The True Learning is Contemplation

There is something of notice here: The inner world of the human being is to become open and they are to live in a state of contemplation. Contemplation in everything:

iq’ra bi-is’mi rabbika alladhī khalaq

Allah Almighty declares in the very first verse that was revealed:

“Read in and with the Name of your Lord, Who has created.” (96:1)

This is the true learning.

There was (a person by the name of) Bahlul Dana, who lived during Abbasid rule. Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid came to visit him from time to time. And Bahlul Dana constantly asked him questions. He asked him wise questions and cautioned him with such questions of wisdom.

One day, again on a day of ‘Eid, the Caliph came to visit Bahlul Dana in great grandeur, dressed in special garb. Bahlul Dana said:

“O Caliph, I have three questions for you:

What is there on top of the earth?

What is there beneath the earth?

And what is there in the skies?”

“That is simple,” the Caliph answered. “We can see what there is. There are living beings on top of the earth. And the dead beneath it. As for the skies, there are winged creatures, butterflies, birds and the like,” he added.

“My dear Caliph,” Bahlul Dana said, “I did not ask you about the face of the matter, but enquired as to its inner dimension. “Now listen,” he continued, “On earth there are passions. There are jealousies. There are calumnies. There are many evils pulling one away from Allah. The human being commits these. Protect yourself from these whatever you do.

I asked you what was beneath the earth and you said beneath the earth are the dead. What there really are, however, are regrets, lamentations and ‘if onlys’. There are great sighs of remorse. Lead such a life in this world that you are you not sorry when beneath the earth.

I asked you what is in the skies and you said, look, there are wings. What there are, in essence, are deeds to be presented before the Supreme Throne of Allah, of the righteous servants. Pay careful attention to these.”

And so is the tranquil self or soul at rest (nafs al-mutma’inna), to be able pull away from heedlessness.

The heedless person lives with the day’s anxiety and apprehension. That which one really needs to be concerned about is the Day of Judgement. The heedless are worried about their day. What will I do today, what will I do tomorrow, how will I get what I want, how will…, etc, etc…

But that which one really needs to be worried about is the Day of Judgement.

Allah Almighty constantly warns us in this regard:

al-ghāshiyati “Has the account of the Overwhelming come to you?” (88:1) Allah Almighty declares.

Again Allah Almighty reveals to us a scene from that Day, in the Qur’anic chapter Al-Ma’arij:

“…Every disbelieving criminal will yearn to ransom himself from the punishment of that Day even by his sons, And his wife and his brother, And all his kinsfolk who sheltered him, And whoever else is on the earth, all of them, so that he might then save himself.”(70:11-14)

Allah Almighty (presents to us) our life adventure… There are many situations we found ourselves in that we have long forgotten. Allah Almighty (declares) that the screens will come down, and a stranger will not be your witness, but you yourself will be a witness against yourself.

iq’ra kitābaka kafā binafsika l-yawma ʿalayka asība

““Read your book! Your own self suffices you this day as a reckoner against you.”(17:14)

The Kiraman Katibun, the Noble Recorders, are constantly writing. They have neither break, nor free time. All our deeds are being recorded. The records are being locked up and transferred to the Day of Judgement. These records will be placed before us on the Day of Judgement. The Divine screens will descend. Just as you type one word on a computer today and all the other words come up before you. Our every state and manner, from the age of puberty onwards, will be presented before us.

Similarly, Allah the Almighty, declares in another Qur’anic verse:

“Until when they reach it, their ears, and their eyes, and their skins will bear witness against them as to all that they did habitually.” (41:20)

Eyes will bear witness against you: Why did Allah give you these eyes and where did you use them? What did you look at with these eyes? How lawful, how unlawful?

Why did Allah Almighty grant us your ears, what sounds did you hear with these ears: lawful or unlawful?

Skins will speak: Where did you use this strength that Allah has granted to you?

What a day of dread!

Again in the Qur’anic chapter Ya-Sin:

“That Day, We will set a seal upon their mouths, and their hands will speak to Us, and their feet will bear witness to what they earned (in the world).” (36:65)

That is to say, the whole body stands as a witness against one’s own self.

The earth will be a witness:

yawma-idhin tuaddithu akhbārahā bi-anna rabbaka awā lahā

On that day she [the earth] will recount all its tidings, As your Lord has inspired her to do so.”(99:4-5)

This means that we are required to constantly think about the following:

Why did Allah give us these limbs and organs? Where are we using these limbs and organs?

Yet another scene from the Day of Judgement from the world, another one of its features:

al-āmatu l-kub’rā

Again, Allah Almighty makes known an attribute of the Day of Judgement:

“But when the great overwhelming event comes;”(79:34)

“But when the great overwhelming event comes; On that Day human will recall (and understand) for what he strove. And the Blazing Flame will come into view for all who see.”(79:34-36)

In other words, ṭāmat, signifies an overwhelming calamity so great that it makes one forget all troubles and all tribulations. This means a calamitous day. For whom? For the criminal and corrupt.

Again it is stated, “al-ṣākhat”. (80:33) This means a great sound, but one that is a deafening, awesome blast. Again, such a thunderous blast on the Day of Judgement: “al-ṣākhat”“But when the piercing Cry (heralding the Resurrection) sounds.” (80:33)

Again, “al-qāriʿat” (101:1) If someone were to pound on this door, I would say that it were being struck with such force that there was almost certainly an incident behind it. That incident would come here. And so Allah Almighty says: “al-qāriʿatA striking calamity, a formidable incident on that Day, that deafens with its sudden, mighty strike.

What does Allah Almighty demand of us: He decrees what he demands of us in one verse, in the chapter Al-Insan, He states that He expects self-sacrifice from us. He provides an example of this sacrifice:

‘Ali, may Allah be well pleased with him, once watered a date orchard and he received some barley in return. He brought the barley home. They themselves were hungry. Fatima ground it in a hand-mill and made bread. It is stated in the verse:

“They give food, however great be their need for it…” (76:8) When they themselves are hungry, it is stated. Someone poor comes to their door, someone needy comes, the outcast comes, the impoverished comes and say “Lillah“, “Give to us for the sake of Allah.” He gives them the bread that they had made.

On another occasion, Fatima again made bread. This time, an orphan comes. The orphan also says, “Lillah” and they give (the bread) to the orphan.

A prisoner of war comes on the third occasion and they give to him too.

In another narration, they are to break fast and it is right at the time of sunset. They had broken fast for three consecutive nights just with water and continue like this on this night also. And when they give to those in need, Allah Almighty reveals that they say:

“…we desire from you neither recompense nor thanks (we desire only the acceptance of Allah).”(76:9) In other words, do not feel indebted in any way. We are giving this to you purely for the sake of Allah. They reveal their justification:

‘We are surely, ʿabūsan qamṭarīra, fearful of a Day from our Lord, (a Day) of frowning and severity (toward the guilty).’ So Allah will surely preserve them from the evil of that Day and enable them to find radiance and joy.” (76:10-11)

This means that Allah Almighty, when we look at this verse, presents to us the example of Fatima and ‘Ali, may Allah be well pleased with them both. In other words, Allah Almighty demands self-sacrifice from us.

Again, after making known “al-ghāshiyat“, the Overwhelming Day, Allah Almighty declares:

wujūhun yawma-idhin khāshiʿat “Some faces will on that Day be downcast.”(88:2)

Let us think about such scenes of horror, what dread there will be, what abasement there will be. In other words, there… the human being has two constitutions here: One of earth and the other a spiritual one.

Their earthly composition is there already, and there will not be a need for this constitution there in any case. We were created of earth and consume of those things that come from the earth. Again when we are buried in the soil, the body will again become soil and will be transformed into earth.

That is to say, on this earth, we stand upon the millions of people who came before us, like convergent shadows. Again, we stand on top of those who will come to the world, those that will be seeds. The transition from earth to earth and the earth’s function will cease at the last breath. There, Allah Almighty, declares:

“Some faces will on that Day be downcast.”(88:2) Our body will be formed there in accordance with the state of our inner world here in this world. Our mouth, face, eyes, ears, countenance, body will be in accordance with our inner world here. The form of the criminals and corrupt will be in accordance with their state. Allah Almighty describes this as repugnant and repulsive.

In other words, here, the first group are the unfortunate souls who waste their fleeting, short-lived lives in heedlessness, wrongdoing and injustice and who end them in unbelief. Their Hereafter is, of course, great loss. And a torment awaits them. And these, of course – after all this sin after sin – leads to their leaving the world in unbelief.

Allah Almighty declares:

ʿāmilatun nāibat “Having toiled (in the world) only to weariness (with no portion in the Hereafter).”(88:3) They have become the victim of their own passions, it states. From one day to another in such a state, it is not certain in which whirlpool they will be engulfed. Then death comes and everything… That is why it is said:

“Those who put off their work until tomorrow will be ruined.” Whatever we do today, that is it. No one has any guarantee that they will reach tomorrow.

ʿāmilatun nāṣibatun.” They laboured and worked for this world and – Allah forbid – all in vain, and nothing remains but weariness. And torment on top of this. An eternal torment…

In that case, “ʿāmilatun nāṣibatun,” where are our true efforts? How much of our labour is aimed at earning the good pleasure and approval of Allah? How much of it is in vain?

Here, ‘Uthman, may Allah be well pleased with him, offers the following words of warning:

“The true believer has six types of fear,” he says. There are six types of fear that the true believer possesses, and needs to possess.

“The first is that their belief may be taken away from them.” In other words, the fear that their last breath is a disaster. Nobody knows what their last breath holds. No one has any guarantee concerning their death except the Prophets and those about whom they gave glad tidings. That is why Allah Almighty declares:

walā tamūtunna illā wa-antum mus’limūn

“…and see that you do not die save as Muslims (submitted to Him exclusively).” (3:102) And this happens only once.

It is stated: “You will die as you live and you will be resurrected as you die.” (Munawi, Fayd al-Qadr, V:663)

Again, as declared in a Qur’anic verse:

(They entreat Allah:) ‘Our Lord, do not let our hearts swerve after You have guided us…'”(3:8)

Then there was Qarun – he was a righteous servant. He was one of those who were most learned in the Torah, as mentioned in the Qur’anic chapter Qasas. He ultimately faced his own ruin. He was swallowed up by the earth along with all his treasures.

There was another righteous servant of Allah, by the name of Bal’am bin Ba’ura’. He too was destroyed. He followed his carnal desires.

Allah Almighty reveals in the Qur’an that in his confusion, “his likeness is that of a dog: if you move to drive it away, it pants with its tongue lolling out (still hoping to be fed more).” (7:176)

In the world, every… this will continue until the last breath. You receive a diploma in the world, and you carry your diploma with you for a lifetime. But belief is not like this. Until what is certain comes, until the last breath. To be able to give one’s last breath in a state of vigilance.

Somebody was once circumambulating the Ka’ba:

tawaffanī mus’liman wa-aliq’nī bil-āliīn

And he recited the verse from the Qur’anic chapter Yusuf: “…Take my soul to You as a Muslim, and join me with the righteous.” (12:101)

“What are you reciting this verse?” they asked him.

“One of my friends – was he an imam or one who recited the Call to Prayer – I can’t recall, his death was not a good one. And, for fear of such an end, I constantly recite the supplication, “tawaffanī mus’liman wa-alḥiq’nī bil-ṣāliḥīn” ‘Take my soul to You as a Muslim, and join me with the righteous.’ (12:101) I am in a constant state of fear of the same end, after seeing that state of my brother.”

Firstly, this means that every believer must be worried about their last breath.

Secondly, says ‘Uthman, may Allah be well pleased with him:

“That the recording angels may write down something that may expose them on the Day of Judgement.”

We do not want anyone to see certain faults and shortcomings of ours in this world. In the Hereafter, all that the Noble Scribes have recorded here will be poured forth before us. This needs to be the second concern or fear. Not being humiliated in the Hereafter.

yawma-idhin tuḥaddithu akhbārahā bi-anna rabbaka awḥā lahā

On that day she [the earth] will recount all its tidings, As your Lord has inspired her to do so,”(99:4-5)Allah Almighty declares.


“That Satan may cause their deeds to become invalid.” In other words, that their deeds are purely for self-display and vainglory.

Again, the Messenger of Allah states:

“A man who died a martyr will be brought forth on the Day of Judgement and Allah Almighty will ask: ‘And what did you do (in return for all My favours upon you)?’

“I fought for you until I died a martyr.’

‘You have lied – you did but fight that it might be said of you: He is courageous. And so it was said.’ Then he will be ordered to be dragged along on his face until he is cast into the Fire.

The second will be brought forth, a scholar:

‘What did you do about the favours that I have granted you? With the knowledge I gave you?’

‘I studied it and I taught it thus.’

‘You have lied – you did but study but that it might be said of you: He is learned.’ [You distorted it in your favour.] Then he will be ordered to be dragged along on his face until he is cast into the Fire.

A third will be an open-handed person.

‘And what did you do?’

‘I gave money for this mosque, this school, this institute, etc.’

‘You made sure it was named after you. You inflated your own ego. You did not do this for My sake.'” (See Muslim, Imara, 152)

That is to say, in no way does Allah Almighty accept any partner to His attribute Al-Mutakabbir: The One Who has exclusive right to all greatness. Allah Almighty demands sincerity from us in everything. He demands “Lillah“. So then, in this case, what does Satan do, he drags us to vanity. He leads the human being to boasting and to self-praise.


“That the Angel of Death may come to them unexpectedly, without warning.”

When looking somewhere they shouldn’t be looking, when watching something inappropriate, just as we are uttering an inappropriate word, in a moment of anger…

‘Uthman, may Allah be well pleased with him, says that this is the fourth thing that a believer must be afraid of. That is why, he says, one needs to restrain their anger. Guard their eyes, their ears, their everything against the forbidden. For Allah Almighty declares:

“And (continue to) worship your Lord until what is certain (death) comes to you.”(15:99)


“That the world may tempt them and distract them from the Hereafter.”

ʿāmilatun nāṣibatun (88:3) “Having toiled (in the world) only to weariness (with no portion in the Hereafter).” Allah Almighty declares:

“…(Know that) the present, worldly life is nothing but a transient enjoyment of delusion.” (3:185)


“That pre-occupation with their family distracts them from the worship and remembrance of Allah.”

“As long as my child gets a diploma…” In actual fact, they neither care for the child, nor for themselves. The greatest compassion for our child is to be able to offer them happiness in the Hereafter. To be able to bequeath them something for the Hereafter.

In short, ‘Uthman, may Allah be well pleased with him, says that a believer must always be in a state of fear of these six things.