Written by Sohaib Nawaz
I wanted to write something close and dear to my heart, something I have experienced in life and that I feel people may relate to, or may have tips regarding how to overcome such situations. Growing up, I didn’t find joy or sweetness in faith, in fact it was a chore; something to keep my parents off my back, something to avoid getting into trouble with them. As I grew, I found that many of my peers also shared this experience, while others had a beautiful relationship with Islam from a young age, Alhamdulilah.
It was only after reaffirming myself in my dean (at a much later stage in life) did I find this beauty that the others spoke of- it’s perfection, the urgent need of its implementation in my life, and most profoundly: its abundance of truth. After experiencing the usual journey of highs and lows in my faith, I discovered ways and methods that would build the practice of my faith, gaining the sweetness, or “Iman-high” that everyone experiences.
We find that the core aspects of experiencing sweetness in faith can be explained by the following Hadith:
Anas bin Malik (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “There are three qualities whoever has them, will taste the sweetness of Iman: To love Allah and His Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) more than anyone else; to love a slave (of Allah) only for (the sake of) Allah; and to hate returning to infidelity after Allah has saved him from it as he would hate to be thrown into the fire (of Hell).”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 16, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 43
Breaking this down:
- In this Hadith, the love of Allah signifies the sweetness of Iman.
- The love of Allah and His Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) is the cornerstone of the Faith: When it is said that this love should exceed one’s love for everything else in the universe, it means that what is enjoined by Allah and His Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) must be given preference to over everything else; whether it is love for the wife, children, worldly interests, desires or whims. When there is a clash between the two, the former should be given preference over the latter.
These two points are deep topics on their own and there is an abundance of information regarding them online. We will look at aspects outside of these that have helped me personally when dealing with low faith and have prevented me from tasting the sweetness of faith.
The following quote (unknown source) explains best what we all experience:
“Every heart has a cloud like the cloud that blocks the moon, The moon is shining and when the cloud covers it, it becomes dark and when it goes away the moon shines again”, and that is our hearts has the light of Iman in it and when a cloud of sins covers it, the person is left in darkness and loneliness, and we increases his Iman the cloud goes away and he/she is back to the light on Iman again.”
There is no doubt that Iman fluctuates in constancy, and it is up to us to renew our faith and carry out other small acts to keep our hearts firm upon our faith. Personally, I have found the following practices valuable and effective in my daily journey to tasting the sweetness of faith. I believe that such exercises are the key to elevating our relationship with the Creator, and I want to share them with you so that we all are able to experience the sweetness of faith:
- Cleansing my phone of unnecessary distractions
Install one simple Athan or Quran app that alerts you of notifications, as a constant reminder of prayer and purpose. Log off social media for a day- we see so many social media cleanses but personally I don’t see the benefit of staying off for a week or month then going back to normal. Set a day where you log out the night before, a day like Sunday is a good one to force you to do better things with your time.
- Read the Quran with Translation or Tafsir.
Just reading a page or two can really impact sweetness of faith, sit and contemplate what you have read and let it have an effect on how you live your life. Apps like QuranExplorer are great tools for such practices.
- Do not place limits on your duas
Place your duas in the hands of Allah azza wa-jalla. As humans and servants to the Most Merciful, this is the only place we can place our deepest desires and wishes in this world without any worries or judgement – use this time to empty your heart of unwanted baggage, to clear those clouds and ask for what you truly desire.There is no room for such sustainable relief in worldly objects or people. Make your duas inclusive and extensive: Remember to pray for yourself, for your friends and family and for the entire ummah.
- Feeding the needy:
Volunteering and taking part in charity is truly humbling. From my own experience, I feel that it has opened my mind, allowing me to be more conscious and aware of the endless blessing and benefits Allah azza wa-jalla bestows upon us in our daily lives.
I cannot recommend this practice more, you can do this once a week, or even a month. Be consistent and you will see the benefit and light you will gain from just volunteering some of your time or effort.
- Perform Dhikr
‘And remember the Name of Allah much, so that you may be successful’ [8:45]
Start by increasing your Dhikr- try contemplating and reflecting upon what you are saying and feeling, embody the words and allow them to humble you.
- Visit the sick
As muslims we should be serving our communities; checking in on one another and ensuring the physical and mental wellbeing of those who are less fortunate. Far too many vulnerable people are left in hospitals and care homes alone with no one to visit them. If you are currently in self isolation (which you all should be) take this feeling and remember it because I know a lot of us are struggling to stay indoors and not having face to face communication with others. But now think about those who experience this on a daily basis. Visit the old and the sick, and be thankful to Allah azza wa-jalla for your health and your youth. You feel the sweetness of this and the reward is felt from within you, do it privately or make a small group friends when you can go together and sit with older or sick people, and listen to their stories make them feel heard and seen.
- Remember death
Finally, remember our inevitable end. We are not promised the next second let alone the next day, so seek knowledge of the mercies of Allah azza wa-jalla, and the blessing He has bestowed upon us. Sit and contemplate each drop of knowledge you gain, and implement as much as you can in order to gain some sweetness and feeling from your personal relationship with faith.
- Remember Allah is Ar-Rahman
Allah Jalla jalaluhu is Ar-Rahman, something a lot of us tend to forget and our religion is a religion of ease, “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship.” (Qur’an, 2:185). Do not burden yourselves with pressures and expectations that Allah Jalla jalaluhu has not commanded you to maintain. Spend time reminding brothers and sisters that you see suffering with this about the mercy of Allah Jalla jalaluhu. Verily the constant remembrance of the mercies Allah Jalla jalaluhu have bestowed upon us will revitalise the sweetness in our faith.
Remember not to be too hard on yourself. There are spiritual aspects of your life that have become so normal to you, that you do not see them as anything remarkable, but these characteristics require strong faith. On a Friday you may sacrifice your lunchtime for Jummah. This activity of going to Jummah requires strong Iman and effort, more than our ordinary Zuhr prayers. If I asked you, do you regret that time you sacrificed? You would say no, the fact that you don’t regret that you spent this time going to Jummah is what can also be referred to as the sweetness of Iman.
I definitely don’t do all of the above every week, and asking so much of yourself immediately may seem unsustainable, therefore as a start, pick something that stands out to you and implement it into your daily life- and build up from there. We (the islamic community) focus a lot on how we should treat others: the rights of others, the duties we have to our neighbours and communities, and so on and so forth but we need shed light on how we should treat ourselves: the rights we owe towards ourselves, and putting those rights as a priority is very important. You cannot treat others with ihsaan if you do not know how to treat yourself with ihsaan.And you cannot give to others if you are not giving to yourself – “you cannot pour from an empty cup”. So gage where you are on your own journey and take steps you are comfortable with, and make Dua for the steps you want to take but are not yet ready to. For Allah Jalla jalaluhu is Ar-Razzaq (The Provider), Al Fattaah (The Opener of Closed Doors), and As Samee’ (the all hearing).
If you have anything that you think helps with Tasting the Sweetness of Faith drop a comment below and share with the community. Even if you may think it’s so small and insignificant, it could transform another’s relationship with their faith and potentially change their entire lives- Allah will bless you with the reward for bringing someone closer to Him.
“The only true love is bringing people close to Allah azza wa-jalla”
– Mohamed Hoblos
Featured photography by Nadeem Ghafur @nadeemghafur
Thank you Sohaib, for sharing such a beneficial post with words of reassurance.
May we all taste the sweetness of faith.