Islam is not about perfection. Allah is alone in His perfection. Islam—the submission to the will of Allah, obeying His commandments, and following the teachings of the prophet, peace be upon him—is about striving for perfection. It’s not a race; it’s a lifelong journey. And like many journeys, there are detours, false starts, breakdowns: it’s not always smooth sailing.
So what do you do when you falter on the path to Allah?
I’ve been a bit lax in sharing reminders lately. May Allah forgive me and guide me to better.
I had a couple of interactions with my Muslim brothers that gave me pause, brought me back to the realization that we are all sinners and in deep, unending need of Allah’s mercy. I should know that already: I’m among the worst. But I sometimes start thinking that I’m better than I really am, and when I realize just how far off I actually am, I feel some (wholly unnecessary) despair.
And then I looked at website stats, curious if the people who like things on Twitter and the effbook actually click through or not, and found some evidence that suggests no one actually reads these posts, that only 8 or 10 of them have had a single visitor. And I thought, “why bother?”
Well, we are truly all sinners. The brothers who replied to my As Salamu Aleikum with “Hello” and my Jazak Allhu Khair with “you’re welcome,” but shouted the greetings of peace to the South Asians that came into their shop after me (and received no reply from the South Asian brothers…), they’re sinners, sure, but I too a sinner and why should their sin effect my worship? My worship is between me and Allah; their worship is between them and Him. I need to keep giving the warmest greetings of peace to every Muslim I see, and it’s up to them whether or not they obey Allah’s commandments. As He says in surah an-Nisa:
وَإِذَا حُيِّيتُم بِتَحِيَّةٍ فَحَيُّوا بِأَحْسَنَ مِنْهَا أَوْ رُدُّوهَا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ حَسِيبًا
And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet [in return] with one better than it or [at least] return it [in a like manner]. Indeed, Allah is ever, over all things, an Accountant.
That’s between them and Allah, and has very little to do with me.
And as to these reminders, I write these for the sake of Allah alone, seeking to glorify Him, seeking His pleasure, and not for likes on the effbook or bumps in website stats. Who cares about any of that anyway? Will any of that matter in a month or a year or a week, even? Of course not. But InshaAllah it will count something for me on the Last Day.
So this week, just a couple of days ago, after reflecting on my slump, I recalled some of the recommended actions passed on to us by the Prophet, peace be upon him, like entering and leaving restrooms and other filthy places with your left foot. So I started trying to be more conscious of how I entered and left the restroom, and when I forgot, going back and trying again. After two days of practicing this small, easy Sunnah, reflecting on it, and thanking Allah for the guidance, I felt some small boost to my Iman, and here I am, back on the road.
So if you’re struggling a bit on your journey, try picking up one small Sunnah action, and trying to implement that in your life. It’s not about perfection; it’s about striving for perfection.
And for all of us, even the most perfect in practice those of us with the Sunnah on lock, remember Surah Ali-Imran, where Allah azza wa jall says
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اصْبِرُوا وَصَابِرُوا وَرَابِطُوا وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.
May Allah guide me to better and keep me steadfast, ameen.