I always hated doing mazes as a kid. It was beyond frustrating to be going down a path just fine, only to abruptly run into a dead end.
As I grew up, I realized that life is kind of like that, especially as it relates to as-siraat al-mustaqeem (the Straight Path).
Although the path itself is clear and straight, there are more and more dead ends put in our path by Satan, the dunya (this world), and our own nafs (inner self), until it ends up looking like a tangled up maze.
Temptation is a universal experience. Every single person commits sins—yes, even the “uncle” at the masjid with a long beard, and the straight-A student who comes from a good family. Even Adam and Hawwa (peace be upon them) were tempted to eat from the tree, and they’re some of the best humans to have existed.
Our attitudes towards sins differ, though. I’ve noticed that some people rely far too heavily on Allah’s mercy, to the point that they think it’s not a big deal to commit sins, while others despair after committing sins and think they’ll never be forgiven.
Ideally, though, we should have a perspective that is somewhere in between both of these points of view. After all, Islam is a religion of perfect balance. We should rely on Allah’s mercy, but only after we have sinned, not while we are planning or actively committing a sin. That’s what repentance is: feeling ashamed, asking forgiveness from Allah, and intending never to do it again.
But never committing a certain sin again can seem like an impossible task. This is where the concept of “temptation” comes in. The sins that we commit tend to be the ones that are most alluring to us or that are hardest to resist.
For example, a person might be more prone to lying, lewdness, or showing off, depending on their personality. It can be tough to resist these areas of weakness, but it is not impossible. Keep in mind that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told us that the best of us are those who repent for our sins.
However, there is no doubt that prevention is better than cure. Meaning, rather than ending up in a sticky situation, it’s better to just avoid paths that lead to sin in the first place.
Just like everyone else, I am also not sinless. But here are some tips that have personally helped me to resist temptation and avoid sins:
1- Keep Good Company
I cannot stress this enough. It is also Prophetic advice. If you have good friends who prioritize Islam and their relationship with Allah, you are more likely to do the same.
The opposite is also true, in that if you have friends who shamelessly commit sins or don’t care about religion, you may end up following their path. For example, if your friends enjoy gossiping and backbiting, you might end up doing it while you are in their company, because that is just the topic of conversation.
2- Remember Death Often
This sounds morbid, I know. Most people avoid talking about death unless they are at a funeral because they think it is a frightening and depressing topic. As Muslims, we have been advised to do the exact opposite. In fact, we are encouraged to think of death often, because it keeps us from chasing our temptations and forgetting about the afterlife. Remembering death reminds us of our ultimate return to our Creator.
3- Engage in More Worship
This one might seem like common sense, but it can be tough to do. Praying all 5 daily prayers on time, doing voluntary fasts, reading Quran—all of these things require discipline, dedication, and sacrifice (such as prioritizing Allah over the dunya).
This doesn’t mean that people who spend much of their time worshiping are sinless, but if we make the intention to engage in more worship for the sake of strengthening our faith, inshaAllah this will help keep us away from sins.
These are just a few tips based on my own experiences. Staying away from temptation and sin is not easy; but it is so rewarding in both this life and the next.
May Allah make us of those who are sincere in our faith and stay away from our illicit temptations.