Does the future look bleak? Are you always worried about money? Do you question Allah for your misfortunes? Do you brood on your past? Have you lost khushu in salah? Do you feel lazy in doing good deeds? Do you feel compelled to sin?
All these things indicate Satan’s hold on one’s mind being so strong that he has clouded one’s wisdom.
So far in our search for wisdom, we’ve been looking at the blocker of wisdom – Satan. We learned what prevents us from using our wisdom.
But how do we repair the damage? How do we get back control of our own minds? How do we gain wisdom?
What is wisdom, anyway? In a past article I tried to explain the meaning of wisdom. It’s a complex concept which is hard to define. In terms of outcome, wisdom is the ability to make the right choice.
My friend told me this drug would make me remember my study notes better. If it’s true, I’ll be able to pass all my exams. Should I try it? And the next thing you know, another youngster’s in the clutches of a narcotic.
Should I answer back to this guy who’s shown interest in me? A young hijabi woman who’s always lived a confined life will find sudden attention from the opposite sex almost irresistible. It will set her heart in a flutter, and Satan will use her fluttering emotions to cloud her mind.
Satan wants us to make the wrong choice every time. That’s why he fogs our wisdom, so that we only see as right what Satan wants to show us.
… but Satan made their deeds attractive to them. (Quran 16:63)
In order to regain control of our minds, we need to reverse the process Satan pushed us into.
The Prophet said:
When the believer commits sin, a black spot appears on his heart. If he repents and gives up that sin and seeks forgiveness, his heart will be polished. But if (the sin) increases, (the black spot) increases. That is the Ran that Allah mentions in His Book: ‘Nay! But on their hearts is the Ran (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn.’ (Ibn Majah V5, B37, no. 4244)
True repentance will cleanse your mind and unlock its potentials, enabling you to think and reflect with wisdom.
Secondly, we need to invoke Allah’s protection against Satan. This isn’t just done by isti’adhah (saying ‘I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan’). There are several other ways we need to adopt in order to protect ourselves from Satan, the foremost being leaving sins.
When we sin, we open a gateway for Satan to enter into our minds. We need to keep that gateway closed as much as we can. Whenever we slip, we will go back to step one – cleansing.
The daily remembrances which the Sunnah teaches us also protect us from Satan, especially the morning and evening remembrances. Here’s an example:
The Prophet said:
He who recites three times every morning and evening: ‘Bismillahil-ladhi la yadurru ma’as-mihi shai’un fil-ardi wa la fis-sama’i, wa Huwas-Sami’ul-‘Alim (In the Name of Allah with Whose Name there is protection against every kind of harm in the earth or in the heaven, and He is the All-Hearing and All- Knowing),’ nothing will harm him. (At-Tirmidhi 3388)
You’ll find this and many other Sunnah dhikrs in Shaykh Qahtani’s The Fortress of the Muslim.
The Quran also acts as an invincible shield against Satan. Reciting and listening to the Quran is like a medicine for the heart. But it doesn’t end there. There’s much more to the Quran than we give credit to. More on this later insha’Allah.
In our fast-paced lives, just sitting on your sofa and doing nothing but thinking is something unthinkable. We don’t count it as being productive. Smartphone zombies who lie in bed watching video after video in a completely haphazard way are seen as being more productive; at least they are “doing” something.
We need to redefine our definition of productivity; we need to learn to be productively idle.
Reflection on Allah’s signs is a form of worship. In the Quran, Allah encourages us repeatedly to reflect, think, ponder, use our brains.
… Thus, Allah makes evident the signs to you, that possibly you would meditate. (Quran 2:219)
Modern science also has unearthed many benefits of reflection. That’s why certain forms of meditation and exercises on relaxing and focusing one’s mind have become so popular nowadays.
Consider cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s one of the most popular and effective therapies for depression and anxiety, and its focal point is reflection on your thoughts.
Being aware of your thoughts helps you know yourself, your virtues and weaknesses. It helps you discover new meanings in the signs of Allah that surround you in His creation. It improves your ability to detect the whispers of Satan. All these contribute to improving your wisdom.
He gives wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good. And none will remember except those of understanding (Ulul Albab). (Quran 2:269)
Who are the Ulul Albab? Allah defines their characteristics in another verse:
Those who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], ‘Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire….’
What are the things that Allah encourages us to reflect on? What are the signs of Allah that help us improve our wisdom? Are there other ways of increasing wisdom? We’ll discuss these issues in the next article insha’Allah.