Striving to do righteous deeds continuously
Allah says in the Quran:
“Race one with another in hastening towards Forgiveness from your Lord (Allah)…” [Surah al-Hadeed 57:21]
Good deeds draw us closer to Allah, as He (SWT) says: “‘My slave keeps drawing nearer to me with nawafil (supererogatory) deeds until I love him.’” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, 6137). The Prophet (SAWS) was asked: “Which deed is most beloved by Allah?” He said, “The one that is continuous, even if it is little.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath, 11/194).
Hoping that one’s deeds will be accepted while fearing that they may not
Even when we perform good deeds we shouldn’t become self assured that these will certainly guarantee our entry into Paradise. Once ‘A’ishah (RAA) asked the Prophet (SAWS) if the reference in the following aayah was to sinners. The verse is:
‘And those who give that (their charity) which they give with their hearts full of fear (whether it has been accepted or not), because they are sure to return to their Lord’ [Surah al-Mu’minoon 23:60]
The Prophet (SAWS) said, “No, O daughter of al-Siddeeq. They are those who fast and pray and give charity while fearing that these deeds will not be accepted from them. (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 3175; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 1/162).
That is the state of Allah’s muttaqoon (pious) servants. They are far from pride, or self conceit, never allowing complacency to set in. And it is about such of His servants that Allah says (which means):
“Verily, Allah accepts only from those who are al-muttaqoon (the pious).” [al-Maa’idah 5:27].
Doing a variety of acts of worship
To soften our hearts to fear Allah and to see the light of faith, we should strive to do more acts of worship. A man came to the Prophet (SAWS) complaining that his heart was hard. The Prophet (SAWS) said to him, “Would you like your heart to become soft and to get what you want? Show mercy to the orphan, pat his head, feed him from your own food, and your heart will become soft and you will get what you want.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani; there are also corroborating reports. Al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 2/533).
Remembering death often and fearing a bad end
The Prophet (SAWS) has cautioned us against losing ourselves so completely in this life that we fail to remember the inescapable truth of death. He (SAWS) said: “Remember often the destroyer of pleasure, meaning death.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 2307; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1210).
Remembering death can put a check on sins and soften the hard heart. Visiting graveyards often can remind a person of death. Remembrance of death puts our whole life in a proper perspective. We know it has to end, but we have no knowledge how soon, and what our fate will be in the life that’s going to begin – the life in the hereafter. This realization should remind us of what our Creator Allah (SWT) Himself has said about life:
“Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).” [Surah Aal ‘Imran:185]
After realizing the insignificance of this life, it would be foolish to give undue importance to its materialistic aspects which appeal to the heart. Faith should replace love of this world in our hearts.
We need to engage ourselves in regular self-evaluation to renew and strengthen our faith. It enables us to keep a check on our own actions each day, showing where we might be going wrong and enabling us to improve ourselves. And eventually the greatest remedy of all is Dua – calling on Allah; supplicating to Him; humbling ourselves before Him; showing our need for His Mercy and Guidance; confiding in Him our weakness and lapses; and looking up to Him to strengthen our faith