We live in an era in which the world is mired in great challenges. It is no longer possible to ignore the turmoil that surrounds us, be it the instability in many countries or the problems associated with the millions struggling to make a living. Whatever be the reasons that led the world to this stage, it’s clear that a change is essential to get out from this chaos.
Personal Change in Islam
Our personal lives are not immune from this turmoil. Many times we all seek to correct the course of our lives to maximize our share of worldly and spiritual fulfillment. Whether its to inculcate better Islamic habits or others related to secular aspects of our lives, the process of personal change provides us with an opportunity to improve ourselves.
The ability to come out of this state – to change – also gives us hope for a better future. Fortunately, we live during times where good advice surrounds us. The Internet and its support structure have provided us with a way to gain instant access to stores of knowledge and words of wisdom. The problem, however, has been that our pace of change hasn’t kept up with what we learn from this knowledge. You see, there comes a point in our lives where we need to go beyond learning and to eventually change and start living that wisdom.
Making Lasting Change Happen for Muslims
Bringing lasting personal change however, isn’t that easy and many of us give up trying. But since change is important to get us out of our current states, we simply can’t quit. So, the struggle must go on until we find a way to overcome barriers to personal change.
Why Do People Not Change?
We may wonder about why we fail to change? For those of us who have attempted to change with not much to show for, the process can be frustrating. Understanding reasons that lead to this failure can help us overcome these obstacles. Let’s review those below.
Desensitization to time
Procrastination is known to be one of the biggest hurdles to change. Psychologists refer to procrastination as “the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of low-priority, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time.” Whether one procrastinates in worldly or spiritual matters, it has its consequences. Procrastinators falsely assume that time will be available in the future, which may not be true. For example, we see that in the Quran Allah mentions numerous nations who were given time to heed to His message and change. The ones who didn’t were suddenly taken by surprise at their appointed time. In the Chapter of Al-Anaam (verse 44), Allah says, “So, when they forgot (the warning) with which they had been reminded, We opened for them the gates of every (pleasant) thing, until in the midst of their enjoyment in that which they were given, all of a sudden, We took them (in punishment), and lo! They were plunged into destruction with deep regrets and sorrows.” while they will bear their burdens on their backs; and evil indeed are the burdens that they will bear! ”
The message above couldn’t be clearer. Allah gives us the time to reform ourselves. When we postpone indefinitely, we shouldn’t be surprised if our conditions worsen. Allah says in the Quran, “Verily, We sent (Messengers) to many nations before you (O Muhammad). And We seized them with extreme poverty (or loss in wealth) and loss in health (with calamities) so that they might humble themselves (believe with humility).” (Chapter #6, Verse #42)
We should, therefore, urgently start facing up to our spiritual and worldly imperfections which may be manifesting as sins. Accordingly, we need to make the connection between those imperfections and our undesirable conditions. Remember, the price of putting off change can come in the form of tough times and future regrets. Let’s not procrastinate until tomorrow because even if we had the extra time, tomorrow could bring additional challenges thus increasing the load of our burdens.
Desensitization to falsehood and imperfections
Change of any type first requires clearly identifying and recognizing the negative behavior, habit, thought, or belief. However, when one gets desensitized to such imperfections, the need for such a change is no longer felt. The “negatives” become part of our existence and we become complacent about them. For example, many amongst Muslims pray Fajar prayers after the prescribed time (or miss it altogether) and no longer see it as a sin or feel the impulse to correct such a behavior.
Today, we live in trying times where guidelines driven by personal interests rather than based on divine teachings are being used to decide the lawful (halal) and the unlawful (haram). This is slowly blurring the dividing lines between falsehood and truth. As a direct consequence, though unknown to many of us (including Muslims), we have slowly begun to be more accepting of wrong behaviors leading to devastating consequences. This is similar to the boiling water and frog analogy, which states that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out. However, if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will fail to feel the change and thus will never jump out, dying in the process.
This loss of our sense to distinguish between falsehood and truth makes Shaytan sneak into our lives, further hindering our efforts to improve. Allah says in the Quran, “And whosoever turns away blindly from the remembrance of the Most Gracious (Alláh) (i.e., this Qurán and worship of Alláh), We appoint for him a Shaitán (Satan/devil) to be a Qarin (a companion) to him. And verily, they (Satans/devils) hinder them from the path (of Alláh), but they think that they are guided aright!”(43:36,37).
Islamic teachings thus warn us against getting into such traps and instead instruct us to never lose sight of the distinction between right and wrong. Just because we chose to ignore rectifying the wrong to suit our situations doesn’t transform wrong into right. By maintaining that distinction we can still expect to rectify it someday.
Lack of commitment
Commitment to change is essential for any major change of attitude to take place in the long run. Research has proved that things such as “will power” can take us only so far and for so long. We need a more stable “inner resource” to sustain our change efforts for the long run.
One way to ensure that you stay committed to any change effort is to clearly define the outcome that you envision from that change. Envisioning the outcome for a change is quite different from simply having the desire to change. Although desires may provide the emotional fuel behind our change efforts, they don’t manifest the underlying complexities to drive an actual change process. Outcomes from the intended change must therefore be envisioned clearly, e.g. the new person that you will become after you give up a certain negative behavior, to ensure continued commitment levels.
Take the example of the prophet’s commitment when he started propagating the Islamic message during the early days of Islam. When the prophet’s uncle warned him of the risks of doing so, he clearly stated, “O my uncle, by Allah, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left in return for my giving up this cause, I would not give it up until Allah makes Truth victorious, or I die in His service.” It was that kind of a commitment that kept him going for the rest of his life and to bring about the change that he did.
To motivate us to do good deeds and to put our temporary stay in this life in perspective, Allah and His prophet have very clearly defined the outcomes of our actions in this life and hereafter. The detailed account they have provided us about our stay in this world and after we take the last breath, show us a clear path from now until our final destination. For us to make any change therefore, we should commit ourselves and clearly envision the outcome that we expect from our change.
Lack of a personal change system
Islam constitutes a system of obligatory ibadat such as prayers, fasting, etc., that helps a Muslim adhere to a discipline of maintaining his or her relationship with Allah. No one would disagree that if such ibadat were instead optional, most of us wouldn’t be able to maintain our current levels of spirituality. So, just as methodical and disciplined systems help us perform effectively in both our spiritual and worldly matters, instituting a methodical “personal change system” is equally important to help us follow through on the changes that we want to make in our lives. Such a system will help us to make, track, and sustain changes throughout our lives.
Finally, let’s remember that to seek a change in our conditions we must do things differently from the way that initially led to where we stand today. So, the road from misery to fulfillment, from good to great, and from Allah’s displeasure to seeking His pleasure starts with you getting on the process of change. As Allah says in the Quran: “Verily, Allah will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change their state themselves” [al-Raa’d 13:11].
Points to ponder:
What in your opinion are other barriers to change, especially when we know the truth. What can be done to overcome such barriers? Share your thoughts below.
The IqraSense.com Blogger
Assalamu’alaykum wr wb. This article goes perfectly well with the difference between ‘knowing’ and ‘understanding’ (and ‘acceptance’ playing a role somewhere in the process). MashaAllah this is a very good article explaining in a clear and effective manner. May AllahSWT richly reward the author and give us all the Taufiq to follow His commandments and eschew all the prohibitions.
I often find it disturbing that i get deviated from my prayer sometimes and i just feel so remorseful about it…I have a prayer debt to get rid of and i just feel so discouraged.Is there any way i could uplift my spirits and not procrastinate???
I thank you for posting this article..
Jassie – Please visit the article at the link below and read comments on that page by the readers as well – http://www.iqrasense.com/islamic-topics/achieving-khushu-and-a-positive-state-of-mind.html
the best way to pray with mindfulness is to remember the Ayat of quran with the meaning, when you recite it then your mind will be focus on the meaning and your attention will be on the Ayat, that way your mind will never wonder on any other things.
Jzk Allah kairun
Jazallah kharyan urgency for change…helpful, to continue and improve my character and the urgency not to Procrastinate which is a deficit from and a ploy of the shaitan – whispering to detour one from prayers and remembrance of Allah ta’ala.. SalAam
Masha Allah it was really too good. Keep up your good work as these articles are really motivating
Aslmmualaikum..for me..since i know iqrasense..i remember ALLAH and the teachings of Quran.In this modern world,people juz dont care what they do as if when they die they will automatically go to heaven.In my country there is a book called first night in the grave..i feel very scared when i finished reading it…”Na’uzubillah Min Zalik”…when there is still time,be prepared before its too late…ALLAHU AKBAR!
Our own personal pride can sometimes be the biggest obstacle of all to change.This can be the hardest battle from within ourselves that we fight and struggle with to change for the better even though we understand clearly that we must sometimes give up what we personally cherish in the method of doing so.
Alhamdulllilah. I have a problem with procrastination and thought this was a very good article. Thanks for posting.
Jazak Allah and shokran,
Again a wonderful post on Islam. Since Iqrasense,I learned a lot and I just can’t do without it.
Allahu akbar.jazaksllahu khairan. Thanks for this thought provoking reminder. May Allah continue to guide us all the time.
Wonderful and absolutely Marvellous Article! Masha Allah.
May Almighty Allah Pour His Choicest Blessings upon IQRA and the personnel who have contributed towards creating such an awareness to the brothers & sisters of Islam throughout the world.
Jazakallah. Very good article.My humble opinion is this. Fear is the obstacle for success either in material or spiritual world, which comes from lack of knowledge. That is the reason prophet SAW told us to attain knowledge even if we have to go to china during his time.That shows the importance of knowledge.For everything we do we need proper knowledge. May Allah help us to seek proper knowledge and work accordingly by seeking his pleasure and give guidance to other people to be on the right path.In this way we can succeed in this world and the hereafter.
Jazakumulahu kaeran, may Allah continue to guide YOU. I like it, I was motivated.
Alhamdulilah braka Lahufiikum. Brother may Allah produce your like in ISLAM from generation to generation. In my humble opinion I think other barriers to change are self interest and greed. A lot of us may know the truth but would not stick to it because it affects our benefit. May Allah give us the willpower to stand for the truth.
Alhamdulillah a very good article, furnishes the understanding of Qur’an & Hadith in depth for better understanding.sadly its true that we often differ in actions whether in religion or in our social life.may Allah give all of us hidayaa.brthers keep up doing good work. Its really admiring.
May peace be on you all.
Splendid article.it cuts across all of us.we all av a share in this.May Allah guide us aright and assist us to suppress our personal desire that’s hindering d fundamental change we require to attain Allah’s felicity.we’ve to be committed practically to effect this change.
Nice work. Jazakallah.
Is it necessary to call a ‘soora’ as chapter & ‘aaya’ be referred as
verse ( as in Bible)?
Can we not call soora “A Soora” and aaya an aaya.
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him, said, “If Allah wants good for someone, He afflicts him with trials.”[Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 548].
Sometimes man needs to be shaken to his very core before he awakes from this deep slumber you call desensitisation. For the fortunate ones, these trials and tribulations will focus the lens through which they see reality and it will affect a fundamental change in them which will bring them closer to their lord.
This is an excellent and educational article…May Almighty Allah crown the effort of all those that are involved one way or the other to bring this article to us….out of humbleness I agreed that knowledge with strong eimaan will be a great force in trying to make a change in our habit.
And also constant thinking of DEATH….which non of us can escape, knowing that we will soon meet Allah our creator and account for all that we did will help us to humbly change our way to suit that of Allah and our beloved prophet Muhammad (SAW).
This is a masterpiece, it captures lives and attitude of humanity in general towards time utilization.Muslims should be mindful of managing their time meaningfully and productively.
very educative article and a remainder to all muslims verily we should respect time and effect changes towards good within the limited time we have. Jazkallahu khairan.
Very interesting and hit right to the point of change.; it is easier said than done, but if we really pesevere to change with strong will power by the help Of Allah through zikir, salahtul tahjud and istikharah, insyAllah we can acheive what we want in life and change for the better. Allah Karim…….. Angsana
The biggest barrier to change is the fear of the people among one is living with . The most important thing is oneself or ourselves irrespective of the people around us. Making the eeman stronger and fearing Allah-Subhana-Taalah day and night is the key to change our lives positively.
Jazakallah, We all need to ponder on this well written well said article. Definitely eye opening for all of us. We sometimes think this way but have no words to put our thoughts. I personally think change is no big deal if we start working on it,changes do come easily if committed. So let’s start working on it ,inshallah we all will be successful, inshallah. Do not think of what people will say just think what Allah like and wants from us. Pray for me that I keep struggling in way of Allah till my last breath, Ameen!
things have changed dramatically in the recent past. today the youth of our muslim community is more realistic and materialistic. but in the search of this worldly glamour and timely needs we forgot the purpose of our life. such articles can be really helpfull in providing us a more logical approach towards life. May Allah guide us all to right path…
Assalamu Alaikum brothers and sisters working on this amazing site. the article is amazing, yet I still feel there’s something missing. The challenges Allah puts us into everyday should be a great source of enthusiasm in the fight of procrastination.
Also, I think change is not always to good. So we have to be careful and pick our steps carefully, and if we see this way is not good, change it soon. I believe -inshaAllah- all good Muslims are quick adapters of change.
Blessings and peace!
Very thought provoking and a simplified way of changing the mankind. Keep it up, definitely it will change the community.
assalamalaykum, very well said! Though its really difficult to challenge the status quo,but not impossible. we have to come out of our comfort zone to become real masters of our lives.
Jazaka Allah Khairan Kathira for sharing these word. this is so helpful to us as a youth leaving in the United States, whe we often Procrastinate and never step out to prefect ourself let alone to bring a change in our Muslim community.
once again Jazaka Allah khaira
thank you for this article, so well written and enlightening. We are our own barriers to change. we need to cultivate a sincere desire for change and stick to it till the end.
our greatest barrier to change is ignorance of the benefit of change especially in our daily lives and ultimately in the hereafter. But the fundamental tool or vehicle to the smooth commencement to change is first and foremost the knowledge of the Deen AND OFCOURSE CONTEMPORARY KNOWLEDGE!
Alhamdulillah, for this quite illuminating piece on changing for the better. However, one of the impediments to change I think is the fear of the unknown-even though this can be viewed as lack of deep faith in Allah who has power to do anything. For example, I have been a banker for two decades and discovered some few years ago while reading the Qur’an and on Riba; that Allah will also hold us workers in non-Islamic bank accountable. I have been trying since then to change job but yet to get any. By Allah’s injunction, I should have discontinued immediately. We plead for Allah’s forgiveness.
May Allah grants us with beneficial knowledge.. Alhamdulillah, i always found your writings suited to my current situation to where i often considered it as reminder from Allah. I am so grateful that i had subscribed your domain and frequently share your posts with friends and family. Regards from Malaysia..:)
Excellent article. I like the topic and its contents. It is the need of present time to change. Best wishes to the writer and Iqra Scene people to provide such timely insight.
This article is indeed enlightening. I v personally benefited not only from this but all the you av sent to me. May Allah continue to bless and strenghten you. Ma salam
Asaala Aleikum all my muslim brothers and sisters..wonderful and very relevant topic..may Allah reward you with highest Jannah all IQRA team..I agree with the all the barriers that was mentioned in article especially procrastinating Tawba (Repentance). Allah has given us enough time and wisdom we have no excuse, may He SWT make it easy for us and guide us. amin..jzk agian
Alhamdulilah!! Very Inspirational and Good Detail, i have found it very helpful especially in this point of time i am in my ife right now of purification of the soul, Jazzakahlah
Very interesting article indeed which matches our time. The Qur’an is so great and the best source of guidance. Many of us delay in doing so many things and the first of all is to improve our behaviour which will help us increase our eeman. I am totally in accordance with this article. Jazakallah Kayr.
Jazakallahu khairan for this piece. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Allah (swt) our human minds will never tell us what we will be able to do without traces of exaggerating tendecies, however, Al-Ihsan helps us know that we a limited beings for Allah (swt) is the “unlimited” who has no beginning nor end. Good intentions and fear of Almighty therefore help keep us at out limit. May Allah continue to be our guide.
May Allah bless you. This is an excellent reminder. Continue the good work.
Insha Allah, God should continue rewarding you abundantly as you also continue helping us learn more.I am learning & gaining a lot,will support my friends too.
God Bless IqraSense.
It’s been one year this monthh since I took the decision to become a Muslim and I can only say alhamdulilah for that. I had a nervous breakdown because of some issues in my life and probably this was the way that Allah choose for me to bring me to him. Since then my life drastically change in so many ways and I can loudly and proudly say.. People DO change if they want to! I moved to an islamic country and I am very disappointed with the society here.. People tend to follow certain things rather because of traditions and social pressure and they tend to hide their sins, thinking that as long as noone will discover them, is ok! Is very sad, I really wish it could be something that I can do to change this
Asaala Aleikum. Very good and educative article. The Qur’an is so great and the best source of guidance. We have to spend time and effort for learning and understanding the Quran. Quran is the most relevant book , the most important book for succes in this life as well as in the herafter. We must remember – the Quran is sent down for pondering and taken lessons from it.
O Allah. Help us follow the right path if we know it, and give us the knowledge if we don´t know.
Assalaam Alaikum WaRahmatullahi WaBarakatuhu,
We all Procrastinate on things in life. It is in our Human nature. Sometimes society and other people become barriers and sometimes we build barriers for ourselves. In religion, Satan also works overtime on the pious to divert them from the Siraat Al Mustaqeem (The straight path).
This article has raised some good points in identifying the barriers to achieving success in this life and in the Akherah (Hereafter) as outlined in the Quran and the Sunnah. The key barrier seems to be Procrastination. We all live in the the hope of Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala’s mercy. But we should balance that hope against the anger of Allah SWT. I have a couple of suggestions to overcome Procrastination:
1) CREATE A PURPOSE: In Islam, our purpose in life is to live our life as prescribed in the Quran and the Sunnah and to attain JANNAH (Heaven) in the Akherah. So the purpose is clear.
2) CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVES: If we procrastinate on the PURPOSE then we attain HELLFIRE (May Allah SWT protect us all for hellfire, Ameen) and the Quran and Sunnah clearly detail the horrors of Hellfire! It is not a good place to be. So try and read about Hellfire as it will motivate us.
3) CREATE AN ACTION PLAN: Breakdown the effort into small manageable tasks and then work on completing each task daily in small chunks. Set aside time to pray, to read the Quran etc. May Allah SWT help us to make the best use of our time on this earth and may HE SWT grant us success in this life and the Akherah. Ameen.
It is basically true that human action is about life, death and change, may Allah help achieve eternal peace
Assalamu Alaikum, This article still holds good today and years to come. As such, a Muslim throughout his entire life undergoes constant change for the better when he follows Islam with its true knowledge. I don’t think there is anything left out in Islam that can hinder a Muslim’s progress except his ignorance. May we follow the Islamic tenets carefully (Ameen). Mushtaq Ahmad