Monday 19 August 2019

Four Things a Muslim Should Never Leave

Islam is a wonderful religion for it provides immense opportunities to a true believer to live a blessed life. And the most amazing thing is that to be blessed, one doesn't have to work very hard. Small things, gestures, prayers, thankfulness and repentance is all what is needed to draw blessing from Allah.

Today a friend shared four things with me that a Muslim should never leave to stay blessed and receive Allah's unlimited rewards and bounties for Allah is always on the lookout for His servants who are busy remembering Him and seeking His pleasure. 

Without going into any further premise, let me go down straight to these small four acts which would take him closer to Allah:

Being Thankful to Allah
Yes, simply thankfulness. If we carry out a reappraisal of ourselves, we will find that Allah has given us far more than we truly deserve, and many of these blessings have been without even asking. Instead of lamenting of not having what others have, we must always be thankful for what we have and other do not have. A very large portion of the world population lives in deprivation and utter poverty. But we only look towards those who have a better car, house, job or worldly pleasures better than us. But we never compare ourselves with those who are suffering and cannot even afford a good meal in a day.

So thank Allah all the time for what has been given to us and what others do not have. The more one thanks Allah, the more pleased Allah is and gives them more:

وَاِذۡ تَاَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمۡ لَـئِنۡ شَكَرۡتُمۡ لَاَزِيۡدَنَّـكُمۡ​ وَلَـئِنۡ كَفَرۡتُمۡ اِنَّ عَذَابِىۡ لَشَدِيۡدٌ‏ 
"Also call to mind when your Lord proclaimed: "If you give thanks, I will certainly grant you more; but if you are ungrateful for My favours, My chastisement is terrible." [Surah Ibrahim 14:7]

In the above verse, Allah promises more to those who thank Him and are grateful to Him for having been blessed. But along with it comes a warning too: "But if you are ungrateful for My favours, My chastisement is terrible.

Allah tests His servants by giving them more even without asking to see whether they are grateful to Him or boast to others of their own abilities due to which they are being better than others. When such an approach of being ungrateful starts to take place, it invokes Allah's wrath and needless to mention "Allah's chastisement is terrible."

So always be grateful and thankful to Allah for it will usher in more blessings to you and your family. And do not forget to help others who have been blessed less as Allah has blessed us for we never truly deserved His bounties.

Remembering Allah
No matter in which condition you may be, never forget to remember Allah. The more you remember Allah, the more He will remember you:

فَاذۡكُرُوۡنِىۡٓ اَذۡكُرۡكُمۡ وَاشۡکُرُوۡا لِىۡ وَلَا تَكۡفُرُوۡنِ
"So remember Me and I shall remember you; give thanks to Me and do not be ungrateful to Me for My favours." [Surah Al Baqarah 2: 152]‏  

The above quoted verse says it all and is an add up to what has been written earlier. Those who remember Allah, they will be reciprocated accordingly. In fact remembering Allah is thanking Him so as not being ungrateful to Him for His favours. Offering prayers five times a day no matter where one may is the best form of thanking Allah. 

Praying (Dua)
Dua (prayer) is the most powerful tool in the hands of a true Muslim to invoke Allah's pleasures and goodwill. Those who profusely pray to allah whenever in need or even otherwise are never returned empty handed:

وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادۡعُوۡنِىۡۤ اَسۡتَجِبۡ لَـكُمۡؕ اِنَّ الَّذِيۡنَ يَسۡتَكۡبِرُوۡنَ عَنۡ عِبَادَتِىۡ سَيَدۡخُلُوۡنَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِيۡنَ
"Your Lord said: “Pray to Me, and I will accept your prayers. Surely those who wax too proud to worship Me shall enter Hell, utterly abased.” [Surah Mu'min 40:60]

Allah categorically says here that "you should not pray to others but pray to Me." To understand the spirit of this verse well, three points should be comprehended properly:
  • First, man should pray only to Allah and not the wordily deities who are themselves dependent upon Allah's mercy. Pray to the One Who is All- Hearing and All-Seeing and is Possessor of supernatural powers. And the real motive of prayer for man is the internal feeling that the natural means and resources of the material world are not enough to remove any of his troubles and to fulfill any of his needs, or are not proving to be enough. Therefore, a true believer must invoke that Being even without having seen Him; he invokes Him at all times, at all places, and under all circumstances; he invokes Him in solitude, aloud as well as in a low voice, and even in the depths of his heart. He does so inevitably on the basis of the belief that that Being is watching him everywhere, is also hearing whatever he has in his heart, and possesses such absolute powers that, it can come to the help of the supplicant wherever he is, and can help him out of every trouble and difficulty. After having known this truth about the prayer, it remains no longer difficult for man to understand that the one who invokes another than Allah for help, commits shirk absolutely and purely and clearly, for he believes those attributes to be belonging to the other being, which only belong to Allah. Had he not believed the other being to be an associate of Allah in the divine attributes, he would never have even thought of invoking it for help.
  • Second, one should fully understand that man’s merely thinking about a being that it is the possessor of powers and authority, does not necessitate that it should actually become possessor of the powers and authority. Being possessor of powers and authority is a factual matter, which is not dependent on somebody’s understanding or not understanding it. The one who is actually the Possessor of the powers will in any case remain the Possessor whether man regards Him so or not. And the one who is not in reality the possessor, will not be able to have any share whatever in the powers only because man has believed it to be possessing the powers. There is none else in this Universe, who may have any power to hear the prayers and to answer them or reject them. Those who entertain the belief that some prophets, saints, angels, jinns, planets or imaginary gods also are shareholders in the powers, the reality will not change in any way whatsoever. The Owner will remain the Owner and the helpless servants will remain the servants.
  • Thirdly, the one who invokes others than Allah behaves like the supplicant who takes his petition to a government office, but leaving aside the real officer who has authority, presents it before one of the other supplicants who may be present there with his petition, and then starts imploring him humbly, saying: you possess all the powers, and yours is the only authority here; so, you alone can fulfill my needs. Such a conduct, in the first place, is in itself highly foolish, but in a case like this it also amounts to high insolence, because the real officer who has the authority, is present and before his very eyes applications and petitions are being made before another, apart from him. Then this ignorance and folly reaches its height when the person before whom the petition is being presented makes the petitioner understand over and over again that he himself is a petitioner like him and possesses no power at all, and that the real officer who has the powers is present, and he should make his petition before him. But in spite of this counsel and warning, the foolish person goes on saying: You are my lord, you alone can fulfill my need.
Keeping these three things in view, one should try to understand what Allah has said here: Call upon Me, I shall answer your prayers, it is for Me to accept them.

In the verse above, Dua (prayer) and ibadat (worship) have been used as synonyms. The prayer of the first sentence has been called worship in the second. This makes it explicit that prayer itself is worship, rather the essence of worship.

According to Numan bin Bashir, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The prayer is the very essence of worship. Then he recited this verse. (Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Abu Daud, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Ibn Abu Hatim, Ibn Jarir). According to Anas, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Prayer is the marrow of worship. (Tirmidhi). Abu Hurairah says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah becomes angry with him who does not ask Him for anything. (Tirmidhi).

It would be pertinent to mention here the enigma that often causes confusion in the minds is also resolved. In connection with prayer, people say that when the evil or the good destiny is in the control of Allah and whatever He has already decreed in accordance with His dominant wisdom and expedience has to take place inevitably. What is then the use of the prayer? This is a serious misunderstanding which destroys the importance of prayer from the heart of man, and with this false notion even if man prays, his prayer would be soulless. The above verse of the Quran removes this misunderstanding in two ways:
  • In the first place, Allah says in clear words: Call upon Me: I will answer your prayers. This proves that fate or destiny is not something which, God forbid, might have tied the hands of Allah Himself also, and the powers to answer the prayer might have been withdrawn from Him. The creatures have no power to avert or change the decrees of Allah: but Allah Himself certainly has the power to change His decrees and decisions on hearing a servant’s prayer and petition. 
  • The other thing that has been stated in this verse is that whether a prayer is accepted or not, it is never without an advantage. The servant by presenting his petition before his Lord and by praying to Him acknowledges His Lordship and Supremacy and admits his own servitude and helplessness before Him. This expression of servitude is in itself worship, rather the essence of worship of whose reward the servant will in no case be deprived, irrespective of whether he is granted the particular thing for which he had prayed or not.
The aspect of prayer (dua) is explained in the sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Salman Farsi relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Nothing can avert destiny but the prayer. (Tirmidhi). That is, no one has the power to change the decisions of Allah but Allah Himself can change His decisions, and this happens when the servant prays to Him.

However, while praying one must be very mindful of one's language. Abu Hurairah says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Whenever one of you prays, he should not say: O God, forgive me if You so please, show me mercy if You so please, grant me provisions if You so please, but he should say definitely: O God, fulfill my such and such need. (Bukhari).

There the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Pray to Allah with the certainty that He will answer it. (Tirmidhi). The servant’s prayer is granted provided that he does not pray for a sin or for severing connections with the kindred. 

Continuous Astaghfar [Repentance]
"Astaghfar" means to pray to Allah that He may protect the supplicant from the evil consequences and poisonous influences of His transgressions and misdeeds, both in this world and the hereafter.

وَمَا كَانَ اللّٰهُ لِيُعَذِّبَهُمۡ وَاَنۡتَ فِيۡهِمۡ​ؕ وَمَا كَانَ اللّٰهُ مُعَذِّبَهُمۡ وَهُمۡ يَسۡتَغۡفِرُوۡنَ‏ 
"But Allah was not to chastise them while you are in their midst; nor was Allah going to chastise them while they sought His forgiveness." [Surah Anfal 8:33]

Asking for forgiveness of Allah is to accept that one has sinned or done a bad deed that may have hurt others. But repentance  / astaghfar means taking a solemn pledge of not repeating the sin again. Those who recognize that they have been negligent and heedless and have been guilty of iniquity, and thus seek Allah's forgiveness and strive to reform themselves are one of the most liked servants of Allah. For they not only acknowledge their sins and ask for forgiveness, but also pledge to reform themselves so as not to repeat any such act that displeases Allah.

Allah promises the believers that those who wholeheartedly confess and sincerely repent, would be forgiven:
فَمَنۡ تَابَ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِ ظُلۡمِهٖ وَاَصۡلَحَ فَاِنَّ اللّٰهَ يَتُوۡبُ عَلَيۡهِؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِيۡمٌ‏ 
But whosoever repents after his crime and does righteous good deeds (by obeying Allah), then verily, Allah will pardon him (accept his repentance). Verily, Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful." [Surah al-Maa’idah 5:39]  
Usually Muslims say "Astaghfirullah" when they see someone doing an utterly bad deed. Astaghfirullah  literally translates to "I seek forgiveness in Allah". But remember, as explained earlier, forgiveness is the first step, which must be followed by repentance for without pledging wholeheartedly not to reform oneself, asking for forgiveness bears no meaning.

So what do we do when we err, sin or do a wrong thing? Here are four steps one should so straightaway:
  • Ask forgiveness from the one who we have harmed and try to make good the loss so incurred to him
  • Beg for mercy and forgiveness from Allah (glorified and exalted be He).
  • Regret from the heart of the heart for the sin so committed.
  • Refrain from re-committing a sin or misdeed immediately.
  • Take a solemn pledge never to return to any sin or wrongdoing again.
Here it must be remembered that the sin / wrongdoing or transgression involved infringes on the rights of other (s), then one must return the infringed rights back to the individual to whom they belong. And then thereafter, try one's level best not to sin, err, or do a thing that is contrary to teachings of Islam.

Remember no priest, saint or a holy man can listen to your confession and assure you of your forgiveness. This matter is directly between the sinner and the God. For Allah is the Most Ever Forgiving and in fact All Forgiving. It is for this attribute of Allah that He is called Al Ghaffar  (الغفار) - The All-Forgiving, The Absolver,  Al-Ghafur (الغفور) - The Forgiving, The Pardoner, Al-'Afuw (العفو) - The Pardoner 

For details please read our earlier post on Repentance which also contains an enlightening commentary on "How do we know that our repentance has been accepted."

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