O Muslims! Steadfastness upon the right way, maintaining oneself upon the straight path and avoiding other paths which lead one astray, are indications of wisdom and good sense in a person. The highest rank of steadfastness is upholding oneself upon Islam and protecting the heart from fluctuating.
For this reason, the fear of straying away from the right path was the main concern of the people of proper understanding and the way of those with sound minds and those firmly grounded in knowledge, those who desire for themselves means of access to their Lord, fear His punishment and hope for His mercy. Allah mentioned in the Quran how they supplicate and ask His help to remain steadfast and keep away from deviation as in the verse, which means, "It is He, Who has sent down to you the Book. In it are Verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundations of the Book (verses including commandments and penal laws); and others not entirely clear. So as for those on whose hearts there is a deviation they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking trials and seeking its hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say, We believe in it, the whole of it is from our Lord". And none receive admonition except men of understanding. (They say) Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us, and grant us from Your Mercy. Truly, You are the Bestower? (Aal Imraan: 7-8).
This supplication which reflects humility and humbleness to Allah was the supplication of the best of creation, our Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam. Uttering this supplication is an indication of perfect imitation of the Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, as Um Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, The Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam used to repeatedly say this supplication, "O Controller of the hearts! Make my heart steadfast upon Your religion" so I asked him, O Prophet of Allah! Do hearts fluctuate?" He said, "Yes, all mankind's hearts are between two of the fingers of Allah. If Allah wills He maintains a man"s steadfastness, and if He wills He deviates him. (Ahmad & Tirmithi).
If the Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, feared a change of heart of those who were the cream of Muslims, the pioneers of Islam, the ones firmly grounded in faith, with strong certainty in Allah and sincere servitude to Him and are the best of all generations, as the Prophet informed us; if this fear was regarding those people, then how would the case be concerning those who came after them, especially people in our era? This era during which trials are plentiful and successive; falsehood has spread everywhere under decorated banners; doubts and desires attacked people's hearts; misguiding temptations have attacked people through what they see, read and hear; and deviant ways have become strong and taken control over people"s minds and hearts, such as the common sight of ladies who come out of their homes dressed but look as though they are naked.
In addition, a group of people have started slighting some of the commandments and tenets of Islam. The worst of this deviated trend is their doubting the Quran and its perfection or some of its rulings, casting doubts regarding the message of the Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam and that it is not the final message or that it is not sufficient and useful for all times. They have even come to the point of doubting the Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam himself, and how successful he was in his mission, his Sunnah and his conduct. These are a few examples of what some of the people of falsehood say or do, and there are many more.
Consequently, differences and disputes have increased between Muslims until brotherhood in faith has become jeopardized, and in some cases blood has been unlawfully shed between Muslims based on doubts. By doing so, people abandon the commandment of the Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam when he said, "Verily, your blood, your properties, and your honour are sacred for each other, just as sacred for you as this day in this month and in this city until you meet your Lord. Have I conveyed the message?" the companions, May Allah be pleased with them, replied, Indeed" He sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam said, "O Allah! Testify. Let those who are present inform those who are absent, because the person receiving the message might understand it better than the one who originally heard it. Do not become disbelievers after my death and start killing each other. Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, I swear by The One In Whose hands my soul is! His advice to his entire nation was, "do not become disbelievers after my death, and start killing each other." (Bukhari).
The miserable situation of the Muslims of dispute and differences is pleasing to the enemies of Islam, who enjoy criticizing Islam. Through such situations, a Muslim fears the deviation of his heart, and his need for the help of Allah to make him steadfast increases, and the greatness of the afore mentioned supplication of the Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam and the need for uttering it at all times, become evident.
There are ways by which a Muslim can be protected from deviation:
1. Truthfulness in faith, strong certainty in Allah and sincerity in the belief in the Oneness of Allah is one way. There can be no prosperity, salvation nor success except by fulfilling the belief in the oneness of Allah by adhering to the Sunnah and shunning all that opposes it. Shunning what opposes the Sunnah means abandoning innovations, because each innovation is misguidance. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam clarified this in the narration of Al-Irbaadh Ibn Saariyah, may Allah be pleased with him, "He amongst you who would live after my death will see many things which he does not recognise, so adhere to my Sunnah and the way of the rightly guided caliphs after me, stick to it and bite on it with your molar teeth; and beware of innovations, because every innovation is misguidance.? (Ahmad, Tirmithi and others).
2. Another means of protection from deviation is to hasten to persistently perform good deeds with sincerity to Allah before trials take place. The Prophet sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam said, "Hasten in performing good deeds before the time comes when trials would be as dark as nights; a man would wake up a Muslim and go to sleep a disbeliever, and go to sleep as a Muslim and wake up a disbeliever.? (Muslim).
Servants of Allah! Fear Allah and take provisions from the way of the Prophet, because it is the best source for provisions, and ask Allah to keep your hearts steadfast upon Islam and to help you in staying away from deviation.