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Replacing Bad Habits – Part 3

May 11, 2022

Maintaining our Spirituality

We continue to look at different actions we can do to maintain our spiritual energy and levels that we reached during Ramadhan.

5. Intention & Plan to change: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” A healthy process of change in character requires a gradual pace, which entails planning. Remember you need to develop and work out your own plan, because everybody is different, and you know yourself best, you know where, how much and how far you can push yourself. Also develop concrete milestones to measure your progress.

6. Replace a bad habit with a good one: Completely eliminating a habit is more challenging than replacing it with a more productive habit. Moreover, it’s crucial to replace the lost natural needs, such as the need to socialize and to be entertained with something healthy.

For instance, it’s easier to replace your addiction to TV with a physical workout or reading the Qur’aan or a good Islamic book etc. Interestingly, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the greatest ‘psychologist’ of humanity, illustrated this principle in these words:

عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ جُنْدَبِ بْنِ جُنَادَةَ، وَأَبِي عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ مُعَاذِ بْنِ جَبَلٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا، عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم قَالَ: “اتَّقِ اللَّهَ حَيْثُمَا كُنْت، وَأَتْبِعْ السَّيِّئَةَ الْحَسَنَةَ تَمْحُهَا، وَخَالِقْ النَّاسَ بِخُلُقٍ حَسَنٍ”

“Fear Allah wherever you may be; follow up an evil deed with a good one which will wipe (the former) out, and behave good-naturedly towards people.” (Hadith-At-Tirmidhi).

7. Change your Environment: Resist the negative peer pressure by finding a better company of friends. Collective action to change is very powerful. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ explained this peer pressure effect with the analogy:

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ مَثَلُ الْجَلِيسِ الصَّالِحِ وَالْجَلِيسِ السَّوْءِ كَمَثَلِ صَاحِبِ الْمِسْكِ، وَكِيرِ الْحَدَّادِ، لاَ يَعْدَمُكَ مِنْ صَاحِبِ الْمِسْكِ إِمَّا تَشْتَرِيهِ، أَوْ تَجِدُ رِيحَهُ، وَكِيرُ الْحَدَّادِ يُحْرِقُ بَدَنَكَ أَوْ ثَوْبَكَ أَوْ تَجِدُ مِنْهُ رِيحًا خَبِيثَةً ‏”

“A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might burn your body or your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.” (Hadith-Sahih al-Bukhari & Muslim)

8. Exercise: Spiritual exercise is important for lasting change. You may not realize that by exerting yourself in spiritual exercises like the reading of Qur’an and Hadith, fasting, giving charity, Dhikr (remembering Allah), Spending time in the Path of Allah etc. helps in eliminating a number of bad habits. Through the spiritual light of doing noble deeds, evil ones will gradually be eradicated from your life. Allah says:

ٱتْلُ مَآ أُوحِىَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ وَأَقِمِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ ۖ إِنَّ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلْفَحْشَآءِ وَٱلْمُنكَرِ ۗ

“Indeed, Salah restrains from Shameful and unjust deeds” (Quran 29:45).

A person complained to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ about someone who read salaah and also committed theft .The Prophet ﷺ said “His salaat will very soon wean him off that sin.’ This shows that the evil habits can be gotten rid of by adhering to good practises. The doing of good deeds such as remembering Allah cleanses the heart. A clean heart encourages a person to do good deeds and refrains one from evil habits!

Moreover, exercising your will power (struggle to fight temptations) helps you kick all kinds of bad habits and form new good ones. Willpower is like a muscle; the more you exercise it, the more you strengthen it.

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