The 21st hadith in Imam an-Nawawi’s collection (read here) deals with the subject of istiqamah (steadfastness). This is a very important topic especially when we consider the many tests and trials that we as an ummah are currently facing. It is of utmost importance that we not only understand the concept of istiqamah, but we strive to attain it.
Say ‘I Believe in Allah’
This is not just a single statement, rather it encompasses Islam as a whole. Belief in Allah is not just belief in the heart, but it is also words and actions. The Prophet also shows us that istiqamah comes only after we start to practice our faith.
What is Istiqamah?
The word istiqamah (from the root qaama) means to go straight into the right direction, acting rightly, allowing no deviation. It is from the same root that the word mustaqeem is derived (i.e. sirat al-mustaqeem – the straight path). It can be translated as ‘steadfastness’.
فَاسْتَقِمْ كَمَا أُمِرْتَ وَمَن تَابَ مَعَكَ وَلَا تَطْغَوْا ۚ إِنَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ
So stand you (O Muhammad) firm and straight as you are commanded and those who turn in repentance with you, and transgress not. Verily, He is All-Seer of what you do. [Surat Hud, 12:112]
Ibn Abbas said that no other verse from the entire Qur’an was revealed upon the Messenger that was harder upon him than this verse. It was due to this verse that the Prophet said : “Surat Hud and its companions have made my hair white” Why was this? Because istiqamah is very difficult to attain. The scholars said that istiqamah is the hardest thing to hold on to.
The Companions on the Meaning of Istiqamah
Abu Bakr when asked about the meaning of istiqamah, replied: “That you do not associate partners with Allah.
Umar ibn al-Khattab said: “It is that you should be steadfast on the matters that are obligated , and to abandon the prohibitions.”
Uthman ibn Affan said: “ To have ikhlas (sincerity) to Allah only in doing actions .”
Ibn Abbas said: “It means to fulfill your duties to Allah.”
How to Remain Steadfast
- Keep the company of good people. (Man is on the deen of his friends)
- Keep connected to the Qur’an, through its recital, study and implementation.
- Reflect and question yourself daily. E.g. are you headed the right way? Are your intentions sincere?
- Learn to take advice from others.
May Allah grant us all steadfastness and firmness upon the deen.