What it means to be steadfast upon Islam and the Sunnah (Al-Istiqāmah) July 31, 2017 – Posted in: Blog, Hadith & Sunnah
By Abu Khadeejah Abdul-Wahid
Istiqāmah is a comprehensive term: It is to stand before Allah in all truthfulness in the fulfilment of one’s covenant – and it is related to what is uttered upon the tongues, what is carried out upon the limbs and what is concealed in the heart of intentions and sincerity – and also one’s outward state. So it is a comprehensive term. For this reason, we have the beautiful hadeeth:
عَنْ أَبِي عَمْرٍو وَقِيلَ: أَبِي عَمْرَةَ سُفْيَانَ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: “قُلْت: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ! قُلْ لِي فِي الْإِسْلَامِ قَوْلًا لَا أَسْأَلُ عَنْهُ أَحَدًا غَيْرَك؛ قَالَ: قُلْ: آمَنْت بِاَللَّهِ ثُمَّ اسْتَقِمْ
On the authority of Abu `Amr — and he is also called Abu `Amrah Sufyān bin Abdullah ath- Thaqafee (may Allah be pleased with him) who said:
I said,“O Messenger of Allah! Tell me something about Islam which I can ask of no one except you.”
He (ﷺ) said, “Say I believe in Allah — and then be steadfast.”
– [Muslim, 38]
So istiqāmah is to traverse upon the Sirāt al-Mustaqeem, the Straight Path of guidance, without veering to the left or the right sothat one does not go beyond the limits nor does he fall short: not being extreme and not being negligent. The Shaitān senses the heart of the servant and puts it to the test. So if he senses from it that it turns away from religion, or is lazy and lackadaisical when it come to the obedience of Allāh, he encourages it further with laziness, ease and distance from the religion until the person disengages from the Religion – so he abandons the obligations and falls into the harām. The Shaitān will not stop until a person severs all his ties with the Religion leaving him utterly devastated and destroyed.
And if the Shaitān sees that the servant is ardent upon the Religion and knows that he is not able to block the worshipper from the Religion, then he encourages him with more and more striving, and more hardship and with becoming strict upon himself and upon others, and going beyond bounds of balance. So he whispers to him: “Your striving is good and you are obedient – so strive more so that you attain perfection.” So he strives more and more: he does not stop fasting, nor does he sleep at night. So he prods him until a person leaves istiqāmah. This is like the condition of the Khawārij, such that the prayer of the people of istiqāmah seems insignificant compared to their prayer, and their fasting seems insignificant compared to their fasting, and their recital of the Qur’an seems insignificant compared to their recital – yet they (the extremists) shoot out of Islam just like an arrow passes through its target.
So both of these inclinations are blameworthy: the negligent group, and the extreme group. Both have exited the path of the Sunnah and al-istiqāmah. The first group left the Sunnah to bid’ah (deviation) of neglect and loss. The second group left the Sunnah to the bid’ah (deviation) of excess, extremism and exaggeration.
So one is required to be balanced, not excessive or extreme, nor lax, negligent and deficient. So one does not treat the Sunan as if they are obligations (farā’id) or treat the disliked (makrūhāt) as if they were forbidden (muharramāt); nor forbid from the soul that which Allāh has made permissible from beautification, clothing and sustenance.
– al-Khutub al-Minbariyyah of Shaikh al-Fawzān, 1/275