Under construction, we see it everywhere, especially if you live in Indiana. It’s a sign of things improving, roads being repaved, buildings facades being repainted. Its an improvement, a repair, an enhancement of what used to be and it’s something all of us should be doing constantly.
Islam was sent to better the human condition, to purify our hearts and souls. Every aspect of Islam is infused with attaining a state of betterment, from making wudu to the act of charity. All these things are connected to enhance our characters. So what does it mean to be under construction? It means that we are constantly striving to better ourselves, to rid ourselves of flaws and replace them with qualities that get us closer to Allah. In essence it’s reflecting upon our actions, words, and thoughts.
Prophet Muhammad pbuh stressed the importance of good character. A’isha said “I heard the Messenger of Allah say ‘By his good character a believer can reach the same rank as someone who fasts and prays at night’”. [Abu Dawud] In another hadith in which Jabir reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Those I love most and those sitting nearest to me on the Day of Rising will be those of you with the best character. Those most hateful to me and the furthest of you from me on the Day of Rising will be the pompous, the braggarts and the arrogant.’ They said, ‘Messenger of Allah, we know the pompous and the braggarts, but who are the arrogant?’ He said, ‘The proud.'” [at-Tirmidhi]
There are countless other hadith stressing the importance of good character and if we look around us and more importantly at ourselves we will understand the impact it has. So how do we change our state? First realize that no one is perfect and second that Allah is infinitely merciful. I read a powerful hadith the other day regarding His mercy; “, The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The Shaytaan said, ‘By Your Glory and Majesty, I will never cease to misguide Your slaves so long as their souls remain in their bodies.’ The Lord said, ‘By My Glory and Majesty, I will continue to forgive them so long as they seek My forgiveness.” [Ahmad] How powerful is it to know that Allah says Himself to Shaytaan He will continue to forgive us as long as we seek His forgiveness. Keeping the mercy of Allah in our hearts helps us turn to Him even if we have sinned and sinned and sinned.
We all make mistakes, we all have our flaws, and we all are constantly in a battle with our nafs, and here is the silver lining. This constant battle we have with our nafs is an indication that our hearts are attached to Islam. The guilt that we feel after doing something bad shows us our hearts have not hardened. It is these thoughts that we must keep whispering to ourselves. To keep reminding ourselves that this is a struggle, that even if we have done something bad but repent, feel guilt, and ask for Allah’s forgiveness, we are improving. We should make it a habit to look deep within ourselves and reflect on our flaws, to take a step back and analyze our day to day routines. Doing this helps us understand our hearts better, it helps us understand what we need to change, what defects in our character we must repair.
Unlike construction we see all around us, character improvement is an ongoing thing that will never stop until the day you take your last breath. This is important to remember, because the moment we are satisfied with our actions, with our characters, that’s the moment we have failed. I will leave you with this thought, when we look at the world around us we are disgusted by the actions of others, but realize it is not the world but Allah who is looking at us, are we satisfied with what He sees?
– Omar Malik