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Being Mindful of Allah Ta‘ala

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(Highlights of Mufti Ebrahim Salejee’s majlis - Saturday 17th October)

1. Hazrat Dawood and Hazrat Sulaimaan (‘alaimas salaam) were great kings of their times and it is quite popular of Hazrat Sulaimaan (‘alaihis salaam) that he was from among those people who ruled over the entire world. Perhaps why Allah Ta‘ala speaks of them is to impress on us that in riches and wealth you can still be a devout Muslim. Many a times, we misinterpret and say ‘chasing and running after the dunya’, but we do not understand what we are speaking about. Moulana Room (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) says that what is meant by chasing after the dunya, and that a person is soaked in the dunya? He says that the essence of it is: ‘az khuda ghaafil budan’ – to become unmindful of Allah Ta‘ala. 

There can be two situations, a person is in a deeni environment but he is totally unmindful. For example, I am in namaaz and I am thinking that I have to read very well because the trustees are listening to me and proportionately they will package my salary. Outwardly, it has the cover of deen, but really, it is dunya. So dunya means to be unmindful of Allah Ta‘ala no matter what the situation may be. Sometimes it can be the other way around, where you can be in the midst of your worldly occupation but you are not unmindful of Allah Ta‘ala. An accountant is going through the client’s books, and he is being honest, directing the client correctly, coming to right conclusions and he has the consciousness of Allah Ta‘ala. By consciousness of Allah Ta‘ala, it means that you have the consciousness of Allah Ta‘ala with all His great qualities of compassion and kindness, power and might. A person thinks that when Allah Ta‘ala is kind and compassionate to me then I have to be fair to the client as well. This is what has been entrusted to me. If I am not going to be honest with him then I will be answerable to Allah Ta‘ala. Outwardly it seems that he is in dunya, but really he is in the remembrance of Allah Ta‘ala. This is not confined to an accountant; it can be in any situation where one has the awareness of Allah Ta‘ala with His greatness and glory. You could have a doctor who is seeing to a patient, but he is not taking advantage. He directs him correctly and he does not drag him unnecessarily. Otherwise, the one who is unmindful he will tell the patient that you have to come for a second and then a third visit. So now you have firstly been deprived of the blessings of Allah Ta‘ala, and secondly you are earning the curses of the patient.

2. Allah Ta‘ala speaks of Dawood (‘alaihis salaam) that He commanded the mountains and birds to glorify and make the zikr of Allah Ta‘ala with Dawood (‘alaihis salaam). This brings us to an important point, doing zikr collectively. This means each person individually doing zikr together at one time, not in chorus. When it is done in chorus then the concern is more in keeping with the rhythm and words rather than the remembrance of Allah Ta‘ala, whereas zikr is meant to remember Allah Ta‘ala. If in the initial stages some buzurgaan-e-deen do it as a manner of instruction as to how to go about doing the zikr then for the beginning it will be overlooked. It is like those children who are asked to repeat a nursery rhyme after the teacher. However, you cannot go on depending on that instruction. You will need to go forward by yourself.

3. Sometimes the nazams that are sung in the jalsahs are actually Arabic nursery rhymes. This then makes you begin to understand that more than the meaning, the focus is on the voice and tune. At the level of a nursery, it will be alright, but you will not sing it in the presence of adults. For adults, you will need to speak of greater things. What happens in many of these songs is that sometimes you create the impression that you are already there, and what you are experiencing, others are not experiencing. So the right thing is to first verify and ask regarding your actions. When you go on mere imitation and as a style then it will take you very long to reach the goal. You find children imitating their parents when they perform namaaz, but they are innocently doing it. Adults cannot imitate.

4. In the khanqah of Thanabawan during the time of Haaji Imdaadullah (rahmatullahi ‘alaih), someone started singing a song with the zikr. Hearing this, Moulana Gangohi (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) reprimanded that person saying that you are either making zikr or doing a qawwaali. He later regretted responding in this spontaneous manner. However, Haaji Imadaadullah (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) commended him for the reprimand. Yet on another occasion, someone while making zikr went into a certain state and began clapping his hands. Moulana warned those around who thought of going to stop this person, that dare they try to stop him. So it is incorrect for us to just imitate someone if we do not know the reality of the situation. We are still scratching the surface. We are not acquainted with these related matters since we have not spent much time in the association of our elders. Imitation will fetch the price of imitation, and if it is genuine it will fetch its price even though it may be broken.

5. The zikr of the mountain was not an echo. Sometimes you get modernists, etc. making their own tafseer. The right tafseer is that which came from the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum). Someone was enquiring regarding the verse of the Quraan which states that the Muslims, Jews, Sabians and Christians, who believe in Allah Ta‘ala and the last day will have no fear and they will be granted Jannah. Anyone who just looks into a translation will ask that if a Christian has got faith and his conduct is good in his manners and ways then will he qualify for Jannah? However, what he has failed to understand is that imaan is a technical word used in the Quraan. The Quraan speaks of salaah which also has a literal meaning and a technical meaning. The literal meaning is du‘aa. If you go by it then you can make a huge hue and cry and refuse to go for jumu‘ah, for you can say that salaah means du‘aa. Hence, whether you are on the road or wherever it may be, you do not need to get off and perform your salaah. Therefore, you will have to understand the real meaning from the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum). Unfortunately, when we translate and explain like this then people have the tendency to say that you are giving an Indian brand of Islam. When you speak of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) and their ways then that is Indian, and if you go in a western line then that is Islamic, it is correct, and you must go by it. The reason for this is that they are overawed by these western nations. Whatever comes from that end they hold it in esteem and respect. Zakaat also has a literal and a technical meaning. The literal meaning is growth and purification. Hence, someone can conveniently say that since I am engaged in the purification of my soul, therefore I am discharging my zakaat. The technical meaning is that which was taught by the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) and flowed on. Hence, whoever conformed to it we will go by it whether he was an Arab or non-Arab. It does mean that if a person is Arabic speaking or outwardly seems to be Islamically educated, then everything that he says is acceptable, even if it be western ideology and thinking that he is presenting. The criterion is that which conforms to the teaching of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum). Likewise, imaan has its technical meaning. If you say that imaan is only faith then Shaitaan also believes in Allah Ta‘ala and he also believes in Qiyaamah. So he can also say that why am I being dispatched to Jahannum? Therefore, imaan has a technical meaning and its true meaning has to be understood from the teachings of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum). Our faith has to be in conformity with the faith of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum).

6. So this zikr of Dawood (‘alaihis salaam) was not an echo because this is not exclusive to Dawood (‘alaihis salaam). Hence, his exclusive feature was that the mountains used to make the zikr with him. The Quraan and hadeeth encourage making zikr together – Wasbir nafsaka ma‘allazeena yad‘oona rabbahumyad‘oona can also mean zikr. The hadeeth explains that Allah Ta‘ala said: “Whoever remembers Me individually, I will remember him by Myself and if he remembers me in a gathering then I will remember him in a gathering better than his i.e. the gathering of the angels.” In Tahtaawi it appears that there is ijmaa’ (consensus) in this type of zikr provided it does not disturb those around.

Why is this recommended and encouraged? (1) When you make zikr very softly or in your mind then your mind will go into some other thought and you will not even realise it. Compared to making with the tongue, then although your mind may wander about but at least one organ is still engaged in the zikr of Allah Ta‘ala. (2) Your heart also wants to listen to something and more especially when it is done in a nice voice. (3) When zikr is made together it creates a different feeling altogether. Many a times after Ramadhaan you get this common complaint that people feel like everything that they gained in Ramadhaan is lost. Hazrat Shaikh (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) explains that in order to keep the momentum a few people living in the same area should get together and daily engage in zikr. If that is also not possible, then why don’t you sit with your wife and children? So how is this feeling created? From the entire group, one person may have a high level of the love of Allah Ta‘ala; another has sincerity and the purity of heart, etc. Now when all of them will be sitting together and making zikr the good of each one will rub off onto the next. The effect of the company must rub onto you. A person goes out in jamaat, especially when it is with people who know what they need to do, so it leaves a mark on the newcomer. Hence, the company has done good to you.

A second gift that Allah Ta‘ala bestowed Hazrat Dawood (‘alaihis salaam) with was that “We softened iron for him.” Softening steel and metal was a mu’jizah and miracle for him. It did not mean that Allah Ta‘ala taught him how to soften it with fire and heat, etc. Every Nabi is a lesson of emulation, but it is just that we need to look deep into them. Allah Ta‘ala says that these are rightly guided servants and follow them. Allah Ta‘ala could have said that follow the Quraan directly, but what Allah Ta‘ala wants is for us to follow those who are rightly guided. In the time of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) the new Muslims were asked to come over to Madeenah Munawwarah. Had Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) wished he could have compiled a manual and sent it out to all of them. But the benefit of company is that the colours of the company rub onto you; the right Islamic spirit will flow into you. Likewise, if you do not have the presence of Allah Ta‘ala to the required level then how are you going to promote deen. Surahs Muzzammil and Muddath-thir explain this point very well. They show that the duty of the day is to work among people and the duty at night is to remember your Rabb and tabattul – to break away from everybody and entirely turn yourself to Allah Ta‘ala. When you plant a tree, the fruit is the objective. If it does not produce anything, you will chop it down. For the fruit to have value you will need the correct taste and texture, and the outside must look nice, not having any stains and blemish. If both are right then you will get the right price. If it looks good, but it has no taste, will people buy it? So you need both aspects. By the same token da’wat and deeni work have an inner and an outer dimension. The outer is making ta’leem and meeting different people, etc. The inner dimension is that you turn to Allah Ta‘ala and cut yourself away from everything else, giving Him your undivided attention. If your daughter is married but her husband does not give her his undivided attention, how will you feel? So when Allah Ta‘ala says that He wants our undivided attention and we make excuses how will Allah Ta‘ala take it? Without this tabattul, the deeni work will just be a formality. It is a body without a soul. The production will be very little. So at least one and a half to two hours must be spent with undivided attention to Allah Ta‘ala. Nowadays what happens is that we give the left over time from here and there. If we do the same at home, will our wives appreciate it?

For everything you need someone to teach you how to go about doing it. Hence, for zikr as well you will need someone to teach you how to get it right. Without it, your work will just be outer play. Whereas, from the three things that Jibreel (‘alaihis salaam) asked Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) one was ihsaan. We all understand the need to learn imaan and Islam, but what about learning ihsaan. Ihsaan is the inner self. Like in Islam, the outer actions have to be taught, then is this ihsaan so cheap that we do not need to learn it.. 

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