I became very Deeni-inclined about a year ago. I stopped most of the haraam practices I’d been used to and focused on meeting Allah Ta‘ala with as many virtues as possible. This last year, I mostly felt happy and motivated and content doing what I was created for, but I do get these occasional bouts of depression which I think is mainly due to the reason that I tend to compare myself with the salaf (pious predecessors) a bit too often.
I can’t help thinking about it, but I feel like my existence is so meaningless when compared with theirs. My virtues are so non-existent compared to theirs, and even if I try my very best, I can’t even begin to be like them or do what they did. This becomes rather hard to bear since the Aakhirah is my main concern right now (even then, I’m by no means a good Muslimah, and I just keep discovering how horrible I am), so I sometimes think I’ll lose in both worlds.
This really causes me a great deal of anguish since I’m a rather competitive sort of person, and you can’t really ‘compete’ with such amazing people. Though this mood might pass, it always comes back and disrupts my life.
The second reason I get into this state is when I’ve been avoiding sins most assiduously, and then suddenly, I commit a serious sin out of nowhere. I really can’t see how it happens! For example, I’ve been really trying to respect my parents and avoid displeasing them, and then suddenly, I lost my temper with my father and actually raised my voice at him. I still can’t believe I did that, knowing all about the importance of kindness to the parents as I did. When that sort of thing happens, I lose all interest in life and being a better Muslimah. I get into this very dangerous state where I blame Allah Ta‘ala for letting that happen and I hate every millimeter of myself.
It only gets worse when I remember all the pious people of the past and how near-perfect they were, while I am still here struggling with the basics. It makes me feel very bitter and hate the world in general. Alhamdulillah, I’ve so far always gotten myself together and made amends, but it usually takes some time. Please advise me regarding these two problems, as I’ve been bothered by them for quite some time.
Also, please inform me of a method through which I can get rid of riyaa (I mean the kind where you leave ‘ibaadah because of others). Unfortunately, I’m always so conscious of people’s criticism, and I only sometimes succeed in pushing aside these useless concerns.
Wa ‘alaikumus salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh
Respected Sister in Islam
1. May Allah Ta‘ala accept your efforts to get closer to Him and fulfil all your pious aspirations.
2. While one should take inspiration from the incidents of the salaf (pious predecessors), do not try to compete with them. Do your best and insha-Allah you will be rewarded for your efforts.
3. The goal is to become a wali (friend) of Allah Ta‘ala. A muttaqi is a wali. The one who fulfils the obligations of Deen (also the waajib and does not neglect the sunnat-e-muakkadah) and refrains from the disobedience of Allah Ta‘ala is a muttaqi, and therefore a wali of Allah Ta‘ala. Thereafter, the more one progresses in fulfilling the sunnats and nawaafil and is constant in the remembrance of Allah Ta‘ala, the more one will progress in wilaayat (the friendship of Allah Ta‘ala). If a muttaqi slips but immediately makes sincere taubah and makes amends, he is still a muttaqi and remains on wilaayat.
4. There is a narration in Sunan Tirmizi (#2267) which declares that if those who will come in the latter times will do even one tenth, they will gain salvation. This refers to one tenth of the additional aa’maal or one tenth of the sacrifices that others did previously (i.e. there is no compromise on the obligatory aspects). Therefore, do as much extra ‘ibaadat as you can comfortably manage. Be grateful to Allah Ta‘ala for His bounties and fulfil your daily responsibilities. Insha-Allah you will gain great acceptance.
5. After trying your best, if you slip, immediately make taubah with much remorse. Then move on and do not dwell on the past. Do make amends by offering some rakaats of nafl, making much istighfaar and giving some sadaqah.
6. While a wrong is wrong, sometimes a person ends up making taubah in such a humble manner and makes amends in such a wonderful way that he reaches a far higher rank in the court of Allah Ta‘ala and becomes much closer to Him due to his taubah etc. than what he was prior to committing the mistake. This does not mean that one should be negligent and not be concerned in committing sin. However, it is a point of consolation for those who occasionally slip up.
7. In an instance such as the one you described, where you lost your temper with your father, you should then make amends by making his khidmat (serving him) to such an extent and in such a good manner that he becomes happy. This is sufficient.
8. As long as one makes sincere taubah and makes amends as described, one will continue progressing. Every ‘failure’ will then become a stepping stone to success. There is no despondency in this path. Despondency is from Shaitaan. Allah Ta‘ala has declared: “Say O My servants who have transgressed their souls, do not become despondent in the Mercy of Allah. Verily Allah forgives all sins. Verily He is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Zumar v53) After pondering over this aayat, how can there be any despondency? Continue with trying to live with taqwa, and if you falter, immediately make taubah. Insha-Allah, with the grace of Allah Ta‘ala, you will keep progressing and will leave this world on wilaayat.
9. Do not do anything for the sake of people nor leave out some good due to people. The thoughts of riyaa at that time are often only waswasah (whispers) of Shaitaan. Ignore the whispers of Shaitaan, refresh your intention that you must do the action solely for Allah Ta‘ala and then continue with it. Keep reminding yourself that Allah Ta‘ala is watching and He knows the thoughts of your heart. Also, daily recite the following du‘aa, thrice morning and evening, and also before any ‘amal:
اَللّٰهُمَّ إِنِّيْ أَعُوْذُ بِكَ أَنْ أُشْرِكَ بِكَ شَيْئًا وَأَنَا أَعْلَمُ ، وَأَسْتَغْفِرُكَ لِمَا لَا أَعْلَمُ
May Allah Ta‘ala assist you.
Uswatul Muslimah Panel of ‘Ulama