Fruits for the Week

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The Prophet (saw) said: “Indeed iman gets worn out inside of you as a piece of clothing gets worn out. So ask Allah to renew iman in your hearts.

Let us try to understand how weak iman makes us feel. Worn-out clothes don’t bring happiness but sadness. They also cause embarrassment, anger, and envy. When our iman is weak, we experience a myriad of negative emotions, reflecting the fact that, like old clothes, our iman stopped making us happy. It is unable to respond to pressure and does not have the capacity to supply answers.

But why this happens? Again, the clothes analogy is enlightening. Why do clothes get worn-out? They do so because, first, we fail to protect them from harm such as tears, fading from the sun, and so on. Second we do not maintain their upkeep and so their quality declines with continued use. Both are signs of neglect or diminished interest in their possession. And with neglect, decline is to be expected. Our iman get worn-out, or weak, because of the same reasons: we either fail to protect it or fail to maintain it.

Failure to protect our iman is to leave it victim to all the sins that assault it and weaken it. Every sin is a cut to the thread of iman, a stain on it that blemishes its beauty and purity. If we keep allowing these stains to gather, they will cover up the splendor and joy of this priceless fabric.

When we ignore our iman and taqwa, we fail to sustain and strengthen them. Just like a fabric that is not cared for, they become old and weak with the passage of time and tests of this life.

The combination of the two leaves our iman tattered and frayed. And when it is in this state, it does little to ameliorate our sadness, anxiety, and pain. Such iman is in desperate need of help.

Iman becomes anew
The Prophet (saw) teaches us in this hadith that iman can be rejuvenated; life can be breathed back into it. Allah (swt) said: “Know that Allah brings life to the land after its death. We have clarified the signs to you so perhaps you can comprehend.” (Al-Hadid: 17)

Allah mentions this ayah after explaining in the previous one (Al-Hadid: 16) that some hearts become hard because of their distance from Allah. Lest one imagines that there is no way back, Allah explains that just as he Revives the physical land after it had dried up and lost its vegetation, Allah can revive the hearts with the rain of iman. No one should ever despair and believe that their hearts are beyond repair or that they can never comeback from their mistakes.

Iman, like what we wear, can become anew. New clothes make us happy and excited. They give us energy, confidence, and satisfaction. Because of them we may feel better about ourselves and the world around us, and thus are likely to be more affable. They move us to be more generous as we donate our older clothes. Since iman is the clothing of the soul and heart, the joy and gratification it brings is unparalleled. Can coming closer to a new dress be compared to coming closer to Allah? Can the joy that a worldly clothing brings match the happiness we revive when we know and love Allah?

Some of us may be cynical when we hear this. Iman to some has become something nice to hear about but impractical and unfulfilling: it stopped bringing the same joy and satisfaction it used to. Why do we feel this way? To understand why, go back to a time your iman made you happy and excited. When was that? This most likely was when we were young and carefree, when we decided to accept Islam or commit ourselves to it for the first time. Iman then was new and exciting. We were full of energy, idealistic, and had so many wonderful plans for the future.

We may have been naive a little, but our iman and sincerity were true and genuine. Then we faced the challenges and disappointments of this life and our iman got dented. Each problem added a new dent, each setback made it seem more quixotic. Then a part of us simply gave up. We learned to live with weak iman and turned our back on the romanticism of our past. We adapted to life without true joy and convinced ourselves that this is normal.

When we surrendered to weakness of iman, we did so because our setbacks made us forget the sweetness of faith. We forgot the peace we enjoyed when our iman is strong and became disillusioned with iman, cynical about its possibilities.

Our iman caved under pressure because we didn’t strengthen it. We didn’t push back. And when we stopped pushing, we got used to a lack-luster existence. This is like someone who tried to lose weight through diet and exercise yet failed to see results because of inconsistency. He then became disenchanted and hopeless of achieving his goal. Such cynicism is a product of inconsistency, not the failure of the methods themselves. It is not iman that had failed us, but we failed to hold on to it.

If you miss the excitement and peace that your faith brought, hold on again to your iman and never let go of it. Immerse yourself into it and believe with all your heart. Surrender to Allah and let Him bestow upon you the peace and joy of iman again. Iman will always provide us with happiness as long as we seek this happiness from it. But when we stop, it will also stop. Doesn’t this make sense?

As you grow iman in your heart, your regrets will go away one by one. The anger and anxiety will be lifted immediately or gradually, all in accordance with our reliance upon Allah and love for Him. Iman will not only make our existence tolerable but meaningful. Our spiritual lethargy and disappointments will disappear when we give iman the chance to change our hearts. Whenever you renew your iman, you will regain the excitement and energy you had when your iman was fresh and strong. Surrender yourself completely to Allah for you to see these full blessings.

(To be continued)

by Dr. Ali Al-Barghouthi