Guidance comes only from Allah

Updated 06 November 2014
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Guidance comes only from Allah

Human beings are created with a nature that takes pleasure in beauty, and with a desire to live in happiness and in well-being. Therefore, it is a completely natural human desire to be rid of unpleasant situations as quickly as possible, or to turn them into pleasant ones. In fact, having peace of mind and a healthy spirit are important factors for the health of the mind, as well as the body. This can be achieved by living by the Qur’an.
It is for this reason that when some people act according to their feelings, desires and passions, without regard for the Qur'an's teaching, they become oppressed by sadness, worry and fear. When one has no understanding of the nature of fate, and of what it means to put one's life in Allah's hands, and complete submission to His will as taught in the Qur'an, he will be in a state of constant struggle with the anxiety that arises from not knowing what will happen to him or to those close to him at any given time. Whereas, if he lives his life according to the religion that Allah has chosen for him, and according to the moral canons of the Qur'an, he will never experience this anxiety or any other such difficulty. Allah proclaims this truth through His messengers when He says:
... all those who follow My guidance will not go astray and will not be miserable. But if anyone turns away from My reminder, his life will be a dark and narrow one … (Surah Ta Ha, 123-124)
As stated in the above verses, many people turn away from Allah's reminder and, as a result, live an anxious and unhappy life. Moreover, since they lead their lives based on the superstition that life is led by chance, they feel regret by regarding as so-called setbacks those very things that could be to their future benefit. Their minds are continually agitated by the fear of being fired and ending-up poor, of being cheated or becoming sick. When they hope for adulation they worry they will be ridiculed; when they hope for loyalty, they fear of being confronted with ingratitude. They become pessimistic when they consider the possibility of receiving bad news at any moment, or that someone might say or do something unpleasant to them. In a verse, Allah reveals the state of anxiety in which those who disregard the Qur'an live:
When Allah desires to guide someone, He expands his breast to Islam. When He desires to misguide someone, He makes his breast narrow and constricted as if he were climbing up into the sky. That is how Allah defiles those who disbelieve. (Surat Al-An‘am, 125)

Source of unhappiness
It is natural that those people who do not live by religious moral values should feel disturbed and lack peace of mind, because they spend their lives in the company of those who lack the moral qualities of the Qur'an, such as love, compassion, mercy, self-sacrifice, loyalty and humility. To live in a system full of deceit and harm, in which people do not help each other without expecting something in return, where friendships are pursued with expectations of profit, where even simple mistakes one commits are met with an angry response, and where everyone treats the other unjustly, gossiping and not saying what they really think, is a cause for unhappiness for a sentimental person.
However, if such a person were to live in an environment that was to their liking, it would change little. Even if there were much happening around them they should feel happy about, such emotional people would find a way to see them in a negative light. Because they view every little thing in such a way, it does not matter if the weather were hot or cold, rainy or windy; they turn whatever it is into something to complain about. We could illustrate, with pages of examples, how these people find excuses to feel dissatisfied at every opportunity. It is a manifestation of what Allah says in the following verse, "Let them laugh little and weep much, in repayment for what they have earned." (Surat at-Tawba, 82)
A person who assesses a situation superficially and reacts emotionally to it cannot foresee how, if something were to happen to him, that it might in a later stage turn out beneficially for him. Consider, for example, a person dejected because he missed his bus; how does he know that that bus will not be in an accident a moment later? Maybe Allah determined he miss the bus as part of his fate so that he would escape the accident.
And again, not getting the job he really wanted is an occasion for an ignorant person, to feel distressed and dejected. Such a person regards getting the job as definitely the best thing for him, and not getting it as his greatest loss, whereas, a person who has faith that Allah is his friend and protector will know that Allah approved the result for his good, and he will submit to it with pleasure and satisfaction. Perhaps the work environment would have damaged his health; perhaps it was necessary for him not to take that job because a greater opportunity was about to come to him.
People who do not adopt the life style that is pleasing to Allah and the moral virtues of the Qur’an can find hundreds and even thousands of reasons to be sad and unhappy. That is because people can only be happy in real sense if they live lives of which Allah approves, if they serve Allah with purity, if they scrupulously obey His commands, if they love and are in awe of Him and if they fully abide by the moral values of the Qur’an.
There is no other path to happiness. Therefore, people who do not seek happiness in Allah’s approval and the Qur’an, but who turn toward worldly desires and seek to satisfy their own lower selves will inevitably find themselves facing unhappiness and sorrows.

Submitting to the destiny created by Allah
Most people think that, apart from birth, death and its appointed hour, and what Allah has provided for human beings, fate determines nothing – may Allah forbid; they believe that things happen by accident or inadvertence unconnected to fate. This delusion makes them rebel against the things that have been determined for them according to their fate, and is the reason for their melancholy. They consider every event to be a setback against them, causing them to suffer continuing torment. Therefore, the happy and joyful moments enjoyed by sentimental people are but brief and fleeting. And, just after having experienced a moment of joy, they choose to recall something saddening and revert once again to their depressive melancholy.
These factors are all the natural and inevitable results of not living by religious moral values. Without faith, a person becomes enslaved to regret and melancholy. Similarly, those who live in the world neglectfully, wasting their lives without any attention to the commandments of Allah, or to His proscriptions, will, in the hereafter, face their unhappiness:
They will say, "Our Lord, our misery has overwhelmed us. We were misguided people." (Surat Al-Muminun, 106)
Allah may test a person in this world with certain difficulties and worries. However, the believer does not give in to melancholy and pessimism when he is faced with such anxieties created by Allah to test him; he does not react emotionally. He knows that Allah is trying how he will behave in difficulty.
This is the promise of Allah to His servants:
Yes, the friends of Allah will feel no fear and will know no sorrow: Those who believe and have done their duty, there is good news for them in the life of the world and in the hereafter. There is no changing the words of Allah. That is the great victory! (Surah Yunus, 62-64)

The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.