THINGS PULLING A PERSON AWAY FROM ALLAH
qad aflaḥa man zakkāhā
“He is indeed prosperous who has grown it in purity (away from self-aggrandising rebellion against Allah).”(91:9)
This is the most important point.
Pulling away from lā ilāha, that is from everything that pulls one away from Allah. What are these things? The first is arrogance. Self-conceit, pride, egocentrism… There is no thing such as this on this path. This does not exist in Sufism.
When Aziz Mahmud Hudayi was a judge, when he was Chief Judge (qadi al-qudat), he was made to sell liver.
When Khalid al-Baghdadi was at the pinnacle of the learning and the sciences, he was made to clean lavatories.
Yunus Emre placed his head on the threshold of his master’s door and then his master, the noble Taptuk, received him.
So then, there is to be no “I” in the human being. They are not to say “I”, but are to exclaim, “You, O Lord!” “Your grace!” Not, “I earned, I did, I acquired, I accomplished…” But, “You favoured me, O Lord!”
Allah declares in the Qur’anic chapter al-Anfal, after the Battle of Badr:
“You (O believers) did not kill them (by yourselves in the battle), but Allah killed them; and when you (O Messenger) threw (dust at them at the start of the battle), it was not you who threw but Allah threw…” (8:17)
Belief in the Divine Oneness and Unity has no room or tolerance for partnership. There can be no partners. When one says, “I”, everything they do is obliterated. That is why a person has to avoid arrogance and say, “You, O Lord!” There is to be no pride. There is to be no sense of vengeance, only forgiveness. If you want to be forgiven on the Day of Reckoning, you yourself have to be forgiving.
“…Do you not wish that Allah should forgive you?” (24:22) This is what Allah declares in the Qur’anic chapter an-Nur.
There is to be no spying or seeking out the faults of others. Allah Almighty declares:
If you are to seek out faults, then seek out the faults of your own self. Look at your own shortcomings.
There is to be no wastefulness. You have no such right. Al-mulku lillah: “To Allah belongs absolute sovereignty.” Nothing belongs to anyone else.
What is wastefulness? It is the act of suppressing a sense of inferiority with material things.
There is to be no injustice – the rights of others (haqq al-‘ibad). This is the gravest thing. And the most difficult. At the time of his death, the Messenger of Allah frequently emphasised two things:
“The Prayer, the Prayer, the Prayer; beware the rights of those in your charge.” (See Bayhaqi, Shu’ab, VII:477)
There is to be no ambition.
Allah declares, “Having toiled (in the world) only to weariness (with no portion in the Hereafter).” (88:3) Greed and ambition bring nothing but ruin.
There is to be no lack of compassion and mercy. You have to hold the Age of Happiness up as an example.
There is to be no miserliness. You should not amass [wealth and possessions] for yourself. Allah did not give you what you have for you to accumulate it.
You are not to hold grudges against another believer. There is to be no stirring up of sedition. There is to be no backbiting. The heart is to be purified of all these: lā ilāha…
Just as pure water cannot be poured into a dirty cup, the heart is the same.
What will come to such a heart? Divine Love will come. Love of Allah and His Messenger will surpass all other loves.
‘Umar, may Allah be well pleased with him, once said:
“Messenger of Allah, you are dearer to me than anything except my own self.”
The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “No, ‘Umar, by the One who has my soul in His had, not until I am dearer to you than your own self.” (See Bukhari, Ayman, 3)
A person will taste the bliss of such Divine love, after which all worldly pleasures will pale in comparison.
A believer is to be humble.
“The (true) servants of the All-Merciful are they who move on the earth gently and humbly…” (25:63)
There is to be no self-conceit, no arrogance. There is to be humility. When you give, you have to give humbly. We saw that when our spiritual masters gave alms or charity in an envelope, they would write upon it:
“Esteemed, honoured Mehmed Efendi, thank you for accepting this from us.”
wayakhudhu l-ṣadaqāti (“Surely Allah is He Who … accepts what is offered as charity (prescribed or voluntary) for His sake)…” (9:104)
Because Allah Almighty declares that it is He Who accepts what is offered as charity.
Again, it is mentioned in the Ihya, where Ghazali cites the Prophetic Tradition:
“That which is given in charity reaches Allah first (If you are giving it [for the sake of] Allah, not if you are giving it [for the sake of] your carnal soul). From there it passes to the person to whom it is given.” (Munawi, Kunuz al-Haqa’iq, p. 34)
This is why humility is so important for a believer. The opposite of humility is pride and arrogance.
There needs to be a strong sense of justice. A love of truth and justice.
A believer is to be truthful and trustworthy. They have to be a person upon whom everyone relies and for whose character they can vouch.
They have to be devoted to doing good and possess magnanimity. They have to share the Divinely-bestowed blessings [given to them]. They have to be of smiling countenance. They have to possess perfect virtue. They have to think about the oppressed and downtrodden, thinking that they too could have been in the same situation.
They have to have self-possession. They have to protect the dignity of Islam. There has to be modesty and nobility of character. There has to be modesty in their eyes, in their ears, in their sense and feeling. There has to be compassion. They have to take the compassion and generosity of the Noble Companions as an example.
There has to be justice and they have to fear committing the greatest injustice.
walā tajassasū “…Avoid suspicion…” (49:12)
They are not to seek out the faults of anyone else, they are to think well of people, be forgiving and of the patient. Allah Almighty [says of] the patient…
Most important of all will be service. Service for the sake of Allah.
They are to show moderation, be giving, sincere and most importantly, be of noble conduct.
These laudable qualities are to be combined in the servant so that Allah’s mercy can become manifest in their heart. So that this heart can experience togetherness with the Messenger of Allah.
A believer has to exude mercy with their very gaze. They must never [be of those mentioned in the verse]:
waylun likulli humazatin lumazatin
“Woe to every one who slanders and vilifies” (104:1)
No believer will look down upon their fellow believer or mock them. Their gaze is to be full of compassion and mercy. Their heart is to be like an X-ray.
Allah Almighty declares, “…but you will know them [the virtuous and upright] by their countenance…” (2:273)
Their gaze is to be positive and give out energy. That is to say, their gaze should revive. There should be no envy, no jealousy. How much of these qualities do we possess? Our closeness to Allah’s Messenger is commensurate with our possession of these.
Their tongue, their heart is to be a mercy. There is to be a smile. This is what all the Companions were like. Abu Qursafa says:
“We once visited the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and there was only myself, my mother and my aunt. I was yet a child. We left and they said:
“We have never seen the likes of this man, such that it was as if light came out of his mouth as he spoke.” (Haythami, VIII, 279-280)
The hands, the heart and the eyes are not to reach out to the religiously prohibited.
And a person is not to accumulate the permissible, being aware that these are only means to earning the Hereafter. In other words, they are to sow deeds of righteousness in the worldly field to reap in the Hereafter. Allah Almighty declares:
aḥsanu ‘amalan (best in deed) (See 11:7, 18:7, 67:2)
ʿamalan ṣāliḥan (good, righteous deeds) (See 18:110)
[The Messenger of Allah] says: “Removing an obstacle from the road is charity.” (See Bukhari, Sulh 11, Jihad 72, 128; Muslim, Zakat 56)
Baha’ al-Din Naqshband says that he spent seven years, nursing sick animals, treating the ill and removing obstacles from paths and that this is where he attained the highest spiritual stations.
The Companions did not weary in travelling to China. They endured all kinds of difficulty and made all the necessary sacrifices in the path of enjoining the good and trying to prevent evil.
“Have mercy on those on the earth that those in the heavens have mercy on you.” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 58)
Those who are to be most pitied are those heedless souls who have lost their way. These are those who have pulled away from Islam. Having mercy on them, approaching them, treating them…
In short, Islam demands that we become perfected human beings.
What is most important is the hour of early dawn… This time was very important for the Messenger of Allah.
‘A’isha the Mother of the Believers says that when the Messenger of Allah lead one of the prescribed prayers he would turn back and look at the congregation to see if there were any elderly, ill, infants, or women among them. And he would recite the chapters from the Qur’an accordingly. But when alone, when he observed the obligatory prayer in the middle of the night, he recited the Qur’an at length. To such an extent, ‘A’isha reveals, that his feet would swell and the point of prostration would be wet with his tears. (See Ibn Hibban, II, 386; Alusi, Ruh al-Ma’ani, IV, 157)
Even when travelling, the Messenger of Allah would observe these night prayers, even during those arduous desert journeys. He would constantly exhort his followers to do the same. In fact, after the Prayer was made obligatory, he wandered through the neighbourhood to discover that recitations of the Qur’an could be heard from every house. He found great peace and returned home. This is why these hours during the night are so important.
Allah Almighty declares:
“…Are they ever equal, those who know and those who do not know?” (39:9) Knowing who? Why have you come to the world? In whose sovereignty are you? What is your destination? Why have you come and why are you going? Having a consciousness of this. This is what it means to know… To have a share in experiential knowledge of Allah.
Allah Almighty declares:
“Is he who worships Allah devoutly in the watches of the night, prostrating and standing…” (29:9)
What is their inner world to be like?
“…who fears the Hereafter…” (29:9) They are not to forget the Hereafter and are to be in a [constant] state of supplication.
Again, Allah Almighty declares:
‘ibādu l-raḥmān (those servants upon who Allah’s mercy is manifest) sujjadan waqiyāman “…prostrating and standing…” (25:64)
That is why these hours are so important. How grieved are we when we lose something worldly? It is worldly at the end of the day. When we miss one night of worship we have to think long and hard about it.
Allah Almighty declares:
wal-mus’taghfirīna bil-asḥār “…and who implore Allah’s forgiveness before daybreak.”(3:17)
That is why:
‘astaghfirullah al ‘azim, ‘astaghfirullah al ‘azim, ‘astaghfirullah al ‘azim…
Allah Almighty wants us to seek forgiveness from Him. Even the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, says:
“By Allah, I seek Allah’s forgiveness and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times in a day.” (See Abu Dawud, Witr, 26; Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, II, 450)
Allah Almighty opens the doors of forgiveness to us. But repentance is not only to be with the tongue – there has to be action. It has to be tawbatan naṣūḥan: “sincere and reforming repentance” (See 66:8)
The Messenger of Allah says,
“Renew your belief through recitation of the Declaration of Faith.” (Ahmad, II, 359; Hakim, IV, 285/7657)
We say lā ilāha illāllah (There is no god but Allah). This is the Declaration of Faith.
lā ilāha illāllah al-malik al-haqq al-mubin…
In other words, lā ilāha. We say, “O Lord, there is nothing that pulls one away from You.” illāllah: “There is Only You,” we say.
This state needs to continue during the day also. We have to exhort ourselves in the Declaration of Faith during the night. And put this into practice during the day.
There is also the salutations sent to the Messenger of Allah. We invoke peace and blessings upon him. We send him greetings of peace but these greetings require translation into practice. We need to take the Messenger of Allah as an example constantly, in every stage of our lives. What would the Messenger of Allah have done in this situation?
Then there is contemplation of death during the night. Thinking deeply about death. There is no place of escape from, nor any way out of death. On the Day of Judgement, the human being will say,
“…Where is the escape?” (75:10) What a dread and distress is this!
So, thinking about death…
“I have died. They have enshrouded me and placed me in the grave. All my family, friends and loved ones have gone and I am alone with just my deeds with me…”
The Messenger of Allah states:
“Remember often the destroyer of pleasures.” (Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 4)
It is said:
Hasibu anfusakum qabla antu hasabu
“Bring yourself to account before you are brought to account.” How much good and how much evil is there in our lives?
mutu qabla anta mutu
(“Die before you die.”) Given that all those carnal desires will come to an end when a person dies, being able to bring these carnal desires to an end before death…
This is why the hours before dawn are a beautiful reminder for us. Satisfying our spiritual hunger.
There is also remembrance and invocation. Just as there are certain faculties and functions in the body. All that we eat goes through the body, giving us strength and energy. Just like we cannot endure hunger. We should be aware of our spiritual hunger.
So, satisfying our spiritual hunger during the hours before dawn. Entering the day in this way. Protecting ourselves from all that Allah has prohibited, with the spirituality we have acquired during these hours of the night.
And being able to lead our lives in a state of contemplation.
This carnation has surely been put here to offer a sense of relief and comfort. The heart has to take on such a state that [it reflects upon] Who bestowed this carnation as a blessing? Had Allah not created this carnation, could we have brought it and placed it here? The servant is to be in a constant state of contemplation and reflection.
They are to look at the rain and say, “O my Lord!” This rain, all the thousands [of raindrops], the tons of water. How it is made to evaporate by means of the sun. All of these are cleaned in the air. The dirty, the unsightly, the impure… Then Allah Almighty… A Mediterranean travels up above. Allah then causes it to pour forth when the time comes. He waters [the earth] again, honours [it], after which the water again evaporates, its impurity cleansed, only to return and repeat itself. Allah Almighty asks in the Qur’anic chapter al-Waqi’ah:
“If We so willed, We would make it bitter and salty. Then, should you not give thanks?” (See 56:70) Reflect, He says.
And so, the hours during the middle of the night need to be spent in this kind of contemplation. “O my Lord!” the servant is to say.
One will then start the day with this [spirituality]. Their eyes, their ears, their tongue will be protected from [vice and wickedness]. In this way, preparation will once again be made for worship during the night.
In other words, like the rising of the sun, the setting of the sun, the appearance of the moon. The heart will be in a constant state of spiritual change.
Again, the Most High declares:
“Their sides forsake their beds at night, calling out to their Lord in fear (of His punishment) and hope (for His forgiveness, grace, and good pleasure)…” (32:16)
Bayn al-khawf wa al-raja’ (between fear and hope)
Similarly, there are a lot of Qur’anic verses about worship in the middle of the night.
Again, “They used to sleep but little by night (almost never missing the Tahajjud Prayer). And in the hour of early dawn, they would implore Allah’s forgiveness.”(51:17-18) In the Qur’anic chapter Adh-Dhariyat.
At the end of the chapter al-Furqan:
“And (those true servants of the All-Merciful are they) who spend (some of) the night (in worship) prostrating before their Lord and standing.”(25:64)
Again the Messenger of Allah…
“He Who sees you when you rise (in the Prayer, and in readiness to carry out Our commands), As well as your strenuous efforts in prostration among those who prostrate (to be able to fulfill your duty of servanthood and help the believer to reform their lives).”(26:218-219)
And we have to encourage this – Allah willing – to our other family members.
Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi says:
Fill it with that Divine love, and fill it again,
Let the night stop, my friend, stop it, please!
Enchain my sleep, that time passes not,
Those who sleep cannot know the night.
May Allah Almighty rouse us from sleep. We are going to wake up in the grave but everything will be over and done. Brothers and sisters, we have to pay attention to this, Allah willing. I am telling myself.
‘Abd Allah ibn Daylami says:
“The foremost reason for the weakening of the Religion will be the abandonment of the Sunna. Like the coming loose of the fibres of a rope, the Religion will vanish with the relinquishment of the Prophetic Practices one by one.” (Darimi, Muqaddima, 16)
Let us not forget: If we come to know the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, today, then he will recognise us on the Day of Reckoning tomorrow. He will accept us [into his company] beside his [Paradisial] Spring. When our hearts reach the level of being able to see him, he will see us also. If we can feel and hear his presence, he will grace us with his benevolence.
[He says:] “I leave behind me two things: the Qur’an and my example.” (See Hakim, I, 171/318)
“Do not [he says in the Farewell Sermon] let me down by committing sin.” (See Muslim, Hajj, 147; Abu Dawud, Manasik, 56)