Most of us are simply not able to consistently workout without a workout partner who can keep us motivated, keep us on point, and remind us of our goals.
Having a friend, a group of friends, a jama'ah of fellow seekers, Islamic workers, or fellow Islamic classmates/student of knowledge - who are in the goal to become better Muslims, who are sincere in their brotherhood/sisterhood with you and have good character, are crucial to maintaining your progress.
Suhba, companionship was the key to the greatness of the Companions of the Prophet - and it is by this characteristic that they are named! So companionship with good people who can encourage you on your path, listen to your memorization, and hold you accountable, even join you for a night at your house of night prayer and reflection together - can be a great asset. Even if you do not wish to share so much openness about your worship with
someone, being in the company of good people who inspire you, can be sufficient to help you grow.
7. The Professionals have Coaches, the Olympians have Teams of Coaches
If you look at professional athletes, you will see that they are not on their own - their training and ability is due partly to the watchful eye and guidance of their coaches. These coaches are typically experienced athletes themselves, with years of experience in practicing, watching, teaching, and training. No great athlete has reached the heights of glory without a coach. And as for
Olympians, you will see them backed by entire coaching staffs, each supplementing the
team's progress in one way or another.
In the same way, it is good to have a scholar, and best to have the company of scholars who you can go to for help, advice, knowledge and guidance. The scholars are the heirs of the Prophet (saw), and they can best provide you with guidance and help when you falter.
Almost every athlete knows that there is usually someone better in the world (perhaps with a few exceptions), and that their coach
isn't the only one who's opinions are correct. They know this because in the heat of competition, they know that other coaches have produced students that are just as good as they are.
They know that they are not in and of themselves genetically predisposed to victory without training and effort.
Allah (swt) tells us to "Hasten/race with one another in the doing of Good". And it is in this that we differ from athletes. Athletes compete with one another for the sake of personal gain, glory, competition, thrill, personal accomplishment, or to be proud. We hasten with one another for the sake of God and God alone. But we must also remember these two points:
That our teacher, our sheikh, our maulana, is not the only one who is always correct and we must not fight with others trying to prove his greatness as faqih ul asr or ustaadh ul asaatidha. Especially if we have not been exposed to all the fuqahaa, how can we make that
judgment? But we must always hold a good opinion of our teachers, overlook their faults, and take benefit from them without turning them into infallible beings whose correctness we will strive to prove at every turn. We must not disrespect other teachers, but take benefit from everyone, and love all the ‘ulama - but do hold your own teacher with high respect and esteem, for it is through them that Allah is blessing you with knowledge.
Imam Malik said: Every person but the one in this grave (motioning towards the
Prophet's resting place), take some, and leave some"
Second, we must remember that spiritual progress is not about us, or about showing off or winning medals. We will get to show off in Jannah, and our medals (if we earn them inshAllah), will be cups of silver and clothes of silk
and the company of the righteous.
Every person who works out can tell you that there is no progress without consistency. One must workout on a consistent schedule in order to gain results. Consistency is the key to gains. In the same way, a person must perform acts of worship and acts to gain nearness to Allah (swt) and better
one's character with consistency.
"Allah loves the consistent action, even if it is small." - this was said by the Prophet (saw). So even if the act is 15 minutes of reading a day, or a half hour of attending an Islamic lecture each week. One hour a week of visiting the sick. Two hours of a week of cleaning the masjid. 10 minutes a day of reading Quran. Whatever you can do - do it consistently and guard it.
The person who carries $20,000 in cash on the street in his chest coat pocket will guard it as if he was guarding his very life. His hand would be constantly on his pocket, on his chest, assuring himself it is there. He will walk with caution, he will be aware of anyone who comes close to him, scrutinizing every person he sees. We must be like this with our Iman and with our acts of worship. They are more precious than any money and we must
be consistent with them by guarding them and protecting them. If this means saying no to a hangout once a week, or saying no to your friends playing basketball, or just saying
you'll be late - that's what you have to do.
Abdul Sattar is a contributing writer at suhaibwebb.com