Abez sez Assalamualaikum!

Dear Not a Loser…

“Asalaamualaikum please don’t think dat i am belittling your problems but i want to kill myself but i cant as it is prohibited i feel i am accumulating sins day by day isn’t it better for me to die i am not satisfied with my life i don’t want to do engineering but for my parents sake i have to and i am not able to observe completely rules of hijab in the college i wanno cry and shriek dat i cant carry on anymore with this life which i am almost sure will lead me to hell. -Loser”

AssalamuAlaikum Sister, please note that I refuse to call you a Loser. ūüôā ¬†Now bear with me as I go off on a bit of a tangent.

Shaitaan is possibly millions¬†of years old and pretty damn sneaky. ¬†His goal, at the end of the day, is to get as many of us into hell with him as possible, and one of the ways that he does this is using the myth of what I call “Muslim Perfection.”

The idea is pretty simple.  Shaitaan says:

Do it all perfectly or just stop, because you’re embarrassing yourself.

A person as horrible as you are has no chance of getting into Jannah.  

In fact, just kill yourself now.  At least it will be over sooner.

Al-imńĀm Sufyaan ath-Thawri (161 H) is known as one of the Eight Ascetics of his age.  He was, rahimahullah, 'aabid ‚Äď a worshipper. Twenty years of Jihad by night.  No sweetness was experienced by ath-Thawri (rahimahullah) for twenty years? Nevertheless he kept the course with unwavering inspirational sabr.  He struggled in fear, campaigned in love, and toiled in hope of AllńĀh. http://muslimmatters.org/2010/04/12/jihad-by-night-yahya-ibrahim/

Al-imńĀm Sufyaan ath-Thawri (161 H)¬†struggled for twenty years to enjoy night salah- but he kept it up until he did. ¬†For twenty years.

His message¬†is ¬†straightforward and actually very insidious. ¬†People all over the world actually give up trying to be better Muslims because¬†they fall short of their own expectations for how effortless, euphoric, and impeccable their Islam should be. ¬†Shaitaan wants you to believe that there are naturally religious people, and then there’s everybody else. ¬†And the reason why you are having a hard time is because you aren’t one of the beautiful people.

Some people he tricks, others- like Imam Sufyaan ath-Thawri- saw through this cheap trick and insisted on praying at night for twenty years even though he wasn’t “feeling it.” ¬†

Imagine if, one day- he had just thrown his hands up and said “You know what? I’m not cut out for this, I’ve been praying for twenty years and I’ve yet to find this whole peace and contentment with my salah. ¬†What’s the point. ¬†I’m never going to get it right…”

Shaitaan is trying to convince you that because your Islam is less than perfect, you’re a failure who should give up already. In reality, everyone is a sinner and everyone struggles. ¬†The best people aren’t those who sin, but those whose sins cause them to try even harder and draw even closer to Allah next time. ¬†For some people, major sins can be major set-backs. ¬†For others, they are life-changing events that mark the end of heedlessness and the beginning of seeking Allah’s pleasure.

Every Muslim is a combination of successes and failures when it comes to their religious practice. ¬†So as a sinner, you’re in great company! ¬†Everyone, everywhere, accumulates sin on a daily basis, and if everyone like you just killed themselves, we’d all be dead. ¬†ūüôā ¬†Join the club sister. ¬†We’re over 6 billion strong!

O My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you.  

-Excerpt from Hadith Qudsi, full hadith here.

¬†Shaitaan wants you to think that the passing grade for this test is 100% and failure is everything else. ¬†But if you believe him, then you’re buying into an insult to Allah. ¬† How? Allah is The Most Merciful, Most Forgiving- Most Loving, Most Gracious, Most Kind- He alone has attained perfection and as The All-Knowing, He knows how and what we’re made of- so by what crazy logic would He mercilessly penalize us for not reaching a standard that He would best know that we could never attain?

Shaitaan might add at this point: well, ok, Allah is the Best. ¬†But you can’t think that your sorry butt will get into Jannah with *that* old sack of a soul. ¬†Have you seen the state of your nafs? ¬†Brother, it is bad.

If you think you’re too bad for Allah to forgive, then you’re grossly underestimating Allah’s capacity for forgiveness. ¬†You’re implying that your capacity to sin is even greater than Allah’s capacity to forgive. ¬†Please, don’t insult God. ¬†They don’t call Him Al-Rahman for nothing.

On the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him), who said:I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: Allah the Almighty said:
 
O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind.
O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you.
O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great at it.

Related by at-Tirmidhi (also by Ahmad ibn Hanbal). Its chain of authorities is sound.

Whenever I read that Hadith, it puts a certain picture in my head, and in my primitive photoshop imagination, it looks like this:
Mountain of SinsRepentance for a mountain of sins is equal to a mountain of blessings. ¬†So, the greater the sin you’ve committed, the greater the reward for seeking forgiveness. ¬†Knowing that this is how Allah works helps us appreciate how truly generous Allah is in His forgiveness- instead of seeking forgiveness on a level -10 sin and only being returned to a clean slate with 0, we seek forgiveness on a level -10 and in response are given a +10 in its place. ¬†AllahuAkbar.

So yes, Shaitaan wants you to forget that Allah is the Greatest- even in His capacity to forgive those who sincerely ask it. ¬†He wants you to¬†think that you only have two choices; perfection or failure, and¬†since perfection ain’t gonna happen, what option does Shaitaan leave you? Killing yourself and getting it over with already. ¬†But, there’s a third option that Shaitaan doesn’t want you to forget about it:

Between perfection and failure lies your only real choice:  Fight.

Fight shaitaan’s insistence upon your failure, fight your own soul’s inclination to sin, fight your own weaknesses and no matter how hard you’ve been hit or how long you’ve been laying on the ground- get up and keep fighting. ¬†Fight shaitaan as hard as he’s fighting you, as long as he’s fighting you, and don’t stop fighting him until the Angel of Death draws your soul gently away from your body and into the safety of your grave, spacious and fragrant with the winds of Jannah, where you can finally relax a little, reassured and kept company by your good deeds until Allah raises you on Qiyama.

Just because your heart is aching right now, and you’re locked in the seemingly endless cycle of sin, regret, and self-reproach doesn’t mean you’re a lost cause. ¬†It’s actually good news, and here’s why. ¬†The human heart (or soul, or nafs) has three settings according to the Qur’an.

The Default Setting:¬†Nafs al-Amarra bis Su’

The lowest level is the¬†Nafs al-Amarra bis Su’ or the soul that is inclined to evil, and a majority of humankind lives in this guiltless, no-regrets, live for the moment mode. This seems to be the default setting for the modern nafs as well as most pop music.

And I do not free myself from blame.¬†Indeed the human self is inclined to evil,¬†except when my Lord bestows His Mercy (upon whom He wills). Indeed my Lord is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Surah Yusuf: 53)

Knowing that it’s possible to have varying levels of soundness to your heart/nafs- Muslims don’t rely on the soundness of their heart to provide a compass to morality. ¬†It is not your heart’s job to point you towards what’s right, it only points you towards what it wants. ¬†So in a sense, you don’t follow your heart as much as your heart follows you.

Have you seen the one who takes as god his own desire? Then would you be responsible for him? Surah Al Furqan: 43

The Medium Setting: Nafs al-Lawwama

“I do call to witness the Resurrection Day. And I do call to witness the self-reproaching Soul.” Surah Al-Qiyamah: 1-2

This is a soul that battles with its desires, that commits sin and then reproaches itself and tries harder next time. ¬†It has awareness of its shortcomings, but despite its imperfections, it hasn’t given up. Your guilt and self-reproach about the shortcomings in your Islamic practice are evidence of having made progress on your spiritual journey. ¬†The bad news is though, is that Shaitaan is trying to knock you down a notch so that instead of trying harder, you just stop trying altogether- whether because you’ve killed yourself, or because you’ve decided that you’re a hypocrite and you’ve written off as ¬†Muslim.

Alhamdulillah though, Allah has good news for the Reproaching Soul.

“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous-¬†Who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good;¬†And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah ? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know.” Qur’an 3:133-135

The very fact that you are aware of your shortcomings, even pained by them- is reassuring proof that you have a Nafs al-Lawwama. ¬†If you didn’t care, didn’t want to care, and didn’t even want to hear about why you should try to give a care- well, that would be worse. ¬†Sure, you’d probably be happier and more “at peace with your self,” as many modern proponents of self-worship would say, but you’d actually be wallowing in heedlessness.

The Highest setting: Nafs al-Mutma’inna

“O you satisfied soul. Return to your Lord pleased with yourself and pleasing to Him. Enter among My servants. And enter My paradise.” (Surah Al-Fajr: 27-30)

You might not be here yet, but that’s ok. ¬†You can still strive to accomplish this. ¬†The Contented Soul, or the Satisfied Soul, is the highest setting for your heart. ¬†It is a place of happiness, peace, acceptance, and sweetness of faith. ¬†It takes hard work to get there, and Allah has good tidings for the Contented Soul but get this- not even the Contented Soul is a perfect soul. ¬†It’s just a very happy one, and very close to Allah.

So, in a nutshell:

  1. No one is perfect except Allah
  2. You’re not the only one accumulating sin every day that you’re alive
  3. The difference between a good Muslim and a bad Muslim is not that one sins and one doesn’t- it’s that one seeks forgiveness & tries harder, and one doesn’t.
  4. Shaitaan’s the one trying to trick you into thinking you’re a failure
  5. Believing him is the only way to lose
  6. Fighting him is the only way to win

There’s one more thing that we need to remind you of:

On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear.  

No SoulThat means that this situation- where you’re stuck in a major you don’t like, being prevented from doing hijab, and being teased by Shaitaan that nothing you do will ever be good enough to get you into Jannah- you can overcome this. ¬†You can succeed. ¬†You can find a way- either out or through- that is pleasing to Allah and perhaps even terribly frustrating to Shaitaan.

There is nothing coming that you can’t handle, not because you’re great, but because Allah is the Greatest. ¬†He knows what you’re capable of, and He promised your challenges would never exceed your strengths. ¬†Allah sets us up for growth, not failure. And Allah never, ever breaks His promises.

Shaitaan, on the other hand, has been lying to you. ¬†He’s saying that anyone who’s struggling with deen shouldn’t even bother to try, whereas Allah gives double the normal reward to those who have difficulty reading Qu’ran. ¬†The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said “The magnitude of the reward goes along with the magnitude of the affliction.” (Tirmidhi)

The more you’re afflicted now- whether it be with stress, illness, financial difficulties, emotional turmoil- the more you will be rewarded, and the fact that you’re struggling right now isn’t a sign that you should just give up and kill yourself, it’s an invitation from Allah to come closer to Him.

May Allah make it easy for you to recognise and spiritually drop-kick the suggestions of Shaitaan, even when they come disguised in the form of avoiding hell.  May Allah make His religion easy for you, and increase you in faith, and surround you with people who lift you up and help you draw nearer to Allah is this world and the next.  Ameen.

8 Thoughts on “Dear Not a Loser…

  1. Not a Loser on November 5, 2013 at 11:46 PM said:

    Jazakallah khair sister i dont have words to express how much it meant to me jazakallah for everything “i pray to ALLAH that we meet in jannah with our families where their is no grief _no sorrow_ no ailment only happiness and satisfaction of achieving success” AAMEEN

  2. Ola Olanrewaju on November 6, 2013 at 1:50 AM said:

    Salam Alaykum Abez.
    This is a masterpiece!
    It will stand the test of time.
    Only Allah can reward you for the good work, we human can only appreciate to the extent of conceptualization Allah permits.
    Allahu Akbar!

  3. Asalaamualaikum sister i am sorry i was happy for a while after ur reply nd my sis told me i will again be same guess what she was right i am alone in my house right now nd i am feeling strong urge to cut my wrist nd i am getting mad it seems that my btech degree will also not get completed sister i am getting mad i just wanted to ask u if we kill ourselves r we still muslims i feel it is very easy to cut the wrist with knife right now but i am bounded by this thing that will i still be muslim nd will Allah still love me punishment for it i can tolerate but please sister give me answer to this question as whenever i ask anyone they dont give reply they just say it is haraam so please i trust u nd i want an answer from u as for i am a loser i have wasted my parents money in my education nd i am not a good muslim nd i am tired of fighting shaitaan

  4. AssalamuAlaikum Not a Loser ūüôā

    There’s another lie that Shaitaan’s trying to make you believe, and it’s that Islam is easy, and if you don’t get it on the first try, then whatever you’re doing must not be working.

    Reading my reply made you feel better? Then read it again. If reading things helps boost your Iman, but then it wears off after a while, congratulations- you’re the same as everyone else. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him said:

    “Undoubtedly, the heart gets rusted like metal gets rusted when water goes over it. The People asked, “How can they [hearts] be cleaned.” The Prophet replied, “To remember death in abundance and to recite the Holy Quran.” (Mishkat)”

    When you’re feeling down, find something that brings you up. Keep a folder or a playlist or some sort of collection of things that make your heart feel better, and when you’re feeling down, make yourself go through them, because failure is not an option when Allah promised you haven’t been given more than you can handle.

    Find inspiring Youtube videos (find The Merciful Servant’s channel for awesome things), bookmark articles and blogs and above all- Read the Qur’an!

    Other things are inspiring because they reference what’s in the Qur’an, but for real inspiration, go to the Qur’an itself.

    If you find that you’ve opened it up and you’re not feeling it, then keep reading it until you do, because Shaitaan has sprayed apathy onto your heart and it may have hardened into a shell. One little knock isn’t going to do it- you have to break through it, beat it off, and stomp on the pieces.

    There are two things that you must never do- one is to lose faith. The other is to kill yourself. Go cry, read, walk, think, write, scream if you must- but don’t give up.

    And then next time your sister is negative, put your fingers in your ears and walk away. And make dua constantly, because Allah will never let your prayers go to waste.

    You can do this. Allah promised.

    <<>>

  5. Not a loser on November 17, 2013 at 10:00 PM said:

    Asalaamu alaikum i wanted to ask u what is the reason 4 ur patience nd contentment i mean i am always dwindling in iman nd go to extremes nd dan have to go long way to build it again from scratch nd i am kind of selfish as everyone tells me but do u never lose patience during trails ?forgive me if dis is personal question but i would really like to know the reason for ur contentment i have never met anyone like u

  6. Easy answer:

    Whatever situation I am in, Allah has promised that it’s not more than I can handle. That means that whatever resources- physical, mental, financial, spiritual- that I need to make it, I have them. I just need to find them.

    And read the Qur’an. It heals your heart. Allah said so. ūüôā

  7. Assalamualaikum zeba aapi. I know you guys are going through a hard time and its selfish of me to bother u. But i think i need some advice from a sister who has got more experience than my 18-yrs-old self. Is there a way of reaching u where i can privately msg u?:-)

  8. How do you deal with Khalid when he is aggressive or extremely upset about things not going his way?

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