Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
How can I resist temptations and sins?
Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. Jazakum Allah khayr for writing to us. May Allah grant you success in striving against your desires and seeking the obedience and pleasure of God.
We should know that temptations and sins are part and parcel of this worldly life. Sins appear attractive for a reason. Man has been created weak and so he inclines towards temptations and is prone to fall into it. How we deal with and overcome the tests of life is the very the battlefield of our soul, the alchemical process of struggling and striving to rise above and beyond our base selves and transform into pure and Godly beings. Like any battle, we need tools and training.
The Greater Jihad
It is reported that the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad’ [al Bayhaqi]. The hadith is weak, but the meaning is sound, for if one has not struggled within, then they cannot hope to conquer external struggles.
Allah loves those who when they sin they turn to him in sincere repentance
Other than the Prophets, none of us are infallible. Allah has created us prone to mistakes and sins on purpose, and through this, Allah’s vast forgiveness is manifested. This is why the blessed Prophet ﷺ said, ‘By Him in whose hand is my soul, if you did not sin Allah would replace you with people who would sin and they would seek the forgiveness of Allah and He would forgive them.’ [Muslim]
Therefore, as long as we strive and turn to God in sincere repentance when we fall, we must equally take heart that the Divine Pardon is ever at hand. Whenever you fall into sin, return again and again to Allah.
However, sincere repentance also means taking the means to avoid sins in the first place and striving to avoid them.
The following are practical tools and suggestions for understanding and dealing with temptations:
al Ta’awudh – Seeking refuge in Allah: Recognise that temptations are tests which Allah sends to one. Our leaning towards them are either from our own base inclinations or the whisperings of satan, or both. The solution then is to seek their absolute opposite, which is absolute purity and goodness, namely, seeking refuge in God from the devil. Allah has said, ‘And if you are tempted by Satan, then seek refuge with Allah. Indeed, He [alone] is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing.’ [41:36]
Du’a: Never stop making du’a for yourself. Anas bin Malik narrated that Prophet ﷺ used to supplicate,
يا مُقلِّبَ القُلُوْبِ ثَبِّت قَلْبِي عَلَى دِيْنِكَ
‘O Turner of the hearts, keep my heart firm upon your religion’ [al Tirmidhi]
Muraqaba – Self Vigilance: One should make a practice each day of noting down the following 3 things together a) sins committed, b) what situations led to the act, c) possible solutions. Each night, before retiring to bed, one should review what was written, pray two cycles of tawba and resolve to avoid those situations and try the solutions the next day. This self-vigilance and taking stock of one’s self was advised by Sayyidna Umar, when he said, ‘Take yourselves into account before you are taken to account. Weight yourselves before you are weighed.’ [Ahmad]. If you find that you are able to avoid sins, then give thanks and praise to Allah. Even if you fail, keep going. ‘Fake it ‘til you make it’ as they say.
Think positive: Think positive about yourself and about Allah. If you think you can do something, then you can, as long as you rely on Allah.
Tahajjud: Try to wake up before Fajr, pray two cycles or more, and make supplication to Allah to keep you away from sins. The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Verily, Allah the Exalted stretches out his hand by night for those who repent until the coming of the day.’ [Sahih Muslim]. Tahajjud also help one avoid sins during the day.
Obedience: Ensure you are at least fullfing all the obligatory commands of Allah, particularly your prayers. Strive to do what sunnas you can do during the day. Follow the command of Allah by ‘lowering your gaze’ from that which is forbidden to see or hear, whether in real life or online.
Remembering Allah: The Prophet told us to ‘Keep Your Tongue Moist with Remembrance of Allah.’ [Arba’in al Nawawi]. Have a daily litany of dhikr, Quran, as well as saying the sunna du’as throughout daily affairs. Do not deem these insignificant. ‘Indeed, when Satan whispers to those mindful [of Allah], they remember [their Lord] then they start to see [things] clearly.’ [7:201]. Send abundant salutations and blessing on the Prophet ﷺ throughout the day.
Seek the Halal: Ensure your income and food are all lawful.
Organise your time: Make a timetable for every day of the week, accounting for how you spend every hour of the day. Ensure to include time of worship, time for work or study, time for self-reflection, time for sleep, time for recreation and socialising. Stick to the timetable as much as possible, tweaking it as you go along. The timetable will work as an anchor for the day, so you always know where you should be and what you should be doing. If you fall short each day, then don’t worry, just keep going. Make an intention for the sake of Allah in upon commencement of each act of the day, even for eating, sleeping, exercise, family time etc. This way they become worship.
Avoiding that which doesn’t benefit you: Keep away from anything that is of no benefit to you. Included in this is internet usage other than what you may genuinely need the net for.
Fasting and Marriage: If temptations are of a sexual nature, then the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘O young men, whoever among you can afford it, let him get married, and whoever cannot, let him fast, for it will be a shield for him.’ [al Bukhari]. Also, revise your eating habits, check that there are no foods that increase desire after eating them. Eat light, for the stomach has a huge effect on the rest of our faculties and desires. Eating less but enough to get on with our daily affairs is the goal, but this requires gradual training.
Knowing Allah and the Prophet: We can begin to know God and the Prophet ﷺ by learning. I would highly recommend learning the sciences of fiqh, aqida, and seerah. These will provide you with the framework to understand your objectives.
Company: Do not spend long hours in your own company (especially in front of screens), nor time with bad company. Seek the company of righteous people that you get on with. The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Verily, the parable of a good friend and a bad friend is that of a seller of musk and a blacksmith. The seller of musk will give you some perfume, you will buy some, or you will notice a good smell. As for the blacksmith, he will burn your clothes or you will notice a bad smell.’ [Sahih al Bukhari]. ‘Company’ can also be extended to the websites and literature one reads in private.
Remembering Death: The Salaf would constantly remember death as a means to act in obedience to God, for the Prophet advised, ‘Remember often the destroyer of pleasures.’ [Ibn Maja]. Take time out at the end of the day or when waking up for Tahajjud to contemplate on the brevity of life, what await us in the grave, the standing in front of God on the Day of Judgement, and the heat and torture of the Fire.
Do not despair: Despite the need to instil fear of Allah in our hearts in order to avoid sins, even greater than this is avoiding sins out of the love of Allah. Therefore, do everything you can to fall in love with your Lord, by performing your obligatory duties, performing sunnas, doing good deeds, thinking well of Allah, His Prophets, the Muslims and all people, and thank Him for all your blessings.
May Allah make you and us among the righteous and those whom God loves.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.