THE word istiqamah comes from the Arabic root word قام (qaama) which means to rise, to stand upright. The word مستقيم (mustaqeem) is derived from the same root.
From the perspective of Shari’ah, it means “to remain consistent on the path you are in, no matter what happens.”
It is a quality that we continuously strive to attain in order to remain steadfast in deen, although we may fail many times in the process. It is one of the tools to attain the pleasure of Allah ﷻ and it strengthens our belief in Allah ﷻ.
Let’s have a look on what Allah ﷻ and his messenger ﷺ has said about istiqamah in Quran and Sunnah.
Allah ﷻ says:
Verily, those who say: “our lord is Allah (alone)”, and then they stand firm, on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying): “Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised!” [Surah Fussilat, 41:30]
So stand you (Muhammad saw) firm and straight. [Surah Hud, 11:112]
In the hadith:
On the authority of Abu Amr who said: I said: “O Messenger of Allah ﷺ, tell me something about Islam which I could not ask anyone about it save you”. He ﷺ answered: “Say: I believe in Allah and then stand firm and steadfast.” [Sahih Muslim, no. 21, Arba’oon Nawawi]
In history, we see that the Sahabah usually never gave up an act of worship that they started. An excellent example would be that from the life of Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him).
(From a narration of long hadith)… Ibn Umar reported that: “I saw in a dream as if two angels have taken hold of me… (He narrated the dream to the Prophet ﷺ) who replied: “Worthy is this man Abdullah, O that he would pray a night. ” [Sahih Muslim, Book of Merits Pertaining to the Companions of the Prophet (saw), no. 6391]
It is said that after that he never missed his night prayer even during travel. He slept not but for a small part of the night.
Istiqamah does not depend on Ramadan, Hajj or Umrah, but Ramadan could be an opportunity for us to build and maintain the istiqamah skills.
Istiqamah of the Salaf
Sadly, today Muslims face the problem of being inconsistent in their deeds after Ramadan. In fact, Islam discourages this great danger.
Narrated Abdullah bin Amr bin al-Aas that, Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to me, “O Abdullah!, Do not be like so and so who used to pray at night and then stopped the night prayer.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Prayer at Night (Tahajjud), no. 1121]
This hadith makes clear that istiqamah is an essential element to be followed up in terms of ibadah. This hadith also fits the one who leaves night prayer after Ramadan.
Imam Ash-Shafi’ee used to divide his night into three parts: he would write (knowledge) in the first third part, he would pray during the second part and sleep during the last part. (This was his usual schedule.)
In Ramadan, he made himself busy with the recitation of the Quran. It is said that he used to complete Qur’an twice every day. [Al-Bayhaqi, Marifatul Sunan, article- 362,365]
It is reported that Imam Al-Bukhari used to complete a recitation of Quran once a day in Ramadan and would pray taraweeh every night, completing another recitation of Quran in every three nights. [Siyar Alam an- Nubala, 12: 439 by Imam Dhahabi]
This means he would recite the entire Quran and additional 10 Juz in a day.
Conditions To Achieve Istiqmah
According to Ibn al-Qayyim, there are five conditions to achieve istiqamah.
The act should be done for the sake of Allah (Ikhlaas).
It should be done on the basis of ‘ilm (knowledge).
Performing ibaadah should be in the same manner that they have been commanded.
To do it in the best way possible.
Restricting oneself to what is lawful while performing those deeds.
Commentary of 40 hadith of An-Nawawi by Dr. Jamal Ahmad Badi, Page no. 103.
Tips To Achieve Istiqamah:
Have a sound and righteous heart.
Read Quran regularly.
Spend your valuable time in du’aa and dhikr of Allah.
Read the seerah of the Prophet ﷺ and biographies of the Sahabah and Salaf-us-Saliheen (righteous people of the past).
Remind yourself about Jannah and Jahannam.
Fulfill the faraidh (obligations) of the religion properly.
Seek beneficial knowledge i.e., knowledge of the shariah.
Have good companions.
Contemplate on things that turn you away from steadfastness.
Be humble towards Allah.
Factors Which Affect Istiqamah
Recklessness, reluctance, heedlessness, and being misled by desires.
One must know the factors affecting steadfastness in order to avoid the barriers. [Commentary on 40 Hadith of An-Nawawi by Dr. Jamal Ahmad Badi, p. 103]
May Allah make this Ramadan, a turning point in our life. It is worth mentioning about the sayings of salaf, regarding losing steadfastness after Ramadan.
بئس القوم لا يعرفون الله إلا في رمضان
Worst are those people who remember Allah (swt) in Ramadan alone.
May Allah make this Ramadan a turning point in our life.
يا مقلب القلوب ثبت قلبي على دينك
O turners of hearts, keep our hearts firm on your religion. [Sahih Muslim]
ربنا لا تزغ قلوبنا بعد اذ هديتنا و هب لنا من لد نك رحمة
Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after you guided us, and grant us mercy from you. [Qur’an, Surah Aal-Imran, 3: 8]