By Amal Al-Sibai
Many of us are so caught up with the activities of our daily lives and we are so busy that we lose sight of what is truly important. If all that occupies our mind and time is worldly matters and we rarely think of the day when we will be held accountable or the life after death, then you can say we are living in a state of ghaflah or heedlessness.
Ghaflah or heedlessness means that we spend our days and nights unmindful, neglectful, and distracted from the awareness of Allah. It is being unmindful of divine purpose, accountability, resurrection, and judgment in the Hereafter.
What we are missing in our lives and what we need to cultivate is an awareness of the ever constant presence of Allah; the awareness that Allah is constantly watching us.
Ghaflah is a lack of attention to what is the most important part of our lives, the remembrance and worship of Allah. You can say it means getting side-tracked.
When you are so immersed in your life that you forget the presence of Allah, you are in ghaflah. For example a college student may have a big chemistry test and that is all she can think about. She studies for two hours straight and gets up only to make a sandwich, and then she continues studying. She hears the call for Maghrib prayer but she keeps studying. Time passes by and she hears the call for Ishaa prayer and again she does not get up to pray. She studies until 2 am and she is so exhausted that she slumps into her bed and she does not even think of praying.
In comparison, another student may study for two hours straight. She periodically stops for just a few minutes and raises her hands up and asks Allah to help her achieve high scores. When she hears the call for prayer, she gets up to pray and goes right back to studying. In bed, she remembers Allah and asks him for guidance and success. This student has a high level of mental awareness of Allah.
The danger of being in a state of ghaflah or unawareness of Allah is that it makes it easier to slip into committing sin. An absence of the feeling that Allah is watching over us may increase the tendency for one to sin. It becomes easier to skip the prayer, easier to lie, cheat, steal, bribe others, or commit even worse acts. A person who is always aware of Allah would refrain from doing anything that would displease Allah.
If you would be embarrassed or ashamed of doing something wrong in front of your elderly uncle or your boss or mother, then more importantly you should be ashamed of doing something wrong in the sight of Allah.
Do not live your life in a state of ghaflah. Live your life in the way that you would like to be upon when the time of your death approaches. Do you hope that when your time for death approaches, that you are in prostration or you are fasting?
The scholars have a saying that you will die the way you live. One constantly worried about wealth, indulging in pleasures only – food, drink, and entertainment- rarely mentioning Allah’s name or seeking forgiveness, may find it difficult to say on his death bed, “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his prophet and messenger.”
All of us experience this in our lives; we go in and out of ghaflah, or heedlessness. This fluctuates from day to day.
There are certain things we can do that are a remedy for ghaflah, that help us to be in a state of awareness of Allah.
The first is repentance and seeking forgiveness. One should ask for forgiveness, or say istighfar, at least 70 to 100 times a day, as was practiced by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Another good practice is to hold yourself accountable each night for your actions and behavior during the day. In your mind, go over your day and evaluate your level of worship, patience, and conduct towards others. Pat yourself on the back for the good, and seek forgiveness from Allah for the bad, and make a strong resolution to try harder the next day.
The third piece of advice is to visit righteous people and keep good company. Spend time with someone who is truly connected to Allah. Seek out those who have a sound heart, excellent character, and who fulfill Allah’s commands and avoid what Allah has prohibited. Spend more time with people who remind you of Allah, remind you to pray, who will make duaa for you, and who may help you learn and grow spiritually.
Send peace and blessings upon the Prophet. Some scholars recommend sending peace and blessings upon the Prophet 500 times a day. “May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon Muhammad”, Allah records ten good deeds, erases ten sins, and raises you ten levels in Paradise.
Recitation of the Holy Qur’an helps you maintain that spiritual, mental, and emotional awareness of Allah. The scholars recommend reading one section of the Holy Qur’an every day, which is about twenty pages. However if that is too much for your busy lifestyle, you may choose to read five pages or two or one, the most important thing is to maintain a regular connection with the Qur’an. Read the Qur’an, and listen to its beautiful recitation, rhythms, and sounds. The Qur’an is guidance, mercy, and a cure for what ails our hearts.
We pray to Allah to keep us from being among the ghafileen, the heedless.