How many of us have noticed our Imaan (faith) in Islam and in Allah (SWT) start to fluctuate? Just like life has its ups and downs, so does faith; and because faith is not static it is easy for us to lose faith during tough times and find it very difficult to find our way back to having a healthy and strong Imaan. So, this month is going to be all about exploring our unsteady faith, what affects us the most during these times, what Islam says about this, and how we can deal with this in Islamic and secular ways.
Let’s start with reminding ourselves what faith really is – it is when we believe something to be the truth. Like having faith when your mother tells you that you look perfect in your outfit or when your spouse tells you they love you. In Islam, faith means to fully believe and acknowledge the Tawhid (Oneness) of the Almighty and place our complete Tawakkul (reliance and trust) in Him and the truth of Islam.
Once we have this faith, it then permeates every aspect of our life, from our fardh/wajib (obligatory) acts to our social relationships and approach to facing difficulties. Therefore, when our faith begins to dip or wane, we feel it in all parts of our life and being.
“It is He who sent down tranquillity into the hearts of the believers that they would increase in faith along with their [present] faith. And to Allah belong the forces of the heavens and the earth, and ever is Allah Knowing and Wise.”
~ Qur’an 48:4
This verse clearly indicates that we are not meant to stay at one stage or level of faith, but try to increase or grow our faith and ascend to a higher level of Imaan and Tawakkul. If our faith was a fixed attribute and not fluctuating, then we would lose a part of our purpose because we would not need to strive to better our Imaan.
Ibn Taymiyyah explains that in our hearts we don’t only have faith but we also have love, and when we realise our different levels of love we can realise our different levels of faith i.e. our love can sometimes be a simple desire to be close to our loved ones but it can also reach a level where we cannot live without being with our loved one. The morphing levels of faith are like these different levels of love.
Therefore, it is normal to have strong Imaan at times and weak Imaan at others. This dynamic nature of faith, that makes it change all the time, is common and every human being experiences it in numerous ways. So, how does one’s faith become unsteady? Changes in life circumstances and priorities can plunge our faith down a few notches. For example, when we:
- forget to ponder or reflect on our deeds daily
- begin to neglect acts of worship
- commit small sins continuously
- waste time in doing other things that have no benefit in this world or the hereafter
- start leading an excessive life, such as eating, spending or sleeping more than necessary
- feel our priorities start to change from doing everything for Allah (SWT) to doing things for only the sake of worldly gains e.g. earning money or advancing our career
These are just but a few scenarios where our faith can start decreasing, and negatively impact our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It is important for us to recognise when this happens and try to deal with our decreasing faith in healthy and holistic ways.
If you feel comfortable, then please share what you would do when your faith starts to decrease in any of the situations above, or from your own personal experience? Do you feel that what you do is a helpful and constructive way of dealing with a fluctuating faith?