Many of us have gone through long periods of very weak faith brought about by a variety of factors, especially schooling. The schools in this country or rather many of them, especially the senior secondary ones, have encouraged the students to move away from religion. In many of these schools, the philosophies that operated were based on the materialistic understanding of the world. In this understanding, there is no God. The overall impact of this was that large numbers of young students, at very impressionable ages, and with a very weak understanding of Divine Revelation, were taken away from religion, both Islam and Christianity. This happens, we suppose, still today in many of our senior secondary schools and also universities. Education is primarily secular, and by this is meant a system of teaching and learning that excludes God. Factors operating in educational systems pulled many of our young people out of faith, or to weak faith. In many cases the damage that was done, was never repaired. And many of these young people, later died without faith.
Not only were these young people incapable of defending their religious positions because of a lack of religious education, but they were also incapable of stopping their being drawn into a culture that was Euro-centred and irreligious. Sometimes, we meet some of these individuals and we feel deeply sorry for them for what had happened. They were transformed because they were incapable of standing up against the religious onslaughts that were taking place in the educational institutions. Today it is still so bad in certain of these institutions and we are losing our children, not so much to other religions or no faith, but to cultural activities in which faith plays no part. This is one of the reasons why large numbers of our young people do not pray or fast.
When I look back to those years, and I had almost lost my own Islam at the period, the main reason for the lack of resistance to these anti-religious onslaughts was because young people were not spiritually prepared. What I mean is, that even if they did not have the ideas to counteract these onslaughts, they would have had “hearts of spiritual steel” against the onslaughts, if they had been spiritually prepared. Their hearts would have resisted, as in some cases, even though their minds were not.
In many communities and societies today, one of the reasons for the hiving-off of Muslims to a distorted Islam or to a weak faith or to no religion, is because the “hearts of steel” that our young people would have obtained through spirituality, are non-existent. We do not always realise the impact that spirituality has on the hearts, and the role that it plays in causing these hearts to resist anti-religious onslaughts. And so the hearts of our young people are ready for the taking by irreligious discourses. If the hearts collapse, the minds are not far off from collapsing.
Many of us have been fortunate enough to travel in our Islam along a route of spirituality. Through adhkar, recital of Qur’an, supplications, fasting and different forms of prayers, we imbued our hearts with a resistance against any discourse that could take that heart away from Islam. Many of us won’t understand this. We think our hearts can resist if the mind has suitable arguments. This is a fallacy. Spirituality does not concern itself with logical or illogical arguments but concerns itself with the building of spiritual resistance in the hearts against discourses which can take people out of belief. We must please understand that in the realm of spirituality we draw on spiritual matters such as Divine Lights, to protect our faiths. All the matters that people speak about such as positive knowledge, and use of reason, have no place in a heart that is given over to his/her Lord, a heart in which different litanies vibrate, a heart concerned with his/her Lord. This has nothing to do with the correctness or wrongness of logical arguments to convince faith. It has to do with the spiritual protection of our hearts against unbelief. It is for this reason that hearts constantly engage in the celebration of Allah (ﷻ), very seldom, in fact never, go to unbelief. These hearts belong to God. They are His stations in the human soul. They are free of satanic garbage.
We must try very hard to understand this. I have come to learn, through personal experience, how intensive dhikr protects the hearts against irreligious matters. There is nothing in the world that can convince one to believe otherwise, because one’s heart as the centre of one’s soul has been given over to Allah (ﷻ). It has become the “waqaf property” of our Lord. It belongs to Allah (ﷻ) and He looks after it. It is Allah (ﷻ) that makes that heart remember Him through different forms of worship, and it is Allah (ﷻ) that protects that heart from unbelief, through this remembrance. We must come to understand the role of our Lord in the preservation of our faiths. It is not us, it is Allah (ﷻ). Allah (ﷻ) has provided us with our hearts that responds to His remembrance, and Allah (ﷻ) has provided us with different forms of remembrance to keep those hearts in faith. It is not us, it is Allah (ﷻ), and it is Allah (ﷻ) that guides towards belief and away from unbelief. And whatever the factors are or the processes are that preserve faith and protect it against irreligious onslaughts, it is always Allah (ﷻ) at work and it is as Allah (ﷻ) decides. All the things that we say, and we say it very often, that help those of us in adhkar against irreligion, we must remember it is our Lord that is at work. All the explanations I give is one thing, but the hearts that Allah (ﷻ) wants to belong to Him, will never deviate or Allah (ﷻ) will bring them from deviation to Him; either way.
When those whose hearts had deviated because of irreligious onslaughts, come back to their Lord, it is not them, it is Allah’s (ﷻ). Allah (ﷻ) wants that heart for Himself and so through different factors and processes, some of which we have mentioned, Allah (ﷻ) makes that heart straight. If we see that our walking the path that we are walking, is part of the Workings of Allah (ﷻ), and that what we do is the expression of His Will, then we understand what we are talking about.
It has been for me, and I am sure for many others, a major jump in thinking; from seeing ourselves as the centre of our activities, to seeing Allah’s (ﷻ) “Hand” over our activities, directing them and guiding them so that the individual becomes for Allah (ﷻ), works for Allah (ﷻ), strives for Allah (ﷻ) and is for Allah’s (ﷻ). When Allah (ﷻ) is busy with one’s heart, there is nothing else that can have entry. It is because of Allah (ﷻ) that many of us, having deviated at one time, are brought back to a heightened belief in the Cause of Islam. “O my Lord, we are in deep gratitude to Thee for making our hearts to be for Thee. And we ask Thee to continue to guide our hearts, so that when we come into the Hereafter, we shall be recognised as those whose hearts are for Thee, amin.”