“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Qur’an, 2:153)
In this stage of seeking tranquility of the heart, we will be building upon the verse the above. When we talked about things we need to know – such as thinking well of Allah and trying to understand tests, as well as things to do – such as connecting to Allah through our salah, making du`a’ – some comments that were received were along the lines of “I’ve already done that. But it doesn’t seem to be working.” No doubt, knowing we will face tests and trying to understand the reason behind them is crucial, because it enables us not to feel hopeless. However, difficulties sometimes make it hard for us to continue with the practice of doing things that get us close to Allah. So we must seek help not only in prayer, but in aspiring to be of the patient.
Patience – an Aspiration?
The Prophet ﷺ said that patience is a light (Muslim). The characteristic of light is that it shows us the way and allows us to see clearly. How does patience do this? Patience is linked with hope and trust in Allah. When something bad happens, we can force ourselves to be patient by reminding ourselves that with hardship comes ease and that after a period of hardship Allah gives relief. We can only be truly patient when we realize that everything is from Allah, and that is how everything is illuminated. It is the opposite of darkness and impatience. Impatience is darkness because it frustrates us, we can behave rashly and we do not see the wisdom in the delay. The Prophet ﷺ said “And whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience.” (Bukhari)
Patience is an aspiration because it is not just something that we do, but rather something that we need to build in ourselves and adapt to different situations. Its importance is highlighted in the fact that it has been mentioned in the Qur’an over ninety times. We all know that nothing in the Qur’an is without purpose, so reflect on the fact that Allah is reminding us of this characteristic numerous times. Ali رضي الله عنه said, “Patience’s position to faith is similar to the position of the head to the body. If the head is cut off, the body dies.” Then he raised his voice saying, “There is no faith, for a person who doesn’t have patience.”
It won’t come easily, because we are humans and get tired. This shouldn’t be a cause for despair, because as Sr. Yasmin reminds us, with hardship comes ease. At the same time, being of the patient is what we aspire to, because when we do reach that level, Allah is with us. What does Allah being with us mean? Imam ash-Shawkani talks about this and he says Allah can be with us in a general sense (as He is with all human beings) and in a specific sense, which entails a higher level of care and love for those whom He is with. So when we read “Allah is with the patient,” know that when you embody the characteristic of patience, Allah is taking care of you in ways that you cannot even imagine, and that He is with you every step of the way.
Why should I aspire to be of the patient? It’s just too hard!
Allah says in the Qur’an: “Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.” (Qur’an, 39:10)
Subhan’Allah, at-Tabari states that you will be given your reward without having to go through the meezan (scale) that other people will. Imagine! Another interpretation is that the reward you will be given is one without measure – only Allah knows the greatness of the reward for those who are patient.
Allah سبحانه وتعالى also says, “And Allah loves the steadfast.” (Qur’an, 3:146) Remember how we said Allah treats those He loves? Because He is al-Wadud, Allah’s Love is not silent; it will be manifested. Not only will Allah love you, but He will show you that love.
Moreover, the Prophet ﷺ said, “There is no Muslim who is stricken with a calamity and says what Allah has enjoined – ‘Verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our return. O Allah, reward me for my affliction and compensate me with something better’ – but Allah will compensate him with something better.” (Muslim) Recall the story of Um Salamah, who was so grief-stricken when her husband was killed. The Prophet ﷺ taught her these words and she said “Who could be better than Abu Salamah?” So Allah gave her the Prophet ﷺ.
Does patience mean I just have to wait around?
Sometimes we think being patient means doing nothing. Someone tells us “be patient!” and we say “give me something practical to do!” but if patience was not practical, Allah would not have told this to all of the Prophets (as) in the Qur’an. We just need to understand what patience really is.
Firstly, we need to know that there are different kinds of patience:
Patience with Doing Good
This means perseverance. The Prophet ﷺ told us “Know that with patience comes victory” (Tirmidhi). Does this mean victory comes by sitting and waiting for it? Of course not. The sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ shows us that this is not the case, because he strived to do good, and as he persevered (i.e. he was not impatient in the sense that he expected the result to be immediate) Allah gave him victory. Patiently persevering in doing good takes many forms: it can be anything that is praiseworthy in the religion – whether it is acts of worship, our relationships with people, etc. It is sometimes tempting to return like with like. If someone is rude to us, let’s try to be like Allah’s Name As-Saboor (The Patient). Despite all the wrong that we commit, He is patient with us and does not punish us immediately. If we appreciate this patience from Allah, should we not try to have the same kind of patience with people?
Allah سبحانه وتعالى wants us to strive for this kind of patience. For example, with the issue of qiyam al-layl (the night prayer), the Prophet ﷺ has told us, “Whoever goes to his bed intending to get up and pray at night, then his eyes overwhelm him and (he sleeps) until morning, the (reward of) that which he intended will be written for him, and his sleep is a charity for him given by his Lord.” (An-nasai, Ibn Majah) Why did the Prophet ﷺ tell us this? So that we never give up; we are patient with our weaknesses and continue to strive. This is what patience is.
Patience with Stopping Ourselves from Doing Bad
One of the types of people who is given shade on the Day of Judgment is the person who is tempted into fornication but resists and says “I fear Allah!” (Bukhari) It is much easier to fall into sin. But one who constantly prevents himself from doing bad, can be of the people who is beneath the shade of Allah. This requires patience and conviction; despite the hardship, we are doing something that is beloved to Allah. Nowadays we are taught to strive to achieve what we want no matter what. Although having ambition and drive is good, it should not be by compromising our ethics. We may have to face setbacks now and then, but when we remember that our aim is for the akhira and not simply the dunya, patience is easier to inculcate.
Patience when Something Bad Happens
The Prophet ﷺ taught us that “patience is at the first stroke of a calamity.” (Bukhari) It is not easy to bear bad news and not lose it or break down. It is even harder to prevent ourselves from questioning something that is so, in our eyes, blatantly bad. Why? But as we said before, there is a reason for tests. This is why we are taught in the Qur’an to say “To Allah we belong and to Him we return” so that when are afflicted, we remember that nothing is outside the realm of Allah’s knowledge, power and mercy. He knows this is happening, and there is a higher purpose to it.
Examples of Those Who are Patient
The Prophet ﷺ is the best example. Despite being exiled from his home, losing his loved ones, being abused and suffering near starvation, he never wavered in his character. He was patient in doing good, patient in refraining from evil even when he was tempted with wealth and women, and he was patient when afflicted with calamity. All of his children died in his lifetime except Fatima رضي الله عنه. He lost his wife and two of his uncles whom he loved dearly. Those who followed him were tortured. Yet he persisted in praying in the night, was described as always smiling and never hesitated to help people. His patience was in perseverance and never questioning the will of Allah.
Look at Prophet Ayyoub (as), who was not only patient with his affliction but he was content! He lost all fourteen of his children, his wealth and the companionship of the people because of his disease. Yet when he was asked to supplicate for Allah to heal him, he said “Allah gave me 50 years of blessings, should I not be patient with the same number of years of hardship?” He never complained of his illness. Of course, we should always ask Allah to help us (and Ayyoub (as) finally did) but what we should take from this is he wasn’t angry with Allah and never questioned His will.
Finally, ‘Urwah ibn al-Zubair رضي الله عنه, one of the companions, had to have his leg amputated. While he was being visited by a friend, he said, “If you came to give me condolence for the loss of my leg, I already submitted to Allah with patience to reward me for its loss.” But the guest told him, “I came to inform you that your son fell down in a stable, and the animal stepped over him, and he passed away.” What would be the response of ‘Urwa of that moment? He said: “O Allah! You took one child, and left me many…You took one organ from my body, and left me many organs…O Allah! You tested me with my body, and you were kind to leave me with good health. You tested me with the loss of my son, but you were kind in leaving me the rest of my children.” Subhan’Allah. May we all be of the patient!
There is a frightening hadith about a scholar, a martyr and a charitable man on the Day of Judgment. They all expect to enter Paradise because of their good deeds. Instead, they are sent to the Fire, because their deeds were done with the intention of pleasing people – not pleasing Allah. They wanted people to see them as they were doing good because they wanted people’s praise.
What is Ikhlas?
Ikhlas is to do everything, internal and external, only desiring the pleasure of Allah. It is to forget the eyes of the people, and whether they view your deeds or not, with the only thing on your mind that Allah is watching you. There are beautiful verses in the Qur’an in this regard, where Allah describes the Abraar in Jannah:
“They [are those who] fulfill [their] vows and fear a Day whose evil will be widespread. And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [saying], “We feed you only for the countenance of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude.” (Qur’an, 76:7-9)
Imam al-Ghazali said that if you want to know whether something you did was purely for the sake of Allah or not, you should test your reaction when someone acts ungratefully. Do you feel self-righteous, like you were doing the person a favor? Do you feel angry that they did not appreciate your work? It may not mean that your act was ostentatious, but it points to the fact that it was not solely for the sake of Allah. We were expecting, at the very least, recognition and respect from the person as a result of the good we did to them.
We all know the famous story of the prostitute who was rewarded with Paradise for giving a dog water – but what truly got her into Paradise? Was it just that simple act? It could not have been, because as we mentioned above, there are scholars, martyrs and charitable people who will be thrown in hell because they were insincere. But she was helping the dog for Allah only. Look at how your intention elevates your deeds. This is why the scholars have said that it is the most important act of worship of the heart – to have the driving force of your acts be to please Allah.
This is closely linked to ihsan – that you are worshipping Allah as though you see Him and you know that He sees you.
Khurram Murad states that “purpose and intention are like the soul of a body or the inner capability of a seed. Many seeds look alike, but as they begin to grow and bear fruit, their differences become manifest. The purer and higher the motive, the greater the value and yield of your efforts.”1
Ikhlas is the foundation of any work that we do – if the foundation is corrupt, then the building can easily be broken.
Does this only apply to specific acts of worship or can it also apply to regular habits?
Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in the Qur’an:
“Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.” (6:162)
This verse tells us that everything can be for the sake of Allah. Moreover, Khurram Murad reminds us of something crucial. He states,
“People are in the habit of classifying life’s activities into those which are mundane and those which are religious. Remember, though, only those things done for the sake of Allah are the ‘religious’ things. Everything that is done for other than Allah – however ‘religious’ it may seem – is a worldly act… If he earns thousands of pounds to support his family and to spend for the cause of Allah, seeking only Allah’s pleasure, it is a highly spiritual act.”
Even your sleep can be for Allah; if you say you will sleep at a certain hour so you can wake up for Fajr, then your sleep is for Allah. Imagine being rewarded for 6-8 hours of sleep!
Importance of Ikhlas
Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in the Qur’an:
“And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth…” (Qur’an, 98:5)
If we look at the story of Yusuf (as), it was ikhlas that saved him. Allah describes him in Surat Yusuf:
“And she certainly determined [to seduce] him, and he would have inclined to her had he not seen the proof of his Lord. And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality, for he was one of Our servants, sincere and purified.” (Qur’an, 12:24)
Subhan’Allah. And moreover, Satan can get to all humans except those who have ikhlas. In the Qur’an, Allah tells us:
“[Satan] said, “My Lord, because You have put me in error, I will surely make [disobedience] attractive to them on earth, and I will mislead them all. Except among them Your sincere servants.” (Qur’an, 15:39-40)
This should remind us of what the Prophet ﷺ said about ‘Umar: Satan would avoid the path that ‘Umar was on because he was afraid of him. Imagine being at that level!
The more complete the ikhlas becomes, the more the person is upright. We are prone to making mistakes, and we may find that sometimes our intentions are mixed; sometimes there may not be an apparent intention behind whatever act we are doing. That is why we need to aspire to be of the sincere. As long as we are constantly reminding ourselves of doing things for Allah, He will even reward us for that insha’Allah.
We should not despair and be paranoid. It is narrated by ‘Amr bin al-Aas, that the Prophet ﷺ said “A person from my Ummah will be summoned in the presence of all creatures on the Day of Judgment. Ninety-nine records (of his deeds) would be unfolded, each extending as far as the eye can see; then he would be asked: ‘Do you deny any of these deeds?’ He will reply: ‘No, My Lord.’ He will be asked: ‘Do you have any excuse or any good deed?’ The man will say: ‘No.’ It will be said to him: ‘Yes you have some good deeds. No iniquity will befall you.’ A card will then be shown to him. On it will be written: ‘La ilaaha ila Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah.’ He will say: ‘O Allah! What cards and records are these?’ It will be said to him: ‘No injustice shall befall you.’ The (ninety-nine) records will then be placed in one pan of the scale and the card on the other. The card will then outweigh the records.” [Tirmidhi]
This is due to his sincerity with la ilaaha ila Allah – there is no deity other than Allah.
Secrets of Ikhlas
Ikhlas is something that Allah puts in the heart of worshipers who seek it. Sheikh Omar AbdelKafy said that there are 3 secrets of Ikhlas:
(1) The servant who has ikhlas does not look at it, because that would make him arrogant. For example, if we pray in a small room where no one can see us and yet due to that we feel that we are better than others because ‘obviously’ have ikhlas, we fall into the trap of arrogance. At the end of the day, success is only from Allah.
(2) Ikhlas is between the servant and His Lord; even the Angels don’t write it down because they don’t know it. Reflective of this is the story of the martyr, scholar and charitable man that we mentioned above – the Angels had written down the good they did, but it was Allah who exposed their intention.
(3) Satan cannot get to you if you have ikhlas 2
Examples of those with Ikhlas
There is a beautiful example in the mother of Mariam (as). “When the wife of ‘Imran said, “My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing” (Qur’an, 3:35). She was having a beautiful private conversation with Allah. She told Him the child that was in her womb was solely for Him. She would raise it in the way of Allah, so that the child would be a worshipper of Allah, not for any reason save His pleasure. And for that sincere conversation, Allah rewarded her with one of the best women: Mariam (as), who fulfilled her mother’s pledge, by the grace of Allah.
Another example is Khalid bin al-Walid رضي الله عنه. He was removed from his post as commander of the army by ‘Umar. Imagine being the head of a youth group, captain of a sports team, or a manager at a company. Suddenly there is a change of management – you are removed from your position and demoted to a regular team member or employee. How would you react? How would that affect your work? Instead of being offended and refusing to fight, Khalid fought with even more vigor. When he was asked why, he said: “I fight for Allah and not for Umar.” He wanted to ensure that he was not working hard because he was put in a specific position – rather wherever he was, he would work hard for the sake of Allah.
As we mentioned in previous articles, worship can be divided into two categories: the worship of the heart and worship of the limbs. The worship of the heart can be dearer to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (glorified is He) because they give meaning to the worship of the limbs.
Ridaa (contentment with the decree of Allah) is one of the acts of worship of the heart. Ibn Taymiyyah said about contentment:
“Contentment is the greatest door that one enters to Allah, it is the source of tranquility for the worshiper and paradise on earth. Whoever does not enter it will not enter the Paradise in the Hereafter.”
Are you content with the actions of Allah?
One way whether to know whether we have ridaa is to ask ourselves if we have bitterness in our hearts when we are tested or when things don’t go our way.
It does not mean that we shouldn’t be ambitious or have big goals. We should work hard, and when we fall, we should pick ourselves back up and try to work harder or find alternatives. It does not mean to stop when difficulties come – but for example, if there is someone we want to marry and they marry someone else, then that is the end of the matter. Or if we are after a certain job and it goes to someone else, then it was not written for us at that time. It may mean we should apply at another time, or for another job – only Allah knows. But the point of contentment is that we do not have resentment in our hearts. For example, if we are doing all of our acts of worship and are generally good Muslims, yet we are faced with calamity or we feel that our du`a’ (supplication) has not been responded to, we do not harbor anger in our hearts: “I did everything, but Allah did not give me what I want!”
How to achieve contentment?
The Prophet ﷺ (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “He has tasted the sweetness of faith: he who is content with Allah as his Lord, Islam as his religion, and Muhammad ﷺ as his Prophet.” (Muslim)
We need to know first and foremost that Allah سبحانه وتعالى has portioned for us our provision. As long as we work, we will get what is written for us. Moreover, the Prophet ﷺ said: “Know that even if the whole community were to gather together to benefit you with something, they would not benefit you with anything except that which Allah has already recorded for you, and that if they gather together to harm you with something, they would not be able to harm you with anything except that which Allah has already recorded against you.” (Tirmidhi)
Simply possessing this knowledge should empower us, because we know that everything that happens is by the permission of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. This should not prevent us from reflecting and trying to figure out how our actions played a role, but learning from an experience is also part of contentment because you trust that Allah سبحانه وتعالى is teaching you a lesson through trial.
The Prophet ﷺ reminds us of something profound, “Whoever wakes up safely in his home and is healthy in his body and has provisions for his day, would have acquired all the worldly possessions he is in need of.” (Tirmidhi)
Subhan’Allah (glory to God) – none of know when our last day could be. But if we wake up in the morning with those three things, then we have all that we need. We should not look at people and question why Allah سبحانه وتعالى has given certain people success over ourselves. We have all that we need.
Du`a’ for contentment
The Prophet ﷺ said: “There is no Muslim servant who says in the morning and the evening three times: I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, with Islam as my religion and with Muhammad ﷺ as my Prophet, except that it will be a right upon Allah to please him on the Day of Judgment.” (Ahmad)
The Prophet ﷺ also said “Whoever says when he hears the caller to prayer: ‘And I bear witness that there is no God save Allah, He is alone and has no partner and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. I am pleased with Allah as Lord, Muhammad as Prophet and Islam as religion’ all his sins will be forgiven.” (Muslim)
It is as though we are told to say these statements so that they may enter our hearts.
The Prophet ﷺ would also make this du`a’: “O Allah, make me content with Your decree, so that I may not hasten what You have delayed, or to delay what You have hastened.”
How do you know if you have ridaa?
You have ridaa if:
You pray istikhara when you have a decision to make. The du`a’ of istikhara literally asks Allah سبحانه وتعالى to choose what is best for us.
You have no resentment after something has been decreed by saying Alhamdulillah (all praise is due to Allah).
Your love for Allah does not decrease when you are tested
Examples of those who were content with the decree of Allah
Imagine the devastation of the Prophet ﷺ when he lost his son Ibrahim. He was around 60 years old when he had him, and he was so happy that he would take Ibrahim to companions just so they could see him. When he passed away the Prophet ﷺ wept. But what did he say? “The eyes shed tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases our Lord. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us.”
This teaches us that being content with Allah سبحانه وتعالى does not mean that we cannot feel sad or disappointed; but we carry no anger or resentment towards Allah.
Whenever ‘Umar radi Allahu anhu (may Allah be please with him) was stricken with calamity, he would thank Allah for four things:
That the test was not in his religion;
That the test was not greater than it was;
That if he responded to the test with patience, he would be given an immeasurable reward;
That he would remember the greater calamity of losing the Prophet ﷺ.
Then he would say “I do not care what happens to me as long as I am Muslim.”
A final example is the companions ‘Umran bin Hussayn رضي الله عنه. He was one of the companions who took part in the battles with the Prophet ﷺ and was a fierce fighter. However, he got paralyzed from the waist down for thirty years until he passed away. Some of the other companions saw him and cried – because they knew what he used to be. But he replied to them, saying: “You cry, but I am content. I love what Allah loves, and I am content with what Allah is content with, and I am happy with what Allah chooses. I remain in this state and by Allah I can feel the Angels around me glorifying Allah. Allah is testing my contentment with Him, so bear witness that I am content.” When I read this story, I was reminded of the film “Million Dollar Baby.” The boxer had risen to stardom but was paralyzed after her opponent knocked her out after she won the match, breaking her neck. After that, she lost the will to live – she did not want to live in that state after all she had achieved. But the example of ‘Umran is inspiring, because he knew that nothing was outside the realm of Allah’s Power, Knowledge and Mercy, and if this is what Allah decreed, then he was content.
May Allah سبحانه وتعالى give us a heart filled with contentment.
Finally we come to the crux of the matter and what should be the pinnacle of our aspirations: Loving Allah. We need to put this love into perspective—why should we love Allah سبحانه وتعالى more than anything else? How can we do that? How do we know if we love Allah سبحانه وتعالى? What will this love give us?
What do people love?
It is probably impossible to find a human being who does not love. Most people love their families, spouses and friends. Others love status and money. You can tell a person’s love for something or someone by what they do and how they act.
And we love all of these things despite their temporary nature, despite the fact that they disappoint us sometimes. It is almost an intrinsic part of a human being. And we all love for similar reasons—we love people for the perceived good qualities that we see in a person or the way they treat us. We love things because of the way those things make us feel.
Why should we love Allah سبحانه وتعالى?
How can we not? If we put together all the reasons why we love other people or things, and then apply it to Allah سبحانه وتعالى, we should see that truly it is Him that deserves our love. And because human beings are naturally inclined to love, it is only the love of Allah سبحانه وتعالى that can satisfy this need. Ibn Taymiyyah radi allah `anhu (may God be pleased with him) said: “The heart will not find complete happiness except by loving Allah and by striving towards what is dear to Him.”
Amongst the things to aspire to when striving for tranquility of the heart, loving Allah سبحانه وتعالى above all else is the greatest. When we direct our love and our emotions towards Allah سبحانه وتعالى, everything else follows. Our actions follow because they reflect what is in our heart. It is liberating because our love is directed at the source of all our blessings, not merely the means. We see everything as coming from Allah سبحانه وتعالى, and because we love Him and think well of Him, we know that everything is for a purpose.
The first thing the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) said to the people of Madina was “O people! Love Allah with all of your hearts for what He has given you from blessings…” Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in the Qur’an: “And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them.” [14:34]
Try to count everything good in your life, and everything that seemed bad but turned out to be good. All that is from Allah سبحانه وتعالى. The fact that you are Muslim. The fact that, as the Prophet ﷺ told us, everything that happens in the life of a Muslim is good, and this is only for the believers. If you are given blessings, then it is an opportunity to be thankful, and if you are tested, it is for you to be patient. And what is amazing is that we have been guaranteed things for patience in the face of calamity, and we know that nothing will go to waste insha` Allah (God willing).
If we find that we don’t love Allah سبحانه وتعالى, it is because we don’t know Him. All the pleasures of the world are not an ounce of what the pleasure of what Allah سبحانه وتعالى has prepared in jannah (paradise), and the greatest pleasure is to see Him and be with Him.
Are we true in our love for Allah سبحانه وتعالى?
Many of us would say without hesitation that we love Allah سبحانه وتعالى. But there are different levels of love. Some of us may love our parents more than our siblings. We love all of them, but our love for our parents is over and above the love for our siblings. Yet the love that will give us true tranquility in our hearts is the love that prefers Allah سبحانه وتعالى over all else. Allah سبحانه وتعالى tells us in the Qur’an:
“Say, [O Muhammad], “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and jihad [struggle] in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.” [9:24]
Allah in this verse is not telling us we should not love. On the contrary, Allah سبحانه وتعالى tells us in another verse that He has made between spouses “love and mercy”. We are encouraged to love each other. The Prophet ﷺ told us, “When one of you has love for his brother, he should inform him that he loves him,” [Bukhari]. But we should not love them more than Allah سبحانه وتعالى, because love tends to mean preference. We do things for our loved ones because we know that they will like it or appreciate it. And when we prefer others over Allah سبحانه وتعالى, or make them equal to Allah سبحانه وتعالى, that is when we find difficulty because we are putting our hope in something finite and fallible. Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in the Qur’an:
“And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah […]” [2:165].
This doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes. We will, because the children of Adam constantly make mistakes. And sometimes we will choose things over Allah سبحانه وتعالى. The key is to seek forgiveness. The key is to realize and work on improving. It is that act that is so beloved to Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
There are some ways for us to know if we truly love Allah سبحانه وتعالى. We are told in the Qur’an:
“Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah , then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Qur’an 3:31]
We know that the Prophet ﷺ is the best example and he is the beloved of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. How far do we follow the Prophet ﷺ? And we shouldn’t only think of the outward things, such as the way he dressed or growing a beard. Rather we should look at who the Prophet ﷺ was, what was the essence of his character and how he treated people. Once the love for Allah سبحانه وتعالى and His Messenger grows, we will want to follow everything.
Another way to test ourselves is to look at all of the different types of people that Allah سبحانه وتعالى loves in the Qur’an—for example, Allah سبحانه وتعالى says that He loves the patient. Then we should ask ourselves—Do we strive to be that person to receive the love of Allah سبحانه وتعالى?
Sweetness of Faith
Moreover, if we find that Islam is difficult, know that loving Allah سبحانه وتعالى is the key to tasting the sweetness of faith. The Prophet ﷺ told us, “There are three things which if a person finds them, he has found the sweetness of faith: when Allah and His Messenger are dearer to him than all else; when he loves a person for no other reason than for the sake of Allah; and when he hates to return to kufr after Allah has saved him from it as he would hate to be thrown into fire,” [Bukhari].
How can I make my heart love Allah سبحانه وتعالى?
Read the Qur’an with reflection;
Perform more nawaafil (voluntary acts of worship): “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 [nawaafil] so that I shall love him.” [Bukhari]
Always remember Allah سبحانه وتعالى: The righteous used to say that if you awake and sleep remembering Allah سبحانه وتعالى, then you awake and sleep without a sin. Not that we will not make mistakes, but sins are erased by constant dhikr; (remembrance of Allah, swt) and good deeds, insha’Allah.
Choose what Allah سبحانه وتعالى prefers over what you prefer.
This is the last article in this series, and I pray we have all benefited. May Allah سبحانه وتعالى enable us to find tranquility through loving Him. Ameen.
Everyone has their own way of finding inner peace but for myself and a lot of other Muslims, we find it through Allah (s.w.t) and Islam. You can find a bunch of calming verses in the Quran that will help guide you throughout your life. And here are a few :
(1) “ALLAH DOES NOT BURDEN A SOUL BEYOND THAT IT CAN BEAR” (2:286)
لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا
It is important to understand that every hardship that we face in life is a test from Allah (s.w.t). It is a test of patience, devotion and trust in Allah (s.w.t). With that test and challenge, we must implicate this verse from Surah Al-Baqarah into our lives. Allah (s.w.t) does not burden anyone with any trouble in which they are unable, physically or mentally, to bear.
This means that regardless of the situation, Allah (s.w.t) is choosing to test you with that challenge because He knows that you can get through it : that you are strong enough. So trust in that, trust in that strength that Allah (s.w.t) gave you. Because after the storm, comes a rainbow.
(2) “WHOEVER PUTS HIS TRUST IN ALLAH; HE WILL BE ENOUGH FOR HIM.” (65:3)
وَمَنْ يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ
Trust is a huge entity. Trust takes a lot of thought, vulnerability and care to give up. It is not easy to trust what you do not know, or what you have no control over. That is what is so beautiful about Islam : it is the opportunity to trust Allah (s.w.t).
And believe that His plan for you in the best plan that could ever be for you. I understand that it takes a lot of strength and it is frightening to go through life not knowing what could or could not happen : but that is life.
Life is rolling with the waves and all we can do is ride out the waves and pray for the best. This does not mean not make an effort in life, but rather it means : do all that you can and the very best you can with what you can control. The rest, leave in up to Allah (s.w.t), He will do what is best for you.
(3) “DO NOT LOSE HOPE, NOR BE SAD. YOU WILL SURELY BE VICTORIOUS IF YOU ARE TRUE BELIEVERS.” (3:139)
وَلَا تَهِنُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَنْتُمُ الْأَعْلَوْنَ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ
We get down and we get sad. That is all apart of what makes us human. When we find ourselves in a position like that, we have to implement the teachings of the Quran as well as the previous verses mentioned in this blog. Allah (s.w.t) is always with us. He is always guiding us and watching over us, no matter how much we sin, He is there. Knowing that He is all around should give us some comfort. That what ever happens to us is what was meant to happen and that no matter how far we astray ourselves from Islam or Allah (s.w.t), He will always be with us and wanting the best for us. Therefore, we have to appreciate his His blessings and be true believers and find solace in His presence.
(4) “NO MISFORTUNE EVER BEFALLS EXCEPT BY PERMISSION OF ALLAH. AND WHOEVER HAS FAITH IN ALLAH - HE WILL GUIDE HIS HEART. AND ALLAH IS KNOWING OF ALL THINGS” (64:11)
مَاۤ اَصَابَ مِنۡ مُّصِيۡبَةٍ اِلَّا بِاِذۡنِ اللّٰهِ ؕ وَمَنۡ يُّؤۡمِنۡۢ بِاللّٰهِ يَهۡدِ قَلۡبَهٗ ؕ وَاللّٰهُ بِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عَلِيۡمٌ
In Islam, one of the pillars of Iman is : belief in preordainment or devine destiny (al-Qada’ and al-Qadar’). This means that we, as humans, are subjected to free will by Allah (s.w.t) but also, we are predestined to a story : our fate, our destiny. These are pre-determined destinies created for us by Allah (s.w.t). It is important that we understand that we are not in control of everything, that power lies with Allah (s.w.t). The things that we are not able to control, have to be accepted. It is ill-advised for us to question why bad things happen to us, as everything that happens : is by permission of Allah (s.w.t). Everything that He does has a purpose : as a lesson to make us stronger or to bring Him closer to us. Trust in Him and trust your destiny is for your benefit.
(5) “O YOU WHO HAVE BELIEVED, SEEK HELP THROUGH PATIENCE AND PRAYER. INDEED, ALLAH IS WITH THE PATIENT.” (2:153)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اسْتَعِينُواْ بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلاَةِ إِنَّ اللّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ
Prayer is one of the best ways for us to feel calm, internally and externally. It is not something that happens sporadically, it happens anytime you pray, with good and true intentions.
Relieve your heart and mind of stress and the hardships of this life. Remind yourself of the greatness and beautifulness of Heaven (Jannah) and what we have to be questioned for in the Hereafter.
Make that your goal, pray to Allah (s.w.t), make your du’a to Him to help you in this life and in the Hereafter. Prayer is just one way we can get closer to Allah (s.w.t) and appreciate His blessings.
It is a hallmark of depressed people that they give up on hope. Life for these people can seem void of color, so mundane that it is not worth living any more. Any energy spent on the face of earth seems such a waste for them. Hence, depressed people seem to care less about putting an effort to change, or to make meaning of their existence. Many of them lose track of the whole purpose of life and extinguish into demise or willfully end their lives. It is my belief that the same cascade of misery that applies to an individual also applies to a community or even a nation at large. Think about that as you read this paragraph again and think about the blessing of having hope.
We often refer to Islam as a life style (as opposed to just-a-religion). I would like to add another alteration for the way we understand Islam and say, that Islam is also an art of living. I say that, because of the ornamentation Islam allows us to solicit to give meaning to life, while at the same time remaining within the scope of worship and religious rituals. One of the hallmarks of this deen (religion) that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) asked us to practice, and has become to many of us a forgotten ibada (worship), is the ibada of hope. Yes, hope can be an ibada, and arguably, one of the noblest and most honored in the eyes of God. It is also no surprise that the holy Qur’an and the seerah (life) of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) have an abundance of parables and stories that are hope-enriching, I shall mention a few:
The story of Yusuf (`alayhi assalam – peace be upon him) is a remarkable ode to hope that the Qur’an beautifully captures. One great verse in this chapter talks about the prophet Jacob, Joseph’s father, sending his sons back to Egypt to get back their little brother Benjamin who was captured by the Aziz whom they will get to know as none other than Yusuf. Jacob had lost Yusuf before Benjamin some 25 years earlier and when he sends his other children to look for Benjamin, this is what he says: “O my sons, go and find out about Joseph and his brother and despair not of relief from Allah . Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.”” (Qur’an, 12:87). He kept hope in finding his son Yusuf (as) for a quarter of a century until Allah سبحانه وتعالى brought them back together. This a lesson for all of us to keep the hope in Allah سبحانه وتعالى when we suffer in relationships and in moments of separation that Allah will find an exit for us with His mercy: “… despair not of the mercy of Allah …”
During the battle of Al-Ahzab (also known as the battle of the trench) the tribe of Quraish had not yet embraced Islam and had formed a coalition against the Muslims in Al-Madina. The coalition included Quraish themselves, Jewish tribes near al-Madinah, and other strong Arab tribes such as the tribe of Ghatafan. The Muslims felt at loss until they decided to adopt a military strategy borrowed from Persia. They decided to dig a trench around al- Madinah so that their enemies might not get to them. It was not an easy chore, and the Muslims worked on the trench through the cold nights of the dessert and through the burning hot days. The Qur’an describes those times as times of great fear and despair. They were seeing the armies gather around Al-Madinah in camps from a distance with horses, weapons, swords and spears. These were times of great tribulation where some Muslims started questioning their own faith. One very cold night as the Muslims were digging the trench, they faced a huge white rock that they were unable to break. They turned towards the Prophet ﷺ asking him for advice. He then took it upon himself to break this stone with his own blessed hands. He grabbed the sledgehammer of Salman Al Farsi (radiAllahu `anhu – may Allah be pleased with him) and hit the rock thrice, shattering it into pieces. With each strike, there was a spark and with each spark, the Prophet ﷺ said Allahu Akbar and gave the Muslims glad tidings.“Bismillah.” One third of the rock was broken. He said, “Allahu Akbar! I was given the keys of Damascus. I swear by God that I see the red manors of Damascus now!” Then, he said, “Bismillah!” again and hit the rock with the sledgehammer again. One third of the rock was broken. The Prophet said, “Allahu Akbar! I was given the keys of Persia. I swear by God that I see the city of Madayin of the Chosroes and his white manors!” Then, he said “Bismillah!” again and hit the rock with the sledgehammer; the remaining part of the rock was broken into pieces. The Prophet said, “Allahu Akbar! I was given the keys of Yemen. I swear by God that I see the gates of Sana now!” (Narrated by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad). All of these cities were given to the Muslims in conquest during the times of Omar رضي الله عنه and Othman رضي الله عنه. This is a great lesson from our holy prophet PBUH that even during the times of difficulty where there might not seem to be any string of hope, we should not give up on the promise of Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
After the battle of Uhud, the Muslim were exhausted and defeated as they retreated to the mountains. They had lost some of their greatest men in this battle, including the uncle of our Prophet ﷺ, the brave and noble man, Hamzah رضي الله عنه. He was savagely killed and mutilated, causing the Prophet ﷺ himself to cry for him on that day. Their wounds were still open and their souls were shaken and defeated. They feared that this would be the end of their nation and that the Quraish would have the upper hand afterwards. They felt ashamed that they had made the Prophet go out for war when he felt that it was not wise to do so. The Prophet ﷺ’s life itself was endangered and he was beaten so savagely that the metallic sheaths of his helmet penetrated into his holy face. In the midst of all this turmoil, Allah سبحانه وتعالى revealed these blessed verses from Surat Aal-‘Imran:
“So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are [true] believers.
If a wound should touch you – there has already touched the [opposing] people a wound similar to it. And these days [of varying conditions] We alternate among the people so that Allah may make evident those who believe and [may] take to Himself from among you martyrs – and Allah does not like the wrongdoers,” (Qur’an, 3:139-140).
The only analogy I can think of as I read the context of these touching verses is that of a mother who meets her child who has been beaten and humiliated in school. She dusts the dirt of his clothes, gives him a hug, and tells him that she loves him, and that he will always be great in her eyes. A great lesson, that despite the defeat of our ummah, if we are true believers, we should not feel demoralized and we are to hold onto the rope of hope in Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
In the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, there is a story that people came complaining to the Prophet ﷺ that a youth was a hypocrite because he prays all night (or prays qiyam at night), and when he wakes up in the morning, steals from people. It seems that the sahaba felt uncomfortable that someone with such a great honorable deed such as qiyam,would still live a double life and would commit a kabirah (a major sin). The Prophet ﷺ planted the seeds of hope for people like this young man when he said: “His prayer will eventually forbid him from committing this sin.” In this story, there is a great lesson that we are all human and that we have our shortcomings. We sin in the day and during the night, in private and in public, so much so that some of us have lost hope in ourselves that we will ever repent to Allah سبحانه وتعالى. Just like this young man, we all have hope that one day we will be granted the precious gift of repentance and steadfastness. This is a great lesson that we should never lose hope, that Allah سبحانه وتعالى will accept us, that His mercy is greater than our sins.
We need hope to live our spiritual life and to make sense of the challenges that face us on the road to Allah سبحانه وتعالى. We need hope as an Ummah when we witness what is happening in Syria and the rest of the Muslim world, we need hope as a community when we feel estranged and alienated on the road of improving or surroundings and making da’wah, we need hope as individuals to keep the energy for reformation alive, we need to learn how to instill hope in our children and in people around us, and we need hope when treating our own selves. We should never lose hope on our Ummah, never lose hope on the validity and uniqueness of our Islam or our Muslim identity. If we lose hope, we will get depressed as individuals and as a nation, and we will not be able to achieve the role that Allah سبحانه وتعالى has allocated to us in the Holy Qur’an, a mercy to mankind, like our Prophet ﷺ was:
“And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you.” (Qur’an, 2:143)
“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah …” (Qur’an, 3:110)
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Every act of kindness is a Sadaqa (charity)” (Bukhari, Muslim).
Very often though, we feel we don’t have the time for kind gestures, despite our best intentions. These 35 ideas are just some quick things we can do to practice this essential part of our faith.
(1) If someone owes you money, call or email them to extend the time they have to pay you back, or forgive the debt altogether. “If anyone would like Allah to save him from the hardships of the Day of Resurrection , he should give more time to his debtor who is short of money, or remit his debt altogether” (Muslim).
(2) Teach a child one short verse of the Quran. “The best of you are those who learn the Quran and teach it to others” (Bukhari).
(3) Plant something edible. “If any Muslim plants something or sows seed from which a man, a bird, or an animal eats, it counts as a charity for him” (Bukhari, Muslim).
(4) Say something that will help make peace between two people. This is considered an act of charity (part of a Hadith in Bukhari and Muslim).
(5) Pour water into someone’s glass or get someone a glass of water. This is also considered an act of charity.
(6) Offer a glass of lemonade on a hot day or hot chocolate on a cold one to the delivery person or mailman/mailwoman.
(7) Help a person load their grocery bags or stuff into their car, or help them mount the bus or train (Bukhari, Muslim).
(8) Say something nice to someone else as, “…a good word is charity” (Bukhari, Muslim).
(9) If you find debris on the road or highway, remove it or call the local number to inform the state’s highway patrol about it so others won’t be harmed. Removing harmful things from the road is also a form of Sadaqa (Bukhari, Muslim).
(10) Text a parent, spouse, child, or friend to tell them you love them.
(11) Order a gift online. “Exchange presents with one another, for they remove ill feelings from the hearts” (Tirmidhi).
(12) Call or email someone’s boss or supervisor about good customer service you received from a waiter, nurse, mechanic, teacher, etc.
(13 ) Write a glowing online review of a business you’ve had a good experience with.
(14) Stop backbiting in its tracks by changing the subject during a conversation.
(15) Call to set up a cleaning appointment for a sick or elderly relative or friend.
(16) Take out the trash for your elderly or sick neighbor.
(17) Let someone go in front of you at the checkout line when getting groceries.
(18) Give a good tip.
(19) Hold the door for someone.
(20) Give up your seat for someone, especially an elderly person. “He is not of us who does not have mercy on young children, nor honors the elderly" (Tirmidhi).
(21) In terms of the latter part of the above-mentioned Hadith, stop yourself from scolding a kid who’s done something naughty but harmless.
(22) Write and mail off a handwritten thank you card.
(23) Smile and say “have a nice day” to a homeless person.
(24) Let another driver take that parking spot.
(25) Defuse tension by cracking a clean joke.
(26) Smile. It’s Sunnah and good for your health.
(27) Make a positive Dua for someone you can’t stand.
(28) Say Salam to someone you’ve seen around but don’t really know. “You should provide food, and greet both those you know, and those you do not” (Bukhari, Muslim).
(29) When you get home, say Salam to your family. “When you enter your home, greet your family with the salutation of ‘Assalamu alaikum’. This will be a source of blessings for you and your family” (Tirmidhi).
(30) Forgive someone.
(31) Make an online donation to a cause or charity dear to a family member or friend.
(32) Bite your tongue and stop yourself from saying something unkind.
(33) Give someone wise and gentle advice. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Religion is advice.”
(34) Complete a short task one of your parents asked you to do, whether it’s taking out the trash, emailing a relative, or doing some research about a product or medicine they need.
(35) Hold a crying baby so its parent can get five minutes to relieve their stress a bit.
Many of us long to walk the path of Deen but we don’t get to do it the way we desire. Is that because our desires are not “truthful”? The following incident provides us with an important guideline in this regard!
Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani narrated that once his elder sister asked her father, Mufti Muhammad Shafi, to pray that she may be able to do Hajj. Mufti Shafi asked “Do you have a desire to perform Hajj?”, to which she (obviously) replied in affirmative. However, Mufti Shafi remarked “No, you don’t have a (true) desire!”. Startled by this response, she insisted that she did have an immense desire. At this Mufti Shafi asked “Have you started to collect some money for it?”. Upon hearing a negation, he remarked “This shows that your desire is limited to your words. If you would have had a true desire, you would have collected some money for it!”. The daughter excused that she doesn’t get to have any savings (due to a low income of her husband) at which Mufti Shafi asked “Can’t you even save a cent (from your expenditures) for it?” The daughter replied that she could but that would be far too less to be able to afford the trip for Hajj. Mufti Shafi instructed her to at least do what she could do on her part – Allah helps those who take a step in His path. At most, even if the Hajj couldn’t be done, she will nevertheless get the reward for it. However, without taking any steps, mere “wishes” don’t end up anywhere!
Later, when the daughter passed away, a pouch was discovered among her belongings with a tag attached to it that read “Savings for Hajj” (Hajj kay lyay Paysay). Mufti Shafi’s eyes turned tearful at this sight. The collected money was given to a resident of Arabia so that he could perform the Hajj and the reward may reach the daughter. Later when Mufti Shafi went to the Hajj, he saw, probably in a sleepy state, that his deceased daughter is climbing Jabal al Rahmah (the Mount of Mercy) in ‘Arafah (this illusion was taken as a sign that Allah had accepted her “truthfull” desire and efforts for the Hajj – Talhah).
Adapted from what Shaikh Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani narrated in his lectures and also in his autobiographical articles entitled, “Yadain”.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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