Quarterly: Issue No 19
OUR LOVE FOR ALLAH
From the obligatory and necessary aspects of Faith (Imaan) is having love for Allah, love for His Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), love for His believing servants and love for what Allah and His Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) loves of Faith (Imaan) and good deeds. This love for Allah and His Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) must take precedence over the love for one’s children, wealth and other worldly things. Allah says in the Glorious Qur’an:
“Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwelling in which you delight are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) and striving hard and fighting in His cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (punishment). And Allah guides not the people who are disobedient.” (Surah Al-Tawbah : 24).
Allamah Ibn Katheer (Rahmatullahi alayhi) explains this verse saying it means wait for what punishment is in store for you. And such a warning only takes place when the deed is absolutely necessary and obligatory.
EXCELLENCE OF LOVING ALLAH
Love for Allah and His Messenger above the love of everything else is one of the characteristics of Faith (Imaan) and a sign that he has tasted the sweetness of Faith (Imaan), according to the saying of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam):
“There are three characteristics that if one possesses them, he has tasted the sweetness of Imaan; that Allah and His Messenger is more beloved to him than anyone else, that he loves a person and he only love him for the sake of Allah, and that he hates to return to disbelief just as he hates to be thrown into the Fire.” [Bukhari and Muslim].
SOME DEEDS THAT CREATES LOVE FOR ALLAH IN ONE’S HEART
1. Recognizing the Bounties of Allah
The Bounties of Allah upon His slaves are so numerous, that it cannot be counted or enumerated, as Allah, Most Merciful says in the Final Revelation: “If you count the blessings of Allah then you will never be able to enumerate them.” (Surah Ibraheem : 34). The heart holds love for the one, who acts good to him, or when he acquires something beneficial from him. This is a common phenomenon, which takes place in every human, so according to this observable fact, in order to love Allah one should know the Great Blessings and Bounties bestowed upon him by Allah, which will lead him to loving his Allah, the Exalted.
2. Knowledge about the Names and Attributes and Actions of Allah
Another phenomenon, which leads to love, are the attributes and actions. One may love the other being pleased by his excellent attributes or actions. So, by knowing Allah by His Exalted Names, Absolute Attributes and Righteous Actions is one of the ways that leads to His Love, since one who knows Allah loves Him. And one who knows Him obeys Him, and is honoured by Him, and whoever Allah honours will have himself close to the Exalted and will consequently lead to the glad tidings.
3. Pondering over His Creation
Pondering over the Creations of Allah, the All Able, will lead one to the specific knowledge of the heavens and the earth, and all that He created, for all this will indicate His Greatness, Power, Majesty, Perfection, Eminence, Compassion, Mercy, Strength, Subjugation, and other of His beautiful Names and Attributes. One whose knowledge of Allah is strengthened, one’s love for Allah is also strengthened as well the love for obeying Him. He will then experience the pleasure of worship, whether it is in Salaah, Zikr or any other forms of worship.
4. Acting towards Allah with Sincerity
To act and serve Allah with sincerity and pristine purity, while going against one’s own selfish desires, is a reason for Allah to bless His servant. And when the servant is blessed, he loves his Lord more and more.
5. Remembrance of Allah
One of the greatest acts that bring about one’s love for Allah is increasing one’s remembrance of Allah. Whenever a person loves someone, he remembers him more often. And it is through the remembrance of Allah that the hearts find tranquillity: “Yes, verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest and tranquillity” (Surah ar-R’ad : 28]. And in fact one of the signs of love for Allah is the constant remembrance of Allah by one’s heart and tongue.
6. Reciting the Glorious Qur’an and pondering over its verse.
One of the actions that bring about Allah’s love for His servants is reciting the Qur’an and pondering over its verses, in particular those verses that contain Allah’s Names, Attributes and Actions. Pondering over His Actions will lead the servant to love Allah and Allah to love Him.
7. Remembering the Day when the believers will meet their Lord.
Another act of love for Allah is remembering what has been mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah concerning the believers seeing their Lord in the Hereafter, visiting them and gathering them on the Day of Abundance.
FIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF THOSE WHO LOVE ALLAH
First, they are humble towards the believers. That is they are soft, compassionate, and merciful towards the believers. They ‘lower their wings’ to them in mercy and kindness. Allah says: “And be kind and humble to the believer who follow you” (Surah Al-Shu’araa : 215).
Second, Allah describes them as harsh against disbelievers. The meaning of this is toughness and harshness to them. Allah says: “O Prophet! Strive hard against the disbeliever and the hypocrites, and be severe against them.” (Surah Al-Tahreem : 9). This is related to the fact that those who love Allah must dislike His enemies. This is a necessary component of sincere love.
Third, they strive in the way of Allah. They strive against His enemies with their souls, hand, wealth and tongue. This is a part of the completeness of one’s enmity towards the enemies of Allah, which is a required component of love.
Fourth, they do not fear the reproach of anyone who may reproach them. That is, they strive to perform those acts that He is pleased with and they do not care if anyone reproaches them as long as they are doing a good deed, which is pleasing to their Lord. The lover is occupied with what his Beloved loves and to him it is the same if he is reproached or praised by the people for his deeds.
Fifth, they follow the way of their Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), obey him, implement his commands and refrain from what he has prohibited. Allah has associated love for Him with love for His Messenger in His Words: “…are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)”. (Surah Al-Tawbah : 24).
Consequently, the love for Allah cannot be sought except through following His Commands in the Glorious Qur’an and being completely submissive to His Will. And neither can one have complete Imaan except by following His Beloved Messenger as He, the Exalted, says:
“But no, by your Lord, they have no Imaan, until they make you the judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.” (Surah Al-Nisaa : 65).
OUR OBLIGATION TO HOLY QURAN
Recently, we notice that international qir’aat competitions have become a regular feature in the Muslim World. These competitions, in which well-known qurra’ from different countries participate to display their remarkable talents for the recitation of the Qur’an, have served a number of purposes. The large audiences who have been listening spell-bound to the recitations of the world-famous qurra’ have always been moved by the unique melody, eloquence, and grandeur of the Qur’anic diction. This probably has strengthened their belief in the Divine origin of the Qur’an. Moreover, these competitions have popularized tajweed (i.e., the art of reciting the Qur’an with correct pronunciation) in many parts of the Muslim World. The Muslim children in these countries today can recite the Holy Book with much better accent and intonation than they could possibly do a few years ago.
Without intending to minimize the importance of reciting the Qur’an correctly, one might ask the question: Have these competitions helped bridge the gulf that yawns between us and the Qur’an today? Or, have they established a real contact between us and the Book of Allah? The answer to these questions is: "No".
Unfortunately, the great objective of establishing a real contact between the Qur’an and us has not been achieved even by the different religious seminars and symposia which have been held in various countries during the recent years. The savants and scholars who participated in the discussions at these conferences and the colloquia have generally dwelt at such topics as the greatness of the Qur’an, its beauties and marvels etc., but no attempt has been made to consider the fundamental questions: What are our obligations towards the Qur’an? And how can we discharge these obligations? So far as the glory and greatness of the Qur’an is concerned, we believe it is indescribable and its adequate comprehension is beyond the reach of human mind. It is best known to the Lord of the heavens and the earth Whose Word it is, or to His blessed Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) to whom it was revealed.
Therefore, instead of making a presumptuous attempt at describing its unique merits, the most pertinent thing for us to do is that we should clearly understand our duties and responsibilities towards the Qur’an, and then see whether or not we are conscientiously fulfilling these duties and responsibilities. Our very salvation depends on our efforts in this direction. Paying pompous compliments to the Qur’an will not be enough and it is not a substitute for actually discharging our obligations towards the Holy Book.
Now what are these obligations? What does the Qur’an demand of us? The Qur’an makes five demands of every Muslim. Put in a simple language, these demands are as follows:
1. to believe in the Qur’an, verbally professing that the Qur’an is the Word of Allah that was revealed by Him through His chosen angel Jibra’eel (Alayhis Salaam), to the last of His messengers, Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam);
2. to read and recite the Qur’an slowly and in a melodious tone, and with correct pronunciation (tajweed);
3. to understand the Qur’an, and reflect over its meaning;
4. to act upon its teachings, moulding one’s personal life and the collective life of the community according to the teachings of the Qur’an; and
5. to convey its message and teachings to others i.e. propagation of the Qur’anic message and its exposition.
We should remember the time when Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) will appear as a prosecution witness in the Court of Almighty Allah and charge his people with forsaking the Qur’an:
And the Messenger will say: "O my Lord! Verily my people deserted this Qur’an. (Al-Furqan 25:30).
Although in this ayah the words "my people" refer to the unbelievers who turned a deaf ear to the Qur’an and treated it with disdain, nevertheless it applies with equal cogency to people like us who believe in the Qur’an but have practically rejected it as a thing of least moment or consequence. Let me quote for you what Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani (Rahmatullahi Alayhi), a world renown commentator of the Qur’an (mufassir), has to say on this point.
“Although this last mentioned verse of the Qur’an really refers to the conduct of the unbelievers, yet (it has a wider application, and) all those who do not confirm the truth of the Qur’an by actually following its teachings in their practical life; do not ponder over its meanings, do not recite it properly; do not try to learn its correct reading; but indulge in all sorts of vain and frivolous pursuits turning their back upon it (also come under its purview and) would be considered guilty of abandonment of the Qur’an.”.
Let us all seek Allah’s protection against our being included among such people, and let us pray:
O my Lord! Be merciful to us because of our link with the Qur’an; make it for us a leader, and a source of light, guidance, and mercy, cause us to recall from it what we have failed to understand; give us strength to recite it day and night; and make it a plea for our salvation, O Lord of the worlds! Ameen!
TAWBAH / ISTIGHFAAR
"Truly, Allah loves those who repent, and He loves those who purify themselves." [Al-Baqarah 2:222].
Taubah (repentance) and istighfar (seeking forgiveness from Allah) are among the most meritorious acts of virtue for the believers. Taubah means feeling remorse for our evil actions or omissions. Istighfar means expressing that remorse in words and begging Allah for forgiveness.
The act for which we perform taubah and istighfar is not necessarily a sin, or an act of disobedience to Allah; it also includes our shortcomings. As we realize Allah's immense favours on us, all of our thankfulness and devotion clearly appears to be inadequate. As we realize the grandeur of Allah, Most High, our acts of worship and obedience clearly are seen to be insufficient. The higher a person is on the scale of taqwa, piety and God consciousness, the greater is this sense of inadequacy. Consequently the greater is his practice of istighfar.
Istighfar is also a means of enhancing the consciousness of Allah and strengthening our relationship with Him. We turn to no one except Allah in repentance. We confess our deepest errors, shortcomings, failures, and sins to Him and Him alone. We seek His forgiveness, knowing that He alone has knowledge about all our deeds and thoughts and He alone can forgive us and save us from the consequences of our actions. Istighfar, thus, is a most intimate conversation with Allah. And during that conversation we are at our humblest. We can see why taubah and istighfar are the essence of our servitude and submission to Allah.
Today, unfortunately, we see and commit sins all around us daily. In the "everything goes" post-modern world, good and evil do not mean anything anymore. But there is hope for those who seek hope. No matter how corrupt we might have become, we can always make a U-turn. We can repent and seek forgiveness from our Most Beneficent and Merciful Creator Who is always ready to forgive those who turn to Him in sincerity. "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. For Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." [Az-Zumar, 39:53]. Here is a powerful du’a taught by Our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) as our daily pledge of allegiance to Allah. We will do well to memorize it in Arabic and never let a day or night go by without saying it with full consciousness:
"O Allah! You are my Lord. There is no God except You. You created me and I am Your slave.
To the best of my ability, I will abide by my covenant and pledge to You.
I seek Your protection from the evil of my own creation.
I acknowledge Your favours on me and I admit my sins. So please forgive me for no one can forgive sins except You."
I request your humble du'aas.
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir
Umhlanga Rocks, KZN