This is Awakening

This is Awakening

By: Yasmin Mogahed

 

It’s hard to describe the feeling. Imagine living your entire life in a cave and believing it was your whole world. Then suddenly you step outside. For the first time in your life, you see the sky.  You see the trees and the birds and the sun. For the first time in your life, you realize that the world you once knew was false. For the first time, you discover a Truer, more beautiful Reality. Imagine the high of that realization. For a moment, you feel you can do anything. Suddenly, nothing from your previous life in the cave matters. You become empowered, fully awake, fully alive, fully aware for the very first time. It is an unexplainable feeling. This is the spiritual high that comes with newly discovered Truth.

This is Awakening.

A convert to Islam knows this feeling. A born Muslim who comes back to the deen knows this feeling. Any human being who lives their life away from God, and returns, knows this feeling. This state is what Ibn ul Qayyim (RA) calls ‘yaqatha’ (awakening) in his book ‘Madarij Al Salikeen’ (Stations on the Path to God). He describes this state as the first station on the path to Allah. This is the state sometimes referred to as the “convert zeal”. When a person first converts or starts coming back to Allah they are often full of motivation and energy that others do not have. The reason for this energy is the spiritual high, characteristic of this state.

Characteristics of the Station of Awakening

Allah makes worship easier:

While in this state, worship becomes much easier. A person is so driven and motivated that they may easily sacrifice everything for the sake of the new reality they have discovered. This zeal can take a person from 0 to 60 in no time. It’s like being on spiritual steroids. The strength you have is not from your own self, but from an aid that was given to you. In this case the aid is given by God. Some may advise not changing too much, too fast. I don’t think fast change is the problem. I think arrogance is. I think hopelessness is. If Allah gives you a gift whereby you are able to do more, use it. But thank Him—not yourself, for that ability. And know that the heightened state is temporary. You may go from 0 to 60 in a very short time due to it, but when the high passes, don’t lose hope and let yourself slip back to 0.

Temporary:

Like every state in this life, this state is temporary. Life is never linear. And neither is the path to God. Not realizing this can cause despair and hopelessness once it passes.

 

Pitfalls of This State

The 2 pitfalls associated with this state correspond to not understanding the characteristics of the state listed above. These pitfalls are also the 2 causes of stagnation on the path to God: arrogance/complacency and hopelessness. The arrogant person already feels they are good enough, so they stop striving. The hopeless person believes that they will never be good enough, so they stop striving. Two opposite maladies, leading to the same result: To stop moving on the path to God.

Arrogance: The first pitfall corresponds to not understanding that the increased ability to worship came from God and is a characteristic of the state—not the individual! The one who doesn’t understand this wrongfully attributes the heightened ability to worship to one’s own righteousness. This false attribution is very dangerous because it leads to arrogance and self-righteousness. Rather than realizing this heightened ‘religious state’ is a gift from God, the worshiper feels a sense of hidden pride and may look down on others who don’t share similar zeal.

Despair and Hopelessness: This pitfall corresponds to not understanding that like all states in life, the spiritual high is temporary. This does not mean you have failed or done something wrong! Most people know what it feels like after the Ramadan high has passed. The instability of the ‘high’ is a characteristic of life. And that lesson is one even Abu Bakr (RA) had to learn. One day Abu Bakr (RA) and Hanzala (RA) came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said: ‘Hanzala is a hypocrite, Messenger of Allah!’ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Why is that?’ I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, when we are with you, you remind us of the Garden and Fire and it is as if we could see them with our eyes. When we leave your presence, we attend to our wives, children and estates in a state of great heedlessness.’ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘By the One in whose hand my soul is, if you were to remain in the state you are in when you are in my presence and in the dhikr (remembrance), the angels would shake hands with you on your bed and in the street, but, Hanzala, different times are not the same.’ three times.” [Muslim]

 

After the Spiritual High Has Passed

The most important part of this journey is never giving up! Know that you don’t feel the same zeal, not because you have failed at something. The dip that follows the high is a natural part of the path! Just as the Prophet (pbuh) explained to Abu Bakr (RA), these ups and downs are part of the path. And had we always remained in the high, we wouldn’t be human. We’d be angels! The determining aspect for success is not so much what we do when we’re up. The question is what we do when were down—when we’re not feeling it. The key to succeeding on this path is that once you do reach your ‘low’, you keep going, knowing that it’s normal.

Shaytan’s Traps

Remember Shaytan will get at you in different ways depending you your state.

When You’re High:

When you’re high, he’ll try to get you by making you arrogant. He’ll try to get you by making you look down on others. He’ll try to get you eventually by being so pleased with yourself that you don’t think you need to keep striving because you are already so great (and better than others around you). He will consistently make you look at those who appear to do less than you to justify your own shortcomings. For example, if you don’t wear hijab, he’ll make you think, “There are hijabis that do x, y, z bad things! At least I don’t do those things! I do x, y, z good things that hijabis don’t do!” Or if you slacken in prayer, you may think, “At least I’m not clubbing or drinking like so and so.” Remember, Allah isn’t grading on a curve. It makes no difference what others are doing. We all stand alone on the Day of Judgment. And this is just a tool of Shaytan to make us stop striving.

When You’re Low:

But when you’re low, shaytan will try to get at you differently; he’ll try to get you by making you hopeless. He’ll try to make you believe that you’re worthless and that there’s no point in trying. He’ll try to make you believe you are a failure and no matter what you do, you’ll never get back to where you once were! Or he may try to make you believe that you’re too ‘bad’ for Allah to forgive you. As a result, you may let yourself fall further. You may have been up once, and then felt so bad about yourself because you started to slacken in your worship. And maybe because of your previous self-righteousness you didn’t give people permission to make mistakes or be weak. This ends up becoming self-destructive because it further translates to not giving yourself ‘permission’ to make mistakes and be weak.

Since you believe you don’t have permission to be human and fallible, when you do make a mistake, you are so hard on yourself that you lose hope. So you let yourself go. You may end up committing more sins, which only makes your hopelessness worse! And it becomes a self-perpetuating vicious cycle. Shaytan will also try to make you believe that you shouldn’t try to repent or pray because you’d be a hypocrite since you are such a ‘bad’ person. He wants you to despair in the mercy of Allah. That’s what he wants! These are all lies, of course. But he’s good at what he does, after all. When you have sinned, that’s when you need to turn to Allah even more—not less!

To protect yourself from this downward spiral, remember that the lows are part of the path. Remember that ‘futoor’ (the dip) is part of being human. Once you realize that this does not mean you failed or that you are a hypocrite (like Abu Bakr (RA) thought), you can keep from giving up once you get there. The key is to develop certain habits which become your ‘bare minimum’. That means no matter how you feel, how unmotivated, how low, you still do these things at the very least. You realize that when you’re at your low, it’s going to be harder, but you struggle to keep doing them. For example, the bare minimum is the 5 daily prayers at their appointed times. This should *never* be compromised no matter *how much* you’re ‘not feeling it’. They should be considered like breathing air. Imagine what would happen if every time you were exhausted or in a bad mood you decided not to breathe!

It is preferred to have other rituals that are part of the ‘bare minimum’. For example, stick to certain extra prayers and athkar or daily Quran—even if it’s little. Remember that Allah loves a small *consistent* action more than a huge inconsistent one. If you hold onto certain essentials during your ‘low’, you will ride the wave of iman and come back up, insha Allah. And, God willing, when you do go back up, you’ll be at a higher place than your last ‘high’.

Know that the path to Allah is not a flat one. Your iman (faith) will go up and down. Your ability to worship will go up and down. But, know that for every dip, there is also a rise. Just stay patient, stay consistent, don’t lose hope and seek help in Allah. The path is hard. The path will have bumps and drops. But, like all things in this life, this path will come to an end. And that end will make it all worth it!

Allah says:

84:6

‘Oh mankind, indeed you are ever toiling towards your lord, painfully toiling…But you shall meet Him’ (84:6)

 

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  • guest

    Jazakallah

  • Fathima

    Beautiful reminder..Jazakallah khair :)

  • S.Bashir

    Jazakallah khairan kaseeran for this beautiful article. You have beautifully described the whole situation. May Allah bless you in this world and in the life hereafter.
    This article was much needed, as most of us when feel these situations they are not able to understand them. During the spiritual high phase, one feels that as he is running towards Allah with so purity and sincerity. But when this state is over, things appear to be different. He may become hopeless and fell into the situations as you have described and leave to strive. During this low state every one of us should remember that we have to ask Allah for help and guidance and continue to struggle. Even if are not able to run towards Allah (as we were in high state), continue walking. if unable to walk then crawl. if unable to crawl, continue creeping towards Allah but don’t give up struggle and lose hope. One more thing while struggling and giving up bad habits, most of us do complaint that they don’t feel change. So either they give up struggle or lose hope. During that state, we should remember that change in most of cases is subtle and becomes obvious after a few time. We know that our children when in growing age are being increasing in height daily but we don’t feel their growth, it’s after a few months that change in height becomes obvious. So we should remain patient. To strive and have hope are key to success of our journey. And this is not a matter of a few moments, months or years but for whole life till we achieve our ultimate goal, Allah.

  • Asiya_92

    thank you yasmin for a beautiful article that describes it well…the journey back, ive lost several times, but this time im gonna stand tall and write down a few small thingscto find consistency in doing everyday..thats going to be a part of my me time for sure.

  • Nadia

    SubhaanAllah,Verily this is Awakening, indeed! May Allah Swt keep us eternally on His Path, Ameen, ya Rabbul Aalameen! JazaakAllahukhair!

  • Moyhariri

    mashaAllah, i needed to know this :) Alhamdulilah

  • Precious

    mashaAllah sister . . beautifully described .sister i have mailed on education issue and m waitng for ur reply .please do concern . jazakAllah

  • Sf_elomari

    salams…

    when i feel ‘low’, i look towards extremely religious scholars and sheikhs and think ‘i wish i could be like them, they never look like they feel this ‘low’ feeling”…i get irritated at myself and the way i feel and just like ur saying, the shaytan comes to me and makes me feel hopless. Alhamdullilah this article really put things into perpective and made me realise that im not alone (yay) in always feeling differently…now i know that i need to keep going…i need to feel ‘high’; but at the same time avoid arrogance inshallah…may Allah guide us all to the right path. Ameen

  • girl91

    aua,
    omg I miss that high…
    but now I understand my low.

    I have been so hopeless….
    You know, your writing never cease to amaze me sister.

  • Salwa Ahmed

    The Prophet SAW used to always say يا مقلب القلوب ثبت قلبي على دينك – which roughly translates to “Oh Changer of the hearts, make my heart firm upon your religion”. Sometimes when I feel low and I make this Dua it wakes me up, and reminds me of the Jihad-un-nafs that we have to engage in everyday.
    May Allah, Al-Raoof [The Most Compassionate] make this journey of life easy upon us and the muslimeen. & insha’Allah may Allah return to us our dignity of unity as Muslims. I pray that we all meet in Jannah and I love you all for the sake of Allah, Al wadud [The Most Loving]

  • Maha

    May Allah bless you .. I was really in a bad need for some precious words like these .. Jazaky Allah kol khair ..

  • Sp

    This made me tear up a little… I really needed to hear this right now. Jazakillahu Khayr, Yasmin. You and your family are in my duaas.

  • http://twitter.com/Rosamwert Rosa

    Could you please refer to the source when you quote a hadith?
    From which hadith is this one: “Just as the Prophet (pbuh) explained to Abu Bakr (RA), these ups and downs are part of the path.” ?

    JazakAllah

    • Anonymous

      Dear Rosa, the hadith of Abu Bakr is referenced in the paragraph above titled: “Despair and Hopelessness”

  • guest

    An amazing topic for an article. This shook me to the very core. The best thing about your articles is they feel like you’ve entered inside the readers heart and spoken for it. Jazaki Allah kheir katheeeeer Yasmin, you do our religion proud :)

  • Sarah

    Asalamu Aleikum Yasmin,

    Well written article marshallah….just wanted to ask you a question..isn’t the low from high usually due to the sins we make and also is the process accelerated due to this?

    Your response will be much appreciated.

  • Mariam

    I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear this. Your words have touched the depths of my soul and for that I am grateful to Allah for guiding me to your page. May Allah grant you Jannah Inshallah :)

  • Rasumi08

    May Allah swt bless u.. I was feeling rather low at the moment but you Awakening meesage really make me ponder..

  • Ksarwat83

    SubhanAllah! This is exactly what i needed to hear! JazakumAllahu Khairan sista!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sayedamaher.anjoom Sayeda Maher Anjoom

    The writing goes on smooth and the truth it tells penetrates into the mind as smooth as the words. It seems to me I am strolling along a walking track with green plants on the both sides. Jazak Allah Khayr Sis.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1171547616 Samra Ahmed

    JAZAKILLAH!!You’ve put all my thoughts into words!I can never thank you enough for this!May ALLAH bless you here and hereafter and may HE be pleased with you forvever and bless you and your loved ones with Jannah!Ameen,

  • Haajar Farah

    The Shaytaan is so very tricky. No doubt every muslim has an up and down moment where-in at times their Iman is soaring and at times it dips. Arrogance and hopelessness, who would have thought they led to the same result. Subhana’Allah.

  • Nuraihankamarudin

    thank you for those wisdom words..May Allah bless you always for helping and reminding others :)

  • Amir

    Jazakallah for this Very important Article.. Inshalllah It would be my life changer…..

  • Lonely Seeker

    Sister, how I wish there were more Muslims like you in Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh. In any case, I thank God for giving me this wonderful opportunity to read your thoughts and insights.

    • Anonymous

      May Allah bless you. Please keep me and my family in your duaas.

  • sonaya

    Subhanalah ! There so much people that felt like me I really taught that I was a bad person or something hamdoulilah this help me sooo much and to know that I’m not alone in this , thx everyone
    inshalah we’ll see each others in jannah amine.

  • Laraib

    I know I’m only just reading this but JazakAllahkhair. I really needed to.

  • http://twitter.com/guidanceseeking Seeker of Guidance

    Jazakumullah khair!

  • dee

    adoring your speech, hope Allah gives you more knowledge and share it more and more, i always hear in youtube then touched by the contents

  • gohar

    jazakillah.. it was as such i am reading my own story, in Shaa Allah i’ll keep struggling no matter how low i get. :) jazakillah , May Allah accept ur efforts and give u strength to do more and more until u met Him In Shaa Allah

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