Act upon those things which are obligatory, may Allah have mercy on you, before the acts that are supererogatory and recommended. Bear in mind that obligatory actions are of different levels of importance, so give preference to the most important of them first, and then to the next in importance. Only then move on to the supererogatory and recommended actions, giving precedence to that which is most important amongst them.
Who to Start With?
Everything that I have mentioned so far has been in relation to oneself before anybody else. So start with yourself before the members of your family and look at what is lacking in you in order that you may start treating it.
So if there is a common deficiency amongst you and one of your companions or family members then join him with you in resolving this problem because the Messenger of Allah sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said,
"Whoever from amongst you sees an evil he should change it with his hand and if he is not able to then with his tongue and if he is not able to, then (he should hate it) in his heart, and that is the weakest level of faith". (Reported by Ahmad, vol.3, p.20, 49, and 92; Muslim Engl. trans. vol.1, p.33, no.79, and others).
Likewise before you think about spending time amongst your companions either for the sake of knowledge, action or inviting to Allah, contemplate and think:
• How is your relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala?
• How is your humbleness in prayer?
• Read about that which will better your condition and that of your prayer, increase your humbleness in it and soften your heart.
• Are you one whose supplications are answered or do you notice most of your supplications not being answered?
• Look into your aqeedah and the level of your certainty and reliance upon Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and observe closely your food and drink - are they from that which is halal or haram, or is there some doubt about their source?
• If the situation was on that requires enjoining the good and forbidding evil, what would you do?
[This is in reference to the saying of the Messenger of Allah sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam "By Him in Who's Hands is my soul, you will enjoin the good and prohibit the evil or (else) Allah will soon send upon you a punishment from Him, then you will call upon Him and He will not answer you". (Reported by Ahmed in his Musnad, at-Tirmidhi)]
... all that to solve the reason why our supplications are not being answered.
Maybe you would benefit from reading hadiths pertaining to the punishment of the grave and that of its bliss, about the terror of the Resurrection, and the torment of the Hell Fire. You could well continue reading for days, weeks, or months, accompanying that with good actions and self-struggle.
It is imperative that a person takes his soul to account and treats his deficiencies. Match yourself against the Qur'an and the Sunnah to know who you are, and look what you have set aside for Allah to know what Allah the Almighty and Majestic has prepared for you because of the saying of the Messenger of Allah sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam:
"whoever wants to know what allah has prepared for him, then he should look to what he has prepared for allah." (Reported by Abu Nu'aym, in al-Hilyah and others. Silsilah as-Saheehah, no.2310)
• Are you prepared for the meeting with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala?
• Have you fulfilled the rights of the creation, one to another? Or are you in a constant state of postponing and deferring?
• Have you converted your knowledge of repentance into crying and penitence?
• Have you turned whatever you have read about the loving for Allah, into real love for your Muslim brothers?
• Do you often visit them, and overlook their faults? Do you aid the needy amongst them, feel delight for their happiness and grieve for their sorrow?
• Do you taste the sweetness and delight of Faith?
If the answer is in the negative then go back to the hadith of the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam:
"There are three attributes whoever is characterised by them will relish the sweetness of faith: he to whom Allah and His Messenger are more beloved than anyone else; he who loves a person solely for the sake of Allah; and he who has as great an abhorrence of entering into disbelief after Allah has rescued him from it, as he has of being thrown into the Fire." (Reported by Ahmad, Musnad, al Bukhari, Engl. trans. vol.1, p.20, no.15); Muslim (Book of Iman, vol.1, p.30, no.67) and others).
• Is Allah and His Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam more beloved to you than anybody else?
• Do you give precedence to the love of Allah over wealth, business, whims and desires?
• Test yourself when you hear the call to prayer, if you notice a desire to delay answering it in order to pursue your interests in trade (for example) then know that Shaytan has succeeded in gradually leading you astray and that your love for Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is deficient. In this way it is upon you to consolidate yourself, giving precedence to that orders of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala over any other worldly matter.
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