Nothing stays the same, whether it is our appearance, age, personality, relationships, or skills. Even our moods flip in a split second. Change is inevitable , but the question is what effect does change have on us? Is change a catalyst or hindrance/obstacle . When we are under immense pressure do we fall into depression or strive to make an impression? When are afraid, are we paralyzed or mobilized? When sad do we conclude our lives are over or that we need to start over? At times of change we can either be the captains that steer our ships safely through the raging waters, or we can be the captains who surrenders their vessels to the merciless waves to toss them around and wreck them against the rocks.
Yet it remains that change is never easy. There are forces working against us. One of these forces is Shaytan. Shaytan is very much invested in changing us into the worst version of ourselves. He made a promise to this effect:
“I will mislead them, and I will create in them false desires; I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and to deface the (fair) nature created by Allah.” (Qur’an 4:119)
What is the “fair nature created by Allah” that Shaytan aims to deface? It is the Fitra. On a daily basis, Shaytan makes us question the applicability of truth, honesty, perfection, patience, kindness, compassion etc. in our everyday lives. He makes us see them as outdated. But Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) tells us to hold onto them, for they are constants, and are a shield against Shaytan’s conspiracy:
“So set your face upright to the religion, unswervingly upright; (this religion is) the original disposition from Allah upon which He originated (Literally: constituted) mankind. There is no exchange for the creation of Allah. That is the most upright religion, but most of mankind do not know.” (Qur’an 30:30)
Apart from Shaytan, there are additional forces against us that are obstacles to change: our nature, nurture and habits. But to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) these do not make change impossible. The condition, according to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) is whether we really desire to change inspite of them:
“Surely Allah does not change what is in a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Qur’an 13:11)
The Mufasereen say that the interpretation of “…what is in themselves” in this verse refers to those things that adhere to us: nature (those traits we were born with); nurture (traits we acquired from our upbringing and from our environment); or habits (regular and repeated behavior accrued over the years) . All of these three are parts of us like a second skin, and they are very hard to overcome and suppress during the process of change. Yet know that taking them on, although challenging, indicates a sincere desire on our part for positive change. It’s at this point that Allah comes to the rescue, as per the ayah, to effect that change we want to see in ourselves.
Tomorrow we’ll reflect on our fear of change In Sha’ Allah. . .