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Losing Hope and Struggling with the Din

Shaykh Farid Dingle answers a question about struggling with one’s din, not feeling worthy of Islam, and losing hope and trust in Allah.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I’ve been struggling with the din since Allah drew me back into the religion when a calamity had befallen me because there was no other way out. Since then I’ve been practicing. I think to myself, “Why me?” because I disobey Allah a lot and then I repent and then intentionally go back to it. This same cycle repeats over and over again. Eventually I give up. I start to pray less and fall into despair.

There are times where I also disobey my parents. I try my best to obey as much as I can but when it comes to matters which are prohibited in Islam I don’t listen. There’s a hadith that says, whoever is disobedient to their parents will never enter paradise. When I read this, I just start to give up and think to myself, “What’s the point? Might as well just go all out.”

This was one of the reasons why I nearly left Islam. I really don’t know what to do anymore.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Dear questioner,

Allah Most High says in the Qur’an,

“Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.’”

“And return utterly in repentance to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; then you will not be helped.” (Sura al-Zumar 39:53-54)

And the Holy Prophet has said, Allah bless him and grant him peace, “By Him in whose hand is my soul, if you did not sin, Allah would do away with you, and bring a people who would sin and then they seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would forgive them.” (Muslim)

And he also said, “Verily, Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave than a person who has his camel in a waterless desert on whose back is his provision of food and drink which is then lost. He, having lost all hope (to get that back), lies down in shade despaired of ever finding his camel; when all of a sudden he finds the camel standing before him. He takes hold of its reins and then, out of boundless joy, blurts out, ‘O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your Lord!’ making a mistake out of extreme joy.’” (Muslim)

So we can learn from these divine teachings that we should not despair of Allah’s forgiveness, and that the cycle of sinning and then repenting, that sinning and then repenting again is part and parcel of our relationship with Allah, and that He loves us to repent to Him. All we have to do is keep striving.

Hope and Fear

In the verses above, Allah first reminds us of His mercy and then reminds of His punishment. This is a repeated theme in the Quran: always having hope, but not forgetting to fear Allah.

The Devil likes to trick us by making us give up hope, or by making us too hopeful. The way of safety is in between, with fear and hope always vying to control our hearts and always encouraging us to keep going.

Company

Allah Most High has told us, “O you who have believed, fear Allah and be with those who are true.” (Sura al-Tawba 9:119) And the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let one of you look well to whom he befriends.” (Abu Dawud)

This verse and hadith tell us that we have to be very careful about those with whom we associate, be it in friendships or in the virtual world. Often we get held back by the bad company we keep.

It is not a lack of loyalty to politely avoid your friends of the past who keep dragging one into sin. In fact it is from loyalty to Allah that one do that.

If you don’t change your environment to the extent you can, it is very, very hard to change your life and progress.

Persistence

You are not alone in your struggle. This is what all of us face in life on various different levels. We just have to keep working on ourselves bit by bit, trying our best, relying upon Allah, and seeking His forgiveness when we fall on our nose.

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


How Can I Regain My Faith After Doubts and Exploring Other Religions?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Khan

Question: After being faithful for several years in my youth, I fell into depression because of life circumstances and lost faith. I had very blasphemous thoughts, and I can not imagine much worse than that. I even experimented with other religions and philosophies, even with polytheism, although I could never find truth in them, I always failed to find truth in them, although I tried.

Now that led me to a situation in life where I am desperate and fearing that what I did is unforgivable. I am regretting what I did, I do my prayers, but it seems that my faith is not as strong as it was before. It seems that even while I read the Kor’an I seem to have doubts. I wish to have no doubts, and to have pure faith, but I feel that I no more have the right to ask for that, because I have left Islam for a period of time. How can I clean myself and is that even possible, regarding to what I did.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

A sincere repentance (tawba) to Allah Most High is the most powerful gift we have been given. It conquers all, in that no past sin or mistake — even disbelief, heresy, or murder — proves too great for repentance. If one turns to Allah in sincere remorse, having stopped the sin with a commitment to never return to it, then Allah has promised us He will forgive it, for He loves to forgive.

Allah Most High states:

“Will they not then turn towards Allah in repentance and ask His forgiveness? And Allah is Ever-forgiving, All-merciful” (5:74), as well as “Those who commit evil yet afterwards repent and believe: verily, after such repentance, your Master is indeed Ever-forgiving, All-merciful” (7:153).

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) once described a man alone in the desert with a camel carrying all his belongings, which then disappeared, leaving the man in utter despair for his life. The man eventually sits down and readies himself for death, only to turn and suddenly find the camel beside him.

Overwhelmed by utter joy, he exclaims, “O Allah, You are my slave and I am your Lord!” He erred in speech due to the intensity of his joy. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) taught that when we turn to Allah in repentance, Allah is more overjoyed than that man upon finding his camel. [Bukhari, Muslim]

The Vastness of Divine Mercy

Relax and focus on Allah’s unimaginable mercy, of which He states, “Your Lord has prescribed mercy upon Himself” (6:54). He has not described any other divine attribute in this manner.

Our Masters explain that one of the reasons Allah describes Himself as “The All-merciful” (al-Rahman) in the verse, “The All-merciful has assumed the throne” (20:5) is that just as the entire cosmos is like a speck in an ocean compared to Allah’s throne, so too is the throne like a speck in an ocean compared to Allah’s vast mercy. Never despair, and always keep the best opinion of Allah.

Our Master Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) used to frequently say, “I swear to Allah, no person ever maintained a good opinion of Allāh save that Allah in fact blessed him accordingly,” based on the hadith qudsi related by Imam Bukhari, in which Allah Himself says, “I am in the opinion of My servant.” And remember that Allah created one hundred parts of mercy and sent down only one part to creation, which is the basis of all kindness and good in this life. Ninety-nine parts remain with Him, awaiting His servants on Judgment Day. [Bukhari, Muslim]

Whatever good we think of Allah, that — and even better — is what we shall find inshaAllah. Keep up your prayers, perform them on time, and try to inculcate as much good in your life while focusing your mind and thoughts on Allah’s mercy and love.

Understanding Doubts

As for the doubts and misgivings you experience, Imam Muslim narrates in his Sahih collection that some of the Companions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) came and asked him, “We find in ourselves [thoughts] that any of us would consider too enormous to even mention.” He (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “And you all have found it?” and they said yes. He said, “That is pure faith.” Imam Nawawi clarifies, “Considering it too enormous to mention is pure faith.” [Sharh Sahih Muslim]

Shaykh Nuh Keller comments, “As long as one has fear and disgust for passing thoughts of unbelief (kufr) and the like and does not make them convictions, they do no harm.” [Sea Without Shore]

And Allah knows best.
wassalam
Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Studying Philosophy in a Secular University

Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I have an interest in studying Philosophy after my Undergraduate degree, but have heard that many times the ideas presented in secular philosophy courses lead young people away from Islam.

I hope to one day become a seeker of Islamic knowledge, I’m diligent in my salah, fast occasionally and try to be good to my parents and family. So, I’m an average Muslim with no scholarly background. What is your advice about studying philosophy at a Secular university?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

I would strongly advise you to not study philosophy in a secular university until and unless you have a strong foundation in traditional Islamic studies, particularly theology and spirituality. Even then, one must be careful and always consult senior scholars and spiritual mentors.

We have seen too many cases of people getting confused, and even losing their faith (Allah forbid), by studying philosophy without a solid foundation in traditional Islamic studies. I say ‘traditional’ because even studying ‘Islamic studies’ in a secular university is dangerous unless one has a strong foundation and adequate time spent with righteous inheritors of our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)

For a more detailed discussion, you can read some of the related works of Hujjat al-Islam Imam Ghazali, particularly his “Munqidh min al-Dalal” (Deliverance from Error). As the Imam points out, it is not that the philosophers have strong arguments for their disbelief. Rather there are many secondary issues that might confuse one who is ill-equipped, causing him to be open to their positions of disbelief.

And Allah knows best.
wassalam
Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani