Weakness Of Faith


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  • Weakness Of Faith


  • Causes of weak faith

    There are many causes of weak faith, some of which are the same as the symptoms, such as committing sin or being preoccupied with this world. There follows a list of some additional causes:

    Keeping away from a faith-filled environment for too long. This causes weak faith in a person. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Has not the time come for the hearts of those who believe to be affected by Allaah’s Reminder (this Qur’aan), and that which has been revealed of the truth, lest they become as those who received the Scripture before (i.e., Jews and Christians), and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened? And many of them were faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allaah).” [al-Hadeed 57:16]. This aayah indicates that spending too much time away from a faith-filled environment leads to weakness of faith in the heart. For example, a person who stays away from his brothers in Islam for a long period, because of travel or work, etc., is going to miss the atmosphere of faith in which he was living and from which his heart gained its strength. The believer is weak on his own but strong with his brothers. Al-Hasan al-Basri (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Our brothers are dearer to us than our families, for our families remind us of this world, but our brothers remind us of the Hereafter.” If this absence goes on for too long, it creates alienation in the heart, which eventually changes into disdain for that faith-filled atmosphere, which in turn hardens the heart and fills it with darkness, extinguishing the light of eemaan. This explains the complete change of heart on the part of some who travel to other lands on vacation or who relocate for purposes of work or study.

    Keeping away from the good example of righteous leaders. The person who learns from a righteous man gains beneficial knowledge, does a righteous deed and strengthens his eemaan at the same time; (that leader) takes care of him and passes on to him the knowledge, good morals and virtues that he has. If he keeps away from that teacher for some time, he begins to feel hardness in his heart. For this reason when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) died and was buried, his Sahaabah said, “We looked at our hearts and felt that there had been a deep change.” They felt alienated and lost because their teacher and example (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had died. According to some reports, they were described as being “like sheep on a rainy winter’s night.” But the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) left behind great leaders, giants among men, all of whom were qualified to take up the reins of leadership, and some of them became examples to the others. But nowadays the Muslims are in desperate need of examples close at hand to them.

    Failing to seek knowledge and to be acquainted with the books of the salaf (early generation) and religious books which will uplift and revive the heart. There are many kinds of books which the reader will feel stir up faith in his heart and motivate him to fulfil his spiritual potential, foremost among which is the Book of Allaah, may He be exalted, and the books of hadeeth, followed by the books of scholars who are good at writing about issues that soften the heart and who explain ‘aqeedah (correct belief) in a manner that moves the soul and uplifts the heart, such as Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Rajab and others. By ignoring these books and reading only intellectual works, or books of fiqh rulings which do not quote their daleel (evidence), or books of grammar rules and usool (bases of ‘aqeedah), is something that may have the effect of hardening the heart. This is not a criticism of those books per se, it is only a warning to the person who keeps away from books of Tafseer and hadeeth and hardly ever reads them, even though they are the books that bring one closer to Allaah. For example, when one reads al-Saheehayn (al-Bukhaari and Muslim), you feel the atmosphere of the age of the Prophet(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and the Sahaabah, and you feel the breeze of eemaan by sharing the events that happened in their time.

    The people of hadeeth are the people of the Messenger; even if they did not have the chance to be with him, they are with his words.

    This problem – keeping away from religious books – clearly has an effect on those who study disciplines which have no connection with Islam, such as philosophy, psychology, social science, etc., disciplines which have been developed far away from Islamic teachings. The same applies to those who love to read fiction and love stories, or who follow worthless news stories in newspapers, magazines and so on.

    Living in an environment that is filled with sin, so you see one boasting about his latest misdemeanour, another humming popular songs to himself, a third smoking, a fourth reading a pornographic magazine, a fifth cursing and swearing, and so on. As for talk about who said what to whom, gossip, backbiting and discussion about the latest football match, there is no end to it.

    Some environments remind one only of this world, as is the case in most gatherings and work-places nowadays. Discussions about business, work, money, investments, work-related problems, raises, promotions, assignments and so on take precedence in the minds and speech of most people nowadays.

    As for what goes on in the home – there is a lot we can say about the disasters and evil deeds that cause the Muslim shame and hurt him deeply. Muslim homes are filled with shameless songs, vile movies, forbidden mixing of the sexes and so on. No doubt in such an environment hearts are stricken with the disease of hardness.

    Preoccupation with this world, so that the heart is enslaved by it. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “He is doomed, the slave of the dinar and the slave of the dirham” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, no. 2730), and, “All that is sufficient for any one of you in this world is the supply of the traveller” (reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 4/78; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2384) – meaning a little of something that will help him to reach his destination. This phenomenon (preoccupation with this world) is very apparent in our own times, when material greed and the desire to acquire more worthless worldly goods have become widespread, and people are now running after trade, manufacturing and shares. This confirms what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah, may He be glorified, says: ‘We have sent down wealth for the establishment of prayer and the payment of zakaat, but if the son of Adam has one valley, he will wish that he had a second, and if he had two valleys, he would wish that he had a third. The stomach of the son of Adam will be filled only with dust (i.e., he is never satisfied) then Allaah will accept the repentance of the one who repents.” (Reported by Ahmad, 5/219; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1781).

    Being preoccupied with one’s wealth, wife and children. Allaah says (interpretation of the meanings): “And know that your possessions and children are but a trial and that surely with Allaah is a mighty reward.” [al-Anfaal 8:28] and, “Beautified for men is the love of things they covet: women, children, much of gold and silver (wealth), branded beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present world’s life, but Allaah has the excellent return (Paradise).” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:14]. The meaning of these aayat is that if the love of these things, especially women and children, is given precedence over obedience to Allaah and His Messenger, then it is regarded as being bad, but if the love of these things is within the bounds of sharee’ah, it helps a man to obey Allaah and in this case it is praiseworthy. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “In this world, women and good scents have been made dear to me, but dearest of all to me is prayer.” (Reported by Ahmad, 3/128; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3124). Many men follow their wives in doing haraam deeds, and allow their children to distract them from worshipping Allaah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Children are the cause of grief, cowardice, ignorance and miserliness.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 24/241; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1990). When he said that they are the cause of miserliness, he meant that if a man wants to spend for the sake of Allaah, the Shaytaan reminds him of his children, so he thinks, “My children deserve the money, I will leave it for them when I die, so he is miserly in the sense that he refrains from spending it for the sake of Allaah. When he said that children are the cause of cowardliness, he meant that when a man wants to fight in jihaad for the sake of Allaah, the Shaytaan comes to him and says, “You will be killed and will die, and your children will become orphans, lost and alone,” so he stays home and does not go out for jihaad. When he said that children are the cause of ignorance, he meant that they distract a father from seeking knowledge and trying to acquire learning by attending gatherings and reading books. When he said that children are the cause of grief, he meant that when a child gets sick, the parent feels grief; if the child asks for something that the father cannot provide, this grieves the father; and if the child grows up and rebels against his father, this is a cause of ongoing grief and distress.

    This is not to say that one should forego marrying and having children; what is meant is that one should beware of becoming preoccupied with them and letting that lead one to commit haraam deeds.

    Concerning the temptation of wealth, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Every nation has its fitnah (trial or temptation), and the fitnah of my ummah is wealth.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 2336; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2148). Eagerness to acquire wealth is more damaging to a person’s religion than the wolf who attacks the sheepfold. This is what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) meant when he said: “Two hungry wolves sent against the sheep do not do more damage to them than a man’s eagerness for wealth and standing does to his religion.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 2376; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5620). For this reason the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) urged Muslims to take just what is sufficient, without hoping for more, which could distract him from remembering Allaah. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “All that you need of wealth is a servant and a means of transportation to go out for the sake of Allaah.” (Reported by Ahmad, 5/290; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2386). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) issued a warning to those who want to accumulate wealth, except for those who give in charity: “Woe to those who want to accumulate wealth, except for the one who says with his wealth, ‘Here! Here! Here!’ (i.e., giving it away) to one on his right, one on his left, one in front of him and one behind him,” (reported by Ibn Maajah, no. 4129; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7137) – meaning all forms of charity.

    Hoping for a long life. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Leave them to eat and enjoy, and let them be preoccupied with (false) hope. They will come to know!” [al-Hijr 15:3]. ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “What I fear for you is following your desires and hoping for a long life, for following one’s desires makes a man ignore the truth, and hoping for a long life makes him forget the Hereafter. (Fath al-Baari, 11/236). Another report says: “Four things are causes of doom: dry eyes (i.e., never weeping), a hard heart, hope for a long life and eagerness for this world.” Hoping for a long life generates laziness in worship, procrastination, desire for the things of this world, neglect of the Hereafter and hardness of heart, because softness of heart and clarity of vision can only be achieved by remembering death, the grave, reward and punishment, and the horrors of the Day of Judgement, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “… and the term was prolonged for them and their hearts were hardened…” [al-Hadeed 57:16]. It was said: “Whoever does not hope for a long life will have less worries and his heart will be filled with light, because he calls death to mind and strives to obey Allaah…” (Fath al-Baari, 11/237)

    Another cause of weak faith and hard-heartedness is eating too much, sleeping too much, staying up too late, talking too much and mixing with people too much. Eating too much makes the brain slow and the body heavy, which prevents a person from worshipping Allaah and makes it easy for Shaytaan to tempt him, as it was said: “Whoever eats too much, drinks too much and sleeps too much, loses a great reward.” Talking too much hardens the heart, and mixing too much with people stops a person from having time to be alone and reflect on his own state. Laughing too much drains life from the heart. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said in a saheeh hadeeth: “Do not laugh too much, for excessive laughter deadens the heart.” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, 4193; see also Saheeh al-Jaami’). Time that is not filled with worship of Allaah also leads to hard-heartedness, as a person pays heed to neither the rebukes of the Qur’aan nor the advice of faith.

    The causes of weak faith are many indeed, and it is impossible to list them all, but what we have listed above will give the reader an impression of others which we have not mentioned here. The wise person understands this innately. We ask Allaah to purify our hearts and protect us from the evil of our own selves.

    Causes of weak faith

    There are many causes of weak faith, some of which are the same as the symptoms, such as committing sin or being preoccupied with this world. There follows a list of some additional causes:

    Keeping away from a faith-filled environment for too long. This causes weak faith in a person. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Has not the time come for the hearts of those who believe to be affected by Allaah’s Reminder (this Qur’aan), and that which has been revealed of the truth, lest they become as those who received the Scripture before (i.e., Jews and Christians), and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened? And many of them were faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allaah).” [al-Hadeed 57:16]. This aayah indicates that spending too much time away from a faith-filled environment leads to weakness of faith in the heart. For example, a person who stays away from his brothers in Islam for a long period, because of travel or work, etc., is going to miss the atmosphere of faith in which he was living and from which his heart gained its strength. The believer is weak on his own but strong with his brothers. Al-Hasan al-Basri (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Our brothers are dearer to us than our families, for our families remind us of this world, but our brothers remind us of the Hereafter.” If this absence goes on for too long, it creates alienation in the heart, which eventually changes into disdain for that faith-filled atmosphere, which in turn hardens the heart and fills it with darkness, extinguishing the light of eemaan. This explains the complete change of heart on the part of some who travel to other lands on vacation or who relocate for purposes of work or study.

    Keeping away from the good example of righteous leaders. The person who learns from a righteous man gains beneficial knowledge, does a righteous deed and strengthens his eemaan at the same time; (that leader) takes care of him and passes on to him the knowledge, good morals and virtues that he has. If he keeps away from that teacher for some time, he begins to feel hardness in his heart. For this reason when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) died and was buried, his Sahaabah said, “We looked at our hearts and felt that there had been a deep change.” They felt alienated and lost because their teacher and example (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had died. According to some reports, they were described as being “like sheep on a rainy winter’s night.” But the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) left behind great leaders, giants among men, all of whom were qualified to take up the reins of leadership, and some of them became examples to the others. But nowadays the Muslims are in desperate need of examples close at hand to them.

    Failing to seek knowledge and to be acquainted with the books of the salaf (early generation) and religious books which will uplift and revive the heart. There are many kinds of books which the reader will feel stir up faith in his heart and motivate him to fulfil his spiritual potential, foremost among which is the Book of Allaah, may He be exalted, and the books of hadeeth, followed by the books of scholars who are good at writing about issues that soften the heart and who explain ‘aqeedah (correct belief) in a manner that moves the soul and uplifts the heart, such as Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Rajab and others. By ignoring these books and reading only intellectual works, or books of fiqh rulings which do not quote their daleel (evidence), or books of grammar rules and usool (bases of ‘aqeedah), is something that may have the effect of hardening the heart. This is not a criticism of those books per se, it is only a warning to the person who keeps away from books of Tafseer and hadeeth and hardly ever reads them, even though they are the books that bring one closer to Allaah. For example, when one reads al-Saheehayn (al-Bukhaari and Muslim), you feel the atmosphere of the age of the Prophet(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and the Sahaabah, and you feel the breeze of eemaan by sharing the events that happened in their time.

    The people of hadeeth are the people of the Messenger; even if they did not have the chance to be with him, they are with his words.

    This problem – keeping away from religious books – clearly has an effect on those who study disciplines which have no connection with Islam, such as philosophy, psychology, social science, etc., disciplines which have been developed far away from Islamic teachings. The same applies to those who love to read fiction and love stories, or who follow worthless news stories in newspapers, magazines and so on.

    Living in an environment that is filled with sin, so you see one boasting about his latest misdemeanour, another humming popular songs to himself, a third smoking, a fourth reading a pornographic magazine, a fifth cursing and swearing, and so on. As for talk about who said what to whom, gossip, backbiting and discussion about the latest football match, there is no end to it.

    Some environments remind one only of this world, as is the case in most gatherings and work-places nowadays. Discussions about business, work, money, investments, work-related problems, raises, promotions, assignments and so on take precedence in the minds and speech of most people nowadays.

    As for what goes on in the home – there is a lot we can say about the disasters and evil deeds that cause the Muslim shame and hurt him deeply. Muslim homes are filled with shameless songs, vile movies, forbidden mixing of the sexes and so on. No doubt in such an environment hearts are stricken with the disease of hardness.

    Preoccupation with this world, so that the heart is enslaved by it. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “He is doomed, the slave of the dinar and the slave of the dirham” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, no. 2730), and, “All that is sufficient for any one of you in this world is the supply of the traveller” (reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 4/78; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2384) – meaning a little of something that will help him to reach his destination. This phenomenon (preoccupation with this world) is very apparent in our own times, when material greed and the desire to acquire more worthless worldly goods have become widespread, and people are now running after trade, manufacturing and shares. This confirms what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah, may He be glorified, says: ‘We have sent down wealth for the establishment of prayer and the payment of zakaat, but if the son of Adam has one valley, he will wish that he had a second, and if he had two valleys, he would wish that he had a third. The stomach of the son of Adam will be filled only with dust (i.e., he is never satisfied) then Allaah will accept the repentance of the one who repents.” (Reported by Ahmad, 5/219; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1781).

    Being preoccupied with one’s wealth, wife and children. Allaah says (interpretation of the meanings): “And know that your possessions and children are but a trial and that surely with Allaah is a mighty reward.” [al-Anfaal 8:28] and, “Beautified for men is the love of things they covet: women, children, much of gold and silver (wealth), branded beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present world’s life, but Allaah has the excellent return (Paradise).” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:14]. The meaning of these aayat is that if the love of these things, especially women and children, is given precedence over obedience to Allaah and His Messenger, then it is regarded as being bad, but if the love of these things is within the bounds of sharee’ah, it helps a man to obey Allaah and in this case it is praiseworthy. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “In this world, women and good scents have been made dear to me, but dearest of all to me is prayer.” (Reported by Ahmad, 3/128; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3124). Many men follow their wives in doing haraam deeds, and allow their children to distract them from worshipping Allaah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Children are the cause of grief, cowardice, ignorance and miserliness.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 24/241; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1990). When he said that they are the cause of miserliness, he meant that if a man wants to spend for the sake of Allaah, the Shaytaan reminds him of his children, so he thinks, “My children deserve the money, I will leave it for them when I die, so he is miserly in the sense that he refrains from spending it for the sake of Allaah. When he said that children are the cause of cowardliness, he meant that when a man wants to fight in jihaad for the sake of Allaah, the Shaytaan comes to him and says, “You will be killed and will die, and your children will become orphans, lost and alone,” so he stays home and does not go out for jihaad. When he said that children are the cause of ignorance, he meant that they distract a father from seeking knowledge and trying to acquire learning by attending gatherings and reading books. When he said that children are the cause of grief, he meant that when a child gets sick, the parent feels grief; if the child asks for something that the father cannot provide, this grieves the father; and if the child grows up and rebels against his father, this is a cause of ongoing grief and distress.

    This is not to say that one should forego marrying and having children; what is meant is that one should beware of becoming preoccupied with them and letting that lead one to commit haraam deeds.

    Concerning the temptation of wealth, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Every nation has its fitnah (trial or temptation), and the fitnah of my ummah is wealth.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 2336; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2148). Eagerness to acquire wealth is more damaging to a person’s religion than the wolf who attacks the sheepfold. This is what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) meant when he said: “Two hungry wolves sent against the sheep do not do more damage to them than a man’s eagerness for wealth and standing does to his religion.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 2376; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5620). For this reason the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) urged Muslims to take just what is sufficient, without hoping for more, which could distract him from remembering Allaah. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “All that you need of wealth is a servant and a means of transportation to go out for the sake of Allaah.” (Reported by Ahmad, 5/290; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2386). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) issued a warning to those who want to accumulate wealth, except for those who give in charity: “Woe to those who want to accumulate wealth, except for the one who says with his wealth, ‘Here! Here! Here!’ (i.e., giving it away) to one on his right, one on his left, one in front of him and one behind him,” (reported by Ibn Maajah, no. 4129; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7137) – meaning all forms of charity.

    Hoping for a long life. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Leave them to eat and enjoy, and let them be preoccupied with (false) hope. They will come to know!” [al-Hijr 15:3]. ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “What I fear for you is following your desires and hoping for a long life, for following one’s desires makes a man ignore the truth, and hoping for a long life makes him forget the Hereafter. (Fath al-Baari, 11/236). Another report says: “Four things are causes of doom: dry eyes (i.e., never weeping), a hard heart, hope for a long life and eagerness for this world.” Hoping for a long life generates laziness in worship, procrastination, desire for the things of this world, neglect of the Hereafter and hardness of heart, because softness of heart and clarity of vision can only be achieved by remembering death, the grave, reward and punishment, and the horrors of the Day of Judgement, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “… and the term was prolonged for them and their hearts were hardened…” [al-Hadeed 57:16]. It was said: “Whoever does not hope for a long life will have less worries and his heart will be filled with light, because he calls death to mind and strives to obey Allaah…” (Fath al-Baari, 11/237)

    Another cause of weak faith and hard-heartedness is eating too much, sleeping too much, staying up too late, talking too much and mixing with people too much. Eating too much makes the brain slow and the body heavy, which prevents a person from worshipping Allaah and makes it easy for Shaytaan to tempt him, as it was said: “Whoever eats too much, drinks too much and sleeps too much, loses a great reward.” Talking too much hardens the heart, and mixing too much with people stops a person from having time to be alone and reflect on his own state. Laughing too much drains life from the heart. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said in a saheeh hadeeth: “Do not laugh too much, for excessive laughter deadens the heart.” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, 4193; see also Saheeh al-Jaami’). Time that is not filled with worship of Allaah also leads to hard-heartedness, as a person pays heed to neither the rebukes of the Qur’aan nor the advice of faith.

    The causes of weak faith are many indeed, and it is impossible to list them all, but what we have listed above will give the reader an impression of others which we have not mentioned here. The wise person understands this innately. We ask Allaah to purify our hearts and protect us from the evil of our own selves.

     
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