Searching the heavens

And verily for everything that a slave loses there is a substitute, but the one who loses Allah will never find anything to replace Him.”

[Related by Ibn al-Qayyim in ad-Dâ’ wad-Dawâ Fasl 49]

In the final moments

And We shall turn their hearts and their eyes away (from guidance), as they refused to believe therein for the first time, and We shall leave them in their trespass to wander blindly”  [al-An‘aam 6:110].

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said:   This is part of greater understanding: that a man fears that his sins may cause him misfortune at the time of death and keep him from a good end. Imam Ahmad narrated from Abu’d-Darda’ that when he was dying, he would lose consciousness then he would come to and recite: “And We shall turn their hearts and their eyes away (from guidance), as they refused to believe therein for the first time, and We shall leave them in their trespass to wander blindly”  [al-An‘aam 6:110].   Because of that, the early generation feared sins, lest they kept them from a good end.

Al-Jawaab al-Kaafi by Ibn al-Qayyim, 167

Allah will suffice

(This means) Steadfastness of heart and not being disturbed about the imaginary things that bad thoughts may bring to mind. For when a person gives in to his imagination and lets his mind be disturbed by these thoughts, such as fear of disease and the like, or anger and confusion stirred up by some grievous matter, or the expectation of bad things and the loss of good things, that will fill him with worries, distress, mental and physical illness and nervous breakdowns, which will have a bad effect on him and which causes a great deal of harm, as many people have seen. But when a person depends on Allah and puts his trust in Him, and does not give in to his imagination or let bad thoughts overwhelm him, and he relies on Allah and has hope of His bounty, that wards off his worries and distress, and relieves him of a great deal of mental and physical sickness. It gives indescribable strength, comfort and happiness to the heart. How many hospitals are filled with the mentally sick victims of illusions and harmful imagination; how often have these things had an effect upon the hearts of many strong people, let alone the weak ones; how often have they led to foolishness and insanity.

It should be noted that your life will follow your train of thought. If your thoughts are of things that will bring you benefit in your spiritual or worldly affairs, then your life will be good and happy. Otherwise it will be the opposite.

The person who is safe from all of that is the one who is protected by Allah and helped by Him to strive to achieve that which will benefit and strengthen the heart and ward off anxiety. Allah says:

“And whosoever puts his trust in Allaah, then He will suffice him” [al-Talaaq 65:3]

Meaning He will be sufficient for all that is worrying him in his spiritual and worldly affairs. The one who puts his trust in Allah will have strength in his heart and will not be affected by anything he imagines or be disturbed by events, because he knows that these are the result of vulnerable human nature and of weakness and fear that have no basis. He also knows that Allah has guaranteed complete sufficiency to those who put their trust in Him. So he trusts in Allah and finds peace of mind in His promise, and thus his worry and anxiety are dispelled; hardship is turned to ease, sadness is turned to joy, fear is turned to peace.

We ask Allah to keep us safe and sound, and to bless us with strength and steadfastness of heart, and complete trust, for Allaah has guaranteed all good things to those who put their trust in Him, and has guaranteed to ward off all bad and harmful things from them.

If bad things happen or there is the fear of such, then you should count the many blessings that you are still enjoying, both spiritual and worldly, and compare them with the bad things that have happened, for when you compare them you will see the many blessings that you are enjoying, and this will make the bad things appear less serious.

See al-Wasaa’il al-Mufeedah li’l-Hayaat al-Sa’eedah by Shatkh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Sa’di

Faith and expectancy

The meaning of “Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith, and awaiting his reward…”:

“What is meant by ‘out of faith’ is that he (the believer) deeply believes in fasting being an obligation, and ‘awaiting his reward’ is that he seeks the reward from Allah.

Al-Khattabi said: “This means he should be energetic and wilful and should fast with the hope of getting a reward and purifying his soul, and he should not look at fasting as a burden, and should not be counting the days until Ramadan is over.””

Notes from ‘Kitab as-Sawm’ in Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani’s ‘Fath al-Bari’ (4/1230)

Umar’s Instructions on the First Night of Ramadan

It is reported that on the first night of Ramadân, ‘Umar – Allâh be pleased with him – would pray Maghrib, then say (to the people):

Sit down. Then he would give a small address:

Verily the fasting of this month has been made a duty upon you, and standing in night prayer has not been made a duty upon you, but those amongst you who can stand in prayer should do so, for it is from the extra good deeds about which Allâh told us: so whoever cannot stand in prayer, let him sleep on his bed.

And beware of saying: I will fast if so and so fasts and I will stand in night prayer if so and so stands in prayer. Whoever fasts or stands in night prayer, he must make this for Allâh. And you should know that you are in prayer as long as you are waiting for a prayer.

Minimize any vain or false speech in the houses of Allâh (mosques; he said this two or three times). Let none of you fast a few days before the month (in order to avoid missing the beginning of the month; he said this three times). And do not fast until you see [the crescent of the new month] unless it is overcast. If it is overcast, count [the previous month] as 30 days. Then do not break your fasts until you see the night upon the mountain (i.e. you are sure the sun has set).

‘Abd Al-Razzâq Al-San’ânî, Al-Musannaf article 7748

With Imaan (belief) and Ihtisaab (expecting Allah’s reward)

The principle of patience in refraining from sin is based on a number of things:

1 – Knowledge of how reprehensible and vile it is, and that Allah has only forbidden it as a protection against its evil, just as a caring father will protect his child from things that will harm him. This reason will make the wise person refrain from it, even if he does not pay attention to the warning of punishment.

2 – Feeling shy before Allah, may He be glorified. If a person realizes that Allah is watching him and can see him and hear him, he will feel too shy before his Lord to expose himself to His wrath.

3 – Remembering the blessings He has given you and His kindness towards you. Sins inevitably take away blessings. No person commits a sin but one of the blessings of Allah is taken away because of that sin. If he repents, then it is restored, but if he persists in it, it is not given back to him, and the sins continue to take away blessings until the blessings disappear altogether. Allah says:

“Verily, Allah will not change the (good) condition of a people as long as they do not change their state (of goodness) themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah)” [al-Raad 13:11]

The greatest of blessings is faith, but the sins of zina, stealing, drinking alcohol and robbery take them away and cause them to disappear. One of the salaf said: I committed a sin and I was deprived of praying qiyaam for a year. Another said: I committed a sin and I was deprived of understanding of the Qur’aan. Concerning such things it was said:

If you have been blessed then take care of it, for sin takes away blessings.

To sum up: Sin is a fire that consumes blessings, just as fire consumes wood, Allah forbid that His blessings be lost.

4 – Fear of Allah and of His punishment. This may be established by believing in His promises and warnings, and by believing in Him, His Books and His Messengers. This is strengthened by means of knowledge and certain faith, and it is weakened if those two things are weakened, Allah says:

“It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah” [Faatir 35:28]

One of the salaf said: Fear of Allah is a sign of knowledge and taking Allah’s forgiveness for granted is a sign of ignorance.

5 – Love of Allah. This is the strongest factor in being patient in refraining from disobeying Him. The one who loves will be obedient to the one whom he loves. The stronger that love grows in his heart, the more his willingness to obey Him and his unwillingness to disobey Him will grow. Sin and disobedience stem from weakness of love. There is a difference between one who is motivated to avoid disobeying his master because of his fear of his whip and punishment, and one who is motivated to avoid that because of his love for his master.

6 – Nobility and purity of heart. If a person has self-respect and is keen to attain virtue, he will refrain from anything that may lead to doom and dishonour.

7 – Certain knowledge of the consequences of disobedience and the harm that may result from it, such as blackening of the face, darkness in the heart, distress, grief, pain, depression, anxiety, lack of focus, weakness in the face of one’s enemy, confusion, sense of abandonment, being overpowered by one’s enemy, failing to benefit from knowledge, forgetting what one has already learned, and sickness that will surely lead to death if it takes hold, because sins deaden the heart.

To sum up: the awful effects of sin are too many for a person to grasp, and the good effects of obedience are too many for a person to grasp. The best of this world and the Hereafter may be attained by obeying Allah, and the worst of this world and the Hereafter comes from disobeying Him. Concerning some of these effects Allah says:

“Who could ever obey Me and be doomed because of it and who could ever disobey Me and attain blessings because of it?”

8 – Lack of worldly hope and certainty that he will soon depart this world, and the realization that he is like a traveller who enters a town determined to leave it, or like a rider who rests in the shade of a tree then moves on and leaves it. Because he knows how short his stay will be and how quickly he will move on, he is keen to leave behind anything that may weigh him down or cause him harm and bring no benefit. He is keen to move on with the best that he has. A person has nothing better than a lack of worldly ambition and nothing more harmful than procrastinating and focusing on worldly ambitions.

9 – Avoiding excess in his food, drink, clothing, sleeping, and meeting people, because the temptation to commit sin grows stronger if there is any excess in these areas, because that requires an outlet and what is permissible becomes no longer enough and one begins to transgress into haraam areas. One of the most harmful things for a person is idleness and free time, because the soul is never idle; if it is not kept busy with beneficial things it will inevitably occupy itself with harmful things.

10 – This sums up all the previous things: it is faith that is firmly-rooted in the heart. Patience in refraining from sin depends on strength of faith. The stronger a person’s faith is, the more patient he will be, but if his faith is weak his patience will be weak too. If a person’s heart is filled with the belief that Allaah is watching him and can see him, and has forbidden what He has forbidden to him and will be angry with the one who does it and punish him, and if his heart is filled with the belief in the reward and punishment, Paradise and Hell, then he will not fail to act upon this knowledge. Whoever thinks that he can give up sin without firm and deeply-rooted faith is mistaken. If the lamp of faith is strong in the heart it will illuminate all of its corners and shine its light into its depths; that light will then spread throughout his body and he will respond quickly to the promptings of faith, and will obey humbly and willingly, with no resentment. Rather he will rejoice in this call when it comes, just as a man rejoices in the call of his beloved who calls him to show him kindness and honour him, so he is waiting for his call all the time. Allaah bestows His mercy upon whomsoever He will … End quote.

Ibn Qayyim Al Jaqziyyah, Tareeq al-Hijratayn (p. 408-414).