Often times in life, we associate spirituality with certain milestones. “I’ll become more religious when [x,y,z] happens.” “I’ll work on my relationship with Allah when I graduate or get married or get so and so job, etc.” We start to think that somehow in some form, certain moments or events could magically perfect our relationship with Allah- quick fix and done- but in reality, there is really no magic pill, no permanent bandaid, no solution that doesn’t require consistent effort.
Coming to Bayyinah, coming to spend 9 months day in and day out spending time with the book of Allah- I was ignorant and felt as if spirituality would be the least of my worries. I was going to be learning the Qur’an after all, it was going to be the perfect solution, the magic pill to get closer to Allah but I soon realized how wrong I was. One of my biggest struggles coming here, ironically, was trying to maintain my personal relationship with Allah. And it feels so vulnerable to even admit that. To be a student of the Qur’an and to feel distant from Allah- how could that even be a thing? Why?
Slowly, I started to realize what the root cause to this dilemma was. I was getting so caught up in the routine of things that my personal time, my “me” time with Allah was gradually disappearing. Amongst the rush of waking up, getting to class, staying on top of homework and vocabulary and reading and exams, I was living in such a mechanical way, going from one thing to the next on my to do list to the point that even salah was becoming mechanical. As much time as we were spending trying to study the language of the Qur’an, I wasn’t spending nearly enough time actually reflecting and personally connecting with the Qur’an. And thus, even though we were spending 8 hours a day in class plus another couple of hours studying outside of class- I felt so distant, so painfully distant.
Over the weeks, I’ve come to realize that just being here is not enough to better my relationship with Allah. No amount of drills or homework or grammatical analysis can replace taking time to sit down with the Qur’an and think, reflect, and really try to personally connect with what Allah is telling me. No amount of “studying” could really replace the nearness to Allah that came with sujood, with just sitting and talking to Allah, with just savoring solitude and peace in those moments where it was just me and my Master. Nothing can replace that.
All of the learning and studying and memorizing helps- they are all tools but at the end of the day, the information has to result in application- and that application happens in the quiet moments. That application happens on the heart first before anything else. That application happens on the quality of my salah, the willingness of my heart to call out and speak to Allah, and on my character. It doesn’t matter whether I am here studying the Qur’an, it doesn’t matter if someone has spend decades studying Islam, it doesn’t matter what you do or where you are in your journey- every single person has to consistently work on their heart. Every single person has to take care of their personal relationship with Allah, no matter what is going on around them.
Sometimes as we go through the motions in life, pushing ourselves to our limits, trying our best to do right by our responsibilities and commitments, we can get so caught up in them that we forget that the spiritual state of our hearts is also a responsibility. It’s also something that we have to take care of, if not one of the most important things to take care of because it keeps us going, it keeps us pushing forward. Amongst all the hustle and bustle- even 5 or 10 minutes of sitting in solitude after salah or just some time alone with the Qur’an, away from everything else, can be the perfect fuel. With some introspection- you can gradually realize what are the things that do and do not get you closer to Allah because there are some key things that are consistent across the board but there are some things can be very unique from individual to individual. Look deeply, create a list , and slowly develop consistent habits that work into your own schedule that can help you inch forward, closer and closer to Allah.
May Allah make us people that constantly remember Him no matter what is going on around us. May Allah grant life to our hearts and purify them and keep them striving for Him alone and make us people that consistently work towards cultivating our faith and make us people that He is pleased with. Ameen.