Almost all of us have experienced times in our lives when our trust in Allah or obedience to Him are weaker than they should be. Sometimes extremely difficult challenges distract and upset us, making worship seem more burden than blessing. Other times we’re so caught up in enjoying our blessings that we become complacent and ungrateful, forgetting how desperately we need to embrace our deen, even in the good times. No matter what the cause of our eman slump, we need to find a way out.
This dunya, with all of its pain and pleasure, is temporary. We should not waste a single moment that could be spent earning Allah’s pleasure. When we feel ourselves slipping into a slump, we must learn to identify it, pick ourselves up, and get back to our purpose – worshiping Allah to the best of our ability. Here are some tips for when you feel like your faith is weak.
Remember: a dip in Eman does not make you a bad person, or a hopeless case.
Even the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), the most perfect Muslim and the most beloved by Allah, worried and prayed about the steadfastness of his heart. He realized that humans are imperfect, changeable, and weak. In an authentic hadith, we learn that Shahr bin Hawshab said: “I said to Umm Salamah (wife of Prophet Muhammad): ‘O Mother of the Believers! What was the supplication that the Messenger of Allah said most frequently when he was with you?’ She said, ‘The supplication he said most frequently was, “O Changer of the hearts, make my heart firm upon Your religion’” (al-Tirmidhi).
The second we feel hopelessness or doubts creeping in, we should make the same supplication as our beloved Prophet. Knowing that weakness is part of being human can help us be gentle with ourselves. It also reminds us that a strong eman is not something to take for granted; it is a gift from Allah that we must cherish and nurture.
Find Solace: Allah has not abandoned you.
An eman slump often goes hand-in-hand with feelings of helplessness or despair. A vicious cycle begins when we feel too sad or lethargic to keep up with our Islamic duties, then guilty and ashamed when we avoid our responsibilities, and then even more despondent. The most important thing to remember in our times of weakness is that Allah SWT has not abandoned us. He never will. He is closer to us than the jugular vein, no matter how distant we feel from Him.
While we may have strayed from Him, He has not gone anywhere. He is eagerly waiting for us to reconnect with Him. We might have been lazy, sinful, unmotivated, or struggling, but He is constant, perfect, and perpetually loving. His mercy outweighs our ingratitude, and His forgiveness is more powerful than our sins. He is always eagerly awaiting our repentance and allowing us opportunities to make a U-turn, no matter how far we’ve traveled in the wrong direction.
Shaytaan is devious. He wants to make us think that we’re beyond hope, that our weak eman has taken us too far from our Lord, and that we should just give up. Every time a nagging voice inside us says that we’ve sinned too much, skipped too many prayers, grown too distant from our Lord, we need to know this first and foremost: Allah’s mercy is so vast that He can and will forgive our sins. It is our duty to repent sincerely and start making efforts, even if this means starting with baby steps.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) has told us that Allah the Almighty said: “O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it” (al-Tirmidhi and Ahmad ibn Hanbal).
Take Action: The best way to reconnect with Allah is through acts of worship.
While our five daily prayers are the bedrock of our duties, there are voluntary acts that help us connect to Him. At the first sign of an eman slump, take action:
- Qur’an — Read the Qur’an and let Allah’s words be a balm for your soul. Listen to the recitation that you enjoy most. Replace television, podcasts, music, or other forms of distraction with Qur’an and see how peaceful you will start to feel.
- Gratitude — When times are tough, there are still many things to be grateful for. Make a list of things you want to thank Allah for, especially the multitude of basic things we take for granted.
- Praise — Making dhikr by saying “subhanAllah, alhamdullilah, and Allahu akbar” or “la ilaha illa Allah” or “subhan Allahi wa bi hamdihi” can bring us nearer to our Lord. The Prophet said: “Allah says: ‘I am as My slave thinks of me, and I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me within himself, I remember him within Myself; and if he remembers Me in a gathering, I remember him in a better gathering; and if he draws one span nearer to Me, I draw one cubit nearer to him; and if he draws one cubit nearer to Me, I draw a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running’” (Ḥadīth Qudsi, Bukhari).
- Istighfar — Saying astaghfirullah (I seek forgiveness from Allah) is a wonderful way to find relief and happiness. Asking Allah for forgiveness can reduce anxiety, increase inner peace, and facilitate contentment. Istighfar opens the doors of sustenance, mercy, and ease.
- Duaa — Ask Allah to help you with everything that is distressing you. He will never tire of our requests, and He will never leave us empty-handed. One beautiful supplication that is useful in many situations is, “O Allah, there is no ease except what You make easy. And you can ease sorrow if You wish.” Remember to make duaa for others, as well. Whenever we ask something for our brother or sister in faith, an angel says, “Ameen, and the same to you.”
Finally, whenever you feel you have regained a state of strong eman, consider supporting a brother or sister who seems to be struggling. Offer a smile, a listening ear, financial help, a hot meal, or something that will lessen their burdens a little bit. With your help, they might feel more able to cope with life and spend more time in worship. You might be the one to help them out of their slump, and that is surely pleasing to your Lord. The Prophet told us, “Whoever relieves the hardship of a believer in this world, Allah will relieve his hardship on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever helps ease one in difficulty, Allah will make it easy for him in this world and in the Hereafter” (Sahih Muslim).