Caution against apathy
September 24 2021 01:04 AM
A mosque in the Canadian city of Calgary.
A mosque in the Canadian city of Calgary.

All praise be to Allah The Almighty, Who created and proportioned, Who destined and guided; and may prayers and peace be upon the Prophet of guidance, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and those who are guided by him.
Success is the goal of those who work hard; and, Allah The Almighty has made it contingent on purifying, disciplining and refining the soul, as He Says (what means):
{He has certainly succeeded who purifies himself.} [Qur’an 87:14]
{He has succeeded who purifies it, and he has failed who instills it [with corruption].} [Qur’an 91:9-10]
Furthermore, Allah The Almighty sent His Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention), as a teacher and a mentor, as He Says (what means): {It is He Who Has Sent among the unlettered a Messenger from themselves reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom - although they were before in clear error.} [Qur’an 62:2] Hence, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was careful to elevate and cleanse the souls of his Companions may Allah be pleased with them.
And such is the practice of all those who seek to draw close to Allah The Almighty. The Prophets, may Allah exalt their mention, and their followers, all reformed and purified their souls. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, endured much hardship in calling his people to Allah The Almighty. Every night, he used to stand before his Lord, bowing and prostrating, supplicating to Him and seeking His help, in full submission and humility to Him. And so, for an entire year, this practice became obligatory on all Muslims because of its great effect in reforming their hearts, motivating them and keeping them steadfast. Therefore, even today, though it is no longer mandatory, praying at night is indispensable.
Thus, all Muslims, particularly those who seek religious knowledge and those who call others to Allah The Almighty, are required to prioritise the reform and discipline of their souls, maintain their relationship with Allah The Almighty and take care of their manners toward others. This should be the starting point for inviting other people toward the faith and rectifying them.

Purification, beautification and striving
Among the most important guidelines in reforming the soul, is to purify it from following its desires, which bring about countless diseases. Since the source of an illness can only be treated by countering its effects, the heart can be cured by acting in a way that contradicts one’s whims. Allah The Almighty concisely mentioned this, when He Said (what means), {But as for he who feared the position of his Lord and prevented the soul from [unlawful] inclination, Then indeed, Paradise will be [his] refuge.} [Qur’an 79:40-41]
The other requisite to the rectification of the self, is to truly struggle for it, to be among those Allah The Almighty mentions, when He Says (what means): {And those who strive for Us - We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.} [Qur’an 29:69] An important aspect of striving is to be resolute; so, when one forsakes a certain desire and Allah The Almighty tests him or her by facilitating its causes, he or she must be patient and determined. Otherwise, if the soul is irresolute, it will become accustomed to being that way and be prone to corruption.
The third step in reforming the soul is to beautify it, by instructing it to do righteous deeds until it gets used to them and doing them becomes an inherent characteristic. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Knowledge and forbearance are obtained by training for, and perseverance in attaining, them. The one who earnestly seeks goodness will be granted it and the one who avoids evil, will be protected against it.” There is no doubt that one’s deeds have a correlation to the heart. Every quality that is in the heart is reflected on one’s body; equally, every deed that is performed by the limbs, influences the heart. This is only one aspect that showcases the wonderful link between the heart and the body.
When the soul is purified from following its base desires and is beautified by its righteous deeds and virtues, a person is required to then shift his or her focus to the manner of his or her performance of religious duties and favorable acts, and refraining from prohibitions and disliked deeds.
Thus, even when a person is doing what is permissible, it is essential to ensure having a pure intention, because laziness and negligence are part of human nature. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Every act of worship and obedience witnesses a primary surge followed by a state of slackness. A person who remains within the boundaries of my Sunnah, even at times of slackness, will prosper. Otherwise, he [or she] would be on the path towards ruin.”
In his book, Madaarij As-Saalikeen, Ibn al-Qayyim may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “It is inevitable that worshippers become dispassionate. Yet, even during such a phase, if a man adheres to what is right and remains steadfast without neglecting obligations or committing unlawful acts, he is expected to eventually return to a state that is perhaps even better than his former one.”
Degrees of apathy
Based on the above, it is inevitable that everyone will experience a period of listlessness and apathy. However, it may be of either of these types:
1.    General: this impacts all acts of worship and instills an intense dislike toward them; it is the most dangerous kind and is a state of the hypocrites.
2.    Specific: this is characterised by a sense of lassitude regarding certain acts of obedience, along with undesirability, but not hatred; such is what many immoral Muslims are mired in.
3.    Physical: sometimes, there is a desire to perform good deeds, but there is a feeling of weariness and disinterest; and this is how many Muslims are. The danger here lies in the fact that one’s time passes by, and his or her life is wasted without having done anything beneficial. What is even more dangerous is if he or she deteriorates to a worse level and ends up being like the hypocrites in their neglect of obligations and other good deeds.
Hence, even the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, used to seek refuge with Allah The Almighty from weakness and laziness every morning and evening, and teach his Companions may Allah be pleased with them to do the same. Moreover, when the believers were slow in their response to the call for Jihad (fighting or struggling), Allah The Almighty reproached them for it and urged them to race each other and hasten in doing righteous deeds, and motivated them by describing the reward of such forerunners in faith.  
Apathy and the caller to Islam  
Listlessness is a disease that afflicts everyone, regardless of their degrees of faith. However, it is particularly alarming if it affects the callers to Allah The Almighty and those who seek knowledge. Therefore, it is necessary to evade it by all means and immediately treat it if one does fall prey to it.
Since prevention is better than cure, one should make a habit of being attentive so as to steer clear of any symptoms of apathy that may gradually lead to ruin. If that happens, the remedy and cure would be very difficult. The diseases of the heart are like a plant, easy to uproot in its early stages; however, if it grows and becomes firm in the earth, removing it requires strong men and tools.
Moreover, an ill heart presents with simple symptoms, but, if left untreated, will choke a person in its grip and turn into a chronic and incurable problem. Therefore, as callers to Allah The Almighty, we are required to examine ourselves and ponder our condition. If there is any sign of apathy, we are immediately obliged to look for the cause and seek treatment.
Aspects of apathy
Apathy manifests itself in many ways, some of which are as follows:
nSense of lethargy and disinterest in performing acts of obedience
nNeglecting Thikr (remembrance of Allah The Almighty) and recitation of the Qur’an
nHardness of the heart, such that it is not moved by Qur’anic verses or sermons
nIndifference toward committing acts of disobedience and letting that become a habit
nLack of responsibility and realisation of being entrusted with a great trust
nLack of eagerness in performing Da’wah (propagation to Islam)
nWeakness of the bonds of brotherhood among those who should love each other for the sake of Allah The Almighty
nAn intense concern with this worldly life and indulging oneself in its pleasures at the expense of doing righteous deeds
nIdle talk, increasingly engaging in disputes and self-praise
nCreating problems
nBothering oneself with petty issues and neglecting serious and beneficial work that serves the Ummah
nWeakness of faith and an indifference toward violations of the commands of Allah The Almighty
nWasting time
nExhibiting no readiness to handle responsibility and avoiding serious work, instead indulging in actions with no objectives
nDemonstrating a chaotic demeanour in one’s work
nCriticising every positive act
nPostponing good deeds
nPossessing excessive wishes

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Causes and treatment of apathy

There are many causes of apathy and they vary in importance. Some of them are: insincerity in performing deeds, ostentation, and a lack of religious knowledge that makes one ignorant of the reward of deeds and the virtues of patience. Also, being attached to this worldly life and forgetting the Hereafter, perhaps because of obeying or being occupied with one’s spouse and children, causes one to neglect many acts of obedience, and if one is not alert, to misunderstand religion itself. This may seem a strange possibility, but what is even more bizarre is for one to understand the nature of this religion and taste the sweetness of faith, and then stop working for its development. Additionally, other causes include: committing sins and evil deeds and consuming money procured through unlawful or doubtful means.  
As for why those who call others to Islam fall prey to apathy, the reasons are numerous:
lBeing unclear of one’s goals behind his or her propagation, which should be: seeking the satisfaction of Allah The Almighty, liberating people from slavery to any entity other than the Lord of the worlds and establishing the religion of Allah on earth.
lWeakness of belief in the goal or the means employed in Da’wah.
lExtremism that drives one to despair and abandoning his or her work
lApprehension because of the many impediments and obstacles in the path of Da’wah and the preacher, which Allah The Almighty has tested all previous callers to Islam with.
lIndependence and reclusiveness that leads to misery and boredom.
lAdopting limited methods of propagation and not considering new means that may assist in conveying the message to people and at the same time, retain the principles of Da’wah and its spirit. For example, people may avoid a variation in the modes of address, whereas everyone should be spoken to in a manner that suits their level of intellect and the medium they prefer: audio or print, or other forms. Likewise, there is sometimes no variation in the method of delivering lectures of knowledge and the Qur’an, in terms of place and means.
lForgetting the persistent enmity of Satan.
lBeing heedless of the challenge the disbelievers present for Muslims and that they utilise every means to turn us away from our religion and contrive plots against us.
lThe illusions and whispers of the devil that sow fear and cast doubts in the heart of the caller about the soundness of the way that he or she is following.
In addition to the aforesaid causes, there are diseases of the heart: envy, suspicions about others, hatred, love of fame, arrogance and negligence in performing acts of worship, such as the daily prayers and Thikr (remembrance of Allah The Almighty). Also, apathy may stem from believing victory is out of reach, always expecting immediate results, having a lack of stability because there is no sense of direction, leaving work uncompleted and moving on to something else, looking at those lesser in terms of knowledge and worship, thereby undermining the morale, and socialising with those who seek this worldly life, thus being negatively influenced by them.
Indeed, only those whom Allah The Almighty protects, are saved from that and from being overcome by apathy when treating one’s state of indifference.
Treatment of apathy
Allah The Almighty provided a remedy for every disease, apathy being one of the severest spiritual kind. When left unnoticed, it leads an inflicted person toward deviation and may very well cause his or her ultimate destruction. Hence, treatment is very important, by utilising every means that prevent the disease from occurring and eradicating it if it has already developed. The following are some of the most important means that would be useful in that regard:
lAvoiding the causes that lead to this disease, which is the most crucial factor in helping safeguard a person from its evil. Moreover, it is necessary to realise the gravity of the illness and the significance of avoiding it, through precautionary measures or proper treatment.
lSupplicating to Allah The Almighty and seeking His help, as He is the One Who responds to the prayer of the distressed; and indeed, whoever is afflicted in faith and fears destruction, is in the worst state of distress. Moreover, it is only He Whose help is sought in everything, as the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention), commanded Mu‘aath, may Allah be pleased with him, to say at the end of every prayer: “Allaahumma a‘inni ‘alaa thikrika wa-shukrika wa-husni ‘ibaadatik (O Allah, Help me to remember [only] You, thank You and worship You perfectly).”
lEnhancing, renewing and caring to increase one’s faith by intensifying worship, for this is the true provision of the believer that alleviates his or her suffering on the trying path to Paradise.
lHaving confidence in the oversight of Allah the Almighty and increasing one’s remembrance of Him. This necessitates fearing, glorifying, loving and imploring Him, and believing in His knowledge and omnipotence. By invoking Him, one’s heart becomes tranquil; but, perhaps the greatest of all acts, is strengthening one’s bond with the Qur’an through frequent recitation, understanding, contemplation and application. Moreover, one is required to consider it as a judge and refer all issues and disputes to its authority; surely, the one who is not guided by the Qur’an will be led astray by his or her fancies.
lSincerity and piety; Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {O you who have believed, if you fear Allah, He Will Grant you a criterion [between right and wrong].} [Qur’an 8:29]
lPurifying hearts from animosity, rancour, jealousy and ill thoughts of others; this helps to open the heart and guard its integrity.
lSeeking knowledge, as it is very important to attend religious lectures and circles of Thikr. Knowledge is the way to knowing and fearing Allah The Almighty, and it is the provision of one’s heart.
lBeing moderate in worship and all righteous deeds.
lOrganising one’s time and constantly calling oneself to account.
lAdhering to the society of Muslims and strengthening the ties of brotherhood.
lMaintaining relations with those who may also be overcome by apathy and aiding them in avoiding deviation.
lHaving been brought up according to the comprehensive methodology of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, which is a deterrent to listlessness.
lPerforming numerous good deeds and not the exact same ones. Thikr, recitation of the Qur’an, prayers, reading useful books, enjoining good, forbidding evil, helping others to fulfil their needs and relieving the troubled, are but a few examples.
lFollowing the paradigm of the Prophets, may Allah exalt their mention, and the sincere preachers, in their zeal, punctuality and righteousness, steadfastness, noble aims and determination. A Muslim’s first concern should be Paradise and main purpose, seeking the satisfaction of Allah The Almighty by continuing to worship, until death arrives.
lRemembering death frequently, fearing an evil demise, visiting the graves and seeing people in the throes of death. This urges a Muslim to repent without delay, have a content heart and a body yearning to worship. On the other hand, forgetting about death leads a person to adopt the opposite.
lRemembering Paradise and Hell and reading their descriptions in the Qur’an and the Sunnah; this would strengthen the determination of a Muslim and sharpen his or her resolve.
lIncreasing and carrying on in righteous deeds, while avoiding slackness. This is especially important with respect to routine acts of worship, because a person who abandons a voluntary deed is very close to leaving an obligation as well.
lBeing patient and training oneself to be so. Undoubtedly, the way of knowledge, worship and Da’wah is lengthy, strenuous and full of troubles and hardship. We seek the help of Allah The Almighty to keep us steadfast on His religion and grant us a good end.

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