By Shaykh Faysal Ghazzaawee
Throughout all that a person of eemaan does, and no matter what circumstances he finds himself in, he will always remain dependent upon Allaah, his Creator and Guardian Lord. Allaah is the One who provides him with assistance, the One whom he must rely on, and the One to whom he must resort.
A true worshipping servant is one who remains humble towards Allaah and sincerely devoted to Him. When a servant of Allaah is consistently obedient to his Lord and maintains a strong connection with Him, that servant would be granted sound guidance, firm resolve, additional strength, direction to his Lord’s path, and adherence to his Lord’s religion.
The Prophet Hood (AS) (may Allaah grant him continued protection) told those to whom he was sent, “My people, if you seek your Lord’s forgiveness and repent to Him, He will send abundant rains for you and make you stronger than you already are. Thus, do not turn away, persisting in your transgression.” It should be noted that Hood (AS) told his people that Allaah would make you stronger than you already areh although his people were among the strongest of mankind.
Allaah informed us that they had even said about themselves, “Who is there that is stronger than us?” The Prophet Hood (AS) promised them that if they had sound beliefs and performed righteous deeds, Allaah would grant them additional strength. It can be understood from the aforementioned aayah that when Allah’s forgiveness is sought and sins are abandoned, that is a means to attaining provision, prosperity, and increased strength. Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy upon him) commented that when someone consistently seeks Allah’s forgiveness, Allaah would enable him to attain provision with ease, facilitate matters for him, protect him, and preserve his strength.
Faatimah (may Allaah be pleased with her) once asked the Prophet (may Allaah grant him commendation and protection) for a servant, but he told her as well as her husband, Sayyadina Ali (RA), ”Should I not direct the two of you to something even better than what you requested? When you go to bed, say ’subhaanallaah’ (Allaah is perfect in every way) thirty-three times, say ’al-hamdu lillaah’ (all praise is due to Allaah) thirty-three times, and say ’allaahu akbar’ (Allaah is the greatest) thirty-four times. That would be better for both of you than a servant”. This was collected by al-Bukhaaree from Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him).
Thus, the Prophet (may Allaah grant him commendation and protection) directed his daughter, Faatimah (may Allaah be pleased with her), to those words of Thikr which would provide her with physical strength and enable her to do even more than a servant would be able to. Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy upon him) commented that the statement in the Hadeeth “Should I not direct the two of you to something even better than what you requested?” shows that when someone is consistent in making Thikr of Allaah, that person would be granted even greater strength than could be obtained from a servant working for him, or matters would be made easier for him to take care of by himself than they would be for a servant.
Dear Muslims, Allaah’s obedient servants are aware and certain of the fact that Thikr of Allaah is a source of nourishment for them, and that the need their souls have for nourishment is even greater than the need of their bodies. In fact, when their souls are nourished, their bodies attain strength as well. Thus, their hearts remain attached to Allaah and their tongues constantly mention Him. In Saheeh Muslim, there is a hadeeth from Jaabir ibn Samurah (may Allaah be pleased with him) who narrated that when the Prophet (may Allaah grant him commendation and protection) finished praying Fajr, he would sit until the sun had risen quite a bit.”4 Abul-‘Abbaas al-Qurtubee (may Allaah have mercy upon him) commented that what was done by the Prophet (may Allaah grant him commendation and protection) shows that it is mustahabb (i.e. an optional yet encouraged righteous deed) for a person to remain in his place of prayer after completing Fajr in order to engage in Thikr and du’aa’ until sunrise. That interval is a time during which prayers are not to be performed. It is an interval that comes after a prayer that was witnessed, and before the activities of the day begin. Thus, Thikr and du’aa’ at that time can take place while one has a clear heart, an attentive mind, and comprehension of what he is saying. Those are factors due to which one can hope that his du’aa’ would be accepted and his words of Thikr would be heard.”
Al-Waleed ibn Muslim said, “I saw al-Awzaa’ee remain in his place of prayer engaged in Thikr of Allaah until sunrise. He would narrate to us that this was the practice of the Salaf (the foremost generations of Islaam prior to their time), and that once the sun had risen, they would interact with each other and engage in even more Thikr of Allaah by learning about His religion.”
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy upon him) related an encounter he had with his teacher, ibn Taymiyyah (may Allaah have mercy upon him). Ibn al-Qayyim said, “I was once present with Shaykh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyyah when he prayed Fajr and then sat engaged in Thikr of Allaah, the Most Exalted, until near the middle of the day. He then turned to me and said, ‘This is my morning meal. If I do not have this morning meal, I would lose my strength,’ or a statement to that effect.”
When a person accustoms himself to this deed and begins his day devoted to his Guardian Lord with words of Thikr, humble before his Lord and desirous of His reward, what do you think the rest of that person’s day would be like, what state would he be in, and how much vitality would he have?
It is an established fact that Thikr strengthens the heart, as well as the body in general. Thus, what would the result be when Thikr by way of words is combined with Thikr by way of deeds? Consider the night prayer, for instance. It combines both those forms of Thikr. In fact, it combines many forms of Thikr: reciting Qur’aan, making du’aa’, glorifying Allaah, and so on. There is no doubt that all of those increase the strength of a person’s body and soul. The Prophet (may Allaah grant him commendation and protection) was keen to perform prayer at night. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (may Allaah grant him commendation and protection) would stand to pray at night until cracks appeared on his feet. Thus, ‘Aa’ishah asked, “Messenger of Allaah, you exert yourself this much although your past and future sins have been forgiven?” He replied, “Should I not desire to be a grateful worshipping servant?” This was collected by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim.
This act of worship nourishes and strengthens the soul, and it also trains one to have strong resolve. Thus, it is no surprise to find the remarkable level of perseverance which the Prophet (may Allaah grant him commendation and protection) had in dealing with difficulties he encountered in Allaah’s path, confronting turmoil and harm, and facing the schemes of enemies. Allaah, the Most Exalted, said to him,
“We know that your heart becomes constricted because of all they say. Nonetheless, glorify and praise your Lord, and be among those who bow down to Him in prostration.” In other words: place full reliance upon Allaah, your Creator, since He will suffice you and grant you victory over them. Thus, remain steadfast in Thikr of Allaah, praising Him, proclaiming His perfection, and worshipping Him; and all of those happen when you establish prayer as prescribed. This is understood from the statement of Allaah, “Glorify and praise your Lord, and be among those who bow down to Him in prostration.” As a result, when any matter distressed Allaah’s Messenger (may Allaah grant him commendation and protection), he would pray. Prayer provides a person with the most effective assistance in remaining steadfast. Allaah told His Messenger (may Allaah grant him commendation and protection), “Recite and follow what has been revealed to you of this Qur’aan, and establish prayer as prescribed. Indeed, prayer in that manner prevents people from immorality and wrongdoing. Furthermore, Thikr of Allaah is greatest.”
In addition, Allaah consoled His Prophet Muhammad (may Allaah grant him commendation and protection) by informing him about the example set by another righteous servant and chosen Prophet of Allaah. It was the example of strength in worship set by the Prophet Daawood (may Allaah grant him continued protection). Allaah, the Almighty, said, “Patiently bear what they say and remember Our servant, the Prophet Daawood, who was endowed with power. He was constantly penitent and he consistently repented to Allaah.”
As-Sa’dee (may Allaah have mercy upon him) commented that the lessons and wisdom from the narrative about Daawood include the fact that Allaah, the Most Exalted, commends and loves for His servants to obey Him with strength: both spiritual and physical strength. That strength allows for performing acts of obedience properly and plentifully, as well as having the effects of those acts come to fruition. This cannot happen while in a state of weakness and lack of strength. Additionally, a servant of Allaah has to pursue the necessary means to his objective. He must not be complacent or lazy since those diminish one’s strength and weaken the soul.
Our Prophet (may Allaah grant him commendation and protection) did not restrict himself to only one method of strengthening his connection with Allaah. Rather, he used various methods. In Saheeh al-Bukhaaree, there is a hadeeth narrated by Aboo Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) in which he said, “Allaah’s Messenger (may Allaah grant him commendation and protection) prohibited people from connecting one day of fasting to the next without eating anything in between. As a result, one of the men among the Muslims said, ‘Messenger of Allaah, you connect one day of fasting to the next without eating in between.’ He replied, ‘Who among you is like me? Throughout the night, my Lord provides me with food and drink’.” This means that he remained occupied contemplating the magnificence of his Lord, and nourished by the knowledge, solace, and devotion which came from that rather than from food and drink. Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy upon him) commented that those forms of nourishment can be far greater than physical nourishment of the body. If a person is genuine in his love for Allaah and has experienced that nourishment, that person would know that the nourishment given to the heart and soul can very well suffice a person from needing many forms of physical nourishment, especially in the case of someone who is overjoyed by achieving his utmost objective which is drawing nearer to Allaah whom he loves more than all else.
Servants of Allaah, Thikr is a foundation in all acts of worship, and it is the easiest form of worship for a person of eemaan to engage in. Thus, it would only be right for a worshipping servant to fulfil Allaah’s command in which He said, “People of eemaan, engage in much Thikr of Allaah.” Ibn ‘Atiyyah (may Allaah have mercy upon him) commented that Allaah did not place any limit on that because of how easy it is for His servant to do as well as how immense of a reward it merits.
Dear Muslims, the heart has certain nourishment that it requires in order for it to remain strong. That nourishment takes the form of having correct beliefs about Allaah and performing righteous deeds. The more of that a person has, the stronger his heart would be and the more steadfast he would be in adhering to the truth.
True life is life of the heart. However, the heart’s life cannot come to completion without doing the deeds that please Allaah. The Prophet (may Allaah grant him commendation and protection) said, “The likeness of someone who engages in Thikr of his Lord versus someone who does not, is that of the living verses the deceased.” This was collected by al-Bukhaaree.
When the heart has a connection with Allaah and constantly returns to Him, it will attain unimaginable nourishment and delight. However, when a person is heedless of his Lord and diverted from obeying Him, that person’s heart will die. Thus, without obedience to Allaah, a person’s heart will not find rest and his mind will not find peace.
By Allaah’s permission, the acts of worship that a servant of Allaah performs are means to providing him with peace, perseverance, and steadfastness; ridding him of distress, frustration, and sorrow; and rescuing him from whatever suffering he may feel due to the adversities of this world.
I say this much and I implore Allaah to forgive me and all of you. Thus, seek His forgiveness as He is certainly the Most Forgiving, the Bestower of mercy.