Part I

Abandoning Negative Habits

Every human being is created with a mix of positive and negative tendencies, so that Allah can test our commitment to self-purification. As we begin this journey of self-development, it is important to remember not to become frustrated. There are some negative characteristics that will cling to us relentlessly and will require persistent effort. We may never be able to remove a quick temper from our personality, but we can control it and prevent it from harming others. We can also learn methods to limit our susceptibility to the whispers of shaitan1 who attacks our hearts at their weakest points. In order to abandon our immoral habits, we first must discover what those habits are. The process of development and purification begins with self-examination. What areas do I need to work on? How can I allow my soul to rise higher and higher, away from what is wrong and closer to what Allah loves? A young Muslim can identify the areas she must work on by spending time assessing and evaluating her own behavior. She can study and interact with people around her, observing them and searching for similarities in her own character.

Finally, it is essential that the young Muslim searches for a group of righteous, sincere friends and mentors who will help him grow closer to Allah, give him feedback on his weaknesses, and advise him well when he needs guidance. Umar ibn Al-Khattab, a great companion of the Prophet, once said, “May Allah have mercy on the one who points out to me a fault in my character.”

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