No one knows the conditions of our hearts and no one knows our true intentions. Sometimes we are so caught up in keeping up appearances, we lose ourselves. A few years back, at the first class of a series the teacher addressed an interesting topic which has resonated with me since. The topic was: Fake/Hollow practising.
Hollow or fake practising in short is appearing to be practising however inside you have not internalised that which you have externalised.
It’s a vague title which could hold a wealth of information however unlike other classes in which you note down quotes, ahadith and evidences – this was unique. We were asked about our intentions, our actions and what we are like when no one else is looking which triggered me to see my life through a different lens. A lens that allowed me to see past the walls I had built up and the acting I had perfected.
You see, when you start practising Islam especially with friends, you begin to learn together and create another subgroup where all the jokes have a “Muslim spin” on it and the general theme becomes looking for halal restaurants as opposed to places to pray or when you do go to pray or to a lecture to learn you go with your friends, you post about it on social media as if it is a condition of this act and with just a few clicks your sincerity disappears.
This new way of life that we take on or that we have always had can become a defining part of our character however, is that what it should be? A defining part or should our character stem from submission to Islam?
Without a doubt, it should be the latter.
Have we just mastered how to appear as if we are practising by adding a few “MaShaAllah TabarakAllah” , “Alhamdulillah” and “SubhanAllah” in our sentences and tweeting a thread on a religious topic and pinning it to our profile to appear practising? Or are we struggling and striving to repent and do good deeds sincerely for the sake of Allah?
The teacher listed symptoms for us to self-diagnose ourselves so that we can realise if we are hollow practising or not.
The symptoms of those that are hollow practising:
- Heedless in regards to salah and sleeping through prayers as well as delaying prayer until a different time.
- Having no khushu (concentration) in prayer) and not being interested in going early for prayer.
- Not performing optional prayers. Our life is short and when we realise this and take account of our sins, we would sincerely strive to complete our fardh and sunnah prayers and then offer optional prayers.
- No night prayer.
- Reading every Islamic book but Qur’an. The words of Allah should come first.
- Neglectful of morning and evening supplications (adhkar).
- Terrible akhlaaq which shows occasionally
- Disliking to accept advice due to ‘ujb (self admiration)
- Not organised
- Laughing excessively
- Does not recite Qur’an daily or try to memorise it
- Engrossed in their exterior and how they look
- Not forbidding evil
- Breaking promises
- Relaxed to nurturing children
- Staying up late and missing fajr
In order to develop and perfect our acts of worship and work towards Allah we need to examine our actions in reality and how we behave in private in comparison to public.
In order to build ourselves we must ensure the foundation is laid. In order for a tree to grow and bare fruit, its roots need to be planted firmly and for us we need to understand Islam, what it entails and submit completely and sincerely.
Advice to us all is we must work on our interior to avoid becoming of those who are hollow practising.
We must cleanse ourselves through repentance so we can ensure that our actions and our character is built strong and well. An analogy I find powerful is: if you have a pot that you want to cook food in, but it was dirty from oil or food cooked previously, you would scrub it and clean it before you begin putting in your ingredients and making your delicious and nutritious meal. Like how you would clean your pot to cook in, you need to clean your heart and then fill it with the words of Qur’an and beneficial knowledge.
We ask our readers to diagnose themselves with the briefly listed symptoms and consider whether they fall into this too. With diagnosis comes medication (submitting sincerely to Islam) and with medication comes cure (clean and sincere heart).
May our private acts bring us closer to Allah and may we never fall into self admiration and showing off.