In all the time I have spent with the Quran, I have experienced this helplessness against time and situations in which I cannot accomplish what I want to do. The motivation of the Quran is so great. It urges me to go forward and do all the good deeds with excellence so that I might be one of the fortunate people who will be forgiven on the day of judgement. But then when the time comes to apply the lessons, my reactions are mostly not according to what I have learned from the Quran and Hadith.
Yesterday as I was reading Quran, I came upon a couple of verses from surah An-Naziyat, which explained to me why we fail to act on our knowledge. This is what Allah says:
And as for him who had feared to stand before his Lord and restrained himself from evil desires.
Then indeed, Paradise shall be his abode. (79:40-41)
I understood from these words that despite knowledge our actions and reactions are mostly controlled by our habits which in turn are based on our desires. Even though it seems like these habits have made us helpless and we cannot do anything to correct them but fortunately there is one thing which has even more control over us than desires and that is fear of consequences. For instance you are sitting with people whom you respect very much and want to be on your best behaviour in their presence. Now even if something happens which irritates you, you will not shout nor will you frown but will gently let it pass… why? Where is your habit gone? It is still there but you have managed to control it because you fear to displease your esteemed companions. There can be a hundred examples from daily life where you control your desires/habits because of fear (or respect) of a person. But this control is only temporary and the moment that person is out of sight you return to your “normal” self. Therefore there is no development of the character.
For that we need to be on our best behaviour all the time… feeling the eyes of Allah upon us… our motivation should not be to impress people but to please Allah. Because at the end of Chapter-74 (Al-Muddathir) I found these beautiful words of Allah:
He Alone is worthy to be feared and He Alone is worthy of forgiving those who fear Him
This realization that Allah is looking at me and I don’t want to do such and such things in his presence… can be acquired through sincere and focused zikr and specially while we are fasting for His sake. I find that duas during Sajdahs, as well as at sehri and aftaar times are most beneficial.
So make the most of this Ramadaan and use its spiritual atmosphere to develop the habit of controlling your habits. InshaAllah if we are genuine in our desire for self purification, and our efforts are consistent and sincere then Allah’s help is very near 🙂