Sometimes, we overestimate our strengths and underestimate Iblis’s. We seem to forget he has a single purpose on earth and he has been at this for centuries, nay, millennia. If you had a single job you were doing for years, you would have such a well-oiled system that would be near-perfect so I wonder why we do not consider what a pro Iblis is at his job. He has perfected to an art, the singular purpose to derail us all and ONLY by Allah’s Mercy will we maintain the Right Path.
A dear friend of mine was lamenting at how an environment she found herself eroded her beliefs and due to the number of hypocrites she saw around, she began to slip in Iman. The truth of the matter is there will always be reasons for us to decline in faith, we just have to recognise them for the excuses (whisperings from Shaitan) that they are.
When we decide to wear the niqab or the hijab (or lengthen it) or keep a beard or shorten our trousers, fast Mondays and Thursdays, Shaitan is there trying to belittle our efforts. He’s uncomfortable with our desire to improve and whispers our inadequacies to us. We still tell lies, gossip, get angry. We are still irregular and tardy in our 5 daily prayers. We have failed to keep up with our resolutions to read the Qur’an daily, give charity, pray in the mosque and give da’awah hence we are unqualified to seek to be better Muslims. Besides, what are we worried about? Others are doing the same as we are, even worse. The sad part is we believe and despair, immobilised into inactivity by the weight of our sins. And Shaitan is never in a hurry because he knows he has more time than we do.
I remember in the University, I moaned to a sister about my dwindling salaah and she told me something I haven’t been able to forget. The fact that I worried about the paucity of my salaah showed that I had iman. How true. Iman is never consistent; it ebbs and flows like the tide and the very fact that we are Muslims means we will always have to persist in nurturing it. It’s like the flickering of a candle flame. On windy days, it will flicker so weakly we may need to cup our palms around it, other days it will burn steadily and illuminate the entire room. We should never despair, give up and leave the wind to snuff out our flame. Allah is always Merciful, alhamdulillah!
We can never and will never be perfect. If we wait for that level of perfection in ourselves, we won’t accomplish a single thing. The key is to recognise the excuses as whisperings of Shaitan, keep our heads down and keep forging ahead. Insha Allah, one day we will lift our eyes to look around us and marvel at how far we’ve come, with Allah’s Help.