Our lives can seem like a whirlwind of hectic, chaotic, unpredictable situations and occurrences that keep us busy. Struggling to do what we need to do to maintain our obedience to Allah and surviving in a complex world at the same time can be very difficult. Yet, we all have patterns, habits and daily routines we fall into as we maintain some stability, sanity and normality to our lives. The longer one makes daily mistakes, the more harder it will get to survive Shaitan’s trappings; making his temptations difficult to resist and easier to fall into.
The various addictions Shaitan wants to trap a person can move from one level to the next. An addiction locks one into a vice, sin or foul activity. Without the ability to escape from shaitan’s trappings, we are unable to free ourselves, making us not only slaves of Shaitan, but we might also end up working to spread his foul causes and agendas.
So clearly the first step one should take is to stop Shaitan in his tracks before any of these weakening factors occur. Then turning to the Qur’an and the Sunnah will answer the strategy to avoid each pitfall.
#1: Getting too busy for acts of worship
Even though we must work to survive, Islam has been made it easy for us to practice our religion simultaneously. We cannot neglect obligatory acts of worship because of complications in the world. The only occasion where the Prophet missed a prayer was a situation of life and death, when in the battlefield. Even at that time, he cursed the enemy for causing him to miss his ‘asr prayer.
Narrated `Ali : When it was the day of the battle of Al-Ahzab (i.e. the clans), Allah’s Messenger said, “O Allah! Fill their (i.e. the infidels’) houses and graves with fire as they busied us so much that we did not perform the prayer (i.e. `Asr) till the sun set.” Sahih al-Bukhari 2931.
We should also try to keep our fellow brothers and sisters from being too busy by assisting them.
It was narrated that ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far said: “When news of the death of Ja’far was brought, the Messenger of Allah said: ‘Prepare food for the family of Ja’far, for there has come to them that which is keeping them busy or something which is keeping them busy.” Sunah Ibn Majah Vol. 1, Book 6, Hadith 1610.
#2: Eating or drinking a poor diet
The expression “you are what you eat” is not too far off. The modern diet has become so bizarre that the field of medicine has created a massive industry, thanks to a majority of people who fall sick due to their own slow poisoning.
You might have heard a lot about including fresh fruits and raw vegetables in your diet, but it has been a part of Sunnah since our Prophet’s time. Black seed (habbatus sauda), raw unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar, hearty grains like barley, and yogurt and such are all part of the Prophetic diet.
Overeating and overindulging is extremely common amongst the Muslims today and it’s a tragedy even in the circles of scholars as it is very hard for us to control the environment we are in. Learning how to use the supermarket and seek out the correct kind of foods is vital to our success here.
Once Umar ibn al-Khattaab saw a man with a big belly and said, “What is this?!” The man replied, “This is Barakah (a blessing) from Allah.” Umar said. “No, it is a punishment from Allah!” (Mu’jam al-Shuyookh Ii Taaj al-Deen al-Subki).
Things to eliminate in this regard are:
i) All white bleached/polished products lacking nutrition including white flour, white rice, white sugar, white salt which can be replaced with their nutritious equivalents of wheat flour, brown rice, brown sugar or honey or molasses, sea salt and such.
ii) Eliminate artificial chemicals and products ,sugar, food fried in oil except as twice a month treat.
Certain bad patterns of eating must be eliminated. Here is one example of self-restraint from food in the Sunnah.
The things I mention to eliminate were never used until the last 100 years or so. They’ve became abundant now, making diabetes, heart attacks, cancer and endless other conditions and diseases household names the world over.
#3: Not having a long term plan and strategy
Establishing freedom in the world essentially requires ownership of a land and a home. This allows for one to give freedom to their offspring and establish an Ummah. Allah has asked us to ask Him for righteous offspring and we must do our part to act and give them the opportunities:
“Our Lord, and make us Muslims [in submission] to You and from our descendants a Muslim nation [in submission] to You. And show us our rites and accept our repentance. Indeed, You are the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.” (Al Baqarah, 2:128)
Land or a dignified profession is actually an escape from tyranny and slavery as this wonderful hadith points out:
Narrated Abu Bakrah : The Messenger of Allah said: There will be a period of commotion in which the one who lies down will be better than the one who sits, and the one who sits is better than the one who stands, and the one who stands is better than the one who walks, and the one who walks is better than the one who runs (to it). He asked: What do you command me to do, Messenger of Allah? He replied: He who has camels should remain with his camels, he who has sheep should remain with his sheep, and he who has land should remain with his land. He asked: If anyone has more of these, (what should he do)? He replied: He should take his sword, strike its edge on a stone, and then escape if he can. – Sunan Abi Dawud 4256.
The striking of the edge of a sword on a stone is to dull it and thus to not rely on weapons but to escape by any means possible if one cannot rely on their Islamic-ally permissible lifestyle and trade to make a living. Another hadith in the same collection refers to breaking the bow and cutting the bowstring to highlight the point that in some circumstances, weapons are not as effective as escape. Escape is really also a form of jihad as it enables one to fight in the long term and hijrah is the Sunnah when there is no potentially viable situation in remaining in a given place.
#4: Poor sleeping habits
After the ‘ishaa’ prayer, it is detestable to talk with others or do anything unimportant besides sleeping. The best times for sleeping are the Sunnah of between ‘ishaa’ and fajr along with after dzuhr for a midday nap.
The etiquette of sleeping should be observed by having a dark, quiet and clean sleeping place along with trying to sleep on the back or the right side.
#5: Spending time on entertainment with no educational value
“Then you will surely be asked that Day about pleasure.” (At-Takathur, 102:8)
There is more knowledge available to seek out than one could possibly master in a lifetime and no shortage of opportunities to help spread knowledge to others. One must reassess his/her priorities so he/she can be focused towards doing that which pleases Allah . Not devoting ourselves to pleasing Allah is ultimately a path to failure in this life as is warned:
‘And when it is said to him, “Fear Allah ,” pride in the sin takes hold of him. Sufficient for him is Hellfire, and how wretched is the resting place. And of the people is he who sells himself, seeking means to the approval of Allah . And Allah is kind to [His] servants. O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.’ (Al Baqarah, 2:206-208)
Guarding ourselves from the daily traps of Shaitan (who tries to open a great number of doors to lead us astray) will help ensure the true stability and righteous path we want to remain on in our lives. Partly, we must remember that even the basic things like eating and sleeping which we do everyday can be a cause for weakness and degradation if we neglect to properly discipline ourselves and practice good and Prophetic wisdom. We are not tested with more than we can handle but often these things become such a part of our daily lives that we go on “auto-pilot” mode, forgetting about them completely and not even giving them any thought.