Being Steadfast in Allah’s Cause
عن سفيان بن عبد الله الثقفي ، قال :قلت : يا رسول الله قل لي في الإسلام قولاً ، لا أسال عنه أحداً بعدك – وفي حديث أبي أسامة : غيرك – قال : قل آمنت بالله ثم استقم
From Sufyan Ibn Abdullah Ats Tsaqafy, he said, ‘I asked once, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Please inform me about one word in Islam, which I wont have to ask to other beside you. The Messenger of Allah said, “Say: I believe in Allah. Then be steadfast.” (Narrated by Muslim)
Etymologically, steadfast means upward and straight. While in terminology, the past time scholars had different opinions regarding its definition. However, the difference was only in its wording, they weren’t opposing each other. In conclusion, being steadfast means to be right in the middle in all matters, in words and acts. Maintaining the soul so that it is always in decent condition, thus it wont appear bad, or fall into evil.
There are plenty of verses in the Qur’an which order us to be steadfast, among which is Allah’s decree, “Surely those who said: “Our Lord is Allah” and then remained steadfast shall have nothing to fear nor to grieve.” (Chapter 46:13). Also in chapter Fushshilat:6, 30-32; Hud:112; Al Jinn:16, Al An’am:153; ‘Ali Imran:101, etc.
As for the Hadith that commands us to be steadfast, it is the above hadith. Upon commenting this hadith, Imam Nawawy said that it is one of the hadith that become the foundation of Islam. In his book, “al Waafi”, DR. Mushthafa al-Buga mentioned, upon explaining about the hadith, about the importance of the steadfastness of the heart since it is the basis for the steadfastness itself. The steadfastness of heart in realizing the oneness of Allah is by fearing, hoping, relying, and worshipping Him alone, and abandoning anything aside from Him. Whenever the heart is steadfast in goodness, then other body parts will follow it as well, as said in the Messenger of Allah’s hadith,
ألا و أن في الجسد مضغة إذا صلحت صلح الجسد كله, و إذا فسدت فسد الجسد كله, ألا و هي القلب))
“Know that, there is blood clot (a lump of blood) in human body. If the blood clot is good therefore the whole body will be good, but if the blood clot is bad so is the whole body. The blood clot refers to the heart.” (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, from Abu ‘Abdillah An-Nu’man bin Basyiir).
The heart is the source of one’s goodness and evil. Whenever it is filled with obedience to Allah, then the person’s attitude will be full of goodness. In the contrary, if it is filled with evil desires and lust, the resulting attitude are evil and immoral.
This evilness and immorality may arise when a person’s heart is empty or lacking of remembering Allah (dhikr). Ibn Qoyyim al Jauziya said, “If a person’s heart is lacking of remembering Allah, satan will immediately enter it and persuade it to do bad thing. The swiftness of satan in entering this off guarded heart is even faster than the wind entering a room.”
Therefore, a believer’s heart should always be protected from the satan’s influence, i.e., by always be in obedience to Allah the Glorified and Exalted. This effort is what we call steadfastness.
Imam al-Qurthubi said, “A steadfast heart is a heart that is always be straight in its obedience to Allah, in its belief, words, as well as act.” Furthermore, he said, “A steadfast heart is the way to achieve success in the world, and salvation from the punishment in the Hereafter. A steadfast heart will draw its owner closer to goodness, his sustenance will be expanded and he will be drawn away from lust and evil desire. In the presence of a steadfast heart, the angels will come down to provide fortitude and security as well as tranquility from the fear of the torment of the grave. A steadfast heart will get someone’s deed to be accepted and erase the sin.”
There are many ways to have a steadfast heart. Among those are:
First, prioritizing the love of Allah over everything. It is not an easy fear and it needs a struggle, since in our daily life, we often find ourselves in the midst of the clash between the importance of Allah and its creation, be it the favor of our parents, teacher, friend, relative, etc.
If in fact we prioritize their importance, then it is a telling sign that we’ve not yet prioritized our love to Allah over everything.
Secondly, honor Allah’s command and prohibition. To honor Allah’s command and prohibition must be started from honoring and glorifying the issuer of those command and prohibition, i.e., Allah. Honoring Allah’s command is by maintaining the times of prayer, performing it devotedly, always keeping its obligatory parts and the its perfection, and performing it in congregation.
Thirdly, by always remember Allah, since that is the order of Allah and His messenger, as stated in a hadith qudsy, in which Allah declared, “Whoever remembers Me within him, I will remember him within Me. And whoever remembers Me among the crowd, I will remember Him among the better crowd than his.” (Narrated by Bukhari).
Fourthly, studying the stories of the bygone, righteous men. By this, it is hoped that we could take a lesson from them, about their patience in dealing with a difficult trial, their honesty, and their fortitude in keeping their faith, as in Allah’s decree, “Certainly in the stories of the bygone people there is a lesson for people of understanding. What is being narrated in the Qur’an is no fabrication; it is rather confirmation of the Books that preceded it, and a detailed exposition of everything, and a guidance and mercy for people of faith.” (Chapter 12:111).
Aside from the steadfastness of the heart, in the same book, Al Buga also wrote about the importance of the steadfastness of the tongue, as it is the revealer of the heart’s content. When the Messenger of Allah was asked about what was the thing that he feared the most of his followers, without speaking, he held his tongue. (Valid hadith, narrated by Turmudzi).
In his book, “Al Istiqamah” DR. Ahmad bin Yusuf al-Duraiwisy mentioned about some pillars or foundations to build steadfastness, among which are piety, firmness in holding to sunnah and jama’a, moderate stance between being extreme and underestimating, noble manners, and pious friend.
In his book titled “Haqiqatul iltizam”, Sheikh Abdullah bin Abdurrahman Al-Jibrien added some things to take heed of in order to preserve steadfastness, among which are:
- Make an effort to practice the sunnah with all his might, as in a hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Amru bin Al-Ash who said, The Messenger of Allah said, “What happened to the children of Israel will also happen to my followers, step by step, to the extent that if one of them come to his mother while being uncovered, it will also happen to my followers. Indeed, the children of Israel will split into 72 sects, and my followers will split into 73 sects, all of whom will be in Hell, except one. ‘ the companions asked, ‘Who are they, O Messenger of Allah?’. He replied, ‘Whoever imitate me and my companions.” (Narrated by At Turmudzi no. 2641, book of faith, chapter Iftiraqul ummah. This hadith has many supporting narrations, as in the beginning of the book “Asy Syari’ah” by Imam Al Ajurry).
- Beside it, a person who wants to be continuously steadfast should keep pursuing knowledge, so that he wont be trapped into performing a deed which is not prescribed in shari’a. Regarding this point, Imam Al Bukhari wrote a chapter in his book, titled, “al’ilmu qabla alqaul wa’lamal” (knowledge before saying and act).
- Also, he has to strive to avoid any evildoing or useless deed. Allah decreed, “These are the ones who, when they commit any indecency or wrong themselves, instantly remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins – for who will forgive sins save Allah? – and do not wilfully persist in the wrong they had committed.” (Chapter 3:135). The meaning of al-ishrar (continuing the wrong act) in this verse is, “A person commits a sin, then he underestimate it.” (See: Sya’bul iman Imam Al Baihaqi no 7154). From Abu Huraira, (he said that) the Messenger of Allah said, “One of indicators of islamic perfection (as a religion) in someone is leaving behind something that is not beneficial for him/her. (The hadith is categorized as hasan and narrated by At-Turmudzi)
Sheikh Abu Mushab in his book, “al- Ilmam fi Asbaab Dho’ fi al-Iltizam” listed down several things that could weaken one’s steadfastness, among which are the lack of sincerity, the lack of religious knowledge and far from the scholars, the weakness in religion, the weakness in self-introspection, busy with his family, messiness, busy with other people’s flaw, not valuing time, hanging out with indecent friends, and the lack of enthusiasm and hope.
- Finally, let us always pray to Allah, to give us the steadfastness inside our hearts upon His religion, as the Messenger of Allah had shown to us, in a hadith narrated by Imam At Tirmidzi, in which he invoked Allah,
يا مقلب القلوب ثبت قلبي على دينك
When Umm Salama asked why did he recite the du’a too often, he responded, “O Umm Salam! Indeed, none of the descendants of Adam but his heart is between Allah’s fingers. If He wishes it to be steadfast, He’ll make it, and whoever He wishes to deviate, He is able to realize it. Then the Messenger of Allah recited the verse,
رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ
“They pray to Allah: “Our Lord! Do not let our hearts swerve towards crookedness after You have guided us to the Right Way, and bestow upon us Your Mercy for You are the Munificent Giver!” (Chapter 3:8)
Author: Umm Salma
(I)- Ahmad bin Yusuf al-Duraiwisy, al-Istiqamah Arkaanuhu wa al-Wasailu al-Mu’inah ala Tathbiqihi, terj. Istiqamah oleh Abu Umar Basyir (Jakarta: Darul Haq, 2001).
(2)- Mushthafa al-Bugha, al-Waafi fi Syarhi al-Arbaiin al-Nawawi (Riyad: Daar al-Dulaiqan, 1999).
(3)- Syaikh Abdullah bin Abdurrahman Al-Jibrien Kitab Haqiqatul iltizam dan Abu Mushab, al- Ilmam fi Asbaab Dho’ fi al-Iltizam