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Liberating a troubled mind

The mind of an average Nigerian, today, is preoccupied (awake and even while asleep) with the fear and thought about so many things that have…

The mind of an average Nigerian, today, is preoccupied (awake and even while asleep) with the fear and thought about so many things that have made life uncomfortable, challenging and daunting. From the threats of banditry, kidnapping, wanton killings and other forms of unending insecurity to the ever-increasing cost of living, mass unemployment, a sickening state of primary healthcare facilities, countrywide network of failed roads, and a shambolic system of education; the individual is thus psychologically unstable and left with limited capacity for positive thinking. 

A troubled psyche is a prospective playground for the devil because even the best of men could, under unfavourable conditions, become a toy in the ubiquitous hands of the sneaking whisperer. Like a pendulum, the mind of an average Nigerian hangs between fear and uncertainty, between the violent waves of hardship and the survival woes that are daily hindered by corruption, injustice or selective justice, and wicked leadership at some levels. Rather than allow morality to govern everything we do, the conscience of a typical Nigerian is largely driven by sentiments; a counter-productive element. This is how a man’s common sense is left at the mercy of the devil. A mind in this kind of mental crisis requires liberation. 

Given this unwanted situation in which we have found ourselves, the mind must not be allowed to remain and suffer in the claws of the devil. We have to seek the means of rescuing it. Our success in liberating a troubled mind from the shackles of the devil would help to forestall our becoming victims of despair, depression or hypertension. One effective way of achieving this is for a believer in a situation such as the one confronting Nigerians at the moment to resort to the constant remembrance of Allah in words, which according to the Prophet (SAW), is the best form of remembrance. 

The remembrance of Allah (SWT) referred to as dhikr or dhikru-llah in Islamic literature involves reciting the tahlil formula: “La ilaha illa-llah” meaning “There is no God except Allah”. The holy Qur’an in 29:45 reminds us “…remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt”. Allah (SWT) also mentions in Qur’an 2:152 “Therefore remember Me and I will remember you; and be thankful to me and do not be ungrateful to Me”.

Abu Hurayrah (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW) said “Faith is (divided in to) about seventy (or sixty) categories: the best of it is the statement ‘La ilaha illa-llah’ and the smallest of it is the removal of a harmful item from the road”. The Prophet (SAW) added that “shyness too is a category of faith”. Imam Bukhari similarly relates on the authority of Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said “The contrast between one who invokes and glorify Allah’s name and the one who does not is like the difference between the living and the dead”.

It was also narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (RA) who reports that the Prophet (SAW) said, “Allah has angels who visit and honour assemblies where Allah’s name is invoked”. Wherever the angels find one, they would join the assembly and spread out their wings to fill up the space between them and the heavens. Thereafter, Allah the all-Knowing would ask the angels from where they have come. They would answer, “We are coming from the assembly of worshippers on earth whom we found invoking your holy name and seeking for your paradise, even though they (the worshippers) have never seen it”. Allah (SWT) in His last response to the angels (on the issue) would say, “I have forgiven them their sins and granted their requests”. Is there any believer who does not cherish forgiveness of sins?

A mind full of the remembrance of Allah shall have no seat for the devil to occupy. Neither would there be space for negative thoughts to survive. What stops us, then, from engaging in dhikr, which provides relief from our unending worries? Through constant remembrance of Allah by way of dhikr, we can liberate our troubled psyche, reduce tension and stress, and therafter, attain peace of mind. Like courtesy, dhikr costs us nothing as it could be done at any time of the day, while standing, sitting or lying on the bed. More than any other, our generation needs dhikr to achieve purity of heart and closeness to Allah. Dhikr increases us in faith, guards us against committing great sins (Kaba’ir), and more significantly, keeps us out of the reach of all devils, Satanic as well as human. It further removes envy from the heart, purifies it and then gives it all the spiritual ingredients necessary for overcoming our challenges. Apart from being a spiritual light for all-time guidance, dhikr shall be a protective barrier on the Judgment Day between those who engaged in it and the gate of hell fire.

Let us remember that Allah (SWT) alone is worth remembering. Allah is the Beginning, the End, the First, and the Last. Maintaining a constant remembrance of Allah is a duty ordained for mankind. No matter how constrained our daily activities make us feel, let us create time to remember and glorify Allah’s holy name. This world that we chase day and night, on the land, sea and in the air, shall soon come to an end. If we want Allah to remember us, we must first remember and glorify Him (SWI). Whenever we decide to approach Allah (SWT) in dhikr, let us do so with absolute concentration, sincerity and piety. Our dhikr should be accompanied with a corresponding awe that holds Allah in the most exalted manner. May Allah (SWT) guide us to engage in dhikr more than we engage in worldly matters, amin.

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