One of the easiest things to do is to find fault in others. To point out their every shortcoming and to overlook whatever good they may possess, in an effort for self-aggrandizement and seemingly moral superiority.
On the other hand, one of the hardest things to do is to find fault with you. Self-criticism is one of the most difficult things to do; yet it is a necessary variable in the equation for self-improvement. After taking a long, hard look in the mirror, I found yet another ‘gaping chest wound’ in the makeup of my Islamic character. I found I am constantly inconsistent.
Throughout my home, there is ample evidence to testify to this fact. A half-finished blanket in my knitting bag; a few pages completed out of about a half a dozen or so Arabic textbooks, and cutout patterns that have been sitting on my sewing table for months now. Unfortunately, this inconsistency of nature has found its way into the way I practice my Islam. I start the month, doing all my Sunnah prayers, then by the end of the month; I may be doing only one or two. I start off fasting every Monday and Thursday, and then not so every Monday and Thursday. I start off fast and furious, but I often crash and burn in mid-stream. The trick is to start off strong, but to maintain enough momentum to see you through the long haul. This is the Islamic way, the way of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alayhe Wasallam, and his companions.
It was narrated by Alqama that he asked Aisha, “Did Allah’s Messenger, use to choose some special days (for fasting)?” She replied, “No, but he used to be regular (constant) (in his service of worshipping). Who amongst you can endure what Allah’s Messenger used to endure?” (Bukhari). It was also narrated that Masruq asked Aisha, “What deed was the most beloved to the Prophet?” She said, “The regular constant one.” I said, “At what time did he use to get up at night (for the Tahajjud night prayer)?’ She said, “He used to get up on hearing (the crowing of) the cock (the last third of the night).” (Bukhari)
Allah, Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, says, “And those who are constant, seeking the pleasure of their Lord, and keep up prayer and spend (benevolently) out of what We have given them secretly and openly and repel evil with good; as for those, they shall have the (happy) issue of the abode.” [13:22]. Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala also says. “Peace be on you because you were constant, how excellent, is then, the issue of the abode.” [13:24]
We can see from the above Ahadeeth and verses of the Qur’an, that constancy of nature is something loved by both Allah and His Messenger (Sallallaahu Alaihi WasSalaam). But how do we cultivate this constancy in ourselves? One of the ways I’ve found beneficial, one of the ways of the salaf, is to implement things easily and slowly into your routine. Start off with doing what is obligatory and then add the nawafil, one at a time, learn to maintain it, and then move on to something else. This is true because Abu Hurrairah narrated that Allah’s Messenger (Sallallaahu Alaihi WasSalaam) said, “The deeds of anyone of you will not save you (from the Fire).” They said, “Even you (will not be saved by your deeds), O Allah’s Messenger?” He said, “No, even me (will not be saved) unless and until Allah bestows His Mercy on me. Therefore, do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and worship Allah in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night, and always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course whereby you will reach your target (Paradise).” (Bukhari)
Another tool for building consistency is to do in private, what you do in public. Once Umar ibn Abdul Azeez was advised, “0 Umar, beware of being the ally of Allah in open, while being His enemy in secret. If one’s nature in open and in secret do not equate then he is a hypocrite, and the hypocrites occupy the lowest level in the Hellfire.” We should beware of the Satan’s tricks, and not fall suspect to them, if you usually make two or four raka’t of Sunnah before Dhuhr at home, then you should do the same when you are out.
So the next time you feel the need to point out the beam in your brother’s eye, make sure that you first acknowledge the log in your own eye. It was Umar ibnul-Khattaab who said, “Call yourselves to account before you are brought to account. Weigh them up before they are weighed, and prepare for the greatest parade. The Day that you shall be presented (for judgement), not a secret of yours will be hidden.” Being constantly critical of self and remaining constant in obedience to Allah, Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, leads to bliss. For Allah Ta’ala says, “And whatever is in the heavens and the earth is His, and to Him should obedience be (rendered) constantly; will you then guard against other than (the punishment of) Allah?”[16;52]
Sumayya bint Joan