Who are the successful ones?
In Juz 18 Allah presents a number of Verses, that if we ponder upon and take time to reflect can help us prevent relapse. The entire Qur’an is full of advise and guidance from Allah that can help prevent a return to sinfulness. Allah explains who are successful;
“Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their prayers with all solemnity and full submissiveness. And those who turn away from al-Laghw (shameful, dirty speech and actions). And those who pay their Zakaat (obligatory charity). And those who guard their chastity” (23:1-5)
Here, prayer and charity, both obligatory actions, are mentioned alongside abstaining from haram activities that includes shamelessness, lewdness and promiscuity and other sexually forbidden behaviours. In fact Allah says “those who turn away” from such things, meaning if anything should happen to cross our paths, unintentionally we must try hard to lower our gaze and move away from this temptation. It’s about being responsible for our own actions and protecting and guarding ourselves from slipping back into sinfulness.
Islam-focused recovery enables us to utilise many rituals and forms of worship in order to overcome the urge to engage in sinfulness. We need to consider each craving, urge or desire to act out our addiction as a mere invitation. Do we accept it or do we reject it? We need to counteract thoughts of using, or whispers from Shaytan using the methods offered by Allah in The Quran or by The Prophet, pbuh.
“And say: “My Lord! I seek refuge with You from the whisperings of the Shayateen. And I seek refuge with You, my Lord! Lest they should come near me.” (23:97-98)
Studies show that cravings are a physical response to a thought. First you have the thought and then the body starts responding with a quickening heart beat, anxiousness, sweats and feelings of agitation. If we can counteract the thought as soon as it enters our mind, we can prevent the physical response and overcome the cravings and urges. We must seek refuge in Allah immediately and then use methods of worship such as dhikr, prayer, recitation of Qur’an , to cause the shaytan to flee and our faith in Allah to increase.
Be attuned to the signs of relapse
Although many of us have found ourselves saying “It just happened!” or “I don’t know how it happened!” most of us will be able to rewind the tape and see exactly how a relapse occurred. There are always signs before a relapse happens. Even if we run into someone unexpectedly, like our dealer or another addict, there is usually something building up to a relapse and we need to tune ourselves into it. If we can be self-aware in this way, we will be successful in not giving into the whispers of Shaytan. We have to realise, that Shaytan does not have the power over us to cause a relapse, but it is us who follows him when he lures us away from the Straight Path, footstep by footstep. Slowly and gradually breaking us;
“Oh you who believe! Follow not the footsteps of Shaytan And whosoever follows the footsteps of Shaytan, then verily, he commands al-Fahsha (shamelessness, lewdness, sexual deviance) and al-Munkar (wicked deeds) And had is not been for the Grave of Allah and His mercy on you, not one of you would ever have been pure from sins. But Allah purifies whome He wills, and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (24:21)
As soon as Shaytan suggests we follow him, we need to seek refuge in Allah and follow the way of Allah to stay on The Straight Path. This is the foundation of relapse prevention.
Protect the eyes from seeing forbidden things
The eyes will only look upon those things that the heart directs them to. We are accountable for all those times we looked too long at someone or something forbidden. We may find this easier to do while out on the streets but in the privacy of our own home, and the availability of free access to pornography and sexual deviance the test may be harder. It is the heart that must control the eyes. The heart that is submitted to Allah has a successful owner because the owner of that heart will lower his or her gaze whenever something forbidden comes in front of them. Addicts are very attuned to recognising when people are up to no good on the streets. We see that special handshake in shop doorways, we recognise that fast paced walker as they stride up the road, we know the signs of the one about to go and score. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, instructed us to obey the rules of the road, not to loiter or look all around.
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts. That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Acquainted with what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and protect their private parts…” (24:30-31)
Many young men and women have relapsed on substances because they have engaged in illicit sexual encounters. It’s as though one door has opened another door. All sins are a gateway to other sins. Studies show that the majority of women take an illegal drug for the first time because their partner has offered it to them. Sexual deviance, such as promiscuity, relationships outside of marriage and graphic sexual materials like pornography all have the capacity to become as addictive as crack cocaine. In recovery, we need to stay away from all that is forbidden, knowing that one sin leads to another sin.
So as Allah told us in the beginning of this Juz, the successful ones are those who submit to Allah fully in their prayer. Prayer is the basis of relapse prevention. If we are praying five times per day, and still sinning, then we need to look at the condition of our prayer. If we want to be successful in our recovery and successful in attaining Allah’s Pleasure and His Paradise then we need to take the necessary steps to remain on The Straight Path.