The literal meaning of ‘Istiqāmah’ (الإستقامة), to go straight into the right direction, acting rightly, allowing no deviation.
It is derived from the stem ‘Qiyyam’, (قيام), which implies the continuity of doing something, following up with it and making sure that it is done in the right way and there is neither deviation nor swerving.
The term has been used by the Book (القرآن — Qur’an) in many verses ( آيات — āyāt). Lord the Almighty (الله) revealed, Therefore, stand firm [on the Straight Path] as you are commanded and those who turn in repentance with you. And do not transgress, for He (الله) sees well all that you do (QS 11:112).
Indeed it is a difficult task to achieve Istiqāmah, hence, the Prophet (PBUH) (محمد), said: “Be straight on the path or be close to it”.
Lord the Almighty (الله) also revealed, So unto this [religion] invite [the people]. Stand steadfast as you are commanded and do not follow their desires (QS 42:15).
Based on these two verses (آيات — āyāt), it can be inferred that Istiqāmah (الإستقامة) is to stand firm and steadfast to what we have been commanded by the Lord (الله), ex. to fulfill obligations (The Five Pillars of Islam — Arkān Al-Islām — أركان الإسلام ) and to avoid Harām (حَرَام — Harām — Forbidden Act).
Also, we should not allow ourselves to follow or be misleading by desires (نَفْس — Nafs), whether it is our desires or the desires of others, as it will cause deviation and lead us astray.
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