It's not easy to always have strong faith. In fact, we weren't created to constantly feel that bond with our Creator. But that's the challenge. That's the test of this life. Here are some tips on how I help lessen the distance I sometimes feel between me & my beautiful God:
1. Know it's simply a test
It's nothing more, don't overthink it. We were put on this earth to be tested. The whole purpose of this life is to be put through trials & tribulations sent down from God to see how we're going to react. Are you gonna give up & let the doubt define your relationship with God? Or are you gonna fight through it & prove your trust in the One that created you? And low faith isn't necessarily a bad sign. If He gave up on you, He wouldn't care to test you. And by feeling low on faith, that means you had strong faith at one point; you're just in a moment of weakness. This is temporary.
2. Don't tell yourself that you've lost
Don't convince yourself that it's too late. Some people underestimate the impact of the things you tell yourself. If you say to yourself that you lost—you did. But you are in control of your own thoughts, tell yourself you're gonna push through this. Because He has blessed you too much for you to not fight for this relationship with Him. It's all about will-power. Where there's a will, there's a way. Cliché—but very, very true.
3. Open His book
One of the challenges in believing in God is the fact that He doesn't talk to you directly. There's no face-to-face interaction. Obviously, that'd defeat the purpose of 'faith' if He were to show Himself. But that's why He left us the Qur'an, His exact words. So why wouldn't you read the one physical, undeniable proof of His entire existence? Try opening it to a random page. Just start reading and see what He wants to tell you. You never know, the answer to your doubt might just appear right in front of you.
4. Make a list of ways He has blessed you
A literal list, on paper (or Google Doc like me). Write down all the things He has blessed your life with. From the small to the big. Your health, the fact that you woke up this morning, your car, your job, the fact you had a good day, your parents, your siblings, your friends, your education, your computer, your phone, your full stomach, your spouse, your sight, your bed, your house. Just keep writing. Then think about those out there in the world that don't have what you have. God blesses you every single day, & you don't even realize it.
5. Make a list of wrongs you have committed
Now, make another list—but this time with things you aren't proud of (I recommend making sure nobody sees this one...it should always stay between you & God). Write any sins you might've committed. You yelled at your mom. You haven't prayed in days. You did something with the opposite sex. As uncomfortable as it is to openly tell yourself you've sinned, just think deep & put it in writing for your eyes to physically see. The reason you feel low on faith might just be because of one of the things you wrote down. Maybe you're subconsciously beating yourself up because you know you did something that He doesn't like. When you're done, start repenting. Ask Him for His forgiveness with the truest intentions. He's listening, & He is forgiving you as you're asking of Him.
6. Go to Friday prayer
Listen to the khotbeh. You never know when the message might hit right at your heart. Sometimes it might not, but even just the surrounding of other Muslims praying with you might give you the strength you needed. Praying side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, as a wall of believers bowing down to their Creator. As a community of people that love Him—asking for His guidance to the straight path that leads to Him. Join them.
7. Understand that God loves you, unconditionally
God is the one the made you. He created you, exactly as you are. Your existence itself is proof that He loves you, He took time to craft you. Think about how forgiving He is. As many times as you mess up, He'll be there to forgive you the moment you ask for His forgiveness. That's the definition of unconditional love. Just think about that concept.
8. Stay strong with your 5 prayers, & understand what you're saying
If you don't understand what you're reciting during prayer—go read the translations. You can't believe in words you don't understand. So when you pray, really believe what you're saying. And even if you don't feel the prayer, still do it. By doing so, you're proving to Him that even though you don't fully feel it, you're still doing it because He asked you to. Show Him your try at unconditional love. That just might be the proof you've past His test, and maybe the ticket for Him to place that connection back in your heart.
9. Visualize heaven & eternity
Imagine what it would be like to make it to paradise. How easy your life would be, and not for something temporary like this life. Something that will last forever...where you're never gonna die. Sometimes it's hard for us humans to comprehend the concept of eternity because everything in this life has an end. But really think deep about the idea of eternity. Eternity in heaven compared to eternity in hellfire.
10. Surround yourself with faithful friends
We humans are like sponges, we absorb whoever we choose to surround ourselves with. Some people say that they don't lose their faith and don't budge on their beliefs when surrounded by faithless people. You might not become less faithful, but you definitely won't get more faithful. It also goes back to the idea of community in number 6—sometimes your faith can get inspired just by seeing and hearing others talk about their faith.
11. Fast for a day
Sawm—another one of the five pillars, another act of worship. You know what it's like to fast during Ramadan, it's an automatic sense of closeness to God. So try it, even out of Ramadan. Fasting clears your head, it reprioritizes everything in your life because you're ignoring and not giving into the urges of your body, rather feeding your mind and soul instead.
12. Go out in nature
Go to the outskirts of town, to the open fields. Out in nature. Watch a sunset. Watch a sunrise. Lie on the grass & just watch the sky, dissect the clouds. Pray on the ground, bow your head onto His earth. Watch the birds above. Breath in the fresh air. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. Absorb the earth that God created for you to live in. Feel His presence in His designs. Let that be the bridge to feeling His existence. Try going on a road trip to a nature site. I had a completely new level of love for God when I visited Utah. Then Oregon a year later. These 'nature trips' are now an annual thing for me. It's become a need for me.
13. Sit at the masjid alone, & reflect on your purpose in this life
Go in between the prayers when there's nobody there. Just sit and think. Think about God's greatness. How forgiving He is. How generous He is. Think about why you're on this earth. Essentially, He put us here temporarily to test us & see if we're worthy of making it to His eternal heaven. Remind yourself of that. Feel the beauty in sitting in a place where thousands of Muslims have gotten their prayers answered. Now ask for yours.
14. Do good deeds
Ask how the cashier at the store is doing. Smile at a stranger. Help an elderly woman carry her grocery bags. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Help the poor, give them your used clothes. Try joining an organization that feeds the homeless. Don't underestimate the power of helping others. When have you ever felt bad for doing something good for someone else? Follow the steps of our Prophet (pbuh), he dedicated his life to helping others.
15. Read His 99 names
I feel like He gave us this list of names to help us understand how He can help you when you need it. When you lose faith—The Restorer, The Inspirer of Faith. When you don't feel safe—The Guardian. When you don't feel understood—The All-Comprehending. When you feel it's too late—The Most Forgiving, The Most Merciful. Read them, understand them. It'll help you understand His role in your life, in this life.
16. Start a new chapter in your life, change your daily routine
Wake up tomorrow & tell yourself, "today is the beginning of a new chapter in my life," then ask God to guide your new life to the path of His liking. Then start doing things differently. Change your daily routine. Start taking a different route to school or work. Try a new restaurant. Get away from things that make you unhappy. If you don't like your job, find one that you do. Think differently, put yourself if other people's shoes—imagine your life as the janitor at your work. Just do things differently from your last chapter. Sometimes people can confuse a weakening of faith with unhappiness. Monotony can be a burden so change it up, it's a new you.
17. Forgive your past & those who've wronged you
Don't let any ill-feelings sit in your chest. Let go of any wrongs you've done, once you've asked for forgiveness from Him—the matter is done, don't let it even be a thought. If someone has wronged you, reconcile, and forgive them. It could be your friend, your coworker, even your parent. Everyone makes mistakes, try to understand them, and let go of that resentment you hold for them. This a new chapter in your life, these are all new relationships.
18. Listen to different Qur'an styles
We've been blessed to have intonation (similar to singing) of the Qur'an as a part of our religion. For me, there's nothing like hearing the style of Ahmed Al-Ajmi. Even when I don't fully understand what's being said, I feel the connection to God just by the melody. There about 9 main melody styles called "maqamat." Each having a unique range of notes that portray all different kinds of emotions. Listen to the difference between the athan in Maqam Hijaz and Maqam Kurdi. There's one called maqam bayyati that brings me to tears, every time. It hits my heart and I can't hold back the tears from simply feeling God's words, even if I don't know what's said.
19. Learn more about the religion
Read up on strong Hadith & Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). Learn about Islamic history. Stories of the prophets. Learn from their actions and words. Our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is supposed to be our guide to what a good Muslim is, follow him.
20. The most important one—Talk to Him
I can't stress this enough. Would you be an a relationship with someone you never talk to? No. So how do you expect to have a relationship with God when you never talk to Him? Yes, prayer is key, but your duaa' is where your personal relationship with God lives. After prayer, just talk to Him. Tell Him what's on your mind. Tell Him you're frustrated at home. You're unhappy with school. Give thanks for His blessings. Ask for forgiveness for your wrongs. Tell Him you're sorry. Tell Him you're working on being a better Muslim. Talk as if He's standing right in front of you, essentially, He is. He's always listening. Even out of prayer, when you feel frustrated anywhere—close your eyes & make a quick prayer directly asking Him to help you. He's always listening. Make God the center of your life. Sustain yourself through His strength.
I've been waiting so long to write this for y'all. I've gotten countless messages asking me how I personally keep my faith up. I'm so thankful that God gave me the platform to share with fellow Muslims. I truly hope this helps you find the love for Him that I have found.
May He always be with you, take care my friends ❤️