By Hassan Faye for Minder
When having the discussion on how to improve, boost, or start our spiritual journey during the uncertain times we find ourselves in, i.e. being in quarantine due to COVID-19, we should look no further than the life and advice of the beloved Master and teacher, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings. He, peace be upon him, always emphasized the importance of time management even in his sermons. He (PBUH) would say, “The best of speech is one that is short and precise.” So in that spirit I shall attend to do the same.
The Prophet (PBUH) had his time divided in three segments daily. Spiritual development, i.e. time with Allah swt, family affairs, i.e. time with wives and other family members, and personal and societal affairs. He is the best of examples so we follow in his footsteps. Before we begin the list, you’ll find that not everything in the list is what some or perhaps most would consider “worship” and I hope by the time you finish reading this you’ll have a different understanding of worship.
1. STAND UP WHILE OTHERS SLEEP
Tahajjud, or nightly prayers is one of the most important yet neglected practices of our religion. It is a guaranteed way to sustainable spiritual growth. Allah swt tells us in a Hadith Qudsi (words of Allah swt besides the Quran) that in the last third of the night he descends to the first heaven and is listening to anyone who has left the comfort of their beds to bow their heads to him asking him for whatever it is they want. He swt says “ask and I shall give.” This is your Allah, your creator coming to you to ask if there’s anything you need. Can we afford to not be there when he calls? In a time where we need him more than we ever have in our lives? The nightly prayers are so important in regards to our spirituality that Allah swt made it mandatory, as soon as revelation came, upon the Prophet peace be upon him and the sahaba. It was mandatory for an entire year before it was made an option. It was there before there were any obligatory rules including the daily five prayers. Allah swt knew what was to come and he wanted to prepare the early Muslims spiritually because that was most important. If we want to take advantage of the situation we’ve been blessed with, the first and most important way is to leave the comforts of our beds in the last part of the night and come to Allah swt begging him for our needs.
2. ASK FOR FORGIVENESS
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “All of the children of Adam are sinners, and the best sinners are those who repent.”
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2499
Something amazing happens when we turn back to Allah swt for our misdeeds, when done right it’s as if we’ve been reborn. We have a chance to start over, and our slate has been wiped clean by Allah swt. It is one of the best ways to gain that spiritual closeness we all crave to have with Allah swt. Sometimes we feel as though we’ve done too much in our lives against the commandments of Allah. The trick of shaytan is to make us feel irredeemable. He does this because he’s worked so hard to get us to accumulate sins and he knows all it would take to undo his work is us raising our hands to Allah swt, feeling the guilt for what we’ve done, and promising to do our best to stay away from the sin(s) and just like that we’re forgiven and all his (shaytan) hard work would have been for nothing. Repentance is our weapon against shaytan and now is a good time to use it.
3. GUARD YOUR 5 DAILY PRAYERS
Now that most of us are home, all if not most of everyday, the most important act that will help us gain spirituality is our five daily salah. One of the main reasons why we missed our prayers was due to work or school. Allah swt has again blessed us in that all those things now are either halted completely or have become mobile. We now have the time to work on prayers. We have time to make sure they are done on time, they aren’t rushed, and that we focus while we are in it. One of the easiest ways to do this is making sure the entire family prays together and assigning days to each other for who would remind the family it’s time to pray. Make the Adhan out loud, give everyone 5 mins after the Adhan, then start the salah. This will not only help you pray on time but it’ll also be more meaningful when done as a family.
4. FORGIVE EVERYONE BEFORE YOU SLEEP
This might seem like something small to a lot of people but it bought one of the sahaba a one way ticket to Jannah so it’s definitely a sure way to higher spirituality.
The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ALaihi Wasallam) was seated in a gathering with the Sahabah when he looked towards the entrance and said, “A man of Paradise is coming.” At that instance, someone who seemed to be very ordinary entered the mosque where they were seated. A Sahabi was curious as to why the Prophet (pbuh) said this, so he followed the man to his house. This Sahabi told the man that he was a traveler and stayed as a guest. For three days the Sahabi saw nothing unusual, so he finally told the man what the Prophet had said and asked him what was so special. The man thought for a long time and said, “There might be one thing — before going to sleep every night I forgive everyone and sleep with a clean heart.”
In the story, the Sahaba noticed the man looked “ordinary” so from this story we see how powerful forgiveness is. We dont have to be a super Muslim to gain paradise or spirituality. Something as simple as cleaning your heart every night before sleeping will go a long way.
5. CHECK IN
Use this time to call and check in on your loved ones. A quick phone call or voice note to see how everyone is doing during the quarantine will go a long way. This one to a lot of us might seem very distant in relation to the ones above but this is part of our faith. Anything we do with the intention of pleasing Allah swt will undoubtedly bring us closer to Him swt. When the Prophet peace be upon him was shaken up by his meeting with the angel Gibreel, he expressed to Khadija (RA) his fears and she responded by saying that Allah swt wouldn’t abandon him because he interacts closely with his relatives along with helping the poor, always speaks the truth, is trustworthy, treats his neighbors with kindness and care, opens his door to strangers and receive them as guests, and helps his community whenever needed. So we see here that keeping a good and close relationship with one’s family is no small thing but can and will earn you Allah’s pleasure swt.
6. QUALITY TIME
It is a blessing and mercy from Allah swt that we have loved ones who want our quality time. We joke about it a lot especially when it comes to husband and wife but companionship is something we should thank Allah swt for when he blesses us with it. We ask Allah swt to bless those who are looking for companionship and haven’t yet found it. We ask him to bless them with Himself as a companion and bring them their mate in this life and the next. Ameen. This is the time for us to carve out a few hours of the day and give our family our time. Family time isn’t us sitting on the phone and in close proximity saying “hmm” to every sentence then asking “what” afterwards. Put the phone away, engage with one another. Play a game together, solve a puzzle, exercise, ask each other questions and get to know each other more. Praying together is also part of it, and lastly, sit and recite Quran and Hadith together and discuss.
7. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE WISDOM
We are a religion that honors our elders. In the Quran Allah swt says that when we reach the age of 40 is when we’ve fully matured to the point that we recognize the favor of Allah swt upon us and we thank him for his blessings upon us. If maturity in Allah swt eyes is 40 years of age then indeed our elders have a lot of wisdom they can bless us with in our young age. Talk to them, ask them for their stories. They will appreciate it and you will learn plenty about life.
8. A BLESSED MONTH APPROACHES
Last but most certainly not least is preparing for the month of Ramadan now. The Prophet peace be upon him wouldn’t fast in any other month as much as he did in this month of SHA’BAN except in the month of Ramadan. He would fast half of the month of Shaban in anticipation for Ramadan and we should do the same. Start fasting Mondays and Thursdays for those are the days our Beloved would fast each week. Make iftar as a family and have iftar as a family. We are in uncertain times. We may not have the normal Ramadan we’ve become so accustomed to having. This is one way to not only gain spirituality but prepare for the blessed month.
Lastly, Imam Ibn Ata’illah when talking about “etiquettes of isolation” says something brilliant that might help us through these days of isolation. He says “Nothing is more beneficial to the heart than a little bit of isolation where there is an opportunity for introspection and deeper thought.”
We should also remember that prophethood often started through moments of isolation so Allah swt has given this to us in the form of COVID-19 so we say Alhamdulillah and remain patient while doing our best to gain spirituality through it all.
May Allah swt protect us all in these uncertain times. May He shower us with his immense and immeasurable mercy! Ameen.