NORMS FOR A SUBLIME MORALITY – 2

Love attaches to everything related to the beloved. The Mountain of Uhud, for example, is not an ordinary mountain in the minds of Muslims, because the Prophet (pbuh) loved it. The city of Medina was an ordinary city, but it became a blessed one after the Hijrah, when the Prophet (pbuh) went to live there. That Illuminated City became dear to all Muslims because it was identified with the Prophet.

Thus love of Allah requires love of what Allah loves best, which is the Prophet. Allah the Almighty says in the Qur’an:

Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you… (Âl-i `Imran, 3/31).

Therefore whoever endeavors to follow Allah and His Messenger will certainly be counted among the beloved servants, by the grace of Allah. Commitment to the way of Allah and His Messenger will necessarily lead the faithful into such spiritual traits as expressing love and mercy toward all creation for the sake of the Creator, sharing resources with the rest of the faithful, developing an ability to forgive others, and seeing creation through the eye of the Creator.

Like moths circling a flame, the Companions regarded spiritual union with the Prophet (pbuh) as the greatest blessing in this world: therefore they received divine grace. And those Muslims who, throughout history, reflected in their persons the venerable character of the Prophet (pbuh) matured the divine qualities inherent in their creation, and became pioneering torches of faith and morality for humanity.

The most effective medicine for the sick soul is to love and follow the Prophet (pbuh) by admiring his extraordinary character.

Since the Prophet (pbuh) desires to unite with his community in Paradise, he wants us to observe the rules of Allah. Allah the Almighty says in the Qur’an:

Certainly a Messenger has come to you from among yourselves; grievous to him is your falling into distress, excessively solicitous respecting you; to the believers (he is) compassionate.(Tawbah, 9/128).

We are, therefore, bound to take heed of what the Prophet (pbuh) counseled us to follow so that we might unite with him by the pool of Kawthar, the most honorable part of Paradise. Here are some of those counsels.

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “My Lord ordained me to reflect even when I am in silence. (I advise the same to you).”[1]

Allah the Almighty endowed all creatures with an ability to think in accordance with their capacities. In all living creatures except for humans and jinn, this ability takes the form of natural instincts for bodily survival. Instinct helps animals feed themselves, defend themselves, and breed.

Human beings, on the other hand, are endowed with the ability to reflect. This ability helps us to come closer to Allah and become His honorable servants. People are not supposed to use this special capacity merely for the pursuit of sensual pleasures in the world. That is indeed a grave mistake for humanity!

The more one reflects upon the wonders of creation and develops sensitivity in reflection, the greater one’s taste of divine love and the peace of the Hereafter.

Reflection is the greatest tool for the attainment of our full human spiritual capacity The Qur’an, the ultimate guide to salvation, from first to last urges us to reflect deeply upon the wisdom in human creation, in the design of the universe, and in its own miraculous words. The Qur’an phrases its warnings in terms such as “Do you not think?”Do you not contemplate?” “Do you not understand the examples set out for humanity by the Qur’an?” So anyone who wants to live a life attuned to human dignity should enter the atmosphere of reflection guided by the Qur’an.

Allah the Almighty says in the Qur’an:

Do they not reflect within themselves: Allah did not create the heavens and the earth and what is between the two but with truth, and (for) an appointed term? (Rum, 30/8).

Were We then fatigued with the first creation? Yet are they in doubt with regard to a new creation. And certainly We created man, and We know what his mind suggests to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein. (Qaf, 50/15-16).

The Messenger of Allah reflected continually on Allah, the Creator of the Universe. He used to contemplate, without moving, for long periods. He invited his community also to reflect upon the creation,[2] and declared that contemplation is a uniquely valuable form of worship.[3]

***

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “My Lord ordained for me that my speech should be remembrance of Allah. (I advise the same to you).”

Lovers have a desire to remember and to mention those they love. The more one remembers the beloved, the more love increases. Thus those who have once tasted faith in Allah will seek to increase their love through remembering Allah.

Remembering Allah does not necessarily mean reciting His holy names. It means intentionally internalizing the love of Allah in our hearts, at the center of our consciousness. It is therefore said in the Qur’an:

… now surely by Allah’s remembrance are the hearts set at rest.(13/Ra`d, 28).

Hadrat A’ishah (r.ha) narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) was always in remembrance of Allah.[4] Allah the Almighty wants us to follow the Prophet (pbuh) in that.

… and remember your Lord much and glorify Him in the evening and the morning.(Al `Imran, 3/41).

Then when you have finished the prayer, remember Allah standing and sitting and reclining. (Nisa’, 4/103).

Allah the Almighty ordains in this verse that His servants should unite their hearts with Him at all times, and not give up on remembering Allah even in the midst of war, during times of fear and danger.

Remembrance of Allah is necessary to keep the heart on the straight path. The Qur’an says:

And be not like those who forsook Allah, so He made them forsake their own souls: these it is who are the transgressors.(Hashr, 59/19).

Allah the Almighty revealed to Moses and Aaron (peace be upon them) when they went to Pharaoh:

Go you and your brother with My communications and be not remiss in remembering Me. (Ta Ha, 20/42).

A believer whose heart remembers Allah with the words “O my Lord!” cannot speak anything but truth, cannot act with anything but justice, and shows mercy to all creation, because such attributes of Allah as the All-Compassionate and Most Merciful will manifest in the faithful who remember Allah and chant His names.

 Whoever remembers Allah and unites his or her heart with Allah reaches the zenith of worship. The Prophet (pbuh) says, The difference between the person who remembers Allah and the person who does not is like the difference between the living and the dead.” (Bukhari, Da`awat 66).

***

Again the Prophet (pbuh) said:“My Lord ordained for me to take lessons when I look at creation. (I advise the same to you).”

Allah the Almighty praises those servants who look at creation with the eye of insight and declares that He makes His verses (signs) understandable to such servants. The verses of the Qur’an urge humanity to take all happenings as lessons:

Will they not then consider the camels, how they are created? And the heaven, how it is reared aloft? And the mountains, how they are firmly fixed? And the earth, how it is made a vast expanse?(Ghashiyah, 88/17-20).

Have they not then journeyed in the land and seen what was the end of those before them: Allah brought down destruction upon them, and the unfaithful shall have the like of it.(Muhammad, /4710).

The most exalted form of knowledge, in science and spirituality alike, is to have a comprehensive understanding of the reality of being. Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi ŞÏÓÓÑå indicated his reaching this stage with such words as “I am roasted and burnt.” In his Mathnawi he converses with all manner of creatures and reflects upon their feelings, interpreting their condition. One of these spiritual conversations is with the rose.

The rose received its fragrance through keeping company with the thorn. Listen to the rose to learn this! Hear what it says: Why should I worry myself when I am with the thorn? I learned to laugh through putting up with the ill-natured thorn. Through union with the thorn I achieved my ability to offer perfume to the universe.

Yunus Emre, a Turkish Sufi, conversed with a sunflower. He uttered the wisdom and secrets of the universe through the tongue of the sunflower.

Sa`di al-Shirazi said, “To intelligent minds, every leaf of every tree presents a book of the knowledge of Allah. To ignorant minds, all trees together do not offer a single leaf.”

***

Such spiritual qualities as reflection, remembrance of Allah, and taking lessons from creation are prerequisites to spiritual perfection through clarification of the inner world. The Prophet (pbuh) acknowledged that Allah ordained him to cultivate such qualities strongly and advised his community to be careful in these matters.

Imam Rabbani put it eloquently: “What a good believer is the one blessed by following the example of the Prophet! Even tiny efforts performed with unshakable faith are deemed to be great efforts in these difficult days of Islam…” (al-Maktubat al-Rabbani, letter 44)

May Allah include us all among His fortunate servants who rightly follow the example of the Prophet. A lifestyle that follows the way of the Prophet (pbuh) leads one to salvation in both this world and the next. The only prescription for happiness is found in the noble rules and merciful manner of the Prophet. That prescription turns worldly sufferings into eternal salvation, painful tears into everlasting smiles.

The religious observances we enjoy in this world should be attuned to these noble truths, for then we might be granted the eternal celebration. These principles include reflection, remembrance, and observation of creation. They also include adorning our lives with the morality of the Prophet (pbuh) through altruism and sharing with other people.

We should bear in mind that Allah the Almighty created humans to need one another. Any society contains both the rich and powerful and the poor and weak. One might well ask, “Why has Allah the Almighty permitted people to be poor?” And the answer is simple: Allah has entrusted the poor to the rich. This responsibility to care is assigned by Allah Himself.

If the rich and powerful reflected that they could easily find themselves in the position of the weak and poor, they would take care of those in difficulty and fulfill their responsibilities by extending helping hands to the needy. For worldly life is transitory – it is almost nothing compared to the eternal life of the Hereafter. Meanwhile, the needy may perhaps reach salvation in the Hereafter merely through of their patience and gratitude toward Allah in this world.

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “I swear by Allah, in whose hand is my life, that you cannot enter Paradise unless you show mercy to one another.” The Companions said, “O Messenger of Allah! We are all merciful to each other.” The Prophet (pbuh) answered: “I do not mean showing mercy to yourselves alone. I mean being merciful toward all creation – a mercy that includes the whole creation! (Hakim, IV,185/7310).

Therefore we must take heed of the silent outcries within our society. Our major concerns must be the sick and old who live in desolation, orphans, youth enmeshed in alcohol and drugs, and those who suffer from ethnic or religious alienation.

 When we extend our hands and hearts to the destitute and needy, it is our festival of joy. Muslims are the organs of a single body, so every single person who is alienated from us is like an organ disconnected from our body. Urging Muslims to maintain such an inclusive attitude, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Muslims are like a single body in loving one another, in expressing mercy to one another, and in defending one another. When one part of the body is sick, other parts of the body suffer restlessness and fever.” (Bukhari, Adab 27; Muslim, Birr 66).

What can we do to reach the real festival of religion, when humanity finds salvation with the smiling face of Islam, the ignorant awaken, and the underprivileged rejoice? We should think hard about that. We need to spend time thinking about the religious festival of oppressed and aggrieved Muslims throughout the world. What sort of greeting card should we send them? How can we extend our hearts and prayers to fellow Muslims under oppression, to orphans, to the poor who feel like birds with broken wings? Might we make them smile for once? That might give us the pleasure of observing a real celebration.

The real festivals that lead to the real salvation will only be celebrated when we can give positive answers to such questions. How happy are those who live in accordance with the ethics of the Prophet!

May Allah help us feel deeply the sufferings of oppressed fellow Muslims throughout the world, make our hearts a warm ground for them, and reach them both through physical help and prayer. May Allah make the doors to the Hereafter an eternal festival adorned with spiritual happiness!

Amin

[1].    İbrahim Canan, Hadis Ansiklopedisi, XVI, 252, no. 5838.

[2].    Daylami, II, 56.

[3].    Ali al-Muttaqi, al-Kanz al-Ummal, XVI, 121.

[4].    Muslim, Hayd 117.