Praise be to Allahu subhinahu wa ta’ala, the Giver of Taufik. Peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu “alaihi wa sallam and all his family and companions.
It has often been said that the truth is very bitter! Presumably, the most important reason for its bitterness is the impact that the revelation of the truth has in the form of direct criticism and destruction of some things in society.
This bitterness will not be reduced, let alone completely eliminated, except by making the method of conveying the truth with complete sincerity and neutral from any form of interest.
If the seeker of truth is able to adhere to the above principles, then he has indeed fulfilled his duty before Allah and His servants. It does not matter if he finds himself unable to change the character of things and turn the bitterness of salt into the sweetness of sugar. This is because the truth, although it may seem hard and bitter, is of greater benefit to individuals and society than the sweetness and pleasure of fingering or being hostile to the truth itself.
It is sufficient justification for a truth-seeker who adheres to this principle that he does not impose the weight of the truth on others unless he also burdens himself with the same. He also feels the bitterness of the truth before others do. Nor does he position himself as a prophet who is ma’shum, who is free from sin and spouts criticism from the pulpit of “ismah in order to then purify himself from mistakes. Rather, he used the scrutiny of himself and the criticism of his mistakes as a starting point to warn others not to fall into the same mistakes and deviations as he did. He wants the pleasure of advice and guidance that Allahu ta’ala bestows upon him to be shared by his friends and relatives.
Is there any error or ambiguity in this statement?! This is the principle on which I have based all the discussions in this book. Indeed, and Allahu ta’ala bears witness, I wanted this book to be an exhortation that I offered to myself before I addressed it to anyone else.
Nevertheless, there are those who are troubled by the contents of this book, because it criticizes them and seeks to set them straight. Their dislike of the contents of this book led to some very strange and astonishing reactions that there is no benefit in describing here. Someone once informed me of the stance they had taken regarding this book, so I replied: “This is the truth, and I have found no other bale worthy of replacing it.”
As for considering oneself pure from sin and error, I have never known any human being to have this distinction after the prophets and messengers. As for rejecting advice and being too proud to accept it, I do not think there is a single Muslim who has truly embraced Islam who is willing to sit on such a throne of arrogance. As for the way and method of conveying it, we have no choice but to follow the method of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) advised and taught his Companions that religion is advice. He also criticized without naming names or hurting anyone, but he said: “What a group does…” regardless of what this advice might mean in the minds of those listening.
As for the possibility of mistakes in my writings, then I have sharpened my hearing in the hope that I might find correction of a mistake I might have made or reminding me of something important that I had forgotten or telling me the truth that I might not have come to know, but I did not find any of that, except in my writing entitled “Musykilatna Akhlagiyyah wa-Laysat Fikriyyah” (Our Problem Is with Morals, Not with Thought), where one person told me that our problem is with thought, not morals.
There was also a rumor that through this article I was calling for morality without knowledge and thought, and that I was even saying that we don’t need knowledge and thought. So I say that I did not write anything that suggests that. And those who are able to understand the meaning of words by following the correct rules of language would not have come to such a false conclusion, which I would not have said. However, I have made the discussion clearer in this printing, and I have provided footnotes that will answer everything that could potentially be misunderstood from it.
Now I am reprinting this book and I am very happy and content with Allah’s guidance in the printing process. In fact, I am very grateful that Allah has made this book an instrument of benefit and improvement for many Muslims, and I am the one who needs this improvement and benefit more than anyone else.
I reprinted this book, and the bad events and bitter calamities that befell the Muslims made me even more convinced that the Muslims today are going backwards, scattered, lost their way, and degraded, and that the hidden inner sins are a greater cause than the obvious sins and sins.
I am reprinting this book, and the bitter state of the Muslim Ummah today makes my conviction increase with each passing day that the problem of the Muslims is a calamity that attacks their morals and not a crisis of knowledge as has been mistakenly assumed. This is in the belief that Muslims cannot live without knowledge, just as a sick person cannot live without sun and air, but sun and air are one thing and the medicine that cures his illness is another.
I am reprinting this book, and I bear Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala as witness that what I have written is not a form of malice that I have exhaled, nor is it hatred that I have nurtured, nor is it an indictment of a group or community. How could I do that when these things are among the worst of mental sins, and I wrote this book to warn people of their dangers and to call people to purify their hearts and souls from them? However, I saw that people were being led away by this dangerous disease (and people are, of course, made up of individuals), so I wanted to draw their attention to this disease through a piece of writing that has no other purpose, in sha Allah, except as an exhortation to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, His Messenger, and all those who believe.
I am reprinting this book as I raise my hands to Him Who knows all things unseen with humility and groaning, I pray to Him to make me and all Muslims have the privilege that only He gives them, namely, O our Lord, forgive our sins and those of our brothers who believed first and do not let there be hatred in our hearts against those who believe, O our Lord, indeed You are the Most Merciful and Compassionate. Allahumma Amin.
al-“Allamah ash-Syahid Dr. Muhammad Said Ramadan al-Buthi, Damascus, Syria.
“alayhi rahmatullahi ta’ala wa nafa’anallahu biulumihi wa barakatihi wa asrarihi fid-darain, amen.
O ALLAH to You be all praise with praise befitting Your glory and the majesty of Your power. Glory be to You, I am unable to count the praises of You, You as well as the praises that You direct to Your Essence.
O Allah, bestow Your best blessings on Your servant and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), as well as on his family, wives and companions as You bestowed blessings on Abraham and his family, in all the worlds, only You are the Most Praiseworthy, the Most Glorious.
O my Muslim brother, you asked me with great sorrow and pain: “The number of Muslims today is much greater than in the past and their Islamic deeds are much more prominent than in previous centuries, the libraries are full of a variety of contemporary Islamic books that have not been seen in previous times, and many people flock to study them with an enthusiasm that has never been seen before. However, their efforts regarding the establishment of an Islamic society and law seem to have regressed and gone further and further backwards. What is the cause and secret of this contradictory state of affairs and how is it that such basic logic does not lead to its proper conclusion?!”
Indeed, I gave you the answer when I said that the Muslims today are divided and hostile to each other. But division is a calamity that destroys all good efforts and renders them fruitless. So what do you think if division has become enmity?!
You also said to me: “So what is the common ground for the groups that are fighting falsehood that they can walk hand in hand and help each other, while the groups that are carrying the truth are constantly distancing themselves from each other and fighting?!”
My answer to you is that the bad groups want only evil and they are well aware that their goal will not be achieved except by unity and mutual help, and each of them has no other intentions and goals that are contrary to the evil they bring. So, they are united by the efforts they make in the path of evil, glued together by the awareness of the importance of helping each other, and what prevents them from being hostile to each other is that they are all very keen on working on the evil that they carry out together even though they differ in other goals besides that.
As for the group of the good, the efforts they make to realize the truth they bring are not as pure as those who fight for falsehood, which leads to narrowness and centers on the desires of lust. There are those who adorn themselves with the truth and call to it outwardly, but underneath they only want to satisfy their lusts. There are also those who take the truth as a mere utterance that he repeats in his assemblies or speeches and makes it an ally in seeking interests, but if the truth imposes something else on him such as giving up some rights that he should receive or enduring some of the hardships of life, he gives up the truth and he shuns it.
Since this was the case between them, the trust between them was lost or at the very least, diminished. It causes their cooperation in inviting to the truth to be limited to the narrow and petty. It was not until they passed through this that the seeds of division and enmity were often seen among them.
I remember, O my Muslim brother, the state in which you were engrossed in this reply of mine, sinking into painful silence, until you then got up, asked permission, and passed on while continuing to think about this.
As for me, what I have said to you has left me stunned and realizing that I have done nothing about this except leave you tossing and turning in endless agitation. I am like one who warns a sick person of the deadly diseases that afflict him without uttering a single word directing him to the medicine that might alleviate or cure his pain. I seek refuge in Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala so that my words do not discourage or kill anyone’s hope, for if they do then I have added a far more dangerous disease to the existing one.
This feeling torments me as much as the feeling of a person who knows that he has aggravated an ongoing disaster and passed it by. It would have been more appropriate for such a person not to have approached the disaster in the first place and not to have treated it, as many people besides me are doing today.
I realize that nothing can save me from this feeling unless I complete the explanation I gave you by writing down the remedy. Although I may not be able to convey it directly to you in the assembly that you came out of in a state of anxiety and restlessness, I am transmitting my answer to you wherever you are through this little book. May this book reach you and turn your anxiety into positive movement and effort in recognizing this medicine and how to use it, even though it is a bitter medicine, but it is the sweetness of faith that will reduce its bitterness.
I believe that we are all believers in Allahu ta’ala who is One without partners and in whose grasp is all goodness and power and He is over all things. And the remedy that I want you to pay attention to is in the book of Allah, al-Ouran, and has been explained through the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), which is to purify oneself of the inner sins, the hidden sins.
You may ask: “And the outward sins that are apparent? Isn’t purifying oneself from them also part of the remedy?” The answer is that it is indeed part and parcel of this remedy, but all people know about it, even though many continue to commit it. So warning about it is no longer new and does not bear much fruit. But what most people neglect is the other part of this medicine which, if the Muslims abandon it, they lose all their struggle and work for the religion of Islam, lose their way and become trapped in the wilderness of corruption.
The most worrisome part of this medicine is that due to its cryptic nature, Muslims have no method to recognize and monitor these inward sins. If this were not the case, then it would be possible to keep tabs on these inner sins just as they keep tabs on each other in matters of fasting, prayer, and other external laws.
It is also worrying that most Muslims do not heed advice and warnings in this regard. Nor do they take this matter seriously by finding out how to treat it, nor do they take it into account when trying to build the Islamic society that has been envisioned.
Hence, I feel that my answer should be to pick up where I left off in explaining this wonderful medicine that the Muslims have ignored, neglected, forgotten and even allowed to slip away, even though they have read about it many times without ever speaking of it in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
I prescribe this medicine for myself first because I am sure that I need it badly. I prescribe it to my fellow readers as well, because I know – as I told you – that this is the medicine that we must use, and the affairs of the Muslims will not be well except through this medicine.
It is only to Allah that I depend, from Him is all guidance, and to Him all affairs return.
THE OUTWARD AND THE INWARD, OR THE LEGAL AND ACCOUNTABILITY SIDES
It is agreed that the commands of Islamic law are generally divided into two: those relating to outward words and actions such as fasting, praying, commanding the good and forbidding the evil, and contributing to the benefit of the Muslims; and those relating to the soul and heart such as being sincere, humble, loving and hating for the sake of Allah, fearing the threats of Allah, and expecting reward and pleasure from Allah.
Likewise, the prohibitions of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, are generally divided into those that relate to external words and actions, such as the prohibition of killing without justification, stealing, adultery, backbiting and fighting, as well as those that relate to the soul and heart, such as the prohibition of arrogance, pride, showing off, envy, hatred, and attachment to the world and lust.
It is agreed upon by all Muslims that the outward acts of obedience that a Muslim performs, whether in word or deed, will not be accepted by Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, so long as he does not focus his attention on the inward acts of obedience that are related to the heart and soul.
Thus, if there is no sincerity towards Allah in the heart of a Muslim, whatever obedience he performs will not result in closeness to Allah. If a person’s soul is not educated in the noble manners that Allah, may He be exalted, has commanded every Muslim to make a garment for his soul, the garment of piety, piety, and servitude that he presents to people will not be of any use to him. And a heart ruled by pride, hatred and envy will not be able to make pure servitude to Allah the basis of his outward obedience and worship. If the bridge of servitude to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, that connects the Muslim’s heart to the outward acts of worship that he performs, is severed, then such a heart will not be able to bring its owner closer to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, nor will it be able to protect him from the worldly life and the deceit of the Shaytaan and his lusts, and his heart will be like the fruit on a dry tree that is just waiting to wither and spoil.
The division of shar’i rulings into two, as mentioned above, is an important point that al-Guran reminds us of many times in various ways. Allahu subhinahu wa ta’al& says:
“And forsake outward and inward sins; Verily, those who commit sins will be rewarded according to what they have done.” (OS. al-An’am (6: 120)
Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala also says:
“Say: “Come here for me to recite what your Lord has forbidden?” until He says: “And do not approach any of the abominable deeds that are apparent (outwardly) or hidden (inwardly) from it.” (OS. al-An’am (6): 151)
Similar warnings can also be found in the following words of Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala:
“So whoever hopes to meet his Lord, let him do righteous deeds and associate nothing with Him in worshiping Him.” (OS. al-Kahf (18): 110). This is because abstaining from polytheism in worship is at the heart of all spiritual rulings.
The Shariah’s focus on purifying the heart and adorning it with praiseworthy morals is also something that the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) make clear.
Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala says:
“Fortunate indeed are those who purify it, and disadvantaged are those who defile it.” (OS. ash-Shams (91): 9-10). And it is well known that the pronoun “its” in this verse refers to the soul or heart.
The Prophet ‘alayhish-shalatu was-salam also said:
“Indeed, in the body there is a lump of flesh, which if it is good, the whole body is good, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. That lump of flesh is the heart.”
In a hadith narrated by Imam Muslim and Ibn Majah and others, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also said:
“Indeed Allah does not look at your physical form and appearance, but Allah looks at your hearts.” (HR Muslim)!
When this obvious fact – which all Muslims should know – becomes apparent to you, the terms used to refer to it may differ, and that is a trivial matter. Some call it inner and outer, some call it ad-Diyanah (accountability before Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, for all inner matters) and Oadha (external rulings or decisions), and others use the terms hakikat (essence) and shari’ah (law).
All of these terms are correct, as long as they are used in the correct sense. For the person who performs the prayer by completing its outward requirements and pillars, in accordance with the laws of Shari’ah, is considered to be fulfilling the rights of Allah. However, if that is tainted by riya’, pride, and disbelief, then he is not fulfilling the rights of Allah in terms of the heart, in terms of accountability to Allah, and in terms of the essence. Hence there is an inner and an outer aspect to this matter, accountability to Allah and the law, as well as the essence and the Shariah.
These two things can be combined, such as fulfilling the external conditions and pillars stipulated by worldly law, along with fulfilling the internal conditions and obligations stipulated by the Lord of heaven and earth. The deed that combines these two things is accepted by Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, and the deed that does not meet the requirements of one of them is rejected in the sight of Allah.
These two things can also be contradictory, as in the case of deeds that fulfill only the outward aspect or only the inward aspect, and this kind of deed is invalid and rejected in essence, and does not benefit the doer even if he adorns his deeds with outward beauty and goodness. This is in accordance with the following words of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted: .
“Then We shall surely come to the deeds they have done, and We shall surely make them dust.” (OS. Al-Furqan (251: 23)
From what we have mentioned you can see that these two things, in various terms, are closely connected: there is no good in the outward without the inward, and there is no good in the inward without the outward, or in other terms such as essence and Shari’ah or ruling and accountability.
Imam al-Izz ibn Abdussalam (rahimahullahu ta’ala) said in explaining this:
“The essence is not something that is outside the scope of sharee’ah, rather sharee’ah itself contains the call to improve the heart with knowledge, good circumstances, determination, intention, and others that we have mentioned from the deeds of the heart. So knowledge of the external laws is knowledge of the “skin” of sharee’ah, and knowledge of the internal laws is knowledge of the content of sharee’ah, and no one rejects this truth except a disbeliever or one who is fond of sinning.”
As for the view that the inner side or essence is a separate Shari’ah that the mind attains through certain rituals or through closeness to Allahu za’ala, and that it invalidates the Shari’ah and the external rulings because of its belief that this inner side takes the place of the outer, this is one of the most dangerous teachings of the hypocrites and is used as a means to legalize things that religion forbids.
This is the opinion of the hypocrites who infiltrate the religion of Islam under the guise of piety with the aim of corrupting it from within and obscuring the essence of Islam. Sometimes they appear as Sufis, at other times they wear the identity of the Shi’ah group, when in fact they do not belong to these two groups, but they take all means to fight Islam and its adherents in the most cunning way.
Shaykh Musthafa al-‘Arusi (may Allah have mercy on him) in his book “Hasyiyah “ala ar-Risalah al-Qusyairiyah” quotes the following words of al-Imam al-Ghazali:
“If a person thinks that there is a relationship between him and Allah that nullifies the obligation to pray and makes it permissible for him to drink alcohol and enjoy the wealth of the ruler, as some ignorant Sufis think, then there is no doubt that putting them to death is obligatory and even preferable to killing a hundred disbelievers, because the harm they cause is far greater.”
Imam al-Junaid (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked about this group, and he replied:
“The thieves and adulterers from among the sinners are better off than them.”
Imam al-Izz ibn Abdussalam (may Allah have mercy on him) also said the following:
“There are many people who only resemble the pious when they do not belong to that group and their characteristics do not even come close to the characteristics of the pious. These people are more dangerous than pirates, because they hinder those who are walking towards closeness to Allah. They use vile words against Allah and are insolent towards the Prophets and Messengers and their followers among the pious scholars. They forbid their followers to listen to the speech of the scholars because they know the scholars will forbid anyone to gather and follow these teachings of theirs.”
While many people hear the wrong interpretation of the outward and the inward or the essence and the Shari’ah without ever knowing the true meaning of these two things – which should not be lost on the minds of all believers – they find no other way but to deny this entirely. They deny that religion has an outer and an inner side or essence and shari’ah or law and inner accountability and this is a big problem for them. They regard this kind of division in the religion with disdain because they can find no other explanation for it than the misinterpretation that hypocrites continue to propagate behind the image they have built up in the minds of the people that this is the teaching of Sufism or the privilege of those who are close to Allahu ta’ala or this is a form of perfection that a servant has achieved. There is nothing wrong with denying and rejecting these terms, which are in fact just words used by the scholars to indicate the true meaning – of which there is no doubt at all for those who believe in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) – and which are then misused by a small group of deviants as terms for their deviations and misguidance. But the most important thing that all Muslims should know is that the outward rulings of the Shari’ah that manifest themselves in words or deeds will not be accepted by Allah and will not bring reward or expiation of sins unless they are accompanied by a condition of the heart that everyone must have. They must also realize that a clean heart and soul are the foundation for good deeds so that the results of those deeds will be visible. If they already believe this, which is the heart and soul of Islam, then there is no problem if they want to use any term to refer to this.
In short, the essence of Islam, by which we worship Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, is composed of the harmony of the impulses arising from the heart and the outward actions that go hand in hand on the path outlined by al-Guran and the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him. If one of them is absent from this journey, the essence of Islam will not be realized.
If not for the importance of the relationship between these two elements, there would be no difference between a believer and a hypocrite. If not for the importance of these two elements, jihad and sacrifice would have no meaning in Islam. If it were not for the importance of these two elements, then you would see the Muslims today at the peak of glory, unity, and strength, for they have enough prosperous mosques, crowded pulpits, the tongues of preachers, and the abundance of their knowledge as a ladder leading to it all. However, all that we have mentioned is not accompanied by their conscientiousness so that there is no harmony between the outward and the inward, between the outward appearance that we can fake, and the essence that is always watched by the Knower of all that is unseen, who cannot be deceived by anything.
THE GREATEST DANGER
DO YOU KNOW what the greatest danger is? Or have you thought about this even once?
It is not an enemy that fearlessly invades and occupies your homes, nor is it a group that destroys your strength and tears apart your ranks, nor is it sophisticated weapons of mass destruction, nor is it the terrible famine that threatens half of the world because of the reduction in food production relative to the increase in population.
The greatest danger, however, is something far more terrible than all this!
It is something that allows the enemy to infiltrate homes. It is something that prepares explosive weapons and fuel to light the fuse. It is something that causes enmity and division and destroys the unity and spirit of mutual help within the community. It is truly our greatest enemy, the lust within us!
The human soul that does not go hand in hand with righteous deeds in its journey along the path laid down by the true teachings of Islam is the greatest danger that stalks the Muslims today without any doubt. This is because the essence of Islam is none other than the education and training of the passions so that they abandon all forms of selfishness, pride, and attachment to all forms of worldly adornment and enter the mihrab of servitude to Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala willingly even if at first they are forced to do so.
At that time, one’s behavior becomes one of the fruits and results of the soul’s servitude to Allahu ta’ala, and the two become evidence of each other’s sincerity. For at that time, true love and brotherhood, instead of ego and hatred, have settled in the soul, and the passions, at that time, have submitted to and served the laws of Allah instead of false pride over other creations of Allah.
At that time he also believes that this life is essentially just a bridge to the eternal life hereafter, so that he is not enslaved by the world and only takes part of its goodness and enjoyment that can be used as provisions in the journey of Islam towards the pleasure of Allahu ta’dld. Thus, there is a strong bond between the soul that surrenders to Allah and the Islamic behavior that makes the Muslims united and helpful to each other, and closes the gap of enmity, hatred, and malice between them. There will be no division within the Muslims due to competition in worldly affairs or rank and position. In the end, they will have invincible strength and unwavering unity, and the help of Allahu ta’ala will always be with them and they will live with glory, honor and security in their countries.
When the human soul is deprived of this kind of education, as is the state of our souls today, then there will be two dangerous sides to a Muslim. For at that time his personality will be divided between the outwardly visible Islamic deeds of certain words and deeds, and a passionate but misguided soul drowning in worldly fancies and personal desires.
The main and noble Islamic attributes and good deeds displayed by the owner of this kind of soul will ultimately only be used as a means to seek profit and keep himself away from all forms of harm, so that outwardly he is a person who fulfills the rights of Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala warrior in His way, but in reality he makes wishful thinking and personal interests the goal. For such a person, religion is just a shield that he uses to protect himself from any rejection of his bad behavior. Or religion is just a cloth that covers the ugly nature of his soul from human view. In fact, it is impossible for the Islamic community to rise up and wear Islamic clothing without effort and patience in enduring the difficulty of educating the soul or fighting against the desires of lust and personal interests.
The owner of this kind of soul and mentality will easily find excuses and loopholes that seem to be justified by the Shari’ah and obscure reality to cover up his true rottenness. But in reality, religion cannot be used as a tool for this kind of deception. There came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) a man who asked permission not to join the war because he feared for the safety of his religion if he went with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) against the Romans and to guard the women of al-Ashfar around him. So Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed His words as follows:
“And some of them said: “Permit me (not to go to war) and do not plunge me into temptation. Behold, they have fallen into temptation. And indeed Jahannam is over the disbelievers.” (OS. at-Taubah (91: 49))
Another person came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) pretending to be in distress and said: “Surely our houses in Madinah will be an easy target for the enemy and no one will guard them except small children and women.” They intended not to fight in the battle of Khandag. So Allahu ta’ala said about them:
“And some of them asked the Prophet for permission, saying: “Verily our houses are open (there is no one to guard them), but they are not open at all; they do not wish except to flee.”” (OS. al-Ahzab (331: 13)
How can Allah’s help be realized if their tongues and words are in the valley of empty accusations and their souls are lost in another valley of competition for the world and competing to fulfill the desires of their lusts?! Indeed the elements of the glory of Islam cannot come to fruition in the lives of such people. They themselves do not agree and unite with each other, because their tongues express one thing but at the same time their souls stray towards another. So there is no real goal that unites them, nor is there a common interest between them.
Such people do not even trust each other, for their knowledge of the state of their souls is the basis of their suspicion of others. The apparent love and harmony between them is a lie, for their inclination towards the world is the source of the malice that spreads among them. So, it is not that one of them gets a favor or a position or wealth unless there is envy that tears the soul of the other and hatred that burns in their hearts. It is even possible that one of them may sleep at night worrying about this more than he worries about the state of the Muslims or worries about how he will stand before Allah in the Hereafter.
Nor do they help each other except on a small scale that enables them to achieve their own interests. But they engineer this to the point of gaining fame and prominence. So in essence they are helping each other in the hope of achieving worldly goals that cannot be realized except through this path. Had the path they traveled led to another goal beyond that, you would have seen them separate and take different paths that were far apart from each other. You will also find that each of them has a justification for it. Gone is their unity, mutual aid and brotherhood without a trace.
For this reason they never received help. This is because the One Who has help and victory is always watching over them and knows the nature of their purpose. There is nothing about them that is hidden from Him. So, whenever you see a large gathering or you hear frightening and encouraging words or you find a good and detailed plan, none of this will deter the enemy or bring unity, because it is all froth, and no one fears froth.
May Allah bless the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who warned the Muslims of this great danger when he said:
“The time is approaching when other nations will gather to devour you like people gathering around a dish.” The Companions asked: “Is it because we are few in number, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied: “In fact, you were many at that time, but you were like froth that was carried away by the flood. Allah will raise your authority from the hearts of the enemies and will instill in your hearts al-Wahn.” The companions asked: “What is al-Wahn?” He replied: “Love of this world and hate of death.”
The source of this greatest danger is centered on one thing, which is the attachment of the heart to the world and placing it in a position far higher than its true position as Allahu ta’ala placed it. The world, contrary to what many people think, is not limited to dirhams, dinars, land and buildings; rather it is all the manifestations of lust that the lustful desires, such as position, rank, leadership, pride and inclination towards various favors. These are the worlds by which Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, tests people so that they will fight against their lusts and be able to subdue them, free themselves from the bondage of lust, and use them as a vehicle for the pleasure of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted.
For when the heart becomes attached to worldly desires and is unable to break free from its bondage, nor does the person fight his lusts against these things, then various diseases of the heart emerge, which are among the greatest threats to the lives of Muslims. The heart eventually becomes infected with pride, envy, showing off, and self-admiration. All kinds of hatred and envy and stinginess also ensnare it, causing it to become zuhud in the matters of the Hereafter and the rewards of goodness, it becomes thin in fear of the punishment and punishment of Allahu subhinahu wa ta’ala, jihad turns into a competition for the world after before it was an effort to free oneself from the world and defeat all its tricks.
Consider the following saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him) narrated by Bukhari and Muslim:
“By Allah, it is not poverty that I fear for you. Rather, I fear that the world will be spread out for you as it was spread out for those before you, so you compete with each other as they competed until the world destroys you as it destroyed those before you.” (HR. Bukhari and Muslim)
How will this destruction take place? As I have told you, the ham that is overly attached to the world will be afflicted with various dangerous diseases. These diseases cause the unity of Islam to falter, trust between Muslims to be lost, groups and individuals to become hostile to each other, the reasons for helping each other are lost, and they usurp each other’s rights out of enmity and hatred, until the enemies of Islam reap the fruits of all this in the form of power, strength, and victory. If one of the Muslims dies of suffocation or is crushed under the rubble of his house, it is more honorable for them than the destruction mentioned by the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) in this Hadīth, which has been proven by facts on the ground.
IMPACTS OF THIS GREAT DANGER
The greatest impact of this danger, as I have already explained, is the collapse of the foundations of Islamic society, the loss of the existence of the Muslims, the dispersion of their affairs and the transformation of Islamic movements into mere jargon and superficial movements that are barren and fruitless.
Part of the impact of this danger is that Islamic movements turn into designs, discourses and activities that only touch the “skin” without ever getting to the core. If Islam continues to diminish in the heart until there is nothing left of it, it will be replaced by the world, its lusts and interests. The owners of such hearts, and they are the Muslims, hope that Islam will triumph again so that they can boast and gain power. This is a worldly wish that is in accordance with what rules their hearts and is attached to their lusts. They rush to defend and try to win their sect but their efforts are only a movement built on theories, ideas and a superficial set of rules.
They forget that there is a huge gap between the basic values of Islam and those of other schools of thought. Islam is built on the foundation of a soul filled with a sense of servitude to Allahu ta’ala, and that is the first point of departure for all deeds, endeavors, and any movement that runs on the teachings of Islam. This requires every individual Muslim to fix his heart and soul before anything else. Whereas other schools of thought never require their followers to do anything related to their souls and do not invite them to avoid what al-Ouran calls “hidden inner sins.” Hence, all the invitations of the followers of such schools start with an action and will lead to endless other actions, as lust continues to accompany them due to never being educated to abandon its desires and interests.
However, the turning away of most Muslims from this basic distinction and their indifference to the improvement of their hearts and souls has led them to imitate the ways and methods of other groups, which has kept them in a whirlwind of debates, seminars, throwing ideas at each other, and inventing methods, without ever making any impact. Many of them may also take for granted acts of worship, dhikr, attending congregational prayers, and other forms of obedience that aim to revive and awaken the heart to the essence of Islam and cleanse it of the diseases we are talking about. They consider these to be the habits of ordinary people and unworthy of an activist who is fighting for Islam.
This is an astonishing and sad assumption. As I explained, this is all due to a loss of understanding of the fundamental differences between Islam and other schools of thought. And this loss of understanding makes them neglect fighting lust and allowing it to seek what it wants and aspires to.
My explanation does not mean that all Islamic endeavors and movements do not need to be based on careful planning or action. What I mean is that the success of all endeavors based on the foundation of Islam depends on one important point that must always be present: repairing the heart, straightening it, and removing worldly goals from it.
Another effect of this great danger is that it creates a negative view of those who focus on cleansing the heart by resorting to various means justified by sharee’ah. Most people think that those who focus on this kind of cleansing of the heart are actually occupying themselves with something unproductive and useless. In fact, some of them might even say that it is all bid’ah and misguidance that was never taught by Islam. But in fact, the people who are busy repairing their hearts and souls are the ones who know the rights of Allahu ta’ala and are trying to fulfill them, and what they are doing is none other than what was taught by His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). In fact, it is the essence of Islam. There is no good in a person’s Islam if it is not able to make his desires subdued and educated, and there is no good in a person’s Islam so long as he does not mend his heart and remove worldly interests from it.
Indeed, we must disavow those who limit themselves to these rites to the point of neglecting the equally important duty of amar ma’ruf nahi munkar and the need to correct other depravities. Such a person leaves out a very large portion of the things that Allah has obligated him to do under the pretext of wanting to improve his heart and situation. His obligation is to be a true Muslim who fulfills all the rights of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, starting with fighting his desires, then improving his family and relatives, and then working together with his fellow Muslims to build an Islamic society.
Another negative impact of this danger is the deep-rooted fanaticism of the group to which he belongs, whether that group is a family, a tribe, a teacher or a community, provided that this fanaticism makes his help and brotherhood limited to that group. This attitude continues to fill the recesses of his soul and grows stronger until the words of Allahu subhinahu wa ta’ala disappear from his memory, which say: “Verily, believers are brothers (OS. al-Hujurat (49): 10),” and replaces it with a narrow meaning of brotherhood that he interprets himself. This attitude will produce various bad effects without the person realizing it. The most obvious bad effect is what you have often witnessed how they move from valuing thoughts and ideas to the cult of individuals and groups. They make the condition of the person they are cultizing the benchmark of the truth they believe in instead of using the truth as a scale to judge and position someone.
On the other hand, they look down on other groups, not seeing and thinking about the important things that exist in groups outside of them because they believe that the real truth – in their minds – will not emerge apart from their group. So if something that contradicts them emerges from another group, for them it is proof that the group’s views are wrong. But if there is something that is in accordance with the views of their group, then they claim that these views come from them and are taken from their thoughts. This is how they mislead people and this is why they dare to change and alter the rulings and laws of Allahu ta’ala.
May Allah have mercy on Badi’uz-Zaman Sa’id an-Nursi, the great preacher, when he felt that some of his students were exaggeratingly glorifying him. They exalted the truth because it came from an-Nursi, and held him up as the most perfect example. Shaykh an-Nursi eventually wrote a long treatise to his students and said in it:
“Do not confuse the truth that I call for with my own mortal and sinful personality. Rather hasten to attribute the truth to its ultimate source, al-Guran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Know that I am no more than a broker offering Allah’s merchandise, and I am not free from sin. Therefore it is possible that I may commit sins or appear to have deviations that may obscure the truth that you attribute to me because of my sins and deviations. So that I end up setting a bad example for people in committing sins or I keep people away from the truth because they are tainted by my deviations and sins.”
The source of this dangerous fanaticism goes back to the selfish disposition in man which is also one of the most dangerous diseases of the heart that a Muslim must treat and fight diligently and continuously in order to be free from it. It is just that ego can arise individually in those who receive excessive respect and idolization rather than mingling in a particular group or community. Ego can also arise communally in those who are busy and focused on their communities and groups more than they are concerned about themselves.
Ego can even arise in the process of proselytizing to the truth, such as someone who gets angry because of an evil done in front of him that is meant to insult his person as a religious figure. You will find many people who are outwardly angry when they see the honor of religion being denigrated, but if you look deep into their hearts you will see that their anger is ignited because of their personal honor and position that is also harassed. The proof of this is that if it were not for the fact that he was a well-known religious leader and he was an unknown person to the perpetrators of the evil, he would have just walked away without even turning his head.
It is the same with those who attribute themselves to a particular teacher or group and continue in their fanaticism which feeds their own selfishness. He continues in this state to the extent that he considers that the true Muslims are only those who follow his teacher or group. Other Muslims are second-class Muslims, and anyone who is not in his group is an enemy to him. This kind of collective ego can arise because the followers of such groups are always fed doctrines and slogans that are presented as if they were part of the religion.
The cure for fanaticism that grows out of pride, as I have described, is not to abandon the teacher who taught him or the murshid who guided him or the group with which he works. No, this is not the cure. The remedy lies in realizing that the teacher he is learning from or the murshid who is guiding him on his spiritual journey or the group he is working with are mere means and not the end, and realizing that whether or not a means is important depends on how important the end is which is the principle of everything he does. If a Muslim realizes this, he will know that his loyalty should be towards the goal which is none other than Islam itself. His association with a teacher or a community is a means that should only be limited to how it can best realize the goal and enable him to become a person who totally surrenders to the religion of Allahu ta’ala and adheres to His laws.
If a Muslim maintains this kind of true allegiance by adding a strong heart connection and love, then the ego will melt in the flames of love and attachment and there will be no more individual or group selfishness. In fact, it is all replaced by the melting of all desires in the essence of Islam wherever the essence of Islam is. After that, whoever he is connected to, he will bring his relationship under the auspices of true loyalty to Islam and submission to religious supervision.
In the end, his love for his teacher does not distract him from the rulings of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted. Nor does his belonging to a group prevent him from loving and defending other Muslims. This is possible because his relationship with his teacher or his group is an offshoot of the very strong bond between him and al-Guran and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and the rules and rulings of both.
In short, all the tragedies and calamities that have befallen the Muslims today stem from this great danger. If there were no such danger, there would be honesty and sincerity that would foster trust between them and make them help each other and unite in a short time and in a very easy way. If they succeed in achieving this, the elements of strength will emerge and fear and authority will arise in the hearts of the enemy and the lost glory of Is: lam will return and the position and existence of the Muslims will again be visible throughout the world.
However, when their hearts turn away and cling to the deceptions of the world in the form of wealth or rank or position or various forms of lust, there grows among them competition for these things. It gives rise to hatred and envy and makes them wary of each other with a look of malice or contempt and the mutual trust between them disappears and is replaced by prejudices in their hearts. The enemies who know this deadly disease and calamity immediately take advantage of it and concentrate all their efforts on this disease and make it the fastest means to destroy the Muslims.
As for the masks we see in the form of great interest in Islam, invitations to Islam, plans and ideas to realize this, they have no effect and impact at all. Unfortunately, this ruse has succeeded in deceiving a group of young people and stirring up the spirit of Islam in their young minds. They are not yet able to think properly, so whenever they see any form of attention to Islam or beautiful words about it, they are immediately fired up to strive, struggle and jihad with all their abilities and by exerting whatever is possible for them.
If there is any cause for Allah’s mercy to descend upon us, then it is thanks to them. If there is a barrier between us and the wrath of Allah, then it is because of their sincerity. The youth who spend their pleasant youth walking on the path of Allah surrounded by the deceptive pleasures of lust, they believe in the promises and threats of Allah, and their aspiration is to attain His pleasure. So, O Allah, the One who guides to good and the One who turns hearts, purify our hearts from all the vices that keep us from witnessing You, from Your love and from holding fast to Your religion. Unite us in our efforts towards Your pleasure and raise the status of those whom You have made as callers to Your way until they reach this noble status with sincerity, earnestness, and immersion in Your religion, and make them what the young men with pure hearts think they are. Grant, O One who hears prayers.
THIS IS THE REMEDY AND THE WAY OUT
BEFORE I begin my explanation, there is something I must ask: do you know where the problem lies? Do you believe that this disease really exists? This question is important because awareness of the problem is part of the solution, and belief in the existence of an illness is part of the healing process itself. If you have not believed what I have explained and you are still in doubt about the source of the calamity we are facing in its various forms up to the greatest danger that I have just briefly described, then the explanation of the cure for the disease will be of no benefit as there will be no motivation for you to use it.
But if my explanation is ingrained in your mind and you are convinced that it is the source of all the circumstances we are currently experiencing, then you will listen attentively to what I am about to explain and as long as you are a true believer in Islam then you will make every effort to use this medicine and invite and remind others about it. As time passes, it will be easy for you to become more and more convinced that this is the right and only solution, and that the entire Mus. limin community – at all levels – desperately needs it and must benefit from it.
I address what I am explaining to myself first, then to anyone from among the Muslims who wishes to listen, as I ask Allahu subhanahu wa ta’dla to make us those who exhort one another in truth and exhort one another in patience in the path of truth.
A student who was sitting in the examination hall writing his answers very seriously asked the invigilator for a glass of water. After finishing his drink, he looked at the glass he was drinking from, marveling at how clear and smooth it was and how great the company that produced it was. He forgot about the exam, the questions he had to answer, and the time that passed so quickly and he was still contemplating the glass he used earlier. What do you think would be the best solution to snap this student out of his reverie and bring his focus back to his exam?
The solution is very simple, which is to bring in someone who warns him that the exam is coming to an end and there is little time left and the invigilators are preparing to collect the exam papers from the students. This analogy with the problem we are discussing is very similar, there is no difference. It is just that in the problem we are discussing, the exam room is much bigger and wider, and the exam we are facing is much more difficult and dangerous. But the solution is the same, which is that someone has to remind the person about himself, to remind him about the time – even the seconds – that are ticking away, and about his final destination which is very stressful. And the best reminder of this is something within oneself. The solution is for us to both realize our true identity in this life, the duty we have to perform, and for us to constantly remember this whenever we neglect and forget.
So, what is our true identity? We are all servants of Allahu ta’ala, under His authority, in His grasp is all that we do, to Him we return, and our life and death belong to Him. It is this identity that Allah describes in His words: “Indeed my prayer, my worship, my life, and my death are for Allah.” (OS. al-An’am (6J: 162). This identity includes all believers and disbelievers, all alike.
As for the task for which we were created, it is to fulfill this servitude to the best of our ability by making it the basis and benchmark of all our actions and ways of life. This can be accomplished if we are able to transcend most of our lustful dispositions and make them subservient to Allah’s commands. Then, we only ask Allah in all our desires, do not rely on other than Him, and do not hope for good or seek refuge from evil except from Him. This is the difference in the way of life between believers and disbelievers.
If we have understood this, then we will realize the great goal to which we should direct our lives, and we will also realize how important this goal is. At that time, you will know that goals other than those of a worldly nature are divided into two: means to that great goal and obstacles between us and that great goal. What would you do if you wanted to cross the vast field to the goal you want to achieve? You would certainly use the means that convey or speed you towards the goal, and if you saw obstacles and barriers, you would quickly move aside or jump over them. This is what we call for to be practiced in life towards the great goal of our creation.
The means by which you reach the goal is gratitude to Allahu ta’ala, and the means by which you pass through obstacles and obstacles is patience, by which we are commanded. There are none who do not know this except two types of people: those who deny Allahu ta’ala and therefore do not believe in the servitude, duty and purpose that we have just discussed. This type of person is not the one we are talking about in this discussion. The second type is the one who escapes this essence because he is immersed in the deceptions of this world and the things that distract him from it. This type of person can be treated by being warned and advised.
Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, knows the effect that the deceptions and adornments of this world can have on a believer, and how they can take him away from his true identity. So, He made a sentence that must be repeated by a believer in prayer every day before Him, namely the sentence “IYYAKA NA’BUDU WA IYYAKA NASTA’IN, Only to You I worship and only to You I call for help.” This phrase, if uttered by a true Muslim, will become a weapon for him against the world and the negligible things in it, because he always remembers that he is a lowly servant of the Supreme Ruler, so his duty is to worship Him truly and instill in him that there is no benefit or harm except from Him, so He is the only place to ask for help.
If a believer keeps this fact in mind and remains alert and vigilant, or at least remembers it quickly when he starts to get carried away with the world, then his heart will be free from all other things, and his heart will no longer be bound by wealth, position, praise, pride, and arrogance. His heart will also be free from envy, hatred, and spite, as well as from pinning his hopes on creatures. Because he has tasted the sweetness of servitude to the King of kings so that he does not need except Him, and does not knock except His door. If he is given a favor, he is grateful and returns to using that favor to seek His pleasure, and if his request is not granted, he is patient and believes that it is best for him in this world and the Hereafter.
This is the meaning of the words of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) to the Companion Abdullah ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) as follows:
“If you want to ask, then ask Allah. If you need help, ask Allah for help. Know that if the whole of mankind unites to benefit you, nothing will come to you from it except what Allah has written for you. And if they gather to harm you, nothing will happen to you except what Allah has written for you.”
This Hadīth clarifies that removing one’s attachment to the world does not mean removing one’s nature as a human being that needs the world and its pleasures, because this is contrary to the human nature that Allahu ta’ala has created. Rather, what is meant by removing one’s attachment to this world is to turn one’s needs and desires over to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, by asking Him for what one wants and complaining to Him about what one suffers, as Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“So seek sustenance from Allah.” (OS. al-“Ankabut (29:17))
Also His words:
“And ask Allah for some of His bounty.” (OS. an-Nisa’ (4): 32)
And He says in another verse:
“So hasten towards Allah, surely I am a clear warner for you towards Him.” (OS. adh-Dzariyat (511: 50))
In fact, if a slave is attached to Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala, his servitude will increase as his needs and desires increase. That is because the element of servitude in humans is in the nature of need and weakness, because humans are created in a weak state. Without a sense of need for his Creator and a sense of helplessness to achieve what he wants, his steadfastness in worshiping Allahu ta’ala would be meaningless. Therefore, there is no contradiction at all between being content with Allahu ta’ala’s decrees and complaining about them; rather, they are the two main elements that complete one’s servitude to Allahu ta’ala. These two things are encapsulated in the prayer of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) upon his return from the city of Thaif, when he said:
“O Allah, I complain to You of my lack of strength, my meager efforts, and my humiliation in the eyes of men. O Most Compassionate, You are the Lord of the weak, You are my Lord, to whom will You hand me over? To an unknown person who attacks me or to my people who control all my affairs? As long as You are not angry, then I do not care where You direct me. But Your protection and kindness are sufficient for me, I seek refuge in the light of Your face that illuminates the darkness and perfects all matters of this world and the hereafter from the descent of Your anger and wrath upon me, to You belongs all goodness until You are pleased and there is no effort except with Your help.”
So the cure and solution is for us to remember our true identity, to know the task that Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala has given us, and to make that our sole purpose while making this world and what is in it a means of realizing that purpose.
That is the essence of servitude to Allah, that is the highest degree attained by those who strive and the position desired by those who are sincere. As for the common people, they confuse the essence of servitude with the forms of worship to the extent that they are content with the outward forms of worship without even looking at the importance of the essence of servitude itself. For this reason, we find that those who only perform external acts of worship make up the majority of Muslims, but those who truly practice true inner servitude are very few in number.
HOW TO USE THIS MEDICINE
THAT IS THE MEDICINE, but how to use it? How to become a true servant of Allah without being enslaved by wealth, position, self-interest, or diseases of the heart such as ego, pride, and so on?
There is no denying that the path to that is not an easy one, Allahu ta’ala says:
“And strive in the cause of Allah with the utmost jihad. He has chosen you.” (OS. al-Hajj (22): 78)
“And those who strive for Us, We will surely guide them to Our ways.” (OS. al-“Ankabut (29): 29)
That is what distinguishes a true believer from a hypocrite who puts on a show of piety and faith. That is what will prevent a Muslim from the group of which the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“Wretched is the slave of the dirham, wretched is the slave of the dinar, wretched is the slave of the garment, wretched and despised. If he is pricked by a thorn, the thorn cannot be pulled out.”? If given he is satisfied, but if denied he is angry.”
That is the guard that protects one’s faith from the hungry wolves that the Prophet ‘alayhish-shalatu was-salam warned about in his saying:
“Not two hungry wolves let loose among goats are more dangerous to a person’s religion than his greed for wealth and position.”
Because of the importance of this struggle and jihad, and because it is the only path that leads to the pleasure of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, and the means to true servitude to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, the righteous salaf (peace be upon them) did their utmost to pursue this path and to walk the path of jihad against the passions in a variety of ways. To the extent that their attention to this matter led some of them to exaggerate and exert themselves to the extent that they deviated from the guidance of sharee’ah and the guidance of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). What we will say after this is what the salaf agreed upon with reference to al-Guran and Sunnah, and we remind ourselves that this is the essence of the teachings of Islam, the only ladder in realizing the method of Islam that Allahu subhinahu wa ta’ala has enjoined upon His servants, and that this is the key that we must have in order to ease all that is difficult, unite the scattered, and realize victory.
First of all, I remind myself of this and my brothers and sisters, hoping that Allah will grant us all guidance and help, and this is the discussion of the various means that we have mentioned before.
FIRST, contemplation of himself and his future return, Allah’s watch over him, and making his mind aware of this whenever he is inattentive. Thinking or contemplation is a movement of the intellect without which it is useless. It is also the activity of thinking that frees the mind from the snares of lust, without which it would not be clear to man the difference between the guidance of reason and the promptings of lust. Hence, Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala on many occasions closes His words that show the greatness of the universe and His commands with the words: “LA “ALLAKUM TATAFAKKARUN (may you all think)”, “INNA Fi DZALIKA LI-AYATIN LI-QAUMIN YATAKKARUN (in all these are signs for those who think)”, “AFALA TATAFAKKARUN (do you not think)”.
That is why the most important point in the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as a believer, preacher, and warrior was that he was constantly in a state of thought. And it was not without reason that Allahu ta’ala inspired him (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) to stay away from the hubbub of people, their lives, the moral decay that afflicted them and to be alone in the cave of Hira for a long time to think, contemplate and observe. And the further away one is from the crowds, the glitter of the world, and the lusts, the more honest and profound his thoughts will be. For the tendency of the human soul is to accept all that enters into it from promptings, invitations, and words through wide-open cracks. Some of it is what is reasonable and logically sound, some of it is the lusts and desires present in man, some of it is the defense of feelings of inferiority or the impulse of pride or fanaticism, and some of it is dislike for others stemming from hatred, envy, and competition for the world and its ephemeral adornments. The most important part is not how one is able to listen well to all these voices, but rather how one is able to distinguish the voice of reason from the rest and listen to it carefully.
This can be achieved by giving a portion of one’s life to regular periods of seclusion. During this time he dialogues with his free intellect about the place of return and contemplates the nature of all the noise and things around him, aided by the recitation of the Qur’an and its profound exhortations, as well as the words of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the majesty of his teachings.
By this I am not inviting you to separate yourself from society or to live far away in a cave on a mountain, or to live at the end of a valley. That is not human nature, nor is it the duty of a Muslim. Rather, I am inviting you to be alone with your mind every time you calculate the contents of your charity account. In other words, I invite you to do what a merchant does whose life is spent amongst the crowds and noise of the marketplace. This did not prevent him from being alone in a room from time to time. He even left his wife, family, and friends behind and immersed himself in his notes, papers, or receipts. Had it not been for his great concern for this time in his life, the effort he spent days and nights building would have brought him nothing but regret and loss.
I urge you to resort to whatever means can free your mind from the things that creep into it, consciously or unconsciously, in the form of fanaticism, the impulses of illicit false interests, or various diseases of the heart, until you gain the assurance that you are traveling the path that is in accordance with the free method of reason. Indeed, this means is found in the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who used to spend his time in solitude and seclusion from the people, and he did not do so except as a teaching and legislation for his Ummah.
Do not forget that the most important thing that can help you to think and dhikr continuously is to sit with the righteous people more and gravitate towards them. The most important thing that will keep you away from these two things is to be immersed in the company of those who are negligent, and to gravitate towards those who are negligent, and to be pleased with the company of those who waste precious life very cheaply by being immersed in idleness that has no benefit, and to eat the flesh of carrion, which is so despised by al-Guran and which he warned against so strongly.
SECOND, to make it a habit to always recite a continuous series of recitations of al-Ouran, followed by tasbih, istighfar and dhikr. As for the recitation of the Qur’an, I do not think you need a description of the authentic traditions about the virtue of reciting it and pondering its meaning. There is no disagreement among the Muslims that drawing near to Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala by reciting the Qur’an is one of the most important forms of drawing near to Him.
How many of those whose hearts are hardened, nothing softens them except the recitation of the Qur’an. How many negligent people have transgressed against themselves, nothing can awaken them except by contemplating the Qur’an. How many eyes cannot feel the feeling of crying for fear of Allahu ta’ala except by looking at al-Ouran.
The Companions used to have a particular practice of reciting al-Ouran every morning and night. If one day they were so busy that they could not read it, then the next day they would make up for it and read it with a feeling of pain and regret for having abandoned their habit, as happened to Sayyidina ‘Umar ibn Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him).
As for dhikr, tasbeeh and istighfar, these are the remedies that Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, gave to the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) as He also commanded them repeatedly in the Qur’an. As in the following words:
“Praise your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting, and praise Him by night and by day, that you may be pleased.” (OS. Thaha (20): 130) In another verse:
“And praise your Lord in the evening and in the morning.” (OS. Ghafir: (401: 55) Allahu ta’ala also says:
“And mention (the name of) your Lord in your hearts with humility and fear, and without raising your voice, in the morning and in the evening.” (OS. al-A’raf (7): 205)
“And call upon the name of your Lord in the morning and in the evening, and in part of the night, and bow down to Him, and glorify Him in the long hours of the night.” (OS. al-Insan: 25-26)
And the scholars rabimahumullahu ajma’in have agreed, based on the above verses, that it is obligatory upon the Muslim to recite tasbih, istighfar, and recite al-Guran, and the best times to do so are in the morning and evening.
It has also been mentioned in Saheeh Muslim that ‘Umar ibn Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“Whoever falls asleep and misses his regular recitation of the Qur’an, then recites it between the Fajr and Zubur prayers, it will be written for him as if he recited it during the night.” (HR Muslim)
Therefore, do not pay attention to those who try to influence you by saying that dhikr is an absolute act of worship that is not bound by time, and that setting specific times for absolute acts of worship is an act of bid’ah that is forbidden. Indeed, they are just people who want to keep you away from dhikr in the most heinous way. For whoever keeps this false notion in his mind will never perform this great act of worship in his lifetime under the pretext of avoiding bid’ah as they claim.
Perhaps you see him at these noble times of the morning and evening snoring in his deep sleep, or doing something idle or gossiping about haraam things, without paying attention to the bad consequences of what he is doing in the form of sins and misguidance that Allahu tadla has warned about very clearly in the Qur’an. Perhaps the reason he is doing this is because he does not want to occupy his time with the innovation of reciting dhikr at special times!
Know then, that the impact of reciting the Qur’an and the remembrance of Allah in treating various diseases of the heart is very great. This is because the continuous practice of these things creates in the heart the awareness of Allahu ta’ala’s supervision over everything he does and intends. So they have almost no desire to do prohibited acts unless this awareness prompts them to improve their deeds and correct their intentions.
This is the great divine safeguard in the life of a Muslim, and this is the ihsan described by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), which is the state of a slave who worships Allahu ta’ala as if he sees Him, and if he cannot see Him, then he is absolutely certain that Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala sees him. This will not be achieved except by continuing to recite al-Guran, increasing the remembrance of it, and occupying the heart with His supervision and gaze. This is the most effective remedy for purification of the soul and purification of the most serious diseases such as pride, envy, jealousy, love of the world, and dependence on things that bring fame and praise, power and temporal worldly positions.
There is no doubt that what we mean by dhikr is not just the movement of the tongue, nor the movement of the prayer beads in the hands, nor is it jumping up and down to the sounds and tunes of a munshid. Rather, we mean what Allah, may He be exalted, intended in His Book when He commanded the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to do, and what those who are experts in Arabic understand when someone says: “I have remembered so-and-so all day today”. Indeed, this is the remembrance of the heart, the movement of the mind, and the awakening of the conscience. If the verbal movement has any benefit, then it is a reminder to the heart, and it restores the conscience, and it prevents one from engaging in idle chatter when he becomes tired of remembering Allah, may He be glorified and exalted.
But if there is a barrier between the tongue and the heart, so that the tongue is engaged in dhikr, supplication and glorification, while the heart is immersed in the world, its fantasies and forbidden worldly desires, then a person in this situation cannot be said to be a remembrancer or a worshipper. He only appears among people with the appearance of one who likes to do dhikr and he does not benefit in the slightest except the views of people who consider him as such.
THIRD: Increasing supplication and supplication and humbling oneself before Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala. This is one of the most important acts of worship; in fact, it is the essence of worship. It is a form of servitude that is among the highest degrees of closeness to Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala. Allahu ta’ala has emphasized His command to His slaves to supplicate on many occasions in al-Guran, and made it the main characteristic of His sincere slaves.
Allahu subhinahu wa ta’ala says:
“Pray to your Lord with humility and fear; surely He does not love the transgressors.” (OS. al-A’raf (7): 55)
In another verse:
“So pray to Allah with pure worship of Him, though the disbelievers dislike it.” (OS. Ghafir (40): 14)
Allahu ta’ala also says:
“And do not make corruption in the earth after Allah has made it right, and pray to Him with fear and hope.” (OS. al-A’raf (7): 56)
Allahu ta’ala also characterized the sincere among His servants by saying:
“Indeed, they are those who hasten in (doing) good deeds and they pray to Us in hope and anxiety. They are the ones who submit to Us.” (OS. al-Anbiya’ (21): 90)
Indeed, man will feel the importance of praying and submitting to Allahu subbanahu wa ta’ala when he feels that he has a very urgent need for Him, and he believes that there is no helper other than Him, nor is there any place to hope except for Him. At that time he will pray with a heart full of sincerity and full awareness while humbling himself. This is like a person who is subjected to many trials and no one is able to relieve him of all the difficulties he faces until he despairs of them. At that time he knows that only Allah is able to remove all the difficulties of his life and remove all the bad things he faces if Allahu ta’ala wills. So, he raised his hands to the sky and called out with all his body and soul: “O Rabb, O my Lord.”
As for those who do not feel this kind of need and are unaware of the evils and calamities that befall their lives, then they will find no reason to pray because they feel that they do not need anything because they do not see any dangers around them, so they feel the need to ask for help through prayer. He is like a person who lives in a pool of haram things and is swayed by the waves of lust and desire while he feels nothing but instant and temporary delights. If you try to advise him to supplicate to Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala to save him from his current situation, he will belittle you and dismiss you, saying to you: “Asking Allahu subhinahu wa ta’ala only deprives you of all these pleasures and brings you misery.”
Perhaps he raises his hand and recites the usual supplications of the community or he believes in the supplications of others, but this is not really supplication. This is just following the crowd, and it is far from the meaning of prayer that Allah, the Almighty, intended in His words: “Pray to your Lord with submission and fear.” (OS. al-A’raf (71: 55))
The clearest example of this is those who live in sin and misguidance; if you go to one of them and advise him and remind him of Allahu ta’ala, he raises his hand and says: “May Allah guide us!” He says this supplication in front of you but at the same time something completely different is going on in his heart. He regrets the jokes and the sin that he has missed and wishes that the path to sin were wider and easier for him. He only pretends to make this supplication in front of you so that he can get rid of your burdensome advice. If a sinner feels the disgrace of sin in his behavior, and his heart is devastated and concerned about the state in which he continues to be entangled in sins, then he raises his hand asking for guidance and help from Allah, that is what is called the real supplication ordered by Allah.
It is well known that what helps a person to walk on the path of mysticism is the guidance of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted. If Allah’s guidance is missing from a pious and steadfast young man, then all kinds of deviations will enter his life in an instant. Taufik from Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala can be obtained by a servant with two things: a strong and earnest determination towards goodness and sincere supplication to Allah with full humility and submission to Him. If a Muslim has made up his mind to persevere towards the pleasure of Allah, then he supplicates to Him with a trembling heart and true humility, then Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, will direct him to the path of guidance and protect him from the evil of lust and Satan.
There was a young man who stopped me in the courtyard one day. He complained to me bitterly about his lusts that kept calling him to do bad things and that he could hardly control and overcome them. He also said that university life had further fueled his lust. This young man urged me to show him the way and give him guidance so that he could be freed from the torment of his lust. So I told him: “Can you see the pain and hope you are showing me right now? Complain to Allahu ta’ala with far more pain, seek Him while humbled before Him at a time when there is no one between you and Allahu ta’ala. Ask Him to grant you guidance and strength. Repeat this again and again, then Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala will answer your prayers and free you from the bondage of lust that is tormenting you at this time very easily.”
The arrival of a person in a situation where he is compelled to stretch out his hand for help to be freed from the torment he is suffering and he finds no one around him but Allahu subhanabu wa ta’ala is the essence of servitude to Him that was instilled from the beginning of his creation. Standing submissively and humbly at the door of Allahu ta’ala while praying, supplicating, and wishing to Him is the essence of servitude that must be cultivated as Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala commands us to continue to hone it.
You may see a group of people who trivialize the matter of supplication under the pretext that what a servant asks for is not out of two possibilities: either the request is written in Allah’s decree or it is not. If the request is already written in His decree then there is no point in asking for protection against what Allahu ta’ala has decreed will happen to him, and if it is not written in Allah’s decree then there is no need for supplication in the first place. We do not want to elaborate on this statement with the answers of the scholars in the books of creed, because our discussion is of a different nature.
Rather, we will say that Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, has commanded His slaves to supplicate and He has promised fulfillment in His words: “And your Lord said: “Pray to Me, and I will answer for you” (OS. Ghafir (40): 60) and the promise of Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala is true and cannot be denied. This is your duty. So why should you interfere in something that does not concern you and think about something that goes back to Allahu ta’ala’s arrangements and the magnitude of His power? The decrees of Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala are part of His decisions, and the fulfillment of prayers is a promise that He is sure to keep. Your duty is to submit to His decrees, believe in His promises, and surrender to His arrangements.
What this means is that it is incumbent upon the Muslim to find out what ailments his heart is suffering from that no one knows about except himself, and to realize the dangers and adverse effects of this that may prevent him from attaining the pleasure of Allah, may He be exalted, even if he does outwardly good deeds. If he realizes this, then he should begin to treat it – in addition to the two remedies we have mentioned – with constant supplication to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, with humility, humiliation, and a heart full of pain. He should also realize that he has no power whatsoever to benefit or ward off evil from himself, not even life, death, and resurrection, and realize that his heart is in the hands of Allah, the Most Merciful, so He is the One who can cure him of all these diseases and free him from all the evils and obstacles that they cause.
He should also make his determination, clean intentions, and humiliation before the divinity and power of Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala his means and helpers. He should also choose the time of the day that is most favorable and closest to the fulfillment of supplication, and try his best to take advantage of the virtue of the time of sahoor, when the noise of the sinners dies down, the passions are drowned in sleep, and Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, looks upon His servants with a keen eye.
Try as much as possible to remove sleep from your eyes at that time, get up and complete your ablution, stand before the Lord of Heaven and Earth in humility, then stretch out your hands to Him in full confidence that He sees your submission to Him, hears your cries and desires, observes the heaviness of your breathing due to the pain you feel. Ask Him to purify your heart from all that defiles it, to free it from all the ugliness that is in it, and that He keep you away from visible and hidden sins. Whine in your supplications, raise your hopes, cry for yourself and your days that pass in a state of neglect of Allahu subbanahu wa ta’ala and neglect to watch over your heart. If you do this continuously, Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala will grant your prayers, improve your situation, purify your heart, and give you a taste of the pleasure of worship and the deliciousness of praying with sincerity.
However, you must maintain this state, because it is not called fleeing and seeking refuge with Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala from the ills of the heart except by continuing to maintain this state. It is a ladder to Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala that as long as you live you must continue to climb. Otherwise it is feared that your footing will slip in a moment and you will return to your former state.
FOURTH, and this is the ultimate remedy, is to avoid eating haraam things. Because the body that grows from haraam wealth will usually grow with it passions that continue to invite deviation and violation of the laws of Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala. This person, although outwardly he appears to be keeping His laws, has within him the most dangerous diseases. Unlawful wealth starts with consuming the wealth of others without their consent, then it takes on many different forms until one finally falls into the shady matters that are closer to being unlawful. Whoever is able to escape from what is doubtful is able to escape from what is haraam if he wishes. And whoever has an excuse for approaching doubtful matters, he no longer needs an excuse when crossing into haraam things.
Eating haraam wealth has very harmful effects on the life of a Muslim. The smallest impact is that the heart becomes hardened in a strange way that is unmoved by exhortations, warnings, and invitations to good and threats against bad deeds, because of the gap between the intellect and the heart. The intellect understands these things, but they have no effect on the heart. The intellect accepts, but the heart remains hardened. And it is impossible for the intellect to be the sole leader that directs one’s behavior in life because the greatest impact is on the heart which is the center of all desires and feelings.
The result of underestimating the importance of this solution and remedy is that a Muslim only makes his Islam a jargon that adorns his outward appearance, while his inner being goes in another direction with the encouragement of lust, the invitation of lust and his disobedient nature. If a Muslim continues to take this for granted and earn as much as he can from wherever he can without regard to its source, all the remedies and solutions we have described will not benefit him in the slightest. The recitation of the Qur’an will not awaken him from negligence, dhikr and devotion will not improve his situation in the slightest, and his prayers will not be heard or answered.
Imam Muslim and Imam at-Tirmidhi narrated from the Companion Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“O people, verily Allah is good and accepts nothing but what is good.” And Allah commanded the Muslims what He commanded the messengers in His words: “O messengers, eat of that which is good and do righteous deeds, surely I am aware of all that you do. (OS. al-Mu’minun (23): 23). He said: “O you who believe, eat of what is good from what We have given you.'” (OS. al-Bagarah (2): 172). The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then mentioned a man who was filthy and shabby who raised his hands to the sky and cried out: “O Rabb, O my Lord,” but his food is haraam, his drink is haraam, his clothes are haraam, and he is fed from haraam wealth, so how will his prayer be answered?” (HR Muslim and at-Tirmidhi)
How many Muslims there are today if you count the prayers, the outward acts of worship, the prayer beads that are always in hand, and the tongues that cleverly repeat religious exhortations and phrases. But how few they are if you count them by the measure of their abstinence from haraam wealth, their adherence to the laws of Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala in matters of wealth, and their concern for the pleasure of Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala in what goes into their pockets. How many times have we seen people who are considered to be the best and most excellent Muslims, who are adept at composing beautiful words in order to instruct and invite to Islam, when an opportunity opens up for one of them to make a huge fortune in a way that is not in accordance with the rules and laws of Islam, they jump at it without the slightest fear. If one of his Muslim brothers reminds him of this, he misinterprets his actions and makes up new rulings without any basis or evidence.
These four remedies and solutions are the means that must be taken to improve the state of the heart and purify it from the subtle diseases that al-Ouran calls “Bathin al-Ithm” (Hidden Inner Sins). Without the use of this remedy and without great attention to hidden sins, the state of the Muslims will not change for the better, they will not be united in the truth, and they will not be freed from the various obstacles that they face and fuss over today.
DIFFERENT TERMS ARE NOT A PROBLEM
THEN, WHAT TERMS do we use for this medicine? Is it tasawwuf? Or suluk? Or tarbiah? It may be that the use of these three terms is correct, and it may also be that we find other terms and names, and there is nothing wrong with that. The majority of Muslims who are very concerned about this matter use the term tasawwuf, some others – like Imam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) – call it suluk, and these are all just terms that are valid if there are differences. However, if the issue is which term is the most important, then there is no doubt that the best name and most closely related to the intended meaning of the use of this term is Islam. For it is Islam, with its two main sources: al-Ouran and Sunnah, that makes us aware of the dangers of the hidden diseases that lie deep within our lusts. It is Islam that points us to these remedies and teaches us how to use them. The behavior and way of life of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and his Companions who followed him (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) is sufficient for us as an example of this application. Isn’t this something that is the essence of Islam?!
Another important point is that the word “Islam” is the only word that has a very close connection with the content of al-Guran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). In fact, Islam is the name that points directly to the content of both. Thus, the use of the term Islam is a manifestation of the controls that must be met in order to use these medicines, as well as a warning against anything outside of Islam creeping into the content of this religion.
On the other hand, the use of non-Islamic names and terms takes these medicines and remedies away from the scope of Islam, even if only in their form and structure. In fact, it is possible that things that are not part of Islam will enter into it by utilizing these names and terms. And we have seen how heresy and evil have so easily entered into the core elements of the religion of Islam after the true and most appropriate name for the teachings of Islam was replaced with other slogans and names.
The third thing is that some people think that the term tasawwuf refers to one of the schools of thought in Islam and that the practitioners of tasawwuf are none other than one of the many groups within Islam. Many of the orientalists were quick to take advantage of this misunderstanding and focused on studying Sufism, explaining its philosophy, and making the image of Sufism as an independent doctrine in order to deepen this misunderstanding, and also to deceive Muslims that this group is an innovator who made up a method specific to them in addition to other methods of the Muslims that differ from them.
There is no doubt that this misunderstanding sometimes appears to be the truth, because what is included in the foundations of Sufism are new and unlawful things that do not come from the teachings of Islam. This is why we do not replace the term Islam with other terms to indicate – even if only partially – the content and essence of the teachings of Islam itself. I also don’t see why we should be fanatical about the term tasawwuf if we all agree on the importance of adorning ourselves with the content of this great religion of Islam?
However, being neutral, we have to say that most people associate the term tasawwuf with its followers who take the matter of improving the state of the mind and taking the path prescribed for it lightly. This makes them take the position of being opposed to so-called Sufism in general. As a result, they could find no other term for those who practiced remembrance and prayer and took the path prescribed by the Shari’ah to fight the vices of the passions than the term tasawwuf.
They are also reluctant to walk on the path of these people who draw closer to Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala because they think that this is something that this group has added to the teachings of Islam. They then give other names to the remedies and solutions we explain and the hidden diseases we expose in place of their true names. They end up depriving their Islamic lives of a large and very important portion of the content of Islam because of their astonishingly wrong assumptions. If only they would think and realize that purifying the soul and following the path prescribed for it is the heart and soul of Islam, and if only other groups would think and realize that the methods they use to purify the soul are Islam itself, which was brought by the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), then they would not use any other term for it than its true name. This is because if the term Sufism is used to refer to an independent form of this teaching, as some scholars have assumed, then Muslims will find that there is a large space in the name of Islam that is capable of correctly expressing every facet and branch of this teaching.
TASAWWUF OF MORALS AND TASAWWUF OF FEELINGS
ALL THAT WE HAVE MENTIONED falls under what is called moral Sufism. Sufism of character is essentially the Islamic behavior brought about by the teachings of Islam and a solid means has been prepared to educate oneself to have this Islamic behavior. As for the other things that come under the heading of ahwal (spiritual states), shubud (spiritual witnessing), fana and baga (immersion in the love of Allahu ta’ala), these are attributes for the spiritual states pursued by those who nurture their hearts by constantly feeling watched over by Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala and not being preoccupied by worldly pursuits from remembering Him. If one of them continues in this state for some time, the affairs of this world will appear trivial to him and the majesty of Allahu ta’ala in all His perfections will begin to appear. In fact, if the impact of this realization continues to grow stronger in him, he will forget about the universe and focus on the Creator, losing sight of all that exists because he is looking at the One who is manifest, this is what the scholars of Sufism call al-Fana.
If he is able to maintain this behavior and continue to monitor his heart and inner state in accordance with the guidance and laws of al-Guran and Sunnah, he will again be aware and aware of the state of the world around him but still with a strong attachment to Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala. He interacts with the world but it does not have any effect on him. He socializes and associates with people without making him busy from Allahu ta’ala. This is what the scholars of Sufism call al-Baga, which is a position attained only by the Prophets and as-Siddiqeen, and this trait is present in the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) because they are the owners of the perfect heart and the strongest to accommodate this kind of spiritual state.
Imam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) mentioned al-Fana and its meaning in his book “al-‘Ubudiyyah” and said the following:
“This is al-Fana, not witnessing anything other than Allah, and this happens to many spiritual travelers. This is because of the strong pull of their hearts towards dhikrullah, worship and love for Him, and the weakness of their hearts from witnessing other than whom they worship and aim for, so that nothing other than Allah enters their hearts. In fact, they do not even realize that there is anything other than Allah. If this state gets stronger, the person will forget everything that exists because his attention is drawn to the Realized, from witnessing to the Witnessed, from remembering to the Remembered, and from recognizing to the Recognized.”
He then continued:
“This state of al-Fana is still lacking, and the great saints of Allah such as Abu Bakr, Umar, and the companions who first embraced Islam from among the Muhajirin and Anshar never experienced this, much less the Prophets. This state of al-Fana only occurred after the time of the Companions.”
If you have understood this then we say that it is not permissible for a Muslim who is aware of his shortcomings in fulfilling the rights of Allahu ta’ala and is aware of the diseases of the heart that keep him away from Allahu subhanahu wa tadld to occupy himself with philosophical and abstract discussions of tasawwuf such as this and to be busy studying the spiritual states of the saints and explaining their different positions as we have briefly mentioned. For these are tastes that cannot be understood except through hard struggle and suffering to attain them, and discussion of them will not give us knowledge that can be read or memorized. What we get from this is only the true story of the Islamic life lived by someone.
If you spend your entire life talking about the conditions of people who have this kind of spiritual state, deciphering their words, or “taking blessings” from their spontaneous utterances that seem to go beyond the pale, it will not bring you even an inch closer to Allahu ta’ala so long as you do not pay attention to what your soul suffers from the tormentors of pride, envy, love of this world, pride, riya’, hatred, and so on. Never have I seen anything more astonishing than a group of people who abandon the most important part of Sufism that represents the essence of Islamic teachings that we discussed in the previous pages and instead study philosophical matters that they do not understand, drown in discussions about spiritual states that they themselves have never attained, or repeat the “strange” sayings of the lovers of Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala who have directly tasted this spiritual experience. If the lovers of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, utter these words, then those who imitate them and take their words as something to be studied, an object of research, and a source of wisdom are not to be tolerated at all.
I call myself, my brothers, my friends and all of them to tazkiyatun nafs, purification of the soul. The purification of the soul is a goal on which the entire Islamic Shari’ah centers. It is the highest aim of spiritual travelers and Sufis except those who deviate and go off the path. It is also the door for a Muslim to enter towards the pleasure of Allahu ta’ala. Purification of the soul is also the cure for all afflictions and the way out of all trials and tribulations.
O you people, take from Ibn Arabi (may Allah have mercy on him) his wills in al-Washaya and leave his al-Futuhat. Read from all his writings “Ma’arij al-Quds fi Muhasabah anNafs”, a book that will reveal the shortcomings of the Muslims, and what is hiding behind the deep sadness that appears due to backwardness and dangerous diseases, as well as riya”, crazy respect, love of the world and position. Leave Ibn Arabi (may Allah have mercy on him) his spiritual state, his expressions and all that you do not understand from his words. Until, at last, all the evils of the world and all the ills of it will fade away from you, and you will no longer be affected by false fanaticism, and it will be the same for you whether the world approaches you or moves away from you, and your hearts will not be moved by praise and blame. So, the time has come for you to enter into this second discussion of tasawwuf and travel around this dangerous terrain.
OUR PROBLEM IS WITH MORALS AND NOT THINKING
EVERYTHING we have explained before shows that all the problems we face today are problems that boil down to our morals and mental state, and have absolutely nothing to do with thinking. And what is astonishing is that there is a group of people who spread the word about these problems and realize the great danger that lurks in our lives. However, instead of treating it with the solutions and remedies we mentioned, they treat it with more research and philosophical ideas and theories to be thrown into the debate and studied, as if the problem at hand is ignorance overcoming the intellect rather than a dangerous disease afflicting the soul. What is the point, then, of going on at length about the definition of society, of uncovering in detail the evil plans devised by the enemies of Islam and those who promote the war of ideas, or of being busy offering new methods of Islamic thought and da’wah, when the calamity afflicting the Muslims is not ignorance of these things, but a deadly disease that has taken hold of their souls.
The Muslims of today do not need more of this kind of discourse. The Muslims, at all levels of understanding, already have knowledge of these matters that would provide them with sufficient protection if these matters could be resolved by thought alone. After today, however, they need an extraordinary force to push them to apply their knowledge, and it is impossible to leave this drive to implement what they already know to thought or reason alone. The extraordinary power they need today is none other than moral power.
Those who do not believe in God and live a religionless and godless life before you have come to such an understanding not merely on the basis of thought as you might suspect. They lead this kind of life because they are entangled in the lusts that dominate their souls. Likewise, a western scientist who dives into the mire of materialism and the mire of dishonor does not fall into such a state of decadence because of any particular philosophical view or theory, but rather, he is suffering from a moral and moral disease that he has tried to hide all his life. I knew a young man whom Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala guided after he had strayed away and become an atheist, and one day his friends and relatives gathered around him and engaged him in a discussion with the aim of drawing him back to his old life. After they had failed to influence him through debate and reasoning, one of his old female friends said, “But you are young, your life is just beginning, enjoy it. There will be time for those shaykhs!”
I also knew a Pakistani who was living in one of the regions in Europe for the purpose of da’wah. One day he was asked about the success of his da’wah there and he said, “Europeans don’t need much proof to believe in the truth. They easily believe in the truth that comes from thinking with real faith. However, the thing that always pulls them back is the free lifestyle that their lusts desire and the way they have been living. He does not find from the thoughts he believes in a way to free him from the grip of his lusts.” People like this will not be saved from their problems by filling their brains with a library full of theories and studies on Islamic thought. There is only one thing that will benefit them, and that is for you to ignite their deepest feelings with the burning love in your heart.
A burning love in the heart is a medicine that cannot be replaced even by thousands of books filled with deep thoughts and marvelous descriptions. The burning love of the heart is an amazing secret that can change the course of people’s lives, bring the distant closer, soften the hardness of iron, gather the scattered desires, and make you forget the delights of this world and its false desires because it makes you taste the sweetness of being close to Allahu ta’ala and witnessing His majesty. This burning love in the heart does not come by racking the mind to produce more theories and research, rather it comes through exhausting the self and soul with worship, standing submissively at the door of Allahu ta’ala at night. It is this burning love that Muhammad Igbal sought among the Muslims with a long search in the midst of their vigorous debates, the impressiveness of their research, and the size of their libraries. As for thinking, research, study, they are still important and must be done, but they are no more than phases of this long journey.’ Thought and research are limited in scope, and it would be a waste to study all this thought from the beginning every time we finish studying and researching it to the end. We do not go beyond this phase nor do we associate it with any other endeavor and at the same time we do not move our soul an inch from the soil and air in which it lives and stands.
However, what we have described is one of the discussions of thoughts related to Islam if we do not take into account the contemplative side of it. Ultimately, this is a continuation of the end of the study and theory phase, and the beginning of the application phase of these theories. And this phase of thinking should get its due share in the study and research of Islam so that we do not move in circles in the same place and so that the enemy does not ensnare us with new problems that they create every day until it results in a never-ending series of studies, answers and debates.
THE CONCLUSION of what we have described is that the Muslims of today complain about their scattered and hostile state and wonder about the way in which they can unite their voices and unify their paths. We say that what divides the Muslims are the barriers that exist in their souls and without removing them it is impossible for them to reach an agreement and their situation will not get better. These barriers are stronger than associations, repeated meetings, and common slogans.
We have finished explaining these barriers, their kinds, and their harmful effects. Then we have explained the remedy and solution that is capable of dissolving and removing this barrier from the soul. If we were to summarize all this, we would say that the element that removes all these barriers and barriers is sincerity.
When sincerity in religion fills the heart, pride disappears from the soul and is replaced by humility, envy and hatred disappear from it and are replaced by love and harmony, the love of this world and the pursuit of rank and its tricks are replaced by the desire for the pleasure of Allahu ta’ala and salvation from His punishment and threats, and fanaticism in all its forms is replaced by loyalty to Islam as it is. Ikhlas is a word that is easy on the tongue, pleasing to the heart, and pleasant to hear, hence it is the most mentioned and repeated word. However, its meaning is so great and important in life, has the most impact on society, and is the hardest for the passions to practice. However, this word has lost a lot of its importance, its crucial position, and its great impact because it has become a trading commodity for preachers, the jewelry of liars, and the bearers of empty slogans participate in calling for this.
If ikhlas has settled in the heart, the love of sacrifice will also settle in the soul. What does the sincere sacrifice? He will sacrifice the things that preoccupy him, his personal interests, and his bad desires on the path of truth that he pursues with sincerity. For those who complain that they cannot find a way to sacrifice these things because of their strong attachment to them, they should train themselves to sacrifice by following what we have explained. As for those who do not want this, he should stop speaking in the name of Islam and calling for adherence to Islam. He should also stop the noise that he makes about the distress of seeing Muslims divided and fighting each other.
A person who is unable to stop falsifying and playing with the rulings of Allahu ta’ala at his own whim in order to keep a worldly position related to Islam or to satisfy his lusts does not deserve to say a single word about the causes of the division of the Muslims and the enmity among them. He knows nothing about the calamities suffered by the Muslims and there is not the slightest pain and torment in his heart. Those who live in this world to increase their pride, nurture their selfishness, and defend their fanaticism, should not deceive themselves and others so that they mix jealousy of religion with jealousy of their pride, and mix defense of the truth with defense of their group or fanaticism.
For those who understand that Islam should not have things that concern the soul, worship that concerns the heart, abundant remembrance at all times, hopeful supplication at night, and only want Islam in the form of words, actions and plans, they must not seek justification for this principle from the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and the righteous salaf. Rather, they should seek justification for this among the modern schools of thought, for it is only from there that they will be able to build the foundations of their desired Islam.
For those who understand that Islam should only be about staying in the mosque or zawiyah, not obligating its followers to anything but a series of recitations that are repeated every morning and evening, jumping up and down and singing nasyid to amuse themselves in the belief that this will improve the state of their hearts, then they should not repeat the verse of jihad in the Qur’an, Nor should they mention the history of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his great and wonderful efforts to build an Islamic society and establish Islamic law, nor should they say that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) led this great Islamic society and then handed it over as a trust to the next generation of his people.
As for those who understand Islam as it was revealed by Allahu ta’ala: faith in Allah, the belief that he is a servant of this One Lord, believing wholeheartedly that he was created in this world as His servant who has his own efforts and choices just as he was created with things already arranged for him to do, believing that one day he will return to Allah to be rewarded for all that he has done. He then tries to fight the desires that lead to evil through self-improvement and closeness to Allah, and encourages the society in which he lives to implement the laws of Allah, may He be exalted. It is this understanding and path that is considered a good seed for the unity of the ummah in goodness, and it is through this that the cause of the Muslim ummah may be united, and it is from here that Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala will help the Muslims and grant them strength and victory.
LET US PART IN A COVENANT
I ENCOURAGE you, dear reader, and myself as well, not to make my part and your part of this book merely a matter of composing words and embellishing them. Nor is it merely reading or studying. I invite you to part with a promise before Allahu subhanabu wa ta’ala that we will hold fast to. A promise that will be the secret of our happiness in this world, a ray of light in our hearts on the day of reckoning, and a solid path as we walk through the shirath.
Let us part with the promise that we will wake up with the dawn every day if we cannot wake up before it, that we will start a new chapter of our day with the first Fajr prayer in congregation at the nearest mosque, and that we will stay where we are while facing Allahu subhanahu wa ta’dla, remembering, and praying until the sun rises.
We promise to go to the nearest mosque when we hear the call to prayer, wherever and whatever the circumstances, to pray the fard prayer with the first congregation, because the life of this world will not harm a Muslim who relies on Allahu ta’ala five times a day and night. We also pledge to do everything in our power not to spend our precious years except in obedience to Allahu ta’ala, or in Shari’ah-mandated activities such as studying and earning halal sustenance, or in permissible recreation when we are bored and tired.
And when night comes and all of us start to go to bed, we should all remember that we may go to sleep and not wake up again, and that this is our last moment in this world. At that time he should reflect on what he has done throughout his life, how much he has spent in negligence and disobedience, then he should ask Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala for forgiveness with a heart full of regret, then recite mu’awwidzatain – the two protective surahs (i.e. al-Falaq and an-Nas), as well as surah al-Ikhlas, al-Kafirun, and other dhikr that have been reported from the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).” Then he should try not to fall asleep unless he is glorifying, reciting istighfar, and remembering dhikr.
If the world is presented to you with all its goodness and pleasures, or with all its calamities and evils, do not forget the fact that fills the entire universe: that no one bestows, hinders, benefits or harms except Allah, and man has no control over his affairs or the affairs of others. Then hang your heart only on Him, while being grateful for all His blessings, being patient for all His trials, and bowing at His door.
When you have prayed and recited the prayers that follow, do not move from your seat until you have raised your hands in supplication to Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala, with your heart trembling from its deepest recesses, in humility and submission, asking for all your needs. Ask to be delivered from everything you fear, and ask forgiveness for your bad deeds. For there is not the slightest good in an interrupted prayer that does not end with humbling oneself and asking one’s Master for help and needs.
If you feel the anger of people towards you, try to earn the pleasure of Allahu subhinahu wa ta’ala as the best solace that can distract you from their anger, and that is better than people being pleased with you but Allahu ta’ala being angry with you.
If your lusts call you to backbite your Muslim brother, remember that you have vices which, if Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala removes His veil from you, then you and your faults will be the object of discussion in all their places of assembly. If you keep that in mind, shyness will make you move away from haram talk about human honor to deep gratitude to Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala for spreading His veil over your disgrace.
Strive so that your main asset when you face Allahu ta’ala one day is a heart that is clean and pure from the filth of envy and hatred, because a few deeds of obedience are more than enough if accompanied by a heart that is pure and free from all diseases. However, many acts of obedience will not be beneficial if they are accompanied by a heart full of malice.
If your lust tempts you to do something haraam or draws you to violate this covenant point, then remember death if you are a true believer in Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala, because remembering death can minimize a lot of disobedience and maximize a little obedience.
And don’t forget to pray for your brother that Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala gives him the help to continue to be able to fulfill this promise, and the same prayer from me I pray for you too, Amin.