Checklist for Spiritual Development

I wrote in my book -Islam for Beginners – It has been said that true bankruptcy is a full belly and an empty soul. Religion must be a matter of conscious choice.

So here’s a checklist to show us the state of our soul.

1. How much time do you spend in personal Ibaadah, by yourself alone, daily?

2. How much time do you spend in reflection daily and do you keep notes of lessons learnt?

3. How much Qur’an do you read daily?

4. Do you pray Tahajjud daily without fail?

5. What other Nawaafil do you pray?

6. Do you fast on Mondays and Thursdays, 9 days of Dhul Hijjah and 2 days of Ashoora regularly?

7. Do you make Itikaaf for the last ten days of Ramadan regularly every year?

8. What is the quality of your Salah in terms of concentration, happiness in the heart, comfort to the soul and can you distinguish each of these clearly?

9. What is the extent of your charity?

10. What do people think and say about your Akhlaaq? How do you know?

11. How much do public approval and popularity matter to you? What’s the proof of that?

12. Do you make money out of Islamic activity especially Daawa? Because Allah told us to spend in His path, not to make money out of the path.

13. Do you have a Musleh? Who is he and how is he qualified to be a Musleh?

14. What is the condition of your heart? How do you know?

15. How much of what you tell others do you practice yourself?

16. How careful are you with what you eat? Do you eat or drink something where the ingredients are unknown?

17. Is your income Halal?

18. How careful are you with what you look at and listen to?

19. When was the last time you wept in solitude for the love of Allah?

20. How many of your actions and words are influenced by what people may think and how many are purely for Allah’s pleasure?

If all the answers are positive then rejoice because you’re at zero. Not negative but at zero. You just passed nursery. You are at the threshold. Welcome now to the rest of the journey which can only begin once we’ve crossed these hurdles.

Finally a meter with which to measure how successful we are in achieving our spiritual development:

اتْلُ مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ

Ankabut 29: 45. Recite (O Muhammad) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur’an), and establish As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat). Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) prevents Al-Fahsha’ (i.e. great sins of every kind, shamelessness) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism and all rebellious deeds) and the remembering (praising) of (you by) Allah is the greatest indeed [than your praising Allah]. And Allah knows what you do.

Allah states that the Salah prevents us from all kinds of sins because it keeps alive His remembrance in our minds and hearts. It reminds us about who we obey and worship and that He is our witness. How can someone who claims to believe in Allah and is aware that Allah is watching and knows what one is doing, still commit sin? So if we find ourselves praying but still lying, cheating, slandering, dealing in Riba, indulging in all kinds of shady activities, then we need to question our very belief. Knowledge that is not reflected in action, doesn’t exist except as proof against ourselves on the Day of Judgment.

Allah also mentions the reward for the one who prays – that Allah mentions him in the presence of those who are around him. What more do we need to motivate us?

May Allah help us, protect us and save us from ourselves.

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