The Blessing of a Pure Heart: Ikhlâs and Taqwâ -III

TAQWÂ IN CONTENTMENT (RIDÂ)

Situations and incidents occur in four forms: those which are good and those which are evil.

1 –People who are good both inwardly and outwardly:

A person works for a living in an Islamically acceptable job and spends his money for noble causes, continuously giving charity, performing acts of kindness towards fellow humans, animals and the environment with their hands, words and behavior. Such a person is aware of what is unlawful and permitted but also avoids anything that may be doubtful. His heart remains full of ikhlâs and taqwâ. Such is the manifestation of inward and outward goodness.

2 –People who are evil both inwardly and outwardly:

This is the condition of those who pursue abominations and disgraceful acts in this world. All occurrences of the prohibited, fall within this category. Believing that such a state of calamity is happiness, they their lives in self-deceit in this world and in the Hereafter they will suffer nothing but grief.

3 – Occurrences which are outwardly good and inwardly evil:

There are some occurrences that seem exceptional when observed externally, yet when examined internally it becomes apparent at the root of their goodness is evil. For instance, wealth which is coupled with a state of indifference to the plight of others because of a dominating nafs.

Wealth can seem like a blessing, but miserliness and extravagance in wealth are evils which increase the sins and punishment of a person in both this world and the next. The most significant examples of this are Qârûn and Sâlebe, who were both doomed to perdition. They deceived themselves and persisted in ignoring the commands of Allah in order to gain wealth, thinking it would be beneficial. Rejecting the warnings of the Prophets, they were heedless to the evil of their actions. As a result, both were destroyed in a turbulence of evil that destroyed their lives both in this world and the Hereafter.

The following Qur’ânic verse describes the situation of these people:

Now, as for man, when his Lord tries him, giving him honor and gifts, then says he, (puffed up), ‘My Lord has honored me.’ But when he tries him, restricting his subsistence for him, then says he (in despair), ‘My Lord has humiliated me!” (Fajr, 89: 15-16)

We should never forget that wealth and poverty are both from Allah; we must comply with whatever Allah sees fit for us and fulfil our duties according to the requirements of whatever we have been granted; this is where true charity begins. If we are heedless to the reality and ignore the Divine will persisting in things that are forbidden, then our situation will be as described in the Qur’ân: “It is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and that you love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knows, and you know not.” (Baqarah, 2: 216) The privileged believer is the one who comprehends and lives according to this idea in every aspect of his lives.

The most distinguished quality of the Prophet Muhammad, (pbuh) who was blessed with the greatest of human characteristics, was his being the ‘most perfect of creation’. The Prophet Sulaymân did not hold on to wealth; he transferred his worldly wealth and goods to the world, and although he lived among so much wealth, he was complimented as being a ‘perfect creation’ by Allah Almighty. Yûnus was subjected to many trials, deprived of his health, children and wealth for many years; living a life of gratitude and patience, he submitted to his fate, and as a result Allah the Merciful complimented him with being the ‘perfect creation’ and granted him endless blessings.

4 – Occurrences which are outwardly evil and inwardly good:

A person becomes ill and the deterioration of their health, even though this may seem to be a negative event, becomes a positive event because it is due to this illness that this person begins to understand their own weakness; they seek refuge in Allah, constantly asking for His help through their plight. In this case, the goodness is not manifest.

‘Abdullâh ibn Mas‘ûd (r.a) said: “I went to see the Prophet, who was suffering from a fever. I said to him, ‘O Messenger of Allah, it appears that your fever is intense.’ The Prophet replied, ‘Yes, I am suffering the pain of two people.” I said to him, ‘Perhaps this is so you will gain twice the blessings.’ The Prophet responded, ‘No calamity befalls a Muslim without Allah expiating some of their sins, even the prick of a thorn’” (Bukhârî, Mardâ’, 3, 13, 16).

A true believer should judge the events of this world of trial according to the four truths set out above and continuously take account of the negative qualities of their heart. In every matter they should be aware of their status and the level of repentance, praise and glorification.

Every believer who has ikhlâs (sincerity) should make an effort to compensate for the thoughts that occupy his mind, the feelings of his heart, and even the breath that he takes, because pleasing Allah is the greatest fruit of love. The most pleasing to Allah is when a believer abandons the acceptance of their desires and submits to the acceptance of Allah. How, then, are we to recognize good and evil when they are not ostensible in order that we can reach this kind of contentment? This question has but a single response:

GOODNESS IS WITH ALLAH ALONE

In his work Âmâk-i Hayal, a book of sufi wisdom, written by Ahmet Hilmi Efendi of Filibe, there are two important characters; one is Aynali Baba, who is a Gnostic illuminating people with his wise words accompanied by the play of Ney (flute). Another character is Raji who is a seeker of truth. They often come together and Aynali Baba plays Ney, they discuss things about the universe and the purpose of life. At one of such meetings, whilst Râjî was listening to Aynali Baba playing the ney he fell in to a deep sleep. He found himself in a gathering of many people from Prophets to philosophers, important personages to ordinary people. A man stood to speak on behalf of mankind. In tears, he asked the great thinkers of the world the way to true happiness: “Tell me, please have compassion; I hate my life but I cannot abandon it. Please tell me what happiness is.”

Some of the people there answered. Confucius said, “Happiness is cooking rice to just the right consistency.” Plato said, “It is to think always about nobility.” Aristotle said, “It is logic! That is what happiness is.” Zoroastra said, “It is not being left alone in the dark.” Brahma said, “Happiness? Happiness is the antithesis of what everyone thinks.” Buddha stood up in a rage: “O humanity! Happiness is one of the beautiful names of non-existence, Nirvana. O humanity, stick to Nirvana!” The people who heard this were confused and said, “You have not helped yourselves; you have lived your lives deprived of happiness and there is not even a trace of happiness in what you preach!”

Just then a friend of Allah stood up and said, “For the intelligent, happiness is observing Divine beauty, whereas for the ignorant, it is greed and lust!” In fact, he had disclosed happiness as taught by the Prophets. Finally, the head of the gathering, the Pride of Creation (pbuh), stood up and said, “O Humanity! Happiness is accepting life for what it is, accepting burden and hardship, and making every effort to improve; in other words, happiness is obtaining a heart of purity.” Having found the answer they were looking for, the people stood up and chanted, “O Honored one of the universes! The greatest Prophet! You are the only one who can understand and find the cure for humanity!”

Rûmî, the great guide, was a prolific reader of people’s lives: he was fully aware that goodness came only from Allah. He said, “Until you accept or are content with that which Allah has sent, no matter where you run in the hope of salvation, know that you will face calamity; without a doubt, disaster will come and find you. There is not one corner of the universe that is free from the pitfalls of evil. There is no contentment or salvation in this world other than living within one’s spiritual peace; thus, seek Allah in your soul and take refuge in Him. There is no place in this dungeon of the worlf, where protection money is not demanded and men are not beaten on every corner.

“I swear by Allah that if you seek refuge in a mouse hole you will be caught by the cat; the only way out is by being a sincere believer and reaching Allah. He will console and protect you against the snakes and scorpions. In the end He will become your friend.”

Once, a jinn came in the form of a snake to ‘Abdulqâdir Gaylânî, the great spiritual guide. It departed as his friend. This is an example of the blessing which are brought by Divine love and contentment.

Therefore, the duty of a believer who has asked for eternal goodness in life is to accept all that they face with taqwâ, except disbelief and straying from the path. If life is experienced in this way, death and the afterlife will be of benefit and man will prosper on the Day of Judgment.

Another condition of reaching this level of temperament is repentance and forgiveness. The character of the soul that is required by Allah the Merciful is

TAQWÂ IN SEEKING
FORGIVENESS AND REPENTING

A condition of repentance is that one’s remorse is sincere; pursuing taqwâ in repentance ensures that one will return to Allah in a state of purity with a permanent repulsion for sin. The essence of taqwâ in repentance is fulfilling this promise with righteous actions. When a believer removes the curtains of blindness from their soul they are aware of the burden of sin on their conscience and awaken to a sense of prosperity in the heart. The soul turns to Allah with tears of regret; this is the true repentance from errors and a sign of genuine remorse. This is the path back to Allah.

Thus, repentance is the removal, through a feeling of remorse, of the obstacles that exist between the believer and Creator; the secret of repentance is having a forgiving heart. One who forgives becomes worthy of forgiveness; another dimension of taqwâ in seeking forgiveness is that when a person asks to be pardoned they consider their own ability to forgive others, and by continuously forgiving others they earn the right to be forgiven.

The following advice from Hadrat Alî to a person who was appointed as governor is very significant: “Do not look at human beings like a wolf with its sights on a herd! Have love, affection and kindness towards them from the heart! Without exception, they are either your brethren in faith or fellow human beings; they can make mistakes. Help those who are in need and if you ask for forgiveness from Allah you must also forgive; forgive and be tolerant towards them! Never be heedless, or challenge the orders of Allah! Never renege on your forgiveness! And do not take pleasure in punishments you have to give!”

Abû Dardâ, (r.a) one of the Companions of the Prophet, was a judge in Damascus when he heard some people swearing and shouting at a sinner. Abû Dardâ asked them, “What would you do if you saw that a man had fallen into a well?” They answered, “We would throw him a rope and try to save him.” Abû Dardâ (r.a) then said, “Then why are you not trying to help this man who has fallen into the well of sin?” They were so surprised that they asked, “Do you not feel angry towards this sinner?” Abû Dardâ (r.a) gave an answer of great wisdom, “I despise his sins, not his person.”

There is great wisdom in Abû Dardâ’s (r.a) desire to embed this principle into the souls of believers. This wisdom has a divine glimmer of the commands and pleasure of Allah; it reflects the character of the Prophet into the souls of the community. The only way to attain eternal pleasure in this mortal world is to be like the Prophet and spread the fragrance of forgiveness and love from the soul; when we are faced by undesirable incidents we should turn our hearts into an abode of wisdom that is full of the Divine blessings that smell the fragrance of Paradise, accompanied by forgiveness, friendship, kindness, tolerance and humility.

The beautiful quality of taqwâ encourages man to think about others. The human character that is most loved by Allah is that which struggles to help and save others. In particular,

ENCOURAGING WHAT IS GOOD
AND FORBIDDING WHAT IS EVIL

Encouraging good and forbidding evil are the most important characteristics of a believer. The duty of a pious person is to express this with their actions as well as their speech and to advise good and prevent evil in a gentle manner. If the invitation towards Islam and the fear of Allah is abandoned the community will become vulnerable to disasters. Zaineb bint Jahsh reported that she asked the Prophet of Allah, “O Messenger of Allah, while the believers are among us will we be destroyed?” The Prophet (pbuh) replied, “If sins and abomination proliferate, then yes” (Bukhârî, Anbiyâ’, 7). Therefore, the only way to protect ourselves against Divine punishment is to encourage others to do good and to forbid them from evil; this is the task of every believer with taqwâ. While performing this duty or any related duty, one must be guided by the Qur’ân and Sunnah, and consult a person of knowledge at every stage. Hadrat Alî gave the following advice to a governor: “Do not accept into the committee for consultations those who threaten you with poverty or try to prevent you from doing good actions; do not accept cowards who try to increase your ambition or those who have been blinded due to their greed!”

“Turn to Allah and his Messenger for solutions to the problems you cannot solve! Refer to Allah and His book and refer to the Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah.”

If we desire to be from “the best nation” we must live a virtuous life and advise others to live in goodness, abstaining from bad and evil and prohibiting others from doing the same. We have to be aware of our duties on the path of Allah; without this sense of duty and affection a person cannot be successful in advising others of what is good and what is evil. What is essential is

TAQWÂ WHEN WORKING
IN THE SERVICE OF ISLAM (KHIDMA)

The basis of all principles of Islam is turning towards Allah with true affection and sincerity, ikhlâs. Without doubt, the only way to achieve this is through servanthood. Those who work in the service of Islam spread great energy around them that everything finds life through them; by enlightening their environment, they increase their own illumination. Sincere service is the result of a sound heart. Success in servitude requires knowledge, wisdom, efficiency, equanimity and a responsible character and personality. The heart of a dutiful person should be like fertile soil; those who derive benefit from it leave behind ashes; by purifying the ashes the soul is able to cultivate various plants that will nourish all the passing creatures. Therefore, those who do not have sufficient knowledge or experience, who give no importance to the progress of spirituality or morality, those dutiful ones who have no true understanding cannot offer service of any use; we cannot expect any good to come from service that has been performed in a harsh manner by abrupt and offensive people who are not blessed with a heart of good temperament.

Therefore, service that has been deprived of the soulful bounties is like a bucket of water that is poured into an arid desert or a seed thrown into a scorched field; it will fall to field mice, doomed to failure; the seeds of duty that are planted by the heart will become blossoming trees in the future.

The greatest duty towards human beings, within these measures, is to assist them in attaining the eternal future. The only way to achieve this is by being guided to the path of a true believer by the principles and guidance of the Qur’ân. The following prayer of the Prophet (pbuh) should be in the hearts and prayers of those who continuously perform their duties as human beings: “O Allah! I seek refuge in you from helplessness, idleness, cowardice and every kind of weakness.” This prayer of the Prophet (pbuh) emphasizes the need for sensitivity and thoughtfulness, as well as action.

According to this, those who help others must show kindness and every action should be performed with the greatest caution.

Being acquainted with those we help is a duty that is as great as the mission itself to ensure that it is given to those who are most worthy. Sometimes helping one person of good character can be equal to helping thousands of people; if you supply the means to an intelligent person it will never be wasted. Another important point to consider when helping others is to act with feelings of gratitude. Sheikh Sâdî said, “Glorify Allah for making you successful in your good deeds, because Allah has granted His benefaction and blessings upon you. The servants should not expect the Sultan be grateful for their service to him , on the contrary they should be grateful that He has employed them.”

We should be aware that the essence of this benevolence is found in our duty to Allah and His Prophet (pbuh) because a pious man knows that he has reached taqwâ with the blessings that have been granted by Allah and His Messenger. In the same way, it is this person’s responsibility to enforce this duty on others. One of the most intense feelings in the heart should be

TAQWÂ IN LOYALTY

The basic meaning of loyalty is to neither forget nor neglect a friend; all friendships should continue with the bond of loyalty. When the feeling of loyalty fades then friendship also fades, and when loyalty dies out friendship comes to an end. It is possible to say that Allah’s Prophet lived his whole life as the greatest example of loyalty. He was loyal to his wet nurse who brought him up, he was loyal to the Abyssinians who protected the Muslims when they migrated there, he was loyal to Khadîjah who believed in him while others called him a liar and he was loyal to all his Companions. He was especially loyal to Allah the Merciful; this was a very different type of loyalty and was apparent with every breath the Prophet took.

‘‘isha  reports that an old lady came to the Prophet one day when he was in her company. He asked the old lady to introduce herself. The woman said, “I am Jassâmah (lit. huge in size) of Muzan.” Because her name implied a negative attribute, the Prophet (pbuh) changed it saying, “No, from now on you are Hassânah (lit. beauty, elegance) of Muzan.” Then he asked her how she had been keeping since he had last seen her. She replied, “All praise to Allah, my family and I are fine, may my mother and father be sacrificed for you!” When the woman left, ‘‘isha asked the Prophet what was the cause of his immense respect for that woman. The Prophet of Allah answered: “She would come to us often when Khadîjah was alive, and loyalty is a part of faith” (Hâkim, I, 62: 40). Those who were refined through the Prophet’s great manners became symbols of loyalty themselves.

Unfortunately, morality with such virtue is a thing of the past; it is not something that is found in the heart in its true form anymore. It is a mere word ornamenting the dictionaries now. Without a doubt, this is due to a decline in the fear of Allah. “For everyone who breaks his promise, there will be a flag (to mark him out) on the Day of Judgment, and it will be announced that this flag is the symbol of the promise made by this person” (Bukhârî, Jizya, 22; Adab, 99; Hiyal, 99; Muslim, Jihâd, 11-17).

It must be emphasized that our first and primary duty of loyalty is to Allah and then to His Noble Prophet, (pbuh) who is the reason for our creation, our eternal happiness and our path to faith. Loyalty thereafter should go to the great ones of faith who have taught and guided us to the straight path, then to our mothers and fathers, whom we must serve while they are alive. Being polite and honoring our parents is the greatest debt of loyalty shouldered by a son or daughter.

Loyalty to our elders, to the dead and to the living, loyalty to the nation and to all of society is also the quality of a positive character. Therefore, every believer should protect his taqwâ, never surrendering to the chaos of the present time, and never abandoning efforts to repay the debt of loyalty; otherwise, affection loses its true value and so does friendship and servitude. It is the duty of a human being to guard their taqwâ in loyalty. We must realize, however, that the condition of taqwâ in loyalty is:

TAQWÂ IN LOVE AND AFFECTION

We cannot achieve anything without love and affection in our hearts; even the smallest of deeds requires the support of affection. In the same way, the secret of our creation, the secret of our actions, is affection. This affection must be developed within the boundaries of taqwâ because it is necessary to support affection with true values. The first of those we truly love must be Allah the Merciful and His Prophet. (pbuh) Allah granted believers the emotion of love so that they could be affectionate between themselves as Muslim brothers. Loathing negative things is essential for the protection of affection . Good and evil become apparent according to affection. The degree of a person’s affection is like the one they love; people admire that for which they feel affection and follow them as an example; indeed a person is influenced by those they love. The Companions of the Prophet were distinguished in every matter and place because of their affection for and the blessings of the Prophet Muhammad. (pbuh) Companions who were nearby also acquired something of the high morality of the Prophet; the Muslims in the Hunayn valley gained courage from him, and the Companions acquired their submission to acceptance of Allah from him. In short, the status and prosperity in belief, worship, family life, loyalty and kindness of the Companions was a reflection of the Prophet. (pbuh) The Companions actually became what they were through this affection.

At the time of the Prophet’s death, the Companions were bent in grief. Those adoring souls that could not bear to live without seeing him for a day were now never to see him in this world again. It is very interesting that at this time, ‘Abdullâh bin Zayd, who could not bear the thought that he would never see the Prophet in this world again, held his hands up in prayer and pleaded from his pure heart: “O Allah! Take my sight! I do not wish to see anything in this world if I cannot see the dear Prophet whom I love so much!” He immediately lost his sight. Directing our affection towards Allah requires loving the light of Muhammad and his blessed person, loving the Companions of Allah, and then expanding out further and loving every creature of Allah. The greatest and most meaningful manifestation of affection for the Prophet is his sunnah. In accordance with the maxim “the lover adores everything that belongs to the beloved”, following the prophet, the beloved of Allah is essential. To the same degree that we can reach the ‘essence of Muhammad’ using our intelligence, we can also reach it with affection. We must never forget that the love and affection we feel for anyone else in the universe other than Allah is ‘figurative love’, while the deep love and affection we feel for the Lord of the Universe is the ‘Real Love’. In this sense, taqwâ is to avoid anything that will distance us from Allah Almighty and the Prophet; this can be achieved by loving those who Allah and the Prophet love and disliking those whom Allah and His Messenger disapprove.

O Allah! Make us love those whom You love and dislike those of whom You disapprove! Never deprive us of servanthood, affection or loyalty to You or to Your Noble Prophet! (pbuh) Grant us a love for the truth within the bounds of taqwâ! And place us in both worlds with the Noble Prophet!

Âmîn!

(From the book of;  IKHLÂS AND TAQWÂ SINCERITY AND PIETY)