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Allah says in the Majestic Qur'an, "The Compassionate has rose over the 'Arsh."

Every Muslim knows that the key to Paradise is the statement, "There is none worthy of worship except Allah." Yet too many Muslims simply rely upon this statement and believe that as long as they have made this statement, nothing will harm them. They think they will be granted Paradise because of this mere verbal statement of the Shahadah.

Allah says, "Believe in Allah and His Messenger and the light which He sent down."

Astrology is the study of the relationship between the movements of the stars and their influence on people and events. From an Islamic perspective, Astrology is divided into two branches - polytheistic and lawful.

'Anas said: "I have never witnessed a day better or brighter than that day on which the Messenger of Allah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam came to us; and I have never witnessed a more awful or darker day than that one on which the Messenger of Allah died on."

The Prophet said, "I called people to Islam, everybody thought over it, at least for a while, but this was not the case with Abu Bakr, the moment I put Islam before him, he accepted it without any hesitation."

The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam exhorted the Muslims to treat the prisoners so well to such an extent that the captors used to give the captives their bread (the more valued part of the meal) and keep the dates for themselves.

Bilal was a black slave belonging to 'Umayyah ibn Khalaf. He was tall, thin and slightly hump-backed. Thick grayish hair crowned his head. He moved about silently - speaking only in reply. He was born to two slave parents, making him a slave. He used to travel to ash-Sham for 'Umayyah's trading caravan, braving the bitter cold of winter and the extreme heat of summer. His only recompense was a handful of dates each day that he ate to strengthen his body. At his master's house he would serve the guests while going hungry. He was overworked and mistreated as were 'Umayyah's other slaves.

Through his prodigious efforts, hundreds of ahadith or sayings of the Prophet were transmitted to later generations. His is the foremost name in the roll of hadith transmitters. Next to him comes the names of such companions as 'Abdullah the son of 'Umar, 'Anas the son of Malik, 'Umm al-Mu'minin 'A'aishah, Jabir ibn 'Abdullah and Abu Sa'id al-Khudri all of whom transmitted over a thousand sayings of the Prophet.

All of the Prophet's ghazwat, bu'uth and saraya occurred after the hijrah, within a span of ten years. There were either twenty-seven ghazwat, or twenty-five, or twenty-nine.

Have you ever wondered to yourself what it actually means to be the best?

Introduction

The Prophet Muhammad informed us in a very famous tradition, commonly quoted with reference to halal and haram, about the importance of the heart. He said:

"There is in the body a clump of flesh - if it becomes good, the whole body becomes good and if it becomes bad, the whole body becomes bad. And indeed it is the heart." [*see below for full hadith]

He said that after explaining that the halal is clear and that the haram is clear and that between them are obscure areas, not known to most people. However, what protects a person from the haram and ensures that he remains in the halal is knowledge; but beyond knowledge, it is the state of the heart. If the heart is good, then it makes use of the knowledge and it avoids what is prohibited. If the heart is bad, then the knowledge is of no benefit to it and it will indulge in what is prohibited.

The Prophet, on the last pilgrimage, informed his Companions and the nations of Muslims to come, that there is no favour or no special place of the Arab over the non-Arab; nor is there any favour or special position of White over Black, but that favour in the sight of Allah, is with those who fear Him, those who have taqwa. After bearing witness to that, he said that "Taqwa is in the heart."

In these statements and other similar statements, we find stress being placed on the heart - that the heart is the part of the body, which Allah has favoured over all other parts. It is the place of iman. Had there been in the body another part that were nearer to Allah, taqwa would have been placed there because iman is the most valuable thing that a human being can have. There is nothing more valuable. It is the determination ultimately of those who have belief in Allah - those who have accepted the message and who have chosen Paradise over Hell. It is the distinction of those who have belief and those who have disbelief.

The value of iman is more than all of the things of this world. This is why the Prophet Muhammad said that for ALLAH to guide by your hands a single person to Islam is worth more than anything in this world. For you to help someone to find iman is worth more than any of the things in this world.

The heart is the place by which the correctness of deeds is judged. The Prophet Muhammad said: "Deeds are judged according to the intention." The place of the intention is not on the lips. It is in the heart. [**see below for the hadith in full]

Our deeds - what we do externally - are judged ultimately by the states of our hearts. These are good deeds. Evil deeds are evil, but these good deeds are in reference to those that we perceive to be a part and parcel of righteousness. Allah will inspect the hearts to determine whether they are truly acts of righteousness.

The Prophet Muhammad had informed us that the first 3 people who would be cast into the Hell Fire are people who were involved in what everybody considers great acts of righteousness. They are the scholar who taught knowledge; the wealthy person who gave fro his wealth in charity and the martyr who gave his life fighting in the path of God.

The Prophet Muhammad, in an authentic narration, said that they would be among the first groups of people thrown into because the scholar, when he taught the knowledge that Allah gave him, did not do so for the sake of Allah. He taught so that people would praise him, saying what a great scholar he is and how knowledgeable he is. Allah will say to him: "You received your praise, what you sought in that world. But there will be nothing for you in the next." So he will be drawn off on his face and thrown into Hell.

Similarly the rich individual - the philanthropist, who was generous with his wealth. He gave and people praised his generosity, but Allah will say, "You did it for the praise and you were praised. There was no sincerity there; it was not for the sake of Allah. You did it for as long as people appreciated it, but when people did not pay you mind, you were not generous anymore. Your generosity was conditional; it was not really for the sake of Allah." So that individual will be drawn off on his face and thrown into Hell.

And the martyr - the one whom we all assumed had died fi sabilillah. We would think that his place in Paradise is guaranteed. But Allah will say: "You fought so people would say, 'How brave this one is! How strong and courageous he was!' " People said it; they praised him, but he did not do it for the sake of Allah, so he will be drawn off on his face and thrown into Hell.

This is all telling us that ultimately, even the highest of deeds can be of no avail if the hearts are sick; if the hearts are corrupt. So the place of the heart should, in our minds occupy great attention. We have to spend much of our time observing, being aware of the state of our heart. When the Prophet Muhammad described Abu Bakr as-Siddiq , explaining to the people his status over the rest of them, he said, "He does not surpass you by performing more prayers and fasts - there are among you those who pray and fast more - but by something which deeply has embedded itself in his heart: Iman in his heart." That was where his superiority laid.

So there is no other faculty in the human body and existence that a believer should more concerned about. We have to make sure that this faculty is functioning as Allah wishes it to function. We should be greatly concerned about it. The Prophet used to make du'a often, beginning: "I seek refuge in you, O Allah, from knowledge that does not benefit and from a heart which does not fear."

The Prophet Muhammad had a very soft heart. He treated people gently. His wives said that they could not recall an incident where he hit them or scolded them harshly. He was known for his gentleness. And Allah confirmed that this quality is an essential quality.

Allah said in the Qur'an (3:159):

"Due to Allah's mercy, you are gentle with them. Had you been severe and harsh hearted, they would have fled from around you."

This was the quality of the Prophets and this is the characteristic that all those who seek to guide others to Allah must have. As it was essential for the Prophets, it is essential for us. It is essential for those who seek knowledge; it is essential for all people. It is essential for parents, with regard to their children.

Softness of the heart is something that we cannot spend too much time on.

With regards to children, Al-Aqra ibn Habis was visited by the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet lifted one of his children and placed the child on his lap. He kissed the child out of the kindness and softness of his heart towards the child. Al-Aqra said, "I have 10 other children and I have not kissed a single one of them." This was a point of pride, manhood - that one is not soft, that one is tough. The Prophet said to him, "Can I help it if Allah has removed mercy from your heart?" He went on to say, "And whoever isn't merciful will not receive mercy."

So it is essential that parents show mercy to their children. And if we look at a home where a father is kind and merciful with his children, we find a home that is full of happiness and joy.

Mercy is something that we cannot live without.

The reality for those seeking knowledge - as it is compulsory for us to seek knowledge of the Din - is that if there is not, along with that knowledge, a soft heart, then we cannot taste the beauty of that knowledge. As Al-Hasan al-Basri had said, "If a man seeks knowledge, it will appear in his face, hands an tongue and in his humility to Allah."

The opposite is true - that nothing corrupts knowledge and da'wa more than the harshness of the heart. Where hearts have become hardened, the knowledge is of no benefit to the individual, nor can that individual benefit others with it. Softness of the heart is the characteristic of true Muslims. If it becomes absent, then a person's life is filled with distress and discomfort. This is the promise of Allah. Those who lack hearts that are soft will lead woeful lives. As Allah said in Al-Qur'an (39:22), "Woe to those whose hearts are hardened against the remembrance of Allah." They are in obvious misguidance. Woe to those whose hearts hear the Qur'an and they do not become fearful and humbled as a result of it. Woe to those whose eyes are reminded of the Words of Allah, but they do not weep in fear of Him. Woe to those who are reminded of the Warnings of Allah and they do not humble themselves to His Words.

It is a curse to have a hardened heart and it is a blessing to have a soft heart. Those with hardened hearts suffer in this life, even though they may have all of the trappings of this life. What seems to be an enjoyable life is empty - it is filled with loneliness. They cannot find peace of mind and of heart because their hearts are hardened to Allah to belief in Allah, to submission to Allah.

That is why Allah said, "Whoever turns away from my remembrance will have a wretched life." [Al-Qur'an 20:124] and, "Whosoever turns away from My Message, verily for him is a life narrowed down, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Judgement."

What is most beneficial in this life is a soft heart. We should strive to achieve it because everything else would be meaningless and useless if we do not have softened hearts. How do we achieve this?

It is not a secret. It is not something known only to a few, handed down in special sessions and gatherings. As the Prophet said, "I have left you on a clear white plain, whose day is like its night. Anyone who deviates from it is destroyed." The way of the Prophet clarifies for us how to achieve a soft heart.

* [The hadith in full: Al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 49: Narrated An-Nu'man ibn Bashir: I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "Both legal and illegal things are evident but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and most of the people have no knowledge about them. So whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and his honor. And whoever indulges in these suspicious things is like a shepherd who grazes (his animals) near the Hima (private pasture) of someone else and at any moment he is liable to get in it. (O people!) Beware! Every king has a Hima and the Hima of Allah on the earth is His illegal (forbidden) things. Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoilt the whole body gets spoilt and that is the heart."]

** [Al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 51: Narrated 'Umar bin Al-Khattab: Allah's Apostle said, "The reward of deeds depends upon the intention and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Apostle, then his emigration was for Allah and His Apostle. And whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for."]

The First Way: Du'a or Supplication

Du'a (Supplication)
Du'a (Supplication)

The first method is du'a or supplication. Nothing softens the heart more than asking Allah to soften it and make it merciful. This is the promise of the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, when he said:

"Call on Allah being certain that your prayer will be answered, but know at the same time that Allah will not answer the prayer of a heart which is negligent."

Du'a will soften the heart and Allah is the One who will soften the heart. Our du'a to Him will be answered, but we have to believe it. If we just raise our hands and ask, "O Allah, soften my heart!" and not really ask from the heart, it is just something we said · and we could have said ANYTHING else! If we call on Allah SINCERELY, He will soften the heart. "Call on Me and I will answer you."

"When my servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close to them: I respond to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me; let them also, with a will, listen to My call and believe in Me: that they may walk in the right way." [Al-Qur'an 2:186]

If we consider the many examples that we have from the lives of the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam and his companions, they would show us that it is Allah who can change the hearts.

Let us consider 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab. His attitude towards the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam and Islam was so harsh that he set out one day to kill the Prophet. He was fed up with the efforts of Prophet to spread Islam that he felt he had to take it in his hands to finish this. He strapped on his sword and set out. On his way, he met another companion who told him to check on his own sister before seeing the Prophet. He was surprised and went to his sister's house, virtually tearing down the door. He slapped her and her husband until blood came from her face. He then stopped and looked at what he had caused.

On his way in, he had heard something from the Qur'an and it had touched him, but his anger did not allow it a chance to settle in his heart. But when he struck his sister and saw the blood, it stopped him for a minute. What he had heard before touched his heart. He asked what was being read before and some of the Qur'an was read for him. And he changed.

That was enough to turn him upside down. This was 'Umar! On another occasion, the other companions saw him laughing and then crying; one after the other. They asked what had caused that to happen to him. He said. "I remember that in the days of Jahiliyyah, I used to have this idol made of dates. One day, I became so hungry that I ate a piece of it. And then, I cried when I remembered digging a hole and burying my daughter. Whilst I was putting her in, she reached up and brushed dirt from my beard." And he had buried her alive. That was the practice those who felt it was a dishonour to have a daughter killed them. That was how hard his heart was. How hard his heart had become, to bury his daughter alive.

But his heart changed. Changed so much that 'Umar, when he used to lead the prayers, would be so choked up with tears that people from way back in the third row could hear him crying. This was 'Umar, a man who was so harsh, so powerful, a courageous individual, but with the acceptance of Islam, his heart was turned around.

So we should do as the Prophet advised us to go to Allah and call on him to give us softened hearts and we should seek refuge as the Prophet had from the heart without fear. And in the same du'a, he also sought refuge from the eyes that do not become full with tears; eyes which never cry.

The Second Way: Remember Death

Al-Baqi'
The Graveyard of Al-Baqi'

The second way is that we remember the Hereafter, to remember our death. The one thing that we are one hundred per cent certain of — even if we have some doubt as to whether there is really a God; even if we wrongly wonder if what we are practising is really the truth when there are so many other people doing so many other things — is that we are going to die.

But our lives are such that we become so occupied with the things of this life that we forget that we are going to die. As Allah said, the gathering of wealth has deluded them to the realities of life and they only come awake when they end up in their graves.

"The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things), until ye visit the graves. But nay, ye soon shall know the reality … " [Al-Qur'an 101:1-3]

This is a fearful statement, that we should live lives unconscious of our deaths and thereby be lost in trivialities, things that are really ultimately not going to benefit us in the next life.

Consequently, Prophet Muhammad sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam had said:

"I used to forbid you from visiting the graves in the early part of Islam. But now I command you to visit them because they serve to remind you of the next life."
"I [once] had forbidden you from visiting graves, [and I now enjoin] you to do so, so that the visit may serve as a beneficial reminder." [Related by Muslim and others]
" … for [such visits] soften the heart, bring tears to the eyes, and serve as a reminder of the Hereafter, [but be careful] not to speak forbidden expressions [i.e. while visiting]." [Al-Hakim - Sahih al-Jami' 4584]

To go to the graveyard, reflecting on the state of those in the grave (not necessarily of your relatives alone). As the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said, "The grave is either a garden from the gardens of Paradise or a hole from the holes of Hell Fire." There are people in the graves who are calling out for help but there is no one to help. When Munkar and Nakir come and ask them, "Who is your Lord?", "What is your religion?", "Who was the Prophet that was sent to you?", they will be unable to answer!

The Prophet said:

"When a human being is laid in his grave and his companions return and he even hears their foot steps, two angels come to him and make him sit and ask him: 'What did you use to say about this man, Muhammad?' He will say: I testify that he is Allah's slave and His Apostle. Then it will be said to him, 'Look at your place in the Hell-Fire. Allah has given you a place in Paradise instead of it.' "

The Prophet added:

"The dead person will see both his places. But a non-believer or a hypocrite will say to the angels, 'I do not know, but I used to say what the people used to say! It will be said to him, 'Neither did you know nor did you take the guidance (by reciting the Qur'an).' Then he will be hit with an iron hammer between his two ears, and he will cry and that cry will be heard by whatever approaches him except human beings and jinns."

This is not something we can memorise in preparation for the questions, because it is not a matter of not knowing, but that we will be incapable of answering as part of the degradation of that life. We know that the answer is the key for the next life, but we cannot use the key. We don't have access to it because it never entered our hearts in this life. If it did not enter our hearts in this life that Allah is our Lord and that Muhammad is our Prophet and that Islam is our religion, then that knowledge will not benefit us in the next life.

So we are encouraged to visit the graves and on that basis, this is not unique to men, for the benefits that come from visiting he graves is not unique to men. This is why some scholars argue that visiting the graves is not prohibited to women, but that it is the frequent visits that are prohibited, due to the sensitivity of their nature. Hence not regular visits, but to go from time to time as they need the reminder just as men need the reminder.

Allah describes those, in the Qur'an, who when they reflect on the Hereafter, are affected. It affects them in the nights. "They slept little in the night and in the hours before dawn, they were found seeking Allah's forgiveness." They wake up in the night with the remembrance of the life to come — the trials of the grave and the Judgement to come. These lead them to get up from their beds at a time when sleep is so sweet.

Brothers and sisters, let us reflect on that life to come. Let us reflect on the process after death; the process in dying itself — how the souls are taken from the bodies of believers, as the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said, " ... like water dropping from the spout of a bucket"; but for the disbelievers, " ... like silk being drawn over thorns", tearing away. That soul that fears Allah is taken in the next life up into the Heavens and the angels of the Heavens will praise it. It will return to that body and a Garden from Paradise will be opened up to it and it will lie in that state till Resurrection. But for those whose hearts have hardened towards the remembrance of Allah, the soul will be barred entrance into the Heavens. It will be thrown back into the body. Their evil deeds will come before them as a horrible creature and they will suffer torments. A widow from Hell will be open and the heat will be over them until Resurrection.

And what happens on the Resurrection, when we stand before Allah and answer for each and every deed that we have done, when nothing escapes Allah, when the things that we have in this life will be of no benefit to us. The only thing that will benefit us is to stand before Allah with a healthy heart.

The Third Way: The Qur'an

The third way by which we can soften our hearts is the Qur'an itself. Allah states in the Qur'an, Al-Hadid, 57:16:

"Has not the time come for those who believe for their hearts to fear Allah when they hear the Qur'an [dhikrullah here is in reference to the Qur'an] and what truth there is in it, so that they not be like those who received the Scripture before, but in the passage of time, their hearts became hard. And most of them are corrupt."

If we reflect on the Qur'an, it has the power to soften our hearts. Allah said, about the Jinn who heard the Qur'an:

"Indeed we heard an amazing Qur'an; it guides us to Allah and we believe in it and we will set not partners besides Allah." [Al-Qur'an 46:29-32]

Allah goes on to describe the righteous, "And if they (this is amongst the Christians) hear what was revealed to the Messenger, you will see their eyes welling up with tears because of what they know of the truth of what has been brought." This was the case of the ruler of Ethiopia. When Muslims sought refuge there and they recited a portion of the Qur'an, they saw his eyes fill with tears.

The Qur'an - the Speech of Allah
The Majestic Qur'an

This is how we should be. When we hear the Qur'an, we should reflect on the meanings. The Qur'an should not become for us a replacement for pop songs that we used to hear before. People buy recordings of their favourite reciters for the beauty of their voice … The listening of the Qur'an has become more of a musical thing. We are entertained by that music, so much so that when the reciter is reading, we hear people in the background going, "Allah! Allah! Allah!" People making statements in the background as thought it were a pop show! This is not the Qur'an … Allah tells us, "Will they not reflect on the meanings?"

The Qur'an is a Book of Guidance and it is in the reflection on the meaning of the Qur'an that we benefit, for it is very important for us to re-assess how we are dealing with the Qur'an. We should be reading it regularly, not only leaving it until Ramadhan. We reflect on it … not reading it Ramadhan so we can finish the whole Book and say we finished the Qur'an in Ramadhan. It really does not matter if we don't finish the Qur'an in Ramadhan. For most of the Prophet's sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam life, he did not finish the whole Qur'an in Ramadhan. Most of the companions did not finish the reading of the Qur'an in Ramadhan. Today, for us, Ramadhan is not complete unless we read the whole Qur'an in Ramadhan. We hire reciters to recite the Qur'an at 99 miles an hour so much so that even Arabic-speaking people cannot figure out where in the Qur'an the reciter is!

This has become the precedence — finishing the Qur'an in Ramadhan and if you can finish it twice, even better! But this is not what the Qur'an is for. The Qur'an is for reflection, so that when we hear it, as Allah says of the believers who hear the Qur'an recited, goose bumps come over their skins. It touches them and causes their heart to tremble.

"Allah has revealed (from time to time) the most beautiful Message in the form of a Book, consistent with itself, yet repeating (its teaching in various aspects): the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble threat; then their skins and hearts do soften to the remembrance of Allah." [Al-Qur'an 39:23]

If when we listen to the Qur'an, we don't find this reaction of tears coming to our eyes, then we should make ourselves cry. Force ourselves to cry because we need to respond to the Qur'an in this way. If we don't, we are lost! This is the Word of Allah, the only preserved Word of all the revelations that were given from Adam till now. This is the word of God preserved.

We should read the Qur'an believing this is Allah speaking to us, because that is what it is. It is Allah talking to us directly. Every time he tells us something about the Jews, we should not (merely) take it as a piece of information, that the Jews are this and that the Jews are that. No! Whenever Allah tells us something about the Jews, we should see in it as a warning to ourselves — that we don't become like them. When Allah said, "… ghayri'l-maghdubi 'alayhim wa la-dhallin … " in Surah Al-Fatihah, the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam explained that al-maghdub 'alayhim are the Jews and that ad-dhallin are the Christians. Those with whom Allah is angry are the Jews and those who have gone astray are the Christians. Allah is angry with the Jews because they KNOW the truth and they don't act on it. "Call people to righteousness and you forget yourselves." They changed the Book. The Christians are without knowledge; they are lost. They think that God is a man!

This is a warning to us. Every time we recite these verses, Allah is warning us not to be like them — we have the truth, we have the Scripture, but we are not acting according to them. If we do not seek knowledge, if we do not find out what it is Allah wants from us, then we are lost. Every time we read the "… ghayri'l-maghdubi 'alayhim wa la-dhallin … ", it should touch us. We should reflect on it and it should touch us.

There are so many verses throughout the Qur'an which remind us of the Hereafter, that remind us of the signs of the Day of Judgement. It is enough for us to open any part of the Qur'an to read about them. In virtually every chapter of the Qur'an Allah addresses the next life. It is linked to our second point of visiting the graves and remembering the Hereafter. The Qur'an speaks about the life to come and to reflect on it.

The Fourth Way: Good Deeds

The fourth way for us to soften our hearts is by way of good deeds. Righteous deeds done sincerely for Allah will soften our hearts. In the initial stages, maybe we can't see how it softens our hearts, but we have to stick with it and believe. As the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam told us, that the slave of Allah does not come closer to Him except by doing the deeds that He has made compulsory for him. The compulsory deeds — the 5 daily prayers, the fast, etc. While praying, sometimes we wonder, "Where is the benefit? Where is the change?" The point is that if we keep working at it, there will be benefit. We may not see it immediately. It is something that becomes cumulative, like a person growing. They can hardly wait till they are going to be big and they put a mark on the wall, wondering when they are going to get up there. They cannot perceive themselves growing because it is something accumulating within them.

Similarly, righteous deeds … and the first of the righteous deeds are the one that God commands. It is a mistake to go to the things that He did not command us to do and to put all our focus on these areas and leave the primary things that He commanded us to do. If we have not established 5 times daily prayers on time, then it does not matter whatever else we do. It is useless. This is the foundation — if we cannot do what Allah has commanded us to do, has demanded of us, then how can we please Him in anything else? Then, for us, pleasing God is according to ourselves — what is pleasing to us will please God. This is not pleasing God. We have to remember that the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam told us, "The Hell Fire is veiled by the things that are pleasing to us and Paradise is veiled by the things that we do not like."

"Things that we do not like" are not necessarily those things that are evil, but those that our own nafs does not like because they require work and effort. We like the easy way. So we would like not to pray and if someone were to tell us that it is not necessary to pray, we would say "Alhamdulillah!" This is our nature — we would be happy with that. However, we should be sad because we can only pray in this life and in the next, we have no chance to pray anymore. This is where prayer will benefit us, because in the next life, we will want to pray. We will beg Allah. Allah describes those who come before him for judgement: when they see their deeds and they know that they have put themselves in Hell. What will they do? Will they argue with Allah and ask why He has put them in Hell? No, they will ask Allah for another chance to go back and do what Allah has told them to do and more (see Surah Al-A'raf 7:53). But Allah will know that they are lying for they would do the same if sent back. For if Allah were to send us back, He will not send us back with the knowledge that we have then. He would send us back just as we were before.

Prayer is for OUR benefit. When we pray, we are not benefiting Allah. If every human being on this earth prayed, it would not increase or benefit Allah in any way, just as if nobody prayed, it would not decrease or affect Allah in any way. Prayer is for OURSELVES. That is why the Prophet used to say, "Bilal, give us ease by giving the call to prayer." Prayer was considered a time of pleasure but for us it is a burden. The sooner we finish, the better so we can get on with our lives. That is a mistake … Our hearts have become hard.

Allah describes the Jews: after all the signs that were given to them, with the passage of time, their hearts became hard. Our hearts have become hard. We have accepted Islam, we are awakened to Islam and we start to practise Islam, but time has passed and our hearts have become hardened.

"Has not the time arrived for the Believers that their hearts in all humility should engage in the remembrance of Allah and of the Truth which has been revealed to them, and that they should not become like those to whom was given The Book aforetime, but long ages passed over them and their hearts grew hard? For many among them are rebellious transgressors." [Al-Qur'an 57:16]

Prayer is not something that is pleasurable to us, but we have to keep striving and recognise that this is natural. Iman increases and decreases. The heart hardens and we fight against it and it softens … it is a continual struggle until we die. We just pray that we die with hearts that are soft and fearful. We have to keep struggling and it is in that struggle that ultimately we do taste iman; that we do taste what the salah was prescribed for; what the remembrance of Allah should mean in our lives. The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam describes those who receive the shade of Allah's Throne on the day when there is no shade: the one who remembers Allah and cries. His heart is soft.

The Prophet said:

"Allah will give shade, to seven, on the Day when there will be no shade but His. (These seven persons are) a just ruler, a youth who has been brought up in the worship of Allah (i.e. worships Allah sincerely from childhood), a man whose heart is attached to the mosques (i.e. to pray the compulsory prayers in the mosque in congregation), two persons who love each other only for Allah's sake and they meet and part in Allah's cause only, a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for illicit intercourse with her and says: I am afraid of Allah, a man who gives charitable gifts so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity), and a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes are then flooded with tears." [Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol. 1, book 11, #629]

So we should not shy away from good deeds for they will help to soften our hearts. The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam had said that greeting our brothers or sisters with a smiling face is sadaqa. Nothing should be too small for us: no good deed is so trivial that we scorn at it. We should strive to do every good deed.

But we should begin with the things Allah has made compulsory. We should establish the salah as Allah prescribed it; we have to establish our zakah as it is supposed to be given; we have to fast as it is supposed to be done and the hajj and umrah if we are able. These fundamentals have to be established for the sake of Allah; they provide the foundation for the softening of the heart. As we continue to do these acts and voluntary versions of these acts, we come closer and closer to Allah, until Allah says He becomes the eyes with which we see, where we see only the things that Allah wants us to see. We avoid the things that Allah does not want us to see; we turn away from them; we don't enjoy them. We only touch the things Allah wants us to touch; we only take what Allah wants us to take; we only go to places that Allah wants us to go … If we turn to Allah and we call on Him He will answer our prayer. This is the promise of the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam.

So my brothers and sisters, I ask you and myself to remember our hearts; to reflect on the state of our hearts. Whenever we have a moment, question: what state are we in? to work on our hearts until we have succeeded in softening them, by the mercy and the grace of Allah. We begin that process by turning to Allah. In our next prayer tonight, let us turn back to Allah and beg him sincerely to soften our hearts and when we do so, if we are sincere, our hearts will begin to soften. It is the promise of Rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam. We should read the Qur'an and do as much as we can of righteous deeds. We should reflect on the next life by visiting the graves and by reading the verses addressing them; by reading the statements of the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam about the next life. We should do these things and strive to soften our hearts. As I said before, if after doing them we cannot find softness in our hearts, then we need to make ourselves cry. We need to force ourselves to cry because until we can let go and let loose those feeling within ourselves, then the hearts cannot become soft.

So I pray and I ask Allah to give us all soft hearts, hearts that are filled with mercy for the creating of Allah, our children, our parents, our brothers and sisters in Islam … even those towards people who are not Muslims. I ask Allah to put in our hearts softness towards them in the sense that it would guide us to carry the message to them as we should. I ask Allah to give us success to turn back to the Qur'an, to read it regularly, seeking understanding and guidance from it and I ask Allah to give us soft hearts.

(s) Transcript of a lecture given at Dar al-Arqam, Singapore

Shaytan can persuade a person to come and use one of these three doors to make a person slip. It is like he is ambushing them. So even the most complete of people can fall into moments of anger, doing something based on anger, based on lust or based on forgetfulness.

So when it comes to us, Shaytan has far more chance because there are many other doors for him to enter by. But the point here is that if the Shaytan thinks that he has made you go through one of those doors, and makes you think you have done such a terrible thing, that you will never be the same Muslim again. You shouldn't ever think that. You should know that Allah's subhanahu wa ta'ala Mercy is at hand. And it could be that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has wisdom behind the fact that you fell into that sin. Yes, sin leads to the Hellfire, but perhaps that sin breaks you, makes you realize your other sins and that you cannot guide yourself.

And remember that if Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala leaves you to guide yourself foe a twinkling of an eye then you would fall into the hands of Shaytan. And you remind yourself that if Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala freed you to follow yourself for the twinkling of an eye, or a fraction of a second, that you cannot guide yourself because the self is a source, a well of evil prompts. So every time you walk and reflect, you should think to yourself, and hope that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is giving you the tawfiq, the ability to do good, and to stay on the sunnah of Rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam in all aspects of religion. But at the same time, you have the fear that you are left to follow yourself and that the rope of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, the rope from the heavens to the earth has been disconnected. The rope of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is the Qur'an. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says:

"And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah, and be not divided amongst yourselves ... " [Al-Qur'an 3:103]

The rope of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is interpreted by the Ulama to be the Qur'an. So if you let go of the commandments of the Qur'an, and the commands of Rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, whom the Qur'an has commanded us to follow, as Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says:

"And whatsoever the Messenger gives you take it, and what ever he forbids you then abstain from it." [Al-Qur'an 59:7]

And He subhanahu wa ta'ala says:

"Say (O Muhammad to mankind); if you truly love Allah, then follow me, and Allah will love you, and Allah will forgive you your sins and Allah is the Oft forgiving, Most Merciful." [Al-Qur'an 3:31]

Forgiveness, Mercy and the Love of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala are all dependent on how much you follow the Messenger sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala forgiveness, Allah's subhanahu wa ta'ala Mercy and Allah's Love are dependent on how much you follow the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam.

So it is important to bring up this issue now, which is that after the times of Rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam many Hadith were fabricated and laid down in this Ummah to deviate people from the right path. As one of the heretics said as he was about to be executed, " ... what are you going to do when I have fabricated in this Ummah a hundred thousand Hadith?", to which the Amir replied, "What do you really think you have achieved when we have the likes of Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Yahbi Ma'in?"

Ulama who had memorized hundreds of thousands of Hadith and would always be purifying the true Hadith form the false ones. It is a very important point that in our time we go back to those books where the Hadith have been purified. Another thing, which can be falsely ascribed to Rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, is a wrong understanding, an understanding of a practice of Rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam which none of the companions had. That there may be a Hadith which speaks about the virtues of sitting together and remembering Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, but we know that there is not one evidence from the companions which shows that they ever did this. This shows that the meaning of remembering Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala there is that every one remembers Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is his own individual voice, not in one voice, or in gatherings of knowledge. Things can be attributed to Rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, which are fabricated textually or they have a fabricated meaning attached to them. The point here is the importance of obeying the commandments of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and the commandments of Rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam. If you fall from that and you think you have done something really terrible then, whether it is with your heart, your eyes and ears, your privates parts or limbs, don't let Shaytan make you think that you can never be the same Muslim again because Allah's subhanahu wa ta'ala Mercy could be behind all of that. It could be that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala allowed you to fall into that sin because he knows that this will break you. Break you into to recognizing your sins and to thinking about the past. First of all think about your sins, secondly think about all the times you have been ungrateful to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and then thirdly think about he good actions that you have done, but you do not know if they have been accepted or not. So it makes you think to yourself, "O Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala if you leave me to myself then I cannot be guided and I cannot achieve salvation, indeed, ultimately the one I rely on is you."

Do not let Shaytan make you think that you are destroyed. When he takes you to a limit of thinking that you cannot be guided or that year by year you have been sinking and now you are at the lowest you have ever been at, since I have embraced Islam, how can I ever achieve that ascent again. Allah's Mercy is at hand. That could be Allah's Mercy in disguise.

Ibn al-Qayyim mentions, "If Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala wants good for someone, he gives him a test which is going to break him." To make him remember Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and bow down his neck and so he will become small once again to himself. The human being becomes proud and his ego starts to command him and he starts to say "I did this … " and "I did that … " and you will notice it in the conversations of people, that all they see is themselves and not Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala behind every good action. That person deserves to be broken. In fact he needs to be broken, otherwise, step by step, he is being set-up for punishment. Outwardly he is doing good, but his intention is evil and he or she ma not realize it. This shows the importance of correcting the intention and purifying whom you ascribe your actions to. If you ascribe them to yourself, that every good action you have done was because you were good or was it because Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala didn't lave you to yourself, because Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala sent guidance from above the skies into your heart. And didn't allow anyone to remove that guidance from your heart and created the guidance in the your heart, and did not allow that guidance to be removed. So no matter how much you try, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is the one who gives the ultimate will, and therefore with every good action, your love for Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala increases because you have now witnessed that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has sent down guidance to you.

The same way that when a person, when they witness rain, after periods of dryness, they feel relieved and happy. And the person can see the rain coming down from the sky, from Allah to us. Likewise when Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala gives you mercy, a person should feel happy. When you feel the mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, guidance, you feel you have done something good insha'Allah, then you feel that if it was good, then it is from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, and if there is evil in it then it is because he has left me to myself. With every aspect of worship, think to yourself, as you are praising and glorifying Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, that this from Allah and O Shaytan do not lie to me and say that this is from myself. If anyone follows the self, then he will be misguided, because the self is being continually programmed by Shaytan, and whispered into by the Shaytan. The nafs wants things that are easy, which are initially appealing. It does not want to go through hardship and then experience ease. The nafs wants ease, even if it has hardship afterwards, and pleasure, even if afterwards there is sorrow. The nafs does not tell you the truth. The nafs deceives, because the Shaytan is talking into the nafs.

So if Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala doesn't wish good for someone, he will allow that person to be proud of themselves. So here, O Muslims we must understand a really important point. You can deviate in two ways; you can be corrupt and not "Islamic" and be destroyed. But you could also be, in the eyes of others, "practicing", "on the right path", outwardly upon Islam, better then that, outwardly upon the Sunnah of Rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, the next great favour of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is to be in obedience to Allah in everything, outwardly though. Inwardly Allah has left you to follow yourself, so all you increase in as you are doing deeds is vanity. A person has to be aware of this, otherwise for days, weeks or even years, a person could be doing actions, thinking that you are righteous, wishing praise from other people, whereas in fact you are not getting an once of reward.

So if Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala wants good for someone then he opens the doors for humility and brokenness, so that person continues to seek from Allah, and feels poor in front of Allah, visualizing the weaknesses and faults (the ignorance and the enmity of the self) in the self. If Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala wants good for you, he will make you realize that within your ego, there is evil, there is ignorance, and enmity for your true well being. You will witness this, and feel this with certainty, that if I am left to follow myself then I am following ignorance. If I am left to follow myself, and I don't know whether if I am on guidance or not, then the anger of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala will be upon me, and I will be following something based on faults, meaning my nafs grows on faults.

The nafs, if you feed it with goodness, shrinks, and feels so small in front of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, so fearful before Allah, loves Allah so much and feels so timid. But if the nafs starts to get big, then it is breeding on filth, the najasah, impurity of sin and on pride.

So if Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala wants good for you, then he gives you those two things; continually witnessing that you cannot depend on yourself and to witness Allah's grace upon you, that he is the one who is always sending down those graces, those guided acts of kindness. Every act of worship is from him. Single him out. Make Tawhid in this. Make Tawhid in this visualization, this witnessing. This Tawhid is so important, if you can understand this Tawhid; you will increase in strength in your iman. It will give rise to strength in your Tawhid al-'Ubudiyyah. When you reflect on Allah's Lordship (Tawhid ar-Rububiyyah), that He is the Giver of everything, whether they are worldly things or things which will benefit you in the here after, it increases your worship. Even though the people of Makkah (who were non-Muslims) believed in Allah's Lordship, it didn't make them Muslims, but that it doesn't mean that believing in Allah's Lordship doesn't benefit. The more you strengthen your belief in Allah's Lordship, your worship will increase as well. Reflecting on the things which are happening in the heavens and the earth, and within yourselves, the sounds we hear and the colours we see. So make this tawhid, of whenever some goodness comes to you, a favour, don't ascribe it to anyone besides Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. Make that tawhid. Make that part of your 'Ubudiyyah. First there is Rububiyyah, witnessing the Lordship, that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is the only Lord, and Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has no partner in that, or are you going to make yourself a partner in Allah's Lordship? Or are you going to make some else a partner in Allah's Lordship? Yes, if that goodness comes to you via someone, then feel that it is from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, believe it from Allah and thank Allah, but via that person, and thank that person. Because one who doesnt thank the people hasn't truly thanked Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, since Allah chose that thing to come to you through that particular person.

Those two principles again; those are the two wings upon which the worshipper has to travel. We are all journeying towards Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, day by day.

"The Day of Judgement draws near, none besides Allah can avert it (or advance it, or delay it)." [Al-Qur'an 53:57-58]

It is getting closer. The meeting is close. If you don't have those two wings, you are not journeying towards Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala.

You know the hadith of Sayyid al-Istighfar, the best way of seeking forgiveness, a Hadith in Bukhari where the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said:

"The master of (or the best way to) seeking forgiveness is for the servant to say; O Allah, you are my Lord. There is nothing worthy of worship except you. You created me, and I am your slave, I try my best to fulfill your promise and the covenant. I seek refuge in you from the evil, which I have done. I admit to you, your favors upon me, and I admit to you my sins. So forgive me, verily none can forgive sins except you."

In this we see something really important. The fact that Rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said in this du'a, " … I admit to you, your favors upon me … " which is a witnessing of Allah's favors, and there is tawhid in that. Even in the acts of worship, especially in the acts of worship rather, you must ascribe them back to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, " … and I admit to you my sins … " which is a witnessing of the faults of the self. The self is not a source of guidance. Never make the self a source of guidance. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is the Guide, no one can give tawfiq except for him.

So what does it give rise to then. Witnessing Allah's Mercy, witnessing Allah's goodness, gives rise to love of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, praising Allah, thanking Allah, true happiness and good feeling towards Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. That you can never ascribe any evil to him, you know if any evil comes to you, if was because you were left to yourself for a twinkling of an eye. If hardship comes your way, and you lose your sabr, it is because you were left to yourself. If hardship came your way, and you had sabr, and you felt the sweetness of iman, that is because Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala didn't leave you to follow yourself.

So the closest door, by which any person can enter to get closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, is absolute poverty. You are nothing by yourself, you have nothing and you do not possess any station. You haven't made yourself a middle man, between other people and Allah, thinking that you are a guide. If Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala wills, you say something to benefit someone else. But you are not in any other station except the lowest. As we said, the lower you become before Allah, the higher your love for Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, and the love of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala intensifies for you.

So you don't feel that you can create a path between you and Allah. You believe Allah is the one who creates the path between yourself and Him. You work hard and Allah is the Creator of that path between you and him.

There is no path towards Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala except that poverty is the 'Ubudiyyah. Again, that deep worship of Allah, in hardship and ease, revolve around two poles, absolute love of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and absolute humility before Him.

Absolute love, as we mentioned before is based on witnessing Allah's goodness to you.

Absolute humility is based upon witnessing the faults of the self.

If a person does have these two poles, if every single person here thinks to himself, I am going to love Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala more then anything, and be humble to Allah because I cannot guide myself, and if I look to myself I see sins, secondly things which I have not thanked Allah for, and Allah deserves thanks constantly, and thirdly, the good which I have done, how much effort and adoration for Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala was there in it. You know that by yourself you have not achieved anything. If Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala blesses you, then he can pull you towards him.

If you do have those two principles then soon Allah will replenish you, and refresh you. You will fee that in any difficulty, there is a great chance, not only a great chance, but you feel that you have advanced more then you would have done had you not gone through that particular hardship.

Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says:

"And the slaves of the the Most Beneficent are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness." [Al-Qur'an 25:63]

And Rasulullah sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said:

"Never did a person humble himself before Allah, except that Allah raised him."

If you were you give love to someone, just to an individual, without humility, then you would love and admire that person, but you would not obey them. If you are humble before someone but you don't love them, then you may perform whatever they want you to do, but not with full enthusiasm. If that is for a person, then what about Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala?

How can a day go past and person hasn't tried to increase his love for Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala?

But those two things, absolute love and humility, can only become mature, if you hearts and your bodies become upright and righteous. If your heart becomes righteous and your body becomes righteous then in that case, you will achieve love of Allah. But it is not just a wish that you have, or a thought. You have to rectify your heart.

Now, how do we make our hearts righteous?

The love of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala should take precedence over and more importance then the love of anything else. Allah will test you on that. When you love Allah more then anything, which is the meaning of la illaha illallah, that I will not love any one more then I love Allah, when you achieve that, then your heart starts to become pure and righteous. Every time you prefer your own love over the love of Allah or something Allah loves, your heart will decrease in love for Allah and humility, and increase in arrogance, pride and vanity. In other words you never gain anything if you sin. If you sin, you have immediately reduced your love for Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and given some of that love, which you had for Allah, to something else. And you decrease in humility and grow in pride. That humility you had before Allah, you have given some of it to Shaytan. So a person can never gain from sin. That is why some of the Ulama mention, the pain involved in being patient and refraining from a sin, is far less then the pain after the sin. After the sin, the person thinks, I have lost the love of Allah, and I have given it to something, which Allah has created. The humility I had before Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, because of my sins, has decreased. I have increased in sin, and I have given some of my humility to Shaytan. This will cause chaos and confusion in the heart of the person, and that is why a Muslim, when he sins, he doesn't feel at peace, as Rasulullah sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said:

"Sin is whatever waivers in your soul."

It doesn't give you peace, because you have given some humility, which is only for Allah to Shaytan, you have given some Love, which is only for Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala to one of the creation.

The principle was to put the love of Allah before anything, but isn't that easy to say o people, isn't that easy to claim. But when we are put to the test, we find that the true honour of 'Ubudiyyah isn't upon us. When we are put to the test, the true honour of being a real follower, a real believer, a real mu'min isn't confined. A person deserves, according to that, punishment and a prolonged stay on the Day of Judgement. May Allah save us from this.

So it is easy to claim, an talk about, but it can only benefit you, if you implement it. So if you truly want to love Allah and be intense in your humility before Allah, you have to practically put the love of Allah before everything. No matter how many talks are done on it, no matter how many discussions you have on it, it will never increase, it will always remain a theory. So many times a person does put his or her desires before the love of Allah. For example, there is an elder, someone you respect, a shaykh, or someone in your family, because of those things, a person puts the love of those things before Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. In other words, the love of Allah isn't the authority over the heart, isn't the absolute kingdom which has been established in the heart. It is a kingdom of loving Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, but allowing the enemy inside as well, and giving some authority to an enemy, who does not want any good for you and has never wanted any good for you. As soon as Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala cursed him and took him outside Jannah, he hated Adam for that. He, Iblis said, as Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala mentions:

"Iblis said: Because You have sent me astray, surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your straight Path. Then I will come from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, and You will not find most of them as thankful ones." [Al-Qur'an 7:16-17]

And straight away after this, and this clearly shows how much he hates and despises Adam, he puts on the face of piety, of friendship and says:

"Then Satan whispered suggestions to them both in order to uncover that which was hidden from them of their private parts (before); he said: 'Your Lord id not forbid you this tree save you should become Angels or become of the immortal.' And he (Satan) swore by Allah to them both saying: 'Verily, I am one of the sincere well-wishers for you both.' " [Al-Qur'an 7:20-21]

And he swore to him that I am just an advisor to you. Your enemy will never come to you as an enemy. Iblis will never come to you as an enemy, but as a friend. That is why some many people have allowed him into the kingdom, which is only meant for Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. He comes in as a friend, like he is benefiting you. But you should know, but you think that I will find a way out, or I will kick him out soon. The Shaytan, when he finds a way in side the kingdom, doesn't rest. Now he is inside, he works like a virus, continually attacking. Every second is vital to eliminate him, or remove him and his authority from your heart. And his authority over you is according to how much you have 'Ubudiyyah and devotion to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. You leave the devotion and he enters through that door.

So Allah has decreed a matter, which cannot be repelled, that "whoever loves something other then for the sake of Allah, or other then Allah … ", (when we say "putting the love of Allah before anything", it means loving Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and loving for the sake of Allah ) " … then Allah will punish that person through that thing … " You will feel chastisement in the world, whether that is mental or physical chastisement. Love something other then for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, and you will see that it will become your enemy, and soon you will not be able to harness it for your use. Initially Shaytan says it is for your use, so use it for other then the sake of Allah, but soon it will work against you. It is up to the person who believes in Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, to use his faculties, which Allah has given him, to realise this before hand, and not go to those things, which incur the anger of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. You have nothing to win then, by sinning, because soon you are going to be punished by that sin. A person will continue to sin until he finds no joy in that sin anymore. Then they will start looking for greater sins. A person leaves obligations, until they leave greater obligations.

The decree continues, " … and whoever fears something, other then Allah, then that thing will have authority over you eventually." If you fear some thing other then Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, or other then for the sake of Allah, then thing will eventually achieve authority over you. Whoever preoccupies themselves with something other then Allah, (again other then Allah includes other then the cause of Allah) that thing will be cursed. The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said:

"The world is cursed. Everything that is in it is cursed, except for the remembrance of Allah, and that which is similar to it, or whatever contains it, and the Scholar, and the one who is learning."

The whole world is cursed except the remembrance of Allah, anything connected to the remembrance of Allah, the scholar, who spreads the remembrance of Allah, and the student, who is learning the remembrance of Allah. So whoever preoccupies him self with other then the remembrance of Allah will be cursed. And we see this from experience, people find frustration and difficulty in doing things because they find that their heart has gone away from Allah. Their heart is not with Allah when they are doing those things. And whoever prefers something other then Allah, Allah will not put any blessing in that thing. Prefer something over the commands of Allah and there will be no blessing in that thing. There will be that quick enjoyment and then there will be dryness, like a barren land, devoid of any fruit and goodness. And whoever tries to please someone else by making Allah angry, then he will earn the anger or the hate of that person as well. Allah has decreed these things.

We mentioned that absolute love of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and humility before Allah, is founded upon the hearts and bodies becoming righteous. Righteousness of the heart depends on two things. One, that the love of Allah is given precedence over all things. It is easy to think that you have that, but in reality most people fall into preferring the love of other over the love of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, and thus allowing Shayytan in to the kingdom reserved for Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala.

The second matter is magnifying the commands and the prohibitions. It is as if you can imagine the book above your head, and you never think of raising any command or any prohibition above the commands and prohibitions in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. It is according to your attitude to that, that you will be rewarded. Your respect, honour and magnification of the commands and prohibitions of Allah reflect your respect and awe of the one who has commanded and prohibited. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says:

"What is the matter with you, [that you fear not Allah (His punishment), and] you hope not for His reward?" [Al-Qur'an 71:13]

That tafsir of this is, why is it that you do not fear Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, His Magnificence? Nuh is rebuking his people because they do not fear Allah's Magnificence, of who He is and that Magnificence of His commands. To truly magnify the commands and prohibitions you have to attain three things:

  1. Whenever there is an exemption in the Shari'ah, like combing the prayer, tayummum, or delaying the dhuhr prayer because of the excessive heat, you do not become consistent in those exemptions. Otherwise you have not magnified the initial command.
  2. You should not go to excesses. If the Shari'ah says that in wudhu you have to wash each part of the body three times. Then don't go and say I will wash it five times. That person is going to do wudhu before the prayer and I want to beat him, so I will do ghusl.
  3. Whenever you submit to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, do not submit because of the wisdom behind the action. If you submit because you found out a benefit of the action, if you forget the wisdom, you are not going to submit and do the action. This is prohibited because it is bad for your health, if scientists prove that it is not bad for your health, you may fall in to that prohibition. These things can help you and strengthen you in your submission but the actual essence of the submission should never be based on that.

(s) Adapted from a lecture by Ihsan ibn 'Abdullah