Essence of Dhikr
What does Dhikrullah (remembrance of Allah (swt)) entail? Some people confine this to the act of doing Tasbeeh such as: uttering Subhan’Allah and Alhumdulillah. Dhikrullah means to keep Allah (swt) in our thoughts all the time; bearing in mind that He is watching us. One should remember Him by his tongue, his heart and keep Him in his mind. One should know that all tests are from Allah (swt) and that he is sent by Him and will return to Him. This is the source of attaining peace. We learn, “Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Rad 13:28) May He make us of the Dhakireen. Ameen.
Make Arabic your language
When one falls in love with the Quran, the first thing that they get upset about is the language barrier. A lot of meaning is lost in translations. Non-Arabs wish they were born in an Arab land and Arabic was their native language. Allah (swt) maintained diversity by making us belong to different races. However, we are encouraged to learn different languages, as this is the sure way of bridging gaps. “And We sent not a Messenger except with the language of his people, in order that he might make (the Message) clear for them. Then Allah misleads whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Ibrahim 14:4) Learn Arabic and witness how your understanding of the Quran reaches a higher level.
Goodness comes with gratitude
We all want an increase in goodness and escape from punishment. How can we make that happen? “And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.” (Ibrahim 14:7)
How can we be grateful to Allah (swt)?
We can be grateful by honouring His commands. By offering our prayers at their appointed time and not when we will. Gratitude should be expressed by the tongue, the heart and the limbs. Allah (swt) has blessed us with health; we should make the most of it by serving Him and His religion. Allah (swt) has given us wealth, we should spend it in His cause. If one is told to count the favours of Allah (swt), he would never be able to do so.
“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, – a disbeliever (an extreme ingrate, denies Allah’s Blessings by disbelief, and by worshipping others besides Allah, and by disobeying Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (sa).” (Ibrahim 14:34) This is a challenge to the entire mankind. We miss one thing from our lives and we claim Allah (swt) has kept us deprived. What about the one thousand others things that we have?
Ingratitude belongs to the Shaytan, the deceiver
Ungratefulness is from Shaytan, he beautifies the harmful things for us and we feel as if we are denied. On the Day of Judgement, Shaytan will excuse himself from us. “And Shaytan (Satan) will say when the matter has been decided: Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you except that I called you, so you responded to me. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I deny your former act in associating me (Satan) as a partner with Allah (by obeying me in the life of the world). Verily, there is a painful torment for the Zalimun.” (Ibrahim 14:22) What a devil he is! First he whispers evil thoughts and then backs out from enticing.
Allah’s (swt) assurance of His mercy upon His slaves
While Shaytan conspires for our downfall, what does Allah (swt) assures us of? “Declare (O Muhammad (sa)) unto My slaves, that truly, I am the Oft-Forgiving, the Most-Merciful.” (Al-Hijr 15:49) Reading this verse what should we say? We should hasten to make the Dua: O Allah! Forgive me and have mercy on me. Grant me peace in this world and the next. Ameen. Again, this is not a license to continue sinning.
We live in times, where mosque which is free to enter, but is empty; while clubs which cost several thousands to enter, but are packed. This is why the verse right after the previous one warns us, “And that My Torment is indeed the most painful torment.” (Al-Hijr 15:50) Thus, we must not indulge in acts that can lead to His painful punishment.
Islam is protected by Allah (swt) alone
Next, we learn about a miracle that was given to Muhammad (sa), “Truly! We will suffice you against the scoffers.” (Al-Hijr 15:95) Each time the scoffers mocked the Prophet (sa) – they were either punished for the words they uttered, or they were guided because of that. How were they guided? Each time someone decides to damage Islam by drawing caricatures, more people become interested in Islam and embrace it. There were many people during the time of the Prophet (sa), who wanted to harm him; but within moments, they were testifying that Muhammad (sa) is the Prophet of Allah (swt). While such incidents of blasphemy hurt us, we must remember Allah (swt) is the In-Charge here, He will hold the perpetrators accountable.
The matter that requires our attention is that when a non-Muslim disrespects Islam, we come out on the streets, carry out protestations, burn vehicles, damage property and gather all the energy to endure heat and discomfort. But when the call to prayer is given in the mosque, we don’t budge. We are so far away from our own religion, why criticise the non-Muslims? Reverts are much better than some of the born Muslims. May Allah (swt) guide us. Ameen.
It is natural for a tender-hearted person to be distressed by what’s happening around them. Allah (swt), the All-Knowing, knows the hearts of His slaves, “Indeed, We know that your breast is straitened at what they say.” (Al-Hijr 15:97) This was His assurance to Muhammad (sa).
Sunshine or rain – He is the domain
What should one do when he is suffering? He says, “So glorify the praises of your Lord and be of those who prostrate themselves (to Him). And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e. death).” (Al-Hijr 15:98-99) Rain or shine, we must never forget the purpose of our creation. If things are good, praise and thank Allah (swt). If things are not so good, have patience, praise and thank Allah (swt). The Day of Judgement will settle all disputes. Prostrate whenever you can, because that is the closest we can get to Allah (swt).
(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)