It is the never-ending pursuit of any God-fearing Muslim to get closer to his Lord and establish a relationship and connection with Him. The problem many Muslims face is that “life takes over”. After fulfilling duties towards employers, family, social responsibilities and so forth, one is left with very little time to work on his relationship with God. What we as Muslims must remember is that although we have to indulge in worldly life to a certain extent (for our sustenance and survival), this cannot be at the expense of our faith. We have to keep reminding ourselves and each other that life hereafter is our final home and we need to use this life to build a beautiful Afterlife. Here are five suggestions to help us work on our relationship with God and get closer to Him.
“The Prophet Muhammad(s) said that the best way to be content with what you have and not take God’s blessings for granted is to look at the person who has less than you.”
Perform the five daily prayers on time
Of course, the most basic obligation we have as Muslims is to offer the five daily prayers. But my emphasis is on praying it on time. Many Muslims are guilty of delaying Fajr until the last half an hour. Technically, the prayer has been offered on time but the blessings it carries are fewer. Let’s take the example of an apple. If you cut an apple and eat it straight away, you will be consuming all of its beneficial nutrients. However, if you cut the apple and leave it for an hour, it will start showing signs of wear, most commonly a brownish colour settles. Now if you eat this apple, you’re still receiving the nutrients but at lower levels. This is exactly the difference between praying on time versus half an hour before its expiry. If you are guilty of performing your prayers late, start praying them on time and immediately you will start to feel that closeness to God that you crave and He will open doors of wisdom and opportunity for you that you could have never imagined. If you fear deprivation from sustenance due to prayer i.e. fears of losing your job, you have not understood God! Leave that job for the sake of God. When you take one step towards God, He will take ten towards you. You are a fully grown adult being, God has looked after your sustenance up until now, so why would He stop now?
Help the poor and needy
The Prophet Muhammad(s) said that the best way to be content with what you have and not take God’s blessings for granted is to look at the person who has less than you. Spend time with the homeless, give spontaneous donations or feed the less fortunate, yourself. I recall one brother who was walking through Oxford Street in London and he saw many homeless people. He could not bear to see this, so he walked into a restaurant and ordered six takeaway meals and handed them to the first six homeless people he saw on the way home from this journey. It is impossible for you to cure poverty on your own so do a little but do it frequently, that way not only are you helping the unfortunate but you are constantly appreciating what God has given you. Charity increases, rather than decreases wealth and the one who is thankful to God, He gives him more.
Refrain from sins and recite Istighfar (asking for forgiveness)
The majority of Muslims are not guilty of committing major sins i.e. adultery and murder but are culpable of committing many small sins that are taken lightly. That one comment about someone from the mosque and that little ‘harmless’ white lie adds up and blocks your connection to God. The best way to look at the concept of sins and forgiveness is using the following example: At birth we are a white sheet of paper, pure and sinless, but every sin results in a black mark on that sheet. Sincere repentance wipes that dot away; however, if we continue to commit minor sins without thinking of the repercussions, it not only increases the number of black dots but also intensifies them so they are harder to remove. The black dots block out the light of God from our heart like a curtain blocks rays of sunlight from entering a room. It is very important to be wary of small sins and perform istighfar every day, even if you can’t remember committing a bad deed.
As the popular phrase goes “Knowledge is Power”, always try and free up time to invest in learning about your religion for that is a sure way to guarantee your position on the straight path. Ali ibn Abi Talib(a), the Prophet’s(s) cousin teaches us to learn our religion and not inherit it. If you’re a bookworm, dive into the world of Islamic history, spirituality, ethics and law.
“At birth we are a white sheet of paper, pure and sinless, but every sin results in a black mark on that sheet.”
If you have a better understanding of your religion, your practise is more likely to carry greater meaning and depth rather than if it was a mere ritual. Furthermore, you will have a greater appreciation for the Prophet, his family and his sincere companions and what they went through to keep the religion alive – the religion that we just take as a set of rituals. Of course, a natural side-effect of this is that your relationship with God will improve. On another note, if you don’t enjoy reading, use YouTube. which has a plethora of lectures from the best speakers around the world. Download them, put them on your phone and listen to them in your spare time or on your commute to and from work.
Most will learn Arabic in their early years at Madrasah. However if you have not had the chance to learn the language, then do so from today. To be more specific, learn Quranic Arabic so that you are able to understand the Qur’an. When you read the English translation of the Qur’an, you may not get an accurate meaning as Arabic is a complex language and some words do not have an English equivalent and thus the nearest possible meaning is used. Think about those who read the Arabic Qur’an, they are reading the exact words Angel Gabriel revealed unto the Prophet(s) from God. Imagine the blessings it carries reading those same exact words and the effect it can have on you. Another advantage of reading Arabic is the ability to recite the dua’s (supplications) that have been given to us by the Imams of the Ahlulbayt(a). To conclude on the five ways to get closer to God the very least you can do is remember Him, because that remembrance alone can help you later on in life when you really need divine guidance and assistance. As the Qur’an says:
“So remember Me; I will remember you” (2:152)
Amit Bharakda holds a Master’s Degree in Digital
Marketing. He is a digital marketing and social media
manager and blogger.