Istiqamah is one of the important concepts of Islam. In every time and every place, the Muslim would face challenges and hardships which necessitates steadfastness and adherence to his noble principles. Such steadfastness emanates from strong faith and unshakable trust in Allah and yields its ripe fruits in all spheres of life.
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), states: In the Glorious Qur’an, Allah Almighty says: (Indeed those who say, ‘Our Lord is Allah,’ and, further, stand straight and steadfast, the angels descend on them (from time to time): ‘Fear you not! (they suggest), Nor grieve! But receive the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), that which you were promised!’ We are your protectors in this life and in the Hereafter: therein shall you have all that your souls shall desire; therein shall you have all that you ask for!’ A hospitable gift from One Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!) (Fussilat 41: 30-32)
Sufyan Ath-Thaqafi reported, “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, tell me about Islam in one word that I would not ask anyone other than you (according to Abu Mu’awiyah he said, “anyone after you”).’ The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Say I believe in Allah and then stand steadfast.'” (Musnad Ahmad, 14869)
Istiqamah ( Steadfastness) is an important concept of Islam. It has several meanings. It means to be straight, to follow the straight path, to remain firm on one’s principles and not to give in to difficulties or challenges. Some scholars say that it also means to be sincere and do good things in public as well in private life. Some others say that it means to be straight in words as well in deeds. (See Nadrat Al-Na’im, vol. 2, p. 304)
Being a Muslim requires Istiqamah everywhere and at all times. Those who live with Istiqamah Allah has promised them great reward and blessings in this world and in the Hereafter.
Different challenges in different times and places:
Living Islam in different parts of the world has different challenges. Living Islam in Pakistan, in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia or in any Muslim country has some challenges. Living Islam in India, in Africa, in China, in Bosnia and Albania has some challenges. In a similar way living Islam in America has special challenges. Living Islam in the 7th century in Arabian Peninsula had some challenges. It had different challenges in 12th century and now it has some other challenges. When Muslims understand the challenges and meet them with wisdom and courage they become successful and bring blessings upon themselves and others.
Istiqamah in Faith:
First we must emphasize deep and sincere faith in Allah. Let us build that relationship with our Creator with more worship and more devotion. Let’s have full trust in Allah Who has power over all things. He controls all affairs and if we remain with Allah, He will be with us, help and support us. We must entertain no doubt about Allah, His Prophet, His Book and His religion. Allah is the Truth and Islam is the right way. No matter what is the propaganda and no matter who misrepresents Islam, non-Muslims or Muslims, we must be sure that we are on the right path and nothing should shake our confidence in Allah and the religion that He gave us. We should practice our religion fully, in all details and as much as possible.
Istiqamah in the Family and Community:
We should be closer to our families. Forget your petty differences and quarrels. Be more loving and caring to your spouses. Pay special attention to your children. Let them not feel neglected and frightened. It is pretty scary to sit in front of the TV and watch all those talk shows and hear the angry words against Islam and Muslims. We have to pay special attention to our children so they do not become alienated, frightened, split personalities or angry.
We should also become more caring and more united within our community. We need each other all the time, but at the time of crisis we need each other more. There are many people who may lose jobs, go through hardships. There might be discriminations and harassments. We must take care of each other without supporting or harbouring any wrongdoers. In the climate of suspicion, people become very frightened and uncaring. We should discuss how we can help each other in the right way without breaking any laws of the land.
Local authorities are also willing to meet and talk to us. They are willing to discuss any fears and concerns. After this horrendous crime on September 11 there were some shocking incidents of hate crimes, but we must acknowledge with thanks that there were more people who showed compassion and empathy. A great effort was made by many neighbors and civic authorities to affirm and display kindness, tolerance and generosity. We must reciprocate this and do even more to show our gratitude and our Islamic behavior. Muslims have always been good to their neighbors, but now we should be even more good and more conscious of our duties towards them.
Istiqamah in Da`wah:
Da`wah is not to convert people. Da`wah is to convey the message with wisdom and with good words. We should give the noble and positive message of Islam. We should try to emphasize more commonalties and explain the difference without getting into theological arguments and without claiming the superiority of one position over the other. There is a great interest among the people to know about Islam and we should do our best to give the right message.
Misconceptions and misunderstandings about Islam and Muslims are on the rise. We should speak in clear terms about issues such as: Jihad, polytheism, relations with non-Muslims, status of women, status of minorities in Islam, Islam and religious freedom, Islam and democracy, the separation of church and state. People are presenting some verses from the Qur’an and quoting them out of context. We have to explain their correct meanings without becoming apologetic. We must reject and condemn terrorism without any reservation, but this does not mean that we give up the struggle for justice and human rights in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya or any other land. We should not accept the suffering of any innocent people, neither here nor in Afghanistan or Iraq or any other land.