6. Who to Start With?
Everything that I have mentioned so far has been in relation to oneself before anybody else. So start with yourself before the members of your family and look at what is lacking in you in order that you may start treating it.
So if there is a common deficiency amongst you and one of your companions or family members then join him with you in resolving this problem because the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, "Whoever from amongst you sees an evil he should change it with his hand and if he is not able to then with his tongue and if he is not able to, then (he should hate it) in his heart, and that is the weakest level of faith". (Ahmad, vol.3, p.20, 49, and 92; Muslim Engl. trans. vol.1, p.33, no.79, and others).
Likewise before you think about spending time amongst your companions either for the sake of knowledge, action or inviting to Allah, contemplate and think:
* How is your relationship with Allah swt?
* How is your humbleness in prayer?
* Read about that which will better your condition and that of your prayer, increase your humbleness in it and soften your heart.
* Are you one whose supplications are answered or do you notice most of your supplications not being answered?
* Look into your aqeedah and the level of your certainty and reliance upon Allah swt and observe closely your food and drink - are they from that which is halal or haram, or is there some doubt about their source?
* If the situation was on that requires enjoining the good and forbidding evil, what would you do? (1)
... all that to solve the reason why our supplications are not being answered.
Maybe you would benefit from reading hadiths pertaining to the punishment of the grave and that of its bliss, about the terror of the Resurrection, and the torment of the Hell Fire. You could well continue reading for days, weeks, or months, accompanying that with good actions and self struggle.
It is imperative that a person takes his soul to account and treats his deficiencies. Match yourself against the Qur'an and the Sunnah to know who you are, and look what you have set aside for Allah to know what Allah the Almighty and Majestic has prepared for you because of the saying of the Messenger of Allah (saw):
"WHOEVER WANTS TO KNOW WHAT ALLAH HAS PREPARED FOR HIM, THEN HE SHOULD LOOK TO WHAT HE HAS PREPARED FOR ALLAH". (Abu Nu'aym, in al-Hilyah and others. Silsilah as-Saheehah, no.2310)
*Are you prepared for the meeting with Allah swt?
* Have you fulfilled the rights of the creation, one to another? Or are you in a constant state of postponing and deferring?
* Have you converted your knowledge of repentance into crying and penitence?
* Have you turned whatever you have read about the loving for Allah, into real love for your Muslim brothers?
* Do you often visit them, and overlook their faults? Do you aid the needy amongst them, feel delight for their happiness and grieve for their sorrow?
* Do you taste the sweetness and delight of Faith?
If the answer is in the negative then go back to the hadith of the Prophet saw:
"There are three attributes whoever is characterised by them will relish the sweetness of faith: he to whom Allah and His Messenger are more beloved than anyone else; he who loves a person solely for the sake of Allah; and he who has as great an abhorrence of entering into disbelief after Allah has rescued him from it, as he has of being thrown into the Fire". (Ahmad, Musnad, al Bukhari, Engl. trans. vol.1, p.20, no.15); Muslim (Book of Iman, vol.1, p.30, no.67) and others).
* Is Allah and His Messenger (saw) more beloved to you than anybody else?
* Do you give precedence to the love of Allah over wealth, business, whims and desires?
* Test yourself when you hear the call to prayer, if you notice a desire to delay answering it in order to pursue your interests in trade (for example) then know that Shaytan has succeeded in gradually leading you astray and that your love for Allah swt is deficient. In this way it is upon you to consolidate yourself, giving precedence to that orders of Allah swt over any other wordly matter.
Then contemplate the second matter, may Allah have mercy upon you, "He who loves a person solely for the sake of Allah". Look into the reality of your love for people: What is the basis of your love? What is the basis of your hating and detesting? Why do you love a particular person more than another? Is it because he is from your people? Or for his wealth and status, or for some worldly interests? Or is it because of his compliance to the orders of Allah swt and his undertaking of righteous actions?
Maybe you are still facing difficulty for not having relished the sweetness of Faith. So where does the problem lie? It could be that the third matter has not materialised, that is the saying of the Messenger (saw) "..and he who has as great an abhorrence of entering into disbelief after Allah has rescued him from it, as he has of being thrown into the Fire".
*How is your abhorrence of entering into disbelief? Do you abhor it as you would abhor being thrown into the Hellfire?
* Do you live this abhorrence and this fear?
* It ought to be that you cultivate this feeling in you, so that your sincerity to Allah swt is cultivated and that you may hasten to purify your soul.
* Contemplate the hadith of Umm Salamah (ra) who said: "Most of the invocations of the Messenger of Allah (saw) used to be: "O Changer of the Hearts make my heart firm upon your religion." (Ahmad , Musnad, at-Tirmidhi and others).
* Reflect upon how Ibrahim (as) feared associating partners with Allah, so he used to supplicate: "And keep my and my sons from worshipping idols". (14:35)
* Dont forget the supplication of Yusuf (as) "Cause me to die as a Muslim and join me with the righteous" (12:101)
You should aid yourself through fear: living with the fear of eternal abode in the Hellfire and of never coming out of it, from everlasting hunger and continous thirst, with fear of crying blood continually, so much so that if a ship was to be sent into it, it would float.
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said "Verily the inhabitants of the Fire cry, so much so that if ships were sailed into their tears, they would float, and verily they would cry blood - meaning instead of tears." (al-Haakim, Ibn Maajah, Kitaab az-Zuhd, no. 4323, and others).
Dont rest and sit around while the sweetness of Faith is missing or is weakened. How many people set out on journeys for the prupose of treating their illnesses and how many of them spend out of their wealth to treat these illnesses? Do not the souls and the hearts have more priority in being treated, as their matter is one of total eternity?
Bring to mind the hadith -
"Every slave will be resurrected upon that which he died" (Muslim, and others from the hadith of Jabir (ra))
then expect death at any moment. It is better for you if you were to meet death whilst trying to improve your own coniditon than to die whilst striving to improve others', being held accountable at the same time for leaving off obligatory actions just like the lantern that burns itself out and gives light to others, as in the hadith,
"The example of the scholar who teaches the people good things but forgets himself is that of a lantern, it gives light to the people but burns itself out". (at-Tabarani, in al-Kabir, and ad-Diya'. See also Iqtid' ul 'Ilm il-'Amal no.70)
This is what Abu ad-Darda (ra) used to fear hence his saying, "Verily what I fear from my Lord on the Day of Resurrection is that He calls me at the head of all creation and says to me: "O Uwaymir," so I say "Here I am, My Lord, at Your service," so He says, "What did you act upon from the knowledge that you acquired?".
(1) This is in reference to the saying of the Messenger of Allah (saw) "By Him in Who's Hands is my soul, you will enjoin the good and prohibit the evil or (else) Allah will soon send upon you a punishment from Him, then you will call upon Him and He will not answer you". (Ahmed in his Musnad, at-Tirmidhi)