My name is ##### and I am 17 years old.
My parents perform Solat (prayer). They told me to pray but I don't. I don't know why I don't pray. They sent me to Islamic school and I learned a lot about Islam, but I don’t practice it.
Could you please give me steps that I can follow to practice what I have learned and how can I open my heart to change my life to become a better Muslim? Could you suggest books that I can read?
I want to do Tawbah (repentance), but sometimes I feel maybe I shouldn’t do it yet. I am afraid that when I repent, I would still commit the same sins.
I hope that you can help me as much as you can. Thank you, Abang Aiman. I just need a listener that can listen without any judgment.
Thank you. Assalamualaikum.
Thank you for emailing me.
It doesn't matter what you did in the past. Let the past be in the past. Islam teaches us to repent and move on.
Focus on what you can do today in preparation for a better tomorrow, insha Allah. Start working on changing yourself to become a better Muslim, both inward and outward.
The fact that you emailed me asking for help indicates that you are on the path to change for the better, and that is a good thing. It shows me that you have that noble intention in your heart. If you ask me, your heart is already open for change. Otherwise, you wouldn't email me.
I pray that Allah keeps you steadfast on this path. Ameen.
Now, what you need to do is to take it one step at a time. Don't rush it. Long-lasting change usually happens gradually - slowly but surely. The Prophet took 23 years to completely deliver the message of Islam. Change is a long journey.
It doesn't matter if you are slow, as long as you are moving on the right path and in the right direction.
Having said that, where should you start? My suggestion: A good place to start is to know Allah, the focus point of our life.
He is our center, hence anything and everything that we do should gravitate towards Him. So it is only logical that we start with Him and our relationship with Him.
A good book that I would recommend is the book "Reclaim Your Heart" by Yasmine Mogahed. It discusses about the heart and how we might have attached it to the world too much in such a way that we forget the real purpose of our existence.
Other than that, I recommend that you start attending classes that discuss about Allah. Start familiarizing yourself with good gatherings and good people. Surround yourself with good company, who can support you in times of need and who can direct you to where you should go.
A good way to change yourself is to change your surrounding. Slowly transition into a better surrounding, one that fits your goal of wanting to become a better Muslim. Start building up a good, healthy, and positive social support because change is not easy so there is a good chance that you might need help once in a while.
For taubah (repentance), you don't need to wait to be perfect to repent. In fact, repentance is not for the perfect. It is for the imperfect, and the imperfect is us. We are all imperfect. We have many shortcomings and mistakes. Therefore, it is advisable for us to constantly repent and to constantly reflect on what we have done.
If you repent and you repeat the same mistake, then repent again. If you do it again, then repent again, and again, and again, and again...until your final breath if you have to. Allah loves those who repent with sincere repentance. I believe that you are sincere and you indeed want to change. So do it, and don't stop.
Don't stop and don't give up hope. Allah talks to you when He said:
"...O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful."
[Surah az-Zumar: 53]
Allah is giving you hope and Allah is telling you not to give up. He will never be tired of forgiving you, if you never stop turning back to Him sincerely.
For solat, like I said before, start slowly. If you have never prayed 5 times a day before, then it might be difficult to do all 5 now. But that is normal. Everything is difficult the first time around, like when you learned how to walk for the first time. It wasn't easy, was it? You fell down a few times, but you never give up did you? If you did, then you wouldn't be walking today.
Likewise, you should think of solat as learning how to walk. In the beginning, it will be difficult. But insha Allah, it will be easier if you keep on trying. In the end, praying 5 times a day would feel like a walk in the park.
In addition, it would really help if you surround yourself with friends who pray 5 times a day. They can be your support and they can remind you when it is time for prayer. In fact, you guys can pray together! A journey is made easier when you have others to walk alongside you.
I hope this helps. I apologize if I have offended you in any way. That is not my intention. I intend good for you both in this life and in the next, and nothing less than that.
May Allah grant you strength, patience, good company, and steadfastness. Ameen.
Don't stop. Don't give up. You are on your way :)