How can we strive to ensure that our intentions for worship are and remain steadfast for Allah? One way is to make those acts of worship not seen by any but Allah. Hide your good deeds and seek only His attention. His approval. His Pleasure.
It is reported that Shurayḥ the Judge used to have a house in which he would spend time alone on Fridays; no one knew what he did in it. (Al-Dhahabī, Siyar A’lām Al-Nubalā` Vol 4 p105)
It is reported that Dāwūd b. Abī Hind fasted for forty years without his family knowing; he would take his lunch out with him and donate it in the street. (Ibid. Vol 6 p378)
And it is reported that Ayyūb Al-Sakhtiyānī used to pray all night and hide it. In the morning, he would raise his voice as if he had just woken up. (Al-Dhahabī, op. cit. Vol 6 p17)
Al-Hasan al-Basri said, speaking about the striving of the Salaf in hiding their deeds, “Indeed, I came across a people, there was not a single deed on the face of this earth which could be done in secret, that they ever did in public!” These Muslims would strive to supplicate to Allah, and nothing could be heard from them except a low whisper between them and their Lord. That is because Allah says, “Call upon your Lord in humility and privately; indeed, He does not like transgressors.” Qur’an surat al-A’raaf (7:55). (Ibn al-Mubarak, az-Zuhd p35-36.)
Before you start your prayer, ask yourself:
Where is my faith?
Where is my heart?
Where is my consciousness of Allah?
Where is my humility before Allah, to Whom belong the heavens and the earth, and all that is in between?
Where is my shyness with Allah, Who Sees all and Hears all?
Where is my fear, and my hope, and my need and my love?
For Allah, the King of all kings, the Owner of power and sovereignty, the Most High, the Most Kind, the Most Generous, the Most Gentle, the Most Loving to His slaves.
Allah teaches us to repel evil with that which is better: good (Surat al-Mu’minoon 23:96, Surah Fussilat 41:34). So for example, when someone is mean to us, we reply them with kindness. If someone wrongs us, we forgive. When we are tested or faced with a difficulty, we respond with an overflowing of good. We pray a little longer, give a little more in charity, help a little more, smile more. We repel evil with something better. It is a characteristic possessed by the people of the Best Home (Paradise; Surat ar-Ra’d 13:22). It is a quality that is gifted to those who are patient (Surah Fussilat 41:35).
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whosoever would be chaste and modest, Allah will keep him chaste and modest, and whosoever would seek self-sufficiency (relying on no one but Allah), Allah will make him self-sufficient, and whosoever would be patient, Allah will give him patience. And no one is granted a gift better and more comprehensive than patience.” (Muttafaqun ‘alayh)
Our pain and our loss, they do not define us. But our patience does. And believe me when I say that we are well-equipped to handle the challenges that come our way, because Allah, the Extremely Merciful and Kind, He does not burden any soul with more than it can bear (Surat al-Baqarah 2:286). Lastly, patience is a process so practice it, and repel evil with that which is good. These are from ihsaan (excellence). And Allah loves the muhsinoon (those who excel in goodness; Surat al-Baqarah 2:195, Surat al-‘Imran 3:134) and Allah loves those who are patient (Surat al-‘Imran, 3:146).