Consistency is the key to success

A page of my diary…written three years ago in Nov-2005

I was so depressed in the morning because lately I have felt that all my efforts, of self purification, seemed to take me backwards instead of forward. The more I tried to be good, the more BAD I saw of myself and victimized my near and dear ones with bad behaviour. And this morning I thought, “Well, that’s it…I am too tired. I can’t go on any more. If I am so bad then it’s no use and I will just go and sleep it off.”

Then all of a sudden in that quiet moment of extreme pain and despair these words rang in my mind as if someone was calling me from a far off place. The words were that ‘don’t let your nafs (self) control you and don’t be a slave of your moods. Control your mood instead.’ I thought that if I let myself be defeated this once, then it will be too late. So with a very heavy heart and stiff hands I got myself to open my diary and started writing. And as it has happened countless times in my life, the moment I started writing, there was a flow of ideas that was never there before. Before I used to think that it is a special talent I have, but now I know that Allah SWT never leaves us. He is always with us. His help is in the form of good friends or teachers and sometimes, in my case, there are unseen hands doing my work for me or unseen angels of mercy dictating to me words of wisdom and leading me out of my trouble. So I think this is a special gift that I have been given to share with others so that people who are “alone” need not feel alone and depressed at all.

I will now copy a little of what I wrote, or rather words that were “dictated” to me:

Solution to a ‘CONSISTENT’ Problem

Remember, gaps in our struggle to get to Jannah, however small and seemingly innocent and unintentional are the most cunning weapon of the devil. Through these gaps it deceives the Nafs (inner self)  to take hold of a person’s life. Today I truly understand the true meaning behind this hadith the gist of which is: “The best deed in Allah SWT’s Eyes is one that is consistent though small.”

Shaitaan is very clever. he knows the importance of consistent behavior better than us. So this is his favourite spot to hit. He has an edge here that the victim doesn’t even realize the damage that’s being done to him so there is no defense strategy in this area.

Alhamdulillah, Allah SWT has given me the clue to my repeated failure at self-improvement. Now all I have to do is hold on to it and see how it works in my life.

The defense plan is to make VERY small and easy time slots in which to do VERY important life-saving (rather iman-saving ) things in a VERY small amount. Stick to it for three consecutive days.

Three Day Program

1-   In the morning look at the sky and trees and talk to Allah SWT for 3 to 5 minutes. Talk to Him again at night before falling asleep (in these talks with Allah SWT try to feel His Presence and just let your heart come out, don’t be stiff and formal).

2-   Write 1 to 5 sentences in your daily journal. (it could be shukr to Allah or a tip that “comes” from Allah or any ayat that you love or a hadith or anything that you like. But it should not take you more than 10 minutes. Stop at this limit and don’t let the shaitaan get you carried away).

 3-   Memorize 1 to 2 ayat of the Quran daily. Repeat for 5 to 10 minutes.

 4-   Put some money in a sadaqah-box daily.

 5-   Share one ayat or hadith with your husband and each of your children, separately, taking not more than 5 to 10 minutes each.

 6-   Read one page out of any book (preferably one that you intended to read but left in between).

Important tip: Make a small table and list down all these tasks. Then write Alhamdulillah in front of the task instead of a “tick” where you have succeeded and Astaghfirullah instead of a “cross” if you should fail to accomplish the task.

Key points:

1-     Aim for consistency; work hard not to miss out even a single task or day

2-   Pray a lot for Allah SWT’s help

3-   If you succeed in it for three days then give yourself a treat like buying a new Qiraat tape or a book or going to meet a friend

4-   Report to a friend after three days (for a sense of immediate accountability)

5-   Share this experience with somebody

6-   Continue with the same program for another week before adding on to it

(Remember this three day program comprises of those things that are apart from your daily routine of  Ibadaat , zikr and learning activities; So it should be easy and not burdensome).

LAST but not least, remember that you are doing it for Allah SWT and no one else. You have just embarked upon a life-time program of self-purification and self-development. So think very carefully and add only those things which you feel that you can accomplish. This sense of achievement is the energy which will take you forward in your war against your self and the shaitaan and the rest of the negative forces of the world which stand in your way to Jannah . So don’t take it lightly. This process should be slow and steady. Learn to stay within the time slots you have assigned to your tasks. And ask for Allah SWT’s help all the way. 

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