the body and action will be cleansed.
All the above are founded on the remembrance of Allah, which is a natural extension of understanding the attributes of Allah. Zikrullah is so important that it is one of the two deeds which carries limitless rewards, the other one being charity.
Ibn Qayyim Jawziyyah mentioned numerous benefits of doing zikrullah as derived from various sources. Among its magnificent rewards are:
- It drives Shaitan away
- It pleases the Most-Merciful
- It removes the cares and worries of the heart
- It brings joy and happiness
- It strengthens both body and heart
- It endows the person with love of Allah, which is the very essence of Islam
- It endows one with vigilance (muraqabah)
- It predisposes the servant to turn back to God in every state
- It endows him with proximity to God. His proximity to God is in proportion to his remembrance; his distance in proportion to his heedlessness
- It endows him with God's own remembrance of him
- It endows the heart with life, for the difference between a heart that is dead or alive is the remembrance of Allah
- It polishes away the heart's tarnish
- It erases sins and repels them
- It removes estrangement between the servant and Allah
- When one does zikrullah in times of ease, Allah will know him in times of adversity
- It repels the punishment of God
- Tranquillity descends upon the heart
- The tears that are shed in zikrullah gives a person shade on the Day of Judgment
- It is the easiest form of worship
- It plants trees in paradise
- It is the basis of gratitude and thanks because when you remember Him abundantly you thank Him abundantly
- It will infuse one with the desire to meet Allah and diminish the desire of dunia. This quality in turn leads to other qualities, such as controlling one's spending, and not being concerned with this life
- It opens a beautiful door of knowledge between you and Allah
- It eradicates loneliness since one will always be in the companionship of angels appointed by Allah
- It busies you so that you will not have time for evil talk and backbiting
- It opens up the door of good deeds
- Allah will grant what you are yearning for, sometimes even before you ask for it
- It is the pillar of goodness and good relationships
- It saves you from forgetting Allah and from being prone to your own habits and predispositions
- It is a light in dunia, the grave and the Day of Judgment and provides the light across the path to jannah
- It is equal to freeing a slave for the sake of Allah
- It is more valuable than spending money for sabeelillah
- It is equal or higher than jihad for sabeelillah
- It accelerates the goodness that Allah will bring to you
- It grants ease and reduces hardship
- It makes the heart fearless and gives one a strong light between you and Allah
- It is a veil between you and jahannam
- It is a veil between you and hypocrisy
- It lights your face in this life, in the moment of death, in the grave and on the Day of Judgment. This is why certain elderly people look youthful – even your ageing is with beauty.
Rasulullah SAW advised us to emigrate from sins, and hold tight to the fara’id because it is the best form of striving, to remember Allah in abundance and that we will not meet with Allah with anything superior to the zikrullah we have on our scales of good deeds.
If we do not practice zikrullah, Shaitan will overpower us. We will not be calm, humble, able to see the truth or make any sound decisions. We will be laden with internal and external calamities, agitation and misery as we continue down the stray path. If we are not careful, Shaitan can defeat us, strangle us with doubts and destroy us.
When we do not remember Allah, our bad habits will escalate. When we remember Allah, our bad habits will diminish.
One hadith mentions that if a person who thinks of Allah constantly is tempted to commit sins, the angels will plead with Allah to guard him, forgive him and conceal him from the wrong.
Looking at our mistakes and the sins in retrospect will lead us to the realisation that the root of the problem is simple. If we do not engage in zikrullah, our souls will be corrupted and vulnerable to manipulation by Shaitan. If this occurs, the knowledge we seek is not going to help us. Lack of zikrullah leads to the downfall in everything else.
Today we hurry through our lives, including our worship. We may make salat, but without depth. Our tongues utter the correct phrases, but our hearts do not truly contemplate or remember Allah. Do we truly ponder on Allah's attributes, or do we just go through the motions because it has become a routine? When people perform constant salat as a matter of habit, but their hearts are devoid of Allah, this explains why they still carry the attributes of those who do not engage in zikrullah – they are troubled, distressed, and are unjust and insolent.
Let's say you want to bake a cake. All the cooking utensils, from spatula to baking tray, are still smelling of the curry you made the day before. Will these utensils work if you want to bake a delicate vanilla cake? We need to clean up and prepare before we start. Similarly, the journey of iman requires cleansing and purification, to check yourself, your habits and your companions, and to pull you away from the sinful habits to habits of obedience to Allah, and from the company of Shaitan to the company of Allah, the angels and the good people.