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 ... "
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."
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."
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)."
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."
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."
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.' "
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?"
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Adapted from a lecture by Ihsan ibn 'Abdullah