This ephemeral life of ours has artful ways of crawling into our hearts and deflecting us from the truth of our existence.
The anxieties of providing for your family can consume you entirely, the approaching deadline of a project is all encompassing, an ongoing conflict within your family tears away a piece of your heart, little by little.
However, we cannot permit ourselves to neglect our Deen, on a count of our day to day worries and sorrows. To neglect your Deen is to violate yourself. There is a great deal of information on physical health, and a surplus of discussions on healthy eating and exercise.
However there is a lack of dialogue on spiritual health, which urgently needs to be addressed. One’s spiritual health is equally imperative to one’s physical health. If your heart and mind are constantly troubled with negativity, all else will deteriorate within you.
In the chaos of living and surviving, we can easily lose track of ourselves, trying to persevere through another a day and waking up the next morning (which is a daunting thought in itself).
However do not allow yourself to grow despondent as there are numerous things we can do to ensure we do not lose our way in the maze of our minds, to refocus our hearts back to the ultimate goal.
1. “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (13:28)
The first and utmost vital ingredient in maintaining your spiritual health is remembering Allah in all your speech, and all your behavior.
Constantly praise Allah, Subhanallah (Glory to Allah), Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah), Allahu Akbar (Allah is Greater). Repeat these phrases when performing simple tasks, such as washing the dishes, stirring something while cooking, while folding the laundry, while waiting for your laptop to start up, etc.
Repeat them, understand the magnitude of remembering Allah, allow His Greatness to truly penetrate deep into your heart. This is so simple. So easy. So why is it so significant?
These little phrases, if you repeat them with profound apprehension, amidst doing the most mundane of chores, you will always be aware of the truth, you will always be filled with gratitude.
Saying SubhanAllah while folding your laundry is a reminder that it is solely due to Allah you are able to lift your fingers to fulfill your responsibilities. Saying, Allahu Akbar, while washing the dishes, is a reminder that it is only because of Allah’s Greatness you are healthy enough to take care of your family.
Saying Alhamdulillah while cooking, reminds you to be grateful to Allah for providing for you. Making this a habit, glorifying Allah with consistency in the little things, will immediately lighten your heart when fighting the tougher battles. You will be perceptive to the truth that everything is from Allah.
2. And We send down of the Qur’an that which is healing and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss. (17:82)
There is no medicine more appropriate for the heart, than the Quran. The Quran was not sent so that it may sit pretty on our shelves and accumulate clouds of dust. Nor was it sent for robotic recitations without reflections.
It is our mercy and we would be fools not to utilize it. Integrate the words of Allah within your daily lives, make it is as necessary as Salah. Recite, listen and ponder. If you have a nine to five job, 3 kids and an aged mother to look after, be pragmatic.
Incorporating Quran in your lives does not translate to reciting for 3 hours every day. Read at least one page a day, make surah Mulk a part of your nighttime routine, play the Quran as a substitute for the radio. Read Tafseer and listen to tafseers. Listen to tafseers with your family in lieu of watching that recently released show on Netflix. Pick an ayah or two and scrutinize it while asking yourself what the ayah means?
What is Allah ta’alla conveying to me? Am I following this ayah in my life? How can this ayah change me? How can it help me become a better Muslim?
The Messenger of Allah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said: “O Abu Dharr! If you learn one verse from The Book of Allah (The Quran), it is better for you than to voluntarily pray one hundred rak’ahs; and if you learn a category of knowledge (religion), regardless if it is applied or not, it is better for you than to voluntarily pray one thousand rakats.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
I can guarantee if you do this, if the Quran lives in your heart, you will be enveloped with tranquility.
3. He knows that which deceives the eyes and what the breasts conceal. (40:19)
Be wary of what you watch and listen to. Many times we will watch or do things and assume it is harmless. Sometimes the effect is subtle, and in reality damaging our hearts. This can refer to the tv shows we watch or the music we listen to. Mainstream TV and music in this day and age are not short of vulgar and hyper-sexualized.
Much of it is geared towards sex and this concept of the “perfect image” and the “ideal lives.” Whether you are able to discern it or not, the fact of the matter is, the more often you watch these things, the more you will be plagued with insecurities. Our time should not be wasted doing these things.
You see, spirituality is not just a warm feeling. It is all-encompassing. Everything we say, do, watch, eat, it’s all connected. What you watch affects your heart and mind.
What affects your heart and mind will affect your actions. To protect your eyes is to protect your heart. Replace your tv shows with lectures and replace your music with Quran. Undoubtedly, Allah will replace any uncertainty with ease.
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4. “Close friends, that Day, will be enemies to each other, except for the righteous” (43:67)
Similarly, the way the things you watch can either nourish or corrupt your heart, the people you keep close can either pollute your soul or be a source of beneficence. This is an age-old concept, “you are the company you keep.” Contemplate on who the people you call your friend, really are.
Do they remind you of Allah and strengthen your love for the Sunnah or are they in the habit of backbiting and gossiping? Are your conversations with them of substance or are their primary concerns related to materialism and Dunya?
Do they leave you feeling light and uplifted or are you left with a weight of mountains upon your chest? Do they leave you loving yourself or questioning yourself? The interactions and relationships we have with others causes an impact on ourselves which is incalculable.
You must be cautious of who your companions are. The people you choose to surround yourself with influence your spiritual health immensely. Sometimes you need to detox your life from certain people. This may sound rather harsh, however, your mental health and the condition of your akhirah are of far greater concern.
5. And We had certainly given Luqman wisdom [and said], “Be grateful to Allah .” And whoever is grateful is grateful for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever denies [His favor] – then indeed, Allah is Free of need and Praiseworthy. (31:12)
The actuality of this life is this; disappointments and heartache are inevitable. The reality of this life is also this; Allah has showered us with His bounties. It is a matter of choice, do we choose to see the glass half empty or half full? Allah has promised us hardships and trials, while warning us that we will be tested like those before us.
So don’t be dejected, find solace in the promise and majesty of Allah. Say Praise be to Allah The Lord of the Universe, for my trial could be much more disheartening. Thank Allah for what you have been given as well as for all that you do not have because whatever you have been deprived of, is for your own good, since Allah loves us more than our own mothers.
Everything that has or hasn’t befallen us is a mercy. The more you express your gratitude to Allah not only in your speech but in your actions as well, He will only continue to increase His favours upon you. Not to mention the numerous psychological benefits of being consciously grateful, such as improvements in physical health, self-esteem, mental strength and so on.
Take some time at the end of the day to list 10 things you are grateful for, so that despite any afflictions in your life, you are always aware that you are never bereft of blessings. Do this with consistency and watch as your heart is gradually cleansed and filled with harmony.