Episode 06: How to Nourish Your Soul and Strengthen Your Connection with Your Lord

Transcript

Assalamu Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakathuhu, 

Welcome to the Best Versions Podcast, where I help you unlock your fullest potential to move from average to excellence in Worship, Energy, Love and Legacy.  

I’m your Host, Rushdhi Ismail. A computer engineer turned nutrition and life coach. I’m going to use my experience of over 25 years in the personal and spiritual development field to provide you with practical tools to move from average to excellence, bi’idnillah

Today we are going to discuss something very special, something that is related to our soul. 

In fact, we are going to look at how to nourish our soul to strengthen our connection with our Rabb! What’s more important than improving our relationship with Allah subuhanawuta’ala, right?

Since Ramadan is around the corner, the tool I’m going to talk about is even more essential and beneficial. 

Alhamdulillah, from the infinite mercy of Allah subuhanawuta’ala, He made Ramadan the greatest and the most magnificent month of the year. He made Ramadan the month of spiritual training so that we can achieve Eternal Success, bi’idnillah!  

If you think about it, Allah subuhanawuta’ala bestows upon us the month of Ramadan as a means of changing our lives positively. The amount of training Allah subuhanawuta’ala grants us through Ramadan is truly mind-boggling.

It’s a month to train almost all areas of your life. If you think about it, it’s the

  • The month of ‘ibadah (worship),
  • The month of Rahma (mercy),
  • The month of the Quran
  • The month of Du’a
  • The month of Qiyam und Siyam
  • The month of saving people from Hellfire
  • The month of patience,
  • The month of forgiveness,
  • The month of generosity,
  • The month of feeding,
  • The month of sacrifices
  • And the list goes on and on.

So it’s a month Allah subuhanawuta’la provided us so that we can work on to cruise towards Jannah on a superhighway.

Subhanallah! Have you ever thought of Ramadan that way? 

Every one of us has access to this superhighway, and those who are not making use of this golden opportunity, are indeed the biggest losers. 

Indeed, the Prophet ﷺ prayed against those who don’t actually make use of Ramadan to enter into paradise because it’s a crime not to use the most blessed month to come closer to Allah. 

In an authentic hadith reported in ibn Hibban, Prophet ﷺ said, I said Ameen to the du’a Angel Jibreel made. 

Now, what was that du’a? Well, Jibreel Alay-hi’ s-salām made three specific du’as, and the Prophet Muhammed ﷺ said Ameen to all of them. And one of those du’a was related to Ramadan. 

Jibreel said, Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and is not forgiven will enter Hellfire, and Allah will cast him far away, so say ameen.

And the Prophet ﷺ said, Ameen! 

Subhanallah, let that sink in, my dear brother and sisters in Islam. 

Missing out on attaining the forgiveness of Allah during the Blessed month is a grave mistake to make, especially when we are given so many opportunities during Ramadan to seek His forgiveness and be saved from the Hellfire.

And to make our playing field even easier, Allah subuhanawuta’la chains up all the Shayateen so that we can entirely focus and successfully graduate from this yearly training camp.

So, Ramadan becomes an ideal month for anyone who aspires to change his spiritual condition and become a better person. So if you want to move from average to excellence, there is undoubtedly no better month than Ramadan. Without the whispering troublemakers, Allah subuhanawuta’ala makes change easier for us.

So if we want to make the most out of Ramadan, we need to plan to make the best out of it. As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 

In order to make your planning easier, I’m offering you a 30-day free class to help you achieve that positive change, bi’idnillah!  

When you sign up today, you’ll receive a short 3-minutes video every day for the next 30 days. These videos are filled with practical tips to achieve your best Ramadan ever, bi’idnillah

These videos are geared towards improving your relationship with Allah subuhanawuta’la, yourself and your family and the people around you. 

So, if you are interested, you can sign up for the Best Ramadan Ever FREE Programme on my website, bestversions.me.

Go to the website, click on the “Visit Academy” and there you’ll find the programme for you to join for Free.  

I hope you’ll make use of this unique opportunity, insha Allah

Now, let’s focus on the subject today. 

As I said, today, our subject is about strengthening our soul to come closer to Allah subuhanawuta’la

As far as coming closer to Allah subuhanawuta’la is concerned, we can only achieve it first and foremost by focusing on the obligations. By obligations, I mean obligations in our religion such as prayer, fasting in Ramadan, giving Zakah, performing Hajj etc. 

In a hadith al-Qudsi in Sahih Al-Buhari, Allah subuhanawuta’la says, that My servant draws near to Me with the religious duties I have enjoined upon him.

So if we want to draw near Allah subuhanawuta’la first and foremost, we need to focus on the obligatory duties Allah subuhanawuta’la has enjoined upon us. 

Then the hadith continues, And My servant continues to draw near to Me with nafil acts so that I shall love him. 

So once you establish your close connection with Allah subuhanawuta’la through your obligatory duties, you can get closer to Him by including more extra nafil acts.

As you know, there are so many different types of nafil acts we can do to come closer to Him. Today I’m going to talk about one of the greatest tools to come closer to Him.

And that tool is dhikr

Dhikr of Allah means to remember Allah subuhanawuta’la. And we know from the Quran it’s only through remembering Him our hearts find rest. This is, in fact, one of my favourite Ayaahs of the Quran. 

أَلَا بِذِڪۡرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطۡمَٮِٕنُّ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ

Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest (Surah Ar-Rad, verse 28) 

Dhikr provides you with more than peace. It’s also our nourishment for the soul. 

Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahumullah famously remarked that his daily morning dhikr is like his morning meal. He said, ‘This is my morning meal and nourishment for my soul; if I don’t do this, I will lose my strength.’  

So dhikr is a means for all of us to nourish and strengthen our souls. When the soul is healthy, our imaan is healthy. So taking care of our souls becomes incredibly important. 

Therefore, remembrance of Allah should play a pivotal role in our life. 

And in fact, the importance of dhikr is beautifully summarised in an authentic hadith recorded in Tirmidhi. In it, Prophet Muhammed ﷺ said that dhikr is the best of all deeds, highest in ranks and better than spending on charity and jihad! 

Let me read that hadith for you! 

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ asked: “Shall I not inform you of the best of your deeds, and the purest of them by your Master, and the highest of them in ranks, and what is better for you than spending gold and silver, and better for you than meeting your enemy and striking their necks, and they strike your necks?” They replied: “Of course.” He ﷺ said: “The remembrance of Allah.” (Tirmidhī 3377, Sahih)

In another hadith, one of the elder sahaba who didn’t have the vigour of a young man complained to the Prophet ﷺ that the laws of Islam had become many for him, and he wanted something simple he could cling on to. 

Do you know what advice the Prophet ﷺ gave him? “Always keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah.” (Tirmidhī 3375)

And in another authentic hadith that is recorded in the Musnad Ahmed, the Prophet ﷺ said, The son of Adam never acts with a deed better to save him from the punishment of Allah than with the remembrance of Allah.

Subhanallah! 

The blessing of dhikr is way more than I can just mention in a podcast. However, I need to mention two of my most favourite hadiths on the subject of dhikr

This hadith is from Sahih Muslim, Abu Huraira radiyallahu anhu narrates that Prophet ﷺ said, when we come together to remember Allah subuhanawuta’la angels surround us and cover us with mercy. And on top of that, Allah subuhanawuta’la sends tranquillity upon us. 

Imagine the scenery that you are being showered by mercy and tranquillity by Allah subuhanawuta’la. How would you feel? Think about that for a moment. 

Obviously, if you do remember Allah subuhanawuta’la from the bottom of your hearts, you’ll indeed feel that peace and tranquillity within you. 

Because…

أَلَا بِذِڪۡرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطۡمَٮِٕنُّ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ

Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest (Surah Ar-Rad, verse 28) 

The second hadith is also an authentic hadith from Tirmidhi. This hadith is narrated by Thawban radiyallahu anhu. He said that the Prophet ﷺ said, “The best wealth is a tongue that remembers Allah, a grateful heart, and a believing wife to help one in his faith.”

It’s so beautiful, right? We all strive to increase our portfolios in this world, but see what true wealth actually means. 

If you remember Allah subuhanawuta’la often, and a heart that is grateful for Allah’s blessings in this life and a righteous wife, you indeed possess the best wealth. 

So let’s insha Allah try as much as we can to increase dhikr in our lives. Dhikr is one of the easiest forms of i’badah but has tons of rewards in return. 

Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Two words are beloved to the Most Merciful. They are light on the tongue but heavy on the scale: 

سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ الْعَظِيمِ 

(Glory and praise to Allah, and glory to Allah the Almighty).”

This hadith is recorded both in Al-Bukhari and Muslim. 

In another authentic hadith that is reported in Abu Dawud, the Prophet ﷺ talk about two easy qualities or characteristics of a Muslim. He said if any Muslim practices these qualities, he’ll enter paradise. 

However, he said, while these two characteristics are easy, only very few people will practice them, Subhanallah

What are these two characteristics? 

Characteristic one is saying Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah and Allahu Akbar 10 times after each prayer. Pretty easy, right? 

Characteristic two is to say the same dhikr just before going to bed. However, instead of 10 times, you say 33 times Subhanallah, 33 times Alhamdulillah and 34 times Allahu Akbar

As you can see, these are easy two simple things to adopt. But what did the Prophet ﷺ say? Only a few would practice it. 

Now Shahabas were amazed; they couldn’t understand how only a few would act upon it while the deeds are so easy. 

So they asked the Prophet ﷺ, oh Messenger of Allah, how come only a few will act upon them? 

The Prophet ﷺ said the Shaytaan comes to one of you when you go to bed. And he’ll make you sleep before you utter these words. And Shaytaan also comes to you while you are engaged in prayer and calls a need to your mind before you utter them.

(Sahih, Abu Dawud) 

So Shaytaan makes you forget it. He doesn’t want you to do good deeds.

One way to overcome forgetfulness is by creating simple routines in our life. And for creating routines, reminders are beneficial and essential. These reminders can be anything that will help you remind yourself. 

For instance, I’ve created a beautiful poster to remind myself what I need to do and say before going to bed. That beautiful poster lies on the bedside table. So whenever I get ready to sleep, that poster reminds me what to say and do just before bed. It’s like a checklist, and it really helps big time, Alhamdulillah

So I suggest you use reminders to remind yourself what to say after prayer or before going to bed. 

Now, let’s switch gears and talk about how to do dhikr and increase dhikr in our life. 

Scholars say that you can do dhikr in three ways: 

#1: Your tongue

You can remember Allah using your tongue by mentioning Him and glorifying Him. So whenever you say Alhamdulillah or Subhanallah, you are remembering Allah by using your tongue.

#2. Your heart

You can also remember Allah by using your heart.

How do you do that?

Whenever you have the sincere intention or whenever you contemplate the creation of Allah subuhanawuta’la, you are indeed engaging in dhikr as well.

So good thoughts, good intentions to do good things all fall into this type of remembrance.  

#3. Your action

Then, the third way of remembering Allah is using your action. Whenever you use your energy to do good deeds and restrict yourself not to sin, you are indeed doing dhikr as well.

So as you see, there are infinite ways to engage in dhikr.

You can do dhikr

  • by using your tongue
  • by reciting Quran
  • by making du’a 
  • by contemplating Allah and His Creation 
  • by seeking knowledge 
  • by doing good and beneficial deeds
  • by showing gratitude to people as well as Allah 
  • by earning halal means etc.

I mean, the list is very long. 

Now, this variety of dhikr is healthy and essential because it enables us to constantly remember Allah throughout the day in all our states! 

So as you can see, the ways to engage in dhikr are manifold, and that enables us to do dhikr virtually at any time or place.

Despite the constraints of your life, I’m sure you’ll strive your best to increase your dhikr every day. 

There is one Quranic ayah I kept to mention at the end, with the hope that I can truly motivate you to put this tool in your life every single day. 

What’s that Ayah? That ayah actually captures the merit of dhikr in just one sentence.

 فَٱذۡكُرُونِىٓ أَذۡكُرۡكُمۡ

“Remember Me, so that I remember you” (Baqarah, 152) 

Ponder over this sentence just for a minute! How great is the honour! The Rabbul Aalameen remembers me when I remember Him! Allahu Akbar!  

The creator of this vast universe remembers me personally when I remember him. What a great honour is that? Who wouldn’t want that? 

Please take a minute right now, and write just one way how you can remember Allah subuhanawuta’la more often during your day. 

Here is how you can increase the likelihood of practising a new habit in your life. You can choose a solid habit that you are currently practising and then attach this new habit to it. 

What solid habits do you have in your life? 

Hmm, what about drinking water? Do you do it often? Then you can use drinking water habit to increase your dhikr. 

So what you can do is attach this new habit of making dhikr just after drinking water every time. 

If I were to write down, it would be something like, “After drinking water, I’ll say Alhamdulillah”

Now, this simple decision you’ve written down defines everything. It says when, how and what you’ll do. 

That’s always important if you want to create a new habit because most of the time, we skip doing things because we haven’t decided what to do with them. 

Writing down your new habit in this form gives you clarity and helps you make that firm decision when, how and what to do. 

I hope I made this clear enough for you to practice. If not, relisten to it, and you’ll understand better, insha Allah. 

That’s all from me for today. 

If you want to read the transcript of this podcast, you can find it at bestversions.me/podcasts/06.  

Thanks so very much for listening to my podcast. I sincerely pray that this episode is immensely beneficial for you to go from average to excellence in worship! 

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If you want to learn more about my work, you can log on to bestversions.me. There you’ll also find many of the free and paid programmes I offer 

Until we meet in the next episode insha Allah next Friday, I pray that Allah subuhanawuta’la showers his choicest blessings on you and your family. 

And let me end the podcast with the greetings of Jannah, Asssalamu Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakathuhu.