Soul food

Most of us understand the psychological and emotional harm that comes from constantly exposing ourselves to negative, toxic social and personal environments. So we limit interactions with negative people, and we end toxic relationships. But when it comes to religion, we say things like, “If you truly have faith, nothing can shake it.”

There was a time when I myself believed this and proclaimed the same. But today when I hear statements that attest to the unshakeable nature of “true faith,” what comes to mind is the popular saying, “Fools rush where wise men wouldn’t dare to tread.”

Even the Prophet  prayed,“O You who turns hearts, make my heart firm upon Your religion.”[i] In the Qur’an, Allah describes the believers as those who pray,“Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us; and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed You are the Bestower” (Ali’Imraan, 3:8).

Also, the Prophet repeatedly warned us about the dangers of bad companionship, and in the Qur’an Allah narrates the story of a person in Paradise reflecting on his time in this world and recalls a friend who would cast doubt on the truth of the Resurrection:

“…I had a companion [on earth], who would say, ‘Are you indeed of those who believe, that when we have died and become dust and bones, we will indeed be recompensed?’ He will say, ‘Would you [care to] look?’ And he will look and see him in the midst of the Hellfire. He will say, ‘By Allah, you almost ruined me! If [it were] not for the favor of my Lord, I would have been of those brought in [to Hell].’”

As-Saffaat, 37:51-57

And bad companionship does not come only in the form of friendships. It also comes in the form of our social, academic, and work environments. It can also come in the form of what we expose ourselves to through the media, whether for entertainment or listening to “the news.”

Naturally, because we live in this earthly world, we interact with friends and neighbors, we go to school and work, and we remain abreast of what is happening around us. However, if we hope for both good in this world and good in the Hereafter, we cannot afford to be only active participants in our worldly pursuits. We must also be active participants in our spiritual pursuits.

In the Qur’an, Allah says,

“And among the people is he who says, ‘Our Lord, give us in this world,’ and he will have, in the Hereafter, no share. But among them is he who says, ‘Our Lord, give us the best in this world and the best in the Hereafter, and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.’”

Al-Baqarah, 2:200-201

And we gain the best in both worlds, as well as protection from the Fire, by nourishing our hearts and souls with constant remembrance of Allah, prioritizing the five daily prayers, and working everyday to protect ourselves from spiritual degeneration—and by being ever aware of the human weakness in ourselves.

Perhaps it’s okay to believe things like, If you truly have faith, nothing can shake it—so long as you recognize that true faith does not come from you. It is a gift from Allah. We just need to make sure that our hearts are ready to receive this gift…

By protecting ourselves from toxic relationships and environments that prevent our hearts from being open to Allah’s guidance.

So be careful what you feel your soul.

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