Many brothers here are caught between the street life and their desire to be Muslim, however the street life is much more appealing and its call overpowers that of the call of the life of Islām. Most times they lose the struggle and give in to the life of the street, for example, into vices like smoking ganja (marijuana), drinking, chasing after girls, liming (loafing) on the block etc. They then feel too impure to come to the masjid or pray, or to do other Islamic things. What steps can they take to overcome this struggle?
I think that this is a struggle not just for people in Trinidad and Tobago, but a struggle for many Muslims who are living in inner cities in the West, or in non- Muslim lands and even some of the lands of the Muslims. With regards to this question, then alhamdulillāh, again brothers and sisters, there is not a disease or a sickness that exists but Allāh (سبحانه وتعالى) has sent down the cure. We just heard the ayah that we find in Sūrah Āl ʿImrān that we discussed in some detail. So I would say firstly, the remedy is for the Muslims to learn how to read the book of Allāh, to reflect over the book of Allāh and to understand the book of Allāh (عز وجل).
That takes me on to the second point, the Prophet ﷺ told us in the authentic ḥadīth:
إنَّ الشيطان مع الواحد، وهو من الاثنين أبعد – “The shayṭān (the devil) is with one and further from the two.”
Alone, brothers and sisters, we are weak.
الْمُؤْمِنُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ كَالْبُنْيَانِ يَشُدُّ بَعْضُهُ بَعْضًا – “The believer to the believer is like a building, part of it supports the other.”
Alone we are weak. So in order for us to be consistent in our struggle, we need assistance and cooperation from our brothers and sisters:
﴾ وَتَعاوَنوا عَلَى البِرِّ وَالتَّقوىٰ ۖ وَلا تَعاوَنوا عَلَى الإِثمِ وَالعُدوانِ﴿
Aid one another upon righteousness and piety and do not aid one another upon sin and transgression.
[Sūrah al-Māʾidah 5:2]
So therefore, go to the masjid, and learn to read the Qurʾān and associate with those brothers or sisters that have the same outlook as you, because it will make it easier for you to be consistent. That is why in the ḥadīth about the man who killed ninety-nine people, imagine that, subḥānAllāh, killing ninety-nine people, murdering ninety-nine people, and we know that murder is one of the most serious crimes in ʾIslām because it goes against one of the primary objectives of Islamic law which is what? – Ḥifḍ al-nafs- preservation of life. When he had killed one hundred people, he went to the scholar, the person of knowledge and he asked, “Is there any repentance for me?” The scholar said, “yes, who can come between you and repentance?”
So, we never despair of the mercy of Allāh (عز وجل) but at the same time we do not feel safe from the punishment of Allāh, because Allāh may punish the servant who is disobedient. The scholar also advised him to what? To move from the land that he was living in because it was an evil land, and to go where? To go to a land where the people worship Allāh (عز وجل) alone. So brothers and sisters, if we are serious about overcoming the struggle and being successful, we heard what is at stake here in the verse:
فَمَن زُحزِحَ عَنِ النّارِ وَأُدخِلَ الجَنَّةَ فَقَد فازَ﴾ ﴿
And whoever is distanced from the hellfire and entered into paradise then surely they are successful
[Sūrah Āl ʿImrān 3:185]
We do not want to fail because failure is something that we can never tolerate. If we fail and we die upon disbelief (والعياذ بالله), if we die upon kufr or shirk (والعياذ بالله), a person who dies in that state is going to the hellfire forever. So we cannot fail, Allāh (عز وجل) said in that verse, “Whoever is distanced from the hellfire and entered into paradise then surely they are successful. There is too much at stake.
Therefore, in order to be successful, put yourself in the company of those who also want to be successful. Likewise, (حفظكم الله) I mentioned this in Tobago, an explanation of the ḥadīth of the Prophet ﷺ the meaning being: “Whoever leaves something for the sake of Allāh (عز وجل), Allāh (عز وجل) will replace it with that which is better.” If you leave something for Allāh (but it has to be solely for Allāh), Allāh will give you better than that (سبحانه وتعالى).
In the beginning it may be a bit hard, but in the long term Allāh (عز وجل) will replace that difficulty with ease and delight. The reason for that brothers and sisters, initially it may be a bit hard to differentiate between those who are serious and sincere and those who are pretending and faking. Alhamdulillāh, the one who asked the question it appears that they are sincere (والله حسيبه ولا أزكي على الله أحدا) because they are asking about how to overcome this struggle. But everyone is going through this.
Another way brothers and sisters, is that we have to limit our time on social media and looking at what everyone else is doing on social media, because Shayṭān is utilising that. If subḥānAllāh, the Salaf said in their time when there was no TV and no internet, that this world is the khamr- the intoxicant or the drug that is pushed and distributed by the devil, then what would they say about what is taking place on social media? And the exception is those who use it for that which is pleasing to Allāh (سبحانه وتعالى). Limit your time and only enter it if it is beneficial, because if you continuously look at that which the Shayṭān beautifies of immorality, sin and disobedience, the nature of the soul is that we are weak, humans are weak, the character is a thief. Even though at one moment you may despise it, it may be that something enters your heart and you may become fond of it. May Allāh (عز وجل) protect each and every one of us.
Lastly brothers and sisters, do not forget the power of duʿāʾ – of supplication and turning to Allāh and begging Allāh (عز وجل) and that is why Alhamdulillāh, Ramaḍān is around the corner and Ramaḍān is an opportunity for change.
So the brother or sister who asked the question, Alhamdulillāh if you are serious about overcoming the struggles of the streets, then like Abū Hurayrah (رضى الله عنه) used to mention about the companions, he used to say, “In the month of Ramaḍān, they would do their utmost to sit in the masājid. Now yes, in our lives many of us work and we cannot just sit in the masjid all day. However, as much as you can stay in the masjid, read the book of Allāh (عز وجل), be amongst those who are going to remind you about the ākhirah (the hereafter). Be around those who Alhamdulillāh are going to inspire you even in the dunyā (worldly life), either to work and attain a lawful sustenance, or they are going to encourage you to do good deeds which is going to benefit you in the ākhirah. May Allāh (عز وجل) grant you and us success to do that which is pleasing to Him and that which He loves.
In addition to that brothers and sisters, do not let the Shayṭān come to you and prevent you from going to the masjid and praying your ṣalāh. Even if you are falling short, even if you are committing sins, because Allāh (عز وجل) said (سبحانه وتعالى):
﴾يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنوا لا تَقرَبُوا الصَّلاةَ وَأَنتُم سُكارىٰ حَتّىٰ تَعلَموا ما تَقولونَ ﴿
Oh you who believe do not approach and come near to the prayer while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying
[Sūrah al-Nisāʾ 4:43]
So if you are not intoxicated, go and pray brothers and sisters. Yes, if a person is intoxicated to the extent that they do not know what they are saying, their prayer is not valid. But if a person brothers and sisters is falling short, they are falling into sin, they are doing things that they should not do, hanging on the streets, falling short, still brothers and sisters, go and pray your prayer because you do not know, perhaps if you pray sincerely to Allāh (عز وجل) and you repented to Allāh (عز وجل), that going to the masjid and offering the ṣalāh and repenting to Allāh (عز وجل) could be the moment that Allāh (عز وجل) granted you success to change your life. As Allāh says in the Qurʾān about the power of prayer:
﴾إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ تَنهىٰ عَنِ الفَحشاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ ﴿
Verily the prayer prevents from immorality and evil
[Sūrah al-ʿAnkabūt 29:45]
So do not stop going to the masjid because you are falling short, because look subḥānAllāh, ʾīmān increases with obedience and it decreases with disobedience. So, if you stop going to the masjid and you stop praying your prayer, as the Prophet ﷺ said,
الْعَهْدُ الَّذِي بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَهُمُ الصَّلاَة فَمَنْ تَرَكَهَا فَقَدْ كَفَرُ
“The covenant that is between us and them is the prayer, whoever abandons it has disbelieved.”
Look at that brothers and sisters. So if a person just indulges in evil and they are engrossed in evil, then all they are doing are things that are going to cause their ʾīmān to decrease. So going and praying alhamdulillāh, being in the masjid, that is an opportunity to increase your ʾīmān. Do not stop going to the masjid (حفظكم الله).