In this counseling answer:
• Struggle with yourself and surrender even when you don’t feel like it, and when it doesn’t come easy.
• Change your routine if you feel that it is becoming “stale”.
• Identify special nights out of the week to wake up and do tahajjud to make it more special.
As-Salamu `Alaikum sister,
Thank you for your question.
It’s a normal part of life; you can’t expect to be “there” all the time. The key is istiqamah (steadfastness). Even if we don’t “feel” it, stick to it and struggle with it. Don’t give up on it.
It has been said that the essence of courage is never having fear, but overcoming that fear when you have it. In many ways, the struggle of deen is the same. If it was always so easy for us to “stay in it”, then there wouldn’t be much value in it. The key is to struggle with yourself and surrender even when you don’t feel like it, and when it doesn’t come easy.
Of course, we want to do it. We want to feel that feeling we have during Ramadan and during those special times. Make that du’aa’ to Allah (swt). Ask Allah (swt) to fill your heart with love of His deen and love His remembrance.
Change your routine
Another important thing to consider and try is to change your routine if you feel that it is becoming “stale”, so to speak. The great Imam al-Haddad advises this, to change your wird when it starts to feel too redundant and you feel like your heart is not into it. Consult a sheikh/ustaz, if possible.
Don’t feel pressured to do the nawafil every day. The Prophet (saw) was commanded to pray tahajjud every night, but we were not. One thing you might want to try is to identify special nights out of the week to wake up and do tahajjud to make it more special. For example, Friday and Monday nights, we know are special nights in Islam for doing extra `ibadah. These are also great nights for opening your heart to Allah (swt).
There is something so special and so scared about being up at 3 or 4 am in the morning on those nights where everyone is asleep and the world is quiet and peaceful. Make your du’aa’ at that time. Ask Allah (swt) to bring back that love and feeling in your heart; yearn for Him and that closeness in the depths of the night. That is the way of our pious predecessors, and that is the time when our Prophet (saw) used to make his most beautiful and heartfelt du’aa’s.
Sometimes we have to reduce the supererogatory acts at times to once or twice a week until we feel that we want to do more. Nevertheless, the key is to do it consistently and to not abandon it altogether.
Struggle with yourself, sister. Don’t get discouraged because you have to struggle. That is what this deen is all about – struggling with our nafs (soul). That part of ourselves wants us to give up and stop striving toward Allah (swt). Doing this helps us to learn about ourselves in the process.
That is the beauty of what you are actually going through. If you approach it with the right attitude and, first and foremost, accept it rather than fight it, you will see that it is an opportunity for you to step back and evaluate yourself. Hey, what’s going on here? Why do I “feel” different?
Maybe you are evolving in some ways and you are at a stage now where you feel that you need to apply your Islam in your everyday life more rather than spending more of your time in solitary kinds of activities.
Maybe you want to be out there in the world serving creation with your knowledge and faith. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just make sure you are doing it for Allah’s (swt) sake and then go – serve. Help your friends and your colleagues; study hard; serve your parents; be a source of good in the world and serve Allah (swt).
Just because you are not praying and reading articles about Islam doesn’t mean you are not being a good Muslim. I know to live in Malaysia (I have lived there for 11 years) that often the mindset of Muslims there is very narrow. They often understand religion to be restricted to rituals and rules. Don’t fall into that trap. That is secularism actually and many people there can’t see it.
Islam is EVERYTHING we do at ALL times. It is being conscious of all in all of our activities, for there is virtually never a time where we cannot be in remembrance of Allah (swt). Remembrance of Allah (swt) is the foundation of good deeds. Whoever succeeds in it is blessed with the close friendship of Allah (swt). That is why the Prophet (saw) used to make remembrance of Allah (swt) at all times.
The Prophet (saw) said:
“Do not talk too much without remembrance of Allah. Indeed excessive talking without remembrance of Allah hardens the heart. And indeed the furthest of people from Allah is the harsh-hearted.” (Tirmidhi)
Focus on focusing and concentration in `ibadah. When you feel your mind wandering, bring yourself back to the zikr. Train your mind to constantly return to Allah’s (swt) remembrance rather than fighting your mind. Don’t try to “block out”the mental noise, rather, focus on focusing – remembering is just that, making an effort to remember Allah (swt). Keep at it, for it’s like exercise. Sometimes you feel like you had a good workout and other times not so good. But in the end, there is still benefit for us nonetheless.
Don’t expect the non-Ramadan time to be like Ramadan. Ramadan is a very unique and special time of year. There’s a reason why it is the best and holiest month of the year, so don’t create unrealistic expectations and expect the rest of the year to be like Ramadan. That is why we are supposed to feel so sad when Ramadan ends because it is so special.
Setting up expectations that cannot be met is a recipe for what you are going through. Yes we want to maintain the same spirit and discipline that we do in Ramadan, but we must realize that Ramadan is Ramadan, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
Please feel free to write us again if you have any followed up questions.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.