I was thinking today about the increased lines for Maghrib and Isha Salat which marked the nearness of Ramadan in the masjids of California. Furthermore, about my own past life of heedlessness and pleasure. I was thinking to myself what truly changes a person. Of course it is through the Tawfiq of Allah (swt) but what is its manifestation to us, is it a increase in devotion of some kind etc. This thought dawned upon me for some time until I realized something that many Saints, Jurists, Fuqaha, Shuyook, and many lay people before me have come to realize quite quicker and easier. This is that the way to gain connection of Allah (swt) and change one’s ways is the himma (determination, strength) to leave sins both outwardly and inwardly. And I thought of my own example. That it wasn’t necessarily this or that that truly changed me but it was the strength and determination that was brought by making my prayers, reading the Guidance of Allah (swt), the Quran, being in the gatherings of knowledge, and having the companionship of the people of Allah which entail helped one to abstain from sins. This action of abstaining from sins was far harder and greater then the actions stated before. But what it did was plug the drain. See our Shaykh, may Allah (swt) grant him afiya mentions that our hearts are like buckets. All these ibadaat are like noor entering this bucket of ours. However, one can only truly enjoy this noor if the noor stays in the bucket. Now what happens is that sins is like a hole in this bucket and we continue to fill this bucket with more noor of good deeds but the sins like a hole in the bucket continue to let it all fall through. So to truly attain something one has to first plug that hole in their bucket and then by pouring gallons of noor in their heart will they feel its enjoyment. This is why the Sahaba were never truly known to do such extraneous numbers of dhikrs but rather even a simple prayer would be enough to elevate them because their drains were completely plugged.
May Allah (swt) grant us tawfiq to abstain from both outward and inner sins. Ameen!