One of the greatest struggles for Muslims is keeping our imaan from fluctuating from day to day. One reason for this, and this pertains particularly to Muslims living in the West, is the lack of an Islamic environment. When living in a socially secular society, it is unseemly to display one’s religion in public. I have often found an aura of shame when religion is mentioned in the presence of non-Muslims as if it is something which should only be circulated in our own communities. However, as Muslims, we should be proud of our ability to be openly religious and have our faith transcend the public and private domains.
Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) said: “I fear the day when the disbelievers are proud of their falsehood, and the Muslims are shy of their faith.” Clearly, that day has come, and we are living it. The reality for many Muslims is that they suffer from low imaan because they are afraid or ashamed of being a Muslim in public.
The solution to this, I have found, is to be unapologetically Muslim and to be mindful of Allah in everything we do – to be that reminder for myself and others of our beliefs and values. Even though we have our busy lives, our regular nine-to-fives, it is essential to keep our attention turned towards Allah, and when I do, the results will be palpable. Being faithful to the five daily salah is the first step in having a solid imaan. Salah is the way in which our whole day becomes grounded and rooted in Allah. By having set times to remember Him at regular intervals, it becomes easier to remember who I am, and why I am here, instead of getting sucked into this temporary world. Praying salah on time, therefore, helps me to keep things in perspective. If you are struggling with the fardh salah, I try to plan my day around my prayers, instead of squeezing my prayers into my day. Don’t be afraid to ask for a space to pray at work or school, don’t be embarrassed to leave friends or colleagues for ten minutes to go and pray. While it may seem that others will think you strange for breaking away from the norm, they will, in fact, respect your integrity.
Another thing I feel helps is my manner of dress, and the image I choose to display to the world. My hijab modest dress are reminders to oneself and others that you are a Muslim. This constant, visible reminder helps keep me in check. Through my dress, I become a representative of the religion, and while this doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to make mistakes, it can save me from myself in engaging with sinful behaviour. In addition to our dress, we should keep Allah in mind in the way we conduct ourselves. The way we talk, our conversation topics, and the people we mix with are all part of our Islam. If we conduct ourselves in a particular manner for the sake of Allah, it becomes an act of worship and a way of increasing imaan.
One practical way that helps me to be mindful of Allah is invoking Him in my everyday conversation. Simply saying “Insha’Allah”, “Masha’Allah”, or “Alhamdulillah” reminds me of Allah’s influence in every aspect of my life. When praising a friend or family member, make a dua such as “May Allah increase your success.” This is a great way to consistently utilise the gift of dua and to remind us that all power lies with Allah. Changing your speech to include Allah turns even the most mundane parts of quotidian conversation into an imaan-booster.
While it may seem that Islam is something we only truly connect with while in the mosque or on the prayer mat, this does not have to be the case. By shifting our frame of mind to keep Allah as the primary focus, we can make every aspect of life as a way of gaining the pleasure of our Lord and increasing our faith.
Abu al-‘Abbas ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas(ra) reports: “One day I was riding (a horse/camel) behind the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, when he said, ‘Young man, I will teach you some words. Be mindful of God, and He will take care of you. Be mindful of Him, and you shall find Him at your side. If you ask, ask of God. If you need help, seek it from God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together in order to help you, they would not be able to help you except if God had written so. And if the whole world were to gather together in order to harm you, they would not harm you except if God had written so. The pens have been lifted, and the pages are dry.’ Related by Tirmidhi
Zainab Dawood is a writer based in London. She studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Westminster and graduated with First Class Honours. She is passionate about improving herself and her local Muslim community. When she is not obsessing over a new creative pursuit or begging her mum to get a cat, she is training to get her black belt in Taekwondo. Follow her journey on Instagram @fromzainab