This article is part of a free translation of al-Iftqar ila Allāh, Lubb al-ʿUbudiyyah by Aḥmad al-Suwayan
In a previous article we discussed the essential and exalted condition of being in need of Allāh. This condition is realised through the achievement of states that are pivotal to the heart. Humility, love and attachment are such states focused on in this second article.
A believer surrenders himself to his Lord with humility and subjugation and he forwards a feeble mould as a consequence of His Greatness. He prefers love of Him to all other loves. A tranquil soul, gratified eyes and a calm heart come to being when he rubs his forehead into dust and calls upon his Lord with desire and dread. The distinguished exegist of the Qur’ān Ibn Jarīr al-Tabari writes, ‘Worship [al-‘Ibadah] means to yield to Allāh through obedience and to humble before Him through submission’.1 A believer and practitioner of such description does not step beyond Allāh’s limits but is devoted to His obedience always observing His injunctions. The import of subservience is to not put yourself before Allāh and His Messenger and instead adopt as guidance His sayings, ‘It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allāh and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision.’2 ‘…and they say, “We hear and obey. [We seek] Your Forgiveness, O our Lord, and to You is the return”.’3 ‘The only response of the believers when they are called to Allāh and His Messenger to judge between them is that they say, “We hear and we obey.” And those who obey Allāh and His Messenger, fear Allāh and keep their duty to Him, such are the prosperous ones.’4
Al-Ḥasan al-Basri (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said, ‘I never took a glance, uttered a word, struck out with my hand or trod a step until I first examined if it was to be an expression of obedience or disobedience; if it was obedience I would carry on and if it was disobedience I would leave off.’5 As for one who is bereft of steadfastness, is indiscriminately directed by the countless paths of whims and desires and who is not truly acquainted with his Lord, he scorns the suggestion of surrendering to his Lord. He is proud and unable to offer submission. Allāh says,
‘The Messiah [Jesus] will never be proud to reject to be a slave to Allāh, nor the angels who are near [to Allāh]. And whosoever rejects His worship and is proud, He will gather them all together unto Himself. So, as for those who believed and performed deeds of righteousness, He will give them their due rewards, and more out of His Bounty. But as for those who refuse His worship and were proud, He will punish them with a painful torment. And they will not find for themselves besides Allāh any protector or helper.’6
Allāh describes the believers, ‘Those who believe in our signs [ayat] are none other than those whom when reminded of them fall down prostrate, and glorify the Praises of their Lord, and they are not proud.’7
Ibn Taymiyyah says,
‘The more a heart fosters its love of Allāh, the superior will be the level of servitude it yields to Him. Again, the greater the servitude, the more the love brought about and the more free and independent the heart will be of anything or anyone else. The heart has a fundamental need for Allāh from two perspectives: the perspective of worship which is the ultimate motive and the perspective of support and reliance which is the effective motive.8 Only through worship, love and devotion for its Lord can a heart ever find rectitude, prosperity, delight, joy, goodness, calm and tranquillity. Even if the heart were to succeed in experiencing all the worldly joys possible it would still not achieve tranquillity and serenity because of its intrinsic need for its Lord and given the fact that He is its [true] deity, love and pursuit.’9
Ibn al-Qayyim says,
‘The station of servitude (‘ubudiyyah) is [achieved] by the culmination of the station of humbleness and submission. A person manifesting the greatest servitude is one who is most humble, submissive and obedient to Allāh. He expresses humility towards his true Patron in every possible manner; he is subservient to His dominance, to His lordship and the charge He has of him and he is also subservient to the generosity and blessings He extends to him.’10
Concerning the state of attachment, the servant‘s sense of need and necessity for his Lord drives him to submit and turn to Him. His heart becomes attached to His remembrance and praise, to adherence of what pleases Him and the enactment of what He loves. A devout person once said, ‘The attainment of desires of this world is achieved through one’s feet whereas the attainment of the desires of the Hereafter is achieved via the heart’.11
Consequently, you notice one whose heart is attached to his Lord to observe obedience and prefer that which Allāh loves to his own loves and whims even when engaging in his means of livelihood, when he is with his family and children or involved in any worldly matter. The embellishment of this world does not cause him to diverge from the occasions, locations or situations where he will find His Lord’s love and approval. Allāh says, ‘It is not righteousness (birr) that you turn your faces towards the East or West [in prayers]; but righteousness is [the quality of] the one who believes in Allāh, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth in spite of love for it to one’s kinsfolk, the orphans, the poor, the wayfarer and to those who ask, and who sets slaves free, establishes the prayer, pays the alms-tax (zakah), and those who fulfil covenants when made, who are patient when enduring extreme poverty, experiencing ailment and at the time of fighting. Such are those who are true and they are the pious ones’.12
In a ḥadith related by both al-Bukhāri and Muslim, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, ‘There are seven that Allāh will shield with His shade on the Day there will be only His shade…’13 Mentioned amongst these seven is, ‘A man whose heart is attached to the mosques’. Al-Hāfidh Ibn Hajar commentates, ‘This is an indication of an enduring observance within his heart even on occasions when his body is actually outside the confines of a mosque’.14 This suggests he is continually connected with Allāh and all the time conscious of His injunctions; not a thing can preoccupy or divert him from this. This is why Allāh says, ‘In houses (i.e., mosques) which Allāh has willed to be raised (i.e., to be cleaned and honoured), and for His name to be mentioned and remembered. In them His Name is glorified in the mornings and in the evenings. By men, whom neither trade nor sale divert them from the remembrance of Allāh, establishing prayer, nor from paying the alms-tax. They fear a Day when hearts and eyes will be overturned’.15 Āʿishah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanha) said, ‘The Prophet used to be at the assistance of his family, when prayer time was due, he would leave for prayer’.16
Ibn al-Qayyim further explains the necessity for Allāh, ‘The need for Him causes one to abandon the notion of taking other than one’s true Patron as a deity, to waste one’s breath on actions that are not beloved to Him, to divide one’s concerns towards what does not please Him and to prefer something or someone to Him in any circumstance whatsoever. A conduct and dealings of this sort produce pure and sheer servitude, flourishes the inner soul connecting one with Allāh, and gives rise to sincere love. With the onset of every morning and evening a person has no other yearning but for His Lord since it has severed all other longings. All desires have been made void by his single desire for His Lord and his love for Him has revoked all other loves in his heart.’17 One whose heart is attached to his Lord will taste a sweetness in obeying Him and carrying out His commands to which no other sweetness can draw near, ‘The injunctions of the beloved are the delight of the eyes, happiness of the heart and rapture and pleasures of the soul. Total bliss is achieved through this; the delight of the eyes of the devotee rests in his prayer and pilgrimage (Ḥajj) as does the joy, happiness and bliss of his heart. The same holds for fasting, remembrance and recitation. As for giving in charity then that [resultant condition] is truly amazing! As for jihād, commanding good, forbidding evil, inviting to Allāh and being patient in dealing with Allāh’s (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) enemies, the gratification in all of this is another matter entirely that is indescribable. It cannot be fathomed by someone who has yet to sample a measure of it. The more one establishes all of this the more superior will be the elation he experiences.’18
The misguided and ruined ones are those who attach their heart to other than Allāh. Misguidance and ruin augment in proportion to the level of attachment to other than Allāh. Allāh describes attachment to this world and its adornments as a sign of servitude, ‘Have you seen one who takes his own lust (i.e., vain desires) as his deity? And Allāh knowing [him as such], left him astray’.19 The Messenger of Allah (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, ‘May the slave of the dirham perish, and the slave of the dinar and the slave of lavish clothing. If he is given anything of this, he becomes pleased and if he is denied, he scorns. May he perish and regress and when he is pricked, may he not be able to extract the thorn.’20
Ibn Taymiyyah states,
‘Any person who attaches his heart to mortals to aid, sustain or guide him has yielded his heart to them. He has offered a level of servitude to that creation in accordance to the level of that [attachment]. This is the case even if it appears that he is their leader who organises their affairs and manages them; the sensible person looks at the realities [of matters] and not what relates to their surface. If a man’s heart becomes attached to a woman, even if it is a woman who is lawful for him, his heart will remain captive to her. She will rule and manage him in any way she sees fit. On the surface, he is her master because he is her husband but in reality he is her captive and is owned by her. She rules him in the manner a forceful and oppressive master rules his subjugated slave, who is unable to deliver himself from his master. Indeed, the captivity of the heart is more serious than the captivity of the body and the enslavement of the heart is more severe than the enslavement of the body. One whose body is enslaved and captured does not care [as much] so long as his heart is at ease and is settled. However, if the heart, which is the king of the limbs, is taken captive, is enslaved and holds the greatest type of love for other than Allāh, this is sheer subservience and captivity and it is a servitude to what the heart has been enslaved by.’
He then said, ‘One of the greatest forms of this tribulation is when the heart turns away from Allah. If the heart tastes the sweetness of worshiping Allāh and of being sincere to Him, there is not a single thing that is sweeter, more delightful and pleasurable’.21 Ibn al-Qayyim also says, ‘The most deluded person is one who is attached to other than Allāh; the loss of benefits, loss of happiness and loss of success he incurs is far greater than any acquisition he makes from this attachment and it is also liable to cease or to be missed out on. The similitude of one who attaches himself to other than Allāh is that of one who takes shelter from the heat or cold by means of a spider’s web: the flimsiest of all houses’.22
Additional states will be discussed in a next article.
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