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The World – The Prison for a Mu’min


(Highlights of Mufti Ebrahim Salejee’s majlis - Saturday 29th August)

1. A buzurg once passed by a Hindu yogi who had denounced the world. The yogi told him that the hadeeth says that the world is a prison for a Muslim and a paradise for a kaafir, but then look at my condition; I do not have proper clothing, a proper home, etc. On the other hand, look at yourself; you have so many attendants and so much of wealth, etc. Allah Ta‘ala allowed the buzurg to perform a karaamat and he told the yogi to place his foot over his. After some time, he asked the yogi, “What did you see?” He replied that he saw Jannat and Jahannum. So he asked the yogi, “Is Jannat better or that which I am enjoying now? He replied that what you have, seems to be like a prison compared to Jannat. He then asked the yogi, “And what about Jahannum compared to what you have?” He replied that what I have seems to be like paradise compared to Jahannum. So this is a relative thing. Hazrat Moulana Thanwi (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) explains this hadeeth in a different way. He explains that Jannat is a place where there is no anxiety, stress, and worry, etc., and Jahannum is a place where there is stress, fear, etc. Hence, a Mu’min is not relaxed in this world. He is not familiar with its surroundings. 

It is like when you visit someone who is not hospitable to you. You will feel uneasy and unfamiliar, and you will want to get out of there. Similarly, a Mu’min does not experience total satisfaction and comfort, even if he is in the height of his sin. He understands that he is not supposed to be around there because he knows that he does not belong there. On the other hand, a kaafir feels extremely relaxed and complacent of the world. The focus of a Mu’min is totally different compared to the focus of a kaafir. This can be compared to a prison. One is the prisoner who is behind bars and the other is the warden. Both are in the same place, but the prisoner is uneasy and tense, and the warden is at total ease. Hence, in whichever situation a Mu’min is, he will not get total satisfaction. This world was never faithful to anybody. Sometimes, in one go it takes a person by surprise and leaves him without anything. Therefore, a Mu’min does not need to worry if he does not feel relaxed and easy.

2. It is not going to happen that there will be no trial in this world. The allegiance with Allah Ta‘ala is that of loyalty. In a marriage, both the husband and wife look for loyalty in each another and check whether there is any breach in this allegiance of theirs. If one finds the other breaching the allegiance then the confidence and love is broken down to the extent that one will no more be concerned of the other. So doesn’t Allah Ta‘ala have the right to look for the same in you? There are mainly two things that Allah Ta‘ala wants to find in us, truth and honesty. The examination of this world is going to be in our truthfulness and consistency. Allah Ta‘ala will watch the pattern of our worship; in constraints you were pleading and turning to Us, but what about in the times of prosperity. Allah Ta‘ala is the only being who has the true right to test us. These trials are going to come in different forms. One will be in things that challenge the standards of justice. Allah Ta‘ala is going to see your stance in the face of such challenges?

3. Hijrat is where you do not find the environment to be deeni-friendly and you then move over to a place whose environment is deeni-friendly so that you will be able to practise your deen without any difficulty and obstruction. The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) were commanded to make hijrat from Makkah Mukarramah to Madeenah Munawwarah. It was indeed a difficult task. Imagine the amount of grief Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had experienced when leaving Makkah Mukarramah. On that occasion, the verse of Surah Qasas were revealed: “innallazee faradha ‘alaykal qur'aana . . .” informing Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) that Allah Ta‘ala will bring you back. We thus find that not long thereafter, in the 8th Hijri, Makkah Mukarramah was conquered. Other Ambiyaa (‘alaihimus salaam) faced similar situations. Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) was forced to leave Egypt and seek asylum in Madyan, but Allah Ta‘ala also promised him that We will bring you back with respect and honour. The same had happened with Yusuf (‘alaihis salaam). Thus, all that we need to see is whether our niyyat is correct and whether we are committed and concerned.

4. We have all heard of the story of the pomegranate orchard and how a change in the king’s intention caused the fruit to change. The incident conveys to us the lesson of the might and power of niyyat. Therefore, one should not be over concerned about quantity. Rather, if you have ikhlaas and concentrate on it, the little that you have will turn out to be much. It will be sufficient for you and for others. Otherwise without it, nothing will be sufficient and enough, no matter how much you have. Hence, trials in this world are going to come in different forms.

5. A person once saw a beautiful girl and he began following her. When she noticed this she turned around and asked him the reason for following her. So he replied that he was infatuated by her beauty. She thought for a moment and then said that her sister who was more beautiful was still behind. This person turned around to look. As he turned she gave him a tight slap saying that you claim that you love me, but you have proven that you are not sincere. Hence, Allah Ta‘ala wants to see how truthful we are. Allah Ta‘ala explains this same aspect of truth in different words: “in tasbiroo wa tattaqoo”. One is taqwa which can be translated as loyalty and general concern. The level of taqwa can be noticed through one’s behaviour. Thus, Allah Ta‘ala wants to see whether you have a genuine concern or is it seasonal, only during the month of Ramadhaan or on Jumu‘ah etc. Your wife will demand the same from you. She will not tolerate you having two people in your heart at the same time. Allah Ta‘ala wants that our hearts be for Him only. So don’t connect and tie your heart to this world, for it betrays its people. Therefore, give your heart to the One who created comforts and Jannat. When one will do this then physically he will be here, but mentally and spiritually he will be in Jannat. It is like a young man who led a pure life without getting involved in anything that is illicit. If his friends decide to discuss with him regarding the latest soccer news and the various teams on his wedding day, will he ever be interested in listening to them. Though he may physically be with them, but where will his heart and mind be? If this will be our outlook, our namaaz will no more be like how we presently do it with just the motions. It will be a reality and full of life.

6. Another trial in this world will be that of adversity and prosperity. A see-saw has to happen in this world. You will have to go down to go up. In order to get to Jannat, you will have to go down onto the earth in complete humility. This trial will sometimes be between illness and good health, sometimes between fear and security, but in all of this, we will need to look at the lives of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum). How did they confront situations? In the time of ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), an army was sent to Egypt under the command of Hazrat ‘Amr bin ‘Aas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). They had laid siege to a fort for one month, but there was no breakthrough. Hence, they asked for reinforcement. Hazrat ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied that he was upset with them because they lacked in taqwa and tafweedh – assigning their affair to Allah Ta‘ala. Therefore, there will be no reinforcement. When they received the reply, they went back to the drawing board and began making taubah, etc. and correcting their niyyat. When they corrected their alignment with Allah Ta‘ala they were able to run over the enemy and within a week they gained victory. Thus, the same Allah Ta‘ala that was then is now with us as well. Hence, we will also need to see whether we are aligned or not.

7. Just movement in itself is not ‘ibaadat. Sometimes not moving is ‘ibaadat, such as the incident of Uwais Qarni and the archers in Uhud. In essence, ‘ibaadat is to leave your thinking and see what does the sharee‘ah have to say. That is why the hadeeth says that the true muhaajir is the one who leaves out the displeasure of Allah Ta‘ala. Don’t worry about whether it is a small sin or a big sin and whether people will have anything to say or not. Sometimes people make the excuse that they have to indulge in the wrong because so and so aunty will get very angry if they do not do it. So the question is, is your tie with the aunty and family more important or the tie with Allah Ta‘ala. Tell them that you are not participating in the wrong and in the incorrect function or party, not because you don’t like them, but it is for these reasons that you cannot be with them. Your connection is primarily with Allah Ta‘ala, and all other relationships are secondary. If the next person gets displeased then it is not your fault, for you did whatever you did in order to please Allah Ta‘ala. In the process, if someone else gets displeased then he needs to correct himself.

8. The first thing that Allah Ta‘ala wants is taqwa and the other is consistency. It needs to be a constant pattern, not out of convenience. However, the question is, how do we get all this working? The first is “utlu maa oohiya ilayka minal kitaab” – Allah Ta‘ala does not say that recite the Quraan Shareef only to yourself, but it is general; recite it to yourself and pass it on to others. If everybody thinks like this and passes on the lessons of the Quraan

9. Shareef according to one’s means and to those who one can easily influence, then there is much that can be accomplished. However, the problem is that we think that this is the work of a few individuals or for one specific group of people. Whatever you can do, do that; cooperate and combine. This is the first part of the plan. The second point is “wa aqimis salaah” – establish salaah. The Quraan Shareef did not say ‘perform salaah’. Salaah has a certain property. It restrains one from evil. You will feel very uncomfortable in committing the evil, but the effect will only come if you follow the procedure. One will have to do four things: (1) Ensure that the salaah is read on time. (2) It is read with jamaat. (3) The postures are correct. (4) It is performed with complete khushoo’ and devotion. Gaining khushoo’ is not difficult. Sometimes people make it seem very difficult that you have to be so devoted that you cannot even hear what is happening around you. The simple meaning of khushoo’ is to feel the presence of Allah Ta‘ala or to engage the mind in a thought that will lead you to it, like thinking of Jannat or Jahannum etc. The thought will definitely decrease during the namaaz, but bring it up again. This is when the namaaz will be effective.

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