Friday, May 31, 2013

Certainty of Faith and Indifference about Worldly Matters

Certainty of Faith and Indifference about Worldly Matters

By Dr. Jasser Auda

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;

All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālameen. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger

In his well-known book, “Al-Hikam (Words of Wisdom)”, Sheikh Ahmad Ibn `Ataa'illah As-Sakandari (rahimahullāh) says:

“If the light of deep faith shines on you, you will see the Hereafter before journeying to it, and you will see the trappings of this world vanishing before your eyes.”

The journey to Almighty Allah in this life is much shorter than the journey to Him in the afterlife. One should not forget that death is a reality for all of us. All humans, believers and disbelievers, agree that death is the definite end of this life.

The Prophet Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) warned us against striving only for this world. Again, this does not mean that we neglect our worldly affairs under the pretext that we are devoting our life to the Hereafter. What the Prophet Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) meant is that we should not forget the Hereafter.

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is reported to have said: “Whoever wakes up and this world is his main concern, Allah will make him scattered and shattered, and he will feel a sense of panic and loss, and he will get nothing of this world except that which was already decreed for him. But whoever gets up and is mostly concerned about the Hereafter, Allah will cause him to feel focused and content, and will give him a feeling of being independent, and worldly gains will come to him willingly or unwillingly.” (Recorded by At-Tirmidzi)

In another hadith on the authority of `Abdullah Ibn `Umar, (radiyallahu ‘anhu) narrated, who said:

The Messenger of Allah, (Sallallahu `alayhi wasallam) took me by the shoulder and said: “Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a traveler (wayfarer.)” 

And Ibn `Umar (radiyallahu`anhu) used to say: "When evening comes, do not expect (to live till) morning, and when morning comes, do not expect (to live till) evening. Take from your health (a preparation) for your illness and from your life for your death."

[Recorded by Al-Bukhari]

When you open your eyes in the morning, ask yourself: What is the first thing that comes to my mind? What is my goal? Is it the Hereafter? Is it about Allah? If it is the case, Allah will grant you contentment and cause this worldly life to come to you despite of your indifference about it.

On the other hand, if one opens his eyes in the morning thinking of so-and-so or such-and-such of the world, even it were lawful, the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)  says about this person that Allah will make him scattered and shattered. This means that he will not be satisfied with whatever he gains and achieves. Rather he will always feel that he is still suffering poverty and need, and his greed will be endless.

The question now is: How can we reach the level of thinking of the Hereafter? How to always call it to our minds? The Sheikh (rahimahullāh) is linking our remembrance of the Hereafter with our certainty of faith. He says that the more our certainty of faith increases, the more we will care about the Hereafter. He sums up this meaning in this word of wisdom:

"If the light of deep faith shines on you, you will see the Hereafter before journeying to it, and you will see the trappings of this world vanishing before your eyes".

Furthermore, Ibn `Ataa' (rahimahullāh) links certainty of faith to the remembrance of the Hereafter. And how can we reach certainty of faith? The answer comes from the book of Allah:

And worship your Sustainer till certainty of faith comes to you.” (Al-Hijr 15: 99)

The Prophet's companions experienced this feeling when they studied the Qur’an and worshipped Allah. It is reported that one of the Companions said:

“When we sit with the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and discuss matters of faith, it is as if we see heaven and hell with our eyes.” (Recorded by Ibn Majah)

Again, this does not mean that we isolate ourselves and renounce this worldly life. This is a wrong understanding which leads to wrong practices of the issue of remembering the Hereafter. Indifference about this life does not mean to renounce the world; it only means to be aware of the afterlife on a spiritual level. This is how a balance could be achieved.

Exult not in your wealth, for, verily, Allah does not love those who exult [in things vain]! - Seek instead, by means of what Allah has granted you, the good of the life to come, without forgetting your own rightful share in this world; and do good as Allah has done good to you; and seek not to spread corruption on earth: for, verily, Allah does not love the spreaders of corruption!” (Al-Qasas 28: 76-77)

Then, Ibn `Ataa (rahimahullāh) says: "And you will see the trappings of this world vanishing before your eyes". This world is in a continuous state of vanishing. Al-Hasan al-Basri (rahimahullāh) once said: "Son of Adam! You are nothing but a number of days; whenever each day passes then part of you has gone".

In addition to this, Ibn `Ataa' (rahimahullāh) reveals that if you have deep belief in the Hereafter, you would see this world vanishing before your eyes. This will make you indifferent about it and its pleasures, and will draw you nearer to the Hereafter. We are in much need of this proper understanding because we always forget the Hereafter and do not think about death.

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) saw some Companions praising a man because of his good deeds. The Prophet Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) asked them if he used to remember death. They said: We did not hear him mentioning death. Then the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

"Your friend is not there". 

This means that he will not reach the high degrees of Paradise because he did not remember death, as remembering death makes one ready for the Hereafter.

Striving solely for this world leads to losing in both lives, whereas remembering the Hereafter makes us successful in both lives. Almighty Allah says:

If one desires the rewards of this world, [let him remember that] with Allah are the rewards of both this world and the life to come: and Allah is indeed all-hearing, all-seeing.” (An-Nisā’ 4: 134)

There is no harm if we care for the enjoyment of this life. But life should remain in our hands not in our hearts. This is the correct definition of zuhud (indifference about this world), i.e., to hold this world and its pleasures in your hand, but not letting it into your heart.

‘Ali Ibn Abu Talib (radiyallāhu‘anhu) reported: When the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was in Solah, Rasulullah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) used to supplicate towards the end of prayer after Tashahhud and before the concluding Taslim: “Allāhumma ighfir li ma qaddamtu, Wa ma akhkhartu (O Allāh! Forgive me what I have done in the past, and what I will do in the future),Wa ma asrartu, Wa ma ‘alantu (and those I have committed in secret as well as those I have done openly),Wa ma asraftu, (and where I have transgressed all bounds,)Wa ma anta a’ lamu bihi minni. (as well as those things about which You are more knowledgeable.)Antal-muqaddimu, Wa antal-muakhkhiru (You alone send favours to whomever you will; and you alone defer it to whomever as you will).Lā ilāha illa anta (None has the right to be worshipped but You.).” [This is recorded by Muslim; Abu ‘Awanah, Abu Dawud (760)].

‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud (radiyallāhu‘anhu) reported: The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) used to supplicate: “Allāhumma inni as ‘alukal-Huda, Wat-Tuqa, Wal-‘Afafa, Wal-Ghina (O Allāh! I beseech You for Guidance, Piety, Chastity and Contentment).” [Muslim]. This du’a contains four words, the meanings and implications of which constitute its essence. These words are guidance, piety (fear of Allah), chastity and sufficiency. Guidance here means guidance at every turn of life and steadfastness on the path of truth. Fear of Allah is the greatest means of piety and strongest defense against sins. Chastity is the state of being free from what is unlawful. Self-sufficiency is the antonym of poverty and here it means the self-contentment. What it implies is that one should not care for what people possess. In view of all these qualities, the prayer of the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) mentioned in this Hadith is very comprehensive and valuable.

Anas Ibn Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu) who said: “The supplication most often recited by Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam): Allahumma-ātina-fid-dunya hasanah, Wa fil-ākhirati-hasanah, Wa-qina-‘ādzabānnār (O Allah! Bestow upon us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the punishment of the Fire).’” (Al-Baqārah 2:201) [This is recorded by Al-Bukhāri, Muslim, and Tarmidzi]. Tarmidzi (rahimullāh) said: “Hasanah is very comprehensive and includes in all kinds of good and benefits of this world and of the Hereafter. Good health, wealth and satisfaction of the world and good status in Jannah, forgiveness from sins and Allāh’s bounties and favours in both worlds are included in this duā’” [ Jāmi’ At-Tarmidzi]

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

[Excerpted with minor modification from “Ibn `Attaa’ Words of Wisdom (20): Certainty of Faith and Indifference about World, a commentary by Dr. Jasser Auda”, Tuesday, 27 December 2011, Via On Islam]

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