|Ways to achieve Istiqāmah
According to scholars of suluk, i.e. scholars of behavior, there are certain steps to be followed in order to achieve Istiqāmah:
1. Always being aware of the final destination, i.e. the Day of Judgment (Akhirah). And to use this awareness in a positive way as a motive to do good deeds. One way to do it is by remembering that a person’s journey towards Akhirah starts the minute he or she passes away and leaves this world. One of the Salafs said: “If you live until the morning do not wait for the evening and if you live until the evening do not wait for the morning.”
2. Commitment (Mushāratah). One has to make a commitment that he or she will be steadfast and will do things in the right way and in the best way possible and to adhere to conjunctions of Islam. Unfortunately, many Muslims are being lenient in making such a commitment.
3. To make continuous efforts (Mujāhadah) to bring that commitment to reality. Some Muslims dare to make the commitment, but dare not to make the effort to make the commitment a reality.
4. Continuous checking and reviewing of one’s deeds (Muraqabah). Being honest with oneself so as not to give false excuses for failing to fulfill a commitment.
5. Self-accountability (Muhāsabah). This should be done twice: Firstly, before we start doing something, ensuring that it pleases Allāh, that we do it for His sake only, realizing the right way it should be done. Secondly, after the action has been done, to check whether we have achieved what we aimed for, and to check for defects and shortcomings, and that we still could have done it better by not being satisfied with our action.
6. Challenging oneself for not doing it perfectly after it has been done. Self-challenge here is a positive one by using it as a motive, and by aiming for improvement and having the intention of doing things better next time. This leads to making another commitment and continual commitments to improve our performance.
7. Striving for improvement (Tahsin). We have to make improvements in all that we do (daily activities, work, actions, good deeds, ibadah, etc.) as one of our objectives.
8. To be humble towards Allāh. Realizing that no one is perfect except Him, seeking His forgiveness, guidance and support.
It should be emphasized that these steps or conditions apply to worldly matters as well as ‘ibādah and good religious deeds.