Not to lose excitement and to be persistent

The most effective motivational forces, which makes the men of service run to serve others and perform their services with pleasure, are the love and excitement felt for serving others. Those who do not carry this type of excitement in their hearts will not be able to experience the pleasure of serving others.

It is a known fact that the ascension of the intuitions and even the states occur during the peak moments of the excitement. For instance Sultan Suleiman’s era, the high points of the Ottoman State, was a period in which the entire community embraced each other with faith and excitement. It was possible to observe the manifestations of their faith and excitement in the lives of each member of the society starting from the laymen to the Sultan.

For instance, after the victory of the battle of Preveza, a soldier came to Istanbul to give the good news. When he entered from the gates of Topkapi Palace, he strongly pulled the reins of his horse. It reared up and turned around for a while. When Sultan Suleiman saw this scene, he said to the soldier:

“What a wild horse you have!” The soldier’s response was a manifestation of his enthusiasm:

“O my Sultan! Mediterranean was like a wild horse, too, but we have managed to smooth it down.”

In those days everybody in the Ottoman society shared the same feelings; however as soon as they started to lose their enthusiasm, their decline began. The advancement and growth of services in the path of Allah the Almighty depends on the extent of religious excitement and emotions. According to Ibn Abbas’ report (may Allah be pleased with him), the following verse was revealed when laxity and laziness appeared in the hearts of the Muslims:

“Has not the time yet come for those who believe that their hearts should be humble for the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And that they should not be like those who were given the Book before, but the time became prolonged to them, so their hearts hardened, and most of them are transgressors.”(57; 16)[1]

Sometimes feelings of satiation may occur for some men of service, which signals the beginning of a dangerous situation for them. The feeling of “that’s enough” is a whisper of self calling him to the worldly desires. The following report from Abu Imran (r.a.) displays the significance of having same excitement of service until end of life:

During the Umayyad period, a Muslim army under the command of Abdurrahman b. Walid gathered for a campaign to conquer Istanbul. Khalid b. Zayd Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him) was among the soldiers. During the battle, an Ansar was seen riding his horse behind the enemy lines, and he did not come back. When the believers saw what he did, they remembered the verse “do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction”[2] and said:

La ilaha Illallah! Look what he did! He willfully threw himself into danger.”

Upon hearing this Abu Ayyub al-Ansari said:

“O Believers! Please don’t take this verse wrong. It was revealed down about us, or the Ansar. When Allah the Almighty had bestowed His victory to His Messenger (pbuh), we said: “Now we can deal with the improvement of our property.” Upon this, Allah the Almighty revealed:

وَأَنْفِقُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّٰهِ وَلاَ تُلْقُواْ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ
إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ

“You shall spend in the cause of ALLAH; do not throw yourselves with your own hands into danger…”(2; 195) The danger “about throwing ourselves into destruction” mentioned in this verse is to keep ourselves busy with the world and neglect and stay behind from serving the path of Islam.”

Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, who sincerely listened to this Divine warning, never stayed away from serving Islam and finally he was martyred during the above-mentioned campaign and buried close to the walls of Istanbul.[3]

Abu Ayyub al-Ansari’s, who went to the aforementioned campaign in his eighties and who had the honor of having the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) as a guest for about six months when he (pbuh) first arrived to Madinah, is a sufficient example of how a man of service should strive and feel the enthusiasm of his faith.

Faith, which connects the believer to Allah, the sole possessor of Might, is also a form of excitement. The possessor of faith should never be afraid of anything and never lose hope. As a matter of fact it is stated in a verse:

“And be not infirm, and be not grieving, and you shall have the upper hand if you are believers.”(3; 139)

Men of service should be solvers of problems, not the creators of problems. They should not just talk, and look for mistakes to criticize but have a positive spirit and should be able to approach the incidents constructively.

To show your exhaustian and stand aside before the problems is a  sign of weakness, and weakness does not befit a believer. Men of service should always keep the following supplication of the Messenger of Allah in their hearts and tongues:

“O Allah! I seek refuge with you (Allah) from (worries) care and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from miserliness and cowardice, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by other men.”(Bukhari, Daawat (Invocations), 38)

The most essential points for the success in service are patience and determination. It is stated in the following verses:

“O you who believe! be patient and excel in patience and remain steadfast, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful.”(3; 200)

“Ye who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere.”(2; 153)

Elmalili Hamdi Yazir wrote the following statements regarding the commentary of this verse:

Al-sabur or the Patient is one of the names of Allah the Almighty. This means whoever has patience displays a manifestation of this Divine attribute. Especially when the patient people come together and become a congregation, they would receive Allah’s assistance Allah becomes their Friend and Guardian.”[4]

It is very normal to face some problems and difficulties during giving service to others. If these problems are faced with determination and patience, Divine help will come and there will be success at the end with the permission of Allah the Almighty.

Imam Rabbani says:

“The problems and difficulties on the path of conveying the truth of Islam should be regarded as blessings. The Prophets faced with many troubles and suffered with great grievances. Even Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who is the most virtuous of all Prophets (peace be upon them) says:

“None of the Prophet suffered with the inflictions, which I did.”[5](Mektubat, 193rd letter)

The following lines by Muhammad Iqbal shed light on the path for every man of service:

“A gazelle was complaining to another gazelle:

“From now on I will live in Mecca and Qa’bah. There I can sleep, walk around and graze; because here in the meadows hunters wait in ambush for us gazelles. From now on I would like to feel safe. I would like to let my soul feel a little tranquility…”

To this, the other gazelle responded:

“O my smart friend! If you would like to live, live in danger. Sharpen yourself with a grindstone, and live sharpest than a sword. Danger tests the strength. It lets us know what our body and soul is able to do.”

Sufyan al-Sawri (q.s.) expressed this fact saying:

“Going Horasan and conveying the message of Islam is more profitable for you than living in the neighborhood of Mecca.”

A man of service should never quail against the difficulties and inflictions. On the contrary they should gain strength against the troubles of the path of the service. They should never forget that elixir for the eternal salvation, which is usually hidden in difficulties and sufferings. As a matter of fact, it is not possible to reach blessings without sufferings, for efforts spent in the path of a goal make life valuable and blessed.

Serving others should not be a capricious love. On the contrary, it must be considered as a lifelong duty. The sustenance of the men of service must be patience and their support should be Allah the Almighty.

It is stated in the sayings of the elders:

People who have the following three attributes are away from Allah:

Those who run away from serving others, thinking of their own comfort

Those who run away from the places of sorrow, pretending that they were too sensitive to stay there

Those who spend time with the dissolute and sinners

And the pleasure of good deeds shows itself in the following three:

In faith combined with love

In prayers performed with piety and reverence

In service adorned with goodness

In conclusion, acceptance of services by Allah the Almighty depends on its performance with serious manners and sensitivity. Just as it is not usually possible to have the expected results from haphazardly performed services, they may even end up with harmful results.

To be able to serve the creation of Allah the Almighty with mercy and love is something that requires strong patience and perseverance. A perfect man of service is  one who is adorned with attributes like mercy, compassion, altruism and generosity and who is away from hate and grudge.

If it is carefully examined, it can be seen that the Qur’an consists of all of the abovementioned attributes. In addition, the stories in the Qur’an provide supplements for these principles. The legal verses of the Qur’an, on the other hand, show the obligatory application of our ethical actions.

Ethics, which essentially consists of religious maturity, means the transition from an animal-like state to that of humans, from immature attributes to a perfect character. The essence of ethics can be found in turning our faces to Our Lord, the Absolute Goodness. And the path to the Lord goes through serving His creation.

It does not matter in which society a man of service lives, he keeps his enthusiasm, faith and personality; and he protects his heart from the love of property – possessions, office and benefit; and finally he/she runs to serve the weak and destitute.

Dear Lord! Bless us with all these praised attributes. Give us the enthusiasm to serve others. Bless us with the awareness of our responsibility for those whom we can help and let us at least feel the sorrow of helplessness for those whom we cannot go and help!

Amin!

[1].      Ibn Kathir, Tafsir, IV, 332.

[2].      Holy Qur’an 2; 195

[3].      See Abu Dawud, Jihad, 23; Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 2.

[4].      See Yazır, Elmalılı M. Hamdi, Hak Dîni Kur’ân Dili, v. I, p. 546.

[5].     Tirmidhi, Sifat al-Qiyamah, 34.