“It doesn’t feel right to me” “I don’t feel strong enough” “My iman doesn’t feel high right now” – All common excuses given to absolve or dismiss an individual from an obligation upon them. I’ve had many conversations and watched countless well known online personalities share their personal religious journeys, and whenever it comes to justifying or acknowledging their shortcomings, you will always hear the word ‘feel’ come up. It seems that we’ve made our own emotions the sole dictator for every action we perform. And I bring these this topic up not to admonish, but to question and criticize with the utmost empathy whether this should be the case.
I think it’s time we dispel this myth – is how you ‘feel’ really a good enough excuse?
Such an attitude is no doubt a reflection of the society we live in; a society that constantly pushes the idea that your religion is something personal. Its rules and regulations are all open to interpretation and the importance of following them depends on how ‘faithful’ you are feeling today. A society that says that YOU come first, and everyone else is second.
However we must be mindful that such ideas are contrary to what our deen teaches us.
This religion came down and regulated how we should act when we’re alone, with the people around us, and as a society. Once you understand what Allah has obligated upon us and how comprehensive this deen is, it is impossible to keep Islam personal. Being a true slave of Allah means submitting your will to anything He demands of us. Saying “we hear and we obey” regardless of how weak and low you’re feeling because you know a sign of your Iman is your willingness to obey Allah, not how warm and fuzzy your heart feels.
One cannot achieve ‘spiritual ecstasy’ by picking and choosing their religion where it suits them, and neither can they do so by leaving their worship inside their own four walls. In fact such an attitude makes you look embarrassed of your religion, shows your lack of conviction in it, and ridicules your own intellect.
Society constantly pushes the worship of one’s feelings and elevating your own self to the position of God, and Allah tells us of this in Surah Furqan
“Have you seen him who takes his low desires for his god? Will you then be a protector over him?” 25:43
It’s not a surprise that this idea of making your feelings your criterion in life is now seeping into the minds of young muslims when it comes to their religion too. When it comes to one’s feelings, and the topic of Iman, many of us tend to conflate the two, and consequently fall short in their worship to Allah.
It is incumbent that we know that Iman is your belief in Allah and His Messenger (saw) and acting accordingly.
Shaykh Uthaymeen puts it simply when he says:
“According to Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, iman is “belief in the heart, words on the tongue and actions of the body.” This includes three things:
- Belief in the heart
- Words on the tongue
- Actions of the body
It is also important to know that your Iman will always increase and decrease, and this is evidently shown in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Our iman will always fluctuate, but the obligations Allah has ordained upon us will not. So we cannot make how high or low we think our iman is our criterion for performing worship, rather we should hasten towards obedience regardless of how we feel, because this obedience is a reflection of your Iman too.
“People complain that they don’t have the feeling of Īmān. Who told you that you need a feeling? You are looking for the wrong thing. This religion has not come to give you feelings. Īmān is to obey Allah SWT. He promised you paradise through obedience.”
– Shaykh Akram Nadwi
So to the sister who doesn’t feel ready to wear the hijab, the brother who plans to start praying when he becomes pious, or the youtuber who feels like they can’t back out of it anymore – Your iman is a reflection of your hastening to the obedience of Allah. Don’t delay it. Instead, be hopeful that when you make your effort, Allah will help you succeed.
Iman Amin is an alimah student at Al Salam Institute, and a youth worker at Bayaan Youth Group for young Muslim girls. She takes a great interest in current affairs and the role of Islam in society today. She hopes to pursue further studies in the Arabic language and the Quran. You can follow her on Twitter: @hearandweobey