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The True Servants of Allāh

A university graduate who finds their dream job after a long wait is usually eager to know what exactly his employer wants from them. The same can be said about an individual who finally seals his/her marriage with another whom they had eagerly pursued; they want to know exactly what pleases this person. If we express this eagerness at pleasing others, how then should the eagerness of a Muslim be in wanting to know what pleases al- Malik/The King, He who possesses the keys to the success of this life and the next?

There is no one in existence worthier of pleasing and seeking acceptance from than Allāh, and He has not kept the matters that please Him a secret. For those who wish to be amongst Allāh’s favourites – the reward of which I leave to your imagination – we will look at several āyāt from Sūrat al-Furqān that illustrate the description of عباد الرحمن / “the true servants of al-Raḥmān” as He names them.[1]

What do we know about the “true servants of al-Raḥmān”?

We know of their walk

Allāh says,

وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا

“And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk the earth with humility”

You can tell that this is a special category of people by simply observing their walk. There is not the slightest strut or swagger in their walk, rather, they tread the earth with humility, realising they walk upon Allāh’s earth, breathing Allāh’s air, using a vehicle – their body – that was loaned to them by Allāh.

As Luqmān said to his son, وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّكَ لَنْ تَخْرِقَ الْأَرْضَ وَلَنْ تَبْلُغَ الْجِبَالَ طُولا

“And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you can never tear the earth apart, and you will never reach the mountains in height.” [2]

The Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) said,

بَيْنَمَا رَجُلٌ يَمشِي في حُلَّةٍ تُعْجِبُهُ نَفْسُهُ مُرَجِّلٌ رَأسَهُ يَخْتَالُ فِي مَشْيَتهِ إِذْ خَسَفَ اللهُ بِهِ فَهُوَ يَتَجَلْجَلُ في الأَرضِ إِلَى يَوْمِ القِيَامَةِ

“Whilst a man from the people of the past was walking arrogantly, admiring himself, having dressed and combed his hair to his best, all of a sudden the earth opened up and swallowed him, and so continues to fall within it till the day of Judgement” [3]

They have recognised Allāh and this recognition appears in their very walk.

What do we know about the “true servants of al-Rahmān”?

We know of their choice of words when provoked

Allāh said, وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا

“..and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say words of peace”

They do not meet ignorance with ignorance and insults with insults. Instead their words are reserved for beneficial matters. Upon being insulted, Abū AdDardā – the companion of the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) – responded:

“يا هذا لا تغرقنَّ في سبنا ودع للصلح موضعاً فإنا لا نكافئ من عصى الله فينا بأكثر من أن نطيع الله فيه “

“O so and so, do not go overboard in insulting me and keep room for reconciliation, for I respond to those who disobey Allāh with regards to me by obeying Allāh with regards to them.”

A man insulted Imam al-Sha’bi, to which he responded:

إن كنتُ كما قلتَ فغفر الله لي وإن لم أكن كما قلتَ فغفر الله لك

“If I am as you say, then may Allāh pardon me, and if I am not, then may Allāh pardon you.”

A man said to Dirār Ibnul Qa’qaa’, والله لو قلتَ واحدةً لسمعت عشراً

“By Allāh, if you insult me just once, I will respond with ten!”

He responded, والله لو قلتَ عشراً ما سمعتَ واحدة

“By Allāh, if you insulted me ten times, I will not even respond with one.”

The believer has so much on his mind as regards his journey to Allāh and the Home of the Hereafter that his heart finds no place within it to store the insults of people, nor does he possess the time to think much over them. Such a person compares life to a market place that has a closing time, and when it does, some walk away having made profits whilst others leave having lost everything.

What do we know about the “true servants of al-Rahmān”?

We know of their nights  

If this is how they behave by day, what then about their behaviour by night? Whilst others enjoy the companionship of their beds, they dedicate a portion of their nights to bowing, prostrating and calling upon their Lord.

Allāh said,وَالَّذِينَ يَبِيتُونَ لِرَبِّهِمْ سُجَّدًا وَقِيَامًا

“And those who spend the night to their Lord prostrating and standing in prayer”

The very first words that the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) was heard announcing when he arrived at Madīnah, his constituency if you wish, were:

يا أيها الناس وأطعموا الطعام ، وأفشوا السلام ، وصلوا الأرحام ، وصلوا بالليل والناس نيام ، تدخلوا الجنة بسلام

“O people, distribute food, spread peace, uphold family ties and pray at night when people are asleep and you will enter Paradise in peace.”[4]

Does this mean that I need to spend the majority of my night in Salāh in order to be amongst “the true servants of al-Rahmān”? Ibn ‘Abbās says, explaining this Āyah,

من صلى ركعتين أو أكثر بعد العشاء فقد بات لله ساجدا وقائما

“Whoever prays two units of Salāh or more after ‘Ishā, then he has “spent the night to their Lord prostrating and standing in prayer”” [5]

What do we know about the “true servants of al-Rahmān”?

We know of their du’ā

Allāh said, وَالَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا اصْرِفْ عَنَّا عَذَابَ جَهَنَّمَ إِنَّ عَذَابَهَا كَانَ غَرَامًا (65) إِنَّهَا سَاءَتْ مُسْتَقَرًّا وَمُقَامًا

“And those who say, “Our Lord, turn away from us the punishment of Hell. Indeed, its punishment is a permanent one; Indeed, it is evil as a settlement and residence.””

Their du’ā is not merely for worldly matters, but in each and every du’ā they make they beg Allāh to spare them from oblivion, fearing the prospects of that savage, bloodthirsty and sadistic creature known as Jahannam. Despite their righteousness, beautiful speech and prayer at night, they believe in the possibility that they may not make it into paradise. Clearly, they were not people who admired themselves in the least.

‘Abdullāhi Ibnu al-Shikhīr said,

أتيتُ رسولَ الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهُوَ يُصَلِّي ولِجَوْفِهِ أَزِيزٌ كَأَزِيزِ المِرْجَلِ مِنَ البُكَاءِ.

“I came to the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) whilst he was praying and his chest was making the sounds of a boiling pot due to his weeping.”[6]

What do we know about the “true servants of al-Rahmān”?

We know of their charity

Allāh says,

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا أَنْفَقُوا لَمْ يُسْرِفُوا وَلَمْ يَقْتُرُوا وَكَانَ بَيْنَ ذَلِكَ قَوَامًا

“And they are those who, when they spend, do so not excessively or stingily but they hold a medium way between them.”

They are balanced in everything that they do, even when giving in charity. In their lives, there is no disconnect between the affairs of their Dīn and Dunyā, rather the latter is governed by the former. But what does it mean to spend “excessively” or “stingily”? Mujāhid said,

لو أنفقت مثل أبي قبيس ذهبا في طاعة الله ما كان سرفا ولو أنفقت صاعا فى معصية الله كان سرفا

“If you were to spend the equivalent of a mountain in gold in the obedience of Allāh, it wouldn’t be excessive, and if you were to spend merely several handfuls in the disobedience of Allāh, it would be excessive.”[7]

And Ibnu Zaid said, وما أُمْسِكَ عن طاعة الله وإن كثر فهو إقتار

“Stinginess is when a person withholds from spending in Allāh’s obedience.”

The true servants of al-Rahmān are those who are quick to calculate their Zakāh, quick to offer their wealth for the causes of good, quick to share their finances with their families and their dependents, regardless of the amounts required of them, whilst at the same time recognising that something as small as £1 or less that is spent on an intoxicant, interest, or any prohibition is Isrāf/ “excessive” and blameworthy.

Not only do the true servants of al-Rahmān refrain from spending a penny in Harām, they do not even overspend on the aspects of Halāl, as ‘Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb said,

كَفَى بِالْمَرْءِ سَرَفًا أَلَّا يَشْتَهِيَ شَيْئًا إِلَّا اشْتَرَاهُ فَأَكَلَهُ

“If every time a person desires something he purchases it and consumes it, then this is in of itself Isrāf/excessiveness.” [8]

What do we know about the “true servants of al-Rahmān”?

We know of the distance they keep from sins

Allāh continues,

وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ وَلَا يَقْتُلُونَ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا يَزْنُونَ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ يَلْقَ أَثَامًا (68) يُضَاعَفْ لَهُ الْعَذَابُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَيَخْلُدْ فِيهِ مُهَانًا (69)

“And they are those who do not call with Allāh another deity or kill the soul which Allāh has forbidden except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty. The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will remain within it in disgrace.”

In short, they are the furthest people away from the major sins and are the least insistent upon the minor sins. The Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) was asked,

أَيّ الذَّنْب أَكْبَر؟ قَالَ ” أَنْ تَجْعَل لِلَّهِ نِدًّا وَهُوَ خَلَقَك ” قَالَ ثُمَّ أَيّ؟ قَالَ ” أَنْ تَقْتُل وَلَدك خَشْيَة أَنْ يَطْعَم مَعَك ” قَالَ ثُمَّ أَيّ؟ قَالَ ” أَنْ تُزَانِيَ حَلِيلَةَ جَارِك ” قَالَ عَبْد اللَّه وَأَنْزَلَ اللَّه تَصْدِيق ذَلِكَ:” وَاَلَّذِينَ لَا يَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللَّه إِلَهًا آخَر ” الْآيَة

“What is the greatest sin?” He responded, “To set up a partner with Allāh despite Him having created you.” He asked, “Then what?” He said, “To kill your child due to your fear of him eating with you.” He asked, “Then what?” He said, “To fornicate with your neighbor’s spouse.” Then the verses above were revealed. [9]

As for those who ask “I have committed one or the other of those sins, is there a way out? I fear the prospects of doubled punishment.” Allāh continues,

إِلَّا مَنْ تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَأُولَئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا (70)

“Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allāh will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allāh Forgiving and Merciful.”

What does it mean that “Allāh will replace their evil deeds with good”? Some have argued that it means that Allāh will inspire them to do good in place of sins, and will replace bad traits of theirs with good traits etc.[10] Others, however, have argued a literal understanding of this Āyah, where their sins are actually transformed into good deeds.

The Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) said,

يُؤتَى برجُلٍ فيقولُ : سَلوا عن صِغارِ ذنوبِهِ وأَخبِئوا كِبارَها فيقالُ لَهُ : عمِلتَ كذا وَكَذا يومَ كذا وَكَذا عملتَ كذا وَكَذا في يومِ كذا وَكَذا فيقالُ لَهُ فإنَّ لَكَ مَكانَ كلِّ سيِّئةٍ حَسنةً قالَ فيقولُ يا ربِّ لقد عَمِلْتُ أشياءَ لا أراها هَهُنا قَالَ فَضَحِكَ رَسُول اللَّه حَتَّى بَدَتْ نَوَاجِذه

“A man will be brought on the day of Judgement and it will be said, ‘Interrogate him about his minor sins and hide from him the major ones.’ It will be said to him, ‘You did such and such on day such and such.’ Then he will be told, ‘We will replace every sin that you’d committed with a good deed’ So he will say, ‘My Lord! I have committed other sins as well that I do not see here!’ The Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) smiled as he narrated this till his molar teeth became visible.”[11]

What do we know about the “true servants of al-Rahmān”?

We know of their behaviour in the presence of sin

Allāh says, وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَشْهَدُونَ الزُّورَ وَإِذَا مَرُّوا بِاللَّغْوِ مَرُّوا كِرَامًا

“And they are those who do not bear witness to falsehood, and when they pass near ill speech, they pass by with dignity.”

Whether this Zūr/falsehood is something that they see on TV, on a PC screen or a conversation that they are part of with friends, the true servants of al-Rahmān are quick to move away from it with honour, not giving it any time of day. Thus, Allāh said in the second part of this Āyah: “and when they pass near ill speech, they pass by with dignity.” They do not give it attention, not even a second glance. They move on. They are busy.

What do we know about the “true servants of al-Rahmān”?

We know of their relationship with the Qur’ān

Allāh says,

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِّرُوا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ لَمْ يَخِرُّوا عَلَيْهَا صُمًّا وَعُمْيَانًا

“And those who, when reminded of the verses of their Lord, do not fall upon them deaf and blind.”

The Qur’ān has a major effect on their lives. They do not hum it like a song or read through it like a newspaper, but they recite calmly, thinking over its meanings, thus it moves them to tears and pushes them to reform themselves and others. As Allāh said,

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَعَلَى رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ

“The believers are only those who, when Allāh is mentioned, they feel a tremor in their hearts, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely”[12]

What do we know about the “true servants of al-Rahmān”?

We know of their worry for the Islamic future of themselves and their families

Allāh says,

وَالَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

“And those who say, “Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.”

The true servants of al-Rahmān want children who will bring happiness to their hearts in this world and the next, not necessarily through their degrees, their wealth and worldly successes, but primarily by seeing them as a righteous people, worshippers of Allāh and callers to His path. This is what brings “comfort” to their “eyes”.

Not only do they make du’ā for their spouses and children, but they themselves want to be role models and examples in Dīn, so that when they eventually pass away, their good deeds continue being written down for them. As the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) said,

إِذَا مَاتَ ابْنُ آدَمَ انْقَطَعَ عَمَلُهُ إِلاَّ مِنْ ثَلاثٍ: صَدَقَةٍ جَارِيَةٍ، أَوْ عِلْمٍ يُنْتَفَعُ بِهِ، أَوْ وَلَدٍ صَالِحٍ يَدْعُو لَهُ

“If a person dies, all of his good deeds come to a halt with the exception of three matters; a charity that he had given that people continue to benefit from, knowledge that he had spread or a righteous child who makes du’ā for him.”[13]

What do we know about the “true servants of al-Rahmān”?

We know of their eventual reward

Since these people had exerted so much effort in trying to apply these characteristics, Allāh will give them the prize that they had craved all their lives. Allāh said,

أُولَئِكَ يُجْزَوْنَ الْغُرْفَةَ بِمَا صَبَرُوا وَيُلَقَّوْنَ فِيهَا تَحِيَّةً وَسَلَامًا (75) خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا حَسُنَتْ مُسْتَقَرًّا وَمُقَامًا (76)

“Those will be rewarded with the high mansions because of their patience, where they shall be met with greetings and the word of peace. They shall remain there forever. How beautiful is the settlement and residence.”

They patiently applied the commandments of Allāh and patiently restrained themselves from His prohibitions, thus they are entered into Jannah and they hear:

إنَّ لَكُمْ أنْ تَحْيَوْا ، فَلاَ تَمُوتُوا أَبَداً ، وإنَّ لَكُمْ أنْ تَصِحُّوا ، فلا تَسْقَمُوا أبداً ، وإنَّ لَكمْ أنْ تَشِبُّوا فلا تَهْرَمُوا أبداً ، وإنَّ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَنْعَمُوا ، فَلاَ تَبْأسُوا أَبَدا

“You will be healthy and will never fall sick! You will live and will never die! You will remain young and will never grow old! You will feel ease and will never be miserable!”[14]

What do we know about these “high mansions” that they were promised? The Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) said:

إِنَّ أَهْلَ الْجَنَّةِ يَتَرَاءَوْنَ أَهْلَ الْغُرَفِ مِنْ فَوْقِهِمْ كَمَا يَتَرَاءَوْنَ الْكَوْكَبَ الدُّرِّيَّ الْغَابِرَ فِي الْأُفُقِ مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ أَوْ الْمَغْرِبِ؛ لِتَفَاضُلِ مَا بَيْنَهُمْ، قَالُوا: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، تِلْكَ مَنَازِلُ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ لَا يَبْلُغُهَا غَيْرُهُمْ، قَالَ: بَلَى، وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ، رِجَالٌ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَصَدَّقُوا الْمُرْسَلِينَ

“The people of Paradise will look at the dwellers of the high mansions in the same way as one looks at a brilliant star far away in the East or in the West on the horizon; due to their superiority over one another.” They said, ‘O messenger of Allāh! Are these high mansions for the prophets which nobody else can reach?’ He responded, ‘No! I swear by the One who possesses my soul, they are for people who believed in Allāh and testified to the truthfulness of the messengers.’”[15]

Such mansions are available for those who yearn for them, and the reservation process is summarised in these descriptions of “the true servants of al-Rahmān”.

O Allāh, we have believed in You, testified to the truthfulness of the messengers and have dedicated our entire lives to what they have taught us, so make us and our families, O Allāh, residents of these lofty mansions.

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] In particular verses 63 to 76

[2] Al-Qur’ān, Sūrah 17, Āyah 37

[3] Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of Abū Huraira

[4] At-Tirmidhī, on the authority of ‘Abdullāhi Ibnu Salām

[5] Al-Qurtubi

[6] Sunan Abī Dāwūd

[7] Tafsīr At-Tabari

[8] Tafsīrul Qurtubi

[9] Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of Ibnu Mas’ūd

[10] Ibnu ‘Abbās, AlHasan AlBasri and others

[11] Muslim, on the authority of Abū Dharr

[12] Al-Qur’ān, Sūrah 8, Āyah 2

[13] Muslim, on the authority of Abū Huraira

[14] Narrated by At-Tirmidhī in his ‘Sunan’, on the authority of Abū Huraira

[15] Bukhārī and Muslim

About Shaykh Ali Hammuda

Shaykh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is a UK national of Palestinian origin. He gained bachelors and masters’ degrees in Architecture & Planning from the University of the West of England, before achieving a BA in Shari'ah from al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is currently based in Wales and is a visiting Imām at Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, and also a senior researcher and lecturer for the Muslim Research & Development Foundation in London. Ustādh Ali is the author of several books including 'The Daily Revivals' and 'The Ten Lanterns", and continues to deliver sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.

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