MOVING CLOSER TO ALLAH: THE HOW

INTRODUCTION
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (R.A.) who said: The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said,
“Verily Allah (S.W.T) has said: ‘Whosoever shows enmity to a wali (friend) of Mine, then I have declared war against him. And My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the religious duties I have obligated upon him. And My servant continues to draw near to me with nafil (supererogatory) deeds until I Love him. When I Love him, I become his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hands with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and where he to seek refuge with Me, I would surely grant him refuge.”
Reported by Bukhari.

Deadlines. Meetings. Overflowing to-do lists. Something to do, somewhere to be.
We get so busy with our lives that we find ourselves slipping slowly away from Allah. Our prayers become rushed, we can’t find the time to read the Qur’an and we are too occupied to make time to attend Islamic gatherings.
We become so caught-up in the world that we don’t even realize it.
Then we start to feel the effects of being distant from Allah. We become restless, and can’t find the peace of mind that we crave.
Below are simple little tips that can be incorporated into our daily routine to bring us closer to Allah. So no matter how distant we feel, we should always remember that we can easily do these, and continue on our journey of gaining Allah’s Pleasure.

DUA
“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me –indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me…”
[Al-Baqarah: 186]
We tend to assume that dua has to be formal, and what we want must be very important before making dua for it. We usually use dua as a last resort, when we’ve exhausted all our options. And this should not be the case.
We forget that we can ask Allah for anything –absolutely anything, and our dua would be accepted, in sha Allah. Our Iman is not by our own doing, it is Allah’s gift upon us. So why don’t we call on Him to help us become closer to Him?

QUR’AN
“This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah.”
[Al-Baqarah: 2]
The Qur’an is the Pure Manual of our lives sent down to us by Allah, through the Prophet (S.A.W.).
It is no wonder that our lives don’t feel complete without it. The Qur’an is supposed to be our guide, our refuge, our therapy and our soothing balm. The Qur’an was made to be all these things to us.
Find time to open the Qur’an at least once, every day, even if it is just for five minutes. You can listen to the Arabic audios while reading the translation. This does wonders to your Arabic vocabulary and keeps you focused while reading. If you finish reading the whole Qur’an, start again. You understand the Qur’an the more that you read it.

SALAH
On the authority of Abu Huraryah (R.A.), who said that the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said:
Our Lord (S.W.T.) descends each night to the earth’s sky when there remains the final third of the night, and He says: “Who is saying a prayer to Me that I may answer it? Who is asking something of Me that I may give it to him? Who is asking for forgiveness of Me that I may forgive him?”
Related by al-Bukari.
There is a reason that Allah has ordained salah for us five times in a day. It is for us to rejuvenate our iman, and become conscious of Him.
Normally, we tend to get distracted during our five daily salah. This is why I recommend taking out the time and effort to wake up to pray tahajjud. In this way, we get to make salah at a time when there are no distractions, and when dua is readily accepted by Allah.

AVOIDING SINS
“And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins –and who can forgive sins except Allah?- and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know”
[Al-Imran: 135]
Sins push us away from Allah. Instead of giving up on a sin that we are committing, we tend to assume that adding extra acts of Ibadah to our daily to-do list would do the job of bringing us closer to Allah. The goal should always be to stop bad deeds first before committing to doing good deeds.
There is a difference between falling into the same sin over and over again (as a result of having a bad habit), and persisting stubbornly in that same sin while you already know that it is wrong.
So when Allah, by His infinite Mercy, has made us aware of the sin that we are committing, what do we do?
This brings me to my next point;

TAWBAH
“And ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him. Indeed, my Lord is Merciful and Affectionate.”
[Hud: 90]
We, as human beings were not created to be perfect. As they say, to err, is human. All that Allah wants from us is to ask for His forgiveness, and repent to Him, soon after we make a mistake.
Constant repentance to Allah brings us closer to Him and makes us aware of our sins. When we forgo repentance with the belief that we are hypocritical, or that Allah would not forgive us, then we become unaffected by such sins. This causes the hardening of our hearts.

REMEMBRANCE OF ALLAH
“So remember Me, I will remember you…”
[Al-Baqarah: 152]
It is quite simple –to become closer to Allah, we have to fill our lives with His remembrance.
Surround yourself with things and activities that remind you of Allah. Attend Islamic programs/gatherings. Hang out with fellow Muslims that make you conscious of your behavior. Listen to the Qur’an or Islamic lectures while commuting. Read Islamic books during your free time. Fill your life and your daily mundane activities with things that make you conscious of Allah.

CONSISTENCY
Narrated by Abu Hurayrah (R.A.) that the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) said:
“Take on only as much as you can do of good deeds, for the best deed is that which is done consistently, even if it is little.”
[Sunan Ibn Majah. Book 37, Hadith 4381]
Don’t overwhelm yourself. Pick simple good deeds that you can commit to, and focus on doing them to the best of your ability. When you fall short of your goals, pick yourself up, and continue. Becoming closer to Allah does not happen in a day. So be consistent with doing deeds that bring you closer to Him.

CONCLUSION
As Iman (faith) is something that increases and decreases, we have to make sure that we are constantly trying to get closer to Allah. This world is temporary, and Allah has already promised to fill our lives with goodness and contentment, if we worship Him.
Being close to Allah is a double bonus –we get to live a good life in this dunya (worldly life), and enter into paradise in the akirah (hereafter). May Allah keep us close to Him, and let us find sweetness in worshipping Him. Ameen.

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