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Practical Tips to Connect to Allah [Part II]

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4. Strive a little harder to avoid sinning. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: “If you claim that you are amongst those who seek refuge from the Fire and desire Paradise, then strive for that which you seek and do not be misled by your worldly desires.”

Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala mentioned seeking the means of nearness to Him (connecting to Him) and striving to succeed, in the following verse:

“O you who have believed, fear Allah and seek the means [of nearness] to Him and strive in His cause that you may succeed.” (al-Ma’idah, 5:35)

Hard work is never forsaken, when done in the correct direction. Unlike worldly tasks which demand results, Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala looks at your intentions and hard work: that is nothing but success. Striving to do a good deed itself gains us a reward, as the hadith (quoted by Abu Hurairah )says:

“If a judge passes judgement and strives to reach the right conclusion and gets it right, he will have two rewards; if he strives to reach the right conclusion but gets it wrong, he will have one reward.” (Saheeh, Sunan an-Nasa’ee)

Not only this, the Messenger of Allah SAW when asked about the best people said :

“One who strives with himself and his wealth in the cause of Allah…”(Saheeh, Sunan an-Nasa’ee)

We have to strive if we want to achieve something. Life itself is striving for a good living and preparing for a better hereafter. Nothing comes in life without you striving for it. A writer once said: “Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.

5. Dhikr with patience can be given the credit of sincerity (ikhlas). Dhikr and patience are connected. A person can only focus on dhikr in his daily life when he is calm and peaceful in all of his affairs. How Prophet SAW used to do dhikr in all of his affairs, in all circumstances was exemplary. Its was his personality to be patient. A’ishah FEMALE Radi Allahu Anha says:

“The Messenger of Allah SAW used to remember Allah in all of his affairs.” (Saheeh, Jami` at-Tirmidhee)

Dhikr is not just saying “SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah, Allahuakbar”  after every salah moving our fingers at lightening speed or looking around for musalli attendance in the masjid. Dhikr is remembering Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala every time we are supposed to remember, and say it with your heart and allow the meaning to touch your soul. We might not forget to say “bismillah” every time we start anything; but with time, we just say it out of a habit, sometimes not even pronouncing it properly. We don’t do dhikr with patience.

We become mechanical in many such things unknowingly, but there is a way to revive the connection in dhikr: every time you say it, say the meaning in your mother tongue. Mother tongue is the language that touches the heart. Of course, we should say the Arabic phrase first to gain the reward and blessings.

When should we do the dhikr?

The above hadith in another narration says that he SAW used to remember Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala is all moments/circumstances. The seriousness of dhikr and its effect on our hearts was compared to such an extent that the messenger of Allah SAW said:

“The similitude of one who remembers his Rabb and one who does not remember Him, is like that of the living and the dead.” [Saheeh, Al-Bukharee and Muslim]

6. Consistency

Allah’s Messenger SAW said,

“Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah’s is the most regular and constant even though it were little.” (Saheeh Al-Bukharee)

Consistency and patience are connected. One needs to be patient to be consistent. Breaching consistency, growing impatient and blaming Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala for not granting what you asked for makes one subject to Allah’s anger and lose all of his efforts. Keep praying, keep making dua and remember what our beloved Prophet SAW said:

“The supplication of every one of you is granted if he does not grow impatient and say – I supplicated but it was not granted” (Saheeh Muslim)

Hence, dhikr has to be done with patience, involving your heart and consistently hoping from Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala that he connects us to Him.

7. Invest in the relation that we have with Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala. We try to impress our bosses in many ways, but what about the Boss of all bosses? That’s one way of looking at it. When we invest in any relationship by doing things which pleases the person we love, we develop a sense of working towards the relationship. Similarly, if we want to “develop” the relation between us and AllahAllah Subhanahu-wa-Taala, we need to do good deeds in two ways; one, by avoiding the prohibited, and two, by doing the commanded.

For example, let’s say I want to remind myself that next time I am tempted to backbite someone, I’ll let it go, JUST TO PLEASE ALLAH Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala. When we avoid a bad deed this way, we first gain confidence that we can beat shaytaan’s whispers bi’iznillah, and secondly, feel content that we did something solely for the sake of Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala. That’s how we make an investment of sacrifice to develop the relation with Allah’s Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala.

Even if we fail in our attempt, in sha Allah, Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala will reward us for our intentions and, one day, in sha Allah, Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala will help us in enjoining what is good and forbidding evil. Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala says:

“But they who believe and do righteous deeds – those are the companions of Paradise; they will abide therein eternally”. (al-Baqarah, 2:82)

Sometimes, doing more good takes us away from bad. Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala  says several times in Quran to repel evil with good or what is better.

“And those who are patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord, and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them secretly and publicly and prevent evil with good – those will have the good consequence of [this] home (Gardens of perpetual residence)” (ar-Ra’d,13:22)

“Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured and [because] they avert evil through good, and from what We have provided them they spend.” (al-Qasas,28:54)

“And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” (al-Fussilat,41:34)

8. Keep reminding yourself what Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala said:

“So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.” (al-Baqarah, 2:152)

I remember, when I used to listen to Sheikh Mufti Menk regularly while commuting, I felt like he was always riding along with me in my car. I was so used to listening to him that we (me and my wife) casually joke that I have to pick the sheikh up till my office and drop him off on my way back home. We feel the closeness to Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala when we listen to His words. Sometimes, what all of us need is patience and perseverance to understand His Book, word by word, chapter by chapter.

Shaytaan will do his best to keep us away from Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala and His dhikr. Let’s kick back his plots, as Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala said:

“Ever feeble indeed is the plot of Shaytaan” (al-Nisa, 4:76)

Let’s strive to hold tight to the rope of Allah Allah Subhanahu-wa-Taala until our last breadth.

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