Allah the Almighty says: {O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except as Muslims.} (Aal `Imran 3:102)

O you who believe! The message is clearly directed to us as believers. It is not a general statement but is specifically addressed to the believers. This ayah from Surat Aal `Imran states a simple and straightforward message that forms the basis of our faith.

The word taqwa, mindfulness of Allah the Almighty and having fear of Him, has been mentioned in the Qur’an 251 times as an indication of the importance of the subject and the dimension of this concept.

Today as Muslims our faith is weak and the fear that we should have for the Creator, has been displaced by fear for the created. The created are things like people and wealth. We fear people, we fear poverty, we fear humiliation, we fear death and we fear everything except Allah the Almighty as He should be feared. The most prominent fear and the only fear that we should have is now deficient. This overpowering fear of created things rather than for the Creator of all, has subjected us, as the Ummah, to one humiliation after another with subsequent loss of pride, dignity, and self-respect.

The Messenger of Allah the Almighty (peace and blessings be upon him) was reported to have said:

“It is expected that nations will call other nations to share against you, as the feasters call each other to eat from the food in front of them in a large wooden plate.” One of the Companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah, will this be because of our small number at that time?” The Prophet said, “No. Your number will be great. But you will be worthless like the foam on the face of a river; and Allah will remove awe of you from the hearts of your enemies and throw ‘wahn’ into your hearts.” One of the Companions asked, “What is wahn, O Allah’s Messenger?” The Prophet answered, “It is to love this life, and to hate death!” (Abu Dawud and Ahmad)

Wahn results from weakness of faith or lack of taqwa. There is no literal English equivalent for the Arabic word wahn, so when we love this life and hate death we are suffering from a sickness in our hearts, or rather, a sickness in our faith.

The phenomenon of weak faith has become widespread among Muslims today. Therefore, we often feel this hardness in our hearts, in that we do not find any joy in worship; reading Qur’an does not move us; and we fall into sin very easily. It is unfortunate that this weakness often spreads throughout our entire existence without us being consciously aware of its destructive nature. Moreover, we are unaware of how detrimental it is to the spiritual and moral aspects of our lives.

As Muslims this is not acceptable. We need to recognize and acknowledge this weakness and make sincere efforts to transform it into strength. In so doing we will be serving Allah the Almighty and His cause.

 Causes of Weakness of Faith

Many of us fail to seek knowledge on a constant basis. Many of us have abandoned reading the Qur’an and Hadith on a daily basis and when we do we seldom reflect on its message or seek guidance. Our minds are not focused on the virtue of its message. We starve ourselves in the knowledge of religion by allowing our attention to be diverted by feasting on daily talk shows on the TV, or other forms of destructive activities to pass the time. We miss out on that breeze of faith that softens the hearts.

Many of us live in an environment that is surrounded by sin. This environment serves to weaken our faith. In this atmosphere, temptation exists at every point. We do not have as much taqwa as we should, and we allow ourselves to be swayed and distracted by temptations. We have been without a faith-filled environment for too long.

We have lost sight of the world of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). We are oblivious to goodness as taught by him. Moral and spiritual values that elevate man have been replaced by the worldly pleasures found in today’s society.

We fail to protect ourselves and our families from acts of disobedience and we often accept them as the norm. Moreover, we seldom turn to Allah the Almighty in repentance. This reflects our state of ignorance and weakness.

Many of us are preoccupied with our worldly life, while neglecting the Hereafter. Our day-to-day activities center on our material world; business, work, money, bills, the sizes of our homes, cars, and so on. These take preference both in our minds and our speech. Preoccupation with the world enslaves our hearts.

 We have allowed the diseases of the heart to flourish such as vanity, pride, fame, and glory. We tend to get lost in these illusions, fooled by worldly glamour and so fail to illuminate our hearts with the light of Allah the Almighty.

Allah the Almighty has created us for His worship alone as His slaves but today we have become slaves to this world; slaves of our desires and ambitions, and slaves to wealth.

Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) was reported to have said:

Perish the slave of the dinar and the slave of the dirham…” (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) further said: “Every nation has its fitnah (trial or temptation), and the fitnah of my Ummah is wealth.” (At-Tirmidhi).

It is this eagerness to acquire wealth that weakens faith. This is what the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) meant when he said:

“Two hungry wolves sent against the sheep would not do more damage than what a man’s eagerness for wealth and prestige does to his religion.” (At-Tirmidhi)

We must analyse and reflect where we are in terms of our knowledge, our environment, our desires, our hopes and dreams, and our level of faith.

 Weak faith is a disease of the heart, and like all other diseases it too has its symptoms. 

Symptoms of Weakness of Faith

One of the main symptoms is heedlessness while performing acts of worship. Performing prayers without the keenness to earn reward, and without humility and obedience indicate weak faith. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“Allah does not accept the du`aa’ of one whose heart is heedless of Him.” (At-Tirmidhi) 

It is weakness of faith that makes us lack zeal and enthusiasm in Prayer and other acts of worship that we are able to perform. At the same time, we often tend to procrastinate performing them. This lax attitude contrasts with what Allah the Almighty describes in His words:

{… They used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call on Us [Allah] with hope and fear, and used to humble themselves before Us [Allah].} (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:90)

Many of us are not moved by the Qur’an. This is another sign of weakness of faith. We hear and read the words of the Qur’an but seldom relate to its meanings. The promises of Paradise in the Qur’an or its warnings of Hellfire do not touch our hearts. Its commands and prohibitions and its descriptions of the Day of Resurrection are not taken seriously. The person, who has weak faith, gets bored when he or she hears the Qur’an being recited, and cannot continue reading it. Whenever such as person opens the Book of Allah the Almighty, he soon closes it again.

Many of us do not do enough dhikr. Remembering Allah the Almighty becomes difficult, and often when we raise our hands to make du`aa’, we quickly lower them again. A difference between those with faith and the hypocrites is the remembrance of Allah the Almighty. Allah the Almighty says about the hypocrites that they:

{…do not remember Allah save a little.} (An-Nisaa’ 4: 142)

Many of us are vulnerable to fall into sins. Without much hesitation or reservation we fall into what has been prohibited. Many of us persist in our sins to the extent that they become a part of who we are and a habit for us. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was reported to have said:

“All of my Ummah will be fine except for those who commit sin openly, an example of which is one who does something at night, and when morning comes and Allah has concealed his sin, he says, ‘O So-and-so, I did such and such yesterday.’ His Lord had covered his sin all night, but he has uncovered what Allah had concealed.” (Al-Bukhari)

Many of us sin with neither remorse nor repentance. Physically, this weakness is manifested as anxiety, mood swings and depression that weigh the person down. Irritability sets in and the person has no tolerance.

The heart that harbors love for fame, desire for leadership without understanding the serious responsibility involved, stinginess and greed, and malicious enjoyment of the failures of others, can not have abundance of faith in the same heart.

There are two more important aspects that affect us; not just on an individual basis but collectively as an Ummah, these are not feeling any responsibility to work for Islam and a lack of concern for Muslims.

Many of us do not feel any responsibility to work for Islam, even though spreading the message of Islam is our duty. In this context, we should remember the attitude of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). As soon as they entered this religion, they immediately felt the responsibility of it.

For example, when At-Tufayl ibn `Amr Ad-Dawsi (may Allah be pleased with him) embraced Islam, he went to call his people to it straight away. He was only a new Muslim but he felt that he had to go back and call his people to Islam, so he went and did that.

Today after being committed to Islam for several years we still hold ourselves back because of fear. We fear that others will think we are old fashioned. We fear rejection and being unable to fit in. All of this comes from the sickness of the heart.

Many of us lack concern for Muslims. Lack of concern for the welfare of our Muslim brothers and sisters is a sign of lack of faith. This is the case, whether it be by making du`aa’, giving charity, or helping them. A person with weak faith has a distant attitude toward the oppression, suppression and disasters suffered by the Muslims in any part of the world. Such a person is content with his own safety because this world is everything to him. This is the result of weak faith. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was reported to have said:

“The believer’s position in relation to his fellow believers is like that of the head to the body; the believer feels the pain of his fellow believers as the body reacts to the pain suffered by the head.”( Ahmad)  

Do we feel the pain, the torment, and the oppression of others? Do we feel the hunger, the sense of loss and the hurt? Do we feel angry when the limits set by Allah the Almighty are violated?

We do not feel this anger because the flame of zeal has been extinguished in our hearts. We no longer take action to stop evil, guide evildoers to do good deeds, or denounce wrongdoing. We seldom get angry for the sake of Allah the Almighty. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) described the heart that is ravaged by weakness.

“Hearts will be subjected to trial after trial, and there will appear a black stain on any heart that is affected… The stain will continue to spread until the heart is completely black and sealed, as it were, so that it will not recognize any good deed or denounce any evil, except whatever suits its own desires.” (Muslim).