Listen to your voice of conscience

Updated 04 September 2014

Listen to your voice of conscience

Before any decision we have to make, we hear a voice that shows us the way and directs us toward what is right. From the moment we wake up in the morning, wherever we may go and whatever we may do, this voice accompanies us.
Nobody else can hear it but that voice speaks to us of justice, moral virtue, humility, honesty and sincerity; in short everything that is good.
This internal voice that shows us the way and commands us to do what is right is the voice of the conscience. In one verse of the Qur’an, Allah speaks of “the two paths.” (Qur’an, 90:10) In other words, in addition to a voice calling one to goodness, there is another calling one to evil. Knowingly or otherwise, people either follow the path of our Lord, their consciences, or else that of corruption, satan.
Allah also reveals in the Qur’an that He reveals depravity and the means of protection against it: And the self and what proportioned it and inspired it with depravity or piety. (Qur’an, 91:7-8)
The word “depravity” means “sin and rebellion, unbelief, mendacity, the abandonment of the truth, moral collapse and the opposite of piety.” In other words, the concept of depravity includes all the negative attributes of the lower self. In essence, it is the exact opposite of conscience.

Inspiration of the heart is a blessing from Allah

The voice of the conscience is in fact Allah’s inspiration to everyone, a form of revelation, in other words: In that sense, everyone, and even every living thing, receives revelation, although that revelation is not a verbal one, of course. In contrast to the revelation that came to the prophets, this is inspired in the heart.
Allah says in the Qur’an that he sends revelation to some living things: “Your Lord revealed to the bees: ‘Build dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which men erect.” (Qur’an, 16: 68)
Through revelation, Allah inspires bees how to build their hives and where to find food. He reveals to ants how to live as a colony, how to raise their young and how to build magnificent ant cities. As revealed in the verse, all living things act and know what to do through Allah’s inspiration.
One of the verses of the Qur’an on this subject concerns the mother of the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him): “We revealed to Moses’ mother, ‘Suckle him and then when you fear for him cast him into the sea. Do not fear or grieve; We will return him to you and make him one of the Messengers’.” (Qur’an, 28:7)
As revealed in this verse, Allah inspired the heart of the mother of the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) with the way to protect him. In order to ease her heart, He also revealed how the child would be restored to her. In another verse, Allah describes how He gave revelation to the disciples of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him): “...and when I inspired the Disciples to have faith in Me and in My Messenger, they said, “We have faith. Bear witness that we are Muslims’.” (Qur’an, 5:111)

A blessing that distinguishes between right and wrong

Inspiration from Allah is a blessing that leads the believers to goodness and permits them to distinguish between righteousness evil.
Since the conscience is inspired by Allah, it is common to all people and by means of the conscience, Allah reveals to everyone the finest and best behavior that is most pleasing to Him. Yet some people are weak and overcome by their lower selves, and end up following the path of satan. These people have some surprising characteristics in common. For example, they dislike anything that is legitimate.
They prefer unlawful earnings to lawful ones, obtain food and drink through theft rather than legitimately and run red lights rather than stopping at them. Acting in violation of the laws bestows an explicable delight on people who choose not to heed the voice of their consciences. Yet Allah loves those who live legally, who heed their consciences in other words.
People who live illegally, in opposition to the voice of their consciences, carry the grubby signs of not living in a clean and honest manner, and their immorality is reflected as a darkness in their faces. Such people’s minds and foresight are inevitably shrouded, their behavior is unbalanced and they can never find happiness.
If someone is honest and sincere and abides by his conscience, then he will also be a balanced person.
Someone who acts in line with his conscience will know how to avoid evil and thus always act correctly. However, the commands of one’s conscience may sometimes conflict with one’s own interests; a person of deep faith will resolve that conflict by heeding his conscience. Those who follow the prompting of their lower selves, however, come up with all sorts of excuses to avoid heeding their conscience, even though they know that this is the best and proper course.
One can often see instances of this. For example, someone who does not use his conscience may well decide against running to help the injured if he witnesses a road accident, fearing that he may be held responsible for it and may end up being arrested.
Yet someone with a lofty conscience will face any risks to try to get to those people and help them, and will never invent any excuses not to. Someone knows in his heart, or conscience, that if he fails to help those people when he has the opportunity to do so, he will be responsible for their deaths.
“In fact, man will be clear proof against himself in spite of any excuses he might offer.” (Qur’an, 75: 14-15)
From the moment he becomes conscious, everyone is responsible for making the best use of this blessing that Allah inspires in his heart. Someone who starts to understand events going on around him, and who acquires the power of judgment, also possesses the ability to distinguish between the lower self and the conscience and the will to heed that conscience.
Let us not forget that we are all responsible for our decisions, actions and words, that we will all be questioned on the Day of Reckoning, that those people who heeded their conscience, the revelation in their hearts in other words, will be worthy of His eternal paradise.

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

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.