Sincerity must in divine relationship

Updated 28 April 2016

Sincerity must in divine relationship

We seldom think about the purpose of our life. Yet, it is extremely critical for us to know about this as it is having a purpose in life that pushes us to use our intellect and abilities in the right direction and it serves as a core factor to success and happiness.
As Muslims, we believe that the great purpose for which we exist in this world is to worship our Lord, our Creator — Allah, Who says: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Qur’an, 51:56)
Indeed Allah created the creation so that they could worship Him alone, without associating any partner with Him. Whoever obeys Him will be completely rewarded, whereas whoever disobeys Him would be punished with a severe punishment. And He has informed that He is neither dependent, nor does He have any need for them. Rather, it is the creation that is in dire need of Him, in every condition and circumstance, since He is the One who creates, sustains and provides for them. Imam Ibn Kathir said: “Ibadah (worship) is obedience to Allah by acting upon what He commands and abandoning what He forbids; and this is the reality and essence of Islam. And the meaning of Islam is: Istislam’ (submission and surrender) to Allah, the Most High, along with the utmost compliance and submissiveness to Him.”
Whatever a servant of Allah does to seek His pleasure, in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah is Ibadah. As Muslims we need to realize that from the conditions of our worship to be accepted by Allah, is that it needs to be sincerely for His sake. Allah says: “So whoever hopes for the meeting with His Lord let him work deeds of righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of His Lord.” (Qur’an, 18:110). Similarly, the Messenger (peace be upon him) said “Indeed Allah does not look at your faces nor your wealth but He looks at your hearts (intentions) and your actions.” (Muslim) Also there is a Hadith Qudsi where the Messenger (peace be upon him) said that Allah said, “I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having partners. Thus, whoever does an action for someone else’s sake as well as Mine, will have that action rejected by Me to him whom he associated with Me.” (Muslim)
After sincerity the second vital condition of worship is that it should be correct and therefore acceptable to Allah. Our worship of Allah should be as He and His Messenger (peace be upon him) have commanded us. Allah says: “O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and do not invalidate your deeds.” (Qur’an 47:33)
The Messenger (peace be upon him) said regarding this: “Whoever does an action which we have not commanded will have it rejected.” (Muslim) He (peace be upon him) also said “Whoever does an action (of worship) in a way different from ours will have it rejected.” (Abu Dawood)
It has been narrated that Omar Al-Khattab once passed by the monastery of a monk. When the monk came out, Omar looked at him and began to weep. When people asked him why he was weeping, he replied: “I remembered the statement of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, in His Book: ‘Working [hard] and exhausted. They will [enter to] burn in an intensely hot Fire.’ (Qur’an, 88:3-4) So that is what has made me cry.” (Tafsir Ibn Katheer)
Hence, if an act of worship is correct but not sincere, it will not be accepted and if it is sincere but not correct it will not be accepted until it is both sincere and correct. Sincere means that nothing but the Face of Allah is sought by doing it and correct means that it is in conformity with the Sunnah.
Unfortunately, when we look around us today, we see a lot of people ignoring these two conditions; using worship as a tool to get worldly benefits or taking the way of their fathers, ancestors and other people as the yardstick of right and wrong. There exist in Muslim communities, several innovated cultural practices and beliefs which have no basis in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Innovated practices are actions like specifying words of Dhikr that are not prescribed in the Sunnah, or to say that a particular du’a, a certain chapter/verse from the Qur’an or a specific name of Allah should be recited a fixed number of times without any proof from the Hadith. These innovated actions also include singling out a day or night for worship and religious celebration that the Prophet (peace be upon him) or his companions never did (like the day of 12th Rabi Al Awwal, nights of 27th Rajab and 15th Sha’ban).
Yet, when these misunderstandings are brought to the attention of people, many respond in the exact words of the disbelievers of old times, “This is what our forefathers used to do so we will do the same.” People who make such statements should think about whether they are following the guidance of Allah or the way of the disbelievers. One of the key characteristics of Islam is the importance given to verification of information and to the prohibition of blindly following practices which are proven to be unIslamic.
Islam is a complete way of life. All acts of worship that we need to get closer to Allah have already been revealed and explained to us by the Messenger (peace be upon him) who said, “I have left you upon the clear path, its night is like its day and no one deviates from it after me except that he is destroyed.”(Ahmad)
This Hadith should push us to acknowledge and accept the facts and not be careless, making our actions vain like Allah has mentioned regarding some people: “And We will regard what they have done of deeds and make them as dust dispersed.” (Qur’an, 25:23) Rather let us become cautious and send something foreword for the Day of Judgment, the Day when we will be in great need for good actions, i.e., our sincere and correct Ibadah.


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.