How Must Servanthood be Realised?

We ought to consider, we have come to the world gratuitously. We could have come as any other creature. Excuse my saying so, but we could have come to the world as vermin or a snake. We did not choose for ourselves. Allah Almighty favoured us. We did not choose the place we would be born, or our parents. All of these are Divine favours. We did not choose to be of the Community of Muhammad.

We came with zero capital. And what does Allah want from us in return for all that He has favoured us with? Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Not forgetting Allah Almighty. The heart’s gaining refinement before the Divine majesty and power. He wants gratitude and thanks. All the Prophets experienced concern regarding this thankfulness and gratitude. The Prophet asked ‘A’isha, “Shall I not be a servant grateful?” He used to prayer until his feet became swollen. His place of prostration would be wet with his tears. “Shall I not be a servant grateful?” he used to say. That is, being in a state of praise and contemplating the Divine blessings. Being in a state of dhikr and not forgetting the Most High. Our inner world’s acquiring an otherworldliness. A friend of Allah says, just as the scent of rose comes to your hand when you hold its petals, a believer’s inner world should overflow with that spirituality. It should exude spirituality. Allah Almighty makes known His bounties. He declares, that whatever is in the heavens and on earth have been made subservient to the human being. He makes easy their entering Paradise. Through various means, with the Prophets, with Divine books and scriptures and with the wisdoms and lessons in this classroom of the world. If you were to count Allah’s blessings, you would be unable to do so, He declares. The greatest blessing is the blessing of Islam.

Allah reminds us of everything. The believers entering Paradise will say: “Praise be to Allah Who favoured us with the blessing of guidance.” They will express their praise due to this guidance when entering Paradise. They will say: Had Allah Almighty not guided us to the straight path, as Muslims and as a manifestation of His name Al-Hadi, we could not have found our way. We could have come to the world among the Buddhists or in a land bereft of belief. Then how are we to provide thanks for this blessing? With what deeds will we give thanks? Friend of Allah, Khalid al-Baghdadi, may Allah sanctify his secret, in a letter to his students, asks them to pray for him. This is Khalid al-Baghdadi, one at the pinnacle outwardly and inwardly. In his Letters, he says, “Assuredly, I rely on none of my deeds. Pray for my last breath. I depart seeking refuge in the mercy of the Most High.

Allah Almighty declares that the believers have prospered. Al-Mu’min is one of the ninety-nine names of Allah. To what extent is this attribute manifested in me? Who, then, is a mu’min? One who illuminates hearts, bestows the spirituality of belief, protects those who seek sanctuary with them and gives them comfort and security, one whose promise and word is trusted, all of these are definitions of the word mu’min. That is to say, for us to be prosperous we must have these characteristics and in doing so, be mindful of the following conditions. Prosperous indeed are the believers. Allah Almighty has given every human being a distinct tongue. There are thus trillions of tongues given to human beings in the world. Human beings did not determine its elocution and grammar themselves. There are many different tongues, as there are tones of voice, etc. Animals have many different tongues. The language of the cat differs from that of the snake, which differs from the snail, lion and tiger. But they all understand one another. In addition, Allah Almighty has given a language to inanimate things and makes them speak. Of course in a way unlike ours and not with the sound that we here. We cannot know its nature.

Muhyi’d-Din Ibn al-‘Arabi says: Allah Almighty created Paradise and commanded it to speak. And Paradise said “Prosperous indeed are the believers.” Then, how are they going to prosper? After the life of this world. They will prosper after their success in the world. Again, in contrast, Allah speaks through Hellfire in the Qur’anic chapter Qaf. He declares, “Are you filled?” And Hellfire says, “Are there more to come?” “Send the wrongdoers” it says.

In sum, Allah gave us perception to the extent of our being able to realise our servanthood, not beyond this. Being a servant to Him within the scope of this comprehension and submitting to Him under changing conditions. The first thing taking believers to prosperity is the prescribed prayer and worship. Of course these forms of worship and piety is very important. Allah wants from us a feeling conscience. That conscience is to always exude compassion. And want for others what it wants for itself. Allah Almighty demands clarity in consciousness and our constantly experiencing the consciousness of being under Divine watch. We must be between hope and fear. We must constantly seek sanctuary in Divine mercy, but “make sure that you do not die except as Muslims.” Allah Almighty decrees that we do not die but as Muslims. What does He provide as the criteria? Possessing a piety befitting Allah’s grandeur. A way extending in the direction of eternity is presented. Allah Almighty wants from us such a piety and God consciousness. And at the end of this, he commands, make sure that you do not die except as Muslims.”

In short, a servant with such piety possesses a feeling conscience, clarity of consciousness and balances hope and fear. This is the true learning. We must complete this learning. In order for us to do so, Allah wants a knowledge from us. What is this knowledge? It is the Qur’an. It is learning the Qur’an. How am I to learn the Qur’an? The Qur’an will reveal itself in accordance with your heart. Everyone sits by the same book stand. The Qur’an offers profundity in accordance with the reader’s heart. You will receive as much a share of that ocean as the cup of your heart will allow. You must therefore strive to increase the capacity of your heart so that it can receive a share of the Divine ocean. Knowledge must take one to Allah, glorified be He. If your mind has stored away the knowledge you have acquired, becoming merely a storehouse, this is worthless. Allah Almighty declares in Sura Jumu’ah that this is like “a donkey carrying a load of books”. What does Allah Almighty want? He wants what we have acquired to be transformed into action and become manifest and continue as good deeds. For it to be manifested as deeds of righteousness, Allah Almighty decrees, “Try to attain piety.” Therefore, for a perfected belief, the Qur’an must be the staple of our lives, it must be confirmed with righteous deeds and we must be possessors of piety. As the result of this learning, “One who knows one’s self knows their Lord,” you will know your nothingness, you will know that you are in a world of trial and constantly turn to your Lord.

Allah Almighty states: “How can those who know be equal to those who do not know?” Who are those who know? Those “prostrating and standing”, who worship during the night and at dawn. Allah Almighty declares, “and who implore God’s forgiveness before daybreak” and “prostrating before their Lord and standing.” How do we run to a mortal who invites us? Allah Almighty invites us to His presence at dawn. Why does He invite us? So that we can seek forgiveness. Because we are unable to give thanks for His bounties. If we have yielded to our carnal soul and stumbled, we will abandon those errors and say, “O Lord, forgive me.” We will repeat the Declaration of Faith and renew our belief. La ilaha We will shun everything pulling us away from Allah. Our heart will not incline towards anything that will separate us from Allah. illallah The heart will be with Him. We will send salutations to the Prophet. We will send salutations to the Messenger of Allah and he responds to us in return. We will remember Allah’s Messenger. The Most High sent him as mercy for all the worlds. How much of his disposition is evident in me. How much was it seen in the Companions. They were his students and so are we. How much of him is there in my life? To what extent does my family life resemble his? How much does my conscience resemble his? To what degree does my parenting resemble his? When the world and the Hereafter conflict, to what extent do I choose the Hereafter? Do I make concessions? In worship, social interactions, rights, etc. Every salutation to the Prophet must remind us of this. That is, salawat and the the Kalima al-Tawhid must not remain on the tongue, but must penetrate to the heart. The quality and degree of the salawat and kalima al-tawhid that we recite at dawn will become apparent in our state during the day. There is also contemplation of death. How much do we remember death? How much do we experience mortality? To what extent are our passions decreasing? Concern regarding the Hereafter is revealed in “who fears the Hereafter“. These constantly remind us of our weakness –“and hopes for the mercy of his Lord”– How much do we turn to Allah in hope? When these states prevail over us, Allah Almighty decrees that we be among those aware of a window being opened to ma’rifa. If these are not present, then were we to store volumes of books into our minds, they would be of no beneift. Allah’s Messenger states: “O Allah, I seek refuge in You from knowledge that gives no benefit“. The Most High then states: “They always turn away from and avoid whatever is vain and frivolous.” Allah Almighty wants character and integrity from a believer. He says that they turn away from what is vain and empty. A believer does not display indifference. They constantly display strength of character. They represent the honour and dignity of Islam with their lifestyle and their character. They show the smiling countenance of Islam. After worship, Allah demands such a character. We must be mindful of two things in this regard. Two things are very influential over a person’s character. One of these is the morsel we eat. We must be very careful regarding each morsel. The second is the person whose company we share. If they are righteous, they will lead us to prosperity. If they are one of the transgressors and are heedless, they will lead one to heedlessness. The lawfulness of the morsel we consume gives us, our heart, an otherworldliness. If the lawful enters our mouth, then folly will not come out of it. If things of a doubtful nature enter our mouths, then falsities will come out of them. In order to measure what enters our mouths, we ought to look at what comes out of them. And we must also look at our deeds. And those of the person whose company we share. Allah declares, “O you who believe! Keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety, and keep the company of the truthful. He does not say, ‘be truthful’. The prerequisite of being truthful is to receive energy. The Companions received this energy from Allah’s Messenger. We too are in need of this energy. This energy is so necessary that Allah Almighty gives glad tidings. That Day, He says, is the day when the loyal and truthful will prosper. That is to say, one needs to be loyal and truthful in order to benefit from the truthfulness of the truthful. On that difficult day, that day of great upheaval. A Muslim needs to be like a ruler. They must not be crooked. Crooked fruit comes from a crooked branch. A straight line does not come about what is crooked. Therefore, our what we eat is very important. Our earnings are very important. Do others have any rights over us? That remains until Judgement. Are we careful when it comes to laws of inheritance? Do we backbite? These also remain for the Judgement. If you cannot free yourself from backbiting, then backbite your parents so that your rewards can go to them, it says. So that what you earn will not go to waste, it says. Give your rewards to them, it says. So that they can benefit, it says. Backbite them, it says. In Sura Hujuraat, Allah Almighty asks, won’t eating the flesh of your dead brother be abhorrent for you? The dead do not hear and you are talking behind their back. They told Allah’s Messenger that two people could not withstand the fast. He ordered that they be called and that they break their fast. They broke their fast long ago, he said. “No, O Messenger of Allah,” they replied. Our Prophet asked the woman to spit. A blood clot came out of her mouth. “You have backbitten, that has already broken your fast and removed all its merit,” he said.

In sum, a person’s wrongdoing stems from their ignorance. That is, they must free themselves of ignorance and draw near to Allah with righteous deeds. And be freed of heedlessness. The ignorant will become pious and Allah Almighty will teach them.“Try to attain piety.”And be freed of heedlessness.