Saturday, March 21, 2015

Feeling Empty

In previous posts, we have discussed different ways to achieve happiness.  But in some cases, even when everything in your life seems to be alright and we know we should be happy, we still have an empty space in our soul. Even if you lead an incredibly successful life on the surface, a life full of wealth, success and popularity cannot mask a deeper problem: the problem of an empty soul.

The human soul was designed specifically to worship Allah alone,
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
"I have not created jinns and mankind except to worship Me." (51:56)
Because of this every soul has a natural desire to serve a higher power, when they don’t find that in the fulfillment of worship, they search for something else to fill that hole.  But when you fill that hole with anything from the Dunya, it will always be depleted.  It is like trying to pour water into a bucket with a hole in it.  Anything you pour in needs to be replaced almost immediately. Until you mend the bucket, everything you pour into it will be lost. Similarly, until we mend the foundation of our hearts, and find fulfillment from the right source (from Allah), everything we pour into our heart and soul will be lost as well.

Our souls were made by Allah, for Allah.  It is an inherent need of everyone (whether a Muslim or not) to connect to their Creator. That’s why so many people spend years searching for a religion that will fulfill them. It is important to note that most converts to Islam were those who studied not just Islam, but studied all of the world’s religions before they finally discovered Islam and found the religion that offered them everything they were looking for in terms of fulfillment and contentment in life.
We are all looking for God, sometimes, when we don’t find Him, we attempt to fill the emptiness in our hearts with something else.
On the journey to Allah there are many distractions, all promising to give us what we need, all competing for our attention and a space in our heart.  But the fulfillment these physical “things” offer are never permanent. Remember that the creation can never compete with the Creator. Another person cannot fulfill you if you are not already fulfilled from you relationship with Allah, neither can material objects, wealth, or seeking enjoyment and fun.
قَالَ أَتَعْبُدُونَ مَا تَنْحِتُونَ وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
"'Would you worship that which you have carved with your own hands,' he said, 'when it was God who created you and all that you have made?'" (37:92) 
Follow the magazines, advertisements, and movies and they will give you the perfect formula for always depleting your stores of happiness, because this is how they make money.
Are cars advertised, “This will bring you happiness for a few days, but then you will feel empty again”? No, because their job is to convince you that you need whatever they are offering. Shaitan works in a similar way.  He tricks you into believing you’re not happy because of the restrictions you put on yourself.  That you will be happier if only you “lighten up,” and have more fun.
When we turn to the Dunya to distract us from this pain and emptiness, we are simply dulling the feeling-Taking pain killers will make you feel better, but only for a while. When the effects wear off it will return worse than before, because we are covering up the pain but not curing the source of the pain.
He tricks you into thinking that the temptations and lures of this world will make you happy, when really, it will leave that hole gaping wider than ever before.
Allah calls us away from attachment to the Dunya, and away from seeking frivolous temptations.
وَمَاالْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ
"The life of this world is nothing but a fleeting vanity." (3:185)
Everything from that Dunya that you chase is just a delusion, just like when you approach a mirage in the desert, the closer you move towards it, just when you think you will finally attain it, the further it moves out of reach.
Don’t listen to what society tells you you need to be happy.  There will always be a company telling you their product will give you happiness, shaitan will always be ready to whisper in your ear, giving you false ideas of what will meet your needs for filling the emptiness.
وَلَا تَتَّبِعُواخُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ 
"Do not follow in satan's footsteps, for he is an open enemy to man." (2:168)
Don’t obey society or shaitan, but instead obey Allah. Who knows what the soul needs better than He who created our souls?
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ
“Mankind, it is you who stand in need of God. And God is free of need.” (35:15)
Never forget that it is WE who need Allah.  He does not need us. Therefore, we know that whatever we do, will be of ultimate benefit for ourselves. It doesn't affect Him whether or not you pray to Him or remember Him. Allah is already Great, He is in no need of our prayers. He rewards us for obeying Him, and He orders us to do only that which will benefit us.

“The only one who can truly satisfy the human heart is the One who made it.”

What about those of us who worship Allah correctly, and try to stay away from attachment to temporary things.  Why do these people still feel empty?  These are those who pray, fast, read Qur’an but somehow still feel disconnected from Allah.  For those people, I would recommend self-evaluating and reflection.  In this case the main cause of feeling empty and unsatisfied with our connection to Allah is when we allow our actions of worship to become habits. We may find ourselves praying or reading Qur’an without really reflecting upon the words we are saying, and our minds are wandering elsewhere. We often overemphasize the physical act of worship but we forget about the more important internal worship of the heart. We can fix this problem by making ourselves more aware of how we prioritize our time, and whether we are actually present when we are remembering Allah. Without a constant state of improvement, these actions can become habits and we take for granted having a close relationship with Allah, so the connection becomes weak.  We can strengthen the connection by always striving to learn more, and improve.
Ask yourself:
Do you spend as much time on your Islamic education as you do your University education, your business or your career?
Do you put as much effort into strengthening your relationship with Allah as your relationships with your family and friends?
When we answer these questions honestly we can target where our weaknesses lie and how we can overcome them.
We are told many times in the Magnificent Quran to “Reflect upon the signs of Allah,” just as we reflect upon these signs, we must also remember to reflect upon ourselves, otherwise, we will never be able to target the weak spots in our Iman, and the aspects of ourselves we need to improve on.  If we go through life blindly we may be approaching "hub al-dunya" without even realizing it, and just like falling into quicksand, once you fall in it is difficult and painful to get back out again.
If you’re performing Fardh only, you may be doing enough in order to protect yourself from major sins, but you are not doing enough to completely satisfy your heart and the heart's need to be close to Allah. Just because something is optional doesn't mean we shouldn't make it necessary for ourselves. If you've abandoned Qur’an, (reciting or memorizing) abandoned Sunnah, and abandoned attaining beneficial knowledge, then you have also abandoned some of the major ways you can fill your empty heart.

“Be to Allah as He wishes, and He will be to you more than you can wish for.”-Ibn Al-Qayyim

The world is like a barren desert to the soul, causing its starvation.  Our only source of nourishment is through closeness to Allah. Allah invites our souls to feast 5 times a day! Because only with a constant in flow of nourishment can we survive. If you're not awake during those key moments of connecting with Allah, you may as well be doing yoga, because your soul is not going to benefit. Be awake, be present, and take advantage of the precious time Allah grants us to connect to Him.
Our hearts battle many difficulties in the day.  Dealing with the tarnish of minor sins we may commit daily, the daily struggle of staying away from hub al dunya and satisfying the nafs. Anything that was not created for a certain place cannot thrive in it.  Just like when you remove an animal from its natural habitat and place it in the desert, it will become weak and won’t be able to thrive.  Our hearts were not meant to thrive here, in the Dunya, therefore Allah has created for us certain tools to make it easier for us. These tools make us closer to Allah, therefore returning our hearts to the states they were designed to live in!
يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ أَن يُخَفِّفَ عَنكُمْ وَخُلِقَ الْإِنسَانُ ضَعِيفًا
“And Allah wishes to make light your burdens, for man was created weak.” (4:28)

You may think emptiness is a bad thing, but if it reminds you of what is really missing in your life, and reminds you to turn back to Allah and put Him as your first priority, then this may really be good for us.  He empties us of our love of this world and our love of ourselves so that we may be filled with something greater: so that we may be filled with love of Him.

Fill yourself with a knowledge and awareness of Allah and you will see His signs everywhere around you, and you will never again feel empty, never again feel alone.

And He is with you wheresoever you may be.

DISCLAIMER: Enjoying your life is not haram and having fun is not haram.  There are many things Allah blessed us with for the sole purpose of enjoying them! Having fun is not haram (as long as it stays within the bounds of halal) But we have to be careful not to make fun our number one priority, instead of Allah.
DISCLAIMER:  This post is referring to the moderate sadness (emptiness) that we are all prone to feeling from time to time, not those who are affected by serious psychological illnesses and depression.

All correct and beneficial knowledge is from the mercy and guidance of Allah, and all incorrect information is an unintentional error only from myself. And Allah knows best.

No comments:

Post a Comment