I was inspired to write this earlier today when a friend of mine asked me for advice:
“I just cannot stop listening to music…I want to, but it’s too hard!”
This is something we’ve all probably said to ourselves, or listened to others say. Whether the issue at hand is music or something else, we have a hard time letting go of the things that we hold dear in our hearts. There is a burning fire in some of us that makes us want to let go and change, but we just can’t actually do it. Being in this situation a few times, I can say that it is not easy.
When Islam was first delivered to the people of Arabia, it was an aberrant message. At that time, people used to practice a lot of things that today, we, as Muslims, consider Haraam. The people who received the message had a choice: to choose to live Islam or go on to live as they usually did. The people who wanted change and who wanted to do the right thing abandoned the actions they were told were wrong and struggled to change their lives for the best. Similarly, if you want to change something, you have to sincerely want to change it. You can’t claim that you want change and show no effort, no sign of improvement, and no progress toward your goal. No one will coerce you – the choice is all yours.
As many of us know, the companions of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) used to drink tons of alcohol before the divine revelation came down forbidding alcohol. Alcohol is one of those things which people develop an inveterate habit to and drink abundantly. It’s so hard to stop drinking once it’s a part of one’s life that nowadays, they have rehab centers and specialists to help people overcome their alcoholic addictions and problems. For the companions, when they were told that they weren’t allowed to drink alcohol and that it was forbidden, they instantly threw the alcohol out. If one had it in his mouth, he’d spit it out. If he was bringing the glass to his lips, he’d throw the glass down. Some even went as far as gagging themselves to induce vomiting to remove the alcohol they just drank. What caused these people that loved alcohol to do such a thing? How did they abruptly stop when they were commanded to do so? How did they instantly accomplish what takes people years of rehab to stop?
Well, here’s the thing; it wasn’t truly “instant.”
The first verses revealed to the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) in the early days were verses that talked about heaven and hell. They were verses that increased the Iman of the believers and struck fear into their hearts. They warned the believers about the consequences of not obeying their Creator. These verses rooted a connection between Allah and the believers. This was the connection that allowed them to overcome their obstacles and hardships. Whatever love they may have had for anything in this earth, it was nothing compared to their love for Allah. Whatever they may have feared in this world, their fear of Allah was even greater.
When the companions heard that Allah told them to stop drinking, they stopped immediately because no matter how powerful their love for alcohol was, their hearts were overflowing with love for Allah. After all of these years of working on their Iman, the companions’ hearts were ready and they were able to stop drinking once the command came down because of their connection with Allah. It wasn’t instant, but rather, an exceedingly long process. We ourselves need to strive as well to establish a true connection and relationship with Allah.
We need to want to fill our hearts with love for Allah as it will benefit all of us, myself included, tremendously. When we want to let go of something and when we want to change, it should be out of our love for Allah that we abandon these things. If we aren’t able to do it for the sake of Allah, then we should at least fear Allah and His punishments so that our fear will overcome our love for these things. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether we want to stop listening to music, or if we want to start reading more Quran; rather, it lies in our connection with Allah that will empower us to attain any goal we strive to achieve.
We should never forget to ask for Allah’s help for after all, He is the turner of hearts.
In At-Tirmidhi, it is recorded that Shahr Bin Hawshab said, “I asked Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) what was the Du’a’ that Rasulullah (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) used to make the most when he was by her. She said: The du’aa that he (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) used to make the most was:
يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِى عَلَى دِينِكَ
Oh turner of hearts, make my heart firm upon Your religion.”