While talking about controlling our hands, feet, tongue, eyes etc. from committing sins, I feel we often ignore the source from which all our actions stem. How about controlling, or rather managing and training, the source first? Where it all begins… Yes, “the mind”! All throughout the day, our mind keeps a steady stream of thoughts whirling in our heads. From actively processing what the person in front of you is saying to remembering that neighbour’s dog who barked at you 5 years ago.
Why do we even need to control our thoughts, you ask? Because our thoughts not only give rise to our actions but also determine our whole outlook on life. There are many kinds of thoughts that need to be checked, following are some of the major types. How many of them can you relate to?
The “I’ll-Make-Them-Payback-Somehow” Thoughts
This is where you can’t go to sleep despite being very tired because you’re fuming inside, ‘how dare he say that about me at the party?’ And then you indulge in the pleasure of imagining the scene where “he” is standing meekly and you’re telling him exactly what you think about him and a crowd is applauding you in the background.
The “But-What-Could-It-Be?” Thoughts
This is where you’re dying to know ‘why did they go to that place? What secret could it be? And why didn’t she call and tell me, huh? I’m sure “xyz” knows and is not telling me’. Your life depends on what someone’s doing in their life without telling you, for example, finalizing a rishta of their son, getting a new job, buying a new car, going to the doctor. The problem being: they didn’t consult you.
The “I-Will-Assume” Thoughts
You see him entering the park with a girl and you’re suddenly on your best Sherlock Holmes “I must deduce by putting two and two together” behaviour. ‘What’s going on? Hmmmm… Is that… his cousin? Colleague? Second wife?’ So you decide that the safest would be to assume the worst and thus spring into action and send a Whatsapp broadcast message without losing any time, announcing the scene with your detailed deductions.
Also includes, ‘she said that, but I think she meant this in reality’.
The “I-Hope-No-One-Finds-Out” Thoughts
These are a result of the constant bombardment on our brains of obscene or haram images that pop-up as ads while browsing on the internet, that we see on the billboards on the road, that get imprinted on our minds because we forgot to lower your gaze. Now in seclusion, that pretty sister with the purple hijab or that tall brother with the curly beard or the latest movie’s hero/heroine or even worse, that really obscene picture ad comes to your mind and you feel a tingling and forget yourself for a few moments while pursuing the thought further.
The “Oh-No!-Where-Did-That-Come-From” Thoughts
These are thoughts about Allah, your Deen, your faith, that make your cringe from inside as soon as they hit your mind and you are horrified, where did they come from? Unfortunately, sometimes you go on to pursue them and end up losing your faith, not knowing that they were whispers from Shaytan trying to detract you so you turn away from your faith or at least feel very bad about yourself.
The “Everything-Sucks” Thoughts
You’re drowned in a pool of “I don’t have this in my life” kind of thoughts. You can’t stop thinking of the happy life your friends are leading. XYZ has a brand new car and a 6-figure job. ABC has a glamorous and accomplished wife plus three well-mannered kids. And you? You have all the leftover scraps of everyone’s goods. Sigh! The worst family, the worst job, the worst looks, the worst house etc.
that you’ve placed yourself in one or more of the above mentioned categories, decide to put a stop to them. That’s it! Yes, it is that simple! Know that the very first wrong thought that comes to your mind will not make you sinful as it was not in your power (provided you did not will that thought to come by not protecting your eyes and ears etc. at all). But pursuing that wrong thought, thinking that now since it’s in my head I might as well build the whole scene, will make you accountable for it. Surprised that even thoughts can be sins?
“O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin.” (49:12)
Yes, we are the believers alhamdulillah, yet we all slip and we are all humans, it’s okay. The important thing is to keep improving.
The Way Forward
We can stop ourselves from pursuing a specific thought. It’s an exercise that you can get used to with the Will of Allah SWT. You can do the following when bugged with a bad thought:
- Immediately seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan and from the evil of your nafs.
- Tell yourself firmly I will NOT pursue this. Loudly, if possible.
- Change your position or situation.
- Distract yourself and get busy in some other thing.
- Memorize duas to be recited when troubled by the whispers of Shaytan.
- Offer 2 nafal whenever a bad thought comes. Soon Shaytan will be stopping the bad thoughts in order to save you from offering 2 nafal (read the nafal anyway now that you’re in the habit, it’s okay).
- Make sincere and heartfelt dua.
- Involve yourself in healthy and productive activities that do not give time to your mind to wander.
- Keep your input of religious knowledge continuous, join a Quran class nearby or online.
- Stay in good company, make righteous friends.
- Avoid obscene talk. What you say has an effect on your skin and thus your whole body.
- Do not binge watch TV, movies, seasons etc.
- Practice lowering your gaze.
- Install pop-up ad blocks on your browser.
- Keep revising the blessings you have and be grateful for them every single day. It will stop the negative, self-piteous thoughts.
CHALLENGE: What better time to practice all of the above than the last 10 blessed nights of Ramadan? When Shaytan is all tied up and Mercy is abundant inshaAllah. May your life be beautified immensely by learning to manage your thoughts. 🙂