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DISCIPLINING ONESELF– ONE OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE


The word DISCIPLINE means training to act in accordance with rules or activity, or a schedule that develops or improves a skill. Many organizations and systems today face the biggest challenge of discipline today. [1]

 

Islam always teaches its followers to be disciplined in every department whether in worship or in doing deeds. The Muslim disciplines himself/ herself Islamically, especially if he has shortcomings with regard to his religious commitment, which Allah سبحانه و تعالى knows best about. The word ISLAM by definition means submitting yourself to the will of Allah سبحانه و تعالى, therefore a person can be in best discipline by submitting his or her will to Allah سبحانه و تعالى.

 

The First steps towards disciplining yourself is Acknowledging your shortcomings. Whoever acknowledges that he has shortcomings has started on the path to self-discipline. This acknowledgement is one of the things that make us discipline ourselves and be persistent in doing so. This acknowledgement should not put you off disciplining yourself. [2]

 

Table of Contents

 

The approach

The believer who is keen to save himself will strive to save himself from everything that may lead to his doom, and he is kind to himself. Part of that kindness is taking care of one’s relationship with Allah سبحانه و تعالى so that he will be saved from the punishment of the Hereafter, and striving to make himself do that which is enjoined upon him and to avoid that which is forbidden to him, seeking thereby the pleasure of Allah سبحانه و تعالى  . So he starts by repenting from all sins, and urging himself to compete in doing righteous deeds, and striving to reach high levels of faith, by applying the appropriate means, such as learning about the rewards for good deeds, the effects and causes of sin, keeping away from those who discourage him and are lacking in ambition, listening to stories of those who strive in worship.

 

Qur’an

It is a sign of Allah’s سبحانه و تعالى care when a person tries to change himself and develop, as Allah سبحانه و تعالى  says: “Verily, Allah will not change the condition of a people as long as they do not change their state themselves” Qur’an. Surah Ra’d 13:11

 

So whoever tries to change for the sake of Allah, Allah will help him to change. 

Each person is individually responsible for his own self, and will be questioned individually, as Allah سبحانه و تعالى says: “There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes unto the Most Gracious (Allah) as a slave. Verily, He knows each one of them, and has counted them a full counting.  And everyone of them will come to Him alone on the Day of Resurrection (without any helper, or protector or defender)” Qur’an.Surah Maryam 19:93-95

 

Allah's Messenger to be dearer than one's own self

The best discipline can come in a person’s life by following some standard. When it comes to Islam, we know that Allah سبحانه و تعالى  (The real God) knows us better than we know ourselves; thus, we submit to Him and His Orders. Therefore Allah سبحانه و تعالى sets the standard of Discipline also by following the last and final messenger sent for the entire mankind as mentioned in Qur’an.Surah Ahzab 33:21.

 

When it comes to the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم, we are to love him more than our own selves; thus, we too put his commandments above our own opinions, logic, etc. One has the most claims to oneself for one loves oneself more than anything. Thus, a person knows what types of foods, clothing, etc. he/she likes to eat, drink, etc. more than all others.

 

Once this true love of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم, is established, compliance, obedience, satisfaction with his (Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم judgements, and other matters related to true love will follow. This is confirmed in the following authentic Hadith found in Sahih Al-Bukhari: Narrated 'Abd Allah bin Hisham رضي الله عنهم : 'We were with the ProphetMuhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم and he was holding the hand of 'Umar ibnu Al-Khattab رضي الله عنهم. 'Umar said to him, "O Allah's Messenger Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم ! You are dearer to me than everything except my ownself." Allah's Messenger (Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: "No, by Him in Whose Hand my soul is, (you will not have complete Faith) untill I am dearer to you than your ownself." Then 'Umar رضي الله عنهم said: "However, now, by Allah, you are dearer to me than my ownself." He (Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم) then said: "Now, O 'Umar, (now you are a believer)." Sahih Al Bhukari Vol. 8 : 628

 

The discipline of Sahaba

If we study the life of Sahaba (Companions of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم ) then we will be knowing that they were the best group of people on the face of the earth that ever lived. They disciplined themselves by doing acts of worship and by various other deeds. They did not burden themselves with more than they were able to do; they did not harm themselves physically with burning or breaking. Their deeds were more like a righteous vow, which is where a Muslim commits himself to doing an act of worship that has not been enjoined by Allah سبحانه و تعالى, without that being connected to healing, success etc. 

 

Example of that includes the following: 

The story of the treaty of al-Hudaybiyah, that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab رضي الله عنهم questioned the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم , about the clauses of the treaty, then he realized that he had no right to do that. He (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “I carried on giving charity, fasting, praying and freeing slaves because of what I had done that day, for fear of the words I spoke, until I hoped that it was ultimately a good thing.” Musnad Ahmad 18930 narrated, in a report classed as hasan (sound) by Shu’ayb al-Arna’oot (4/323)

 

Burdening or Punishing yourself

It is not good to punish yourself and burden yourself with more than you can bear, or with things that cause physical harm, such as burning yourself with fire or standing in the sun, etc. Rather punishment should take the form of obliging yourself to do more righteous deeds, without causing too much hardship, or depriving yourself of things that you like. However, you know yourself best and you know what makes you lazier and pushes you towards sin, and you should avoid these things.

 

But with regard to punishments that cause physical harm or involve doing something reprehensible, they are not permissible. It was narrated that a man looked at a woman, then he put his eyes out, and that another disobeyed Allah سبحانه و تعالى with his hand, so he put his hand into the fire until it became paralyzed. Such actions are not permissible, and a man cannot treat himself in this way. 

 

Al-Maqdisi رضي الله said: 

If the believer checks himself and sees some shortcoming or he commits some sin, he should not take the matter lightly, for that may lead to him committing sin regularly and then it will be difficult for him to give up that sin. Rather he should punish himself in a permissible manner just as he would discipline his wife and children. It was narrated that ‘Umar went out to a garden he owned, then he came back and the people had prayed ‘Asr, so he said, “I went out to my garden and when I came back the people had prayed ‘Asr; I give my garden in charity for the poor.” 

 

Allah guides those who disciplined themselves

Man cannot benefit from what he has been told about goodness unless he himself takes an interest in that. Do you not know the story of the wife of Nuh عليه السلام and the wife of Loot عليه السلام , who were members of the households of two Prophets, one of whom was one of the Messengers of strong will? Imagine how these Prophets strove to guide their wives and how much guidance these wives received, but there was no interest on their part, so it was said to both of them: “Enter the Fire along with those who enter!” Qur’an.Surah Tahreem 66:10

 

Whereas the wife of Pharaoh – even though she was a member of the household of one of the greatest evildoers – is presented by Allah سبحانه و تعالى as an example to those who believe because she disciplined herself. [3]

 

Ways of Disciplining oneself

The ways in which a Muslim can discipline himself are as follows: 

  1. Worshipping Allah سبحانه و تعالى, keeping in contact with Him and submitting to Him. That is done by paying attention to doing obligatory acts of worship well, and cleansing your heart of any attachment to anything other than Allah سبحانه و تعالى.
     
  2. Reading Qur’an a great deal, pondering its meanings and seeking to understand it.
     
  3. Reading useful religious books that describe the ways of treating and cleansing the heart, such as Mukhtasar Manhaaj al-Qaasideen, Tahdheeb Madaarij al-Saalikeen and so on; reading the biographies of the Pious Predecessors and learning about their attitude and behaviour, such as Sifat al-Safwah by Ibn al-Jawzi and Ayna nahnu min Akhlaaq al-Salaf by Baha’ al-Deen ‘Aqeel and Naasir al-Jaleel.
     
  4. Attending educational programs such as classes and lectures.
     
  5. Making good use of your time and using it to do things that will be of benefit in both worldly and spiritual terms
     
  6. Not indulging too much in permissible things and not paying too much attention to them.
     
  7. Keeping company with righteous people and looking for righteous companions, who can help you to do good. Those who live alone will miss out on a lot of the characteristics of a good brother such as preferring others to oneself and being patient.
     
  8. Trying to act on what you learn and put it into practice.
     
  9. Checking closely on yourself.
     
  10. Having confidence in yourself – whilst relying on Allah سبحانه و تعالى– because the one who has no confidence cannot act.
     
  11. Despising yourself for not doing enough for the sake of Allah سبحانه و تعالى. This does not contradict the things mentioned above. Man has to strive hard whilst still thinking that his efforts are not enough.
     
  12. Practising withdrawal or isolation as prescribed in sharee’ah (Islamic law). You should not mix with people all the time, rather you must have some time which you spend alone, in worship as prescribed in Islam

 

Conclusion

If every person discipline their ownself then peace will prevail all over and world will become the best place of Peace and security. We ask Allah (Glory be to Him) to help us and you to discipline ourselves and submit to that which Allah سبحانه و تعالى loves and is pleased with.

 

References

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/discipline

[2] http://futureislam.wordpress.com/tag/discipline/

[3] http://islamqa.info/en/ref/27082

[4] http://www.missionislam.com/family/disciplineoneself.htm

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