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Valuing Time and Preparing for the Life After Death

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(Summary of Mufti Ebrahim Salejee’s majlis - Saturday 2nd April)

The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) are the most perfect examples for all mankind right until the end of time. They were handpicked for the companionship of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), so the best for the best. Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was the best, hence his companions were the best. You won’t find anybody that had excelled as the Sahaabah had excelled. In order to be able to benefit from anybody one needs to have that level of confidence. When you have that level of confidence then you will want to invest. But if you don’t have that level of confidence then you don’t want to invest. 

That happens in anything and everything. You open up a business then you want to spend when you have that level of confidence, that this is a real fortune so you want to pay a fortune for that. But if you are a bit shaky and you are not clear then you would not want to waste your money. You will try it out. You will say that don’t put your eggs in one basket, you will try here, and try there because you are not very confident. And if you are over confident then you will spend. Hence, we will draw from the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) in proportion to our confidence in them. That is why you will have situations where people are striving and going out in the path of Allah Ta‘ala, then as long as they have one Sahaabi or some Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) around that time then they are doing very well. They are going out again and have some Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) around then then they are doing very well. When all those Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) are out of the equation now it is a problem. So it is the same chain that carries on after the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum), then the Taabi‘een, Tab‘e Taabi‘een. You have got a senior person, it is a protection and fortress for you, but when the senior person is gone then you are exposed to problems. Our elders say that even a senior in dunyawi respects, you have your father, your mother or an elder in the family, then that elder in the family even in a dunya respect is a fort and protection. You will find a lot of things falling in place in the presence of that elder. But when that elder is out of the equation then you will not find that type of smoothness, that type of respect, you won’t find that type of confidence in the hearts and minds of people.

There were two Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma). They had an arrangement between themselves, that whenever they met they would read Surah wal-‘Asr to each another. They will not depart until and unless Surah wal-‘Asr was recited. There must have been something very magnificent and special in this surah for one to recite it to the other. Imaam Shafi‘ee (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) would count this surah as so dynamic and so comprehensive that he would say that if there was nothing else revealed of the Quraan but this surah, then it would suffice the entire humanity. So there must have been something very dynamic about this surah. Allah Ta‘ala commences this surah, wal-Asr – by the token of time, man is in a loss. In the words of Allah Ta‘ala there are no fancies and frills. It is work, focus and direction, so you need to contemplate and think of every word that Allah Ta‘ala has used. When we are talking then there are some fancies, thrills and frills, we will excite the person and if the audience is feeling a little sleepy you will have to make up a joke to get them up again. In the word of Allah Ta‘ala there isn’t such a thing, it is just work, focus and direction. Kalaamul mulooki mulookul kalaam – the words of the kings are the kings of words. Every word, every dot, every alphabet is important. Allah Ta‘ala swears by the token of time. Man is in a loss. So the oath and the subject that Allah Ta‘ala speaks of is time against loss. So that means that the most precious thing in your life is time. There isn’t anything as precious as time. For Allah Ta‘ala to take an oath and relate it to your loss, in other words it will turn around like this that the man who appreciates his time, he is a winner and the one who does not appreciate his time, he is a loser. So the choice is yours if you have understood what is time. Therefore the hadeeth says: Kullun yaghdu fa-baai‘un nafsahu ow moobiquhu – Everybody gets up in the morning then they put themselves up for sale. This life is not without an end, not without a goal, not without a purpose. People who talk of evolution etc. then the beginning of the mistake, where it started off, was that they did not want to believe in a creator or in a life after death because they speak of one thing evolving from one thing to another, going on and on. So they didn’t want to register death and when they didn’t want to register death they didn’t want to register a life after death. So when they didn’t want to register something after death, they brought up this thing of evolution. It is a cover up; it is in order to appease their conscience. So they had to create a story to appease and comfort their conscience. Allah Ta‘ala speaks about man: baseerah – he looks at himself, wa low alqaa ma‘aazeerah – he puts up a lot of excuses but he knows the rogue in him, he knows the thief in him. He will put up a lot of excuses but he will come back to this point that I don’t want to hear of anything beyond death. So I will have to give a cover up story, evolution, one species is evolving into another and so forth and so on. Mentally he is appeasing himself that don’t worry, after death you will evolve into something else and you will continue. So he had to give some type of mental relaxation and satisfaction to himself in order to escape the life after death.

Imaam Ghazaali (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) explains this concept so well. He was a philosopher and a great philosopher of his time, and up till now they recognise him for his philosophy whether it is Muslims or non-Muslims. So it is a beautiful statement that he made. There can be one of two situations, either there is a life after death or there is no life. If you did not believe in the life after death and it turned out to be life after death then you are really in for a massive problem, but if you believed in the life after death and there isn’t a life then you are not in any problem. You are covered in both ways. And here if you invested and believed in no life after death and it turned out that there is a life after then it is a massive problem, eternal problem, an irreversible problem. Hence the hadeeth says that when man gets up in the morning he puts himself up for trade. Hal adullukum ‘ala tijaarah – Allah Ta‘ala speaks of life and the winner in the life is the one who plans the life as a business. You don’t count it as futile and something vain. So you need to look at life as you will look at a business; you are serious about it, you are not doing it as a pastime, as a socialising event, rather you are doing it as a business. That is why He says: Hal adullukum ‘ala tijaarah – Must I show you a business? So Allah Ta‘ala wants you to treat life as a business. When a man is in business he does not want to hear anything; he does not want to take a call from his wife, from his child, from his near and dear one. He will say that don’t you know that I am in business now, I am in my office. Call me after office hours. He gets really irritable. You are in your profession and business, so you don’t want to take a call at that time because you know that it will disrupt you, it will disrupt your focus. You are in an important business deal. So Allah Ta‘ala says: Hal adullukum ‘ala tijaarah – Must I show you a business? So you put up yourself for sale. Once you put yourself up for sale then as long as you consider this as a business then fa mu’tiqun nafsahu ow moobiquhu – you will be in one of two situations. One is where a person gave in; he freed himself from all disaster and problems, hence he has taken himself on the path of Jannah and he has freed himself from all problems. And if he does not consider such a thing like life after death then fa moobiquhu – he has exposed himself to all types of disasters and problems. So when they likened life they likened life to a block of ice. Forget a freezer, apart from the freezer there is no way to preserve that ice. It is melting all the time. You can’t say stop it from melting or ask it to melt at a slower rate. It has got one tarteeb and system. It will go on melting. Exactly the same is life, it just melts away. And you cannot change it. It is the nature of the ice that it melts away. Your time, it just melts away. What has melted, you cannot get it back; so the value of time. There must be a reason why Allah Ta‘ala took an oath and He took an oath by the token of time. To show you the connection of your value to time; how do you relate to time?

One person was passing a qabrastaan. So as you have it that when you pass by a qabrastan then you make some du‘aa for the inmate of the grave and you recite some Quraan Shareef and you go on. This was a sunnah that was practised by Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), emphasised and practised. It is so important that it reminds you that you are going to be here just now. This morning I was thinking that we mislead our children. The way we carry on with our lives and conduct ourselves in front of our children and families; as if there is no end to life and it is continuous. So we don’t discuss death and we don’t discuss it as a full stop. We don’t discuss it as a point of a culmination of our efforts, where we will see the true fruits of our efforts. If we do discuss it then it is just casually and in passing. But do we discuss it as a topic in the presence of our wives and children, like we discuss business, we are so serious and will say that we have to make these goals; we are not living on fresh air. You have to do something for your life, work for your exams, you better get to the business on time, see that you open on time, see that you close on time. Don’t we take that business so seriously? If we don’t make that target don’t we get affected? So the type of concern that we show to business, do we show it to life, and notwithstanding the fact that this is the point where you are going to see the fruits of your efforts. If we are thinking about it then do we discuss it with our children with the level of importance that we discuss exams, school, homework, and assignments. Then you keep on reminding the child, you know how much I spent on your education? In one year I spent 250 000 Rands. So we count that as a favour over that child and we want some rewards and returns from that child, that I spent so much on you. But do we discuss life after death, do we see it with that same level of significance and importance? Or we say it is one of those things, don’t even talk about it because if we talk about it then it brings about some sort of misery in the environment. Yesterday the students were doing that hadeeth where a Sahaabi had passed away and someone was praising him. So Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) asked that did you hear him speaking of the life after death and related matters? The person said, “No.” So Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said that he has then not reached that stage and maqaam of the real pious people. He may have earned his Jannah but he has not reached that highest class, because he was not focused on his goal. So the hadeeth is saying that, that is your goal, and when it is your goal you need to think about it and reflect over it. And when you reflect about it then reflect over it at least to the level that you reflect over your business, that this is the dip that we have taken and this is the ooplang that I have got and how I have to cover up the story, what I must do with the extra. How must I put it away? So all the working is done and it is calculated. The coming day, you have started business today but you are already thinking that tomorrow what you are going to do, what you are going to be receiving, what is the dispatch going to be like. Is there any problem on that end? Where you are sourcing your stuff from, is it priced right; so you are making all that fikr. Every department in the business, is it running well, is anybody robbing you or cheating you? Do we plan the life after death with that level of concern; who is cheating me in this life, who is adding some value to my life and who is cheating me in this and what must I be careful about and what must I be investing in, do we talk about these things, do we allow our minds to go in that line. Tunjeekum min ‘azaabin ‘aleem – So this person is passing by the qabrastaan, he recites like how it is customary and he passes it on. Then perhaps he wanted to know that is my du‘aa and whatever I have recited, are they accepted by Allah Ta‘ala or not. So perhaps he made du‘aa to Allah Ta‘ala that he wants to see what his returns are like.

Allah Ta‘ala has an understanding with His servants. With each servant He has a different understanding and He treats him accordingly. According to your arrangement and understanding, Allah Ta‘ala treats you differently. So everybody is not treated in one and the same way. So if something happened for some person and it didn’t happen for you then you are not supposed to be asking that why did it happen for him and not for me. Allah Ta‘ala knows why it happened for that person and not for you. He is in a different predicament and you are in a different predicament. A buck comes to a water trough or well and the level of the water just comes up. It drinks from it and goes. One pious haaji saheb is passing and when he goes to the well he sees the level of the water is going down. So he cried to Allah Ta‘ala that my value is not even to the value of this deer. For this deer you raised the level of the water and when I came then it just dipped. So Allah Ta‘ala says that you aren’t like this deer. It does not have a bucket and it does not have a string, but it is thirsty and it needs to drink. So I brought up the level of the water so that it can drink. But you have a string and a bucket; you can lower your bucket and take out the water. Nonetheless, since you complained We will raise the level of the water. He finished his hajj and he met Hazrat Junaid Baghdaadi (rahmatullahi ‘alaih). Hazrat Junaid told him that had you just been patient, Allah Ta‘ala would have allowed a stream to gush from beneath your feet. So Allah Ta‘ala’s relationship with each person is different. If someone has been favoured in one way then we are not supposed to be asking that why was that person favoured in this way and I was not favoured in that way.

When Ebrahim bin Adham (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) left the kingdom of Afghanistan and he took the path of Allah Ta‘ala, when he analysed the whole thing that I got the kingdom and I want to become the friend of Allah Ta‘ala, he felt that I will not be able to reconcile between them both. He had a frame of mind and he felt that within his capacity he wouldn’t be able to do the both. In the meanwhile, in Bukhaari Shareef, the hadeeth has made provisions for both. Who is a good person? In one hadeeth it comes: jaahada be-nafsihi wa maalihi – who strives with his wealth and with his person. And who is the other good person? The other good person – yakoonu fee shi’bim minash-shi‘aab ya’budu rabbahu wa yada‘un-naasa ‘an sharrihi – both are more or less identical because it is waaw ‘aatifah, so it is to show that both are good persons. The hadeeth is not underrating one person and overrating the other. Both are good. He is in a valley and has taken to isolation and he understands that if he mixes with people he is going to lose out, he is going to fight, or enter into an argument, he is going to do something or say something and he will hurt someone or someone will hurt him. So he has moved away and he is focused on what he is doing. So Allah Ta‘ala likes both these people. Who is better, that Allah Ta‘ala knows. This hadeeth does not say who is better. It would seem outwardly that the person who is striving, his reward is greater because he is doing good and he is calling people towards good, but the hadeeth itself rates the both equally. So Ebrahim bin Adham felt for a period of time that I will not be able to reconcile the both. You must remember for a moment that when you have that level of sincerity then no matter what you are doing but Allah Ta‘ala will take that work out of you. Ebrahim bin Adham has passed on for over 1250 years, but up to this day we benefit from his teachings. Don’t you see that? He did whatever he did, he took to isolation, but don’t we benefit from his teachings up to this day?

So the thing that counts by Allah Ta‘ala is kon apne Rabb ko ziyaadah khush kar sakta he – these are our Hazrat Mufti Saheb’s words, who can please Allah Ta‘ala more. One is our calculation, that he is more or I am more, and one is the gauge by Allah Ta‘ala, who can please Allah Ta‘ala more, that is the gauge, that is what we need to invest in and put our minds in, that who can please Allah Ta‘ala more. And the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala comes with the beauty of your action. Li-yabluwakum ayyukum ahsanu ‘amala – the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala comes with how much you can beautify your action. With your niyyat, with the conformity of the sunnah, doing it properly with a feeling of desperation that I need to do it, I am helpless I need to focus on Allah Ta‘ala, I need to dedicate myself and I need to devote myself. Ebrahim bin Adham was travelling and it was around maghrib time and he needs to spend the night somewhere. So for a musaafir it is permissible to retire in the musjid. For normal reasons without the niyyat i’tikaaf you shouldn’t be sleeping in the musjid. A normal person, he is living here in Isipingo and he is sleeping in the musjid without the niyyat of i’tikaaf then it is not right. But a musaafir can sleep, or a person from the place and he is sleeping in the musjid with the niyyat of i’tikaaf then it is permissible. As he comes into the musjid he sees one imaam saheb or muazzin or whoever it was, it was a pious person. So this pious person sees Ebrahim bin Adham and he tells him that read your namaaz here but you can’t sleep the night here. Because he is calculating in his mind that I receive help from the unseen, two rotis and two botis, I get a little curry and I get two loaves of bread and this is sufficient for me. Now if this person has to live in the musjid, I will have to share everything with him. So he had to have some type of a security plan. Hence, he says that you can perform your namaaz here but after the namaaz you have to move from here. Ebrahim bin Adham sensed from his speech that that was his concern. So he tells him that don’t worry, I will sleep here, but I won’t ask you for your food. This person says that if that’s the case then you can stay. Anyway, it was just half an hour or so, and this pious person’s food came in; simple food, whatever he was used to eating. He ate his food turning in the opposite direction so that he may not feel sympathetic towards Ebrahim bin Adham. Ebrahim bin Adham didn’t mind. Anyway the man must have been really hungry for the day, so he saw the food and he wanted to satisfy himself. Then not even an hour passed and he saw trays and trays of food coming into the musjid and with its aroma and fragrance, the whole musjid got filled up. The types of juices, meat and curries, everything is filled up. That is also coming from the unseen. He is getting assistance from the unseen and he is getting assistance from the unseen, divine help. And everything is coming to Ebrahim bin Adham. Now this mulla, in the old days they used to call a pious person ‘mulla’. So he complains to Allah Ta‘ala that am I so insignificant in your sight that he is getting so much and I am getting such a simple and ordinary dish. Do I have no significance and acceptance in Your court? Now this is our problem. The problem is that when we see someone distinguished in some favour then we are concerned that why is he distinguished with this favour and I am not. Don’t put your mind into that. Allah Ta‘ala has got a different relationship with His servants. With this servant He has got a different relationship, with that servant He has got a different relationship. Why is he being favoured in that way, Allah Ta‘ala knows that, and why is that person not being favoured, Allah Ta‘ala knows. One person came to Hazrat Moulana Qaasim Nanotwi (rahmatullahi ‘alaih) and he had a couple of millions and he says that Moulana, I want you to take this and use it and distribute it as you want. Moulana told him that no, you take it and distribute it yourself. I won’t take the trouble of distributing it. So he says but why? Moulana says that had I been worthy of distributing it then Allah Ta‘ala would have given it to me, but Allah Ta‘ala feels that I am not the right person to do the distribution, therefore He gave it to you. So you do the distribution yourself. Had He felt that I was the right candidate to make the distribution He would have given it to me. But since He hasn’t given it to me, perhaps He feels that you are the right candidate therefore He has given it to you. So you do the distribution. You see our ‘Ulama-e-kiraam, how they reason. And now, jitna aaye aane do – What comes let it just come. We will be able to digest anything and everything. Anyway when this pious person complained to Allah Ta‘ala that do I have no significance in Your sight that You have favoured him and You have not favoured me, Allah Ta‘ala answers him and says that see the background that he came from and see the background that you came from. He was the king of Afghanistan, Balkh, not just Afghanistan. He was a king, not just a prime minister.  He had thousands of people attending to him. He had cooks upon cooks. He had everything, and hundreds and thousands of people for his khidmat. He had so much and he left all that to devote himself and serve Me. And what were you? You were an ordinary peasant doing and informal job, you know a togo job, and you were earning a hundred Rands. Had you not devoted yourself you would be eating the same type of food. If you want we can reverse the whole thing and put you back to the farm. So being a pious person he came back to his senses and he says – Ya Allah ye to meri be-wuqoofi he – this is my stupidity and naivety; I didn’t realise why You were treating him like this and why You were treating me like this. So He treats His servants and He knows why He treats His servants in that way and how He treats His servants.

So we are not supposed to be complaining to Allah Ta‘ala that why are You treating me like this; I was in riches and now I am in rags. I have been downsized, why has this happened to me? We don’t need to have this complaint. There was one chacha here in our musjid flats. I spoke about him some times back, OV chacha. In the early 60’s he was very wealthy, money was tight at that time and he had mills. A man like Chota Mota used to work for him and he sent him to Germany to learn some designing and colouring. So he was really a wealthy person at that time. Anyway he was a little friendly with me. His businesses all dipped and he was not doing well. He then came to live in the musjid flats. So I asked him that once upon a time you were such a wealthy person that an appointment was needed to meet you, you used to wear a three piece suit and what what, and now you took a dip like this, so do you feel uncomfortable from where you were and now where you are. He said that at the beginning I felt a bit uncomfortable, but I took a lot of comfort and solace from the fact that Allah Ta‘ala has taken me from where I was and made me the neighbour of the musjid. I take a lot of comfort and enjoyment from this. I feel that I can’t pay a price for that. You see the man’s thinking. That is why I say that when these old people are here they are a source of protection for us. We need to learn to respect them and we need to learn to appreciate them. There are some things that may come out from their tongues and we can’t understand why they speak like that and how they speak like that.

So this person was passing by the graveyard, and I took all your time explaining these stories. As he passes the graveyard he reads whatever he needed to read and he carried on and after that he asks Allah Ta‘ala that I want to see what is the reward for that. Anyway he sees that all the inmates of the graves have come out from their graves and each one is taking his share, like a wedding or something where they are giving jalebis; in our zamaanah they used to give jalebi and naan-katai, now they give Kit Kat and Lunch Bar. So everybody has come out to take his share and he sees that in one corner there is one chacha sitting and he is very relaxed without any anxiety. Here when they are giving that Kit Kat, even if you got a sweet shop you look forward to that Kit Kat. Talking from experience, you see someone who has a sweet shop, he is a sweet wholesaler but you feel that there is some extra barkat in that and you want to take that. So now this person is seeing that that chacha is not interested at all and everybody is going for his share. So he went up to this chacha and asked him that everybody is excited about taking their shares and you are sitting pretty well, you got no interest at all. So the chacha sits there scratching his head and says that why should I be interested in this? You are talking about just one Kit Kat, I am getting 30 horse and trailers of Kit Kats. I am saying this in my own words. And how do you get that? I have a child and the child is making a khatam every day for me. So I am getting like 30 horse and trailers coming to my account every day. So what must I do with this one one Kit Kat. And where is your son? He is in so and so street. And what is his name? So this person goes straight to that shop and sees he has a mithaai shop, but his lips are moving all the time. He asks him that what are you doing? I am reading Quraan Shareef. And what do you do after that? I pass on the rewards. And to who? To my father. And how much do you recite? One Quraan. So he confirmed everything. Now after some days, a year or two years, he passed on the same end. He made some du‘aa etc. and passed on the thawaab and again he asked Allah Ta‘ala to see the reward. So Allah Ta‘ala showed him. Now he sees that the chacha who was very independent at that time, he also came for his share of the sinni. Now he asked the chacha that before you were so independent, you were not concerned and now you are also concerned about your share. So he says that my child has passed away. The child who used to send that one khatam everyday he has passed away.

So this surah is continuing, illallazeena aamanu wa ‘amilus saalihaati wa tawaasow bil haqqi wa tawaasow bis sabr. Mankind is in a loss, now to make this loss into a profit, Allah Ta‘ala is showing you a way to turn this business around, to turn this investment around, that this is the thing you need to do. Illallazeena aamanu wa ‘amilus saalihaat – in order to get the license to trade the first condition is imaan. Without imaan it will not allow you to trade anywhere. So in this investment, in other words, if you want to save yourself from incurring any loss then the first condition is imaan. Otherwise, you cannot trade. We will close you straightway. Beyond this point you cannot move without imaan. The second point is wa ‘amilus saalihaat – righteous works, the whole variety and various departments of righteous deeds. Get your character right, get your deeds right, get your social etiquettes right, get your dealings right; so righteous works. The Quraan has used one word, but that one word covers different varieties of righteous works. It is not only namaaz, but every type of righteous work. Whether it is your namaaz, whether it is your interaction and socialising with people, your dealings with people, social etiquettes, everything is included; hence get everything right. Illallazeena aamanu wa ‘amilus saalihaat – so if you got these two then it is as though you have half the investment right. But you want the investment to be perfect, it mustn’t be deficient. It must grow, and it must grow from strength to strength. You are getting an increase every year, 20 to 30 percent then that is what you call a real investment. But now if you are standing there and there is no improvement at all, there is a possibility of deteriorating. So you want it to be increasing, hence here is a comprehensive plan, a plan that is perfect. So the first is imaan. Without imaan you cannot move and then is righteous works. But you don’t stop there, wa tawaasow bil haqq wa tawaasow bis sabr – so the other two points that Allah Ta‘ala speaks about, you are enjoining each other and encouraging in righteousness and in constancy and patience. As far as righteousness, then I have shown you that it is a whole variety of good works, whether it is your dealings, whether it is your personal deeds, whether it is your character, whether it is your social etiquettes, but in all that you are doing it right and correctly; it can be a small thing but you are doing it right. In your character you are doing it right, in your deeds you are doing it right. You are not rushing through your deeds, you are not spoiling your dealings, in your character also you are right.

When you say character being right, there is a small example as to how you will gauge that your character is right. If you have a small encounter with someone then what you need to see is that you are feeling bitter but at the time when your mind is settled you need to think in the defence of that person and not in your defence. Our norm is that when we have a problem then we come to our defence. That person told me these words, and he had no right to tell me that, how could he have said that, he shouted at me and swore me. So that is when you are talking in your own defence. So don’t come to your defence but come to the defence of your partner. You come to his defence. For example, you were screaming and shouting. So this person told you that you mustn’t scream, this is a musjid area. People want it to be calm and composed. Although you were shouting outside, but it is not an environment to be shouting and ranting. So at that time perhaps you got angry and told him that who are you to come and advise me. You are a small little nipper, still wet behind your ears, you don’t know anything about life and you are coming to advise me. At that time you were upset. But afterwards when you analyse it you must say that I will come to the defence of my partner, not to my defence, yes what he said was right, that it was the musjid environment, I was supposed to be calm and composed, I was not supposed to be ranting and raving. I was misbehaving and I was carrying on like an animal, what he told me was right. You see, when you came to the defence of your partner, now there is moderation in your thought, your thinking is going right. But if you came to your own defence then you are never wrong, you are always right. Then you can never expect your akhlaaq and character to improve.

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