I do not know about men but an ebb in iman is pretty common amongst us women. We complete our period and have difficulty returning to worship. We’ve just finished our post-natal bleeding and have to struggle to fast n pray. During PMS, we simply feel off. Pregnancy and its discomforts discourage us from waking up for Fajr. Pregnancy or breastfeeding may prevent us from enjoying the iman rush of Ramadan. During salaah, we struggle to concentrate and would rather just curl up on the prayer rug and cry or sleep.
We feel hurt by our spouses, in-laws, children, co-workers and simply lose interest. We lose interest in reading the Qur’an and in performing good deeds. We couldn’t care less about properly covering up when a male guest comes in. The kids haven’t prayed yet but are playing football in the yard yet we can’t be bothered to remind them. Heck, we are tired of the scheduled lives we live and couldn’t care less! Sitting on a couch in our pajamas and bingeing on chocolate-chip cookies and burgers while watching season re-runs back-to-back or a marathon session of telenovelas would be the most enjoyable things to do at that moment.
During these periods when our iman declines, how do we get back on track?
• Revisit your intentions. Why do you do good deeds? For Allah’s Pleasure or to be seen among men?
Or, conversely, are you tired of the boring routine your life is?
• What do you do wrong that has been niggling at you that you need to desist from?
• In what ways do you feel unfulfilled? Is there something making you feel a failure? Islam, family, work, finances? Look for solutions to move you closer to your goals but don’t fail to prioritise according to Allah, family, finances/work.
• Is it a temporary change in routine that’s responsible (monthly period, a new baby, a guest, festivities, new job, job loss, death, divorce)?
Here are a few ways to get out of the doldrums (doldrums, don’t you just enjoy that word!):
• If you are like me, go to a bookstore and get a really nice book you’ve always wanted to read. Curl up with it in your favourite spot at home with your favourite (non-alcoholic) beverage.
• Treat yourself to some me-time. Go for a drive alone and pray under the sky. Lie down on your prayer rug afterwards and enjoy the world around you. Indulge in a meal and eat it all up in the privacy of your car or alone in the restaurant. Do your hair, manicure, pedicure, go shopping with your best friend or sister but don’t spend the whole day. Remember your salaah and other responsibilities.
• Instead of cooking tonight, take the family out for dinner and a movie.
• Start a hobby or learn something new.
• If you are tired of the routine, shake things up a little. Tweak your dull schedule.
• Read, listen to and deliberate upon the Qur’an. Try to understand and act upon it. Memorise your favourite verses.
• Stick to the compulsory acts of worship. Pray extra naflah or Tahajjud (voluntary night prayer) in a private corner. Talk to Allah about whatever it is that bothers you and that He draws you closer to Him. If a domestic or official problem troubles us, let us take it to Allah. After Ishai or before Fajr, when everyone is asleep is usually a good time (if we can summon up the energy to pull ourselves up by our shoelaces).
• Do good deeds in private, strictly for Allah’s Pleasure.
• Go for lectures, and classes to make you feel closer to people with better iman.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A faithful believer to a faithful believer is like the bricks of a wall, enforcing each other.” While (saying that) the Prophet (ﷺ) clasped his hands, by interlacing his fingers. – Sahih Bukhari 481
• Make du’a every time you remember especially if your routine has been shaken up by travel, sickness, festivities etc. Make a routine within the chaos and pray on time even if you don’t feel like it and your attention keeps shifting.
• Go out for a picnic or to the mosque with your family. No one makes you laugh out loud like family. Focus on making them happy today instead of yourself. They’ve probably begun to feel the strain of your receding iman.
• Exercise. Just that vibrant beating of your heart can make you exhilarated.
• Travel. If you can.
• Be patient. This is a test and it will pass, in sha Allah.
• Listen to sad mushy music or waste ALL your time with multiple movies or empty surfing of the internet or retail shopping. You will feel worse eventually.
• Don’t tackle it alone but don’t broadcast it either. Share your problem with a friend or relation who cares for you.
• Don’t feel like a sinner. Your iman is in the right place for you to worry about its decline. Do not neglect the compulsory acts of worship.
• Don’t fling it all away or make rash decisions during this time like stopping the hijab, cutting your hair, shaving off the beard, losing your virginity or leave the deen.
• Don’t give up by listening to Shaytan’s whispers as he wants you to slip beyond redemption during this vulnerable period of your life. Avoid committing sins that will widen the gap you feel between you and Allah.
If it persists, and you become increasingly tearful, persistently lacking in motivation, or find previously enjoyable activities no longer pleasurable, low sex drive, feel worthless and suicidal or these moods interfere with your daily life and relationships; it could be clinical depression. It is pretty common and very treatable, so see a doctor.