We get sidetracked by various situations that we come across; either in our lives or the lives of other people. Society might tell us that we should be worried and concerned about so and so and this and that, but that concern should come from people whom themselves are stable. When a person is not stable them self, they don’t know where they are, then worrying about some other person seemingly may look good, but in reality it is just confusing a person more and more. We are looking for the answers in the wrong place. That is one of the biggest problems that a lot of us have; we look for answers in the wrong place when they are right in front of our face. Everything is right there for us to get to our destination, to get our issues taken care of, to get our questions answered, and to get our problems resolved. It is so simple, but because we have no foundation or base to build upon, then everything else looks attractive to us.
When a person initially begins to focus more on their Islamic progress, then immediately the fundamentals and basics, remain fundamentals and basics, which is why we lose sight of them and try to go into things that are more “advanced” apparently. That happens to beginners often, and beginners need to understand that, it is not their place. The place of a beginner is the beginning. The place of a person who is sort of in the middle is in the middle. One can never forget the beginning and needs to make sure to keep doing those initial steps to maintain the middle. That person who is towards the end needs to make sure that they are doing everything from A to B to C, all the way to Z and everything in between to ensure they stay at that level. Otherwise they will fall. It is like Snakes and Ladders where eventually a person will move up, and there will be something that will bring them down. However, if they come down, they just have to move on. So if someone has ever “landed on a snake”, then the way to solve that situation is to sincerely repent, and say “Ya Allah, I am stupid, and I am an idiot. I should never have done this. Please give me the ability and strength to refrain from these things so that I can move on with my life.”
Our problem is that when we initially start treading the path towards pleasing Allah, we need to be like a snake that sheds its skin. We need to let go of every negative association we had in the past and just focus on ourselves for a while until we reach a point where those harmful associations become harmless. Afterwards, we can advance to being that person that is unaffected by impropriety of others. We will be the person who can turn the flow of the river. For example, if there are 10 people and 9 of them are punctual with their prayers while one of them is not, when the 9 get up to pray, the one who is not punctual will still get up and go pray with the others. The opposite is also true though. Hopefully we can reach a stage where if we are in a similar situation, we can be the one person unaffected by those other nine people, and get up and not only pray ourselves but motivate the other nine people to pray too. But this level is not achieved overnight so we should not assume we have attained this stage right away.
So we need to solidify and reinforce our foundations and basics in order to progress and maintain our position on the board-game of life. It is really simple to play. The Quran, Sunnah, and methodology of our pious predecessors is the manual. We move forward by doing what we have told to do and avoiding whatever we have been told to avoid. There are certain things which act as a “ladder” allowing us to get closer to Allah quickly. There are also “snakes” in the form of sins that significantly distance us from the proximity of Allah. Everyone has to figure out exactly where they are on the board, and with the guidance and assistance of an expert at the game, we can learn to land on the ladders and avoid landing on the snakes. Our experts have been getting help from those whom they considered as experts, and their experts before them, and so on, all the way back to the blessed companions (RA) that were guided by the Expert of all the experts (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam).