So what do I need to do
If you were informed of an exam which will determine the rest of your career, you will appreciate its importance. If you have a desire to succeed, you will immediately focus on the crucial goal to be achieved and cull the distractions. It is no different on the goal of the hereafter.
The Qur’an gives a vivid description of the Day of Judgment, and states:
Then woe, that Day, to the deniers, Who are in [empty] discourse amusing themselves [i.e those who are playing with falsehood]. (Qur’an 52:11 and 52:12).
Thus, if you are struggling to stay focused on the akhirah, it is a big indication that your iman is weak or is getting weaker. If your faith is weak, it means that your understanding and remembrance of Allah is wrong.
The first is to start with your journey of iman.
It starts with submission and belief in Allah. Don’t despair if you feel that you are lacking the qualities, for if you believe in Allah, He will grant you the qualities you lack, convert your deficiencies into strength, and provide the guidance you need for this journey. After all Allah can give you death from life and life from death. In autumn, branches are brittle, but revived in spring.
The journey of faith is not about your wealth, intelligence or worldly achievements. It is about submitting your soul and your thinking, thoughts, desires and feelings, ambitions to what Allah wants of you, filling your days with good deeds, and at the very minimum to constantly ask for forgiveness and repentance.
Whatever qualities you already own, use them for Allah. Humble yourself and don’t ever take credit for those qualities, because all qualities come from Allah. Whatever good deeds you do, return it to Allah for allowing you to do such deeds.
It may also be that you have no suitable companionship. Of this, the Quran tells us:
So turn away from whoever turns his back on Our message and desires not except the worldly life. (Qur’an 53:29)
There are many examples of these people, yet their actions are so subtle that they go unnoticed. I had just once come back from a camping trip in the desert, and we were dropped off at a friend’s house where all our cars were parked. One of us wanted to make salat, but because she (and her clothes) were soiled from the excursion, she needed to go home to shower first before making salat. The hosts, who were both Muslim, insisted that she stayed on to have coffee and cake with them instead! She looked anxious, embarrassed to offend, until someone asked her if keeping the hosts happy was more important than making salat. That was all the motivation she needed to go home. Bad companionship is not just confined to those who indulge in the big sins, but also those who distract you from your relationship with the Creator even if they purport to be Muslims.
People, Muslims and non Muslims, can focus on many unimportant things – jobs, cars, movie marathons, baking cakes, and even making sins, because it is what their desires guide them to do. They spend money and time over meaningless endeavours and encourage others to do the same.
Let us Focus
It is not enough to perform salat five times a day if the rest of the day is spent ignoring Allah!
If we believe in Allah and akhirah, we would want to capture a moment with Allah, a good deed, a remembrance of Allah. We would hope to escape the flames of jahannam. We need to fan the embers of our belief so that it shines bright, because every chance that presents itself is an opportunity that is not coming back. We would substitute our fascination with the movies, football, socializing and wasting time, with increasing our state of remembrance to Allah, and keep our connection to Him alive. We would remind ourselves often of what the goal is, and to educate ourselves of how to get there and the road to avoid.
There are many people who have qualities but are held back by doubt and lack of certainty. If we strengthen our iman, all these shortcomings will be solved. If we are weak, Allah will give us strength, and if we are strong, Allah will temper our strength with humility.
May Allah allow us to remember jannah and love it. If we capture today, we will capture tomorrow, and if we lose today, we will lose tomorrow. May Allah allow us to capture our day and make it witness for us and not against us. May Allah give us focus before it is too late.