BY Jinan Yousef
Developing Our Relationship with Allah (part 2).
In July 2006, I was watching the news report on Israel’s devastating attack on Lebanon. As I saw the images of severed bodies and heard the cries for help, the frustration and helplessness I felt was overwhelming. So I decided to pray while reciting from the mus’haf (hardcopy of the Qur’an, which is the word of God). As I was reading, I arrived at the verse:
“Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said, ‘When is the help of Allah?’ Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.” [Qur’an, 2:214]
And that was the answer. As human beings, we will be tested. But this doesn’t mean that we are going to live our lives in perpetual hardship, because ‘unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.’ So what does it mean when we are going through hardship? Is Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) angry with us? What if there is no way out?
Whenever we go through hardship, there are things we need to know with certainty. Allah سبحانه وتعالى tells us in the Qur’an:
“[…] Allah will bring about, after hardship, ease.” [Qur’an, 65:7]
Certain hardships are so consuming that we cannot focus on anything but the difficulty. But we have to remember that if we were to enumerate the blessings of Allah سبحانه وتعالى, we would not be able to count them. Reminding ourselves of the other blessings in our lives helps us to see the test within the context of the grand scheme of things. Just the fact that you can make sajda (prostration), and call out, “O Allah!” is a blessing that surpasses all others.
There is a purpose behind the trial, and this purpose corresponds to our internal state and our relationship with Allah سبحانه وتعالى. Allah سبحانه وتعالى has 99 Beautiful Names, and it should suffice us to know that He is the Most Merciful, the Most Just and the Most Wise. Your test is not being put upon you by a random being, but by the Almighty Allah, who is closer to us than our jugular vein.
Tests are a way to purify us. The Prophet ﷺ said, “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that,” [Bukhari]. Our ultimate aim is to earn Allah’s pleasure and Jannah (paradise), and all of us fall short in truly worshiping Allah سبحانه وتعالى as He should be worshiped. Many of us fail to ask for forgiveness regularly, or to reflect on our state and return to Allah سبحانه وتعالى. These tests, as burdensome as they are, ease our burden on the Day of Judgment, if we respond with patience.
Trials also have a way of reminding us of our purpose. If we are far from Allah سبحانه وتعالى, the test is usually to bring us close to Him. Whatever heedlessness we are engaging in, the test should make us realize we have no one, no one at all, but Him.
Sheikh Ratib an-Nabulsi related a story about a man in Syria. This man would always mock Islam. He thought people who ‘wasted their time’ praying were silly. No matter how much da’wah (calling, used to refer to inviting people to learn about Islam) the sheikh gave him, the man remained in this state. He then had a daughter, and this daughter became very sick. He went to so many doctors, even traveling abroad to Europe, but no one could help him. After that, he started praying and turning to Allah سبحانه وتعالى. Years later, his daughter was better and healthy. Both his dunya (this life) and akhira (the next life) were saved.
If we are close to Allah سبحانه وتعالى, it is to test our resilience. Are we only close to Allah سبحانه وتعالى in times of ease, or does our trust extend to the times of hardship? When we are tested, do we leave the good deeds that we used to do? Allah سبحانه وتعالى describes such people in the following verse:
“And of the people is he who worships Allah on an edge. If he is touched by good, he is reassured by it; but if he is struck by trial, he turns on his face [to the other direction]. He has lost [this] world and the Hereafter. That is what is the manifest loss.” [Qur’an, 22:11]
This may seem counter-intuitive, but tests are also out of Allah’s love. The Prophet ﷺ said, “When Allah loves a servant, He tests him,” [Tirmidhi]. In a hadith qudsi (a hadith relating the words of Allah [swt]), Allah سبحانه وتعالى tells Jibreel to delay the response to the du`a’ of a servant because Allah سبحانه وتعالى loves hearing his voice [Tabarani]. Sometimes the answer to a test is that need for Allah سبحانه وتعالى, those long hours spent in the night, and the tears of sincerity.
May Allah سبحانه وتعالى make us of those who constantly turn to Him, in hardship and ease.
“[He is] the Lord of the East and the West; there is no deity except Him, so take Him as Disposer of [your] affairs.” (Qur’an, 73:9)
Have you ever had that feeling of anxiety in your heart? What if it doesn’t work out? What if you never get over it? The truth is, we have all felt this way at some point in our lives. Sometimes, the uncertainty is just too much to bear, or the hardship of a moment prevents us from seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. At times we desperately want some kind of medicine, a pill perhaps, to miraculously take these worries away.
But we do have that. This pill is called tawakkul. Like any pill, it’s sometimes hard to swallow. There are moments when we wonder whether this medicine even works, or if it is just some tool to make us simply believe we can be better. But Allah, the One – the only One – in control of this universe has said:
“…And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him.” (Qur’an, 65:3)
So what does it mean to rely on Allah; to have tawakkul in Him?
It means to be firm in your heart. Ibn Ata’illah stated:
“Relieve yourself of worry after you have planned; do not concern yourself with what Allah has undertaken on your behalf.”
With tawakkul, our external burden or outward struggle is to plan, to use our means, and to work hard, but in our heart there is no longer the worry of this burden. If you are sick, you seek out the best option: a professional doctor. If you are applying to university, you take your time in preparing your application to meet the criteria. But also know that after you have done your daily work and faced struggles, you should feel a resounding rest in your heart. Why?
Allah is Al-Wakeel; this means that it is He who controls His worshipers’ affairs and takes care of them. He never abandons them nor leaves them to another source. He has given Himself this Name and made it known to us, so that we know this is an essential attribute of His; thus, we will never be let down insha’Allah. Even if things do not go according to plan, we know that Allah will give us something that is better. We could not have entrusted our affairs to anyone better than Him. This is why, whenever the idea of relying on Allah is mentioned in the Qur’an, Allah reminds us of His power:
“[He is] the Lord of the East and the West; there is no deity except Him, so take Him as Disposer of [your] affairs.” (Qur’an, 73:9)
And Allah says,
“…Rely upon the Ever-Living who does not die…” (Qur’an, 25:58)
Allah is telling us in Surat Al-Muzzammil that He is the Lord of the East and the West, so will our needs ever go outside of the East and the West? He tells us in Surat Al-Fuqan to put our complete trust in Him, Who never dies, so how can we put our trust in people who do?
But if the condition of tawakkul is that we use our provisions and resources, what if we lack the means?
Imam Ahmad said the happiest day of his life was when he woke up one morning only to find no food in his home, because he knew that on this day he had to rely completely on Allah. Imam Ahmad was very, very poor since he didn’t have the means as we do to just go to the market and buy what his heart desired.
Tawakkul also requires training. We are human, and every now and then, we will feel this uncertainty, a loneliness, this knot in the stomach that maybe our situation won’t work out. And it’s ok to feel like this because it is about reminding ourselves to trust Allah at that precise moment. If we truly rely on Allah, in the way we rely on our doctor when we know we have the best one around, this trust can only give us the peace of mind and tranquility of heart knowing that Allah is always doing the best for us. This tranquility is developed when we face situations of discomfort and uncertainty. When we truly have tawakkul, we will never seek haram means to escape our situation, because we believe it is only Allah who determines the result.
Whenever we feel uncertain, let’s take a dose of tawakkul. Do what you can, but have trust in the guarantee that Allah will give you the result you need.
“Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala سبحانه وتعالى probably hates me. I am so bad; I always mess up. I don’t deserve any good from Allah سبحانه وتعالى, and as punishment, I probably will not be given success in my other endeavors.”
How many people have felt this way at some point? Sometimes, our sins weigh heavily on us. We recognize our mistakes but instead of turning back to Allah سبحانه وتعالى, we turn away. We feel that we must be so bad that even the All-Merciful will reject us. Other times, we do not see the fruits of our perseverance and believe that we will not be given what we have worked so hard for. Perhaps we do not even begin an endeavor, thinking there is no use.
Unfortunately, when we do this, we attribute human qualities to Allah سبحانه وتعالى. We act as if Allah سبحانه وتعالى has some grudge against us that will heal as soon as He punishes us or rejects one of our requests. We act as though Allah سبحانه وتعالى is just waiting for us to slip up and say “Ha! Caught you!” We assume that we have to “deserve” the mercy of Allah by being almost perfect. This sounds absurd when articulated, but our actions unfortunately indicate that we believe otherwise.
What does this thought process actually tell us about ourselves? It tells us that we did not really have hope in Him to begin with. Rather, our hope was in what we believed to be our own good deeds or abilities. Once we slip up or feel that we do not have the strength to continue, we do not think well enough of Allah سبحانه وتعالى to believe that He will guide us through. We must understand that when we think well of Allah, that is what we will find.
Think well of Allah سبحانه وتعالى when embarking on something difficult, even if you fail
When the most beloved person to Allah سبحانه وتعالى, the Prophet ﷺ, was thinking of migrating to Madina, he started talking to all of the different tribes that came for Hajj in the hopes that one of them would accept Islam or at least offer the believers protection. He spoke to twenty-six different tribes and was rejected by all of them. Some of the tribes even cursed and mocked him. Let’s stop here. He made da`wah (calling to Islam) to twenty-six tribes. Can you imagine the feeling of being rejected by five? What would happen after ten rejected you? How low would your morale be? When would you have given up?
Finally, he ﷺ met a few youth from Madina who believed in his message. He did not despair because he had a good opinion of Allah سبحانه وتعالى, which motivated him; he knew Allah would not leave him ﷺ.
Many people give up in the face of something seemingly impossible. Sometimes, we give up on an individual level: getting married, getting that job we want; sometimes it is on a global level, such as injustice in the Muslim world. The point of the struggle is to realize who is in charge. It is Allah سبحانه وتعالى. Allah سبحانه وتعالى has told us that He is as His servant’s think of Him. If we think well, then that is what we will find. If we do not, then that is what we will find. Your opinion should be that Allah سبحانه وتعالى is so Merciful that He will come to your aid.
What happens when we are faced with failure? When one does not get something, even if their intention was for the sake of Allah سبحانه وتعالى, they should not feel disheartened. You have a good opinion of Allah سبحانه وتعالى; “failure” is just a minor setback. You need to be tested to strengthen your resolve. If you do not get that amazing job you want, know that Allah سبحانه وتعالى has saved something better for you. Only He knows what is best for you.
Think well of Allah when you sin
What about when we constantly slip-up and cannot leave a certain sin? For some of us, this makes us give up on ourselves; we believe we don’t deserve any good from Allah. We have to remember that Allah سبحانه وتعالى is al-Wadud (the Most Loving). His Mercy overcomes His blame. It is not about deserving. If you thank Allah, He gives you more. It is not because we deserve more, it is because Allah is that Great. He is that Generous. Shaytan (the devil) makes us focus on how bad we are in order that we despair of Allah’s mercy, when the Prophet ﷺ taught us: “All the children of Adam constantly err, but the best of those who constantly err are those who constantly repent.” [Tirmidhi]
The Prophet ﷺ said that “One of the signs of excellence of one’s worship is thinking well of Allah سبحانه وتعالى.” [Ahmad] This does not mean that we should not reflect on our state. Al-Hasan al-Basri said “A true believer is one who thinks well of Allah سبحانه وتعالى and therefore does good, whereas the disobedient one thinks bad of Allah سبحانه وتعالى and therefore does bad.” If we think well of Allah, no matter how bad we are, we also have hope that we can be better and thus we strive to do good deeds. If we think badly of Allah, we assume that He will never forgive us nor can He make us better; so we continue to sin. However, we should not make a mockery of this concept and deliberately sin, thinking Allah سبحانه وتعالى will forgive us anyway. One of the key principles of repentance is regret. If we do not truly regret the sin, and simply ask for forgiveness to have that sin erased, we are paying lip service. Remember, “You will only get what you intend.” [Bukhari]
When we do wrong, let us feel guilty, but let us also flee to Allah سبحانه وتعالى. Have a good opinion of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. If you are sincere, He will forgive you. He is that forgiving. He is that Great. He is that Magnanimous. Even when we commit the same sin again and again and again, our good opinion of Allah سبحانه وتعالى should let us know that as long as we constantly strive against our nafs (lower self) and against that part of us that wants to indulge in that sin, we have already been forgiven. At the end of the day, it is shaytan who wants us to go to hell, not Allah. Allah tells us in the Qur’an:
“Allah wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow [their] passions want you to digress [into] a great deviation.” (Qur’an, 4:27)
Shaytan does not just want you to go to hell, but also wants to ensure you live in hell in this world. Just like he despaired, he wants you to despair. Our good opinion of Allah سبحانه وتعالى should never allow us to do that. Allah سبحانه وتعالى wants to accept your repentance, because your repenting is recognition of His Name al-Ghaffar (the One who constantly forgives).
Just as the Prophet ﷺ told us that Allah سبحانه وتعالى is too gracious to turn away the hand that asks Him , He is also too Merciful to disappoint you and your good opinion of Him.
Think well of Allah when you are tested
Tests come to us in a myriad of ways. We have already discussed why tests happen in a previous post, so I will not discuss it too much here. We should just know that thinking well of Allah سبحانه وتعالى should make us look beyond the test. This test is something from Allah سبحانه وتعالى, and He wants to teach us, to purify us from sin, to strengthen us, and to bring us closer to Him. We do not have a cruel God; our God is the Most Merciful of those who show Mercy. When we approach our tests with that frame of mind, we cannot but gain from our experience, insha’Allah.
So what does it mean to think well of Allah?
It means to take that step. When we mess up, even if we messed up in a major way, we return to Him. We return to Him recognizing that what we did was truly horrible, but we ask for His forgiveness because we know He is that forgiving, and that His Mercy encompasses everything. When we mess up again and again, and feel sick of ourselves, we return to Him with a sincere du’a (supplication) to help us stop, knowing that He will respond. It means having grand hopes and aspirations, and working towards them knowing that Allah سبحانه وتعالى “will not allow to be lost the reward of any who did well in deeds.” (Qur’an, 18:30)
In our journey to gain tranquility of the heart, we explored what we need to know when faced with difficult situations. We need to understand that Allah has told us we will be tested, that these tests are for a reason, and that there will be relief insha’Allah (God willing). When we are worried thinking about the future, we need to work hard but have full trust in Allah that He will not leave us, and we must always think well of Allah because that is what we will find.
Yet in certain circumstances we just feel… broken. Perhaps it is the death of someone close, perhaps a hurtful word, or perhaps a reason we can not pinpoint. Yet this feeling of brokenness can be an invitation to be better acquainted with al-Jabbar.
But isn’t al-Jabbar one of the Names that indicates Majesty and Strength, not Mercy and Beauty?
The root of al-Jabbar is ja-ba-ra and has a wide variety of meanings indicating Allah’s strength and majesty,. One of the basic meanings of this name is the One who compels and restores, and demonstrates Allah’s Majesty and Strength over His servants. This is a Name for the tyrants and oppressors to be aware of, because their misdeeds will not go unpunished.
Yet this Name has another dimension: al-Jabbar is the One who is able to restore and mend what is broken. Some of the great scholars would supplicate “Ya Jaabir kul kaseer” when they were faced with overwhelming difficulty, meaning “Oh You who mends everything that is broken.” The Arabic word for a splint that is used to help an arm heal when it is broken is “jibeera” from the same root ja-ba-ra. Thus, when we feel broken, we need to go to the only One who can mend our state–al-Jabbar. Sometimes when we get this broken feeling, shaytan (satan) tells us not to go to Allah because we are being hypocritical by only going to Allah when we are down. Yet this is untrue– Allah has named Himself al-Jabbar and given Himself this attribute; you cannot go to the One whose attribute is mending what is broken, and not be healed by Him.
The example of the Prophet ﷺ is a beautiful one. Imagine being 50 years old, having just lost both your wife of twenty-five years and your uncle who took care of you as a child. Imagine walking into a town in order to ask people for their protection, and instead have them throw stones at you until your feet bleed. How would you have felt? How exhausted, both spiritually and physically, would you have been? And yet, the Prophet ﷺ calls out to Allah in one of the most beautiful and heartfelt du`a’ (supplication):
“O Allah! To you alone I complain my weakness, my scarcity of resources, and the humiliation I have been subjected to by people. O Most Merciful of those who have mercy! You are the Lord of the weak, and You are My Lord too.
To whom have you entrusted me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy to whom you have granted authority over my affair?
But as long as You are not angry with me, I do no care, except that Your favor is a more expansive relief to me. I seek refuge in the light of Your Face by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set right, lest Your anger or Your displeasure descend upon me.
Yours is the right to reproach until You are pleased. There is no power and no might except by You.”
Read those words carefully. The du`a’ of the Prophet ﷺ was not “O Allah, please give me x and y.” It was literally the call of someone broken– complaining to Allah of his situation and expressing to Allah how he felt. What did Allah give him? A young boy by the name of Addaas saw the Prophet ﷺ, came to him with some grapes and kissed his bleeding feet. That is al-Jabbar. Imagine how the Prophet ﷺ must have felt after that, the relief he must have felt after the cruelty he was subjected to. And al-Jabbar healed the broken heart of the Prophet ﷺ in another way – He bestowed upon him the miraculous journey of al-Israa wal Mi’raaj (when the Prophet ﷺ traveled from Makkah to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem to the Heavens in one night).
If we think about the journey, it did not accomplish a great victory nor did it help to convince the Quraysh that he was a Prophet. Rather, Allah honored him after all the hardship he had gone through. Think of the resolve the Prophet ﷺ must have had in his heart and the tranquility he must have felt after such an experience.
Therefore, we have to always remind ourselves of this blessed name al-Jabbar; Allah will mend your broken heart. It may be through a kind word from someone that brightens your day or it may be a talk that you attend. It may even be something greater. But call on Allah like the Prophet ﷺ did, recognizing this attribute, and know that He will manifest this Name in your life
The Prophet ﷺ and his companions knew something that is not often displayed today. They were able to face difficulty with a certain determination in their heart; they were grateful for even the seemingly small blessings; they took pleasure in praying at night while the people were asleep. What they knew was this: if they sought Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) they would not be let down. This is the secret to the statement of Abu Bakr radiAllah `anhu رضي الله عنه to the Prophet ﷺ during the battle of Badr, when the Prophet ﷺ was crying out to Allah سبحانه وتعالى in an impassioned du`a’(supplication) until his cloak fell from his shoulder. Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه said, “O Messenger of Allah, this prayer of yours to your Lord will suffice you, and He will fulfill for you what He has promised you!” And He did- the battle was won by the Muslims.
Human desires are insatiable. And for this reason, the more we chase after the dunya (physical world), the less we are satisfied. If we chase after the love of a human being, especially in ways that are not halal (lawful), inevitably we will be let down because no human being is perfect. We may chase after compliments, praise and attention – but after that momentary pleasure, it will fade away. What will be left is mere emptiness. We go after money, power and status – but it won’t end there, because we will always want more. And our hearts will always be perturbed because these things are temporary. Once we have reached the goal, the pleasure we feel will wear away and we will want something else or something more.
If we find ourselves in that position, these words are hard to read because, in a sense, we don’t want to give up the chase. We think, perhaps, somehow, we will find that which we are looking for. It bothers us to have to prioritize Allah and His religion in our lives, because that might get in the way of worldly pleasures. But “truly it is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts find rest.” (Qur’an, 13:28)
We may have heard this verse a hundred times before. However, the one thing that we must know is that if we truly want that comfort in the heart, it must be through seeking Him.
To be more specific, what is meant here is not that we shouldn’t seek to be successful in the dunya, or that we shouldn’t seek companionship. Rather what is meant is the way in which we do it. Look at the Prophet ﷺ. He could have compromised his principles when Quraysh offered him power, wealth and women for him to tone down his message. They even tried to negotiate a power-sharing agreement whereby the other gods would be worshiped on some days and the One would be worshiped on others. Declining these offers caused the Prophet ﷺ physical hardship, but he was at rest in his heart. Why? Because he knew that ultimately to seek dunya for the sake of dunya was not the goal, no matter how tempting it might be. He knew that whatever he gave up was temporary, because the real comfort in this world is with Allah. And he was not let down.
So when we read the Qur’an, and Allah tells us He is with the patient – let us take comfort in that. When the Prophet ﷺ tells us that Allah is too shy to turn away the hand that asks Him with nothing, let our hearts find rest in that Allah indeed has heard our du`a’ and will give us something.
Therefore, as we near the end of this section of things to know in seeking tranquility of the heart, let us take the Prophet ﷺ as the example we should aspire to. He knew that if he followed the path to Allah, no matter the physical hardships, Allah’s promise would prevail. And that gave him ultimate peace at heart.
“[And it will be said], ‘Indeed, this is for you a reward, and your effort has been appreciated.’” (Qur’an, 76:22)
Failure can take a toll on a person: that feeling of trying and trying, over and over, yet somehow never getting where you want to be. Or sometimes the task just seems too huge to achieve; is there even any use?
We touched upon this a little when discussing thinking well of Allah and tawakkul. But this aspect involves knowing that nothing ever goes to waste. In the verse above, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala tells us our sa’y (effort) is appreciated; it is recognized. That is what we get rewarded for. Whether or not we succeed, it is ultimately the effort that we put in that Allah سبحانه وتعالى takes into account. One of Allah’s Names is Ash-Shakoor: He is Appreciative of what you do, no matter how small, and He rewards it abundantly. Imagine: Allah سبحانه وتعالى is so appreciative, He even rewards our intention! Therefore, we know that those who intend to do well, but cannot do it, are still rewarded. This feeling of failure is actually a deception from shaytan to deter us from trying. He promotes neglect: “Don’t work on your relationship with your parents, they’ll never change,” and makes us doubt: “do you really think that your tiny effort is going to have an effect?” But Allah سبحانه وتعالى rewards you when you try because your trying is testament to the fact that even though you know you are a minor player, you are doing it for His sake.
Look at this verse from Surat al-Baqarah:
“Or take the one who passed by a ruined town. He said, ‘How will God give this life when it has died?’ So God made him die for a hundred years, and then raised him up, saying, ‘How long did you stay like that?’ He answered, ‘A day, or part of a day.’ God said, ‘No, you stayed like that for a hundred years. Look at your food and drink: they have not gone bad. Look at your donkey- We will make you a sign for the people; look at the bones: see how We bring them together and clothe them with ﬂesh!’ When all became clear to him, he said, ‘Now I know that God has power over everything.” (Qur’an, 2:259)
This verse describes Prophet Uzayr (`alayhi assalam) when Allah سبحانه وتعالى sent him to revive deserted Jerusalem. Jerusalem was ruined by an unjust king, and when Uzayr (as) arrived, it was so barren and deserted that he wondered how Allah would give life to this dead place. It seemed impossible. Still he worked the whole day, doing what he could with the little tools that he had, and laid to rest. As an example to him and to us, Allah سبحانه وتعالى caused him to die and brought him back to life 100 years later. Not only was this a miracle as his food and drink did not rot either, but Jerusalem was filled with new people and life. The Prophet Uzayr (as) would never have known that his small effort would culminate, by the will of Allah سبحانه وتعالى, in bringing the town back to life. But Allah سبحانه وتعالى shows him how it does, as an example to us – so that we never say “it’s a waste of time.”
Subhan’Allah. Sometimes we deal with Allah سبحانه وتعالى as though He is a human being Who doesn’t know about the worry we feel, the stress, the striving. When we fail to see the results of our effort, we think that we failed and that it was a waste of time. But Allah سبحانه وتعالى tells us:
“And never is your Lord forgetful…” (Qur’an, 19:64)
If you try to work on your relationship with your family members but to no avail, remember, Allah knows about your pain. He won’t forget it, and He will give you compensation for it accordingly. If you want to work into making your community better, but something happens whereby everything you invested in it is suddenly gone, Allah always knows. The point is that we are not just about dunya even though we’re in it. When we fall, we pick ourselves back up again because we are also about the akhirah – our ultimate hope is in Him.
However, this doesn’t mean that we do the same thing over and over again knowing that it’s not working. What it means is not being defeated internally. We are Muslims, when one thing in our lives fails, it doesn’t make us feel down for an extended period of time because we know that even a step taken for the sake of Allah سبحانه وتعالى is rewarded. Let’s keep moving insha’Allah.
Don’t think that your efforts have been wasted. They have not. They are recorded with Ash-Shakoor, and if you don’t see the fruits of your labor in this life, surely Allah سبحانه وتعالى is keeping something amazing for you in the next.
Abu Darda radiAllahu `anhu (may Allah be pleased with him) was one of the righteous companions of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him). Once, a man came running to him saying, “O Abu Darda, your house has burned down!” He said: “No, it cannot be burned!” The man insisted that a fire had engulfed the whole neighborhood and his house was of the ones that had burned down. Abu Darda رضي الله عنه responded, with full certainty, “Allah will never allow this to happen because of the words that I heard from the Prophet ﷺ. Whoever says these words in the beginning of a day, the Prophet ﷺ told us, will not be afflicted by a misfortune until the end of the day, and whoever says these words in the evening will not be afflicted until morning.” He told him the words that he had recited that day as he had learned from the Prophet ﷺ, and when they both went to inspect the neighborhood, it turned out that most of the other houses had burned down, except the house of Abu Darda رضي الله عنه. [Ibn As-Sinny, Tabarani]
This is a remarkable story. It is not simply remarkable because his house did not burn down – for Allah subhanahu wa ta`la سبحانه وتعالى is capable of all things. It is remarkable because Abu Darda رضي الله عنه was so sure of the words of the Prophet ﷺ, that even someone telling him that he saw the whole neighborhood burn down did not shake his faith. It is similar to the faith of Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه, who said “If he [the Prophet ﷺ] has said it, then it is true.”
Truly yaqeen (certainty) is the soul of faith.
This is the final article in the section on things to know, and thus we have to conclude with this topic – the topic of certainty. That is because simply knowing we have to think well of Allah, or have trust, won’t truly help us when we need it if we are not sure. Being sure (having yaqeen) means certainty in the Strength of Allah, in His Mercy, in His promise, and in everything that we talked about in the past seven articles. It is certainty that He can make us better, save us and help us. We need to ask ourselves – how firm is that certainty?
We discussed how shaytan makes us doubt – that is the best he can do. And that is precisely what we must fight, because the first description of those who have taqwa (God-consciousness) in the Qur’an is:
“Who believe in the unseen…” (Qur’an, 2:3)
Our faith should be as strong as if we can see. If you visited a certain place and saw it with your own eyes, chances are no matter what, no one can tell you it doesn’t exist, especially if you have souvenirs. The Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet ﷺ should be as true to us as though we have visited a place – it should be that real. Many of us have experienced the bounty of Allah سبحانه وتعالى – these are our souvenirs. So when things go wrong in our life, we need to be able to go back to that place and hold onto those souvenirs as our anchors – and for that certainty, the reward is immeasurable.
Does that mean nothing bad will ever happen? Of course not. But you will able to see beyond the immediate. Your certainty in Allah سبحانه وتعالى means you know; when bad things befall you, you will reflect on why tests happen and try to learn from the experience. When things turn out well, you know to fall into prostration because that result could not have occurred except by the will and grace of Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
There is a beautiful du`a’ (supplication) in this regard. The Prophet ﷺ used to supplicate:
“O Allah! Grant us such fear of You as will come between us and acts of disobedience to You; such obedience to You as will bring us to Your Garden; and such certainty that the calamities of this world will be made easy for us by You. “1 [Tirmidhi]
Calamities without doubt test our faith, and this is why the Prophet ﷺ taught us to pray for certainty – so that these calamities are made easier.
Be like the companions. Their faith never wavered because they were certain in Allah’s Words in the Qur’an, and they were certain in what the Prophet ﷺ taught them. They never stopped asking Allah, because they knew it is only Allah that responds to the du`a’ of the distressed.2.
They never stopped seeking forgiveness, even when they felt their sins were like mountains, because they knew that Allah’s Hands are open to accept the repentant sinner, over and over again.3 They knew to work hard even if they never saw the fruits of their labor, because they knew that every drop of sweat was recorded with Allah and would never ever go to waste.4 They didn’t let other people’s rudeness get to them, because if they were patient and said words of peace, they were of the people that Allah praised in the Qur’an.5 They fled from Allah, only to Him.
Be like the companions. Have faith.
(1) Part of a longer du’a which continues: “Let us enjoy our hearing, our sight and our faculties as long as You grant us life, and let it be the last to be taken away from us. Avenge us from those who have wronged us and help us against our enemies. Let no calamity be fall our religion; let not worldly affairs be our greatest care or all about which we know; and let not those who have no fear of You and who do not show mercy toward us rule over us.” ↩
(2) “Is He (not best) who responds to the desperate one when he calls upon Him and removes evil and makes you inheritors of the earth? Is there a deity with Allah? Little do you remember.” (Qur’an, 27:62) ↩
( 3) The Prophet ﷺ said “Verily, Allah extends His hand out at night in order to accept the repentance of the sinner by day. And He extends His hand out during the day in order to accept the repentance of the sinner by night, until (the day) when the sun will rise from its west.” (Muslim) ↩
(4) “Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – indeed, We will not allow to be lost the reward of any who did well in deeds” (Qur’an, 18:30) ↩
(5) “The servants of the Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily and when the ignorant address them harshly, they say words of peace,” (Qur’an, 25:63) ↩
Insha’Allah next week we will begin with the things we have to do in our journey to achieve tranquility of the heart.
The Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) was reportedly asked: “Which of our companions are best?” He replied: “One whose appearance reminds you of God, and whose speech increases you in knowledge, and whose actions remind you of the hereafter.”1
Who do we spend the most time with? Chances are for many of us (especially if we are students), they are our friends. Friends are the people we share things with, talk to regularly, and experience a large part of our life with. This is why the Prophet ﷺ said: “A person is on the religion of his companions. Therefore let every one of you carefully consider the company he keeps.” [Tirmidhi]
While the previous article talked about something personal between us and God (prayer), an integral part to gaining tranquility of the heart is to be mindful of our surroundings and the people we spend most of our time with. Is it any wonder that we find our hearts perturbed, when it was reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Do not speak much without mentioning Allah, for too much speech without mentioning Allah hardens the heart, and the hard-hearted are the farthest of all people from Allah Most High.” [Tirmidhi]
We need to be mindful of this because part of the reason for our lack of khushoo’ (devotion) in salah (prayer) is precisely because the time spent between prayers is spent in heedlessness. While wudhu (ablution) and prayer wash away our minor sins, at times our hardened hearts prevent us from truly tasting the sweetness of prayer, due to the fact that we hardly remember Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) outside of prayer.
The Prophet ﷺ reminds us of the importance of good company in this hadith (record of the Prophet ﷺ): “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.” [Bukhari, Muslim]
Most of us know this hadith, but we rarely see it from the perspective of gaining tranquility of the heart. We may have amazing friends whom we have shared much with, yet we have not developed spiritually with them. When things go wrong in our life, we turn to people for advice but we are not reminded of the ultimate Source of Peace—as-Salaam [Allah]. Thus we need to try to create an environment. We can start with something simple, such as waking each other up for fajr (the pre-dawn prayer), or starting a book club by reading something about the Prophet ﷺ.
Subhan Allah (glory be to God), if we start here, we could be of the people who are under the shade of Allah on the Day of Judgment, as the Prophet ﷺ told us that one of the seven categories of people promised the shade of Allah are two persons who loved each other for the sake of Allah سبحانه وتعالى, got together, and departed on this basis. [Bukhari, Muslim]
Good friends who prioritize their relationship with Allah will help us on the spiritual path. It is easier to pray and to do our everyday acts of worship because we have company to help us. Even when we face difficulties, these friends will support us; ultimately they will remind us of Allah during these tests and help us to rely on Him. No one is perfect, and this is why it is important to be around people who want to improve themselves, and in the process will help you to improve yourself too. Ibn Hazm stated: “Anyone who cares about your friendship is willing to criticize you, while those who make light of your faults show they do not care.” Allah سبحانه وتعالى reminds us of this in the Qur’an, when He says:
“And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect.” (Qur’an, 18:28)
Some of us face a problem—we would like to have such friends, but due to circumstances outside our control, we don’t have that tight-knit group of people that help us on our path to Allah. Does that mean we will never be able to achieve tranquility of the heart? No, because Allah سبحانه وتعالى does not test us with more than we can bear, and truly we get what we intend. The first thing we should try to do is be that friend to others. If we find that we do not have religious people around us, then we should try to influence our environment. This does not mean being over-bearing; rather, we should try to make our existing friendships more meaningful. The Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran, said, “Let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.” And the harder it is, the more our effort is appreciated by Allah.
Secondly, we should constantly seek avenues where we will meet such people. Whether it’s at a local masjid, or driving for an hour to attend a talk, this effort on our part shows that we are serious in trying to follow the advice of the Prophet ﷺ, and insha’ Allah (God willing) Allah will reward that.
Thirdly, du`a’ is key. We should never forget that when we recite, “You alone do we worship, and You alone do we seek for help,” (Qur’an 1:5) we are in essence reminding ourselves that we cannot do anything except through seeking the help of Allah . So if we truly desire good company, and friends who remind us of our purpose and of Allah, we should ask the One who possesses the hearts to bring us closer to hearts that remember Him often.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “All the children of Adam constantly err, but the best of those who constantly err are those who constantly repent.” [Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Hakim]
We come to the next stage of gaining tranquility. Sometimes we don’t know why we feel down. We talked about al-Jabbar, and how we should go to Allah to help mend our broken hearts. But sometimes it’s more than that – it is the heavy weight of sins on our hearts. This topic may make us uncomfortable, because it is something we don’t like to be reminded of. It is difficult to think of and face up to our sins – and it makes us even more depressed! But the Prophet ﷺ taught us something very profound about the link between sins and the state of our heart. He says:
“When a slave commits a sin, a black spot appears on his heart…”
Subhan’Allah. When we commit sins, they weigh heavily on our hearts. Imagine a spiritual darkening of the heart due to the wrongs we commit – is it any wonder that we cannot pinpoint why we feel down? Yet the Prophet ﷺ also told us of the cleanser for this:
“But if he gives it up, seeks forgiveness and repents, his heart will be cleansed…”
Of course, because it is difficult to pinpoint every wrong that we do, prayer is also a cleanser, as is wudhu. But for a targeted cleansing, we need something more, because the Prophet ﷺ continues:
“…but if he repeats it, (the blackness) will increase until it overwhelms his heart.” [Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]
What we need is istighfaar (seeking forgiveness) and tawba (repentance) as the Prophet ﷺ said. Setting aside some time to sit back and reflect, seek forgiveness, and try not to commit that sin again is a way to improve ourselves and to realize how Allah is Merciful and Forbearing. Despite the fact that we commit wrongs, He has not punished us.
Sometimes we avoid apologizing to a human being because we feel we will be rejected, or that that person will make it very hard for us to be forgiven – so we end up just avoiding the situation. Sometimes the shame makes us unable to say sorry. But with Allah, there should be no fear of that. When we admit to our wrongs and make a conscious and sincere effort to ask forgiveness, Allah سبحانه وتعالى is ready to forgive our sins even if they are like mountains. It is amazing how the very act of returning to Allah, after we have committed a wrong, is itself an act of worship that Allah loves. Allah says in a hadith qudsi:
“O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.” [Tirmidhi]
Sometimes we assume that it is only those who have committed grave sins that need to return to Allah. But the Prophet ﷺ said: “Beware of minor sins. For they add on until they destroy a person.” [Ahmad, Tabarani]
Whatever stage we are at, we need istighfaar and true repentance. If the Prophet ﷺ himself would seek forgiveness 70 times a day, why do we feel that we have to commit something that is especially egregious in order to ask Allah to forgive us? If we think about it, every sin is a black dot. These black dots accumulate until our hearts become hard and do not feel anymore. An example of this is with cussing or swearing. The first time we say something we shouldn’t have, we feel this twinge of guilt in our heart. Then when we keep repeating it, it becomes normalized. Why? Because our hearts become enveloped in these black dots.
Yet when we constantly go back to Allah, seeking his forgiveness, we are reminded. We become humble, because we are forced to face these minor sins that weigh heavily on our heart s- and through that our hearts are cleansed, insha’Allah. Because we face our sins, we are constantly trying to improve; we do not become complacent. It may seem hard, but a load will be taken off our shoulders with this constant returning to Allah. By doing this, we will have realized Allah’s Names al-Ghaffar (the oft-Forgiving), al-Ghafoor (the Forgiving), at-Tawwaab (the One who constantly accepts repentance), ar-Raheem (the all-Merciful) – and we are essentially re-affirming our belief in His attributes. Look at this example of Allah’s mercy when we commit sins. The Prophet ﷺ tells us in this hadith: “The Scribe on the left delays registering the sin of a Muslim for six hours. If he repents (within these six hours), and seeks Allah’s forgiveness, they drop if off. If he doesn’t, they write is down as a single sin.” [Tabarani]
Moreover, if we seek forgiveness sincerely and Allah accepts our repentance, not only does He forgive us, but He turns those bad deeds into good – imagine that YEARS of sinning could turn into years of REWARDS. How? Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” [Qur’an, 25:70]
How could we not want to return to Allah, who is truly the Most merciful of those who show mercy?
Some ways of seeking forgiveness
The Prophet ﷺ taught ‘Aisha رضي الله عنه: “Verily tawba (repentance) from sin is regret[ing the action] and seeking forgiveness.” [Bayhaqi]
The internal component is to regret what we have done – whether it is a small lie, a glance at something we shouldn’t be looking at, being heedless or even something greater. The external component is to ask Allah for forgiveness. The Prophet ﷺ taught us a few ways how, and these are two of them:
1. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever says it during the day with firm faith in it, and dies on the same day before the evening, he will be from the people of Paradise; and if somebody recites it at night with firm faith in it, and dies before the morning, he will be from the people of Paradise.
“O Allah! You are my Lord! None has the right to be worshiped but You. You created me and I am Your slave, and I am faithful to my covenant and my promise as much as I can. I seek refuge with You from all the evil I have done. I acknowledge before You all the blessings You have bestowed upon me, and I confess to You all my sins. So I entreat You to forgive my sins, for nobody can forgive sins except You.” [Bukhari]
2. The Prophet ﷺ also said: “Whoever commits a sin, and then performs wudhu, then offers prayers seeking forgiveness of God, God will certainly forgive him.” After this the Prophet ﷺ recited the verse: “…those who remember God and implore forgiveness for their sins if they do something shameful or wrong themselves – who forgives sins but God? – and who never knowingly persist in doing wrong.” (Qur’an, 3:135) [Tirmidhi]
May Allah make us of those who constantly return to Him for forgiveness as a means to achieve tranquility in our hearts, so that when we finally meet Him on the Day of Judgment, we are of those “who come to Allah with a sound heart.1 wealth or children, But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” (Qur’an, 26:88-89)]”
“Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember.” (Qur’an, 11:114)
Last week we talked about reflecting on our states and relieving our hearts of burden by seeking forgiveness from Allah. This week we look at forward-looking actions. The verse above tells us that if we want cleanse our hearts further, we should do good actions, because they also help to wipe away our sins. When we feel guilty because we committed a sin, in addition to seeking forgiveness, we should consciously go out and try to do good; perform a rewarding deed that is beloved to Allah. This can be anything from giving charity, helping our family out with the chores to reading Qur’an; anything that is deemed praiseworthy in Islam. And obviously, this is not only for when we feel guilty.
But how does this help us to achieve tranquility of the heart? Allah says in the Qur’an, “Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – the Most Merciful will appoint for them wud.” (Qur’an, 19:96)
Allah uses the word “wud” for love in the above verse, and one of Allah’s Names is Al-Wadud (the Most Loving). What is the significance of the word wud? Why did Allah not use a more common word, such as “hubb” or even “`ishq“? They each mean a type of love but the emphasis is different. Wud is a love that is manifest. For example, someone can really love you, but not show it. Their love may be pure and true, but you don’t know about it because they never show their love for you in their actions. Yet Allah is Al-Wadud, and for those who do good, He will bestow upon them wud, a love that is apparent, that is shown. And as long as we do good we are within the realm of Allah’s love. Subhan’Allah! (Glory be to Him).
How will Allah show this love towards us?
The Prophet ﷺ (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) told us,
“When Allah loves someone he calls to Jibreel (as) saying, ‘O Jibreel, I love such and such a person, so love him.’ Then Jibreel will call to the (angels) of the heavens, ‘Allah loves such and such a person so love him.’ And the angels will love [that person]. And then Allah will place acceptance on earth for that believer.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Subhan’Allah, by performing the acts that Allah loves, we receive His love and affection. This love and affection is manifested by His placing acceptance for us with other people. And how could it be any other way? A believer is not only one that performs the acts of worship that are solely between him and God, such as prayer or fasting, but a true believer is one that is in the service of people. The crucial point though is that when the believer serves people, his intention is for the sake of Allah; so if people do not appreciate his work, he is still content with the pleasure of Allah, and strives to do more good because his ultimate transaction is with His Lord and Sustainer.
Every human being has a need for love and sometimes we put countless hours of effort in order to receive that love from people. This is not necessarily bad, but by naming Himself al-Wadud, Allah is telling us that He is the Most-Loving – and that we should vie for this love by doing work that is deemed good by Allah.
How else does Allah manifest this love? Allah tells us in a hadith qudsi:
“Nothing endears My servant to Me than doing of what I have made obligatory upon him to do. And My servant continues to draw nearer to Me with the supererogatory (nawafil) so that I shall love him. When I love him, I shall be his hearing with which he shall hear, his sight with which he shall see, his hands with which he shall hold, and his feet with which he shall walk. And if he asks (something) of Me, I shall surely give it to him, and if he takes refuge in Me, I shall certainly grant him it.” (Bukhari)
All of the above is a result of Allah’s love. We start with the obligatory and add on the recommended and the voluntary. As long as we are doing what is deemed good by Allah, we are receiving love from Al-Wadud. What could give us more tranquility than the knowledge of that?
Tricks of Shaytan
When we feel down spiritually, it is easy to feel and believe that our good deeds don’t matter, because we are so bad. But the verses mentioned above and the ahadith show us that this is not the case. Even if we are sinning, we should not give up good deeds. These good deeds help to wipe away the bad, and they are a means to get closer to Allah. We will never be perfect, and the key is to recognize our faults in order to remind ourselves to be humble and to seek forgiveness, but to never despair because of them. Al-Wadud brought a prostitute into the realm of His love because she gave a dog water – and for that she was given Paradise. But we have to remember to strike a balance between refraining from belittling our sins and not giving up because of them.
The best way is to look at the example of the Prophet ﷺ and the companions. Although the Prophetﷺ was faultless, he sought forgiveness from his Lord on a daily basis. He prayed while people slept, and he was their aid when they needed him, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.
He taught people not to take their sins lightly. In the story of Ka’b bin Malik رضي الله عنه, for example, the Prophetﷺ forbade all the Muslims from talking to him for a total of 50 days because he did not join them for battle and had no excuse (this was an order from Allah). Imagine if you were Ka’b: you deserted your fellow Muslims when they needed you the most (it was the battle of Tabuk, which was an especially tough battle). That is enough to make someone feel guilty and worthless. But on top of that, when you tell the truth about what you did, the Messenger of Allahﷺ is ordered not to speak to you, as are the rest of the Muslims, as punishment. How would you have felt? Ka’b رضي الله عنه felt extremely guilty, and a part of him wished he hadn’t told the truth about why he did not join them for battle, but he remained steadfast. He prayed and turned to his Lord and he resisted the temptation of those who sought to capitalize on the opportunity to take someone away from Islam. So what happened after 50 days? Allah reveals in the Qur’an that He has forgiven him! As well as the two other companions who had committed the same mistake he did (see Surat at-Tawbah, verses 118-119).
Ka’b bin Malik knew that the key to redemption was to continue doing good and seeking forgiveness of his Lord. And for that, he is recorded in the Qur’an as one whom Allah has forgiven, so that we all take heed and emulate this behaviour.
So whenever you are feeling down and troubled in your heart, give yourselves a boost by immersing yourself in deeds that are beloved to Allah. Because the one who has named Himself Al-Wadud, the Most Loving, will bestow upon you love and affection, insha’Allah.
Before we embark on the next stage of this journey, I want to mention two things. First, much of what you read here will not be radically new. The reason for that is that Allah سبحانه وتعالى has equipped us with ways to achieve tranquility of the heart, yet we seldom use them in that way. Therefore, these articles will be reminders of tools that we already have. As Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:
“And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.” [Qur’an, 51:55]
Secondly, what is different, however, is that this article should be read in light of the things we need to know. The past couple of articles were meant for us to see our relationship with Allah سبحانه وتعالى in a different light. Thus, when we perform certain acts such as prayer, dhikr, reciting Qur’an etc., they should be done with a heart that knows the amazing attributes of Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
Prayer – the Support of Faith
How many of us seek refuge in prayer? Not only when things are bad, but also in every prayer of every day. Subhan’Allah, doctors recommend eating five fruits a day to keep healthy, yet we have forgotten that Allah سبحانه وتعالى has given us these five prayers as a refuge, a cleansing, and a way for our hearts to find peace in the midst of all the distractions we find ourselves surrounded by.
If we are serious about wanting to achieve tranquility of the heart, we need to start with prayer. A righteous man called Hatim Al-Asamm recognized how crucial prayer is to the state of our hearts. He said, “When the time for prayer is at hand, I make a proper ablution, go to the spot where I intend to pray, sit there until all my limbs and organs are in a collected state. Then I stand up to perform my prayer, placing the Kabah between my brows, the Bridge over Hell (sirat) beneath my feet, Paradise to my right and Hell to my left, and the Angel of Death behind me, thinking all the while that this is my last prayer. Then I stand between hope and fear. I carefully pronounce ‘Allahu Akbar!’ Then I recite the Qur’an harmoniously, bow in humility, and prostrate myself submissively. I then sit back on my left haunch, spreading out the top of my left foot and raising my right foot on the toes. I follow this with sincerity. Then I wonder whether or not my prayer has been accepted.”
Subhan’Allah, can we imagine the state of the heart of a person who prays like this?
Al-Qareeb (the Near One)
Sometimes we feel far from Allah سبحانه وتعالى, and our prayers are nothing more than chores. Yet think of the difference in our prayer if we recognized that when we start the prayer, we are actually going to al-Qareeb – the Near One.
Allah’s Name al-Qareeb comes in three formats in the Qur’an:
Alone: “And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am Qareeb [near].” [Qur’an, 2:186]
With as-Samee’ (the All-Hearing): “Indeed, He is Hearing and near.” [Qur’an, 34:50]
With al-Mujeeb (the One who responds): “Indeed, my Lord is near and responsive.” [Qur’an, 11:61]
This teaches us something: Allah is close to us, He hears us, and He responds to our du`a’ (supplication). He hears our inner thoughts even when we do not articulate them, and He hears our silent du`a’. Imagine that Allah سبحانه وتعالى knows everything about you and all the things you reflect on; that is how near He is to you. Sometimes even your best friend won’t understand the turmoil you are going through, but al-Qareeb does.
Now imagine when you are going to the prayer, you are going to the One who understands everything you are going through. You may have just had the worst day of your life: seek refuge in your prayer, tell Allah سبحانه وتعالى you need His help. Perhaps you had an amazing day: use your prayer for recognition that the good was from Allah سبحانه وتعالى and for thanks. Perhaps it was a day like any other: use your prayer as a reminder of purpose.
When we say that we find being devoted in prayer (having khushoo‘) is difficult, it is because we have not yet realized the meaning of Allah’s Name al-Qareeb. When we live our lives with the knowledge that Allah is indeed close to us, closer than our jugular vein, our prayer will reflect that. After all, the prayer is our intimate conversation with Allah.
An Intimate Conversation
The Prophet ﷺ said, “When anyone of you is engaged in the Prayer, he is holding an intimate conversation with his Lord.” [Muslim]
Imagine, as soon as we say “Allahu Akbar” to commence the prayer, the barrier between us and Allah is lifted. He remains looking at you, facing you, and responding to you when you recite al-Fatiha as long as you are not distracted. When you say Allahu Akbar, you are throwing away the worries of the world and fleeing to Allah سبحانه وتعالى who is greater than it all, and is the only One who can remove your distress. When you go into ruku’, you are demonstrating your humility before Him. And when we go into sujood, it is the closest that we are to Allah سبحانه وتعالى. How many of us, myself included, fail to realize this?
In order to have better khushoo‘, the Prophet ﷺ advised “When you pray, pray like a person who is saying farewell.” [Ibn Majah, Hakim, Bayhaqi] If we knew that this was our last prayer before the Angel of Death seizes us, would it be the same?
Remember that the Prophet ﷺ saw his prayer as a source of tranquility. When telling Bilal رضي الله عنه to pronounce the adhan (call to prayer), he said, “O Bilal, give us rest with it.” [Abu Dawud]
May Allah سبحانه وتعالى enable us to find tranquility in our salah.
“O mankind, there has to come to you instruction from your Lord and healing for what is in the breasts and guidance and mercy for the believers.” (Qur’an, 10:57)
Some things uplift us because they touch our hearts. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (glorified is He) knows what hurts us or causes us to feel down; for each of our diseases, there is a cure. The Qur’an is one such source of healing. The Prophet ﷺ (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Make use of the two cures, Qur’an and honey.” (Ibn Majah)
How is the Qur’an a cure? The Qur’an is comprised of the complete, eternal Words of Allah. If we receive a letter from someone we love, our hearts are soothed by reading their words. Because we love them, and especially if it is someone we respect, we take their words seriously and know they have our best interests in mind. If it is someone we are longing to meet, we read their words over and over again, seeking refuge in them, until we meet them. Now imagine that the Qur’an is made up of the Words of Allah, directed to you. Imagine the longing of the heart for the Words of its Most Beloved, of its Master. From personal experience, if ever I woke up shaken from a bad dream and my heart feels scared and uncomfortable, I recite the Qur’an. It always calms me down. The same is true whenever I have felt sadness; there is something about when the Qur’an enters your heart that takes away any worldly negativity.
The Qur’an also takes us back to what is important. We read that Allah is One, and that He possesses everything, and He is the Lord of the worlds – so how can we ever believe humans work outside of Allah’s Will when we see injustice? We read about the trials of those before us, how they remained steadfast and Allah سبحانه وتعالى was with them – how then can we give up? We read that whoever trusts in Him, then He will be sufficient for him, that He answers all du`a’ (supplication) – how then can we despair? When we are reminded that there is a Day of Judgment, and we can only take with us our good deeds, how small should our worldly desires be to us?
In order for the Qur’an to heal us, we need to read it with that understanding, and with the intention of receiving guidance. Sheikh ash-Sha’rawi in his book of tafseer (commentary on the Qur’an) quoted a beautiful statement of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, who he said was the most knowledgeable of the secrets of the Qur’an:
“I am amazed at the one who has been afflicted with fear, and he does not flee to the Words of Allah:
‘Sufficient for us is Allah, and [He is] the best Disposer of affairs’ for verily Allah has said after it
‘So they returned with favor from Allah and bounty, no harm having touched them.’ (Qur’an, 3:173-174)
And I am amazed at the person who is afflicted with sadness, and he does not flee to the Words of Allah:
‘There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers,’ for verily Allah has said after it
‘So We responded to him and saved him from the distress. And thus do We save the believers.’ (Qur’an, 21:87-88)
And I am amazed at the person who is afflicted with betrayal and deception by people, and he does not flee to the Words of Allah:
‘I entrust my affair to Allah. Indeed, Allah is Seeing of [His] servants’ for verily Allah has said after it:
‘So Allah protected him from the evils they plotted, and the people of Pharaoh were enveloped by the worst of punishment.’ (Qur’an, 40:44-45)
And I am amazed at the person who is afflicted with sickness, and he does not flee to the Words of Allah:
‘Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful,’ for verily Allah has said after it:
‘So We responded to him and removed what afflicted him of adversity. And We gave him [back] his family and the like thereof with them as mercy from Us and a reminder for the worshippers [of Allah].'” (Qur’an, 21:83-84)
If we read this and feel that we are far from the Qur’an and that it does not touch our hearts, then we should make the effort to recite it until the words enter our hearts. Plead with Allah for the Qur’an to touch your heart. We have to remember that the Qur’an is truth- if Allah tells us that it is a healing for what is in the hearts, then it certainly is. We have to have yaqeen (certainty) in this. We should also develop our relationship with the Book of Allah by trying to understand it. We should listen to tafseer and read tafseer books if we have access to them. In the age of the internet, there should be no excuse, especially with Imam Suhaib’s amazing series of the tafseer of the short surahs (chapters of Qur’an).
To end with a du`a’ of the Prophet ﷺ, who said that if a person suffers anxiety or grief, they should say:
“اللهم إني عبدك وابن عبدك وابن أمتك ناصيتي بيدك ماض في حكمك
عدل في قضاؤك اسألك بكل اسم هو لك سميت به نفسك او انزلته في كتابك
أو علمته أحدا من خلقك أو إستأثرت به في علم الغيب عندك أن تجعل القران
ربيع قلبي ونور صدري وجلاء حزني وذهاب همي”
“Oh Allah! Indeed I am Your servant
Son of Your male servant and female servant
My forelock is in Your Hand (i.e. You have control over me)
And Your Judgment upon me is assured, and Your Decree upon me is just
I ask you with every name that You have named Yourself with
Or revealed in Your Book (Quran), or taught to any of Your creation
Or kept with Yourself in the knowledge of the unseen that is with You
That You make the Quran the life of my heart, and the light of my chest
And the banisher of my sadness and the reliever of my distress.”
And Allah سبحانه وتعالى will take away their sorrow and grief and give them in their stead joy. (Ahmad)
“Is He [not best] who responds to the desperate one when he calls upon Him…” (Qur’an, 27:62)
For whatever problem we have, whatever difficulty we find ourselves in, we have the most powerful weapon to ward off the pain that plagues us. It is the weapon of du`a’. We know with certainty that Allah is Al-Mujeeb (The Responsive). We have read many articles telling us about the importance of du`a’, but in order for our du`a’ to be truly meaningful, we must accompany that du`a’ with a certain brokenness in the heart. This brokenness is the feeling of utter need, submission and surrender to Allah, and realizing that truly it is only He who can get us out of our state. In a beautiful hadith qudsi, Allah says:
“O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another.
O My servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you,
O My servants, all of you are hungry except for those I have fed, so seek food of Me and I shall feed you.
O My servants, all of you are naked except for those I have clothed, so seek clothing of Me and I shall clothe you.
O My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you.
O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and will not attain benefitting Me so as to benefit Me.
O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as pious as the most pious heart of any one man of you, that would not increase My kingdom in anything.
O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease My kingdom in anything.
O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request of Me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more that a needle decreases the sea if put into it.
O My servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon up for you and then recompense you for, so let him who finds good, praise Allah, and let him who finds other than that, blame no one but himself.” (Muslim)
Subhan’Allah (exalted is Allah), this hadith requires us to read it more than once to truly grasp its meaning. In essence, Allah is telling us that everything is from Him – He possesses this whole world and all that is in it, therefore we should seek all of our needs from Him.
Allah has named Himself Al-Mujeeb, which means the One who responds. Just as we are certain that the Qur’an is true, we must be certain that Allah, Al-Mujeeb, will answer our call. We should never think that Allah will not answer, because by feeling so, we are denying this attribute (siffat) of Allah. Whenever we are feeling down, we should not hesitate to ask Him over and over again, and to go into sujood (prostration) and plead because that is the closest that we are to Him. If we realize this, the doors of mercy have been opened for us, because the Prophet ﷺ said, “For whoever the door of du`a’ opened, for him the doors of mercy are opened.” (Tirmidhi).
Your du`a’ is deposited with Allah, and as was narrated from the Prophet ﷺ, your du`a’ does something. Either Allah will speedily answer your du`a’ or He will save it for you until the Hereafter, or He will avert something bad equal to the value of the du`a’ (Ahmad). So we should never leave du`a’. The Prophet ﷺ told us, “Do not stop making du`a’, because nobody who makes du`a’ is forsaken.” (Hakim)
Insha’Allah, you will be answered. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily your Lord is Generous and Shy. If His servant raises his hands to Him (in supplication) He becomes shy to return them empty.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi)
Remember: our Lord is not forgetful. Sometimes you might even forget that you once made du`a’ for something, but He might give it to you years later.
We must always have certainty that Allah answers. But sometimes doubt enters one’s heart: “…But I asked, I made du`a’... and I don’t see anything?” Firstly, just as we know that Allah is Al-Mujeeb, we must also know He is Al-Hakeem (the Most Wise).
He may delay answering your prayer for a number of reasons; one is to test your trust in Him. We all say we believe Allah is the Al-Mujeeb when everything lands at our feet, but what about when we don’t immediately see the fruits of our du`a’? I knew a woman who was telling the story of how her husband did not pray. When she married him, she didn’t know, and as the marriage progressed she discovered that he was skeptical of religion as well. So she would wake up every night for qiyam al-layl (the night prayer) and plead with Allah to guide Him. Do you know how long she prayed for? Two years. And she says it was so unexpected; he came home from a business trip with a complete change of heart. It turns out that on the plane he was seated next to a great sheikh who began talking to him. And that is how he changed.
Another reason is that Allah knows when it is best to answer. Perhaps you are asking for a job and He could give you a job at this very moment, but He will delay it because He knows that in a couple of months, a better job will come along. Perhaps what you are asking for is not good for you, or He will give you something better in the Hereafter.
Allah also may delay the answer to make us work harder so we are prepared for it. If we look at Palestine, we may think, “Wow, the Muslim Ummah prays so much and we don’t see anything changing.” But in truth, although the majority of the Ummah prays intensely during Ramadan, many do not make du`a’ with true pleading. It is almost an afterthought. And if we do (such as when we see the carnage that happened in Gaza) we do not follow up our words by utilizing the means to change the situation; we forget (as is happening now). There are some genuine people who work for change, but they are a minority. So we need to be patient because we need to know that Allah is training the Ummah. The answer is being delayed so that we become worthy of this task.
There is a beautiful hadith qudsi which states that Allah sometimes delays the answer because He loves hearing the sound of His servant (At-Tabari). Many of us would ask and then when we get what we want we stop going to Allah; but imagine that when the answer is delayed, Allah loves to hear YOUR voice again as you call Him. Wow.
Allah does not place a burden on us greater than we can bear. If the answer to your du`a’ has been delayed, it’s because Allah KNOWS you can handle it. He tests those whom He loves, so keep asking and remember that Allah makes with hardship ease. And remember, as with tawakkul, we need to exert effort as well.
Ibn Al-Qayyim said he who fulfills the following conditions should know that Allah will surely answer his du`a’:
(1) Have certainty that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala will answer your du`a’. The Prophet ﷺ said, ”Ask Allah with certainty that He will answer your prayers.” (Tirmidhi)
(2) Show submissiveness and devotion during your du`a’. The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘Know that Allah will not accept the supplication from an absent heart.’ (Tirmidhi)
(3) Be patient and do not hasten for an answer. The Prophet ﷺ said: ‘The du`a’ of any worshipper will continue to be responded to, as long as… he is not hasty’ i.e. as long as he doesn’t lose patience. [Muslim]
(4) Continue to gain a lawful means of living. The Prophet ﷺ narrated a story about a man asking Allah, saying “O Lord! O Lord!” but his food was unlawful, his drink was unlawful, his clothing was unlawful, and he was nourished unlawfully; so how can he be answered?!” (Muslim)
“Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” (Qur’an, 13:28)
In the last article in this section, we wrap up the things we have to do in our journey to gain tranquility of the heart with the remembrance of Allah.
When we try to figure out why we are so often bothered, why we feel disturbed internally, or why we feel sad – we need to go back to our hearts. The Prophet ﷺ (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Do not talk too much without remembering and mentioning Allah, for too much talk without mentioning Allah hardens the heart, and the person farthest from Allah is the one with a hard heart.” (Tirmidhi)
SubhanAllah (glory to Allah) – our heart hardens when we do not remember Allah. The heart’s nourishment is the remembrance of Allah, and when we fail to remember Him, it is no wonder that we feel down for no apparent reason. Ibn al-Qayyim stated, “In the heart there is hardness which can only be softened by remembrance of Allah. So the slave must treat the hardness of his heart with the remembrance of Allah.” For those of us who feel that Islam itself has become heavy upon us, look at the answer the Prophet ﷺ gave to a man who said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, the laws of Islam seem to be a lot for me (to remember), so tell me something that I should stick to.’ He ﷺ replied, ‘Let your tongue never cease to be moist with the remembrance of Allah’. (Tirmidhi)
And what is the effect of this remembrance? It acts as a polish for the hearts from its rust, and causes us to be remembered by Allah the Most High. Allah tells us in this amazing hadith qudsi:
“I am to my servant as he expects of Me, I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him to Myself, and if he remembers me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly better than his…” (Bukhari and Muslim)
So what exactly is remembrance?
Remembrance of Allah includes specified dhikr (such as saying subhan’Allah, la ilaha ila Allah, etc.), but it is also anything you do related to Allah or mentioning Allah. Anything that you do with Allah in mind – whether it is thinking well of Him, giving charity with the specific intention of doing it for His sake, making du’a’ (supplication) and so on is within the realm of dhikr.
Ways of dhikr
Let’s get more specific. What are the things we can do that are included in dhikr?
Like we said in the article on earning Allah’s love, we need to immerse ourselves in good works. That said, when we do good, we must always try to be conscious of the fact that we are doing it for Allah. Talk to Allah as you are doing the good deed, ask Him to accept it from you, and to enable you to do more good. Add intentions – such as doing it for Allah, following the sunnah (tradition of the Propeht ﷺ), helping fellow Muslims and people – the more you remember Allah, the more He will remember you. And inevitably you will feel that in your life.
Remember, when we do good, we need to do good with the heart. We probably do certain things anyway – such as giving charity here and there, making du`a’ and so on. But we do them without heart, without any feeling or emotion that this is for Allah. We need to do these things knowing that in them is a cure for what is in our hearts, and that when we feel down, we go to these things – whether it is helping out others or pleading with Allah in our sujood (prostration).
Turning to Him
“Whoever comes to me walking, I go to him at speed.” (Bukhari)
It is impossible for you to return to Allah and He rejects you. Look at all these ahadeeth on those who return to Him:
” Allah is happier when a servant of His repents to Him than a man who was on his camel in a waterless desert and the camel escaped from him with his food and water. When he has lost hope of finding it, he retired to a tree and lied down under its shade. As he was there, the camel suddenly appeared in front of him. He took hold of its halter and said in his state of excessive joy: ‘O my Lord You are my servant and I am Your Lord.’ He uttered this erroneous statement as a result of his being overjoyed.” (Muslim)
Allah says in a beautiful hadith qudsi:
“O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as its.” (Tirmidhi)
Finally Allah says:
“Remember Allah during times of ease and He will remember you during times of difficulty” (Tirmidhi)
“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]…” (Qur’an, 14:7)
Thanking is recognizing and appreciating. The more you thank, the more you will see. The more you see how Allah has blessed you, you see His presence in your life and this in itself should create a certain soothing of the heart. By thanking Allah, you are recognizing He is al-Wahhab (the Giver of gifts), ar-Razzaq (the Sustainer), al-Wadud (the Most Loving) and insha’Allah (God willingly) you will be able to recognize how He manifests His attributes and Names in your life.
Take the time out every evening to thank Allah for the blessings in your day – not only will you be overwhelmed because you will never be able to enumerate them, but you will truly recognize Allah’s presence in your life.
“And remember your Lord much and exalt [Him with praise] in the evening and the morning.” (Qur’an, 3:41)
We know that the Prophet ﷺ always remembered Allah – this is why we have du’a’ and adhkar for almost everything we do: from entering into the restroom to what to say when someone compliments us. The Prophet ﷺ also had specific remembrances that he said every morning and every evening (they can be found here). Each of these words and phrases are precious – not only do they polish your heart and cleanse them of their disturbances, but the Prophet ﷺ would say them for protection, and that in itself should give us peace of mind and heart. Yaqeen is so important – if the Prophet ﷺ has told us that saying certain words will have an effect – we should have no doubt.
We should take the time to understand these words, so that they truly enter our hearts.
May Allah make us of people “who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” (Qur’an, 3:191)
Today we will move on to a new section: the things we should aspire to. In our journey, what we have tried to do is change the way we think about Allah and our relationship with Him. We started with things that we need to know, and moved on to the things that we have to do. Once we achieve those, we need a goal to aspire to so that we do not become complacent.
Live for Allah
“I want to be of those who are close to Allah“. Imagine being like Ibn Taymiyyah, who stated, “What can my enemies do to me? I have in my breast both my heaven and my garden. If I travel they are with me, never leaving me. Imprisonment for me is a chance to be alone with my Lord. To be killed is martyrdom and to be exiled from my land is a spiritual journey.”
We need to have high aspirations, and we need to have the desire to be someone special to Allah. Once Allah becomes our main concern, we caninsha’Allah be in the same mindset as Ibn Taymiyyah. What can people do to us when we carry paradise in our hearts?
One of the Names of Allah that should inspire us is Al-Wali, The Ally. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Allah is the ally [Wali] of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into the light…” (Qur’an, 2:257)
What do you feel when you read this verse? Many of us have read this verse again and again, and some of us have contemplated over the meaning of being a wali of Allah. Whenever we think of someone being a wali of Allah, we think of great devoted scholars, courageous fighters, people truly close to Allah… but not us. “We could never be His awliya… could we?”
Allah tells us in this verse that He is the Wali of those who believe. As believers, we are already part of that group, insha’Allah. But to truly earn the status of Allah’s Wali, to be at that elevated level, we have to aspire towards it.
What does Al-Wali mean?
Al-Wali has different translations; the ‘ally’, ‘protector’, ‘guardian’ or ‘patron’. In Arab countries, schools usually request the permission of “wali amr” (the Wali of the affairs) of a child for anything concerning him or her, meaning the child’s guardian. What are the characteristics of a child’s guardian?
It must be a person who a) is close to the child, and b) takes care of the child.
If Allah is your Wali, then He is close to you and takes care of you.
Allah took care of the affairs of the Prophet Yusuf `alayhi sallatu wa sallam (may Allah send His peace and blessings on him). When Yusuf (as) was alone in the well, Allah made specific travelers thirsty at that particular time so that they could rescue him and take him on their journey with them. Later, the people who bought Yusuf (as) as a slave turned out to be a couple who were infertile. At every step of the way, Allah was with Yusuf (as). No doubt, he faced hardships, but Allah is always protecting.
So, there are going to be problems even if you are a Wali of Allah, but at the end of the day, He is still taking care of you. At the end of Yusuf’s (as) story, he proclaims, “Creator of the heavens and earth, You are myWali in this world and in the Hereafter.” (Quran, 12:101).
Truly, it is an impoverished person who does not have Allah as their Wali, the person who takes his Wali as the dunya.
What happens if you are a Wali of Allah?
1. You have no fear in this dunya, no sadness in akhirah.
“Unquestionably, [for] the awliya of Allah there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve”. (Qur’an, 10:62)
2. He will put light in your life.
“Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into the light.” (Qur’an, 2:257)
3. Allah will give you victory
Allah says in a hadith qudsi: “Whoever takes a Wali of Mine as an enemy, I will wage war on him…” (Bukhari)
Would’nt you want to be one of these people? Be ambitious. Why couldn’t it be you?
So how can I be a Wali?
“Unquestionably, [for] the awliya of Allah there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. Those who believed and had taqwa of Allah” (Qur’an, 10:62)
Striving for taqwa gives us the status of a Wali inshaAllah.
So how do we get Taqwa?
Some scholars have defined taqwa as when Allah finds you where He has ordered you to be, and does not find you where He has forbidden. The following hadith qudsi sheds more light:
“Whosoever acts with enmity towards a closer servant of Mine (Wali), I will indeed declare war against him. Nothing endears My servant to Me than doing of what I have made obligatory upon him to do. And My servant continues to draw nearer to Me with the supererogatory (nawafil) so that I shall love him. When I love him, I shall be his hearing with which he shall hear, his sight with which he shall see, his hands with which he shall hold, and his feet with which he shall walk. And if he asks (something) of Me, I shall surely give it to him, and if he takes refuge in Me, I shall certainly grant him it.” (Bukhari)
Another thing to be inspired by: Jannah
Sometimes we forget about Jannah, Paradise. But Paradise is a reality.
I’m supposed to travel to Granada tomorrow insh’Allah (if Allah wills). Everyone has been telling me how amazing and beautiful it is. A part of me is really excited to explore it and its history, but another part of me is just looking forward to having a break. I’ve been preparing: I will take two books, one spiritual and one political. I’ve made sure I’ve tied up all the ends here. Just as Granada is a reality for me and something to look forward to, Jannah should be just the same for us since we have its description.
Imagine this: you’ve just crossed the sirat (bridge over hell) and made it to the other side. You are waiting for the doors of Jannah to open. Finally they open to the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) and you are in awe. Truly this place is as the Prophet ﷺ described which “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and the mind of no man has conceived”, [Bukhari]. What is the ground made of? It smells a little like saffron, subhan’Allah! What are those trees with huge fruits? Is that a river of honey? Dip your finger in it, that can’t be honey! You’ve never had anything like it in your life. You try it again and it tastes even better. How is that possible? Ok, enough honey. Where is my house? As you are being escorted to your home, you see it’s not just a house. It’s a mansion! Not even Bill Gates had it this good, and you are told you earned it because you donated $10 for that masjid1. If only you had donated more! Well this mansion is enough. You’re eager to start exploring.
You enter from the front door with a texture that feels pearly. Are the doors made of pearls? Subhan’Allah! You walk in and there’s someone there. Is that your spouse from the dunya? But they look different. They’re so beautiful, you’re mesmerized. You take their hand and walk out and you see that person who wronged you in the dunya. Even though you forgave on earth, whenever you saw them, you’d still get a bit frustrated. But for some reason it’s ok now. It’s all good. Actually- you’re happy to see them. In fact, you can’t stop smiling.
This place is awesome. You feel so light and airy. You feel as though nothing bad has ever happened to you in your life. You have peace.
It can’t get better than this, right?
Yes it can. As you walk outside your mansion, you see people rushing to go some place. They’re crowding around someone. Is that RasulAllah ﷺ?! Without realizing, tears stream down your face, it IS Rasul’Allah! And he is more beautiful than any of the descriptions you’ve read. You embrace him. He smiles at you, and then you invite him to dinner at your house. You walk away, still in awe that you’ve just seen the final Messenger of God, and… Is that Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه? With `Umar رضي الله عنه! And over there is Fatima رضي الله عنه, sitting with her mother Khadija رضي الله عنه! And there’s Mariam (as)! You overhear a conversation and it’s someone asking Salaah ad-Deen how it felt to liberate Jerusalem. And you recognize an accent, it’s Malcolm X!2
Finally, it’s the pinnacle of Jannah. Being with Allah. You actually get to see Allah. The highest, greatest most amazing pleasure that surpasses everything we’ve just talked about. Seeing your Lord, Most High.
I want that! What should I aspire to?
We were all created differently for a reason. Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror known in Arabic as Muhammad al-Fateh, was inspired by something. He heard the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ “Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will he be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!” [Ahmad] and he wanted to be that person. He had the opportunity and the skill. He persisted and Allah gave him success. We don’t all have to be Sultan Mehmet II, but we should all desire to be something special to Allah.
So read the Qur’an and find something inspirational. I knew someone who was inspired by the hadith where the Prophet ﷺ names the categories of people who are protected under the shade of Allah on Judgment day. The category that they were inspired by was “the person whose left hand doesn’t know what his right hand has given (in charity)”. So they decided to apply that hadith. They would give money every Friday atsalaat al-jumu`ah, without looking at how much they were giving. Whatever was in their wallet, they would give. The person said, “SubhanAllah. Never did I give money but that it came back to me!”
There is so much to look forward to and so much to have hope for. We should not be satisfied with a basic level of faith and doing extra only once in a while. Rather we should say, “this is who I want to be!” and live every day wanting to become the Wali of Allah.
(1) “He who builds a Masjid for Allah سبحانه وتعالى, even as small as a bird’s nest or smaller, Allah سبحانه وتعالى will build for him a house in Paradise .” ↩
(2) of course only Allah knows who will be in Jannah, but this is just so we can imagine. ↩
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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