Man naturally deteriorates in spirituality over time. This is because no effort is required for this to happen. When a person is not doing any good, he falls into this state of decline. It is not that a person sins then a person becomes bad and only then declines in spirituality. Rather, if a person does not do anything, neither good nor bad, then a person’s spirituality will still deteriorate and will naturally fall and become more and more distant from Allah سبحانه وتعالى. Sinning only increases the rate of deterioration.
In Surah al Asr, Allah سبحانه وتعالى swears upon time:
Indeed man is in a great and constant state of loss
[Surah al Asr 103:1-2]
The translation for this ayah is not just that man is in a great state of loss but that man is in a great and perpetual, recurring state of loss. This means man is in a state of loss for every moment of his existence. This is not just a simple loss but a great loss indeed because for every moment of his existence from the time of birth to the time of death man deteriorates.
Except those who practice good deeds and who counsel one another to the truth and patience.
[Surah al Asr 103:3]
The only way to arrest this natural decline is by practicing and preaching good deeds which in turn strengthen imaan (faith). This ensures a rise in spirituality and checks the decline.
Always remember that spirituality can easily be lost – climbing is difficult but falling is easy. Consolidate what you have i.e. fardh and sunnah acts of ibadah and take things slowly with patience and perseverance.
[This excerpt is based on a brothers’ majlis (gathering for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on 2nd July 1997 as well as a lecture entitled ‘Gift of Time’ delivered by the Shaykh. For a more comprehensive understanding of this topic please refer to that lecture].