En garde (French): on guard.
When our self becomes our enemy, doing what’s right becomes a never-ending fight. There is a constant battle inside. There are two choices: the good and the bad - pick one. Those who choose to do the right thing have succeeded and those who do otherwise have failed.
So how do we fight this battle?
First of all, be aware that it’s happening. We come back to the initial point of self-reflection. To self-reflect is to be aware of what’s going on inside.
In our effort to always be aware, we have to be honest, first and foremost, to ourselves. It's hard to change when you are constantly lying to yourself. Knowing that you have a problem is the first step to solving that problem.
Second of all, build our shield – Taqwa. Protect ourselves from anything and everything that will cause Allah to be displeased with us.
How to build this shield?
1. Follow the Sunna. The Messenger is our link to Allah; he paved the way for us.
To follow the Sunna, we first have to know what it is. How can we possibly walk on the right path if we don't even know what it is?
The next step is to understand. Knowing is only half of the equation - it is not enough. Knowing a lot but understand little is like having a huge plot of land that is only an inch deep - what can you plant in such a shallow soil?
The final step is to apply. Knowing the medicine is good. Understand the medicine is great. But if you don't take it, then what benefit does it give you?
2. Set some alone time between you and Allah, a time when nobody knows about except you and Allah.
Make it a secret. This could be a good indicator of how sincere you are. Nobody’s around, so you’re not trying to impress anyone. There’s nothing worldly to gain at all, it’s just you and Him.
It doesn’t have to be long – an hour, half an hour, 15 minutes, or even 5 minutes. It depends on what you can give.
It doesn’t have to late at night when everybody’s sleeping either. Of course, that is the best time to be alone with Allah but it doesn’t have to be that time. Anytime will do.
Take this time to reflect about your life, to ask Allah for anything, to vent to Allah, to read the Quran, to pray Sunna, to give charity in secret, or whatever it may be.
It’s just between you and Allah.
3. Never give up. Accept the fact that sometimes, we will fail.
We will make mistakes. Accept it and embrace it.
Nobody is perfect and nobody will be perfect. Period. We each have our own battles to fight.
Just remember that when we fall down, always get back up. Falling down is not the issue. Everybody falls down once in a while. The issue is to choose to stay down and give up. Get back up, repent, and move on. Allah loves to forgive and He is the Most Forgiving.
Move forward. It doesn`t matter how small or big your steps are, as long as you move forward. Move forward in your Deen, move closer and closer into achieving that highest Taqwa. Take baby steps if you must, as long as you are not stagnant and you don’t step backwards.
You're good to go.