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This world has a way of pulling us in. We have a hard time being present with what is in front of us. Distractions are everywhere. Negativity finds its way into our lives. Fear is given to us as a pill to swallow as we watch the news every day. Information we don’t know what to do with takes space in our brain as we mindlessly scroll through our social media newsfeeds. A loss of hope in the good of the world seeps its way into our hearts as we witness so much human suffering within a minute of signing into our Facebook or Twitter accounts. Shortly afterwards, shock and horror creeps in as we try to process that it is other human beings who are causing the suffering. In addition to all that, we have our daily responsibilities and personal struggles that we have to attend to as well. All of what we absorb, deal with, and fulfill on a daily basis can take a toll on our mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It can leave us feeling scattered, confused, and not feeling grounded, productive, or at peace. It can especially have a negative effect when we are connected to what the world is telling us more than what God has told us.
God is the Source and Creator of all truth. If we analyze the core message of Islam, we will see that it is essentially an invitation to truth. God is inviting us to witness the truth about Him, our purpose, our existence, the ways of humanity, our nature, and our journey in this world and the next. He would never create us, put us in this world, and leave us to fend for ourselves. He wouldn’t leave us alone to try to make sense of this world with our limited human mind. He is there to guide us every step of the way. He has equipped us with a message that can help guide us through all our circumstances. Most importantly, He made it a message of not only guidance but hope as He says in the Qur’an:
“God made this a message of hope to reassure your hearts: help comes only from God, He is mighty and wise.” (8:10)
As human beings, we fall into the habit of forgetting we need God every step of the way. We get deluded to believe that we can process, interpret, and make sense of our external and internal world through ourselves. As a result, we fall short, and our fears, anxieties, and worries lead us to connecting to all the negativity around us or worse, it leads us right into the traps of Satan, whose very aim is to get us to lose direction, stability, or lose the most important tool of all, hope. It is very easy to allow our fears and worries to drive us towards believing what Satan promises us with over what God has promised us over and over again throughout the Qur’an. God is constantly calling us to positivity, hope, blessings and He warns us of Satan’s attempts to promise us with poverty:
“Ash-shaytan (The all-vicious, the Devil) promises you poverty and commands you to obscenity; and God promises you forgiveness from Him, and Grace; and God is Ever-Embracing Ever-Knowing.” (Qur’an 2:268)
Poverty is not just confined to a loss of wealth. Poverty is a state of loss in all areas of our lives. It is a state of inferiority, insufficiency, insecurity, and that can be on a mental, emotional, physical, social, or spiritual level. While God promises us of His mercy, help, and grace that fills our life with peace and hope, Satan knowing how powerful that is, will work hard to remind us of the illusion of poverty, all the negative scenarios that reflect how much we can lose if we decide to connect to God’s promises, feel hopeful, embrace positivity, and see the good in the world. This false promise of Satan leaves people feeling helpless, hopeless, unproductive in their lives, and not moving forward.
Our internal and external reality will only reflect that which we are more connected to. The more we connect to God’s words, His promises, His truths, and hold on more firmly to that over anything else, then the lens in which we view our world changes. It becomes a lens in which God holds, adjusts, and guides so that we can see reality and not illusion, so that our hearts are able to decipher between what is true and false. Every time we feed into negativity, fear, or worries, we are feeding into illusion, something that does not exist. We are feeding into Satan’s traps and promises.
“ He promises them and arouses vain covetings in them; and in no way does Ash-Shaytan (The all-vicious, i.e., the Devil) promise them (anything) except delusion.” (Qur’an 4:120)
When we begin to hold God’s words and teachings as priority, we become more disconnected from illusion and God lifts the veils between our hearts and reality, and we are more able to witness the essential truths about Him, our circumstances, ourselves, and the world we live in.
It starts by us having an actual relationship with the Qur’an. Until we know in our core that we need Him every step of the way, we will disconnect from the Qur’an and connect to everything else. We will constantly connect to what is false instead of what is true. Having a consistent and strong relationship with the Qur’an will reinforce what is real in our hearts and keep us focused on what is important in our lives. Everything that is not beneficial will take the backburner, and all that is essential will be within focus.
At the same time, we have to practice mindfulness and be aware of what we expose our mind and hearts to. We have to treat our senses as a trust (amanah) that we must take care of in front of God. Our senses are the portals through which we interact and receive information from the world. God has given us free will to utilize them as we choose. If we are constantly exposing our sight and hearing to hours of negative news a day, then that is what our mind will retain. Our mind was not equipped to absorb that much pain and human suffering at once, and we need our mind’s abilities to be more present with what is actually right in front of us and with what God has made a reality in our present moment.
Being mindful, taking care of our minds and hearts, and connecting constantly to His promises and His truths are the key steps for us to leading a life that is fulfilling and productive on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level. And we have no better example than Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who would wake up in the middle of the night to pray (tahajud) and make a supplication (dua) that would connect Him to all that is real and true. He would say:
“O God, to You belongs the praise. You are the Light of the heavens and the earth and what is therein. And to You belongs the praise. You are the truth and Your promise is true. And the meeting with You is true. And the paradise is true. And the Fire is true. And the prophets are true. And Muhammad is true. And the Hour is true. O God, to You have I submitted. And in You have I believed. And in You have I put my trust. And to You have I turned. And by You I argue. And to You do I turn for my decisions. Forgive me of my former and latter sins, and those done in private and those done in public. You are God, there is no God besides Thee.”