HOW DO I STOP SINNING?
(STRATEGIC ACTION PLAN WORKSHEET)
The following worksheet is based on the advice by Mufti Abu ‘Umar, a student of Mufti Ebrahim Desai D.B. His advice is included on this page below the PDF.
Advice of Mufti Abu ‘Umar
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
Alhamdulillah, the first step in overcoming a problem is recognising that it exists. Overcoming the habit of sin is an ongoing process, as all humans fall into sin, and the only ones who are protected from it are the prophets and messengers. The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said :
“All children of Adam are wrongdoers, and the best of the wrongdoers are those who repent”. [Musnad Ahmad]
The first step for the sinner is sincere repentance. Sincere repentance includes having remorse over your actions, as well as a resolute determination not to fall back into the sin. Whether you sin the next day or the next month, make sincere taubah(repentance) every time you commit a sin.
Secondly, don’t give up hope. When you are stuck in a cycle of sin and repentance, it is tempting to give into despair. Do not lose heart. Rather than looking at your sins, turn your attention to Allah and His infinite mercy. Ponder over the following verse of the Qur’an:
“Say (on My behalf), “O servants of Mine who have acted recklessly against their own selves, do not despair of Allah’s mercy. Surely, Allah will forgive all sins. Surely, He is the One who is the Most-Forgiving, the Very-Merciful.” [ Surah Zumar]
Abu Huraira (radhyallahu anhu) reported Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) having said: “By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them.” [Sahih Muslim]
Armed with the strength of hope in the mercy of Allah, and the belief that sincere repentance wipes away all sin, you have to strategize and plan. Together with planning, you have to have the determination and will power to defeat your weaknesses. Merely saying ‘I give up sin’ with no plan, is like saying ‘I’m becoming fit’ with no training plan in place.
Follow the advises mentioned hereunder, in your effort to give up sin:
1) Identify and introspect: Life is a battle against Shaitan and our desires. Shaitan cleverly spots your weaknesses to lead you astray. If you are falling into sin continiously, it is a sign that Shaitan has identified your weakness and is working on it. You have to identify your own weaknesses and work on them. Therefore, investigate what sins you are falling into, as well as what triggers those sins. Is it the company you keep? Is your income halal? Are you more inclined to sin when you are feeling sad or lonely? Do you fall into sin during times of stress and anxiety? Do you fall into sin when you are alone? Is it the smartphone? Do you have plenty of free time?
Carry out a thorough self-assessment and identify areas in your life where you need to work on. Think of a plan to help you move forward. Use this time of remorse to help you plan for times of heedlessness.
2) Remove triggers: With this knowledge about yourself, strategize a plan against future slip-ups. Remove those triggers which you have control over and stay-away from all those triggers and situations which you don’t have control over. If it is friends, make a new group of friends. If it is the internet, limit your access to the internet, or move your laptop/computer to a place where everyone at home can see you. If you commit sins when you are alone, seek good company.
Part of those triggers that lead to sin include your train of thought, the more you think about a sin the more likely you will end up committing it. Therefore, change your train of thought. If you start thinking about something haram, turn to Allah immediately. Redirect your thoughts, and recite istighfaar. Purify your thoughts, your actions in turn will be pure.
3) Change and replace: Your brain can be rewired to enjoy the halal aspects of life, and not crave for the haram. This requires a change in your habits and daily activities. Make an active effort to change your habits.
Firstly, build better Islamic habits. Start by performing you daily Salaah, read a portion of the Qur’an daily, recite zikr daily, attend lectures at your local masjid, listen to an inspirational lecture daily, start learning about your Deen by reading reliable literature etc. All these changes will build your spirituality and in turn build your resistance to temptation
Secondly, exchange haram activities with a halal alternative where available. For example, start listening to a melodious recitation of the Qur’an instead of music, seek a suitable partner and get married instead of resorting to zina, seek halaal recreational activities like sports etc. instead of impermissible recreational activities.
A very important aspect is the company and friends you keep. Try to keep yourself in the company of those who will inspire you to be a better Muslim.
4) Mentor: Build a relationship with a local aalim or pious person, and go to them for guidance and mentorship. This relationship will be beneficial and will also be a source of motivation for you to continue your efforts to live a pious life.
5) Du’a: Take time out daily to make fervent Du’a to Allah. Ask Him to keep you steadfast and grant you the strength to stay away from sins. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to recite the following Du’a abundantly :
«يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِكَ»
“Oh, the controller of hearts, keep my heart resolute in following your Deen”
6) Refer to our website, Darul Mahmood, for further advise as well as a continuous source of direction.
7) We also recommend the commentary of ‘Qasida Burda’ authored by Mufti Ebrahim Desai for spiritual upliftment and strengthening your willpower in staying away from sins. This is available online from our website in audio and as well as in book form.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Abu ‘Umar Muhammad bin Zayn Patel
Student Darul Iftaa
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.