What is the secret of knowing Allah in the heart?
For the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, for the illustrious, subtle, pure soul of the Messenger of Allah, that of his household, his noble Companions, the great Prophets, their righteous descendants, the esteemed masters, the souls of all our deceased, and for the soundness of our religion, nation, people, and all the Muslim world and for their protection from all evil, let us recite Fatiha once and Al-Ikhlas three times in entreaty and seeking refuge in Him…
Respected Brothers and Sisters
Endless praise is due to Allah, Who brought us into the world as Muslims. We were born into a Muslim country. We have become part of the community of the greatest of all the Prophets. We have been made the addressees of the Qur’an, the miracle of which will continue until the end of time. All of these are great individual blessings of Allah Almighty.
However, Allah Almighty demands servanthood in response for these. Our creation, the reason for our being sent to the world is li-ya’budūn, to be a servant to Allah, and li-ya’rifūn, to know Allah intimately in the heart. To be a friend of the Almighty…
He declares, “Assuredly We have honored the children of Adam (with many distinctions)…” (17:70) Allah Almighty invites the human being created in precisely such a way to His Paradise, to Dar al-Salam, to the Abode of Peace.
The Qur’an is the textbook of the universe. The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, is the Fine Exemplar, the ideal human being, the one who is worthy of imitation, the heavenly guide sent by Allah. The Qur’an demands from us a perfected human model, selfhood, and character. There are close to ninety references in the Qur’an that contain the address “O you who believe!” In roughly ninety places, it declares, “O you who believe!” Allah Almighty Himself reveals to us the attributes of those who believe.
The most important of these is:
“O you who believe! Keep from disobedience to Allah in reverent piety, with all the reverence that is due to Him, and see that you do not die save as Muslims (submitted to Him exclusively).” (3:102)
That is to say, we came to world as Muslims. But Allah Almighty does not state that you will die as Muslims. He leaves this open-ended.
This means that a person’s greatest concern in this life ought to be – with respect to all these blessings which Allah has bestowed upon us: the Book, the greatest of all the Prophets – being able to die as Muslims… And this is for one time only; there is no possibility of a second-chance.
Similarly, Allah Almighty declares in another verse, from the chapter entitled Muhammad:
“…If you help Allah(’s cause by striving in His cause), He will help you and make your feet firm (so that you are steadfast in His cause and ultimately victorious).“ (47:7).
Such being the case, this worldly life demands from us an intense labour of the heart, or spiritual effort. This universe and the world in which we live is a place of learning. And Allah, glorified and exalted be He, provides His constant support.
We are to deepen the horizons of our spiritual life in this place of learning, with the manifestations of Divine majesty, and exclaim, “O Lord!” We are to remember our Lord before the Divine majesty, before the workings of Divine power and the Divine tapestries on display in the universe.
In another Qur’anic verse, in chapter Al-‘Imran, Allah Almighty declares:
“Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day (with their periods shortening and lengthening), there are signs (manifesting the truth) for the people of discernment.” (3:190)
The creation of the heavens, the creation of the earth… What a trial is the life of the world, what Divine wisdoms are exhibited… The skies are an endlessness… The moon and the sun… it becomes night, it becomes day, there is no instance of transposition, even for ten minutes, for even a single minute. There is no malfunction or mishap whatsoever. There is no change in the nitrogen, or in the oxygen in the atmosphere. There is an environment in which all living creatures live. The earth provides constant nourishment.
In other words, what is needed is a conscious heart, a heart that perpetually remembers Allah Almighty.
The first verse revealed to humankind: “Read in and with the Name of your Lord, who has created.” (96:1)
Allah Almighty wills for the servant to constantly be with Him.
He declares: “…And He is with you, wherever you may be…” (57:4)
Allah Almighty is above and beyond space and time. He is with all His creation at any given moment, materially and spiritually… Animal, human, or plant, He is always with all of them. This is because there are no temporal or spatial considerations or boundaries for Allah Almighty. He is exalted above these. There are no earthly attributes.
For this reason, “…And He is with you, wherever you may be…” (57:4)
This means that we need to be in the consciousness of constantly under the Divine gaze, or watch.
Our feelings are also thus.
Allah Almighty informs us, “We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.” (50:16)
In other words, our feeling, our emotion, our intention in action are all always known to Allah Almighty.
Again, Allah Almighty declares. He gives us wealth and children in the world. But how will be use our wealth, how will we raise our children, how will we advance upon the path of Allah with our wealth and property and how will we raise our children in His way?
Allah, May His Majesty be exalted, declares:
“O you who believe! O you who believe! Let not your wealth nor your children (distract and) divert you from the remembrance of Allah…” (63:9)
Therefore, a believer needs to know exactly how to use their wealth, how to raise their children in Allah’s way and in His cause.
Those who fail to realise that their wealth is a Divine trust, and that their children are a Divine trust, are mentioned in the continuation of the verse: “Those who do so, they are the losers.”(63:9) This is what Allah Almighty declares.
We have come to the world for the Hereafter. We live for the Hereafter. This trial is a one time only event of which there is no repeat. There is no gain or loss in the grave. There is no gain or loss on the Day of Judgement. Only in the world…
“You will die as you live and you will be resurrected as you die,” states the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings. (Munawi, Fayd al-Qadr, V:663)
The Qur’an reveals to us our future most. What kind of future will we have after death? It relates to us scenes therefrom. It informs us of the state of the righteous servants or of the wrongdoers. He speaks of the events that we will face. This is why Allah Almighty demands that we devote our energies to this end.
He informs us of our last breath. What kind of emotions will we be overcome with at our last breath? As a case in point:
Allah Almighty declares in the Qur’anic chapter Munafiqun:
“And spend (in Allah’s cause and for the needy) out of whatever We provide for you before death comes to any of you and he says: ‘My Lord! If only You would grant me respite for a short while, so that I may give alms, and be one of the righteous!’” (63:10)
That, in other words, everyone will die with regret.
Time is precious in this world. Every minute is precious. Everyone comes to the world along with a Divine schedule of events. We all have hung around our necks a Divine calendar. Every day, an invisible hand tears away a page from that calendar. We do not know how many pages are left. We need to be prepared all the time…
And the most important thing is time. The worst thing is wasting it.
A remorse, in terms of time and how it is spent, is indicated here:
Allah declares: “And spend (in Allah’s cause and for the needy) out of whatever We provide for you before death comes to any of you and he says: ‘My Lord! If only You would grant me respite for a short while, so that I may give alms, and be one of the righteous!’”
The Messenger of Allah states:
“There is no one (including the righteous) who dies but reproaches themselves…” (See Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 59) They will regret why they did not increase their righteousness. That they had been closer to Allah Almighty…
In short, time is precious. Time is unfortunately a great fortune the value of which is not known or indeed appreciated.
Allah Almighty reveals to us in the Qur’an the precise form that our preparations for the Hereafter ought to take.
We have our trade and various businesses. But our Lord informs us of the best trade. This world is fleeting; the world hereafter is never-ending… He informs us of this trade. “… a trade which will never perish,”(35:29) He declares in chapter Fatir. It is envisioned that those who conduct such trade will be delivered. Who are these people? Those who read and recite the Qur’an, who put it into practice in their lives and who enable others to do so also. Those who are acquainted with the Qur’an. This is the first characteristic.
The second characteristic: those who establish the Prayer. Those who, in other words, observe the Prescribed Prayer in a harmony of heart and body.
The third attribute: those who spend openly and in secret (secretly is the preferred method, while one can give openly if there is such a need and in ensuring that they guard their heart against any destructive sense or emotion) in the cause of Allah, from among what Allah has given them.
It is envisaged that these people will “hope for a trade which will never perish,” the verse declares. (See 35:29)
Allah Almighty enumerates His bounties in the chapter entitled Jathiyah:
“He has also made of service to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth, all is from Him (a gift of His Grace)…” (45:13)
The sun is of service, the moon is of service, the earth’s atmosphere is of service, and a great many living creatures and animals are of service. All of these are for the human being.
“He has also made of service to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth, all is from Him (a gift of His Grace). Surely in this there are (clear) signs for a people who reflect.” (45:13)
We see that Allah, may He be exalted and glorified, created sheep just for us. He would not have created them had it not been for the human being. Human beings are to eat of their meat and avail themselves of its milk.
The chicken produces an egg in great difficulty each day, and offers it the human being. The bee makes honey for the human being. The animal produces milk, giving a small portion of it to its young and most of it to human beings. These are constant offerings to the human being…
That is to say, we need to be in constant awareness of this. Who are we to thank for all this? We are morally obliged to thank one who offers us a single glass of water. What about all these (endless) bounties of Allah Almighty? He demands something in return for these:
“And on that Day, you will most surely be questioned as to all the favors (bestowed on you),” (102:8) He declares.
In other words, the servant is to live in a perpetual state of praise and thanks to Allah. They are to live in a state of righteousness. In every unit of the Prayer, we say,
“All praise and gratitude (whoever gives these to whomever for whatever reason and in whatever way from the first day of creation until eternity) are for Allah, the Lord of the worlds.” (1:2) Transforming this praise into deeds… Or turning this praise expressed verbally, into action.
To be able to engage in a constant praise, glorification and gratitude to Allah Almighty. And with what is this to be realised? Verbally? No. Through both words and action. We need to be in a state of gratitude by performing deeds of righteousness.
Allah, May His Majesty be exalted, declares:
“Surely We have created the human being of the best stature as the perfect pattern of creation.” (95:4)
He creates humans with the potential of being the best of creation. For this, the human being needs to overcome their carnal desires. And develop their spiritual capabilities. Thus will they attain the rank of the perfect pattern of creation (ahsan taqwim). They are to reach the level of the best of creation in order to become worthy of Paradise…