Dawah (Outreach) Du`a' (Supplication) Overcoming Hardships

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattcarman/1573507091

Photo: Matt Carman

Originally posted in 2007.

What do you think of when you see a Muslim doing something considered wrong?

Ever look down on them? Think you are better than them? It’s really easy to be self-righteous. It’s even easier to fall prey to this attitude if you sport the outer ‘righteous’ look.

But let’s ask ourselves this question: has Allah written us amongst His righteous servants? Or is that a title we have only given ourselves?

Check this:

I was once sitting at the da`wah (outreach) table on my college campus and a female student approached it. She asked if she could have a Qur’an, and of course, I was happy to give one to her. Then she said, “Can I ask you a question?”  The question sounded kind of deep, so I invited her to sit next to me on the empty chair. She took up the offer.

“Please don’t judge me,” she began. SubhanAllah (glory be to God)! The courage it must have taken for her to come and speak to me, for her to begin with that statement.

After reassuring her, how could I judge her? She began—

She told me that she was Muslim and she became involved in a relationship for the first time in her life with a Muslim guy. Her intention was for long term, but she felt so terrible doing it. She told me when she is with her boyfriend, she feels horrible, even though she thinks she is supposed to feel good. She told me that she knows that this is such a big sin, that she wants to stop, but that it is just so, so hard. And she asked me: Can Allah forgive me?

While this girl was speaking, I was looking at her thinking: look at the struggle she is going through for the sake of God. She hates what she is doing because she knows it’s something He would not be pleased with, she wants so much for God to forgive her, but it is so hard for her to leave what she knows she shouldn’t do.

Her desire to repent became so intense that she came to me, a girl she has never even seen before, who could easily judge her, and poured out her heart. She was so desperate in her wanting to know: Could Allah forgive her? Could He really forgive such a sin?

I told her—man, God is THE MOST MERCIFUL! He will forgive ANYTHING when you turn to Him! I kept telling her about God’s Mercy, about how He is so, so happy to accept the repentance of His creation.

We kept talking about how God must be pleased with her internal struggle because she clearly wants to gain His pleasure despite her difficulty. We looked at the Holy Hadith, where God talks about us and says:

“O child of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O child of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O child of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.” (Ahmad)

She was overwhelmed with emotion. I then shared with her a supplication that, if said with firm belief in the morning or evening, and if death happens on that day or night, the person who said it would be amongst the people of Paradise.

The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon us) taught us the chief supplication (sayyidul istighfaar) of asking for forgiveness as follows:

اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لا إِلَهَ إِلا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لا يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلا أَنْتَ

Allahumma anta rabbi, la ilaha illa anta, khalaqtani wa ana abduka [if you’re a male]/amatuk [if you’re a female], wa ana ‘ala `ahdika wa wa`dika mastata`tu. A`udhu bika min sharri ma sana`tu, abu’u laka bini`matika ‘alaiya, wa abu’u laka bidhanbi, faghfirli, fainnahu la yaghfiru adhdhunuba illa ant.

O Allah! You are my Lord! None has the right to be worshipped but You. You created me and I am Your slave, and I am faithful to my covenant and my promise as much as I can. I seek refuge with You from all the evil I have done. I acknowledge before You all the blessings You have bestowed upon me, and I confess to You all my sins. So I entreat You to forgive my sins, for nobody can forgive sins except You. (Bukhari)

And of course, the most intimate way of feeling close to Allah is to come to Him, from the depths of one’s heart, in the language easiest for oneself, with the words coming from one’s own soul, asking for His forgiveness.

Reflect

I want you to go back to your original answer when I first posed the question. What would you be thinking of someone you see doing something you feel is wrong?

Yes, in that moment, that person might be outwardly sinning if that is what they are doing, but perhaps internally they are struggling and fighting every time they commit the sin, and are continually seeking to turn back to God. Perhaps in some people’s eyes, this person is a ‘sinner’ (and who amongst us is not?). But perhaps in the Sight of Allah, they are more beloved to Him because of their sincere struggle, than those of us who can easily fall into feeling arrogant about our Islamic activism, our Islamic appearance, or our ‘hard-core’ connection with Rabb il`alameen  (the Lord of the Worlds). We need to be careful. Are we really connected? Am I really connected?

And don’t get me wrong: the struggle of those who are trying to stay upright and please God Almighty is a weighty, honorable and noble one.

But for those of us who might have ‘been there’ and left it, and then feel arrogant that we’re no longer involved in the “ways of the sinners,” and perhaps even might feel better than others because we’re so pure and special, then my advice to myself is what Omar  radi allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him) advised, “Take account of yourselves before you are audited.”

Or in the words of Ice Cube, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

About the author

Maryam Amirebrahimi

Maryam Amirebrahimi

Maryam Amirebrahimi received her master’s in Education from UCLA, where her research focused on the effects of mentorship rooted in Critical Race Theory for urban high school students of color. She holds a bachelor’s in Child and Adolescent Development from San Jose State University, where she served as the President of the Muslim Student Association for two consecutive years. Currently, she is pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies through Al Azhar University’s distance learning program. Maryam spent a year studying the Arabic language and Qur’an in Cairo, Egypt, and has memorized the Qur’an. She has been presented the Student of the Year award by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and holds a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Maryam frequently travels to work with different communities to address a variety of social issues and writes about topics related to social realities, women’s studies and spiritual connections on www.virtualmosque.com.

16 Comments

    • Indeed Allah Is The Most Merciful and The Most Just, and there is no conflict in that.
      The issue at hand however, is how to deal with another slave of Allah, regardless of ‘how’ much sinful or messed up they are…how do we address people who have committed zulm, transgression against their own self?
      The situation is sensitive and Allah ta’ala has not advised us to let the person despair of His Rahmah and give up hope of returning back to Him. Rather, we should convey the hope and Allah’s readiness to accept the tawbah of His slave and let them start afresh…one can learn this from the advice to RasulAllah (saws) as in the ayah 39:53 .

      what you said is a good reminder brother, and I hope I can remember this and try to balance hope and fear! ameen.

      The only point I am trying to make here is that when a person confesses his sin and feels hopeless out of regret, we shouldm;t discourage them and reassure them of the Mercy of Allah.

      May Allah ta’ala protect us and help us to fulfill our huquq justly, ameen.

      indeed all flaws and mistakes are my own and from the shayateen,

      and what khayr, goodness can there ever be, except from Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala?

      Regards
      Wassalam alaykum!

      • That comment i made has been edited by the moderators. That was the last sentence of my paragraph Which was deleted, so the point i was making may not have come across fully.
        I agree with what you say sister and peoples hope should only ever be with Allah, who else.

  • I LOVE YOU SISTER MARYAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MAY ALLAH HONOR YOU IN THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT, AND MAY HE GIVE YOU MORE THAN WHAT I CAN EVER ASK FOR MYSELF. MAY HE ALLOW YOU TO PASS SIRAT IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE. MAY HE GIVE YOU A HOUSE NEXT TO ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER. MAY HE EASE ALL OF YOUR MATTERS, MAY HE LOVE YOU ALWAYS, AND MAY HE GRANT YOU BLESSINGS UPON BLESSINGS UPON BLESSINGS. PLEASE KEEP WRITING! MAY ALLAH BLESS YOU! AMEEN YA RABB!

  • I am trying to change into a better person, a better muslim insyaAllah. But the thing is i feel extremely ashamed of myself because of my past,especially so whenever i see the person who reminded me of my sins. And the thing is i still have to see the person daily at work and constantly being reminded of all the sins we did in the past. How do i move on from here? Sometimes, i really feel like quitting my job…

    • Long term its better to be in a different surrounding and everything is new. Nobody knows you and you can approach your life towards the direction you want to take it to. May Allah make it easy for you

  • Here in Malaysia I have just witnessed mass judging. All that happened was that someone organised an event that invited people to touch a dog (healthy and clean and presumably friendly) and then learn how to do ritual purification. Now Malaysia is of the Shafie school, which holds that dogs are unclean to touch. But the vitriol that came after from all kinds of vigilante religious police and cyberwarriors, was incredible. They went so far as to say it was a sign of the end of days and that those Muslims who participated were lost.

    Now of course the Maliki school holds a completely different view on dogs, which grieved me greatly to see so much self-righteous vehemence that would certainly offend our fellow Sunni of the Maliki school since it was tantamount to saying that a perfectly acceptable thing in the Maliki school is so terrible that it was a sign of qiyamah.

    I mention this because a brother above commented on Allah’s laws. And maybe where he is, this is the more pressing concern. But in other places, the judgmental attitude of some people is such that even for allowed things (not even sins, or at worst, a minor sin) they feel confident to loudly judge without knowledge, to be the gravest of sins and indicative of weakness of faith. This recurs at least once a year, and a severe strain on inter-mazhab and inter-racial/religious relations.

    A negative side effect is that, just like the boy who cried wolf, when they should want to speak against real sin, real negative social trend, the youth and young professionals will no longer take the warning seriously because they have shown themselves to be lacking in intelligence, knowledge, and humility, and thus untrustworthy in judgement. It worries me, but I don’t know what I can do about it except watch myself and look for my own family.

  • Alhamdulillah for making me sight an interesting and opinion leading article on line today….I’ve been involved in a particular sin for years now.Though it’s not what I like to see myself doing but each time I try to fight my heart upon it, I end up loosing my heart to my former state….there are times when I stop and assess myself,Subhanallah!,I realise this is the biggest of my sins despite its minority…I pray Allah grants me that mind to migrate from my current state of being to the Islamal high one,if not the highest….. SISTER MARYAM,MAY ALLAH REWARD YOU IN THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT.SO KEEP WRITING……I am saying: JAZAAKILLAH KHAIR.

  • Assalamu alaikum brothers and sisters.
    I am a new convert from Rome,Italy. Ashahadu anna la ilahaha illa Allah wa ashadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu was rasuluhu.
    I write here because I am desperate for help and I don’t have any muslim friends. Only Christians. Every time I pray, read Islam books or make dua I feel a terrible migraine and my heart races. I am starting to have anxiety attacks. When I go back to dunia I suddenly feel good and serene. I think it’s a test from our beloved Allah but I am struggling since days and it’s only getting worse. Please pray for me, I need your duas. I am about to give up and go back to dunia because I am ruining my days and I feel so bad. I am not crazy but I understand it might seem so. I only would like to live my religion with serenity and smile like it was the first days. Massalama to everyone.

    • Salam aleykum, MashAllah sister. I wish I could help you I just came back from Rome. feel free to email me whenever you like theresaalvarez@hotmail.com.It is a test, I felt like that too, I have been a revert for about 13 years now, I still struggle to fit in but the anxiety when you are praying and reading will shift. I found whenever I felt like I had to defend myself to family and explain myself all the time, or I would see things in the papers it would make me more anxious and feel negative, I would feel like I was bad like they were saying and I’d have to defend it. I try to avoid reading news and I don’t feel I have to explain myself to others.I still have anxiety in other situations, but remember don’t be afraid of the people, cry when you need to talk to Allah S.W.T he is near to you, especially when you are in sujood .It is nice to have muslim friends (to be honest, you could feel isolated with them too, if you come from a different culture) but this is where you gain strong faith,because you learning to rely on Allah alone, stay strong you can get through it.Have you been to the moschea di roma?Please know you always have a community in some way even if we can’t be together in person. Aleykum salam sister Angela

    • Wa’alaikum salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh, sister.
      Welcome to Islam, and may Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala guide and protect you, give you a taste of the sweetness of Iman, and help you guard and protect said treasure and honor.
      My advice is that you please not despair, and that you keep struggling and turn to Allah for guidance. Islam is the right path, and struggling towards good does not generally come easy. In shaa Allah it will be worth it. I advice that you try and develop a strong relationship with the Qur’an, and make lots and lots of du’aa to Allah for assistance in any language you understand. Put your emotions into the du’aas and imagine that you are right in front of Allah (s.w.t) talking to Him. Try and listen to lectures and tafseer of Qur’an that could assist in strengthening your beliefs in Allah and Islam. I recommend subscribing to Bayyinah Tv online, and watching the entire Qur’an for Young Adults series (I am not paid to promote this, but I have personally benefitted immensely from it. Alhamdulillah). It is a very educative and motivational series. If you want to but may not be able to afford the monthly subscriptions (it is $11/mo), please respond to this and we can communicate through email to see how I could find someone to help, in shaa Allah. The TV has Very good Islamic lectures, tasseled of the entire Qur’an, etc. It is a great resource, maa shaa Allah.
      Also, if you can download the Muslim Pro app ( if you don’t already have it), there are great du’aa on it that should be helpful in shaa Allah. If you go on to the morning/evening supplications, there is one about seeking protection from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and inability/laziness, cowardice and miserliness, the burden of debt, etc. “Allahumma innee a’udhu bika minal hammi wal hazani, wal ‘ajzi wal kasali, wal buhli wal jubni, wa dala’i d-daini wa ‘alabati-rrijaal.” You should be able to find this and many other good supplications in shaa Allah.
      I pray that Allah guides and protects you, and that He assists you on His path. Aameen. Please reach out if you need help to join Bayyinah TV.

    • SalamuAlaikum Angela.
      There will be a time that you would realise that the “seemingly negative” feelings that you describe were actually very pleasant ones. InshaAllah..
      If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.

      Have you not heard the most famous love stories, romeo and Juliet, Joseph and Zuleika etc… They are all stories of lovers struggling for their love. If you love Allah you will struggle, you will lose (dunya) worthless worldly little and short lived fuss and buzz ie of night club and pub life. Where it is all physical and nothing spiritual.
      You win your Love (Allah) when your heart feel completely content, assured and satisfied with whatever the pain, struggle and loss you go thro for Allah and The Way of Life He has prescribed for you.
      I mean the pain and struggle you naturally feel and those caused by others because of your faith. No self harm 😉 please.

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