“Lâ ilâha illallah, Muhammad Rasulullah”-
There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger.
Expressing the profession of faith is the first step in entering the Islamic religion. It is a sentence bearing witness to the oneness and unity of Allah and to the acceptance of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as Allah’s last messenger. It is the root of religion. It possesses all secrets for the salvation of humanity. It also has many names that demonstrate its significance to Muslims:
Kalimah al-tayyibah; the most beautiful words,
Kalimah al-taqwa; the enunciation of Allah’s awareness,
Kavl al-thâbit; the right words,
Maqâlid al-thamavât wa al-ard; the key to the heavens and the earth,
Kalimah al-ihlâs, the expression of sincerity,
And Samanu’l-Jannah; the price of paradise.
The profession of faith is the essence of Islam and is the essence of all the religion’s other teachings. All details of Islam are dependent on this essence. Hence, it is the best kind of worship to utter these holy words. It is superior to all other kinds of worship. Even the best mode of worship, salât is incumbent at certain times of the day whereas the declaration of faith is incumbent at all times upon believers. Faith should always be protected from all sorts of harmful thought such as heedlessness. Fasting, salat and other kinds of worship can be postponed if there is an obstacle, however, faith can never be postponed regardless of the circumstance.
The profession of faith is:
أَ شْهَدُ اَنْ لاَ اِلَهَ اِلاَََّ اللهُ وَ أَ شْهَدُ اَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَ رَ سُو لُهُ
“Ashadu anlâ ilâha illallah wa ashhadu anna muhammadan abduhu warasuluhu”
This means that:
In order to enter Islam, one should utter these words with his tongue and accept it in his heart. The profession of faith contains all Qur’anic wisdom and all realities. In other words, the entirety of the Qur’an is the articulation of these words. The essence of the Qur’an consists of belief in one Allah, tawhîd. The following verse clearly expresses this reality:
“This is a clear message for mankind in order that they may be warned thereby, and that they may know that He is only One Allah, and that men of understanding may take heed.” (Ibrahim, 14:52)
All praiseworthy acts of the servant of Allah are the consequence and fruit of these beautiful words. The more these words are established in the heart, the more a servant takes pleasure in worship. On the other hand, all acts that attract Allah’s wrath are the products of disbelief in these holy words. Allah the Almighty states in the Qur’an:
“Seest thou not how Allah sets forth a parable? – A goodly word like a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the heavens – of its Lord. So Allah sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition. It brings forth its fruit at all times, by the leave of its Lord. So Allah sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition. And the parable of an evil Word is that of an evil tree: It is torn up by the root from the surface of the earth: it has no stability.” (Ibrahim, 14:24-26)
The phrase in the verse, “It brings forth its fruit at all times”, is explained by the Prophet (pbuh) as the continuous remembrance and mentioning of the names of Allah (Fazâil al-A’mâl).
Explaining this verse Ibn Abbas (may Allah be happy with him) states: “This verse points to the word of profession, its roots are in the heart of the believer and its branches are in the heavens. The good deeds of the believer reach to the heavens. The filthy words are the ones that contain disbelief, and those that associate partners with Allah. No good action is accepted in the absence of faith.”
Therefore Allah has informed us in the Qur’an:
“He indeed shall be successful who purifies himself,” (‘Alâ, 87:14)
The Prophet (pbuh) explains the concept of purification in this verse as uttering the words of profession (لاَ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ للهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَ سوُ لُ اللهِ)with sincerity, and abandoning the worship of idols both internally and externally. (Fazail A’mâl, 466)
The friends of Allah whose duty is to purify souls from all sorts of vice, act in accordance with the guidance of the above hadith. The idols are not always apparent, sometimes human souls nurture hidden idols such as his animal desires. In the following verse, Allah the most High condemns such attitudes:
“Hast thou seen him who maketh his desire his god,” (Jathiyah, 45:23)
One of the duties of the Prophet (pbuh), as revealed in the Qur’an, is to purify the hearts of human beings from spiritual diseases and to unveil for them the deep dimensions of belief in the unity of Allah. Faith is like a mirror, and if a person is heedless of Allah this mirror is blurred. A blurred mirror prevents us from receiving and reflecting divine lights. Divine lights only manifest in a believer’s heart if the heart is made tender through the mentioning and remembrance of the names of Allah (zikrullah). Zikr is the opposite of forgetfulness. The tarnished nature of the heart is removed through turning to Allah with all sincerity and devotion.
The prophets and the friends of Allah invite people to accept the profession of faith which will open the door of heaven and earth for man. The prophets have shared these sweet words with humanity in the best manner through love and mercy. Many blessed people have responded to this call and have tasted the real faith which is sweeter even than kawthar (Fountain in Jannah). They have pioneered carrying the torch of faith. In this vein, let us examine the following verses of Aziz Mahmut Hudai:
Obey the commandments of Allah
Come to the unity, to the unity
Refresh your faith
Come to the unity, to the unity
Do not look too far into the distance
Do not throw your heart into the fire
Do not incline to everything you see
Come to the unity, to the unity
Close your eyes to everything other than Allah
Expect from Allah whatever you want
Throw your concerns from your heart
Come to the unity, to the unity
What do you think
You who are deceived by the transient
One day you will awaken
Come to the unity, to the unity
Leave blind imitation
Profess the unity of Allah with sincerity
Find all your dreams
Come to the unity, to the unity
So do not worship the forms
Look at the meanings
Try to be close to the Real
Come to the unity, to the unity
Do not believe your carnal soul
Do not think that you know
Do not throw yourself into the fire of shirk
Come to the unity, to the unity
Leave transient loves
Do you ever mention the dead
The traveler continues his travel do not be late
Come to the unity, to the unity
The profession of faith possesses limitless wisdom. Therefore, the earth, the heavens and everything in them confirm the message of these holy words. Even Allah the most High bears witness to His Unity:
“Allah bears witness that there is no god but He, and (so do) the angels and those possessed of knowledge, maintaining His creation with justice; there is no god but He, the Mighty, the Wise.” (Âl-i Imrân, 3:19)
The profession of faith possesses four meanings in short:
1. Declaring the existence of Allah,
2. Declaring the attributes of Allah,
3. Declaring the acts of Allah,
4. Declaring the trustworthiness of the messenger of Allah.
The profession of faith is the seal of the Islamic faith and is called Âmantu. The six pillars of faith are a summary of the entire Islamic belief system.
The translation of the Âmentu is as follows:
I believe in Allah the Most High, in His angels, in His books, in His Prophets, in the Day of Judgement, in divine predestination and in the fact that both good and evil occur through the will of Allah, the Supreme Being and that there will be life after death. I testify that Muhammad (pbuh) is His servant and messenger.
When one accepts the five pillars of Islam he/she becomes a Muslim and when he/she accepts the six pillars of faith he/she becomes a believer. However, only uttering these words by tongue without accepting it in the heart is not enough to be a believer.
In addition to believing in the existence of Allah and the prophethood of Muhammad(pbuh), one also needs to cultivate understanding and practice straightness in life. In other words, our faith should be strong and perfect so that it can carry us to salvation. When we speak about a strong faith it also includes accepting all the attributes of Allah.
I. FAITH IN ALLAH
The human mind cannot fully comprehend the nature of Allah, who has created the sky, the earth, and all things in between them. For this reason, contemplating the essence of Allah generates strange ideas in the imagination of man and damages correct faith. The Prophet (pbuh) has forbidden this kind of contemplation:
“Contemplate upon the favors (His creation, power and greatness) of Allah and do not contemplate upon Him. (since no one can afford to do that).” (Kitâb al-Arbaîn)
In order to emphasize the limited nature of our mind, the leading Sufis state:
“O my Lord! You are as You are, You are above our perception and our information about You.”
Perceiving the nature of Allah is beyond the range of our power. However, it is possible for the human mind to deduce from cause to the causer, from art to the artist, from results to the causes. If the human mind, with a clean perception and a good will, looks at the attributes and acts of Allah it is unthinkable that it will reject belief in Allah. Rejection of faith is the consequence of a sick mind and mentality. If the purity of mind and heart can be preserved it will guard man from the rejection of faith. Even those who have been born in disbelieving societies can discover true faith, as may be seen in the example of prophet Abraham (a.s), so long as they have purity of heart. Although Abraham (a.s) was born in a society that believed in idols, through his intellect and heart he was led to the true faith and entered belief in the unity of Allah.
Believing is easier than disbelief. Affirming that there is no Creator will not resolve the issues surrounding the origin of the world, of life and of death. The condition of disbelief resembles a person who is hungry and does not feel the pain of his hunger due to a nervous breakdown, or a person who is drugged and does not feel the pain of the cutting knife. The Qur’an terms such people as deaf and dumb.
Allah the Almighty created man’s nature and bestowed in it the need for belief in Allah and the search for truth. There is no exception to this divine planning. If this does not happen it is due to spiritual blindness and dumbness. Our subconscious faith is blocked by the weight of material life as in our inability to remember our dreams.
Both in heavenly religions and in man made religions there is a conception of belief in Allah. However, the concept of Allah in man made religions has significantly deviated from the correct faith where Allah is the only creator of the universe, where He transcends all weaknesses and human attributes and instead possesses the most perfect of attributes. These attributes have been revealed to us through the Prophet (pbuh) and are beyond alteration. According to the common division adhered to by scholars, the list of Allah’s most important attributes are as follows:
ALLAH’S EXISTENCE: There exists Allah and His existence depends on nothing. Thus, He is self-existent. There is no probability of Him being non-existent. And all things, apart from Him, are His creatures and their existence is a potentiality. Their existence is not necessary. It is declared in the Qur’an:
اَللهُ لاَ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّو مُ لاَ تَأ خُذ هُ سِنَةٌ وَلاَ نَوْمٌ
لَهُ مَا فِى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِى الأَ رْضِ
“There is no god But He, the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the Heavens and on earth…” (Baqara, 2:155).
It is an obvious fact that there exists an impeccable order and coherence in this immense universe. This coherent order has been running in a well-balanced and delicate way since the universe came into being. It is a known fact that if the earth had not had a 23,5 degree angle of pitch, seasons would not have come about. In that case, one part of the earth would have been in winter, and the other part in summer. Likewise, should the distance between the earth and the sun had been just a little bit longer, the earth as a whole would have turned into a frozen region; or should the distance between the two had been a little bit of shorter, the earth would have been turned into ashes. These and suchlike states of affairs demonstrate the fact that all celestial bodies are so wisely tuned into a program so that life becomes possible.
Such a mechanism of perfection and delicacy presents a sign for the existence and Oneness, Magnificence and Omnipotence of the Creator of the universe. It is declared in the Qur’an:
“And the Firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the balance (of Justice).” (Rahman, 55:7).
“He who created the seven heavens one above another: no want of proportion will you see in the Creation of (Allah) most Gracious. So turn your vision again: saw you any flaw? Again turn your vision a second time: (your) vision will come back to you dull and discomforted, in a state worn out.” (Mulk, 3-4).
If a farmer saw that the plants in his farm were irregularly chopped down he would attribute what happened to his farm to the acts of the storm or another natural disaster. However, if he noticed that the plants were chopped down regularly, for example one in three or five plants, he would not attribute what happened to his farm to a natural disaster. He would realize that this action was taken by a conscious and potent being. He would think that this action might have been taken by one of his enemies. In that case, he is supposed to ask how the perfect and delicate mechanism of the universe can take place by chance while he does not accept that such a tiny action as chopping the plants down can happen by chance. Nadjib Fadl, the famous Turkish poet, calls to those who lapse into such unawareness:
I see that I am wrapped all round,
Does not a wrapped one require a wrapper?
Who is this craftsman drawing this human face;
Does not anyone ask looking at the mirror?
Jalal al-Din al-Rûmî calls for the awakening of the eyes and the hearts by opening out the doors of wisdom and meditation:
“As you see the movement of the millstone, you had better make more effort to see the water of the river that makes it move!”
“You see the dust in the air, you had better give a look at the storm that takes it up!”
“You see the pot boiling, you also look at the fire with foresight!”
“Tell me, O foolish one! Which is logical? Do those palaces and dwellings have a builder, or do they not have a builder?
“Tell me, O my son! Which is logical? Do those writings on the walls and the pages have a writer, or do they not have a writer?
“O son of Adam! Could you ever point to a single thing that came into being on its own? See what happens when you root out a plant from its soil. Do you think it vegetates by itself?”
The poet puts this point into words so elegantly:
Should this place have come into being by itself,
This caravan would arise by itself as well!..
The chimneys on the roofs tell you,
That there is no fire, no smoke.
Should there exist no power,
Would the universe turn round by itself?
Should once the gardener leave the vineyard on its own,
Would the wheat be resolvable from the straw on its own?
When the soil is thirsty for water, the cloud in the sky tells the eye,
Is there a river flowing on its own?..
Whoever says that he had not seen behind the curtain,
His lie will turn into a snake on its own!
Satan would be ready to pour tar over the light;
And he would say to the conscience “believe only on your own!..”
The tongue asked Mehmedî to appreciate his own heart;
Without it the tongue does not run on its own!
Any naturally disposed will and heart consciously realizes that there exists a chain of causes and all these depend on the Great Producer of all secondary causes, the Allah, and hence believe in Allah. However, Satan lays many traps at every corner in order to lead astray the humans in their thoughts. Jalal al-Din al-Rûmî warns humans not to be deceived by the tricks of Satan:
“Do not be deceived by Satan in this matter of belief. Satan is so wise a thief that he keeps a good look-out for dark nights to come to you and when he seizes the opportunity he knocks at your door. Then you want to answer the door to see who it is with the cresset in your hand. And every time you try to light the cresset Satan puts out the spunk by seizing it. Hence you cannot see who it is and you judge that the spunk has become moist. Thus you stay unaware of the thief who puts out the lighter. So, Satan, in this way, interferes with your belief cresset in the darkness of oversight. Therefore, Satan walks away with the virtues of your heart and makes you bankrupt of the after-life. In this manner, you stay unaware of both the creation and the Creator.”
As declared in the Qur’an in the words .”..those truly fear Allah, among His servants, who have knowledge…” (Fatir, 35: 28), the cognizance of the Grandeur and the Magnificence of Allah adequately is, above all, a matter of knowledge (science). The following account of Einstein illustrates this reality:
“The creator of the universe does not play dice. His creation is not random and uncounted. We observe, as much as we can, the balance and harmony of this world with admiration… I may say that anybody who explores nature enjoys a religious respect as s/he discovers the Grandeur of Allah. Accordingly, I cannot think of a true scientist who does not have a profound faith. This fact may be articulated as follows: It is impossible to have faith in science having no religion. So, a religion with no knowledge (science) is blind, and knowledge (science) with no religion is lame.”
Thus, many non-Muslim scientists embraced Islam and many, though not embracing Islam, perceived that they had to concede to the Greatness of Allah. This is a miracle of the Qur’an. Allah says:
“And those to whom knowledge has come see that the (Revelation) sent down to you from your Lord-that is the truth, and that it guides to the path of the Exalted (in Might) Worthy of all praise.” (Saba, 34: 6).
“Soon will We show them Our Signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that your Lord does witness all things?” (Fussilat, 41: 53).
Anybody who looks at the universe taking it as a lesson beholds the countless signs mentioned in this verse.
If there only existed humans and animals in the world they would use up all the oxygen by turning it into carbon dioxide, and in a short time they would be poisoned and perish by the increasing amount of carbon dioxide. However, the Might that called the universe into being also created the plants endowing them with the ability to use carbon dioxide turning it into oxygen so that the universe could keep running in equilibrium.
On the other hand, the Creator filled three fourths of the earth with water. And He created the great majority of the remaining one fourth in the form of infertile deserts and rocks. The earthy part of the world is only a small part. However, the Most High Allah transforms this earthy part from one form to another so that it could be a source to feed all living beings.
Let us examine a species of an animal. If all the past, the present and the future members of this species had been sent down to earth at once, the space and the sustenance of the world would not have been sufficient for even this single species. However, Allah creates them in an order of time and space sequence. The same point is valid for all living-creatures. So, the world, with the mystery of time and space, may sustain a trillion times more loading. Namely, the existence of the creatures in the universe is subject to an equilibrium and limitation. For example, it is a known fact that a plane-tree breeds millions of seeds and these seeds are sent away through the wind as if they all have a parachute made of feathers. Should the seeds of even a single plane-tree have the opportunity to be a new plant, all fertile parts of the world would soon be infested with plane-trees. Namely, the world would become not spacious enough for even a single tree. This example may be extended to all creatures. This fact points out to the existence of an impenetrable harmony and balance in the universe.
Besides, the Most Supreme Being endowed all living creatures with such features that even those who live on the same sort of foods produce different products and these complement one another in order to make life entirely possible. For example, a cow or a sheep eats the leaf of a mulberry, and it produces milk and wool; but a silkworm produces silk, and a musk-deer breeds musk from the same leaf. The bee produces honey from pollens, but the human being, who is considered to be the most perfect creature, has no ability to produce honey as the bee does. The colors, odors, and the lively leaves that various flowers draw out from the nutrients of the soil are the qualities that no chemist is able to exactly produce. While an animal is able to transform the grass into meat and milk, the human being is not able to produce just a piece of meat or milk from tons of grass in chemical laboratories.
Any sensible human is supposed to see the existence and magnificence of Allah wherever s/he turns in the universe. The qualities such as sending prophets and perfecting humans with their knowledge and morality are the works of Divine grace. In addition, when the human being takes a look at himself/herself and the universe intellectually, s/he immediately understands how ridiculous and laughable that it becomes to disbelieve in the face of its grandeur and magnificence. The poet puts this point into words so nicely:
Many meanings distill through the endless systems,
The signs of Allah will always be in the heart of Adam.
What a transcendent fact; the earth and the sky have no pillars,
There is no particle with no scale!..
With the endless space above, and the black ground beneath;
O you servant, what behooves you is to prostrate on the prayer rug!..
Surely, this infinite universe is a sign for the Existence and the Grandeur of Allah. It is a gleam of faith.
The sky has black and white holes. This is a new finding of the positive sciences. Yet we find Allah swear to these holes in the Holy Qur’an.
“Furthermore I call to witness the setting of the stars; and that is indeed a mighty adjuration if you but knew.” (Waqia, 56: 75-76).
This reality that contemporary science has just now discovered illustrates the magnificence facing us. The spot where stars are born is called a white hole; and the spot where they die is called a black hole. A small object comes through the white hole and instantly gets expanded a trillion times bigger than its actual size to bring forth a giant constellation. And many stars that are much more bigger than our world die in due course by drawing into the black holes. Accordingly, the sun that lightens our sky will, one day, be exposed to the fact of “When the sun (with its spacious light) is folded up” (Takwir, 81: 1).
That day the sun will come to an end as well. No wonder that day is the doomsday. It is the end of everything!.. And there is no way except turning to Allah by prostration.
In short, those who are vigilant perceive that this world, in the face of the Divine Grandeur, is only a dust among trillions of dust particles in space. Among them are the mountains, plains, oceans, and humans. With this impotence, man is nothing but for his servitude.
This example of the human’s position, of being only a drop from the oceans, requires the logical perception of a Allah who is All-Powerful, Almighty, Self-existent, and Provider of the needs of men and beasts. However, in order to be able to perceive this reality one needs to have his/her heart open. It is stated in the Qur’an:
“Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (and minds) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts.” (Hajj, 22: 46).
Ibrahim Haqqi of Erzurum puts this point into words so wisely:
Those who are aware can see,
But those who are blind cannot.
Yunus Emre says:
The true path takes you to the right place,
The real eye leads you to perceive Allah…
Allah is watching everywhere,
But it requires an eye to see...
The earth and the sky bear many clear evidences to the existence of Allah and this reality needs no explanation. Men of Allah taste this reality with all qualities of their hearts. Their souls sense the divine secrets as they throw over the earthlings. Those who can manage the act of self-denial in accordance with the hadith, “die before your death!”, are to rise in the springtime of reality. They wriggle themselves out of metaphoric beings and live in the spirit of the Prophet (pbuh). They never ever have a doubt about truth and reality. This example clearly illustrates this fact:
Junaid al-Bagdadî, one of the Great Saints, asked the people around who were running somewhere with a rush:
“– Where are you going? Why is this hurry?”
“– We were told that there came a scholar from somewhere! He has the ability to explain the existence of Allah with a thousand and one evidence! We are going to benefit from his explanations. You may come, if you like!”
Upon hearing this, Junaid al-Bagdadî told them with a sour smile:
“– There are countless signs and evidences in the universe for the eyes to see, and the hearts to feel. There are innumerable testimonies indicating the existence of Allah. O people! Despite all the evidence, let those of you who still have doubts go! My heart has no scrap of doubt.”
Thus, those people with spiritual knowledge explain this point as follows:
“Allah is never a hidden being. However, it may be said that “Allah is hidden from our vision because human beings cannot bear the power of the sight of Him.”
Namely, if a room had a bulb of five thousand volts, human eyes would not be able to see anything under so powerful a voltage. Just as in this example, the vision of Allah’s is so powerful, and for this the vision of Allah remains hidden to human beings. Namely, human beings have no ability to see Allah with their biological eyes. That is why Allah told the Prophet Musa “By no means can you see Me (direct)!” (Araf, 7:143).
ETERNAL EXISTENCE IN THE PAST: It is a logical prerequisite that all creatures came into being from a priori cause on a reason-and-result basis. This a priori cause (being) needs not be created; yet, on the contrary, it should be able to create. So, this a priori cause is Allah Almighty. This is the Being whom human beings call Allah. There is no beginning to His High Being. It is He, who is the beginning of everything. He had eternal existence in the past. It is stated in the Qur’an:
“He is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Immanent…” (Hadid, 57: 3).
“In the beginning there existed Allah, nothing existed before Him…” (Bukhari).
The Prophet (pbuh) used to say in his prayers “O, my Lord! You are the beginning, and nothing existed before You…” (Muslim, 61) and he advised Muslims to pray with these words.
ETERNITY: Allah has no ending, He is Eternal. The Qur’an states that:
“And call not, besides Allah, on another god. There is no god but He. Everything (that exists) will perish except His own Face. To Him belongs to command, and to him will you (all) be brought back.” (Qasas 28:88).
“All that is on earth will perish: but will abide (for ever) the Face of your Lord – full of Majesty, Bounty and Honor.” (Rahman, 55:26, 27)
Nothing in this world has the attribution of eternity. That is why, everything in this world lives a life on a time-sharing basis, because Allah assigned this attribution (eternity) only to Himself and made all creation transitory.
The epitaph of “It is only He, Who is eternal” written on Muslims’ tombstones signifies this fact. Yunus Emre reminds us of the fact that everything except for Allah is transitory:
Show me a construction,
That has no ruinous end…
Gather all your belongings,
That all you leave behind…
Therefore, men of Allah do not care about this world and long for reaching the state of annihilation in Allah. These wise men/women do not fall for the transitory delights and involvements of this world and they, being in the secret of the principle of “die before your death”, set forth on a journey to the season of eternity.
Believing that “it is the flesh that perishes, not the soul”, they throw off the bodily enslavement, and go on a journey of the heart. Finally, they reach Allah and say:
I have found the most beloved one,
Let my life be sacrificed.
THE UNITY OF ALLAH: The fact that the universe keeps running in a great harmony and order since it was created is enough to indicate that everything is only the work of a single force. If this force had partners, harmony and the order of the universe would be damaged due to the differences among them, and the chaotic atmosphere would make the life impossible. It is stated in the Qur’an:
“Allah has said: Take not (for worship) two gods: for He is just One Allah: then fear Me (and Me alone).” (Nahl, 26:51).
“Say: If there had been (other) gods with Him, as they say, behold, they would certainly have sought out a way to the Lord of the Throne!” (Isra, 17:42).
“If there were, in the heavens and the earth, other gods besides Allah, there would have been confusion in both! But glory to Allah, the Lord of the Throne: (High is He) above what they attribute to Him!” (Anbiya, 21:22).
”.. Nor is there any god along with Him: (if there were many gods), behold, each Allah would have taken a way what he had created, and some would have lorded it over others! Glory to Allah! (He is free) from the (sort of) things they attribute to Him!” (Muminun, 23: 91).
If the Qur’an is examined in depth it will be seen that the most important ability that Allah enjoins on His servants is the belief in His attributes. Among these attributes, the belief in the unity of Allah is the most sensitive one. So much so, that attributing a partner to Allah is ranked as the prime sin that incites Allah’s wrath in Islam. The Qur’an warns and advises people not to fall into this kind of intellectual poverty:
”..Whoever joins other gods with Allah, Allah will forbid him the garden, and the fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help.” (Maida, 5:72).
“But it has already been revealed to you, as it was to those before you. If you were to join (gods with Allah), truly fruitless will they be your work (in life), and you will surely be in the ranks of those who lose (all spiritual good).” (Zumar, 39:65).
“Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgives anything else, to whom He pleases; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed.” (Nisaa, 4:48).
Other religions of revelation were the same as Islam in their original form but they were subsequently distorted, moving away from the basics. Among them the manipulation exercised on Christianity is highly remarkable. The belief in the unity of Allah in Christianity was terribly changed at the end of the fifth century and the belief in the absolute unity and oneness of Allah was replaced with that of the Trinity. However, religiously sophisticated people of our time do not support this unreasonable belief and dissociate themselves from the church. Therefore, the papacy today has started scholarly work in order to have Christianity revert to properly expressing its original belief in the unity of Allah.
Allah is “One.” And this statement is clear enough to indicate that there is no probability to have a second god. The poet articulates the Oneness of Allah with these words: “It is only Him that exists. He is One on His own; He is the only One!”
Hence, the belief in the unity of Allah should be clear enough not to regard a second being as possible. Islam requires and enjoins such a kind of belief in the unity of Allah. This is the first step in coming under the religion of Islam. Many doors of Allah’s mercy, blessing, grace, and beneficence are unfolded to those who take a worthy step in this way. Thus, Bilal-i Habashi (may Allah be pleased with him) endured the severe torture by the idolaters to have him return to idolatry, and with a great ecstasy of faith he replied to them by uttering the words “Ahad, Ahad (One, One.) (Allah is One!)” In return for his forbearance he was given the honor of being the chief muezzin (caller to prayer) of the Prophet.
Even a scrap of deficiency in the matter of faith cannot be recovered by many virtuous acts. This may be likened to the position of somebody who appreciates many favors towards him, but cannot bear any insult towards his honor. So, blasphemy is nothing but a violation of the Glory of Allah. It is a villainy committed against Allah’s Majesty. It is for this reason that it is regarded as unforgivable. Therefore, faith is the primary act that Allah demands and then comes pious work.
During the battle of Uhud a courageous man named Amr bin Sabit came into the presence of the Prophet (pbuh) to embrace Islam, but when he witnessed the intensity of the battle he asked the Prophet (pbuh) whether he should join the battle first or pronounce his faith in One Allah. The Prophet told him:
“- Pronounce your faith first, join the battle afterwards!”
Amr bin Sabit followed what the Prophet (pbuh) told him. After the battle, when the Prophet (pbuh) saw his body among the martyrs he said:
“He worked little, but gained a lot!..” (Ramazanoglu Mahmud Sami, Uhud Gazvesi, 35).
Unity requires pronouncing Allah to be the one sole and unique without a partner. It is the denial of duality. It is a palace of faith that offers humans the most excellent throne. Yunus Emre puts this point into words so nicely:
We need the palace of unity,
And announcement of good tidings,
Wangle out of the idea of duality,
And your ego, o, the servant!
As unity is an attribute that belongs to the Glory of Allah, favoring it with Allah is effectual in having one’s prayers answered. The Prophet (pbuh) used to advise his companions to favor Allah’s attributes, especially the Unity, so that their prayer could be accepted.
Ubade bin Samit narrates from the Prophet (pbuh):
“Let those who awake in the night invoke these words: ‘There is no deity apart from Allah. He is One and has no partner. Dominion is in His hands, and all praises belong to Him. He is Almighty. He is exempt from any unworthy thing, and He is Great. All due strength and vitality for prayers and devotions are from Allah’.”
The Prophet (pbuh) proceeded:
“If the person says ‘O my Lord! Please forgive me!’, or if s/he invokes another prayer, or if s/he makes ablution and says his/her prayers his/her prayers are answered.” (Bukhari, Tahajjud, 21).
The Prophet (pbuh) also said:
“Whoever feels that s/he needs Allah’s help, let him/her make ablution first and then make two units of prayer. Let him/her praise Allah and pronounce the formula calling Allah’s benediction on the Prophet, and then invoke a prayer as follows:
“There is no deity, but the Clement and the Generous Allah. The Allah of the great universe is exempt from any unworthy thing, and all praises belong to Him. Oh, my Lord! I beseech You to incur the occasions for me to have Your forgiveness, and save me from all sorts of sins. And I wish to gain safety from all sorts of wealth and favors. Please let none of my sins and shortcomings remain! O, my Lord, the most Compassionate and the most Merciful, Let me perform the actions that You approve.” (Tirmizi, Witr, 17).
THE UNIQUENESS OF ALLAH: Allah is not to be equal to anything. He does not bear resemblance to any creature. He is, therefore, exempt from any anthropomorphic attribute.
One of the controversial points in the distorted religions today has to do with this point. These religions have gone astray leaving aside such attributes of Allah as being transcendent, being beyond imagination and perception, and they have attributed many anthropomorphic features to Allah in their books in accordance with their own imagination. They have even attributed features such as forgetfulness, exhaustion, repentance, oversight, and confusion. According to them, for example, Allah gives orders regarding a flood, but He later forgets them. Just then He sees that everywhere is covered with water! Only by then does He remember his order and after making sure that all creatures are in the ark He hastily closes the door of the ark Himself. Yet again, according to their books the Prophet Jacob wrestles with Allah and he subjugates Allah. In addition to these unreasonable expressions, it is a known that the Jews called Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians called Christ the Son of Allah (Tauba 9: 30). Allah says in the Qur’an regarding their attempt to believe in their own imagination:
“No just estimate have they made of Allah, such as is due to Him: on the Day of Judgment the whole earth will be but His Handful, and the heavens will be rolled up in His right Hand: Glory to Him! High is He above the Partners they attribute to Him!” (Zumar, 39:67).
“.. There is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things).” (Shura, 42:11).
قُلْ هُوَ اللهُ اَحَدٌ اَللهُ الصَّمَدُ لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُو لَدْ
وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ كُفُوًا اَحَدٌ
“Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah the Eternal Absolute; He begets not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him.” (Ikhlas, 112:1-4).
When the Prophet heard someone praying “O, my Lord! You are One and Only, You do not beget nor are You begotten, You are not to be equal. I appeal for Your Mercy. Please, forgive my sins, You are all-forgiving and all-merciful!”, he said:
“He was forgiven. He was forgiven. He was forgiven!” (Abu Daud, Salaat, 179).
Yunus Emre, who knows this good news, takes refuge in Allah with the following words:
Allah the Almighty, Allah the Almighty,
There is none like unto You!
Please forgive our sins,
You are the most Merciful!..
SELF-EXISTENCE OF ALLAH: Allah is ever Self-existent and Eternal. The attribute of Self-existence and eternity is one of the divine names of Allah, meaning that He is self-existent with no beginning and end, and that He is free of any need from creation. Rather, everything needs Him for existence. The Qur’an says:
“O you men! It is you that have need of Allah: but Allah is the One free of all wants, worthy of all praise.” (Fatir, 35:15).
“… Allah is free of all needs from all creation.” (Ankabut, 29:6).
As these Divine messages clearly put, Allah does not need any agent for His existence. That is why it is stated that Allah is permanently self-existing.
If a person does not perceive this Divine attribute of Allah, and if s/he does not have a complete faith in this regard, his/her faith is ranked as insufficient and void, because by doing so s/he reduces Allah to the level of creation.
Thus, Allah is exempt from the attributions that belong to all else besides Him. However, those hearts having mature faith constantly invoke the Divine name of “Self-Existent and Eternal”, and with the blessing of this invocation they, heart and soul, bind themselves to the bond of Allah and annihilate themselves in Allah. Namely, the servant’s enjoyment of the invocation of the Divine names of Allah is to do with how much s/he is independent of all else besides Allah.
A companion of the Prophet prayed as follows:
“O, my Lord! All praises be to You, You are the most Beneficent, and there is no deity, but You, You are the Creator of the skies and the earth who has Glory and Kindness. You are the Living, the Self-Subsisting, and Eternal. O my Lord, I beseech you by means of Your names!..”
When the Prophet (pbuh) overheard this praying person, he asked those around him:
“Do you know by what means is this person praying?”
They replied: “Allah and His Prophet know better!”
The Prophet (pbuh) answered:
“I swear by the Allah who sustains my life that this person prayed to Allah by means of His greatest names. The prayers and wishes by means of these greatest names are answered.” (Tirmizi, Daawaat, 63).
The established attributions of Allah are as follows:
LIFE: Allah has life, and this feature of Him is existent with Himself. He is the Ever-living as the famous name “Hayy” indicates. He is alive, everlasting, and He has an absolute life.
And so, all lives come to being as reflections of this attribution of Allah, and they are relative. Therefore, the life of a creature is a contemporary and material one that comes about as a result of the union of the body and the spirit. Thus, it is taken back from every earthling in due course. The attribution of Ever-living (Hayy) is associated with Allah’s Being, because His Excellency is to do with Him being alive, permanent, and having an absolute life. In short, the life of Allah is not the negation of death, and it belongs only to Allah. This is pointed out in the Qur’an:
“And put your trust in Him Who lives and dies not…” (Furqan, 25:58).
Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“The Prophet (pbuh) rose among us and uttered these five sentences:
“Allah is always alive, never slumbers, and slumber, in fact, does not go with Him. He reduces or increases the sustenance that He provides. The prayer made at night reaches Allah before the one made at daytime, and the prayer made at daytime reaches Allah before the one made at night. His curtain is the Divine Glory. If Allah was to uncover this curtain, His face would burn out all creation.” (Muslim, Iman, 293).
It is said in another saying of the Prophet (pbuh):
“Whoever prays asking Allah’s forgiveness by saying three times ‘I appeal for mercy from the Allah who is Ever-living and Everlasting”, s/he is forgiven.” (Ahmad bin Hanbal, Musnad, III, 10).
“He is the Living (One): There is no god but He: Call upon Him, giving Him sincere devotion. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.” (Mumin, 40:65).
The Prophet (pbuh) used to make the following prayer when something worried him.
“O, my Lord, the Ever-living, the Everlasting! I appeal for your help that comes out of your Mercy.” (Tirmizi, Daawat, 91).
Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“When the battle of Badr started I fought for sometime. Then I came to the Prophet (pbuh). I wanted to see what he was doing. And I found him in position of prostration saying these words:
‘O, my Lord, the Ever-living, the Everlasting! I take refuge in You, I appeal for your help!’
I left him and went to fight again for sometime. Then I came back to see him again. He was still in the position of prostration and he was still saying:
‘O, my Lord, the Everliving, the Everlasting! I take refuge in You, I appeal for your help!’
I went back to fight again, and after a while I returned once again. He was still in the same position, and he kept his position until Allah granted us victory.”
With regard to the following verse of the Qur’an, “Know you (all) that Allah gives life to the earth after its death! Already have We shown the signs plainly to you, that you may learn wisdom.”(Hadid, 57:17)
Ibn Abbas said:
“Bringing the earth back to life is an object lesson that we can observe. However, the following meaning is also pointed to in the above verse. Allah mellows the black and hard hearts in matters of faith and He leads them to return to their Creator. He mellows dead hearts through learning and wisdom.”
KNOWLEDGE (WISDOM): Allah has knowledge, and His knowledge (wisdom) is all-encompassing. There is nothing beyond His knowledge. He is accordingly the One who knows the past and the future. Nothing remains hidden from His knowledge. Everything is known by and readily observable to Him. And all the wisdom (science) that humans have acquired are only small particles’ of this attribute of Allah. It is said in the Qur’an:
“From Allah, verily nothing is hidden on earth or in the heavens.” (Âl- Imran, 3:5).
“Say: Whether you hide what is in your hearts or reveal it, Allah knows it all: He knows what is in the heavens, and what is on earth. And Allah has power over all things.” (Âl- Imran, 3:29).
“And He is Allah in the heavens and on earth. He knows what you hide, and what you reveal, and He knows the (recompense) which you earn (by your deeds).” (Anam, 6:3).
“He knows that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass out of His knowledge nothing except what He wills…” (Baqara, 2:255).
That is why we say: “Allah knows best!” for man’s knowledge is even less than a pinhead in the ocean of the immense universe. It is stated in the Qur’an:
.”.. Of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you.”(Isra, 17:85).
Therefore, many doors of science are kept open for human beings to investigate, but there are also walls of mystery that defy penetration or until Allah permits. The reason behind this is to let the servant know his/her powerlessness, and understand his dependence on Allah, and thereby resign himself/herself to the wisdom of Allah. It is said in the Qur’an:
.”.. It is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, but Allah knows and you know not.” (Baqara, 2:216).
In fact, human beings get distressed about the things that initially seem bad. S/he cannot see the mercy behind them. And s/he is sometimes wrapped up in many things coming in a shape of goodness, and s/he cannot see the evil hidden in them.
It is narrated that there used to be a righteous man belonging to an Arab tribe. The tribe used to take heed of the advice of the man and direct themselves in accordance with his instructions. One morning, when they woke up, they found all their dogs dead. They went straight to the man to tell him what happened. After a short time of meditation the man told them:
“– Their death may hopefully bring you salvation!”
The following night all of their cocks died as well. They went to the man again. He answered them in the same way:
“– Their death may hopefully bring you salvation!”
Upon hearing him one among them asked:
“– O, master! Dogs are our keepers, and the cocks are our muezzins (caller to prayer). What sort of salvation can their death bring to us?
The righteous man answered:
“– It is Allah who knows all secrets. Surely, He must have hidden a great truth in this event that we cannot figure out now.”
And the following night no one’s light was on. Everybody was wondering what kind of nuisance they would again be exposed to.
Yet, when they woke up in the morning they realized why such mysterious events had been taking place. That night the enemy had raided and looted the surrounding region. The enemy came close to that tribe, but as there was no dog and cock to be heard, and also no light to be seen they passed by without noticing them. Thus, the tribe had escaped great looting and slaughter. (Silk’s-Suluk).
So, we see that an event seeming to be a source of distress turning into a favor! Ibrahim Haqqi of Erzurum puts this point into words as follows:
Do not question why this is so,
It fits where it is.
Watch what happens in the end;
Let us see what our Lord brings in the end,
He does the best!..
The Prophet (pbuh) says:
“When the servant is taken ill, Allah sends him two angels and orders them: ‘– Go and find out how the servant welcomes the illness he suffers from.’.
If they find the servant thanking and praising Allah, they transmit his attitude to Allah who knows the best. And Allah, who sends the angels to have them witness the deeds of the servant, says:
‘– If I take the life of this thankful servant, s/he deserves a place in paradise. Yet, if I cure him/her s/he deserves to have a better flesh and blood, and I forgive his sins’.” (Muwatta, Ayn, 5).
This saying of the Prophet (pbuh) acknowledges that the events that seem to have no outward benefit for us are divine trials, and they may have great rewards behind them.
In the history of humanity there are events that at first seemed to occur in the form of wrath, but turned into the form of grace in the end. However, the contrary also happened. For example, the people of the Prophet Hud mistook the clouds of wrath for that of rain. Only when the stones began to fall down instead of rain did they understand the fact. Yet, it was too late for them!..
Therefore, it is the duty of the servant to surrender himself/herself to Allah being conscious that Allah knows the best. And this surrender may only be actualized by the knowledge of Allah or mystical contemplation as no science can eliminate the evil consequences that ignorance may bring in this matter. It is only the knowledge of Allah that may eliminate evil consequences. In fact, there are a good many unlettered people who were given distinguished rewards through the knowledge of Allah.
For this reason, Yunus Emre tells that the fundamental science is the knowledge of Allah:
Twenty nine syllables,
You read them from A to Izzard,
You say A, o master,
What does it mean?
Science means knowledge,
It means self-knowledge,
If you do not know your self,
Why do you study science?
Allah divulges the position of humanity over against His wisdom:
“.. Nor does anyone know what it is that he will earn on the morrow…” (Luqman, 31:34).
“Say: As to the knowledge of time, it is with Allah alone…” (Mulk, 67:26).
Knowledge is in the vision of Allah. Namely, the absolute knowledge belongs to Him. His knowledge encircles everything. Allah’s knowledge is like a mirror. The things that are reflected in the mirror may differ, but the mirror covers all things reflected in it, and it does not change.
Allah’s knowledge is exempt from being the result of a thought or an idea. The delicate order and harmony of the universe to which no will or intellect can deny, is the most fresh evidence of the endless knowledge of Allah. It is evident that a human being can reach to even a minor invention in years and through the cooperation of many different individuals. For example, the communication by cellular phone today is the result of an accumulation of knowledge beginning centuries ago and of many different experiences of humanity. Other developments and advancements are of this sort as well. Whereas all these inventions and the as yet unmanifest endless mysteries are the features that Allah placed in the order of the universe instantaneously with His divine knowledge. Allah, in the Qur’an, reminds human beings of this fact:
“Should He not know, -He that created? And He is the One that understands the finest mysteries (and) is well-acquainted (with them).” (Mulk, 67:14).
ALLAH, THE ALL-HEARING: Allah is the All-Hearing. His hearing is not like ours. There is no voice hidden to Him. As it is has been described He hears the sound of an ant walking on a stone. And all creatures that have the capability of hearing can only hear through the reflection of Allah’s attribute of the All-Hearing. They can hear nothing when deprived of this capacity. There are many examples of it.
Allah repeatedly cites His attribute of All-Hearing along with that of All-Seeing, and reminds human beings of His Divine sight, and thereby warns them not to go astray from the right path.
ALLAH, THE ALL-SEEING: The attribute of the All-Seeing is also an attribute of Allah in accordance with His Divine nature. He duly sees everything, He is the All-Seeing. There is nothing hidden to His sight. Again, as it is described, He sees a black ant on a black stone at night.
Jalal al-Din Rumi explains why the human beings are notified of the attributes of the All-Knowledge, the All-Hearing, and the All-Seeing:
“Allah notifies you of His attribute of the All-Knowing lest you attempt to introduce subversive activities on earth.”
“Allah notifies you of His attribute of All-Hearing so that you keep your mouth closed to unpleasant and nasty words.”
“Allah notifies you of His attribute of the All-Seeing lest you perform evil and secret acts.”
Thus, Allah lets the servants know their responsibilities in this matter as follows:
“And pursue not that of which you have no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into (on the Day of Judgement). (Isra, 17:36).
Niyadhi Misri puts into words this responsibility with the following words:
An eye that has no ability to see,
Is nothing but an enemy to the head it stays on.
An ear that takes heed of no advice,
Deserves pouring lead through it.
A tongue that has no familiarity with invoking Allah’s names,
Do not call that flesh as tongue.
The heedless servants of Allah will be addressed as follows:
“O the servant! Did you acknowledge Us in the earthly life, or not? If you did not, why did not you try to acknowledge Us? If you did, you were supposed to behave accordingly.”
The noble Nahshabi who quotes the above statement says:
“O fearless person! Do what you do without the presence of other people so that it becomes clear whether you fear Allah, or the people! If you fear Allah, you fear Him everywhere!..”
“The real followers of the path of virtue and piety are, everywhere and every time, aware of the fact that they are under the observation of Allah.”
The second caliph Omar was patrolling the streets of Madina at night-time when he stopped all of a sudden to hear the dispute coming out of a house between a mother and her daughter. The mother was telling the daughter:
“– Add some water to the milk that we are going to sell tomorrow!”
The daughter replied:
“– Mum, did not the caliph forbid to add water to milk?”
The mother told her daughter off saying:
“– How can the caliph know that we add water to milk at this time of the night!..”
However, the girl who feared Allah did not accede to the fraud her mother wanted, and she told the mother:
“- Mum, let us suppose that the caliph does not see, what about Allah? It is easy to hide this fraud from people, but how would it be possible to hide it from Allah who is the All-Seeing?..”
The caliph, Omar, was moved by the words of this Allah-fearing girl. He was so affected by the behavior of this pious girl that he later managed to help to arrange for his son to marry her. Omar bin Abdulaziz, who was to become the fifth caliph, was the offspring of this noble lady and his son.
Therefore, the whole issue is to manage consciously to realize that we live under the observation of Allah. It is said in the Qur’an:
“No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things.” (Anam, 6:103).
THE WILL OF ALLAH: Allah wills and acts as He wants. When He intends a thing, His command is just “Be!”, and that thing happens. His actions are never to be questioned:
“To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and earth: when He decrees a matter, He says to it: “Be,” and it is.” (Baqara, 2:117).
“He is the Irresistible (watching) from above over His worshippers, and He is acquainted with all things.” (Anam, 6:118).
“Say: O Allah! Lord of Power (and Rule), You give power to whom You please, and You strip off power from whom You please: You endow with honor whom You please, and You bring low whom You please: in Your Hand is all Good. Verily, over all things You have power.” (Âl-i Imran, 3:26).
As these verses point out that Allah is the Absolute Actor. Any occurrence and act depend on His Will. In a word, “a thing that He decrees occurs, and a thing that He does not decree does not occur!”
Therefore, the deeds that Allah approves occur in accordance with His Will. And the deeds that Allah disapproves, again, occur with His divine permission, but this time they are in the position of trials for us.
Thus, as the above verse states, every happening requires the condition of “If Allah pleases or permits.” This condition covers all creation, both bodily and spiritual beings, as well as the prophets. An example of this occurred in the life of the Prophet (pbuh):
A group of Bedouins came to the Prophet (pbuh) asking him some questions. As he was not very knowledgeable about their query and thinking that he might get a revelation about it later in the day, he asked them to visit him again the following day by telling them:
“Come to see me tomorrow and get your answer then!”
Yet, as he did not say “so please Allah or Allah-willing” while speaking to them no revelation was sent down by Allah for a fortnight. And after this long wait the first revelation was of the following verse:
“Nor say of anything, ‘I shall be sure to do so and so tomorrow’ without adding, ‘so please Allah!’ And call your Lord to mind when you forget, and say, ‘I hope that my Lord will guide me ever closer (even) than this to the right road.’” (Kahf, 18:23).
As this verse illustrates, human beings are not always able, or do not have the necessary capacity, to act as they wish because their will and power are deficient. So, the servant is supposed to know his/her limitations and s/he, duly observing the rights of Allah, must not go too far. So that Allah explains that He may forgive the sins and villainies of His servants, but not the denial of Allah or attributing partners to Him as well as infringing on the rights of his fellows. Namely, Allah will forgive anyone whom He pleases and will not forgive anyone who has displeased Him. This is declared in the Qur’an as follows.
“To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth. He forgives whom He pleases and punishes whom He pleases; but Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Âl-i Imran, 3:129).
Friends of Allah commit their will to the will of Allah through perceiving this attribute. As in other subjects they annihilate themselves in Allah. They duly know that any will of Allah is perfectly placed and they guide their surroundings in this direction.
Sheikh Sunbul Sinan (may Allah be pleased with him) asked his disciples the following question:
“O my sons! What would you do, if Allah gave you the right to mastermind the world?”
They each gave different answers. One said:
“– I would exterminate all unbelievers!”
“– I would eradicate all who drink!”
Another one said:
“– I would exterminate all smokers!”
Among the disciples there was a learned scholar named Mustapha Muslikhiddin Affendi. He was keeping quiet. The sheikh faced him and asked:
“– O my son! What would you do?”
Mustafa Muslikhiddin Affendi answered decently:
“– O master! What is wrong -Allah forbid!- with the way Allah is already masterminding? I would keep the things as they are.”
Sheikh Sunbul Sinan rejoiced and said: “The thing now found the center it should be in.” And from that day forth Mustafa Muslikhiddin Affendi was called as the center of masters and he succeeded the sheikh.
Ibrahim Haqqi of Erzurum declares his commitment to Allah by the following words as if he summarizes this point:
All His acts are superior,
All His acts are well-matched,
And all his acts are favorable;
Let us see what He does,
He does the best!
Upon my word He has done the best,
Upon my oath He has done the best,
Upon my word He has done the best;
Let us see what Allah has done,
He has done the best!..
THE OMNIPOTENCE OF ALLAH: Allah is the Omnipotent and the Almighty. There is no hardship for Him. Allah summarizes this attribute in the Qur’an as follows:
.”.. Allah has power over all things.” (Baqara, 2:20).
In another verse it is said:
“Verily, when He intends a thing, His command is ‘be’, and it is!” (Yasin, 36:82).
And when Allah commands a thing, that thing is bound to happen. Therefore, we should not fall into the error of thinking about the Omnipotence of Allah with our weak mind as we have limited power. Allah’s endless power is exempt from any of the limitation and impotence humans are subject to. Therefore, there is no being who is not impotent before His endless power. Our power is only as much as He ordains.
History has witnessed the defeat of many who rose against this Power. Among them were Nimrod, Croesus, Abu Jahil, and many others. They left the world empty-handed. Allah took their lives bringing them into derision. In particular, the death of Nimrod, who claimed to be a divine being, is a striking one, providing a message regarding the Divine Power. Nimrod died from a mosquito bite. The termination of Abraha and his soldiers who attacked the Ka’bah, counting on the elephants he had, by the birds of Abâbil is again a striking one.
Jalal al-Din Rumi says:
“Though this world is too great and endless in your view, it is not even a particle before Allah. Open your eyes and look around; what an earthquake, a hurricane, and a flood does to the world and its contents!”
Truly, the Power of Allah sometimes makes itself manifest in extraordinary ways that we are not used to. For example, the positive quality of fire, water, wind, and other natural elements are sometimes transformed into a destructive quality by the Divine Power. In this regard, one is supposed to see the Divine Will in the background of the events taking place in the nature. Those who cannot see it are stuck with a blind perspective. Jalal al-Din Rumi warns those heedless people:
“Do not forget that this world is a straw before Allah. The Divine Will sometimes elevates it and sometimes lowers it. It sometimes makes the world sound, and sometimes unsound. It sometimes carries the world to the right, and sometimes to the left. It sometimes makes it a rose garden, and sometimes a thorn garden…”
These facts are frequently touched upon in the Qur’an:
“Know you not that to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth? And besides Him you have neither patron nor helper.” (Baqara, 2:107).
Yunus Emre, the sultan of the sagacious people and the lovers, puts into words our impotence before Allah:
If I take my way without You,
I cannot be helped to take a step!
You are my power in my body,
To take my head away!..
THE WORD OF ALLAH: Allah has a word. He does not need a voice, letters, words, and sentences to line up. Namely, Allah’s speech is exempt from both letters and sound; His speech never has any resemblance to that of humans. And humans can speak through receiving a share from that of Allah. Yunus Emre voices this point so perfectly:
Oh the Knower of the essence of the words
Come and say from him this word comes through?
The one who does not understand the essence of the word,
Thinks that it comes from me!
Allah Almighty communicates His orders, prohibitions, and other wills to angels, prophets, and human beings, and even to all other creation through the attribution of Divine Word. Essentially, as His creation comes through His word of “Be!” creation, in a way, depends on this attribute of Allah. A minute manifestation of this attribute is to be seen in the ability to talk given to human beings. Yunus Emre says in this regard:
A word may stop the war,
A word may have the head cut off,
A word may turn the poisonous soup
Into honey and butter!
All the Divine holy books are sent down through the attribute of the Divine Word. Revelation was sometimes sent down by the Angel Gabriel, and sometimes directly, hidden behind many veils. This is a kind of communication with Allah. It is said in the Qur’an:
“It is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration or from behind a veil, or by the sending of a messenger to reveal, with Allah’s permission, what Allah wills: for He is Most High, Most Wise.” (Shura, 42:51).
“.. And to Moses Allah spoke directly.” (Nisaa, 4:164).
Allah spoke to Moses directly not by means of a tongue or voice, but by means of His attribute of the eternal Divine Word. Seventy people who were accompanying Moses to witness the occasion and the Angel Gabriel did not hear or sense this Divine speech. Moses lost consciousness in the face of this Divine transfiguration. He felt beyond the limits of time and space not remembering where he was, in this world or in the Hereafter. He strongly wished for the sight of Allah, but he was told by Allah: “You can never see Me!”
However, when Moses unconsciously insisted to see Allah he was told to look at the mountain and in case he sees the mountain remain he would be able to see Allah as well. According to narratives, radiance came to the mountain behind many veils, and the mountain exploded, and Moses lost consciousness. When he regained consciousness he appealed for mercy, feeling that he had gone too far. If Moses had not lost consciousness then, he would have been blown up together with the mountain as well.
On the other hand, the Angel Gabriel, one of the great angels, told the following words to the Prophet (pbuh) on the night of the Prophet’s miraculous journey to heaven when they together reached the lotus tree in the seventh heaven:
“– O Prophet! I am allowed only to this point. Beyond this point you will go alone. If I take just one step more, I will burn to a cinder!”
It is the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who was given the generous opportunity in this respect and he had the honor of having ascended to the heavens. On the night of the ascension, the Prophet (pbuh), sultan of the universe, was honored with a special union and communication in a way that we cannot perceive.
As the attribute of the Divine Word has no association with other words, it is exempt from any limitation. The Divine Word that are reflected to us in this world, in fact, are an endless ocean of meaning. This is told in the Qur’an as follows:
“Say ‘If the ocean were ink (wherewith to write out) the Words of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted than would the Words of my Lord, even if we added another ocean like it, for its aid.” (Kahf, 18:109).
“And if all the trees on earth were pens and the ocean (were ink), with seven oceans behind it to add to its (supply), yet would not the Words of Allah be exhausted (in the writing). For Allah is Exalted in Power, full of Wisdom.” (Luqman, 31:27).
All words in this world are reflections of the attribute of the Divine Word. Thus, Allah has His Great Names cited by countless tongues. Allah endowed all creation, including the ones that are thought to be inanimate, with a language from His attribute of the Divine Word. It is said in the Qur’an:
“The seven heavens and the earth, and all beings therein, declare His Glory: there is not a thing but celebrates His praise; and yet you understand not how they declare His Glory! Verily He is Oft-Forbearing, Most Forgiving!” (Isra, 17:44).
Yunus Emre perceives the mystery of this verse:
Rivers of paradise
Flow splashing the words Allah, Allah
The nightingales of Islam
Sing out saying the words Allah, Allah
Branches of the Tuba tree swing
Read the Qur’an by their tongues
Rose of the paradise
Smell saying the words Allah, Allah
CREATION (GENESIS): It is the attribute by which Allah creates. It means creation from nothingness; and this type of creation only belongs to Him. The countless worlds are His production. And other factual attributes of Allah are included in the attribution of creation.
It is said in the Qur’an:
“He who has made everything which He has created most good: He began the creation of man with (nothing more than) clay.” (Sajda, 32:7).
“It is He who has created for you all things that are on earth; moreover His design comprehended the heavens, for He gave order and perfection to the seven firmaments; and of all things He has perfect knowledge.” (Baqara, 2:29).
“The same who produces for you fire out of the green tree, when behold! You kindle therewith (your own fires)!” (Yasin, 36:80).
“Do they not look at Allah’s creation, (even) among (inanimate) things, how their (very) shadows turn round, from right and the left, prostrating themselves to Allah, and that in the humblest manner?” (Nahl, 16:48).
The attribute of creation differs from other attributes of Allah. Allah knows through the attribute of Knowledge. And through the attribute of Power, He makes things exist or annihilates them. And through the attribute of Will He decides to make things exist or to annihilate them. And then comes the attribute of Creation through which things are created.
The mysteries of the universe are hidden in the attribute of Creation. Therefore, everything bears witness to the existence of Allah.
To sum up, Allah is known by His servants mainly through the above attributes. All these attributes and all other countless divine attributes are not existent now and then, in accordance with the requirements of time and space, but existent all the time.
No attribute of Allah has an opposite to it in Allah’s Person. Namely, Allah is alive, but He is exempt from death. He exists, but His existence is exempt from extinction. He has Knowledge, but His Knowledge is exempt from ignorance. He supplies the needs, but He is exempt from being needy. All attributes of Allah follow this line.
On the other hand, Allah is exempt from having human organs regarding all attributes, and not even an atom of the attributes of Allah exists in humans. It is only the reflections that exist in humans. Namely, our ability to talk comes from a particle of the reflection from Allah’s attribute of the Word. Thus, Allah’s life does not bear resemblance to our life. His Sight is not like ours.
In a word, the content of all attributes of His Exalted Being present an endlessness and infinity. And all the attributes are eternal in the past and in the future. Namely, no attribute of Allah is limited. Accordingly, His Knowledge, Power, Word, Creation, and all other attributes are exempt from any kind of similitude and explanation. When it comes to our makings they are both limited and transient. Thus, humans, who cannot properly know themselves, cannot know the attributes of Allah as required. Namely, as we cannot perceive the factual being of Allah we cannot either perceive the factual characteristics of the attributes of Allah.
On the other hand, a superior being or an attribute cannot be compared or associated with an inferior one. If that sort of association is established, it is only done to devalue the superior one. For example, when a cat is associated with a lion, this association points out that cat’s superiority over fellow cats in terms of strength. Yet, if a lion is associated with a cat, this association shows the cowardice and impotence of the lion. Thus, comparing Allah with the creatures is a blindness and a villainy. Moreover, it is a defamation that does not go with the supremacy of Allah. That is why such an act is called polytheism, and the actor is called a polytheist. For instance, polytheists make the mistake of associating the boundless attributes of Allah such as the All-Hearing and the All-Seeing in parallel with their own capacity to hear and see in view of their own framework and they, subsequently, reduce their beliefs regarding the attributes of Allah to the impotent stones they themselves give shape to. However, those who comprehend the truth that his human attributes are a scrap of reflection from Allah’s attributes live in the season of nothingness by this spiritual knowledge and they, feeling the delight of faith, say:
“There is no being, but Allah.”
They mentally and emotionally have sound knowledge of the fact that “My Lord! You are what you are!”
In this way, they, being exempt from any suspicion and delusion, and having a sound heart reach their Lord, and they find a place in the book of saints.
One of the dervishes asked Bayazid-i Bastami:
“O master! What are the great names of Allah?”
Bayazid-i Bastami answered:
“– O my son! Are there any minor names of Allah? Do not be unwary; All names of Allah are great. If you want your request to be answered by Allah, stop being occupied with the vanities of life! Allah’s names are not reflected in unwary hearts. It is the enlightened hearts which Allah attends through many names.”
II. BELIEF IN THE ANGELS
Angels are benevolent non-material beings. That is why we cannot see them in their actual form with our eyes. Yet, they have the ability to be seen in whatever form is deemed best. However, they were allowed to be seen by some of the great prophets in their non-materialized form. Their nature requires no food, drink or sleep. As they are created to spend their entire existence in the service of Allah they are not given a soul (nafs). Therefore, their nature does not allow disobedience to Allah. They are uncountable in number. It is said that the rain drops are brought down by the angels and each angel can have just one turn until the Day of Judgment. That is why rain drops or snowflakes do not come into collision while coming down.
Angels have different levels in accordance with different responsibilities. Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi says in this regard:
“Each angel has a different value or degree as the difference between the new moon and the fullmoon.”
“Each angel has a share from the Divine Light. And they are endowed with the Divine Light according to their levels.”
There are four prominent angels whom we may call at the level of “prophets” of angels. They are Jibra’il (Gabriel), Mika’il (Michael), Izra’il (Azrail), and Israfil (Israfil).
Gabriel was given the duty of bringing revelation to the prophets. Mika’il is responsible for natural events. Azra’il is responsible for ending our life. Israfil will blow the trumpet at the time of the end of the world and on the Day of Judgment.
Angels are, in a manner of speaking, like the spirit that is given to us. As we cannot see our spirit, so we cannot see them. As we cannot deny the existence of our spirit we cannot deny the existence of angels. It is said that to deny the existence of angels is like denying the existence of prophets as an angel transmitted the divine truth to humanity. Thus, the Qur’an warns those who deny Jibra’il, the angel of revelation:
“Say: Whoever is an enemy to Jibra’il –for he brings down the (revelation) to your heart by Allah’s Will, a confirmation of what went before, and guidance and glad tidings for those who believe.” (Baqara, 2:97).
As we have already seen, angels, apart from divine service to Allah, have other duties as well. Some help humans in difficulty on the command of Allah. This type of angel, helping the men of faith, have often been observed in the history of Islam. The companions of the Prophet, veterans of the Battle of Badr, testified to this fact as follows:
“During the hot hours of the Badr battle we have witnessed the deaths of enemies even without our swords touching their bodies.”
Allah declares this fact in the Qur’an saying:
“Remember your Lord inspired the angels (with the message). ‘I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite you above their necks and smite you all their finger-tips off them.’” (Anfal, 8:12).
“If you could see, when the angels take the souls of the unbelievers (at death), (how) they smite their faces and their backs, (saying): ‘Taste the penalty of the blazing fire!’” (Anfal, 8:50).
Some angels are occupied in protecting us. They are called Angels of Hafaza; and some angels are recording all that we do. They are called the Honorable Recorders (Kirâman Kâtibîn). And the angels Munkar-Nakir are engaged in questioning the person immediately after his/her death. There are also angels who pray for humans to be forgiven by Allah and not to go astray.
III. BELIEF IN THE BOOKS OF ALLAH
From Adam (a.s), the first man and the first prophet and onwards, Allah has sent His commandments and prohibitions through revelation, first in the form of pages (scrolls) and later in the form of books since more guidance was needed as society expanded and problems increased. There are four major holy books: the Taurat (Torah), the Zabur (Psalms), the Injil (Gospel), and the Qur’an. Adam was given 10 pages (or scrolls); Seth was given 50 pages; Idris (Enoch) was given 30 pages; and Abraham was given 10 pages. As for the major books, the Taurat was given to Moses; the Zabur was sent to David; the Injil was sent to Jesus, and finally the Qur’an was sent to Muhammad (pbuh), the sultan of the universe.
Holy books are like letters from Allah to His servants. They deal with how humans should spend their lives and provide a prescription for eternal happiness. They are reflections of Allah’s attribute of the eternally pre-existent Word of Allah to the world and perception of human beings. So, the holy books also present a miracle of the word as well as the message they contain.
The Qur’an, which is the last holy book, abrogated the previous ones. The reasons for this were twofold. Firstly, long before the revelation of the Qur’an, the holy books in their original form had either been lost or corrupted or verses had been concealed. Secondly, changing human needs required a new, complete and final message. However, the original and the primary message of all the scrolls and books regarding the cardinal principles of faith are the same. A poet puts this fact into words very nicely.
The meaning of four books is
There is no god but Allah
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“To every people have We appointed rites and ceremonies which they must follow: Let them not then dispute with you on the matter…” (Hajj, 22:67).
The great characteristic of the heavenly religions is that they are without doubt based on Divine revelation. However, today this feature remains only with Islam since the books of the religions previous to Islam were exposed to human error in preservation and through interpolation and distortion of the original meaning. As a matter of fact, Islam was sent primarily due to this distortion. At the same time, the Qur’an, as the final revelation, covers the essence of the previous ones and it is the perfection and completion of what humanity needs for peace and happiness here and in the Hereafter. As it is the final one, it is under the protection and authority of Allah. The Qur’an puts forward the challenge that it will never be distorted or replaced:
“If you are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true.” (Baqara, 2:23).
As this verse states, the Qur’an has remained unaltered through the centuries. It covers the guiding principles for our salvation as follows:
1. Fundamentals of faith and pious deeds.
- The nature of the life of man: Stages of creation; birth, life, and finally death. And also man’s nature: immature drives of the ego; mature drives of the spirit; and methods of purification of the ego.
- The complex system of the universe: Seven layers of the heavens; sun, moon, stars, natural events, rain, alternation of the day and night, creation between the earth and the sky and their features.
- Historical information: Positive and negative status of nations both in the world and in the Hereafter; Divine vengeance; the lessons from prophets and their peoples; and lessons from the past.
- An ocean of contemplation and remembrance that proceeds from pre-eternity to future eternity.
- BELIEF IN PROPHETS
Prophets are the guides for leading to, finding and remaining on the straight path.
As humans are prone to go astray from the straight path, Allah protected them from being further misled by sending prophets. Thus, Allah, through the holy books and prophets, informs humans about their responsibilities and limitations, and made them accountable; and Allah gave this opportunity to every people.
It is said in the Qur’an:
“For We assuredly sent amongst every people an apostle (with the command), ‘serve Allah, and avoid evil’….” (Nahl, 16:36).
The purpose of religion is to help humans eliminate or reduce the negative drives of the self, and help them enhance the positive ones. However, in order to actualize this target humans need a “perfect example.” This is one of the reasons why Allah sent prophets to humanity, to be perfect examples for humans.
Allah says in the Qur’an in this regard:
“We sent not an apostle, but to be obeyed, in accordance with the Will of Allah…” (Nisâ, 4:64).
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the zenith of perfection. That is why Allah says in the Qur’an:
“You have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah.” (Ahzab, 33:21).
So, everybody is responsible for the belief in Allah and being a good servant. Though Allah promised His messengers paradise in the Hereafter, they too, were held responsible for fulfilling the mission of prophethood. This is told in the Qur’an as follows:
“Then shall we question those to whom Our message was sent and those by whom We sent it.” (Araf, 7:6).
As Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was duly conscious of this responsibility, he asked his companions of over a hundred thousand during his Farewell Sermon before his death:
“O people! You will be asked about me tomorrow; what would your words be?”
The companions answered him en masse:
“– You have accomplished your mission to convey the message of Allah. You have advised and preached to us!”
Upon their words the Prophet (pbuh), the light of existence, said:
“O my companions! Have I conveyed the message?..
Have I conveyed the message?..
Have I conveyed the message?..”
The Prophet (pbuh) had their testimony affirmed by repeating his question three times and then pleaded for Allah’s testimony:
“Be witness O Lord!..
Be witness O Lord!..
Be witness O Lord!..” (Bukhari, Ilm, 37).
As every people has been sent a prophet, the number of prophets have been numerous. It is said in the Qur’an:
“Of some apostles We have already told you the story; of others We have not…” (Nisâ, 4:164).
According to some narrations, the number of prophets is one hundred and twenty four thousand. The Qur’an mentions by name only the twenty-five most prominent. Some of them were given a new shariah (canonical law), but many continued the previous prophet’s shariah.
Prophets were given the following three major missions:
1. Recite the verses of Allah to their people,
2. Lead people to purify their nafs (ego),
3. Study the Divinely revealed Book and learn wisdom to lead people to the straight path.
The existence of prophets is essential for our well-being. They combine many models of good personalities in one body; and they harmoniously lead the souls of human beings to their Lord.
They were prepared and chosen by Allah. Thus, they have different features endowed by Allah. These features are as follows:
Truthfulness: Prophets always maintain the feature of righteousness. Their actions are in complete accord with their words. It is impossible for them to lie. Their truthfulness was even confirmed by those who did not believe in them. Here are a few examples of many regarding their feature of honesty:
Heraclius, the emperor of Byzantium, in order to learn about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), questioned Abu Sufyan, who was at that time without belief. One of the questions was:
“– Has he ever dishonored his word?”
Though Abu Sufyan was then opposed to the Prophet (pbuh), he answered favorably regarding the Prophet (pbuh):
“– No! He always abides by his word!”
Ubay bin Khalaf was a zealous enemy of Islam; so much so that he, before the emigration to Madina, used to tell the Prophet (pbuh):
“– I am breeding a strong horse, and I will one day kill you while riding that horse.”
And the Prophet (pbuh) used to answer him:
“– I will -Allah willing- kill you!”
While the battle of Uhud was going on Ubay bin Khalaf was looking for the Prophet (pbuh) by saying:
“– If I cannot find him today, I will be doomed!”
When he came close to the Prophet (pbuh) the Companions wanted to behead him. Yet the Prophet (pbuh) called to them:
“– Let him come to me!”
When he came near, the Prophet (pbuh) got a spear from the hand of a Companion and threw it to him. The spear glanced off Ubay’s neck, but it was enough to cause him to tumble from his horse. He was so shocked that he hastily ran back to the line of his army screaming, “– I swear that Muhammad has killed me!..”
The idol-worshippers who looked at his injury said:
“– This is only a scratch!”
Still that did not calm him and he said:
“– While in Mecca Muhammad told me: ‘I will definitely kill you!’ I swear that I will die even if he spits at me!..”
Ubay kept howling. Abu Sufyan told him off saying:
“– You are not supposed to howl about this tiny scratch.”
“– Do you know who has done this to me? It is Muhammad. I swear by Lât and Uzzâ that if this scratch is distributed to the people of Hijaz they would all perish. Muhammad told me in Mecca: ‘I will definitely kill you.’ I then got convinced that I would be killed by him. As he said that, I would surely be killed by him even if he spat at me.”
Eventually, Ubay, who was an enemy to the Prophet (pbuh), died a day before returning to Mecca.
This event is an important object lesson. Even an ardent idol-worshipper who knew the Prophet (pbuh) quite well believed how powerful his words were.
Trustworthiness: Prophets are the most trustworthy of humanity. Even non-believers give credence to what they say. Thus, even the idol-worshippers regarded Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as worthy of confiding in; they called him Muhammad the trustworthy, and they entrusted him with their belongings more than their kinsfolk. So much so that the Prophet (pbuh) had the deposits of some idol-worshippers with him even up to the time of his migration to Madina. Though he was in danger of his life he asked Ali , his nephew, to stay in Mecca to hand them over to their owners.
Intelligence: Prophets are distinguished humans in terms of intelligence and awareness. They have strong mental faculties, good judgement, and persuasiveness. These features are observed differently in each prophet. Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) life has many examples of this feature.
Before the revelation the Ka’bah was renovated by the the tribes of Mecca. Yet, a controversy occurred about who would have the honor of placing the Black Stone in the corner of Ka’bah. As they were about to clash, one among them made a suggestion:
“– Stop fighting! As we cannot solve this matter among us let us appoint the first person entering the gate as a judge!”
As the person entered, a smile covered their faces because the one entering was Muhammad, “the Trustworthy.”
After the Prophet (pbuh) learned about the dispute, he selected a representative from each tribe. He then spread his robe on the ground and asked them to place the Black Stone on it and the representatives each to hold a corner of the robe. Thus, each tribe was able to have the honor of carrying the Black Stone. Then, he himself, placed the Black Stone in its place while they were holding the robe. By thus displaying a good example of foresight and intelligence, the Prophet Prophet (pbuh) averted a probable fight.
On the other hand, the wisdom that he exhibited in the battles for Islam and the foresight, particularly in the battle of Hudaybiya, the victory in Mecca and Hunain and the way he dealt with the people of Taif, and the justice displayed are all lofty and beyond the reach of any human.
Communication: Prophets convey the Divine commandments to humans as they are ordered. In their convenance they neither add to nor subtract from the transmission.
Innocence (purity): Prophets are saved from every kind of disobedience and sin. However, as they are to be aware that they are also weak beings and lest they claim to be a deity they sometimes make small human mistakes. There is another aspect of wisdom in that as well. If they were to be infallible in every respect, humans would have in their minds an excuse for not following their example by thinking that they would not be capable enough to abide by the divine orders and prohibitions. Thus, prophets are not to be thought of as from among the angels, and the Qur’an touches on this subject in these respected verses:
“Say ‘If there were settled, on earth, angels walking about in peace and security, We should certainly have sent them down from the heavens an angel for an apostle.’” (Isra, 17:95).
“Nor did we give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they exempt from death.” (Anbiyaa, 21:8).
In addition to these five qualities of the prophets there are three additional qualities of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). These are as follows:
1. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the beloved of Allah. He is superior to all others. He is the most honored of humanity. Nadjib Fadhil Kisakurek, the Turkish poet describes the Prophet (pbuh) with these words:
Your aroma was filtered in time immemorial,
You are honey, existence is the honeycomb…
2. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has been sent to all humanity and the jinn. Namely, he is the prophet of the two dominions. And the religion he brought is permanent until the end of the world. Other prophets were sent to a certain people for a certain period. Therefore, while the miracles of all other prophets were valid for their own periods, the miracles of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) have no time limit. Among them the Qur’an is the major one that will remain until the end of the world.
3. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the last prophet of Allah. However, taking into account the saying of the Prophet (pbuh): “I was a prophet when Adam was between the water and the soil” he is the “first” on account of creation as he was created to be a prophet for both the world of humanity and jinn.
Apart from all these qualities, Prophet Muhammad, (pbuh) was granted the high station of “Makam-i-Mahmud” and the greatest intercession. For this reason, the merciful Prophet (pbuh) will ask forgiveness from Allah for the sins of his nation on (ummah) the Day of Judgment and this intercession will be accepted. The words of the Qur’an,
.”.. If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto you and asked Allah’s forgiveness, and the Apostle had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful.” (Nisa, 4:64), indicate how important and effective the Prophet Muhammad’s intercession would be on the Day of Judgment.
The following account of the Prophet (pbuh) also gives good news to our hearts:
“On the Day of Judgment people will go to Adam and request him to ask Allah for their forgiveness saying:
“– Please ask Allah for our forgiveness!”
“– I am not in that position; you had better go to Abraham! He is the close friend of the Lord…”
When they go to Abraham he tells them:
“– I am not in that position; you had better go to Moses! He is the one who spoke to Allah…”
They go to Moses. He tells them:
“– I am not in that position; you had better go to Jesus! He is the spirit and the word of Allah…”
When they go to Jesus he tells them:
“– I am not in that position; you had better go to Muhammad!”
Then, they come to me and I tell them:
“– Yes, I am in that position.”
Then I ask permission to enter the presence of Allah and permission is given. I am then inspired by some words of praise that I now do not know; I praise Allah with these words and prostrate. By then I am told:
“O Muhammad, raise your head! Say now; Your words will be heard! Ask now; Your requests will be granted! Ask for forgiveness now; Your intercession will be accepted!”
Then I say:
“O my Lord! I want my nation, I want my nation!..”
“O Muhammad! Come and take everyone who has faith in his heart as much as a mustard seed out of hell.”
I come out and act as I am told. Then I return to thank Allah with the words of praise as I earlier did. And I prostrate again. And Allah says again:
“O Muhammad, raise your head! Say now; Your words will be heard! Ask now; Your requests will be endowed! Ask for forgiveness now; Your intercession will be accepted!”
I speak again:
“O my Lord! I want my people, I want my people!..”
“O Muhammad! Come and take everybody who has faith in his/her heart as much as a mustard seed out of hell.”
I come out and act as I am told. Then I return to thank Allah with the words of praise as I earlier did. And I prostrate again. And Allah says again:
“O Muhammad, raise your head! Say now; Your words will be heard! Ask now; Your requests will be granted! Ask for forgiveness now; Your intercession will be accepted!”
I speak again:
“O my Lord! I want my community, I want my community!”
“Come and take everybody who has faith in his/her heart even much smaller than a mustard seed.”
I come out and act as I am told. Then I return to thank Allah for the forth time with the words of praise as I earlier did. And I prostrate again. And Allah says again:
“O Muhammad, raise your head! Say now; Your words will be heard! Ask now; Your requests will be granted! Ask for forgiveness now; Your intercession will be accepted!”
I, this time, say:
“O my Lord! I ask your permission for everyone who had said ‘There is no deity, but Allah!..’”
“I swear by My Grandeur and Highness that I will take everybody who had said ‘There is no deity, but Allah’ out of hell.” (Bukhari, Tawhid, 36).
In short, prophets had unsurpassed features and they became guides for humanity, and their people were ordered to believe in and follow them: Allah, Most High, orders:
“(Say O Believers): ‘We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to Allah (in Islam).’” (Baqara, 2:136).
“Those were the (prophets) who received Allah’s guidance: follow the guidance they received…” (Anam, 6:90).
Those who obey this divine command gain happiness and salvation both in this world and in the Hereafter. They get an honorable position in both worlds. Allah says:
“All who obey Allah and the Apostle are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah, of the Prophets (who teach), the Sincere (lovers of Truth), the Witnesses (who testify), and the Righteous (who do good): Ah! What a beautiful Fellowship!” (Nisâ, 4:69).
Those who disobey this divine command are the unfortunate ones in both worlds:
”.. So travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied (the Truth)!” (Nahl, 16:36).
“Any who denies Allah, His angels, His books, His Apostles, and the Day of Judgment, has gone far, far astray.” (Nisâ, 4:136).
In the past, indeed, many unwary people who were deceived throughout history by the transitory glitter of this world have gone astray from the bright horizons that the Prophets of Allah pointed out, and they were doomed. And they even led their people to destruction. They foolishly fell for the dreadful debris of this world and they became wretched. They, having no comprehension about the wisdom and mystery of creation, imitated the behavior of animals, and in the end they, facing the Divine Wrath, were destroyed.
It is stated in th Qur’an:
“But how many (countless) generations before them have We destroyed? Can you find a single one of them (now) or hear (so much as) a whisper of them?”
“Do they not travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those before them? They were superior to them in strength: they tilled the soil and populated it in greater numbers than these have done: there came to them their Apostles with Clear (Signs), (which they rejected, to their own destruction): it was not Allah who wronged them, but they wronged their own souls.” (Rum, 30:9).
Allah says about these negligent people who persisted in infidelity in spite of countless Divine signs and warnings:
”.. So away with a people that will not believe!” (Muminun 23:44).
In short, all prophets are blessed personalities who guided humanity on the basis of the unity of Allah. Denying a single one of them whose prophethood is established by the Qur’an takes the person out of the circle of faith. For example, a person who denies the prophethood of Jesus is not considered to be a believer. All prophets communicated the same principles, and it was all the religion of Islam. The Last Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh), is the master of all prophets. He will band his people together under the “banner of praise” on the Day of Judgment. This banner will also cover the previous prophets accompanied by their people who believed their prophets found the straight path. Namely, all the prophets and their people who believed in them until their communicated orders were abolished by Allah will take their place among the “People of Muhammad.”
“And Peace on the apostles! And Praise to Allah, the Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds.” (Saffat, 37:181-82).
V. BELIEF IN THE HEREAFTER
Almighty Allah has ordained five stages for human life. The first stage is the realm of souls; the second is the period spent in the mother’s womb; the third stage is the temporal life in this world; the fourth stage is the period spent in the intermediate stage and the grave; the fifth stage is the Hereafter and eternal life either in heaven or in hell. The temporal life was granted to mankind as a test: Salvation and eternal happiness depend upon deeds and conduct of humankind in this temporal life. Belief in the Hereafter is one of the principles of six articles of faith enabling men to become aware of the fact that there is a reward or a punishment in return for these deeds and acts and thus men have responsibilities during this temporal life. Important significance was attributed to the belief in the Hereafter to the extent that it is mentioned in many verses in the Qur’an together with the belief in Allah.
The Almighty Allah says:
“…. whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds will have their reward with Allah, and there shall no fear come upon them nor shall they grieve.”(Baqara, 2:62)
In praise of the qualities of believers: “Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day ask thee for no exemption from striving with their goods and persons. And Allah knows well those who do their duty, (Tawba: 9:46)” The verses draw attention to the characteristics of belief in Allah and the Last Day.
The Hereafter that will begin after death is a new, real and an eternal life. The respected verse states:
“What is the life of this world but amusement and play? But verily the Home in the Hereafter, – that is life indeed, if they but knew.” (Ankabut, 29:64)
Because of knowing this anyone would put every moment to good use and seize every opportunity and never remain unwary of Allah for a moment. Their life turns into a life of worship full of good deeds. They are in a state between awe and hope regarding their fate and final destination. Their hearts cry and eyes shed tears because of the fear of Allah and worry of the reckoning on the Day of Judgment.
It is narrated that a pious man came to a market. He was going to buy a few items he needed. He had calculated the cost of what he planned to purchase and decided that he had enough money. However, when he went to the market he realized that the money he had was not enough to finish the shopping. Thus, that pious man started to cry and continued while the people around him were surprised seeing him in that situation. They tried to comfort him by telling him that crying for not having sufficient money was not correct behavior. After a while this pious man recovered from his state and addressed the astonished people while sobbing:
“Don’t assume that my tears are shed for this world! I have realized that my calculation at home did not correspond to the account in the market! How then can the calculation of the account in this world be suited tomorrow to accord with that in the Hereafter!”
No doubt, tears that are shed for the sake of worship and serving Allah in this life would bring a smile in the Hereafter. Therefore, the renowned poet Yunus Emre takes his place in the front row of those who shed tears for the afterlife and invites everyone to join the same rank:
Upon remembering that day (the Day of Judgment)
Let’s shed tears for this day
It is a day of giving up on all
Let’s shed tears for this day
The earth cracks on that day.
All of the dead resurrect
Entire wrongdoings are questioned
Let’s shed tears for this day
The sky splits off on that day
Man endures so much
Everybody is frightened
Let’s shed tears for this day
Horror of that day
Turns the innocents to old men
What a pity to the sinner
Let’s shed tears for this day
That day is the moment of crying
Men and women become naked
Let all hearts get burned
Let’s shed tears for this day
Oh Yunus! Step in the straight path
What can a brother do?
Remedy can only come from Allah
Let’s shed tears for this day
In a different poem, Yunus moans:
May the balance of account be lawful
May the unlawful receive punishment
Wrongdoers will be treated as they deserve
What should I do, what shall I say?
When the life on this earth is completed, one of the Archangels, Israfil would blow a “horn” (the Sur) and with the primordial sound coming from the Sur human beings will be resurrected and then they will gather at the place of resurrection.
Resurrection of men on the final day is a simple act for Almighty Allah who created things that didn’t exist before. The Qur’an speaks of this fact as follows:
“Man says: “What! When I am dead, shall I then be raised up alive? But does not man call to mind that We created him before out of nothing?” (Maryam, 19:66-67)
“Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers.”(Qiyama, 75:3-4)
“Doth not man see that it is We Who created him from sperm? Yet behold! He (stands forth) as an open adversary! And he makes comparisons for Us, and forgets his own (origin and) Creation: He says, “Who can give life to (dry) bones and decomposed ones (at that)? Say, “He will give them life Who created them for the first time! For He is Well-versed in every kind of creation! The same Who produces for you fire out of the green tree, when behold! Ye kindle therewith (your own fires)! “Is not He Who created the heavens and the earth able to create the like thereof?” – Yea, indeed! For He is the Creator Supreme, of skill and knowledge (infinite)! Verily, when He intends a thing, His Command is, “be”, and it is! So glory to Him in Whose hands is the dominion of all things: and to Him will ye be all brought back.” (Ya Seen, 36:77-83)
“It is He Who brings out the living from the dead, and brings out the dead from the living, and Who gives life to the earth after it is dead: and thus shall ye be brought out (from the dead).”(Rum, 30:19)
“Say: “(Nay!) Be ye stones or iron, or created matter which, in your minds, is hardest (to be raised up),- (Yet shall ye be raised up)!” then will they say: “Who will cause us to return?” Say: “He who created you first!” Then will they wag their heads towards thee, and say, “When will that be?” Say, “May be it will be quite soon!” (Isra, 17:50-51)
“O mankind! If ye have a doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (our power) to you; and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babes, then (foster you) that ye may reach your age of full strength; and some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age, so that they know nothing after having known (much), and (further), thou seest the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs).”(Hajj, 22:5)
These verses, as words of Almighty Allah, who takes life and brings the dead to life, demonstrate resurrection will no doubt take place. In the face of such an inevitable fact one should take into account the following declaration: “You will die as you have lived; you will be resurrected as you have died.” Then one should be prepared for this day.
As Yunus said:
O friends! o brethren!
I fear that I will die
Yet I am prepared to get what is deserved
Thus I don’t mind dying
Then, Almighty Allah says:
“Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil, shall see it.”(Zalzala, 99:7-8)
“The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, but only he (will prosper) that brings to Allah a sound heart.”(Shuara, 26:88-89)
Inspired by these verses the renowned poet Arif Nihad composed the following lines:
They said: “No wood exists in the hell;
The passenger will take his own wood!”
Then I realized that one who goes to the paradise
Will take his rose and lily with him!
Yunus also draws attention to the fact one should be prepared while heading to the Day of Judgment:
Tomorrow the work will not be finished
If it is not completed today on this earth!
In other words, the Hereafter is an indispensable place for both the good and bad people because nothing is more natural than rewarding the good and punishing those who deserve it. Had there been no prisons or other institutions for criminals and wrongdoers in this temporal world, life would have been unbearable. Even for this reason only, it is possible to believe in the existence of the Hereafter.
It is a simple observation to notice the reciprocity in the following examples: a man tends to punish even the smallest insect for a bite on his body. On the other hand a man tends to appreciate even the kindness of an offer of a cup of coffee and the memory of this appreciation can last for years. Therefore, it is simply unacceptable blindness to expect that unlawful deeds and actions of a man throughout his lifetime will remain unreciprocated before the Almighty Allah. There is the persecution of the oppressor; complaints of the oppressed; blasphemy of the unbeliever and faith of the believer in our life on this earth. Had there been no rewards and punishment for these events and behaviors, not only the Divine program that brought all beings under the control and command of men but also the creation of men would have been meaningless. All of these would have been in conflict with the attribution of Almighty Allah, who is Just and Fair. As Almighty Allah is far away from having any flaws, He is also far away indeed from falling into any such deficiency. Thus, in order to emphasize the day of reckoning, reward and punishment, Almighty Allah states:
“Does man think that he will be left uncontrolled, (without purpose)?”(Qiyama, 75:36)
“Did ye then think that We had created you in jest, and that ye would not be brought back to Us (for account)?”(Muminun, 23:115)
“We created not the heavens, the earth, and all between them, merely in (idle) sport.” (Dukhan, 44:38)
“The Unbelievers say, “Never to us will come the Hour”: Say, “Nay! But most surely, by my Lord, it will come upon you; – by Him Who knows the unseen, – from Whom is not hidden the least little atom in the heavens or on earth: Nor is there anything less than that, or greater, but is in the Record Perspicuous.” (Saba, 34:3)
“Allah! There is no god but He: of a surety He will gather you together unto the Day of Judgment, about which there is no doubt. And whose word can be truer than Allah’s?” (Nisa, 4:87)
“O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and the scripture which He hath sent to His Messenger and the scripture which He sent to those before (him). Any who denieth Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Day of Judgment, hath gone far, far astray.”(Nisa, 4:136)
“He questions: “When is the Day of Resurrection?” At length, when the sight is dazed, and the moon is buried in darkness. And the sun and moon are joined together,- That Day will Man say: “Where is the refuge?” By no means! No place of safety! Before thy Lord (alone), that Day will be the place of rest. That Day will Man be told (all) that he put forward, and all that he put back.” (Qiyamah, 75:7-13)
Neither in the Qur’an nor in the Prophetic traditions (hadith), is any information given regarding the timing of the Day of Resurrection. However, a number of minor and major signs of the day of judgment are mentioned in these primary sources. We can summarize the available information as follows:
a. Minor Signs:
1. Learning and knowledge will decrease while ignorance will increase. Alcohol consumption and fornication will take place explicitly.
2. Murders for simple reasons and even for no reason at all will rise.
3. Justice and competence will disappear; no attention will be paid whether something is lawful or unlawful, legitimate or illegitimate.
4. Rebellion against parents and (slavish) obedience to (the unnecessary demands of) women will increase.
5. Cheating and corruption will spread and everybody will start complaining about these ills.
6. Respect and compassion for people will decrease significantly and warnings will remain unnoticed.
7. Migration to cities will soar and buildings will spring up. Incompetence and wicked people will enjoy respect and they will hold power and authority.
8. Gambling, fortune telling and tools for gambling will become more varied and popular. People will not notice the passing of time.
9. Wasting money, goods and resources will increase; people will prefer material and worldly interests to the happiness in the Hereafter.
b. Major Signs:
1. The emergence of a smoke lasting forty days,
2. The emergence of the Antichrist (Dajjal),
3. The emergence of an animal called Dhabbatu’l Ard,
4. The rising of the sun from the West,
5. The spreading of Yajuj and Majuj in the world,
6. The descent of Jesus (a.s) to the earth,
7. The rising of a strong fire in the Hejaz region and,
8. The sinking of three places in the East, the West and in the Arabian Peninsula.
The Day of Judgment would start when Israfil, one of the archangels, blows his trumpet and resurrection would take place when he blows the same horn: trumpet for the second time. This is described in the Qur’an as follows:
“The Trumpet would (just) be sounded, when all that are in the heavens and on earth will swoon, except such as it will please Allah (to exempt). Then will a second one be sounded, when, behold, they will be standing and looking on!.”(Zumar, 39:68)
In addition to this explanation and information about the signs of the Day of Judgment, there is a classification regarding Israfil’s blowing of a trumpet. According to this classification, there will be three blows:
1. Blow of Space (Nefhatu’l-feza): With this blow the whole world would remain motionless.
2. Blow of Thunderbolt (Nefhatutu’s-saika): With this blow everything would perish. No hills would remain and the earth will become absolutely flat and straight. Everything except the Almighty Allah would perish at this blow.
3. Blow of Resurrection and Judgment: Almighty Allah would command all beings to “rise up” and everybody will rise. (Tefhim IV, 591)
Allah, Most High states:
“ The trumpet shall be sounded, when behold! From the graves (men) will rush forth to their Lord! They will say: “Ah! Woe unto us! Who hath raised us up from our beds of repose?.”.. (A voice will say:) “This is what (Allah) Most Gracious had promised. And true was the word of the Apostles.”(Ya Seen, 36:51-52)
According to some scholars, the unbelievers and those who rebelled against Almighty Allah will face punishment and pain in their graves. However, the pain in the grave is little compared to the pain in hell and therefore the period spent in the grave is regarded as a time of sleep. When they awake from this sleep, those who sinned or died as unbelievers will face a great pain and thus they will start panicking and shouting for help by saying “shame on us, what on earth is happening to us” (Ömer Nasuhi Bilmen, Tefsir, VI, 2943)
Those who are condemned to punishment will utter “shame on us, what a pitiful situation we are in.” According to these views, punishment in the grave will be lifted during the course of a forty-year gap between the first and the second blow to the horn and the deceased will be in a state of sleep. For this reason, when they awake from their sleep on the Day of Judgment and realize that they would face the punishment, they will start lamenting saying:
“Who woke us up from our sleep?”
What is important to remember here is not when the Final Day will come but whether everybody is prepared for death as his or her personal last day and for the life in the Hereafter.
The world is a deceitful mirage whereas the Hereafter is an endless life. We should come to our senses before death claims us so that that we will not face punishment and become helplessly regretful. There is no doubt that every human being will inevitably come across Azrail (Angel of Death) at an unknown time and place. There is in no place to hide from death. Therefore man should be aware of the wisdom in following the verse “Hasten ye then (at once) to Allah” (Dhariyat, 51:50) and take refuge in Allah as the only shelter.
Sincere believers are those who start investing in their life after death from today before waiting for their personal final day (death). There will be no fear and no sadness for such people on the terrifying Day of Judgment.
The renowned poet Yunus utters the following wish on the Day of Judgment:
Oh (The Almighty Allah), may you please make us
Among those who enter the Divine house of paradise!
And among those who see Your Beauty
Upon arrival to Your presence
VI. BELIEF IN DESTINY
The Will of Almighty Allah is present in all beings. Nothing can take place, which is devoid of His Will and Power. Not even a drop of dust can move from its place or a tiny fly can move its wings without His will. Since Almighty Allah has universal Knowledge and Wisdom, He knows what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future. The predestination of something that would happen in the future is “destiny (qadir)” and when the predestined event comes true that is the Divine Decree (qadha).
One cannot grasp the meaning of destiny properly with human knowledge and measurements. For this reason, it has been misused many times. There is nothing to be gained in trying to have a deep knowledge of the concept of destiny because human understanding of it is limited. The Qur’an shows this very clearly and doesn’t allow any effort to be spent for having a deeper knowledge of destiny:
“With Him are the keys of the unseen, the treasures that none knoweth but He.”(Anaam, 6:59)
As it is impossible to describe the nature and look of color to a blind person, similarly, human understanding with its limited capacity and vocabulary fails to grasp the mysteries and qualities of destiny. Only those who have Allah-given knowledge can have a tiny bit of understanding of it. The following story mentioned in the Qur’an illustrates this point very clearly.
Almighty Allah sends Moses (a.s) to Khidir (a.s) who had Allah-given knowledge so that Moses (a.s) can learn from him. This knowledge reflects a light from the Preserved Tablet (Lauh-i Mafuz) which is beyond the realm of causes and motives. Moses (a.s) and Khidir (a.s) set out on a journey. They experience manifestations of the Divine. When the occurrences in the story involving Khidir (a.s) are carefully analyzed by reason, one can see that puncturing a hole in the ship literally means an injustice to its owners whereas if one looks at the same event in its reality, this means protecting the ship from being taken by the attackers and it remains as a source of income and survival for the poor.
Again, although the killing of a child in the story is apparently a murder, in reality it is the protection of the life of the devout parents in the Hereafter. Again looking outwardly, it is not logical to erect a wall for those who have driven Khidir (a.s) and Moses (a.s) away; this was in fact the protection of a trust that belonged to two innocent orphans.
However, the mysteries and wisdom can only be discovered through a Allah-given knowledge. Therefore the mystery of destiny cannot be grasped by reason alone. Understanding the meaning of destiny is beyond the capacity of the human intellect. It for this reason the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ordered us to believe in destiny and banned us from having quarrels and bickering about its nature. When he came across a group where there was an intense debate about the concept of destiny, the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“Are you commissioned to have a debate on destiny? Or was I sent to you for this purpose? Your predecessors perished because of their discussions on this issue. You should never debate this question.”
What is crucial at this point is not to concentrate on the detailed knowledge of destiny but to understand the main message and the subtlety. The Almighty Allah divided the behavior He attributed to human beings into two:
1. Compulsory/Necessary Acts
2. Optional/Voluntary Acts
1. Compulsory/Necessary Acts
Compulsory acts take place without our desire and will and these are totally the results of predestination and Divine decree. It is impossible to act or change the course of such events. Birth, death, resurrection, sleeping, getting hungry, our physical structure, the length of our lives and similar facts are parts of the compulsory or inevitable dimension of destiny. These occurrences and acts are also called absolute destiny (qader-i mutlaq) and human beings are not held responsible for these inevitable acts and deeds. Human eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear when such inevitable acts will take place. The renowned Sufi poet Rumi illustrates this shocking and puzzling state as follows:
“When the time comes for the happening of predestined acts, fishes throw themselves out of the sea. Birds flying in the sky rush towards the traps prepared to catch them on the ground.”
“Escape from such destiny and the Divine decree is only through involvement in still another destiny and Divine decree.”
The Qur’an speaks of the inevitable occurrence of the predestined acts as in the following verse:
”..And the command of Allah is a decree determined.” (Ahzab, 33:38)
One should not however think of natural disasters etc. as destiny and decree. Destiny in a sense signifies the balance and stability in the universe and expresses the divine measure of this equilibrium as Almighty Allah explains in the Qur’an:
“Verily We have created everything according to a measure”(Qamar, 49)
It if for this that criticizing the result and wisdom of destiny means to be ignorant and even stupid. Whatever happens according to predestination is appropriate and expedient. For example, the movement of the sun is set up in such a perfect manner that nobody feels any doubt about its movement or gets worried whether the sun comes closer to the world and burns it or moves distant to endanger life on it. Both Muslims and non-Muslims believe that the sun rises from the east and sets in the west every single day without any defect and lapse. Likewise, if one realizes the wisdom and reason behind other positive or seemingly negative outcomes of events he would say without exception that, “whatever the outcome is, it is the perfect one.” This means confirmation and validation of the Divine plan. Even the most radical unbelievers unconsciously feel convinced when they see how beautiful and harmonious the events take place and order in the universe is established. They admire the course of events. Each and every mystery human beings discover, as much as permitted by the Divine will, pull reasonable people, even if they are unbelievers, to the wonders of the Divine plan in the eternal valley and astonish them, let alone supporting criticism about the wisdom of these mysteries. Those who produce unreasonable arguments and talk nonsense about the existing mechanism of destiny are ignorant of the mystery of the sacred decree and devoid of wisdom and reason. Those people who cannot distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong, reality and falsehood are the victims of ignorance.
It is obvious on the other hand that the nature of destiny and the decree of Allah are unknown. This mysteriousness is indeed a blessing for man who is a mortal being because life becomes unbearable if he knows what will happen to him, either good or bad. In such a case, his life functions such as eating, drinking and working etc. will come to a standstill. Human beings live with a hope of life and never give up functioning even when they are on the verge of death simply because Almighty Allah kept destiny and His decree secret and unknown. This is a mighty blessing and a perfect Divine order, which enables man to carry on his life in this world.
When it comes to the question of evil, no evil emanates from the will of Almighty Allah. However, He allowed the emergence of evil acts as requirement of examination in this world. Almighty Allah limited the happening of evil acts and this limitation is a blessing for mankind because he does not permit all kinds of evil occupying human life. We may not be aware of this fact, but his limitation and visa so to say protects mankind from material and spiritual harms. Otherwise, had men not enjoyed this level of protection, mankind would have succumbed to many other sins following the evil and with his self-indulgence. Because man, whether consciously or unconsciously, aspires to evil as much as he aspires to good deeds. Almighty Allah underlines this tendency in the Qur’an:
“The prayer that man should make for good, he maketh for evil; for man is given to hasty (deeds).”(Isra, 17:11)
“If Allah were to hasten for men the ill (they have earned) as they would fain hasten on the good, – then would their respite be settled at once…”(Yunus, 19:11)
The more mankind contemplates and evaluates their self the better they will grasp the meaning conveyed in these verses. In order to understand the Divine protection that mankind enjoys we can give the following examples that show the Divine wall against evil and harmful happenings.
Let’s look at a liar’s behavior and words: In order to convince somebody he would say “I am telling you the truth, if I am lying may my eyes turn blind.” When he tells lies he doesn’t become blind and his trial and test time in this world continue as normal. Similarly, many people make promises and utter words such as “If I do this may my head break off and may my hands be broken; if I act like that may you see my death.” These wishes may be genuine and serious at the time of their utterance. However, many people do things or commit acts in conflict with their promises that require the happening of all these harmful wishes. Despite the fact that they fall into situations which they don’t wish, neither their heads are broken off nor are their hands broken nor do they meet their death. There are numerous similar examples of this kind in human life. In these circumstances, Almighty Allah erects a wall of protection as a result of His compassion and mercy between man and the evil acts he wishes for if he does something he is not supposed to do. The evil things cannot take place because Almighty Allah protects mankind. The aforementioned verses express this intelligence and wisdom.
In the light of this reality, Gnostics and pious believers accept positive and seemingly negative outcomes of destiny and the Divine plan being aware of the Mercy and Compassion of Almighty Allah. The following poems expresses such surrender to the Divine will:
Whatever comes to me from you is pleasant,
Whether it is a rose or a thorn,
Whether imperial dress or burial clothes,
Both Your grace and distress are pleasant.
Almighty Allah himself commands us to be in such a state of acceptance and submission in the following verse:
“Say: “Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us: He is our protector”: and in Allah let the believers put their trust.”(Tauba, 9:51)
How beautiful a poet has said:
Know that the evil doesn’t come from an enemy, nor good comes from a friend
Trust all that happens to Almighty Allah; know that all comes from Him.
The Qur’an also reveals to us that Almighty Allah has great Compassion and He shows it to whomever He wills:
“If Allah do touch thee with hurt, there is none can remove it but He: if He do design some benefit for thee, there is none can keep back His favor: He causeth it to reach whomsoever of His servants He pleaseth. And He is the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”(Yunus, 10:107)
To put it in a nutshell, peace of heart and mind is hidden in submission to the Divine decree. Any act or deed other than the acceptance of the outcome of destiny is futile and brings no benefit. The renowned Sufi poet Rumi expresses this very eloquently:
“You will face a disaster wherever you go with the hope of safety from evil and of finding comfort; and the trouble which is destined to happen to you will happen and find you.
“You should be aware that no corner of this temporal world is devoid of traps and dangers. There is no other way to find happiness other than discovering Him in the heart and taking refuge in His spiritual presence. This is the only way to reach salvation and comfort. Don’t you see that even those who live in the safest places in this temporal and transient world and those who are thought to be the most powerful also finally die”
“You should try to take refugee in the Mercy and Protection of The Almighty Allah rather than trying to be in safety in temporal traps. He turns the poison into a cure for you if He wishes and He turns water to poison if He wishes so.”
2. Optional/Voluntary Acts:
Almighty Allah endowed mankind with a partial and relative will in order to differentiate human will from His Divine will. Man will be rewarded for good deeds as a result of his choice or will be punished if his will leads him to evil deeds. Almighty Allah provides the mechanism that enables man to go in whichever direction he decides to take. The involvement of Almighty Allah is limited by such a degree of interference. He is involved in this process as a Creator and doer of acts. The real performer of an act is the man. However, man sometimes cannot perform an act despite his intending to carry it out because Almighty Allah gets involved in this process as a Creator and sometimes prevents the man from acting as he likes.
As we have explained earlier, it is not appropriate to try get more detailed knowledge about destiny except understanding the basic wisdom of it. Almighty Allah has the only key that opens the mysterious gate of destiny. The nature of destiny is beyond the realm of human understanding. Only some of those who are rewarded with paradise are allowed to solve the mysteries of the nature of destiny. Therefore, any attempt to open the door leading to the mysterious nature of destiny means going too far. While the nature of destiny is kept secret and mankind is not informed of what will happen in the future some ignorant people say, “my destiny is written badly.” By saying this, these people interpret the concept of destiny to escape the responsibility of their acts and deeds. Trying to escape one’s responsibilities and acting in conflict with the purpose of creation is both vulgar and banal.
Almighty Allah’s knowledge recognizes no limits and no borders. He knows all that has happened and all that will happen in the future. And the knowledge of what will happen is as clear to Almighty Allah as what has happened in the past. As our cognition functions in a temporal and time-bound world, we tend to think that the future events known to Almighty Allah are predestined and fixed by Him. This is the result of our intellectual incompetence and its limitation by our inability not to be able to contemplate outside the bounds of time. When the curtain of time is lifted everything will be seen clearly. Thus, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), during his Night Journey (Miraj) witnessed the eternal world and while he was explaining his experiences he said:
“I heard the sounds of a pen which was writing destiny” (Hakim, Mustadrak, II, 405)
While recalling his observation of the eternal world he said:
“I saw how Abdurrahman Ibn Auf was taken to paradise”
During this experience the Prophet (pbuh) was taken out of the boundaries of time and experienced a different aspect of reality during the night of ascension. Almighty Allah has eternal knowledge of the naked truth of reality, because He is not bound by time and place.
So, when we think of our impotency to understand the nature of time we will be able to see that Allah has provided His servants with a willpower in proportion to their responsibilities. If it were not so, the most Beneficent and the most Compassionate Allah would not burden His servants with such responsibilities and judge them on that basis. The fact that Allah holds His servants responsible for their deeds and that they will be judged accordingly proves that Allah has already granted freedom of will to His servants
Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumicalls out to those who do not understand this point:
“If the servant submits to predestination, he gets the reward for it from Allah. Predestination is as tasty as a sweet for the servant who submits to it; it makes the face of the servant to smile.”
“If you go wrong the pen writes wrong. If you are on the right track the pen brings happiness.”
“A thief told the police when caught: ‘Well, what I have done has been predetermined by Allah.’ Upon this the police replied: ‘Well, what I am doing is also predetermined by Allah. You misbehave and then blame predestination; this cannot be the mentality of a wise person.’”
“In short, Satan leads the servant to evil, and the soul leads to good. If these were not made optional for the servant why should the two, Satan and the soul, compete?”
“We humans have a hidden capacity to choose. See how this capacity interacts when we are faced with two diverse ideas. You make a judgment about ‘which is best for you’, and make up your mind to prefer one to another! And nobody directs you in your determination. Would you be able to do so, if you did not have the capacity to choose?”
“The belief that we are forced in our acts is a great mistake. Such a belief means denial of one’s own intellect as well.” The proponents of the fatalistic view act in accordance with their intellect, but they deny the role of the intellect. O brother! If the human being did not have the willpower and the capacity to choose, would there exist such an expression as “this is evil, that is good” or “this is nice, that is bad?” Even animals have perceptions in proportion to their senses and capacity. Yet, one needs to be wise to comprehend this fact!”
“If humans were not given free will, would you not look for healing directly from Allah, instead of from the doctor? Illness is a good lesson to teach you what free will means.”
“If you think you do not have free will, why do you plan to do such and such today and tomorrow? Do you think one can make plans without free will?”
“O those who favor the fatalistic view! When you claim that ‘the servant has no free will’ while aiming at eliminating the deficiency of power on the side of Allah, do not you realize why Allah holds His servants responsible for their acts? By holding such a view you also ascribe a humanly attribute of ignorance to Allah. Do you think Allah, the Creator of the universe, tyrannizes over His servants by holding them responsible for what they can bear? Gather yourself together, and try to comprehend the wisdom behind why Allah holds His servants responsible for what they should do and should not do!”
“Look at your own world; If you think it is only Allah who has free will, why do you hold the thief who steals your goods responsible for his act. Why do you regard some as your enemy and have a bitter grudge against them? How come you assign such sin and crime on those who have no free will? So, there must be free will! Otherwise, there would be no need for prisons!”
There is another point to be made here:
Overvaluing free will, and seeing the intellect above everything is also a sign of ignorance. Thus, one comprehends how incompetent man’s individual will is in the face of Allah’s Absolute Will in proportion to the knowledge or wisdom he has acquired. After all, man’s individual will, which is only a fragment, is hardly found in the servants who annihilate themselves in Allah. So, the words and acts of those saintly people who are said to be disclaiming man’s individual will should be viewed in this context. They do not utterly rule out man’s individual will, but regard it as almost non-existent in the face of Allah’s Absolute Will. Especially, for those servants who annihilate themselves in Allah to become “Allah’s eye and hand” in this world, man’s individual will is like the fire of a candle melting under the light of the sun to finally disappear. The following example draws attention:
A rumor spread about Muhammad al-Noor al-Arabi, a saintly servant who lived in the latter period of the Ottomans, that he denied man’s individual will. The Sultan, Abdulhamid II, summoned him to his special circle of learning so that he could be asked to explain what he really believed. Muhammad al-Noor al-Arabi explained his views when in the circle as follows:
“I have never disclaimed man’s individual will. However, I said that it was almost non-existent for some individuals; because the pioneering saints always feel the presence of Allah their individual will does not have any chance to come into the open. Therefore, they act depending on the Will of Allah who is the Absolute Controller, not depending on their own will. For example, we are now in presence of the Sultan. We do what we are told. If we are told to come, we come; if we are told to leave, we leave. It is not possible for us to use our individual will against the will of the Sultan that is above us. Whereas, look at the careless people and other creatures outside, they are very much independent and free in their will.”
When we go deep into these basic principles we face many problems to be explained. However, the root of the matter is as follows:
Man possesses a free will. This free will or power has been given to him by Allah. Though Allah is found together in the formation of every desire, He is pleased only for the good. A teacher’s objective is to have his student equipped with knowledge and prepared. Yet, if the student does not endeavor in this direction, there is nothing for the teacher to do. Likewise, a doctor’s mission is to heal his patient. Yet, if the patient does not follow his prescriptions, it is only the patient who should be responsible for the negative outcome. The patient, in this case, can put no blame on the doctor.
Therefore, as our actions are the outcome of our individual will, we cannot excuse ourselves on the pretext of predestination.
Such an excuse of the one who does not worship or follow the precepts of religion is nothing but blindness. Allah provides the one who wishes to worship with facilities, and He does not help the one who does not wish to worship.
Excusing ourselves for our sins by taking shelter in predestination in this manner is an unjust, unwise, and indecent act.
So, the statement of witness that “There is no god but Allah” covers all these precepts, and those who completely approve this principle of faith with their heart and tongue are considered to be believers.
It is unwise to be unaware of the contents and the meaning of this confession of faith. Those saints of Allah who have mature souls live their lives worthy of the Highness of Allah that they deeply feel. Their lives are like a rosary. They wrap themselves up with the light of Allah. They always try to annihilate themselves in Allah. Muhammad Asad al-Arbili, one of those saintly servants of Allah who achieved this position, said:
“I am still working to perfect my faith. I am still trying to say the confession of faith properly; because it is not so easy to say “There is no god but Allah” when still having worldly idols in your heart. And even if said, it is doubtful that it is acceptable in the sight of Allah.”
Thus, the declaration of faith with the words “There is no god but Allah” requires a good perception of its essence. Confession of faith with no insight does not bring the expected intent, though it is not too far from bringing benefit. Nevertheless, the confession of faith when consciously expressed provides the soul with eternal rewards.
The Prophet (pbuh) once delivered a sermon saying:
“If one utters the words ‘There is no god but Allah’ heartfelt and without any additional things to throw it into confusion, paradise is necessary for him.”
Ali, (the nephew and son-in-law of the Prophet (pbuh) and later Caliph) asked:
“O Messenger Of Allah! What does ‘without additional things to throw it into confusion mean?”
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) answered:
“It is the love of this world; it is losing one’s heart to this world.” (Ihya).
Another saying of the Prophet (pbuh) in this regard is as follows:
“No servant of Allah who says “There is no god but Allah” ends up without having the doors of the heavens opened to him; so much so that his words of confession of faith go up to the throne of Allah as long as he refrains from committing great sins.” (Tirmizi, Daawat, 126).
Therefore, one needs to refrain from committing sins. The Prophet (pbuh) says:
“When a servant commits a sin he gets a black stain on his heart. When she repents this black stain disappears; otherwise it installs itself there. When the servant commits another sin he gets another black stain on his heart; and finally his heart gets as black as soot.” (Tirmizi, Tafsir, 83).
Confession of faith does not influence the heart of such individuals. So, the following four points are to be refrained from:
1. Disputation with foolish people.
2. Excess of sins.
3. Communing frequently with members of the opposite sex who can be married.
4. Associating with those whose hearts are religiously dead.
The greatest wish of Satan is to impose himself on the heart. If the heart engages in remembrance of Allah, then Satan cannot approach it, and then Satan goes down. Yet, if the heart moves away from the remembrance of Allah, then Satan easily approaches it.
It is said in the Qur’an:
“Has not the time arrived for the believers that their hearts in all humility should engage in remembrance of Allah and of the Truth?” (Hadid, 57:16).
An individual who is away from the remembrance of Allah and overcome by his ego is like a jewel fallen into mud. The struggle against the ego is actualized by purifying oneself from the negative conditions and bringing goodness in one’s essence. Those who can manage this kind of purification get blessings from Allah. Allah says:
“But those will prosper who purify themselves.” (Ala 87:14).
It is without doubt that this kind of purification begins with the confession of faith.
Abu Ali Daqqaq says:
“When the servant says, “There is no deity” his heart is cleaned as a wet cloth cleans the mirror. Then when he says “but Allah” the light of Allah begins to emanate into a very clean heart. In this case it is clear that all the efforts of Satan go to waste.”
Hasan al-Basri describes what Satan thinks as follows:
“– I stir up sins for the people of Muhammad, but their repentance causes me to fail. In this case, I cause some wrong things to appear which are seemingly good. In this way, many of them do not refrain from them as they do not regard them as sinful and they do not repent for them either.” And Hasan al-Basri warns believers about Satan saying:
“So, those deeds which are thought not to be sinful are heresies; namely those acts committed by conforming to the carnal mind, and considered to be within the boundaries of religion.”
Wahb bin Munabbih says:
“Fear Allah! You curse Satan in the presence of people; but when you are on your own you obey him, and you make friends with him.”
TWO ASPECTS OF FAITH
The Confession of Witness (Kalima-i shahadet) has two parts. The first is about confirming the Existence and Oneness of Allah; the second is about confirming Muhammad (pbuh) as His Messenger and servant.
Faith takes root in the soul by internalizing these two parts in unity. Therefore, only one part is insufficient. One should be wary about the unity of the two parts, and duly perceive the importance of believing in the prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh).
One of the verses in this regard says:
“.. He that obeys Allah and His Apostle, has already attained the highest achievement.” (Ahzab, 33:71).
The essence of the universe, which came into being as the product of the love that Allah showed towards His creatures and that of humanity is made up of the light of Muhammad (pbuh).
Therefore, the essence of Muhammad (pbuh) is the mirror image of the reign of love. The light of love which sustains the creation caused the sky and the earth to come into being. Allah addressed the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with the words “O my beloved!” and thus made him the zenith of creation. So high a zenith that Allah uttered the name Muhammad along with His name and imprinted it on the tablet of decrees in the beginning with the formula of
“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger.”
Prophet Adam (a.s.) appealed for the Mercy of Allah for Muhammad’s sake as he saw the above formula imprinted on the sky when he was sent down on earth upon falling from paradise. Allah then forgave him and said:
“– O Adam! He is the most beloved of creation to Me. When you make supplications, do them for his sake. I have forgiven you now as you prayed for his sake. Had it not been for him, I would not have created you.” (Hakim, Mustadrak, II, 672; Bayhaki, Dalail, V, 488-489).
Allah confirms this honor, championship, and distinction that He bestowed on Muhammad (pbuh) in the Qur’an:
“And raised high the esteem (in which) you (are held).” (Inshirah, 94:4)
Some exegetes interpret this verse as follows:
“O My Messenger! Your name is mentioned along with Mine in the formula of confession of faith.”
Confession of faith begins with “There is no Deity.” It means removing all other deities from the heart.
This is explained in the Qur’an as protecting the heart from passions and impulses:
“Seest you such a one as takes for his Allah his own passion (or impulse)?..” (Furqan, 25:43).
And after removing all other deities from the heart comes the words of “but Allah.” This means filling the palace of the heart that was purified of all other besides Allah with the light of Allah.
And through the following words of the declaration of faith “Muhammad is His messenger” the love of the Prophet (pbuh) is placed in the heart. And the individual who thus receives the mystery of the formula finds a place among those lovers of Allah and His Prophet, and joins the ranks of the fortunate ones.
That is why the formula of faith, or the articulation of the Oneness of Allah and Muhammad being His messenger and servant, is the opening confirmation from one’s heart and tongue, and thereby is the basic condition of Islam to join the community of faith.
Our Lord created the universe, the Qur’an, and the human according to the requirements of His Names and Attributes, and He decorated them in accordance with Divine Order and Power. This universe of existence, which travels from the pre-eternal to the eternal, has a delicate arrangement and impeccable order, and it is a school of perfect unity. Imprinted at the gate of this school of unity, and in the sky and earth is:
لاَ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ للهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَ سوُ لُ اللهِ
“Behold! Verily, there is no god but Allah.”
There is no particle that does not remember Him and that does not reflect His Power.
As there is a connection and familiarity between the Creator and the creation, every particle is granted Divine love as much as its capacity permits. And the greatest share in this regard is imparted to the human being; because he is at the zenith of creation.
The human being is endowed with enormous Divine knowledge and spiritual truth. His/her soul is adorned thespirit of religion. Therefore, belief in Allah began with the commencement of humanity and it will, for the most part, keep going forever. However, there will always be a minority of those who are scatter-brained who disbelieve and follow their carnal passions. It is said in the Qur’an:
”.. His light should be perfected, even though the unbelievers may detest (it).” (Tauba, 9:32).
If the jewel of remembrance of Allah finds room in the servant’s heart, the servant worships only Allah, and the spirit of the following verse shows up:
“For, believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts…” (Anfal, 8:2).
Thus, the true fact takes root. The Prophet (pbuh) says on the importance of this position:
“Just as a dress gets worn out and old so does faith in the heart become worn out and old. In that condition, renew your faith with the declaration of unity!”
If the remembrance of Allah is not engraved in the heart, the servant cannot help control his inclination towards carnal passions. Allah says about these people:
“Seest you such a one as takes for his god his own passion (or impulse)? Could you be a disposer of affairs for him?” (Furqan, 25:43).
That means the declaration of bearing witness should keep us from the swamp of carnal passions, and lead us to follow the ethics of the Prophet (pbuh). Otherwise, we can acquire no enlightenment and reward from his side.
It is narrated that someone who did not follow the morals of the Prophet (pbuh) dreamt he saw the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) was not paying attention to him. In this sad state, he asked:
“– O Messenger of Allah! Are you displeased with me?”
“– Why are you not paying attention to me?”
“– I do not know you!”
“– How can you not know me, O Messenger of Allah? I am from your people. Scholars say that you recognize your people easier than a mother recognizes her son…”
“Certainly! However, I cannot recognize anything in you of my morals. Besides, no call for blessings and peace upon me came from you. Behold, I recognize my people to the degree that they follow my morals.”
When this person woke up sadly he repented for what he was, and began to follow the ethics of the Prophet (pbuh). He engaged in pronouncing the formula calling Allah’s benediction on the Prophet (pbuh). After sometime he dreamed of the Prophet (pbuh) again. This time the Prophet (pbuh) told him:
“– I now know you and I will intercede with Allah for you.”
The Prophet (pbuh) is the dearest of the dear, and he is worthy of love in every respect, and he is a supernormal creation. He is the most pleasant and virtuous of all, and he is the most gracious and unique guide of mankind. It is he who transformed a society that had been burying new-born babies alive under the hot desert sand into a tender-hearted society, and taught them the book of Allah and its wisdom. Considering him superior to all others, and loving him incomparably is a sign of complete faith. The Prophet (pbuh) says in this regard:
“You are not regarded a complete believer unless you love me more than you love your own self, parents, wife and children!..” (Bukhari, Iman, 8).
The above saying is quite fair an awakening and warning. For those who are away from this love the ways to spiritual enlightenment and development are closed. The seed of love comes into leaf only in his soil of love. He is the source of blessing for the soul. His soil of love transforms fossilized souls into pure jewels.
The prophets and the saints who are enlightened with the light of Muhammad (pbuh) are witnesses for him as the moon is for the sun. That is why, in every heart that says:
أَ شْهَدُ اَنْ لاَ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ اللهُ وَ أ َ شْهَدُاَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَ رَ سُو لُهُ
“I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His servant and messenger”, a Divine light is kindled as a light reflected in a mirror. So much so that, such hearts enjoy ineffable pleasure through the manifestation of this light.
The condition of Bilal Habashi who enjoyed this pleasure is an exemplary one:
Bilal Habashi was a lonely man having no relative or whatever to hold on to. He was simply a slave. Yet, one day he was honored with the light of faith. The sufferings he was exposed to afterwards as he held to his faith were so hard to bear that his resistance became an example for the Muslims in their struggle for their faith.
He saw the face and the light of the Prophet (pbuh), and tasted his love. His entire existence was almost a part of the Prophet (pbuh). Yet, his master, who had no blessings from the Divine light put him to torture by having him held down bared to the flaming desert. His master had his naked body whipped. Blood gushed from his black skin. And the unconcerned crowd around called to him:
“O dirty slave! Turn to us and save your soul!”
Yet, he roared like a wounded lion and shouted out the declaration of faith.
Upon this, the crowd kept beating him again and again. Having been unable to vent their anger they lashed his neck and dragged him through the streets of Mecca. Still, Bilal Habashi took shelter in the love of the Prophet (pbuh). He was not feeling any pain, but his heart was filled with the love of the Messenger. His heart was as large as the world. Whereas in the material world he was in a miserable position; he had nothing at all.
So, the love and fondness of Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) advanced him from being a simple slave to being the sultan of hearts. He became the muezzin (caller to prayer) of the Prophet (pbuh). Insomuch that the love he felt for the Prophet (pbuh) was on his lips at his last breath and he said while passing:
“– Rejoice, rejoice!.. I am flying to the Prophet (pbuh)…”
So, we have to take notice of the meaning of the following saying of the Prophet (pbuh):
“The individual is with the one he loves most.” (Bukhari, Adab, 96).
We have to make effort to benefit from the facts that the following verse reveals:
“So take what the Apostle assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you. And fear Allah; for Allah is strict in punishment.” (Hashr, 59:7).
The first part of the declaration of witness, which is the fundamental pillar of Islam, encapsulates being a sincere servant of Allah. The second part means following the guidance of the Prophet (pbuh) so as to be a sincere servant of Allah.
The following conditions are prerequisites for this declaration finding room in the heart:
1. The heart should be in communion with the Lord.
This can be achieved by remembrance of Allah. It is said in the Qur’an:
“ … for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” (Rad, 13:28).
The word “heart” does not only consist of flesh, it is also the center of sentiment and conscience. And the word “remembrance” in the above verse does not mean only repetition of the names of Allah in words. It means perception of Allah from within one’s heart. Only in this way does the heart find satisfaction and develop spiritually. And the happiness that Allah bestows on humans comes about only in this way.
Those hearts, which have already achieved this target, are always fascinated by the Divine Beauty. They admire the beauty of existence, and they are conscious that this is nothing but the manifestation of Divine Perfection.
2. Increasing the love of the Messenger of Allah in one’s heart leads to embracing those in favor of Islam and deservedly detesting those opposed to the religion.
Love or fondness is a prerequisite to being a sincere believer. Through fondness, worship and good manners it becomes an enjoyment and blessing for the believer. One’s outlook towards existence changes positively. One, thereby, realizes the mystery of the rising sun in the morning and the setting sun in the evening. One feels how adept is the artist who draws wonderful paintings; but what about the riot of colors in nature changing every moment of the day… Varicolored violets, lilies, roses… How can they get all these colors from this black soil?.. In short, when one sets eyes on himself and the universe with fondness he is bound to get carried away by the wonders in it.
The greatest achievement after faith is to enter upon a spiritual training that will guide one to the love of Allah and the Prophet (pbuh).
3. One should be in communion with the saintly servants of Allah and imitate their style of worship and conduct.
According to the findings of psychology “active or dynamic characters have the characteristic of spreading.” Namely, character and conduct are invasive as contagious illnesses are. The companions, who were once people of ignorance, became the most virtuous people in the world through the inspiration, enlightenment, and spiritual energy they received through being in the circle of the Prophet (pbuh).
In fact, even the dog of the Seven Sleepers (Ashab al-Kahf) named Kithmir got a blessed achievement in the name of being in communion with pious people. The Qur’an talks about the story of the Seven Sleepers and their dog as an exemplary event.
4. One should trent creatures gently for the sake of Allah.
Allah mostly inspires His servants with His names “the most Beneficent and the most Compassionate”, among His other names. Namely, He inspires compassion in His servants. One who loves the Lord treats His creatures kindly and mercifully. Even killing a poisonous snake should be done in a delicate way so as to not cause it needless agony.
These are manifestations of the declaration of faith that is the key for paradise; namely, they are the teeth of the key of paradise.
It is narrated from Wahb bin Munabbih:
He was once asked:
“Are not the words لاَ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ للهُ “There is no god but Allah” the key to paradise?
“Yes, but a key has teeth on it. If you have a key with teeth, only then is the door of paradise opened to you. Otherwise, it is not opened.” (Bukhari).
The Weightiest Statement on the Balance (on the Day of Judgment)
The Prophet (pbuh) said:
Surely, Allah will pick out in public one individual from among my people and ninety-nine files which are big enough to be seen by everyone will be opened and Allah will then say:
“– Can you deny any of these? Have my recording angels done you an injustice?”
The individual will answer:
“– No, My Lord!”
Allah will say again:
“– Yes, You have rewards in our sight. No injustice will be done to you today.”
And a paper which bears the statement
أَ شْهَدُ اَنْ لاَ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ اللهُ شْهَدُ اَنَّ مُحمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَ رَ سُولُه
“I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His servant and messenger” on it will be unfolded, and it will say:
“– Come get ready for the judgment!”
Then the individual will say:
“– O my Lord! What sense does this single paper make in the face of so many files?”
Upon this, he will be told:
“– No injustice will be done to you today.”
On one side of the balance will be placed the files while on the other side will be that single piece of paper having the declaration of witness. And the paper will outweigh the files; for nothing can outweigh Allah’s name.” (Tirmizi).
In this valued sacred hadith it states:
“The most excellent remembrance is, لاَ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ للهُ ‘There is no god but Allah’; and the most excellent prayer to be said is ‘Praise be to Allah’.” (Ibn Maja, Adab, 55; Tirmizi, Nasai).
Declaration of faith is the grass roots of faith. The more it is said, the more it makes the faith strong and perfect.
A sacred hadith says:
“– The Prophet Moses (a.s.) said:
“– O my Lord! Teach me something which I can praise and worship you with.”
“– Say, لاَ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ للهُ There is no god but Allah!”
The Prophet Moses (a.s) said:
“– O my Lord! I wish you suggest something special for me.”
“– O Moses! If the sevenfold heavens and sevenfold earths are placed on one scale of the balance while the other has the statementلاَ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ للهُ“There is no god but Allah” on it, the statement outweighs them all.” (Nasai).
King Solomon was passing by a locale having a magnificent army of jinn and humans in his company. There was a valley of ants there. The chief of the ants said when he saw Solomon (a.s) and his army:
“– O ants! Go to your nests; Do not let Solomon (a.s) and his army run over you unconsciously! The reign of Solomon (a.s) is a great one; you will be run over! “Get back to your nests!”
The Prophet Solomon (a.s) who was Divinely bestowed by Allah with the ability to understand the language of animals heard the words of the chief and answered.
“– No, my reign is a transitory one! And my worldly life is limited. Yet, the happiness gained through saying the declaration of unity once, is boundless!”
Regarding the recitation of the declaration collectively, Tabarani mentions the following saying of the Prophet (pbuh) that Imam Ahmad narrates from Shaddad bin Aws:
The Prophet (pbuh), one day, gathered the companions together and asked them:
“– Are there People of the Book (Christians and Jews) among you?”
“– No, Messenger of Allah!” they said.
Upon this, the Prophet (pbuh) asked them to close the doors and said:
“– Raise your hands and remember Allah with the words “There is no god but Allah.”لاَ اِلَهََ اِلاَّ للهُ
Shaddad bin Aws reports what happened then in this gathering of remembrance as follows:
“We remembered Allah with the words ‘There is no god but Allah.’ Then the Prophet (pbuh) said the following prayer:
“– O my Lord! You ordained me as your messenger for this statement. You ordered me to pronounce it. You promised me paradise upon my pronouncement. You do not break Your word!”
Then, the Prophet (pbuh) told the companions:
“– Pay attention! I am going to make you happy! Be happy; Allah has forgiven you.”(Ahmad bin Hanbal, Tabarani).
In another honored hadith it again states:
“The Declaration that there is no Allah but Allah is so valuable in the sight of Allah. It has a god place in the sight of Allah. Whoever says it truly and sincerely, Allah puts him in paradise. And whoever says it just vocally, not from his heart, his blood and property are saved; but he will be judged for that in the Hereafter.” (Jam al-Fawaid, I, 23).
Again the Prophet (pbuh) says:
“Announce good news to people who succeed you! Whoever pronounces لاَ اِلَهََ اِلاَّ للهُ ‘There is no god but Allah’ sincerely and whole-heartedly, he will enter paradise.”(Jam al-Fawaid, I, 18).
One who pronounces the statement, لاَ اِلَهََ اِلاَّ للهُ ‘There is no god but Allah’ is supposed to move away from any carnal and worldly passions that lead him to heedlessness, and is to progress to such an extent, that the heart is filled only with the light of Allah; and also with Divine wisdom and mystery; and in this state he continues to contemplate the Grandeur of Allah and his weakness. Expounding on this point it has been declared:
“One who knows himself also knows his Lord.”
From this secret there is something very important to understand.
Allah’s sight is directly exposed to the heart filled with the love of Allah. One of the disciples (derish) asked Bayazid al-Bastami:
“– Suggest to me a type of worship that brings me closer to Allah!”
Bayazid al-Bastami advised him as follows:
“Love the saintly servants of Allah! Try to make a conquest of their hearts; for Allah looks into their hearts 360 times a day. Let Allah find you there during these visits!..”
DECLARATION OF FAITH AT THE LAST BREATH
Being able to say the Declaration of Faith that is, لاَ اِلَهََ اِلاَّ للهُ“There is no deity but Allah” (Kalimah-i-Tauhid) at one’s last breath is a great good fortune of fate. The verbal declaration should have made a conquest of our heart so that we may be able to say it at our last gasp. It etches in our heart only by living in accordance with its requirements. If the servant is ignorant of Allah’s commands, there would be a great distance between him and the declaration of faith and if the servant does not overcome his ignorance, the distance becomes wider, and then the mere verbal pronouncement of the declaration of faith will have no effect on him. This is a great disappointment. Therefore, every moment of our lives should be organized in accordance with the requirements of the Declaration of Faith for our eternal happiness. The following event that took place in times of the Prophet (pbuh) is an exemplary one in this regard:
There was a young and pious man named Alqama among the companions of the Prophet (pbuh). He never showed unhappiness when given some task. This feature of his was also praised by the Prophet (pbuh). Yet, when he was about to die, he was not able to pronounce the Declaration of Faith. The Prophet (pbuh) was then informed about his condition. As the Prophet (pbuh) liked him he immediately went to see him and asked what had happened. The young man answered:
“ – O Messenger of Allah! I feel that I have something like a lock on my heart.”
The Prophet (pbuh) asked the people around whether it was a hindrance for him to pronounce the Declaration of Faith. And when they inquired about it, they came to know that he had mistreated his mother and she was angry with him. The Prophet (pbuh) summoned the mother as he liked the young man due to his good service and asked her:
“If someone makes a big fire, and intends to throw her son into the fire, would you approve what she was about to do?”
The distressed mother replied:
“ – No, O Messenger of Allah! I would not approve!”
The Prophet said:
“ – If so, you should forgive his failures towards you; absolve him of your motherhood rights!” (Tanbih al-Gafilin, 123-124).
The suffering mother forgave her son upon witnessing the special compassion and mercy that the Prophet (pbuh) demonstrated for her son. She gave up her rights on him. The young man then was able to pronounce the Declaration of Faith without feeling guilty, and yielded up his soul.
There are many occasions resembling this one in which we unconsciously do a disservice to our religion and the after-life. The Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) are hidden in the declaration of faith. Let our Lord save us from heedlessness! And let us be able to pronounce the declaration of faith. As the Prophet (pbuh) has said:
“Whoever is able to pronounce “There is no deity, but Allah” as his last testament in this world he enters paradise.” (I. Canan, Kutb al-Sitta Muhtasar, II, 204).
THE GREAT INTERCESSOR
The Declaration of Faith serves as a great intercessor for its servants in the sight of Allah. It effectively serves until the servant is redeemed.
A holy Hadith states :
“There is a pole made up of Divine Light under the heavens. When the servant says “There is no deity, but Allah” this pole begins to shake. Upon this, Allah says to this pole:
“– Keep still!”
The pole answers:
“– The servant who pronounced the Declaration of Faith has not been forgiven yet. How can I keep still?”
Allah says again:
“– I have, in fact, forgiven him.”
And the pole then keeps still.” (Bazzar).
The Prophet (pbuh) says again:
“There is no trouble for the people of the Declaration of Faith in their graves and on the Day of Judgment. I almost hear the words “Thanks be to Allah who removed sorrow and disturbance from us” by those people as they arise from their graves shaking off the soil on them.” (Fadail al-Amal, 478).
‘There is no god but Allah’ means constant awareness of it and feeling it deep in the heart. The declaration ‘There is no god but Allah’ that is pronounced truly and sincerely is superior to all other forms of worship. The messages and invitations of all prophets are encapsulated in this declaration. It is the backbone of all true religion. Allah says:
“Not an apostle did We send before you without this inspiration sent by Us to him: that there is no god but I; therefore worship and serve Me.” (Anbiyaa, 21:25).
Allah’s mercy upon His servants to forgive them is boundless. As stated in the Qur’an, He may forgive all sins apart from attributing a partner to Him. Again, as stated in the sayings of the Prophet (pbuh), Allah will punish those who rebelled against Him and those who are insistent on not uttering the Declaration of Faith. The Prophet (pbuh)says:
“If one says the Declaration of Faith and does not choose the world over religion, Allah’s rage is not put into effect for him. When one who chooses the world over religion and still says “There is no deity, but Allah”, Allah tells him ‘You are not sincere in what you say!” (Fadail al-Amal, 481).
Abu Hurayra narrates:
I, once, asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh):
“Who will most benefit from your intercession on the Day of Judgment?”
“I was expecting that you would be the first to ask me this as I knew your interest in my tradition. The one who will most benefit from my intercession is the one who says ‘There is no deity, but Allah truly and sincerely from his/her heart…”(Bukhari).
During the battle of Uhud someone with armor on his face came to the presence of the Prophet (pbuh) to embrace Islam, but when he witnessed the intensity of the battle he asked the Prophet (pbuh):
“– O the Messenger of Allah! Shall I join the battle first or pronounce my faith in One Allah?”
The Prophet (pbuh) told him:
“- Pronounce your faith first, and then join the battle!”
Amr bin Sabit followed what the Prophet (pbuh) told him, and fought courageously. The Prophet (pbuh) said when he saw his dead body among the martyrs:
“He worked little, but gained a lot!..” (Ramazanoglu Mahmud Sami, Uhud Gazvesi, 35).
THE VIRTUE OF THE DECLARATION OF FAITH
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) says:
“There is a curtain between Allah and every creature. However, there is no curtain for the words ‘There is no deity, but Allah’ and the blessing offered by a father for his son.”(Tirmizi).
It is said:
There are five types of darkness and five types of illumination in return:
a. Love for this world is a darkness; and piety is the light for it.
b. Sin is a darkness; repentance is the light for it.
c. The grave is a darkness; pronouncing “There is no deity, but Allah” frequently is the light for it.
d. The after-life is a darkness; pious deeds are the light for it.
e. The bridge to paradise is a darkness; and an absolute faith is the light for it.
One who manages to get hold of these lights achieves eternal happiness.
The Messenger Of Allah (pbuh) says:
“Allah will command on the Day of Judgment: ‘whoever pronounced ‘There is no deity, but Allah, and he has even a scrap of faith in his heart, let him out of the hell! Whoever pronounced ‘There is no deity, but Allah’, or remembered Me, or feared Me somewhere, let him out of hell!” (Hakim).
The Prophet (pbuh) says:
“If one of you makes ablution and then says ‘I bear witness that there is no deity, but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger and Servant’, the eight gates of paradise are opened for him/her, and s/he enters through any gate s/he wishes.” (Muslim, Taharat, 17; Abu Dawud, Ibn Maja).
The Declaration of Faith is the light of the heart. It is again the light of the human face.
The Prophet (pbuh) says:
“Make your children begin to talk with the words ‘There is no deity but Allah’. Inspire them to say ‘There is no deity but Allah’ at the last gasp; for whoever pronounces ‘There is no deity but Allah’ as his first and final statement in this world, he is not held responsible for any sin even if he lives a thousand years.” (Bayhaki).
However, having the declaration of faith conduct one’s life is so important; for the condition at the last gasp will take place according to their degree and performance in this regard. It is narrated that Prophet Abraham (a.s.) once asked the Angel of Death:
“– O Angel of Death! How do you make yourself seen while taking someone’s life? I wish to see how you are seen then.”
The Angel of Death answered:
“– O Prophet of Allah! Can you bear that?”
When Prophet Abraham(a.s.) replied:
“– Yes, I can.”
The Angel of Death said:
“– Avert your face then!”
When Prophet Abraham (a.s.) turned his face back to him again the Angel of Death was in an awesome appearance. He was a terror to behold. Upon this sight, Prophet Abraham (a.s.) lost consciousness. And when he regained consciousness he saw the Angel of Death as he first saw him and said:
“– For an evil person, it is enough to see your face, even if nothing else!” (M. Sami Ramazanoglu, Ibrahim Aleyhisselam).
No wonder for a person who lived as a complete believer the appearance of the Angel of Death would not be awesome.
The servant is examined on many occasions in this world. And if his belief is strong he passes these examination, but if not he fails them.
Thereby, humans face many difficulties, sufferings, misery, and pain in their struggle for faith and virtue. In this way, the pious and impious ones are singled out. Therefore, having faith in Allah is not enough. One needs to advance his station by adorning his faith with pious deeds so as to pass the many examinations of life.
Allah, in the following verse, declares how interrelated belief and these tests are:
“Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, ‘We believe’ and that they will not be tested. We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false.”(Ankabut, 29:2-3).
With reference to the above declaration of the Qur’an, faith is a favor, and examination is its measure by which the servant is required to pay a price so as to save his/her faith. Namely, Allah demands a price so that His servants could understand the value of faith by testing them in proportion to their capacity. It is said in the Qur’an:
“Allah has purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the Garden (of Paradise)…” (Tauba, 9:111).
Therefore, one has to sacrifice their souls, goods, etc. heart and soul in the cause of Allah for a perfect faith. In fact, the troubles, sufferings, and pains of the world that believers are exposed to are recorded as prices paid in this world to be compensated for in the after-life.
On the other hand, the disbelievers efforts to persecute those who strive to live in accordance with their religion will certainly lead them to a painful end in hell; for they deserve hell for two reasons. First, they do not have faith, and second, they tyrannize believers.
In short, the price of faith, namely the price of being a perfect believer is to keep the heart clear of the inclination to submit to beings other than Allah. This means making an effort to successfully pass our examinations. Therefore, fleeing from any act or behavior that may damage our chance for cultivating and maintaining perfect faith is a requirement. Not observing this requirement leads to immediate destruction and a circumstance in which no repentance will be of avail.
ACTS DAMAGING THE DECLARATION OF FAITH
1. Surrendering oneself not to Allah, but to other beings.
“Assuredly Allah did help you in many battle-fields and on the day of Hunain: behold! Your great numbers elated you, but they availed you naught: the land for all that it is wide, did constrain you, and you turned back in retreat.”(Tauba, 9:25).
That is why the servant should follow the principle “You do we worship, and your aid we seek.”
2. Disregarding divine commandments and prohibitions, and conforming to carnal passions. Namely, disobeying Allah and His messenger.
Allah says in this regard:
“Say: ‘Shall I seek for a judge other than Allah? When He it is who has sent unto you the Book, explained in detail.’ They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it has been sent down from your Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt.”
“The Word of your Lord does find its fulfilment in truth and in justice: none can change His Words: for He is the one Who hears and knows all.”
“Were you to follow the common run of those on earth, they will lead you away from the Way of Allah. They follow nothing but conjecture: they do nothing but lie.”
“Your Lord knows best who strayed from His Way: He knows best who they are that receive His guidance.”(Anam, 6:114-117).
“O you who believe! If you listen to a faction among the people of the Book, they would (indeed) render you apostates after you have believed!”
“And how would you deny faith while unto you are rehearsed the Signs of Allah, and among you lives the Apostle? Whoever holds firmly to Allah will be shown a Way that is straight.”(Al-i-Imran, 3:100-101).
“O you who believe! If you obey the unbelievers, they will drive you back unto your heels, and you will turn back (from faith) to your own loss.”
“Nay, Allah is your Protector, and He is the best of helpers.”
“Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the fire: and evil is the home of the wrong-doers!”
“Allah did indeed fulfill His promise to you when you with His permission were about to annihilate your enemy, until you flinched and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed it after He brought you insight (of the booty) which you covet. Among you are some that hanker after this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then did He divert you from your foes in order to test you. But He forgave you: for Allah is full of grace to those who believe.” (Al-i Imran, 3:149-152)