Striving against oneself

Fadalah ibn Ubaid reported: I heard the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم saying:

The one who strives in the way of Allah the Exalted is he who strives against his soul.” {Saheeh At-Tirmidhi: 1621. Graded Saheeh by Sheikh Al-Albaani}

In explanation of this Hadeeth, Al-Mubarakpuri رحمه الله said:

“This means he conquers evil inclinations within himself and performs acts of obedience pleasing to Allah and he avoids acts of disobedience. This jihad is the foundation for all other types of jihad, for indeed, if he does not perform this struggle then he cannot struggle against external enemies.” {Sharh Sunan At-Tirmidhi: 1621}

Striving against the evil of oneself is no easy task. If we were to occupy ourselves with just conquering these evil inclinations and performing acts of obedience and distancing ourselves from acts of disobedience, indeed we would be firm enough to stand against any external enemies. As it stands we are so preoccupied with the dunya, satisfying our desires and focusing on the external that we neglect what is truly needed for our self and this in turn leads to the death of the heart as Ibn Al Qayyim رحمه الله states:

“The death of the heart is caused by the lack of reckoning oneself and following one’s desire.” {Al-Igaathah: Vol.1 Page: 157}

We know that if we do not rectify our selves that we will not gain the Aid of Allaah, yet in reality our actions do not reflect a true understanding of this fact.

“That is so because Allah will never change a grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in their ownselves. And verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” {Surat Al-Anfaal 8:53}

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When we rectify the deficiencies within ourselves, the effect reaches those around us; when we stop looking externally to make sense of the condition of the Ummah and instead look inside ourselves we will gain the good required to rectify the Ummah.

“To think of one’s deficiencies is the key to all the good. It disciplines the soul so that it can live harmoniously.” {Ibn Al-Qayyim. Al-Jawabul Kafi: 182}

The root of all good is At-Tawheed and the root of all evil is Shirk. It is therefore imperative that the ‘Aqeedah be rectified in order that the deeds are correct. Performing actions in abundance while one believes that Allaah is in everything, like some Sufis, or that He is nowhere, like the Asha’ira, makes these actions null and void. Allaah has stated numerous times in the Qur’an that He is above His Throne which is above the skies.

“The Most Beneficent (Allah) Istawa (rose over) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty).” {Surat Taha: 5}

It is only when tawheed is established that we can expect to reap its fruits. Once it is firm in our hearts, the limbs will perform actions in accordance. The Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

“Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoilt the whole body gets spoilt and that is the heart.” {Saheeh Al-Bukhari: 52}

The Muslim, the true believer rectifies his heart first so that the actions of his limbs are accepted. In the well known hadeeth, A’ishah رضي الله عنها narrates:

“I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, ‘And those who give that (their charity) which they give (and also do other good deeds) with their hearts full of fear.” [23:60] Is this the one who commits adultery, steals and drinks alcohol?’ He said: ‘No, O daughter of Abu Bakr’ – O daughter of Siddiq – rather it is a man who fasts and gives charity and prays, but he fears that those will not be accepted from him.’”

 This is the state of those who realise the gravity of their deeds and how important it is that they are accepted from him. The righteous one performs good while fearing that it will not be accepted, yet the corrupt one commits evil while hoping he will not be recompensed for it. This is why striving with heart and limb against the evil of one’s desire is such a great task and one that should not be taken to lightly. It is as Sheikh Al Mubarakpuri so beautifully states “…if he does not perform this struggle then he can not struggle against external enemies” (quote above)
الحمد لله رب العالمين
We ask Allaah for sincere deeds, done purely for His sake, that are accepted and for the strength and diligence required to constantly struggle against our own evils and the evils that the Shayateen present to us. May the peace and salutation be upon the Final Messenger, his companions and his family.

Establish Tawheed and we will overcome our oppressors….

“The entire Qur’aan is centered around Tawheed”

Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdillaah Al-Fawzaan

From his book Duroos min Al-Qur’aan Al-Kareem (p.5-11)

In the Name of Allaah, the All-Merciful, may His Salaah and Salaam be upon His final Messenger, to proceed…

Someone may say, and it actually has been said, “What is it with you that you always focus on tawheed and you talk so much about it?! And you don’t take into consideration the condition of the Muslims in our day and time, those who are being killed and caused to flee all over the earth, those being persecuted by the empires of disbelief in every place?!”

So we say, and with Allaah lies success:

Tawheed is the foundation upon which this upright religion has been built, so focusing on it means to focus on the very core itself. For if we were to reflect over the Noble Qur’aan we would find that it expounds on issues of tawheed repetitively, so much so that there does not exist a single soorah in the Qur’aan that does not mention tawheed, clarifying it and prohibiting what opposes it. It was Al-Imaam Ibn Al-Qayyim who pointed out that the entire Qur’aan is about tawheed, since it is only made up of the following:

* Information about Allaah and His Names and Attributes – This is the tawheed that we are to have knowledge of, called tawheed ar-ruboobiyyah.

* Commands to worship Allaah alone with no partners and prohibitions of worshipping other than Him – This is the tawheed that we must put into action, called tawheed al-uloohiyyah.

* Commands to obey Allaah and His Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and prohibitions of disobeying Allaah and His Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) – These are the ways that tawheed is actualized and completed.

* Information about what Allaah has prepared for the people of tawheed, the delights, success, salvation, and triumphs in this life and the Next, and the punishments that are in store for the people of shirk in this life, and the eternal torture prepared for them upon their one-way entrance into the Hellfire – The first is for those who actualize tawheed, the latter is for those who do not. [1]

Therefore the entire Qur’aan is centered around tawheed. If you were to think about the soorahs revealed in Makkah, you would find that most of them focus entirely on tawheed. That is because the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) stayed in Makkah for 13 years calling to tawheed and warning against shirk. The vast majority of the religious obligations like zakaah, fasting, Hajj, the affairs of halaal and haraam, business transactions, etc. were not revealed until after the Hijrah to Al-Madeenah. The legislation of the prayer is an exception to this, as it was made an obligation while the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was still in Makkah on the Night of Al-Mi’raaj, when he (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was taken by night (to Jerusalem) [2], but that was only a short time before the Hijrah.

So the majority of the soorahs revealed before the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) made hijrah were focused entirely on tawheed, thus showing how truly important the subject is. Furthermore, the religious obligations were not revealed until tawheed was presented and established within the souls of the people, and the proper ‘aqeedah had taken root. For verily actions can not be correct except with tawheed, nor can they have other than tawheed as their foundation.

The Qur’aan has illustrated that the Messengers (‘alayhim As-Salaatu was-Salaam) all began their missions by inviting the people to tawheed before anything else, as Allaah says [3]:

”And We sent a messenger to every nation (proclaiming): ‘Worship Allaah and shun false deities!”

Allaah also says [4]:

”And We never sent any messenger before you, except that we revealed to him that ‘There is no deity worthy of worship except Me, so worship Me!”

And every prophet used to say to his people [5]:

”O my people – Worship Allaah as you have no other deity worthy of worship!”

So this was the affair of the messengers – they began with tawheed.

Similarly the callers and revivalists who followed the messengers used to begin by focusing on tawheed. That is because every single da’wah that is not built upon tawheed is a fruitless call that does not fulfill its purpose, and there is no positive result to it. Every da’wah that does not focus on tawheed is a lost call, with regards to its end results. This is something well known and seen all over.

On the other hand, every da’wah centered around tawheed is a truly successful call, by Allaah’s Permission, a call that benefits the society and bears many fruits. History bears witness to this.

So we are not neglecting the issues of the Muslims, rather we are very concerned about them. We are assisting them and trying to prevent every harm from reaching them using all our resources. It is not something light on us that the Muslims are being killed and exiled, but it is not true concern for the situation of the Muslims that we force ourselves to shed tears insincerely, or that we fill the world with speeches and writings, screaming and wailing… for verily this does not accomplish a thing.

Finding the real solution to the Muslims’ problems requires us to seek out the reasons that have led to the punishments afflicting the Muslims at the hands of their enemies.

What is causing the enemies of the Muslims to gain and hold authority over them?

When we look to the Muslim world, we do not see any serious commitment to Islaam with most of those who ascribe to it, except the few that Allaah has had Mercy on. What we see are Muslims by name only, the ‘aqeedah of most of them is lost. They worship other than Allaah, calling on saints and righteous people, clinging to graves and tombs, not establishing the prayer, not paying zakaah, not fasting, etc. They are not fulfilling the basic obligations Allaah asked of them, they are not even gathering their strength or preparing physically to fight the disbelievers! This is the case with the majority of those who ascribe themselves to Islaam – they have lost their religion, so Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, caused them to be lost.

The most significant factor that has led them to be subjected to these punishments is their heedlessness regarding affairs of tawheed and their falling into major shirk, to the point that they do not prohibit each other from it, nor do they even show any contempt for it! Those who do not fall into it themselves still condone it or do not consider it shirk. An explanation of this is forthcoming, in shaa’ Allaah. So know that this is the primary reason that the Muslims have been subjected to such punishments.

If they were to hold firmly to their religion, actualizing tawheed and establishing their ‘aqeedah upon the Book and the Sunnah, holding together to the Rope of Allaah, shunning division, then verily what has been allowed to befall them will not be allowed to befall them anymore, as Allaah says [6]:

”And verily Allaah will make those who aid His Cause victorious, for verily He is All-Powerful and Mighty. (They are) those who, when given power in the land, establish the prayer, pay zakaah, command what is good, and forbid what is evil, and with Allaah is the end result of all affairs.”

So Allaah has made it clear that victory will not be given to the Muslims unless they focus on what He mentioned – establishing the prayer, paying zakaah, commanding what is good, and forbidding what is evil.

Where are these affairs with the Muslims and their current situations today? Where is the establishment of the prayer by most of the Muslims? Or even more importantly, where is the correct ‘aqeedah for most of those who claim Islaam as their religion?!

Allaah says [7]:

”Allaah has promised those of you who believe and do righteous deeds that He will cause them to rule the earth just as He caused those who came before them to rule it, and He will grant them the ability to practice their religion, the one He chose for them, and He will change their fears into safety… ”

But where is the very first condition for this promise? [7]

” …they worship Me without ascribing a single partner to Me”

So He clarified that this gaining of authority and fortification will only come to pass when this condition is fulfilled – that they worship Him alone without any partners, and this is the essence of tawheed. These generously promised things will not be granted except to those who understand and apply tawheed, worshipping Allaah alone with no partners, with acts of worship including prayer, zakaah, Hajj, and all other acts of obedience.

Note that Allaah, Glorified and Exalted, did not say, “They worship Me,” only, rather He followed that up with His Statement [7]:

”…without ascribing a single partner to Me”

That is because worship is of no benefit with the presence of shirk. All forms of shirk must be avoided, no matter what shape, form, or name. Shirk simply means to perform an act of worship for other than Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic.

This is what brings about true salvation, safety, victory, and strength in the land – correcting the ‘aqeedah and then correcting the deeds. Without this, disasters and punishments will continue to befall whoever does not completely fulfill the condition (for Allaah’s Aid). Being conquered by the enemies is only the result of the Muslims not fulfilling this necessary condition, their lack of proper concern for their ‘aqeedah and Religion, and their contentment with carrying Muslim names and nothing more.

FOOTNOTES

[1] see Madaarijus-Saalikeen (3/468) for details

[2] as found in the mutawaatir narrations of (Al-Mi’raaj) the Night Journey, see the aahaad narration of Anas found in Al-Bukhaaree’s Chapter of Tawheed (Chapter 37, Hadeeth #7517) [13/583] and Muslim’s Chapter of Eemaan (Chapter 74, Hadeeth #162)

[3] the meaning of Soorah An-Nahl (16):36

[4] the meaning of Soorah Al-Anbiyaa’ (21):25

[5] the meaning of Soorah Al-A’raaf (7):95

[6] the meaning of Soorah Al-Hajj (22):41

[7] the meaning of Soorah An-Noor (24):55

Source

The vision of the hearts

In many places in the Qur’aan, Allaah speaks of the sight of the heart. It is far more dangerous for the heart to be blinded than it is for the eyes, since it is the heart which leads man to believe in Allaah and to stay firm upon His obedience. If the heart is corrupted then there is little hope for the prosperity of the slave as the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

“…Indeed there is in the body a piece of flesh, which if it sound then the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt then the whole body is corrupt. Indeed it is the heart.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Allaah mentions in his book:

“Have they not travelled through the land, and have they hearts wherewith to understand and ears wherewith to hear? Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind.” [22:46]

This blindness results in ultimate misery; the possessor of a blind heart wanders aimlessly through life, forgetting his purpose and following his whims and desires, but the heat of the Hell fire will  certainly cause his vision to return on that inevitable Day. Allaah said:

“(It will be said to the sinners): ‘Indeed you were heedless of this, now We have removed your covering, and sharp is your sight this Day!’” [50:22]

Allaah mentions that the basaa’ir (proofs/enlightenment) came but the doomed blinded themselves to it:

“Verily, proofs have come to you from your Lord, so whosoever sees, will do so for (the good of) his ownself, and whosoever blinds himself, will do so to his own harm, and I (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) am not a watcher over you.” [6:104]

 It is a tragedy if the slave’s heart loses sight. The eyes may be blinded and cause harm in this life but the harm that comes from a blind heart will transcend into the next life. There is hope for the visually blind as the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

“Allaah said, ‘If I deprive my slave of his two beloved things (i.e. his eyes) and he remains patient, I will let him enter Paradise in compensation for them.'” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

There is, however, no hope for the one whose heart is blind. They are worse than animals:

“Or do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are only like cattle; nay, they are even farther astray from the Path. (i.e. even worst than cattle).” [25:44]

 May Allaah have mercy on us and protect our hearts from blindness and corruption. May He grant us insight upon tawheed and ittiba’ of His Messenger, upon whom be salutations and peace.

The effect of “لا إله إلا الله” at the time of death

The declaration of “There is no god worthy of worship except Allaah” at the time of death has a great effect in expiating sins, as it is a testimony of he who believes in it, and knows its meaning. When reciting this declaration with certainty all his lusts come to an end. His rebellious self softens and yields after refusal and disobedience, proceeds after being turned away, humiliates after being given honour, and its desires and interests are released.

This soul will go to its Lord seeking His forgiveness, completely certain that Allaah is One, as he is cleansed from all doubts of polytheism, and he is only concerned with the Almighty One that he will now meet. Whatever he has done secretly or privately has become one and he has faithfully said “لا إله إلا الله” – There is none worthy of worship except Allaah.

His heart is no longer inclined to think or turn to others. The whole world has been driven out of his heart. He is about to stand in front of Allaah. He is only thinking about the Hereafter and has put the world behind him. This faithful declaration came as the last deed of his life in order to purify him from sins and take him to his Lord as he meets Him with this faithful and truthful declaration. 

If this kind of faithful and truthful declaration was said by him during his life, he would have hated this worldly life and its people, escaped to Allaah, and deserted everything else other than Him. But he declared it with a heart full of the pleasures of this life, love for this life and seeking other than Allaah. If it was as pure as at the time of his death, it would have provoked another, more sublime life.

We do not own ourselves! Allaah owns us. He owns our souls, our hearts are between two fingers of His that turn them according to Hi wish. Our life, death, happiness and sadness are in His hands; our moves, silence, words, and deeds are according to His will. If Allaah gave us the power over ourselves He would be giving it to a failure, a sinner, a wasteful creature, and if He gave power to other than Him, He would be giving authority to one who does not have any authority; neither good, bad, useful, death, life, nor resurrection. If Allaah abandons us, our enemy will take authority over us and make us prisoners. We can never dispense with Allaah, and although we need Him, we disobeyed  Him and used to forget to remember Him.

[Extract of “Al-Fawaa’id” by the great Scholar and Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim رحمه الله ]

The heart of the believer

The Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

“How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything and this applies only to a believer. If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allaah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him.” [Sahih Muslim]

This is only true for the heart that has taqwa of Allaah; a heart that yearns for guidance and light from Him and is not satisfied with anything other than it. The Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

“…Indeed there is in the body a piece of flesh, which if it sound then the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt then the whole body is corrupt. Indeed it is the heart.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The sound heart is linked to its Lord during ease and hardship. No calamity, no tragedy, no trial can break this heart. It will continue to flourish on a strong foundation of taqwa (righteousness and fear of Allaah) and tawakkul (reliance on Allaah) and will be rewarded thereby. The possessor of this heart will remember the words of Ya’qub (عليه السلام) when he was struck with so much grief that his eyes lost their sight (interpretation of the meaning):

“He said: ‘I only complain of my grief and sorrow to Allaah, and I know from Allaah that which you know not.'” [Surat Yusuf: 86]
This heart will remember the words of the most truthful of mankind (صلى الله عليه وسلم) when he lost his infant child Ibrahim:

“The eyes shed tears and the heart feels pain, but we utter only what pleases our Lord. O Ibrahim! We are indeed grieved at your departure.”

This heart is comforted with the words of Ar-Rahman and knows that it is truth when He says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).

 

And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allaah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allaah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.” [Surat At-Talaq: 2-3]

And when He (سبحانه وتعالى ) says (interpretation of the meaning):
“So verily, with the hardship, there is relief,

 

Verily, with the hardship, there is relief (i.e. there is one hardship with two reliefs, so one hardship cannot overcome two reliefs).” [ Surat Ash-Sharh: 5-6]

This heart trusts its Lord, hopes only in Him, and reaffirms this by filling every crevice of itself with the Revelation that He sent down. It pumps tawheed and is not content with any other than Allaah. It believes completely that what is with Allaah is more certain that what is between his hands. Despite grief, calamity and hardship the believer does not despair as Allaah said:

“Certainly no one despairs of Allaah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.” [Surat Yusuf: 87]

The believer may become sad but he NEVER despairs. Sabr (patience and perseverance) is obligatory on him and he remembers the reward of Allaah for practising it. He remembers the Reminder (interpretation of the meaning):

“And those who remain patient, seeking their Lord’s Countenance, perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and spend out of that which We have bestowed on them, secretly and openly, and defend against evil with good, for such there is a good end.” [ Surat Ar-Ra’d: 22]
Excellent is the case of the believing heart, and beautiful is its final destination. May Allaah, Al-Wahhab, Ar-Rahman, grant us mercy from Him, and patience during ease and hardship. May His Salaah and Salaam be upon the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad, upon his family, his companions and all those that follow them in righteousness until the Day of Return.

 

A Way Out

basmalah

Allaah, the Most High, said:

“…And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).

And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allaah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allaah will accomplish His purpose. Allaah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” [Surat at-Talaq: 2-3]

When we face difficulty or oppression, our refuge should always be Allaah. None but He who can change our situation, comfort our hearts and give us the patience and wisdom we need to deal with these difficulties as they come. Ibn al-Qayyim (رحمه الله) said:

“Resort to no one but your Lord, for resorting to others is a disgrace.”

How unfortunate it is then to see that the slave will disgrace himself by seeking comfort and ease from people instead of his Lord. He knows that they can not change his situation but still humiliates himself before them. Were he to fear Allaah and resort only to Him, his heart would have been put right and his status would have been raised.

Ibn Kathir (رحمه الله) said about the ayah above:

“…whoever has Taqwa of Allaah in what He has commanded and avoids what He has forbidden, then Allah will make a way out for him from every difficulty and will provide for him from resources he never anticipated or thought about.”

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said:

The greatest Ayah in the Qur’aan that contains relief is: “And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).”

`Abdullah bin Mas`ud and Masruq commented on the Ayah, saying:

“It pertains to when one knows that if Allah wills He gives, and if He wills He deprives, “from where he never could imagine.” from resources he did not anticipate”

And Qatadah said about the way out referred to in this ayah:

“Meaning, from every doubt and the horrors experienced at the time of death, “And He will provide him from where he never could imagine” from where he never thought of or anticipated.”

Allaah said:

“And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him.”

Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that he rode the Prophet’s camel while sitting behind the Prophet , and the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said to him:

“O boy! I will teach you words.Be mindful of Allaah and He will protect you, be mindful of Allaah and He will be on your side. If you ask, ask Allaah, and if you seek help, seek it from Allaah. Know that if the Ummah (the nation) gather their strength to bring you benefit, they will never bring you benefit, except that which Allaah has decreed for you. Know that if they gather their strength to harm you, they will never harm you, except with that which Allaah has decreed against you. The pens have been raised and the pages are dry.” [Also narrated by At-Tirmidhi who said it is Hasan]

How excellent is the advice of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم)! Were we to fully understand and act according to this, never would we despair, or feel alone. We would be patient; hoping and anticipating from Allaah the reward for doing so and realising that what is to be decreed has been decreed, and Allaah, the Most High is the Best disposer of Affairs. “The pens have been raised and the pages are dry” so why would be be hasty when we know that Allaah said:

“So be patient. Surely, the (good) end is for the Muttaqun (the righteous)” [Surat Hud: 49]

May Allaah grant us true tawakkul (reliance) upon Him and may His words be a source of our ease and comfort. May His Salaah and Salaam be upon the Final Messenger, his family, his companions, and all those that follow them in righteousness till the Day of Resurrection.

Shirk spoils one’s worship…

Sheikh al Islam Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (رحمه الله) said:

“So when you come to realise that Allaah created you in order to worship Him, then know that worship is not called worship unless it is accompanied by Tawheed, just as prayer is not called that unless it is accompanied by (ritual) purity. So if Shirk enters into one’s worship, it ruins it, just like impurity when it enters into the (ritual) purity. So when you come to realise that Shirk- when mixed into one’s worship- spoils it, invalidates one’s actions, and makes the person who possesses it into one who will reside eternally in the Hellfire, you will know that the most important  thing that is binding upon you is to gain knowledge of that, so that perhaps Allaah may absolve you from this trap, which is ascribing partners to Allaah (i.e. Shirk) about which Allaah has said: ‘Verily, Allaah does not forgive that partners be ascribed to Him in worship, but He forgives what is lesser than that to whom He wills’ [Surah An-Nisaa:48]”

[The Four Principles of Shirk]