‘Tis the season to be jolly –
fa la la la la la la la la laLa illaha illallah!
Relapse season is about to start – oh yea even Muslims succumb to the Christmas indulgence! It is not just in the Western countries like UK or USA where Muslims may struggle to stay clean and serene during the holiday season. A visit to the Mall of Emirates, housing the worlds largest Christmas tree, hints (ok more than a hint) that it aint just a Western thing. We don’t even celebrate Christmas but there is something about this time of year that sets off those cravings and relapses happen. Maybe its that annoying jingle jingle music in every shop we go in, that’s enough to send anyone crazy, or maybe that there is that atmosphere in the air where people start inviting you out to parties, movies on tv, adverts, triggers everywhere we look! The addict recovering from substances is suddenly faced with adverts for wine, office parties with punch and champers, even on the street level, the crack house has a bit of tinsel on the door! The obsessive over-eater cannot walk through the supermarket without all the tempting chocolates on offer, they even get the stuff offered for free as the lady in the pinny reaches out to them with a bit of Christmas pudding stuck on the end of a cocktail stick! For the sex addict, all he sees are pretty girls everywhere in sparkling dresses and this seasons version of red lippy (red is red right?), and it doesn’t really help if they’ve had a few drinks and getting flirty! For the shopaholic it can be turmoil to resist the lure of the sales, Black Friday, Boxing Day sale, everything must go, don’t miss out, ching ching ching. For a recovering addict, whatever your drug of choice is, there seems to be no escape from the various and many temptations on offer during the merriment that is Christmas and New Year. Sounds like we need our Christmas Survival Kit for Recovering Muslims! So let’s take a look inside ….
1) Your Book of Guidance – “My idea of a good night is to snuggle up with a good book” – How often do you hear that these days? Well let’s start with the basics of a recovery in Islam. Our way of life starts with the best of books – The Word of Allah, The Qur’an, in which Allah speaks directly to us. It is this very Book that is our survival kit for the rest of our lives, throughout our lives, day in day out, night in night out. The map to our world.
There was once a man who came back to his apartment, to find that his flat mate was having a party. Drinks were flowing and there were girls, willing girls. His friend waved him over to join in and in that moment he was torn whether or not to give in. The girls started calling him too. But he remembered Allah, he dashed to his room and he locked the door. He grabbed his Qur’an and he hurriedly opened it at any page and Allah spoke to him;
حُورٌ۬ مَّقۡصُورَٲتٌ۬ فِى ٱلۡخِيَامِ
Fair ones, close-guarded in pavilions Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? – Whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them – Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? (Surah Rahman )
In that very moment, Allah reminded him of Paradise. As Muslims we strive for those things in the Hereafter by abstaining from them in this life. By reading the Qur’an we will be reminded constantly of this and will help us to keep our vision clear and our goals for Paradise in sight. Through Allah’s Words, staying abstinent from this world becomes easy.
2) Your Shield of Taqwa! Never leave the house without this important piece of armory.
Taqwa (God-consciousness) is the very thing that keeps our recovery in tact. It is the barrier between our lusts and our sin. It is the stopping force between getting the thought to relapse and actually relapsing. During this season, triggers are everywhere. It is a time when people let go of their inhibitions and we are tested by people more so than we were throughout the rest of the year. Trying to be conscious of Allah at all times will help us to remember that Allah is Watching us, our angels are writing things down. When we are put in a position where relapse can happen, our souls struggle, we fight the urges and we feel uncomfortable and strained. Our soul cries out not to succumb to the cravings. Taqwa will make us of the winners, who hear our souls and who remain constant in the worship of Allah. And when we overcome that craving and turn back to our Lord, the soul is happy and contented. But if we fall that feeling of satisfaction will never come.
3) Good company! It is not always the case that we get invited to parties. Christmas day is historically the most common day for people to commit suicide. Loneliness can creep in and we feel like the whole world is having a party without us. Even as Muslims we can feel isolated as we hear about the Christmas message of sharing joy and togetherness. Our addiction may have caused us to become alienated away from our families or community. We lost good Muslim friends because of our behaviour. So whether we are the party pooper or on everyone’s naughty list, its time we made an alternative to the Christmas Party! Now is the time to try and catch family and friends we have lost touch with while they are off work and taking time out. Perhaps our local mosque has some activities planned for the holiday period and we can find our way back into the community. Or maybe we can bite the bullet and invite people round to our homes for something to eat. Good company during the season of relapse is important. We need to stay in the company of those people who remind us of Allah and our purpose of life. This is the time to cling onto the good people and try hard to steer clear of those who will add to our craving. It is important we replace the forbidden actions with good halal permissible ones. Islam is not dull and boring and there is a time and place to have fun. Why not get together while everyone is off work? It is a good opportunity to reunite with family and old friends.
4) Nil by mouth sign Fasting is not just for Ramadan. The Christmas holidays are the easiest time of year to fast, especially if you do not have to go to work. These are from the shortest days. Fasting strengthens the shield of taqwa and helps control our cravings and desires. The Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, said: “Winter is the best season for the believer. Its nights are long for him to pray in, and its days are short for him to fast in.” ‘Majma’ az-Zawa’id’ (3/203) and he also said: “Fasting in the winter is the easy prize.” (Ahmed)
5) Book of Dua’s Know that it is only Allah that gives strength to the believers to keep them away from sin, so increase in dua’s. We must seek refuge in Allah from Shaitan and the evil within our own selves. The believer who begs of Allah for help and assistance is the one who is able to abstain from displeasing his Lord. Staying in constant conversation with Allah through our supplication will help us to strive towards pleasing Him and be mindful of those actions that take us away from His Path.
So its time to get ourselves in gear, hold onto the rope of Allah, cling on to our recovery and get ourselves strong to get through the party season, clean and dry and sober. Time to cling onto our dean and keep ourselves strong, avoid bad company and stay safe. May Allah keep us all strong and keep us on the Straight Path to Recovery. Ameen!