‘Standing in taraweeh (Ramadan night prayers) while everyone is weeping – except you. Your friends talk about how exhilarating fasting is for them – but all you feel is irritation; and that is if you feel anything at all. Your du`as (supplications) are just words you repeat – without heart.
What is the point of all of it? Your actions are robotic. Monotone. Without soul.
You wish you could be like that person praying next to you in taraweeh who sobs during every prostration. You want to be the one passionately pleading with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) with humility. Your hope is that you can be that person whose heart is broken before God.
You know what, though? You, too, are special to Allah (swt).
You who recites the Qur’an because you know it is good.
You who prays because Allah (swt) commanded you to.
You who attends lectures on Islam because you want to feel closer to Him.
The Prophet ﷺ told us that the person who recites the Qur’an and struggles with the recitation receives twice the reward: for their recitation and for their effort and struggle. He who struggles to be devoted in prayer gets twice the reward: for the parts that he was devoted, and for his struggle to stay focused.
As long as you are trying, Allah (swt) is with you.
The fact that you get up to pray qiyaam (night prayer) even though you feel nothing is appreciated by Allah (swt). When you mouth the words to your du`a even when your heart is numb, Allah (swt) knows how you feel. And you are rewarded for that. Do not think that this will go to waste.
Allah (swt) gets it.
Because you are not worshipping a feeling. You do not bow down solely for that ‘high’. You prostrate only to the Lord of the feelings and the One who is the Most High. You submit to Him – through your prayers, fasting and supplication – because you know you have a Merciful, Just, Appreciative, Forgiving God, Who has the power to give life to everything that is dead.
Including your heart.
You know you have a Nurturing, Patient, Generous, Subtle and Kind Lord who can bring back whatever is lost.
He can bring you back.
So to the heart that is numb: Do not give up just yet. Your heart is on a journey. You are first and foremost worshiping your Lord. And He has promised you:
“And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” (Qur’an, 29:69)
As long as you are doing good, Allah (swt) will guide you and He is with you. Do you know what that means?
Allah (swt) being with someone means more care, honoring and preference for that person.
And you know what else? Allah loves what you do. He tells us:
“Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – the Most Merciful will appoint for them affection.” (Qur’an, 19:96)
Allah will not only love you, but He will show that love for you. He will bestow His affection upon you, and your heart will feel it.
So keep trekking. Your heart will open – He is, after all, al-Fattah. Al-Fattah is He who opens whatever is closed; your heart included. You might wonder when and how, but just know that it will happen. It could be on the last night of Ramadan or it could be a month after Ramadan – your heart will open, God willing. The daily exercise you do might not look like much, but you will inevitably see the results if you persevere. Similarly, your good actions slowly chip away at what has been hardening your heart and, eventually, you will feel.
And if it gets too much, just talk to Allah (swt). Tell Him how you feel, and tell Him how you want to feel. Do it every night, and every time you feel empty. God is there; never underestimate your turning to Him. ‘Turning to Him’ does not just mean prayers and supplications; you can just tell Him what is in your heart.
On the Day of Judgment, you will be grateful for your perseverance and your hope in Him, because it will matter more than you will ever know. So push yourself and exert all the effort you can muster. The tiniest ray of light can brighten the darkest of places.’