Overcoming Hardships Reflections

Our Personal Hells

 “Sins need to be eradicated through the internal fire of regret in this life or the fire of hell in the hereafter.” – Ibn Al-Qayyim


Photo: Pankaj Kaushal

Years ago I came across this quote. I still can’t get over how true it is.

Muslim youth living in all corners of the world face similar struggles in our day-to-day lives. We strive to survive while being surrounded by the societal (and often times, cultural and familial) promotion, acceptance, and idealization of things that contradict the tenants of our faith: pride, lust, greed, extramarital relationships, alcohol/drugs, misogyny – just to name a few.

We are also surrounded by social practices and traditions that can also be pretty un-Islamic: issues such as racism, forced marriages, the withholding of education for females, and tribalism unfortunately exist on grand scales in Muslim societies all over the world.

As Muslim youth, most of us living in the diaspora, we have much to deal with. We struggle to maintain our Muslim identities while at the same time balancing our racial, national, and individual identities as well.

Sometimes it seems that everywhere we look, we are being called to sin. And inevitably, we answer that call.

We fall so many times only to fall again. We try so very hard to create our own, personal spiritual bubbles where Islam is the driving force in our lives, only to have it burst by things like temptation, other Muslims’ biases and discrimination, our own families making it hard for us, stress, our school lives, etc.

And slowly, as our hearts erode, a peculiar type of anxiety eats away at our souls and comes with a little voice in our heads. The voice tells us time and time again that what we are doing is haram (impermissible) or sinful, but we ignore it as we seek to numb the pain—a pain that has surfaced as a result of never being good enough. Never being “Muslim” enough, or “religious” enough, or “Western” enough.

How do we turn our faces from sin when it is everywhere? When it is adulated, respected, and upheld by our very own societies as a noble thing? We become confused – the bad becomes good. We go against our natural instincts. Eventually we become submerged in our own little hells, metaphorical places where internal suffering, sadness, disappointment, and self-loathing manifest. The “internal fire of regret”, as Ibn Al-Qayyim radi allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him) puts it.

This quote teaches me that through one way or another, we will be purified of our sins. It’s up to us whether or not we seek purification in this life (through repentance) or we wait until the next (through the Fire).

I know. We’ve fallen so many times. We’re hurt, sore, and bruised. We are ashamed of our actions, and may even deem ourselves unworthy of seeking repentance. But something must quell that fire in our hearts. Something must quench our desires to be loved and accepted by the One whose love and acceptance is truly the only one that matters at the end of the day.

Say it – Astaghfirullah (I seek forgiveness from God).

I know; it hurts. But it certainly cannot hurt more than what is to come if we let our sins remain in our hearts, our minds, our spirits.

We are more than the sins that we commit. Don’t let the devil fool you. Don’t let those people who are a negative influence in your lives or those who sin openly and proudly fool you either.

We may fall a thousand times, but as long as we try to get back up, there is always hope.

And Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) knows best.


About the author


Ubah was born and raised in Western Canada. She received her BSc in Psychology and is currently training as a psychotherapist through a Masters program focused on spiritually-integrated psychotherapy. In her spare time, she engages with her community through running an all-girl’s program focussed on Muslim Canadian identity and broader community involvement. She is passionate about seeking the links between human behavior, psyche, spirituality and Islamic traditions, and the quest for self-actualization and truth. A comprehensive body of her written articles, poetry, and essays can be found on her website, www.seekingtobetter.com.


    • What exactly can people do to help you out of your loneliness? How does people living their own lives make them selfish?

    • best thing: find solace in God. stop looking for it in others.there’s a reason He is preventing that – because He wants you to find yourself in a place where you actually long to be with Him, enjoy doing dhikr (He says: I am the Company of he who remembers me); meditation; hearing His Words by reciting His Book…..it’s honestly way better friendship than you could ever have wiht a human.

    • Call upon Allah and HE will surely help you.
      All people are gonna die and what will be left behind is Allah, you and your deeds.

  • This is perfect article for me to read right now. I go through these type of feelings, thoughts, emotions, every single day of my life. At one point, I feel so frustrated with myself and then another time, I have high hopes to do better. The one thing which makes me very upset is when I try to be optimistic & positive, then someone or the other within my immediate family or friends circle will make one statement which crushes my willpower. I get so angry at myself and self-doubt about having a very low imaan. I can’t even express my feelings when I have these complicated thoughts and questions constantly revolving in my head. I try very hard to fight Shaytan, but it is extremely difficult with so many temptations around me. May Allah (swt) accept our repentance and forgive us as he is the most Forgiving and the most Merciful.

  • SubhanAllah, never has an article spoken to me as this one has.
    Great job! May Allah swt guide us all and strengthen us.

  • Honestly speaking, this was n article that literally made me say astaghfirullah and mean it. Some sins weigh heavy on a person and even though you know allah swt has forgiven you at some point or will do inshAllah, somehow that sin does make you feel guilty. as to why did we do that certain act and not stop when we could have?
    jazakallah khair and may Allah SWT ease your difficulties ameen.

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