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The Attributes of the Believers (Part 1)

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                   The Attributes of the Believers
                        [»ifåt al-Mu›minºn]
                                           by
                         Shaikh A¥mad Fat¥u’llåh Jåmº
                                 Table of Contents
p.—    Author’s Introduction
Ch.
1.     The Attributes of the Truly Devout [»ifåt al-Muttaqºn]—Q. 2:1–5
2.     Awareness of One’s Own Self [Muråqabat an-Nafs]—Q. 2:44–46
3.     Patience and its Results [aƒ-»abr wa Natå›iju-h]—Q. 2:155-7
4.     The Real Meaning of Piety [ªaqºqat al-Birr]—Q. 2:177
5.     The Truly Devoted Servants [al-‹Ibåd al-Atqiyå›]—Q. 3:15–17
6.     The Characters of the Truly Devout [Akhlåq al-Atqiyå›]—Q. 3:133–6
7.     Patient Endurance of Trial and Tribulation [aƒ-»abr ‹ala ’l-Ibtilå›]—Q. 3:186
8.     Attributes of Those with Understanding Minds [»ifåt Uli ’l-Albåb]—Q. 3:190–4
9.     Obedience to Allåh and His Messenger [¡å‹at Allåh wa Ras«li-h]—Q. 4:13,14
10.    Prompt Repentance [at-Tawba min Qarºb]—Q. 4:17,18
11.    Fulfilment of Trust and Justice [Adå› al-Amåna wa ’l-‹Adl]—Q. 4:57,58
12.    The Consequence of Obedience to Allåh and His Messenger [‹Áqiba ¡å‹at Allåh
wa Ras«li-h]—Q. 4:66–70
13.    Propriety in the Exchange of Greetings [Adab at-Ta¥iyya]—Q. 4:86
14.    Remembrance of Allåh (Exalted is He) [Dhikr Allåh (Ta‹ålå)]—Q. 4:103
15.    The Benefit of Confidential Talk [Khair an-Najwå]—Q. 4:114
16.    Submitting One’s Face to Allåh (Exalted is He) [Islåm al Wajh li-Llåh (Ta‹ålå)]—
Q. 4:125
17.    Refraining from Following Passion [‹Adam Ittibå‹ al-Hawå]—Q. 4:135
18.    Devoting the Religion Sincerely to Allåh (Exalted is He) [Ikhlåƒ ad-Dºn li’Llåh
(Ta‹ålå)]—Q. 4:145–9
19.    Holding Fast to Allåh (Exalted is He) [al-I‹tiƒåm bi’Llåh (Ta‹ålå)]—Q. 4:174,175
20.    The Means of Access and the Connection [al-Wasºla wa ’t-Tawassul]—Q. 5:35
21.    The Consequence of Truthfulness [‹Áqibat aƒ-»idq]—Q. 5:119
22.    Wariness of This World [al-ªadhr min ad-Dunyå]—Q. 6:32
23.    The Fear of Wrongdoing [al-Khawf min aœ-¢ulm]—Q. 6:82
                                                                                           2

24.    Abstaining from Sin, both Outwardly and Inwardly [Tark al-Ithm ¢åhiran wa
Bå£inå]—Q. 6:120
25.    Preferment in the Bestowal of Blessings [al-Ikhtiyår fi ’n-Ni‹am]—Q. 6:165
26.    The Prohibition of Indecencies [Ta¥rºm al-Fawå¥ish]—Q. 7:33
27.    Some Characteristics of the Prophet [min Akhlåq an-Nabº]—Q. 7:199–201
28.    The Proprieties of Listening to the Qur›ån [Ádåb Istimå‹ al-Qur›ån]—Q. 7:204–6
29.    Attributes of the Perfect Believers [»ifåt Kummal al-Mu›minºn]—Q. 8:2–4
30.    Guarding against Chastisements [al-ªadhr min al-Fitan]—Q. 8:25
31.    Frequenting the Mosques [‹Imårat al-Masåjid]—Q. 9:18
32.    Some Attributes of the Believers [min »ifåt al-Mu›minºn]—Q. 9:71,72
33.    Following the Righteous Predecessors [Ittibå‹ as-Salaf aƒ-»åli¥]—Q. 9:100
34.    Comprehensive Attributes [»ifåt Jåmi‹a]—Q. 9:112
35.    Faith and Righteous Work [al-Ïmån wa ’l-‹Amal aƒ-»åli¥]—Q. 10:9–10
36.    Attributes of the Saintly Friends [»ifåt al-Awliyå›]—Q. 10:62–64
37.    Reliance on Allåh (Exalted is He) [al-‹Itimåd ‹ala ’Llåh (Ta‹åla)]—Q. 10:107
38.    Patience in Following [aƒ-»abr fi ’l-Ittibå‹]—Q. 10:109
39.    The Consequence of Faith and Righteous Work [‹Áqibat al-Ïmån wa ’l-‹Amal aƒ-
»åli¥]—Q. 11:23
40.    Fear of the Day of Resurrection [al-Khawf min Yawm al-Qiyåma]—Q. 11:105–8
41.    Treading the Straight Path [al-Istiqåma]—Q. 11:112–5
42.     Transforming the Attributes of the Lower Self into Perfection [Taghyºr »ifåt an-
Nafs ila ’l-Kamål]—Q. 13:11
43.    Who are Those with Understanding Minds? [Man Hum Ulu ’l-Albåb]—
Q. 13:19–24
44.    Tranquillity of the Heart [¡ama›nºnat al-Qalb]—Q. 13:28,29
45.    Fulfilment of Allåh’s Covenant (Exalted is He) [al-Wafå› bi-‹Ahdi ’Llåh
(Ta‹ålå)]—Q. 16:90,91
46.    The Fruits of Patience and Righteous Work [Thamaråt aƒ-»abr wa ’l-‹Amal aƒ-
»åli¥]—Q. 16:96,97
47.    Observing the Limits of Allåh (Exalted is He) [al-Wuq«f ‹inda ªud«d Allåh
(Ta‹ålå)]—Q. 16:116,117
48.    The Fruits of Repentance [Thamaråt at-Tawba]—Q. 16:119
49.    Features of the Summons [Akhlåq ad-Då‹iya]—Q. 16:125–8
50.    Standards of Social Conduct [Akhlåq Ijtimå‹iyya]—Q. 17:23–38
51.     Guarding against Satan’s Efforts to Sow Discord [al-ªadhr min Naza‹åt ash-
Shai£ån]— Q. 17:53
52.    Patience [»abr]—Q. 20:129–32
                                                                                       3

53.    Attributes of the Successful [»ifåt al-Mufli¥ºn]—Q. 23:1–11
54.    Competition for Good Things [al-Musåbaqa fi ’l-Khairåt]—Q. 23:57–62
55.    Characteristics of the Virtuous [Akhlåq Ahl-al-Faæl]—Q. 24:22
56.    Protecting the Sacrosanct [ªifœ al-ªurumåt]—Q. 24:27–31
57.     Commitment to the Remembrance of Allåh (Exalted is He) [al-Mu¥åfaœa ‹alå
Dhikri ’Llåh (Ta‹ålå)]—Q. 24:36–38
58.    Characteristics of the Victorious [Akhlåq al-Få›izºn]—Q. 24:51,52
59.    Characteristics of the Servants of the All-Merciful [Akhlåq ‹Ibåd ar-Ra¥mån]—
Q. 25:63–77
60.    Not Befriending the Guilty [‹Adam Muwålåt al-Mujrimºn]—Q. 28:17
61.    Eager Desire for Good Things [al-ªirƒ ‹åla ’l-ªasanåt]—Q. 28:73,74
62.    The Struggle with the Lower Self [Mujåhadat an-Nafs]—Q. 29:69
63.    Vigilant Awareness of Allåh (Exalted is He) [Muråqabat Allåh (Ta‹ålå)]—
Q. 31:16–19
64.    Clinging to the Firm Lifeline [at-Tamassuk bi’l-Urwat al-Wuthqå]—Q. 31:22
65.   Some of the Noble Virtues of Character [Jumla min Makårim al-Akhlåq]—Q.
33:35
66.    The Veiling of the Muslim Woman [ªijåb al-Mar›at al-Muslima]—Q. 33:59
67.    Hostility towards Satan and his Party [Mu‹ådåt ash-Shai£ån wa ªizbi-h]—Q.
35:5,6
68.    The Dread Felt by the Scholars [Khashyat al-‹Ulamå›]—Q. 35:28–30
69.   The Scholars Hope for the Mercy of Allåh (Exalted is He) [al-‹Ulamå› yarj«na
Ra¥mat Allåh (Ta‹ålå)]—Q. 39:9,10
70.    Hoping for the Mercy of Allåh (Exalted is He) [al-Amal bi-Ra¥mat Allåh
(Ta‹ålå)]—Q. 39:53–55
71.    Treading the Straight Path; the Fruits thereof [al-Istiqåma wa Thamaråtu-hå]—
Q. 41:30–36
72.    Guarding against the Cunning of Satan [al-ªadhr ‹alå Makr ash-Shai£ån]—
Q. 43:36,37
73.    The Friendship of the Truly Devout [»u¥bat al-Muttaqºn]—Q. 43:67–73
74.    The Recompense for Deeds [Jazå› al-A‹mål]—Q. 45:28–31
75.    Good Treatment of Parents [al-I¥sån ila ’l-Wålidain]—Q. 46:13–16
76.    Some Characteristics of the Truly Devout [min Akhlåq al-Muttaqºn]—Q. 51:15–19
77.    Some Attributes of Those Who Do Good [min »ifåt al-Mu¥sinºn]—Q. 53:31,32
78.   Charitable Donation and Lending with Faith [at-Taƒadduq wa ’l-Qaræ ma‹a ’l-
Ïmån]—Q. 57:18–21
79.    Characteristics of the Worshippers [Akhlåq al-Muƒallºn]—Q. 70:19–35
80.    The Fear of Standing before the Lord [al-Khawf min Maqåm ar-Rabb]—
                                                                                      4

Q. 79:34–41
81.    Not Relying on Close Relationships [‹Adam ar-Ruk«n ila ’l-Qaråbåt]—Q. 80:33–
42
82.    Sincerity in Faith and Work [al-Ikhlåƒ fi ’l-Ïmån wa ’l-‹Amal]—Q. 98:5–8
83.    The Causes of Salvation [Asbåb an-Najåt]—Q. 103:1–3
p. —   Bibliography

                                       *****




           In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                           Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.
                                                                                             5


                             Author’s Introduction
        Praise be to Allåh, who has perfected our religion for us and completed His
blessing upon us, and is well pleased with Islåm as a religion for us. May Allåh grant
blessings and peace to our Prophet, our master Mu¥ammad, the unlettered Prophet, the
leader of the truly devout, the owner of splendid character, and to his family and all his
Companions. May Allåh (Exalted is He) be well pleased with the first to lead the way,
the Helpers [Anƒår] and the Emigrants [Muhåjirºn], and those who followed them in
active goodness, until the Day of Resurrection.
              Allåh is well pleased with them
              and they are well pleased with Him,
              raæiya ’llåhu ‹an-hum wa raæ« ‹an-hu
              and He has made ready for them for them Gardens
              beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever.
              wa a‹adda la-hum jannåtin tajrº min ta¥ti-ha ’l-anhåru
              khålidºna fº-hå abadå:
              That is the mighty triumph.
              dhålika ’l-fawzu ’l-‹aœºm. (9:100)
                                           ***
       The greatest resource available to the human being is the Book of Allåh
(Almighty and Glorious is He). Falsehood cannot approach it, neither from in front nor
from behind, because it is kept safe by Allåh’s protection. As He has said (Exalted is
He):
              Surely We have sent down to you the Qur݌n,
              innå Na¥nu nazzalnå ‹alai-ka ’l-Qur›åna
              as a revelation.
              tanzºlå. (76:23)
        This Glorious Qur݌n is the path on which the believer travels, in order to reach
the good pleasure of Allåh (Almighty and Glorious is He). It is the perfect means of
perfection, from which nothing is lacking, for He has said (Exalted is He):
              We have neglected nothing in the Book.
              må farra£nå fi ’l-Kitåbi min shai›in. (6:38)
        If someone seeks the attributes of perfection, he must therefore study the Noble
Qur݌n, because it contains the perfection of belief, the perfection of worship, and the
perfection of character traits. We are urgently in need of acquiring virtuous characters,
after discarding those that are worthy of blame. If someone reads the Noble Qur݌n, he
will find that it commends those endowed with such virtuous characters and
praiseworthy attributes. It sometimes commends them by describing them as truly
devout [muttaq«n]:
              And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord,
              wa såri‹« ilå maghfiratin min Rabbi-kum
              and a Garden as wide as the heavens and the earth,
              wa jannatin ‹aræu-ha ’s-samåwåtu
              which has been made ready for the truly devout,
              wa ’l-aræu u‹iddat li’l-muttaqºn.
              those who spend freely in prosperity and adversity.
              alladhºna yunfiq«na fi ’s-sarrå›i wa ’æ-æarrå›i. (3:133,134)
       It sometimes commends them by describing them as pious [abrår]:
                                                                                          6


              Surely the pious shall drink
              inna ’l-abråra yashrab«na
              of a cup whose mixture is camphor,
              min ka›sin kåna mizåju-hå kåf«rå :
              a fountain at which the servants of Allåh do drink,
              ‹ainan yashrabu bi-hå ‹ibådu ’llåhi
              making it gush forth plenteously.
              yufajjir«na-hå tafjºrå.
              They fulfill their vows, and fear a day
              y«f«na bi’n-nadhri wa yakhåf«na
              whose evil is on the wing.
              yawman kåna sharru-hu musta£ºrå. (76:5–7)
       It sometimes commends them by describing them as saints [awliyå›]:
              As for the saintly friends of Allåh,
              a-lå inna awliyå›a ’llåhi
              no fear shall be upon them, nor shall they grieve;
              lå khawfun ‹alai-him wa lå hum ya¥zan«n.
              those who believe and practise true devotion.
              alladhºna åman« wa kån« yattaq«n: (10:62,63)
       It sometimes commends them by describing them as those who do good
[mu¥sin«n]:
              For aforetime they were doers of good.
              inna-hum kån« qabla dhålika mu¥sinºn.
              They used to sleep but a little of the night.
              kån« qalºlan mina ’l-laili må yahja‹«n. (51:16,17)
       It sometimes commends them by describing them as those with understanding
minds [ulu ’l-albåb]:
              Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth,
              inna fº khalqi ’s-samåwåti wa ’l-aræi
              and the alternation of night and day,
              wa ’khtilåfi ’l-laili wa ’n-nahåri
              there are signs for those with understanding minds.
              la åyåtin li-uli ’l-albåb.
              [There are signs for] those who remember Allåh,
              alladhºna yadhkur«na ’llåha qiyåman
              standing and sitting and on their sides….
              wa qu‹«dan wa ‹alå jun«bi-him…. (3:190,191)
         It sometimes commends them by describing them as the best of creatures [khairu
’l-bariyya]:
              Those who believe, and do righteous deeds,
              inna ’lladhºna åman« wa ‹amilu ’ƒ-ƒåli¥åti
              those are the best of creatures.
              ulå›ika hum khairu ’l-bariyya. (98:7)
       It sometimes commends them by describing them as the successful [mufli¥«n]:
              Successful indeed are the true believers.
              qad afla¥a ’l-mu›min«n.
              who are humble in their prayers.
                                                                                                  7

                alladhºna hum fº ƒalåti-him khåshi‹«n. (23:1,2)
         It sometimes commends them by describing them as the righteous [ƒåli¥«n]:
                They vie with one another in good works,
                wa yusåri‹«na fi ’l-khairåt:
                and they are among the righteous.
                wa ulå›ika mina ’ƒ-ƒåli¥ºn. (3:114)
       It sometimes commends them by describing them as those who are humble
[mukhbit«n]:
                And give good tidings to the humble,
                wa bashshiri ’l-mukhbitºn.
                whose hearts fear when Allåh is mentioned.
                alladhºna idhå dhukkira ’llåhu wajilat qul«bu-hum. (22:34,35)
        It sometimes commends them by describing them as true believers [mu›min«n], as
being afraid [of offending Allåh] [khå›if«n], as obedient [qånit«n], as those drawn near
[muqarrab«n], as submissive [khåshi‹«n] as fasting [så›i¥«n], as repentant [tå›ib«n] as
worshipful [‹abid«n], as just and fair [muqsi£«n], as truthful [ƒådiq«n], as patient [ƒåbir«n],
as remembering [dhåkir«n], as rightly guided [muhtad«n], and as the servants of the All-
Merciful [‹ibåd ar-Ra¥mån].
        If you examine those praiseworthy attributes, and the virtuous characteristics set
forth in the Noble Qur݌n, you will find them all combined in the personality of our
master, Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace).
        As reported by Ibn Shaiba, when ‹Á›isha (may Allåh be well pleased with her)
was asked about the character of Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him
peace), she said: “He was the finest of people in moral character. His character was the
Qur݌n; he approved because of its approval and he was angry because of its anger. He
neither behaved nor spoke obscenely. He did not cause commotion in the market-
places. He did not recompense bad with bad, but used to pardon and forgive.” She then
said: “Recite:
                Successful indeed are the true believers….
                qad afla¥a ’l-mu›min«n…. (23:1)
         —and the next ten Qur›ånic verses [åyåt].”1 The enquirer duly recited, then she
said: “His character was just like that (Allåh bless him and give him peace).”
         As reported by the two Shaikhs [al-Bukhårº and Muslim], the lady ‹Á›isha (may
Allåh be well pleased with her) also said: “Whenever Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless
him and give him peace) was given the choice between two matters, he always chose the
easier of the two, so long as it was not a sin. If it was a sin, he was the fartherst of all
people from it. Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) never took
revenge for himself, unless the sanctity of Allåh was violated, in which case he would
take revenge for Allåh’s sake.”
         Goodness of character is an element of faith; indeed, it is part of the perfection of
faith, in view of the saying of the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace):
                The most perfect of the faithful believers is the best of them in character,
         and the best of you are the best of you for those of good character.2


1   See p. — below.
2   Reported by at-Tirmidhº and Ab« Dåw«d.
                                                                                               8

        Goodness of character is a cause of the believing servant’s nearness to the
presence of the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace). According to the
tradition [¥adºth] reported by a£-¡abarånº, on the authority of Ab« Huraira (may Allåh
be well pleased with him), Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) once
said:
                The dearest of you to me are the best of you in traits of character, those
         who spread protective wings, those who are friendly and who promote
         friendship. The most hateful of you to me are those who indulge in
         slander, who cause separation between friends, and who find fault with the
         innocent.
       As reported by at-Tirmidhº, on the authority of Jåbir ibn ‹Abdi’llåh (may Allåh
be well pleased with them both), Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him
peace) also said:
                As for the dearest of you to me, and the one seated nearest to me on the
         Day of Resurrection, that is the best of you in traits of character.
       Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) used to urge that
[goodness of character]. As mentioned by al-Mundhirº, on the authority of al-‹Alå› ibn
ash-Shakhºr (may Allåh be well pleased with him), a man once came to the Prophet
(Allåh bless him and give him peace) from in front, and asked him: “O Messenger of
Allåh, what work is the most meritorious?” He replied: “[The cultivation of] good
character.” Then he approached him from his right, and said: “O Messenger of Allåh,
what work is the most meritorious?” He replied: “[The cultivation of] good character.”
Then he approached him from his left, and said: “O Messenger of Allåh, what work is
the most meritorious?” He replied: “[The cultivation of] good character.” Then he
approached him from behind, and said: “O Messenger of Allåh, what work is the most
meritorious?” Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) turned towards
him and said: “What is wrong with you, that you do not understand? Goodness of
character means that you do not get angry, if you can avoid it.”
       As reported by Muslim, an-Nawwås ibn Sam‹ån (may Allåh be well pleased with
him) said: “I asked Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) about piety
and sin. He replied:
                Piety is goodness of character, while sin is what causes mischief inside
you,            and you do not like people to notice it.
       As reported by at-Tirmidhº and Ab« Dåw«d, on the authority of Abu ’d-Dardå›
(may Allåh be well pleased with him), Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him
peace) once said:
                 Nothing will weigh more heavily in favour of the believer, on the Day of
         Resurrection, than goodness of character. Allåh hates the obscene
         profligate.
        As reported by at-Tirmidhº, ‹Á›isha (may Allåh be well pleased with her) once
said: “I heard Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) say:
                The believer will surely attain, through goodness of character, to the
degree          of the constant keeper of the fast.
        Praiseworthy characteristics are those commanded by the Sacred Law. Since the
lower selves are always instigating evil, they will not depart from their nature so long as
the spirit is in the body. The believer is therefore obliged to struggle with his lower self
and to oppose his passion. He must shackle his lower self with the fetters of the Sacred
Law, until it makes progress. Every human creature binds himself with a shackle of some
                                                                                                 9

kind. For one person, that shackle is his passion. For another, it is the self that is always
instigating evil [an-nafs al-ammåra bi’s-s«›]. For another, it is carnal desires. For yet
another, the shackle is the Book of Allåh (Almighty and Glorious is He). The
intelligent person is he who binds his lower self with the Sacred Law of Allåh (Almighty
and Glorious is He), so that it makes progress in the degrees of perfection.
         It is not possible for the servant to make progress in the degrees of perfection, to
leave his disobedient human nature, and to distance himself from atheism [zandaqa],
except by clinging fast to the Book and the Sunna in attitude and conduct. As for the
claim to connection with the Spiritual Path, and to revelatory disclosure and charismatic
talent, it deserves no attention and no confidence, without adherence to the
characteristics of Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace).
         Within the scope of this book, it is not possible for us to explain all the traits of
character mentioned in the Qur›ån, nor all the characteristics of Allåh’s Messenger
(Allåh bless him and give him peace) described in the Qur›ån, nor all the attributes of
the believers that are mentioned in the Glorious Qur݌n. Whenever we read the Noble
Qur݌n, we notice that it contains profound new meanings. It is impossible for any
human being to fully comprehend the secrets and inner meanings of the Qur݌n, because
it is the speech of Allåh (Exalted is He).
         We beseech Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to act in accordance with the
Book and the Sunna, as long as our spirits remain in our bodies. That is why we have
looked into the Book of Allåh (Exalted is He), and selected some of the noble verses
[åyåt] that discuss the attributes of the believers and their traits of character. We have
consulted the reliable commentaries, and briefly cited their authentic contents, in order
to make it easier for the believer to read them and refer to them. Then, after that, he
must apply to himself what Allåh (Almighty and Glorious is He) has commanded and
forbidden, so that he may enjoy the bliss of the two abodes [this world and the
Hereafter].
         I have done this work only out of compassion for the servants of Allåh (Exalted is
He), and love for the Community of our master, Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and
give him peace), whatever their particular background may be. To adhere to the
characteristics of Prophethood is to adhere to the Sacred Law, and adherence thereto
deserves the good pleasure of Allåh (Almighty and Glorious is He) and the good
pleasure of His Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace).
         I hope that Allåh (Almighty and Glorious is He) will let it be of benefit to me,
and of benefit to His believing servants. He is the Best of whom to ask, and the Best on
whom to pin one’s hope. May Allåh bless our master Mu¥ammad, the owner of the
glorious character, and his family and all his Companions. Praise be to Allåh, the Lord
of All the Worlds!

                                                                A¥mad Fat¥u’llåh Jåmº




                                       1.
                       The Attributes of the Truly Devout
                                                                                              10


                                     [»ifåt al-Muttaqºn]
               In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                               Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                                        Alif, Låm, Mºm.
                                        Alif–Låm–Mºm:
                           That is the Book, wherein is no doubt;
                                 dhålika ’l-Kitåbu lå raiba fº-h:
                               a guidance for the truly devout,
                                      hudan li’l-muttaqºn:
                  who believe in the Unseen, and perform the ritual prayer,
                    alladhºna yu›min«na bi’l-Ghaibi wa yuqºm«na ’ƒ-ƒalåta
                    and spend out of what We have provided for them;
                              wa mimmå razaqnå-hum yunfiq«n:
                      who believe in what has been sent down to you,
                          wa ’lladhºna yu›min«na bi-må unzila ilai-ka
                          and what has been sent down before you,
                                   wa må unzila min qabli-k:
                               and are certain of the Hereafter.
                                 wa bi’l-åkhirati hum y«qin«n:
                           These follow guidance from their Lord,
                               ulå›ika ‹alå hudan min Rabbi-him
                            and it is they who will be successful.
                                 wa ulå›ika humu ’l-mufli¥«n.
                                             (2:1–5)

          •Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
                 Alif, Låm, Mºm.
                 Alif–Låm–Mºm:
         According to ash-Sha‹bº and a number of authorities, Alif–Låm–Mºm, and other
letters of the alphabet occurring at the beginning of certain S«ras, are part of the
ambiguity of which Allåh has kept the knowledge to Himself. They are the secret of the
Qur݌n, so we believe in their appearance, and entrust the knowledge of their meaning
to Allåh (Glory be to Him and Exalted is He). The benefit of mentioning them is the
call for belief in them. That is because weak minds cannot bear strong secrets, just as the
eyes of bats cannot bear the light of the sun.
         Allåh (Exalted is He) has reserved for Himself a knowledge beyond the minds of
the Prophets. The Prophets have reserved for themselves a knowledge beyond the minds
of the scholars, and the scholars have reserved for themselves a knowledge beyond the
minds of the common folk.3
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 That is the Book
                 dhålika ’l-Kitåbu
      This is a reference to the Book that was promised to the Prophet (Allåh bless
him and give him peace) in His saying (Exalted is He):
                 For We shall charge you with a word of weight.

3   as-Siråj al-Munºr (1/14)
                                                                                                 11

                    innå sa-nulqº ‹alai-ka qawlan thaqºlå. (73:5)4
         The expression “That is the Book” conveys the sense of reverence. The Qur›ån
is close to us, yet it is exalted in degree and mighty in value, since it is utterly devoid of
trivialities.
         •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                    wherein is no doubt
                    lå raiba fº-h:
       That is to say: “for those who take heed, establish the proof, and contemplate.”
There is no doubt in it for those who reason wisely. As for those who are obstinately
headstrong, they not worthy of consideration, for they are:
                    like cattle—No, they are farther astray!
                    ka ’l-an‹åmi bal hum aæall. (7:179)5
         •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                    a guidance
                    hudan
       There are two kinds of guidance: (1) The guidance provided by showing the way.
This was assigned to the Messengers and their followers. Allåh (Exalted is He) said [to
the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace)]:
                    You do indeed guide to a right path.
                    wa inna-ka la-tahdº ilå ƒirå£in mustaqºm. (42:52)
       He thereby declared him qualified to provide guidance in the sense of showing
the way, summoning and exhorting. (2) As for guidance in the sense of providing
support and enabling grace, that is peculiar to Allåh (Glory be to Him), for He said to
His Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace):
                    You do not guide whomever you like.
                    inna-ka lå tahdº man a¥babta. (28:56)
         Guidance in this sense means creating faith in the heart.6
         •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                    for the truly devout
                    li’l-muttaqºn:
        That is to say: “for those who are progressing towards true devotion, through
compliance with the commandments and avoidance of the prohibitions, because of their
awareness of that Fire of Hell.” They are singled out for special mention as a mark of
honour, and because they are the ones who benefit by guidance. True devotion comes in
three stages:
      1. Devout precaution against the everlasting torment, by keeping oneself
innocent of polytheism [shirk]. Relevant in this context is His saying (Exalted is He):


4   al-Ul«sº (1/105)
5   aƒ-»åwº (1/6)
6   al-Qur£ubº (1/160)
                                                                                               12

                  And He imposed on them the word of true devotion.
                  wa alzama-hum kalimata ’t-taqwå. (48:26)
       2. Avoidance of every sinful action or inaction, including minor sins, according
to some authorities. This is alluded to in His saying (Exalted is He):
                  And if the people of the townships had believed
                  wa law anna ahla ’l-qurå åman«
                  and practised true devotion.
                  wa ’ttaqaw. (7:96)
       3. The devotee must rid himself completely of anything that distracts his
innermost being from the Lord of Truth (Exalted is He). This is the real and true
devotion, called for in His saying (Exalted is He):
                  O you who truly believe, observe your duty to Allåh,
                  yå ayyuha ’lladhºna åmanu ’ttaqu ’llåha
                  with the devotion that is truly due to Him.
                  ¥aqqa tuqåti-hi. (3:102)7
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  a guidance for the truly devout
                  hudan li’l-muttaqºn:
         According to Imåm al-Qushairº (may Allåh bestow His mercy upon him), in his
Commentary: “That is to say: ‘an explanation, a proof, an illumination and a procedure
for those whom the Lord of Truth (Glory be to Him and Exalted is He) has delivered
from the darkness of ignorance, whom He has enabled to see by the lights of
intelligence, and whom He has chosen to experience the realities of direct contact.’
This Book is a source of healing for friends, but for enemies it is a cause of blindness and
affliction. The true devotee is one who is wary of making a show of his devotion, who
does not rely on his devotion, and who attributes his salvation solely to the gracious
favour of his Master.”8
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  who believe in the Unseen
                  alladhºna yu›min«na bi’l-Ghaibi
        Faith [ºmån] in accordance with the Sacred Law means belief with the heart,
affirmation with the tongue, and observing the rules in practice. Islåm means humble
submission and dutiful obedience. Every instance of faith is therefore an instance of
Islåm, though not every instance of Islåm is an instance of faith, if it is not accompanied
by genuine belief. While a man may be a Muslim outwardly, but not a genuine believer
inwardly, he cannot be a genuine believer inwardly without being rightly guided
outwardly.9
        As for the Unseen [al-Ghaib], it covers everything made known to the Messenger
(Allåh bless him and give him peace) about things beyond the reach of human minds,
such as the signs of the Final Hour, the torment of the grave, the Resurrection, the
Narrow Bridge, the Balance, the Garden of Paradise and the Fire of Hell.

7   as-Siråj al-munºr (1/17)
8   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/55)
9   R«¥ al-bayån (1/31)
                                                                                             13

       This [belief in the Unseen] is faith in accordance with the Sacred Law, as
explained in the traditional account of how Gabriel (peace be upon him) said to the
Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace): “Tell me about faith.” He replied:
                  It means that you believe in Allåh, His angels, His Books, His
Messengers,             and the Last Day, and that you believe in destiny, both the good
thereof                 and the bad thereof.
          Gabriel (peace be upon him) said: “You have told the truth!”10
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  and perform the ritual prayer
                  wa yuqºm«na ’ƒ-ƒalåta
        In the Sacred Law, the prayer [ƒalåt] is a term for particular actions, performed
one after another, beginning with the consecration [ta¥rºm] and concluding with the
release from consecration [ta¥lºl].11 The performance of the ritual prayer means the
correct observance of its rules, and ensuring that no deviation occurs in its obligatory
elements [farå›iæ], its customary elements [sunan] and its proper formalities [ådåb].12 It
must also be performed as if it were visible only to the One for whose sake it is
performed, so the worshippers face the Qibla [direction of the Ka‹ba in Mecca], while
their hearts are immersed in the realities of communion.13
        We are told that ªåtim az-Zåhid [the Ascetic] once entered the presence of
‹Áƒim ibn Y«suf, who said to him: “O ªåtim, are you good at performing the ritual
prayer?” He said: “Yes,” so ‹Áƒim asked: “How do you perform the ritual prayer?”
ªåtim replied: “When the time of prayer draws near, I thoroughly complete the ritual
ablution [wuæ«›]. Then I stand erect on the spot where I shall perform the prayer, until
every part of me is steadily composed. I visualize the Ka‹ba between my eyebrows, and
the sacred place before my breast. Allåh is above me, knowing what is in my heart. It is
as if my feet are on the Narrow Bridge, with the Garden of Paradise to my right, the Fire
of Hell to my left, and the Angel of Death behind me. I assume it to be the very last
ritual prayer. Then I utter a takbºr [declaration of Allåh’s Supreme Greatness] in an
excellent manner, recite a Qur݌nic recitation with thoughtful reflection, perform an act
of bowing [ruk«‹] with humility, and perform an act of prostration [suj«d] with
submissiveness. Then I sit for the conclusion, pronounce the testimony in the spirit of
hope, and pronounce the final salutation in accordance with the Sunna. Then I
surrender my prayer to sincere devotion, and stay poised between far and hope. Then I
commit myself to patience.”
        ‹Áƒim said: “O ªåtim, is your ritual prayer just like that?” He replied: “That is
how my ritual prayer has been for thirty years.” ‹Áƒim burst into tears, and he said: “I
have never once performed my own ritual prayer like that!”14
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  and spend out of what We have provided for them
                  wa mimmå razaqnå-hum yunfiq«n:

10   al-Qur£ubº (1/163)
11   ar-Råzº (2/28)
12   al-Kashshåf (1/169)
13   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/56)
14   R«¥ al-bayån (1/33)
                                                                                               14


        The basic meaning of expenditure [infåq] is passing out wealth from the hand. In
the present context, there are two points to consider: (1) The partial distribution of
wealth is a means of protection for them, and a precaution against extravagance and
forbidden squandering. (2) The expenditure mentioned in the Qur݌nic verse includes
both obligatory expenditure and recommended expenditure.15
        According to the experts: “The expenditure of the people of the Sacred Law
[Sharº‹a] comes out of property and wealth, The expenditure of the masters of Reality
[ªaqºqa] comes out of spiritual states. The expenditure of the rich comes from their
possessions, which they do not hoard from people in need. The expenditure of the
worshipful servants comes from their personal skills, which they do not hoard from the
duties of service. The expenditure of the truly wise comes from their hearts, which they
do not hoard from the realities of vigilant awareness. The expenditure of the lovers
comes from their spirits, which they do not hoard from the currents of the Divine
decrees.”16
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 who believe in what has been sent down to you,
                 wa ’lladhºna yu›min«na bi-må unzila ilai-ka
                 and what has been sent down before you
                 wa må unzila min qabli-k:
          This belief is strictly necessary, because He has said at the end of the passage:
                 and it is they who will be successful.
                 wa ulå›ika humu ’l-mufli¥«n.
       It is thus established that, if someone does not have this belief, he is bound to be
unsuccessful. Since belief is strictly necessary, it must also be necessary to acquire
knowledge of what was revealed in detail to Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him
peace), but only as a collective responsibility. It is not necessary for every individual to
acquire detailed knowledge of the Sacred Laws revealed to Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him
and give him peace). As for His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and what has been sent down before you
                 wa må unzila min qabli-k:
       —this refers to what was sent down to the Prophets who were before Mu¥ammad
(Allåh bless him and give him peace). Belief in that earlier revelation is necessary only
in the general sense, because Allåh (Exalted is He) has not required us to base our
worship on it now, unless He obliges us to know about it in detail.17
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and are certain of the Hereafter.
                 wa bi’l-åkhirati hum y«qin«n:
        That is to say: “and are convinced with a definite certainty, untainted by any
suspicion or doubt, that the abode of the Hereafter will follow this world, along with all
that it contains, including the Resurrection and the Recompense, the Garden and the


15   ar-Råzº (2/29)
16   R«¥ al-bayån (1/38,39)
17   ar-Råzº (2/30,31)
                                                                                                15

Fire, the Reckoning and the Balance.” It is called the abode of the Hereafer for the
simple reason that it comes after this world.18
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  These follow guidance from their Lord,
                  ulå›ika ‹alå hudan min Rabbi-him
                  and it is they who will be successful.
                  wa ulå›ika humu ’l-mufli¥«n.
          The concept of success relates to three things:
        1. Victory over the lower self, for they did not follow its passion; over this world,
for they did not indulge in its vanities; over the Devil, for they were not tempted by his
whisperings; and over the companions of evil, for they were not afflicted by their
abominations.
        2. Salvation from unbelief and error, from heretical innovation and ignorance,
from the deception of the lower self and the whispering of the Devil, from the loss of
faith and the forfeiture of trust, from the loneliness of the grave and the terrors of the
Resurrection, from slipping on the Narrow Bridge, from the control of the crude and
violent stokers of the Fire, from being deprived of the Gardens, and from the call of
alienation and separation.
        3. Perpetuity in the eternal domain and the everlasting bliss, the possession of
property that will never pass away, a bounty that will never be removed, a joyful
happiness that is not linked to any sorrow, a youthfulness that will never turn into old
age, a comfort that is not linked to any hardship, a state of good health that is not linked
to any illness, the acquisition of a bountiful blessing that is not linked to any reckoning,
and a meeting that has no veil of separation.19
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                           *****




18   »afwat at-tafåsºr (1/32)
19   R«¥ al-bayån (1/44)
                                                                                           16


                                             2.
                                Awareness of One’s Own Self
                                   [Muråqabat an-Nafs]
               In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                               Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                        Do you enjoin righteousness on other people,
                                    a-ta›mur«na ’n-nåsa bi’l-birri
                                    while you forget yourselves?
                                      wa tansawna anfusa-kum
                And you are readers of the Scripture! Have you no sense at all?
                          wa antum tatl«na ’l-Kitåb: a-fa-lå ta‹qil«n.
                  Seek help in patience and prayer, though truly it is hard
                   wa ’sta‹ºn« bi’ƒ-ƒabri wa ’ƒ-ƒalåh: wa inna-hå la-kabºratun
                     except for the humble-minded, for those who know
                             illå ‹ala ’l-khåshi‹ºn: alladhºna yaœun«na
                            that they will have to meet their Lord,
                                    anna-hum mulåq« Rabbi-him
                            and that unto Him they are returning.
                                     wa anna-hum ilai-hi råji‹«n.
                                              (2:44–46)

          •Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
                  Do you enjoin righteousness on other people?
                  a-ta›mur«na ’n-nåsa bi’l-birri
       Allåh is addressing the Jewish rabbis [a¥bår], so He is saying to them by way of
censure and reproach:
                  Do you enjoin righteousness on other people?
                  a-ta›mur«na ’n-nåsa bi’l-birri
     That is to say: “Are you summoning people to goodness, and to belief in
Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace)?”
                  while you forget yourselves?
                  wa tansawna anfusa-kum
       That is to say: “Are you neglecting yourselves, so that you do not believe and do
not practise goodness?”
                  And you are readers of the Scripture!
                  wa antum tatl«na ’l-Kitåb:
        That is to say: “Even though you read the Torah, in which Mu¥ammad (Allåh
bless him and give him peace) is mentioned and described!”
                  Have you no sense at all?
                  a-fa-lå ta‹qil«n.
      That is to say: “Do you not realize and understand that what you are doing is an
abomination, from which you ought to recoil?”20

20   »afwat at-tafåsºr (1/55)
                                                                                             17

        As for righteouness [birr], it is a comprehensive term for works of goodness.
Since Allåh (Glory be to Him and Exalted is He) has commanded faith and the rules of
the Sacred Law, based on the blessings for which He has singled them out, and since He
has encouraged them to act accordingly, He has now presented another point of view.
He has pointed out that neglecting works of righteousness, while urging other people to
practise them, is repugnant to reasonable minds, since the purpose of commanding
people to do that is either sound advice or kindness. It is unreasonable for someone to
treat others kindly, or to offer them sound advice, while overlooking himself. Allåh
(Exalted is He) has therefore warned them to beware of that, by chiding them with this
speech.21
        The same may also be said of those scholars who are Muslims, because, in the
wake of every Qur݌nic verse concerning the unbelievers, there is an appendix referring
to the disobedient sinners among the believers. If the scholar is an unbeliever, his
punishment will be like that of the idol-worshippers, because the burden of one who
disbelieves rests on his neck. If the scholar is a Muslim, but he is remiss in putting his
knowledge into practice, he is the worst of disobedient sinners when it comes to
punishment. This is an additional comment, so their poetic saying:
                         The scholar who does not act upon his knowledge
                      will suffer the torment inflicted on the idol-worshippers.
       —relates to the unbelieving scholar, like the scholars of the Jews and the
Christians.22
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 while you forget yourselves?
                 wa tansawna anfusa-kum
          That is to say: “while you leave yourselves forgetful of righteousness.”23
                 And you are readers of the Scripture!
                 wa antum tatl«na ’l-Kitåb:
        This is a very stern rebuke, for those who understand. The Scripture in this
context is the Torah, but if anyone acts as they do, he is just like them.24 As for His
saying (Exalted is He):
                 Have you no sense at all?
                 a-fa-lå ta‹qil«n.
       —this conveys the astonishment their actions arouse in intelligent people.
Similar is His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Fie on you, and on all that you worship instead of Allåh!
                 uffin la-kum wa li-må ta‹bud«na min d«ni ’llåh:
                 Have you no sense at all?
                 a-fa-lå ta‹qil«n. (21:67)25

21   ar-Råzº (3/43)
22   aƒ-»åwº (1/26)
23   al-Baiæåwº (1/292)
24   al-Qur£ubº (1/369)
25   ar-Råzº (3/44)
                                                                                             18

       The blame in the Qur݌nic verse is directed at the preacher for committing what
he forbids, not for forbidding what is wrong. The responsible person is subject to two
commandments: one is to abstain from from sinful disobedience, and the second is to
prohibit others from committing it. Infringement of one of the two responsibilities does
not necessitate infringement of the other. Most of the scholars maintain that enjoining
righteousness is obligatory, even if the person concerned is forgetful of himself.26
       You should therefore understand—may Allåh grant you His enabling grace!—
that the censure in the Qur݌nic verse is on account of failure to act righteously, not on
account of enjoining righteousness. This is why, in His Book, Allåh (Exalted is He) has
blamed a people who used to enjoin deeds of righteousness, but did not practise them.
He has reproached them with a reproach that will be recited for all time, until the Day of
Resurrection, for He has said:
                 Do you enjoin righteousness on other people?
                 a-ta›mur«na ’n-nåsa bi’l-birri
         •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Seek help in patience and prayer
                 wa ’sta‹ºn« bi’ƒ-ƒabri wa ’ƒ-ƒalåh:
        Patience means patience in the face of injury, and in acts of worshipful
obedience, involving the struggle with the lower self, restraining it from its carnal
desires, and preventing it from pursuing its arrogant behaviour. This is one of the
characteristics of the Prophets and the righteous.
         •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 though truly it is hard, except for the humble-minded
                 wa inna-hå la-kabºratun illå ‹ala ’l-khåshi‹ºn:
       Humble-mindedness is a sense of awe, from which a state of calm and
submissiveness becomes apparent in the limbs and organs of the body. According to
Sahl ibn ‹Abdi’llåh: “A person does not act humbly until every hair on his body
becomes humble, for Allåh (Exalted is He) has said:
                 whereat creeps the flesh of those who fear their Lord.
                 taqsha‹irru min-hu jul«du ’lladhºna yakhshawna Rabba-hum. (39:23)”
        In my own opinion, this is the praiseworthy form of humble-mindedness, because,
when the heart is calm, fear demands the outward expression of humility. Its owner
cannot resist it, so you see him bowing his head in silence, behaving politely and
disparaging himself. The righteous predecessors used to strive to conceal such
manifestations, [for fear of hypocritical display]. As for the blameworthy kind, it is a
form of affectation, expressed in excessive weeping and bowing of the head, as practised
by the ignorant in order to be viewed with favour and respect. That is a temptation from
the Devil, and a seduction from the person’s lower self.27
         •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 for those who know that they will have to meet their Lord,
                 alladhºna yaœun«na anna-hum mulåq« Rabbi-him
                 and that unto Him they are returning.
                 wa anna-hum ilai-hi råji‹«n.

26   Shaikh Zåda (1/293)
27   al-Qur£ubº (1/375)
                                                                                            19


        Returning to Allåh (Exalted is He) means returning to the point where they
have no master apart from Him, and no one but He can cause them any benefit or harm.
That is how they were at the beginning of creation, so He has made it their point of
return. They are returning to Allåh from where they have been for the rest of the days
of their life. In the meantime, others may hold authority over them, and be able to cause
them harm and benefit, even though Allåh (Exalted is He) is their Master in all their
situations and conditions.28
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                             *****

                                             3.
                                  Patience and its Results
                                  [aƒ-»abr wa Natå›iju-h]
              In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                              Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                           And surely We shall try you with something
                                  wa la-nabluwanna-kum bi-shai›in
                                    of fear and hunger, and loss
                                 mina ’l-khawfi wa ’l-j«‹i wa naqƒin
                                   of wealth and lives and crops;
                            mina ’l-amwåli wa ’l-anfusi wa ’th-thamaråt:
                      but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere,
                                        wa bashshiri ’ƒ-ƒåbirºn:
                        to those who say, when a misfortune strikes them:
                                alladhºna idhå aƒåbat-hum muƒºbatun
                       “To Allåh we belong, and to Him we are returning.”
                               qål« innå li’llåhi wa innå ilai-hi råji‹«n:
                               Such are they on whom are blessings
                                     ulå›ika ‹alai-him ƒalawåtun
                                    from their Lord, and mercy.
                                      min Rabbi-him wa ra¥ma:
                                    Such are the rightly guided.
                                    wa ulå›ika humu ’l-muhtad«n.
                                               (2:155–7)

          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 And surely We shall try you
                 wa la-nabluwanna-kum
       That is to say: “We shall surely put you to the test, O Community of Mu¥ammad
(Allåh bless him and give him peace).” The purpose of trial and tribulation is to

28   ar-Råzº (3/49)
                                                                                                20

distinguish the obedient from the disobedient, not for Him to learn something He does
not already know, for Allåh (Glory be to Him and Exalted is He) knows all things before
their coming into existence.29
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 with something of fear and hunger,
                 bi-shai›in mina ’l-khawfi wa ’l-j«‹i
                 and loss of wealth and lives and crops
                 wa naqƒin mina ’l-amwåli wa ’l-anfusi wa ’th-thamaråt:
          That is to say: “with a little of each of these tests, and some part thereof.”30
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere
                 wa bashshiri ’ƒ-ƒåbirºn:
        This may be addressed to the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace), or to
everyone by whom the glad tidings will be announced.31 That is to say: “[Give glad
tidings] of the reward for patience, for its reward is incalculable, but that can only be
through patience when misfortune first strikes.” As reported by al-Bukhårº, on the
authority of Anas, the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) once said:
                 The time for patience is at the first assault.
        That is to say: “Patience is hardest, and the reward for it is greatest, at the point
when misfortune strikes and its heat is most intense, for that proves the strength of the
heart and its firm commitment to patience.” Once the heat of the misfortune has
cooled, everyone can be patient from then on. That is why is has been said: “It is
incumbent on every intelligent person to be as patient, the first time misfortune strikes,
as the simpleton must be after the third time.”
        There are two kinds of patience: (1) Patience in refraining from disobedience to
Allåh. This is the patience of someone still struggling [with his lower self]. (2) Patience
in obedience to Allåh. This is the patience of the worshipful servant.
        If someone is patient both in refraining from disobedience to Allåh, and in
positive obedience to Allåh, Allåh will grant him good pleasure by His decree. The sign
of good pleasure is the heart’s contentment with whatever the lower self finds distasteful
or desirable.32
        Two things are clearly indicated by his Qur݌nic verse: (1) These trials are not
necessarily punishments, because Allåh has threatened to inflict them on all the
believers, including the Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) and his
Companions. (2) If these trials are endured with patience, they confer a high degree in
the religion.33
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 those who say, when a misfortune strikes them:

29   al-Khåzin (1/98)
30   al-Kashshåf (1/323)
31   al-Ul«sº (2/23)
32   al-Qur£ubº (2/174)
33   ar-Råzº (4/137–9)
                                                                                                21

                alladhºna idhå aƒåbat-hum muƒºbatun
                “To Allåh we belong, and to Him we are returning.”
                qål« innå li’llåhi wa innå ilai-hi råji‹«n:
       A misfortune [muļba] is anything that harms the believer and afflicts him. As
reported by Muslim, Ab« Sa‹ºd al-Khudrº and Ab« Huraira (may Allåh be well pleased
with them) both heard Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) say:
                Nothing afflicts the believer, whether it be a stress or a strain, a sickness
or              a sorrow, so that it causes him distress, without his being pardoned
because                of it for his misdeeds.
         •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                Such are they on whom are blessings from their Lord, and mercy.
                ulå›ika ‹alai-him ƒalawåtun min Rabbi-him wa ra¥ma:
        These blessings from Allåh (Almighty and Glorious is He) are bestowed on those
who are patiently seeking to return to Him. Allåh confers His blessing on His servant,
and His pardon, His mercy, His gracious favour and His esteem, in this world and the
Hereafter. He has said: “and mercy” by way of emphasis, to drive the point home.
        As reported by al-Bukhårº, ‹Umar (may Allåh be well pleased with him) once
said: “Splendid are the two halves [‹idlån] and splendid is the addition [‹ilåwa] [in His
saying (Exalted is He)]:
                those who say, when a misfortune strikes them:
                alladhºna idhå aƒåbat-hum muƒºbatun
                ‘To Allåh we belong, and to Him we are returning.’
                qål« innå li’llåhi wa innå ilai-hi råji‹«n:
                Such are they on whom are blessings from their Lord, and mercy.
                ulå›ika ‹alai-him ƒalawåtun min Rabbi-him wa ra¥ma:
                Such are the rightly guided.
                wa ulå›ika humu ’l-muhtad«n.”
        By “the two halves [‹idlån]” he meant blessing and mercy, and by “the addition
[‹ilåwa]” he meant right guidance.34
         •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                Such are the rightly guided.
                wa ulå›ika humu ’l-muhtad«n.
        ‹Umar ibn al-Kha££åb (may Allåh be well pleased with him) is reported as having
said: “No misfortune ever afflicted me, without my finding that it contained three
blessings: (1) That it did not concern my religion. (2) That it was not the worst there
ever was. (3) That Allåh would requite it with great compensation.” He then recited
Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
                Such are they on whom are blessings from their Lord, and mercy.
                ulå›ika ‹alai-him ƒalawåtun min Rabbi-him wa ra¥ma:
                Such are the rightly guided.
                wa ulå›ika humu ’l-muhtad«n.
       As reported by at-Tirmidhº, the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace)
once said:


34   al-Qur£ubº (2/175–7)
                                                                                              22

                  When the son of the servant dies, Allåh (Exalted is He) will say to His
          angels: “Have you taken away My servant’s son?” They will say: “Yes,” so
          He will say: “Have you taken away the fruit of his heart’s core?” They will
          say: “Yes,” so He will ask: “What did My servant say?” They will say: “He
          praised You and sought to return to You.” Allåh (Exalted is He) will then
          say: “Build for My servant a house in the Garden of Paradise, and call it
          the House of Praise.”35
        According to Imåm al-Qushairº (may Allåh bestow His mercy upon him), in his
discussion of this noble Qur›ånic verse: “Their being tested with blessing is to
demonstrate their thankfulness. Their being tested with trial is to demonstrate their
patience. Their being tested with fear contains a purification for [the feelings in] their
breasts. Their being tested with hunger contains a cleansing for their bodies. Their
being tested with loss of wealth is a means of purifying their lower selves. Personal
misfortunes increase their reward in the presence of Allåh. As for the disastrous loss of
crops, for that they receive compensation from Allåh in the multiplication of their
offspring.”
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  those who say, when a misfortune strikes them…
                  alladhºna idhå aƒåbat-hum muƒºbatun…
        —to the end of the verse [åya]. This refers to those who confront the situation
with patience, or rather with thankfulness, or even with joy and gladness. If someone
views all things as property belonging to the Lord of Truth, he regards his lower self as a
stranger between him and his judgement, for the Originator of creation is more entitled
to the products of creation than are creatures.
        It is also said: “If someone experiences misfortunes, he recognizes that he belongs
to Allåh, and is returning to Allåh. If someone acknowledges the Tester, he knows that
whatever happens is from Allåh, so he is a servant because of Allåh. There is quite a
difference between someone who exists for Allåh’s sake, and someone who exists because
of Allåh. As for the one who exists for Allåh’s sake, he is patiently persevering. As for
the one who exists because of Allåh, he is devoid of personal choice and judgement. If
He keeps him intact, he stays intact, and if He expunges him, he is expunged. If He sets
him in motion, he moves, and if He makes him rest, he rests, for he is extinct to his
personal options, and completely controlled within the grasp [of his Lord].”
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  Such are they on whom are blessings from their Lord, and mercy.
                  ulå›ika ‹alai-him ƒalawåtun min Rabbi-him wa ra¥ma:
                  Such are the rightly guided.
                  wa ulå›ika humu ’l-muhtad«n.
       [They are rightly guided] because of His blessings upon them at the outset. They
attained to their patience and perseverence by Allåh’s decree; it was not that they
attained to His blessings by their patience and perseverance. Were it not for His
sempiternal mercy, their obedience would not fulfil the precondition of servitude, so His
sempiternal providence required a pure guidance for them. His saying (Exalted is He):
                  Such are they on whom are blessings from their Lord, and mercy.
                  ulå›ika ‹alai-him ƒalawåtun min Rabbi-him wa ra¥ma:
                  Such are the rightly guided.

35   »afwat at-tafåsºr (1/107)
                                                                                         23

                   wa ulå›ika humu ’l-muhtad«n.
       —means that, since He bestowed His mercy upon them at the very beginning,
they became rightly guided in the end.36
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                              *****

                                               4.
                                    The Real Meaning of Piety
                                        [ªaqºqat al-Birr]
                In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                                Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                               It is not piety, that you turn your faces
                                  laisa ’l-birra an tuwall« wuj«ha-kum
                                      to the East and to the West.
                                     qibala ’l-mashriqi wa ’l-maghribi
                      True piety is [the piety of] one who believes in Allåh
                                wa låkinna ’l-birra man åmana bi-’llåhi
                and the Last Day and the angels and the Book and the Prophets;
                 wa ’l-yawmi ’l-åkhiri wa ’l-malå›ikati wa ’l-kitåbi wa ’n-nabiyyºn:
                            one who gives his wealth, for love of Him,
                                       wa åta ’l-måla ‹alå ¥ubbi-hi
                  to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer
                   dhawi ’l-qurbå wa ’l-yatåmå wa ’l-masåkºna wa ’bna ’s-sabºli
                           and to those who beg, and to set slaves free;
                                       wa ’s-så›ilºna wa fi ’r-riqåb:
                  one who performs the ritual prayer, and pays the alms-due.
                                  wa aqåma ’ƒ-ƒalåta wa åta ’z-zakåh:
                        [It is the piety of] those who fulfil their covenant
                     when they have committed themselves to a covenant,
                                wa ’l-m«f«na bi-‹ahdi-him idhå ‹åhad«:
                                  and who are patient in tribulation
                                         wa ’ƒ-ƒåbirºna fi ’l-ba›så›i
                                 and adversity and in time of stress.
                                      wa ’æ-æarrå›i wa ¥ºna ’l-ba›s:
                   Such are they who are sincere. Such are the truly devout.
                        ulå›ika ’lladhºna ƒadaq«: ulå›ika humu ’l-muttaq«n.
                                                  (2:177)

          •Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
                   It is not piety, that you turn your faces

36   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/139ff)
                                                                                                24

                 laisa ’l-birra an tuwall« wuj«ha-kum
                 to the East and to the West.
                 qibala ’l-mashriqi wa ’l-maghribi
                 True piety is [the piety of] one who believes in Allåh
                 wa låkinna ’l-birra man åmana bi-’llåhi
        You must know that Allåh (Exalted is He) has mentioned several elements in
His definition of true piety: (1) Belief in Allåh. Knowledge of Allåh is unattainable
without knowledge of His special Essence, as well as knowledge of what is necessary,
permissible, or inconceivable in relation to Him. (2) Belief in the Last Day. (3) Belief
in the angels. (4) Belief in the Books of Scripture. (4) Belief in the Messengers.
        A question arises here: “Why has He given faith priority over the actions of the
physical limbs and organs?”
        The answer is this: He has done so to make it clear that the actions of the heart
are more noble, in the sight of Allåh, than the actions of the physical limbs and organs.37
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and the Last Day
                 wa ’l-yawmi ’l-åkhiri
        That is to say: “along with everything connected with that Day, such as the
Gathering and the Resurrection, the Narrow Bridge, the Balance, the Garden of Paradise
and the Fire of Hell, and the reward and punishment contained therein.”38 Belief in the
Last Day also means believing that it will come to pass without any doubt, and that it
will be as it is destined to be, not, as they claim, that the Fire will not touch them except
for a number of days, and that their fathers are the Prophets, who will intercede on their
behalf.
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and the angels
                 wa ’l-malå›ikati
        Belief in the angels means believing that all of them are the servants of Allåh,
neither males nor females, neither human beings nor Allåh’s children, honoured in His
presence, intermediaries between Him and His Prophets in the delivery of the
inspiration [wa¥y] and the sending down of the Books.
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and the Book
                 wa ’l-Kitåbi
        That is to say: “The Divine Scripture in general, of which one particular version
is the Criterion [al-Furqån].”
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and the Prophets; one who gives his wealth, for love of Him,
                 wa ’n-Nabiyyºn: wa åta ’l-måla ‹alå ¥ubbi-hi
                 to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer
                 dhawi ’l-qurbå wa ’l-yatåmå wa ’l-masåkºna wa ’bna ’s-sabºli
                 and to those who beg, and to set slaves free;

37   ar-Råzº (5/33–35)
38   aƒ-»åwº (1/79,80)
                                                                                              25

               wa ’s-så›ilºna wa fi ’r-riqåb:
               one who performs the ritual prayer, and pays the alms-due.
               wa aqåma ’ƒ-ƒalåta wa åta ’z-zakåh:
               [It is the piety of] those who fulfil their covenant
               wa ’l-m«f«na bi-‹ahdi-him
               when they have committed themselves to a covenant,
               idhå ‹åhad«:
               and who are patient in tribulation
               wa ’ƒ-ƒåbirºna fi ’l-ba›så›i
               and adversity and in time of stress.
               wa ’æ-æarrå›i wa ¥ºna ’l-ba›s:
               Such are they who are sincere. Such are the truly devout.
               ulå›ika ’lladhºna ƒadaq«: ulå›ika humu ’l-muttaq«n.
        As you can see, the Qur݌nic verse combines all human perfections, referring to
them explicitly or by implication. Because of their great number and diversity, they may
be summed up in a threefold classification: (1) correctness of belief, (2) excellence of
social conduct, and (3) education of the lower self. The first of these is indicated by His
saying:
               one who believes…
               man åmana…
       —up to and including:
               and the Prophets
               wa ’n-Nabiyyºn:
       The second is indicated by His saying:
               one who gives his wealth…
               wa åta ’l-måla…
       —up to and including:
               and to set slaves free
               wa fi ’r-riqåb:
       The third is indicated by His saying:
               one who performs the ritual prayer…
               wa aqåma ’ƒ-ƒalåta…
        —through to the end of the verse. He has then qualified all these virtues with
the attribute of sincerity:
               Such are they who are sincere.
               ulå›ika ’lladhºna ƒadaq«:
       —referring to their sincerity in faith and belief, and with the attribute of true
devotion:
               Such are the truly devout.
               ulå›ika humu ’l-muttaq«n.
       —referring to their treatment of fellow creatures and their dealing with the Lord
of Truth.
       As the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) once said:
                                                                                             26

                 If someone acts in accordance with this Qur݌nic verse, he has brought
         faith to perfection.
       According to Imåm al-Qushairº (may Allåh the Exalted bestow His mercy upon
him): “The implication is that external practices are of relatively little importance. The
message is really about Allåh, the Almighty. The frequent performance of litanies
[awråd], however splendid, is the craft of the elderly. Dedication to acts of worshipful
obedience, noble as it may be, is the attribute of the common folk. As for linking the
night to the day with numerous observances and copious endeavours, that contributes
greatly to earning the reward, but direct knowledge of the Lord of Truth is of
incomparable value.”39
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                         *****




                                            5.

39   See p. — above.
                                                                                             27


                                 The Truly Devoted Servants
                                    [al-‹Ibåd al-Atqiyå›]
               In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                               Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                    Say: “Shall I inform you of something better than that?
                           qul a-unabbi›u-kum bi-khairin min dhålikum:
                              For those who practise true devotion,
                                          li’lladhºna ’ttaqaw
                    with their Lord are Gardens beneath which rivers flow,
                      ‹inda Rabbi-him jannåtun tajrº min ta¥ti-ha ’l-anhåru
                                     dwelling therein forever,
                                             khålidºna fº-hå
                     and spouses purified, and good pleasure from Allåh.”
                       wa azwåjun mu£ahharatun wa riæwånun mina ’llåh:
                               Allåh is All-Seeing of His servants.
                                    wa ’llåhu Baƒºrun bi’l-‹ibåd:
                           Those who say: “Our Lord, we do believe,
                                    alladhºna yaq«l«na Rabba-nå
                                so forgive us our sins and guard us
                      inna-nå åmannå fa-’ghfir la-nå dhun«ba-nå wa qi-nå
                                  from the torment of the Fire,”
                                            ‹adhåba ’n-når:
                         those who are patient, those who are truthful,
                                      aƒ-ƒåbirºna wa ’ƒ-ƒådiqºna
                  those who are obedient, those who are charitable spenders,
                                   wa ’l-qånitºna wa ’l-munfiqºna
                     and those who seek forgiveness in the early morning.
                                   wa ’l-mustaghfirºna bi’l-as¥år.
                                                (3:15–17)

          •Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
                  Say: “Shall I inform you of something better than that?
                  qul a-unabbi›u-kum bi-khairin min dhålikum:
        That is to say: “Say, O Mu¥ammad: ‘Shall I inform you of something better
than the flower of this world’s life and its fleeting comfort, which people find so
attractive?’” This is posed in the interrogative for the sake of arresting attention.40
        The purpose is to inform the servant that, just as this world is more pleasant and
more spacious than the mother’s womb, the Hereafter is likewise more pleasant and more
spacious than this world. The bounties of the Hereafter are better than the bounties of
this world, because the bounties of this world are tainted with harmfulness, while the
bounties of the Hereafter are entirely free from the taint of harmful elements. Besides,
the bounties of this world are temporary, without a doubt, while the bounties of the
Herafter are permanent, without a doubt.41
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):


40   »afwat at-tafåsºr (1/179)
41   ar-Råzº (7/173)
                                                                                              28

                  For those who practise true devotion, with their Lord…
                  li’lladhºna ’ttaqaw ‹inda Rabbi-him…
        The pronoun “their” represents the truly devout, and its attachment to the title
of Lordship is a declaration of the abundant grace bestowed upon them. They are the
ones who are totally dedicated Him (Exalted is He) and who turn away from everyone
apart from Him, as He explains in the subsequent descriptions.42
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  are Gardens beneath which rivers flow
                  jannåtun tajrº min ta¥ti-ha ’l-anhåru
       This is a description of the delight of the Garden of Paradise, since it conjures up
all the bounties to be found therein, such as food, drink, clothing, furniture and
scenery.43
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  dwelling therein forever
                  khålidºna fº-hå
          That is to say: “abiding therein for all eternity.”44
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  and spouses purified
                  wa azwåjun mu£ahharatun
        He has described the spouses with a single attribute, embracing every desirable
quality, for He has said (Exalted is He):
                  purified
                  mu£ahharatun
       That includes purity from menstruation, parturition after childbirth, and other
conditions associated with women in this world, from which natural instinct recoils. It
includes their being purified from blameworthy traits of character, and from ugliness and
physical deformity. It also includes their being purified from unsociability.45
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  and good pleasure from Allåh.”
                  wa riæwånun mina ’llåh:
       As reported by al-Bukhårº and Muslim, on the authority of Abu ’s-Sa‹ºd al-
Khudrº (may Allåh be well pleased with him), Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and
give him peace) once said:
                 Allåh (Blessed and Exalted is He) will say to the people of the Garden:
“O               people of the Garden!” They will say: “Doubly at Your service, our Lord,
          and doubly obedient to You! All goodness is in Your hands.” He will say:

42   al-Ul«sº (3/101)
43   ar-Råzº (7/173)
44   »afwat at-tafåsºr (1/189)
45   ar-Råzº (7/173,174)
                                                                                             29

          “Are you well pleased?” They will reply: “How can we not be well pleased,
          O Lord, when You have given us what You have never given to anyone
          among Your creatures?” He will then say: “Have I not given you even
          better than that?” They will say: “O our Lord, and what thing is better
          than that?” He will say: “I shall grant you My good pleasure, and I shall
          never be displeased with you after that!”46
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  Allåh is All-Seeing of His servants.
                  wa ’llåhu Baƒºrun bi’l-‹ibåd:
        This means that Allåh (Exalted is He) is Well Aware of the difference between
those who prefer what is with Him, and those who prefer the carnal pleasures of this
world, so He will requite each one according to his work, for He will reward and punish
in accordance with the works performed.47
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  Those who say: “Our Lord, we do believe,
                  alladhºna yaq«l«na Rabba-nå
                  so forgive us our sins and guard us
                  inna-nå åmannå fa-’ghfir la-nå dhun«ba-nå wa qi-nå
                  from the torment of the Fire”
                  ‹adhåba ’n-når:
       That is to say: “Those who dedicate themselves to Us entirely, and humbly
submit before Us while remembering the trials and the catastrophe, those will receive
from Us nearness and special favour, and the lofty degrees, and the portions that are well
pleasing.”
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  those who are patient
                  aƒ-ƒåbirºna
        Patience means imprisoning the lower self, and that comes in three stages: (1)
Patience in doing what the servant has been commanded to do. (2) Patience in
refraining from what he has been forbidden to do. (3) Patience in submitting to the
outcome of whatever judgement He wishes to make, whether it involves the loss of
someone dear to you, or the onslaught of something you cannot handle.48
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  those who are truthful
                  wa ’ƒ-ƒådiqºna
        Truthfulness is required in speech, where it means the avoidance of lying. It is
required in action, where it means performing the action properly, and not turning away
from it before its completion. It is also required in the intention, where it means
sustaining the resolve until the action is performed.49

46   as-Siråj al-munºr (1/201,202)
47   al-Khåzin (1/222)
48   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/224)
49   R«¥ al-bayån (2/11)
                                                                                                30


          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  those who are obedient
                  wa ’l-qånitºna
        That is to say: “those who stay dutifully by the door, persist in swallowing
disappointment, abandon the things they love, and shun companions until they prove
their genuine closeness.”50
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  those who are [charitable] spenders
                  wa ’l-munfiqºna
        Expenditure [infåq] includes what a man spends on himself, his family, his
relatives and his kinsfolk, as well on the alms-due, the sacred struggle and other
righteous causes.51
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  and those who seek forgiveness in the early morning.
                  wa ’l-mustaghfirºna bi’l-as¥år.
        That is to say: “those who perform the ritual prayer, or those who seek
forgiveness.” He has specified the early morning because it is the time when
supplications are answered, and because it is the time of seclusion. Luqmån said to his
son: “O my dear son, do not let the cockerel be smarter than you! It gives the call to
prayer in the early morning, while you are asleep!”52 According to al-Qur£ubº: “Allåh
mentioned the early morning specifically, because it is the most likely time of
acceptance, and the time when supplications are answered.” As reported by the Imåms,
on the authority of Ab« Huraira (may Allåh be well pleased with him), the Prophet
(Allåh bless him and give him peace) once said:
                   Allåh descends to the heaven of this world each night, when the first
third              of the night has passed, and He says: “I am the King! I am the King!
          Who will appeal to Me, so that I may answer him? Who will ask of Me, so
          that I may give to him? Who will seek My forgiveness, so that I may
          forgive him?” He continues like that without interruption, until the dawn
          rises.53
        This Qur݌nic verse is a list of the stations of the spiritual traveller, arranged in
the finest sequence, for his relationship with Allåh (Exalted is He) is either a step-by-
step approach or an immediate request.
        As for the step-by-step approach, it is either by means of the lower self, by
restraining it from vices, confining it to virtues, and patience in both efforts, or by means
of the body. In the latter case, it may be a matter of speech, requiring truthfulness, or a
matter of action, requiring constant obedience, or a matter of property, requiring
expenditure for the sake of charity.


50   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/225)
51   ar-Råzº (7/176)
52   an-Nasafº (1/222)
53   al-Qur£ubº (4/38,39)
                                                                                              31

        As for the immediate request, it is the appeal for forgiveness, because forgiveness
is the most important of all requests, and it actually includes them all.
        The early morning is singled out because it is the time when the supplication is
closest to the response. Worshipful service is hardest at that time, the lower self is most
serene, and the inner feeling is most collected, especially for those who spend the night
in prayer. It has been said: “They used to pray until the early morning, then, when the
early morning came, they would seek forgiveness and make supplication.”54
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                         *****




                                            6.

54   al-Baiæåwº (1/611)
                                                                                         32


                     The Characters of the Truly Devout
                            [Akhlåq al-Atqiyå›]
           In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                           Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                      And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord,
                        wa såri‹« ilå maghfiratin min Rabbi-kum
                  and a Garden as wide as the heavens and the earth,
                      wa jannatin ‹aræu-ha ’s-samåwåtu wa ’l-aræu
                   which has been made ready for the truly devout;
                                  u‹iddat li’l-muttaqºn.
                  those who spend freely in prosperity and adversity,
                      alladhºna yunfiq«na fi ’s-sarrå›i wa ’æ-æarrå›i
                  who restrain their wrath, and pardon other people;
                    wa ’l-kåœimºna ’l-ghaiœa wa ’l-‹åfºna ‹ani ’n-nås:
                          for Allåh loves those who do good;
                              wa ’llåhu yu¥ibbu ’l-mu¥sinºn.
                     and those who, when they do an evil thing
                           wa ’lladhºna idhå fa‹al« få¥ishatan
                        or wrong themselves, remember Allåh
                         aw œalam« anfusa-hum dhakara ’llåha
                       and implore forgiveness for their sins—
                             fa-’staghfar« li-dhun«bi-him:
                           Who forgives sins but Allåh?—
                         wa man yaghfiru ’dh-dhun«ba illa ’llåh:
                   and will not knowingly persist in what they did.
                    wa lam yuƒirr« ‹alå må fa‹al« wa hum ya‹lam«n.
                The reward of such will be forgiveness from their Lord,
                     ulå›ika jazå›u-hum maghfiratun min Rabbi-him
                     and Gardens underneath which rivers flow,
                         wa jannåtun tajrº min ta¥ti-ha ’l-anhåru
                               dwelling therein forever—
                                     khålidºna fº-hå:
                            a bountiful reward for workers!
                                 wa ni›ma ajru ’l-‹åmilºn.
                                       (3:133–6)

       •Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
              And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord
              wa såri‹« ilå maghfiratin min Rabbi-kum
       This means: “Hasten to a deed that will secure forgiveness for you.” Hearts
became confused, and imagined that to be a very difficult matter, so the Prophet said
(Allåh bless him and give him peace):
              Remorse is repentance.
       Repentance is the deed that secures forgiveness, for the simple reason that the
disobedient sinner is the one who needs forgiveness.
       When it comes to making haste, there are several types of people: The
worshipful servants make haste with their feet, by performing acts of worshipful
                                                                                               33

obedience. As for those who learn by direct experience, they make haste with their
aspirations, by seeking nearness to the Lord. The disobedient sinners make haste with
their remorse, by swallowing afflictions. If someone makes haste with his feet, he will
find Allåh’s reward. If someone makes haste with his aspirations, he will find His
nearness. If someone makes haste with his remorse, he will find His mercy.55
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  and a Garden as wide as the heavens and the earth
                  wa jannatin ‹aræu-ha ’s-samåwåtu wa ’l-aræu
         According to some: “Its width is the same as its length, because it is a dome
beneath the Heavenly Throne, and when something is domed and circular, its width is
the same as its length.” That is corroborated in the authentic Prophetic tradition
[¥adºth], reported by al-Bukhårº and at-Tirmidhº:
                 When you ask Allåh for the Garden, ask Him for Paradise [Firdaws], for it
                 is the highest point of the Garden and the central point of the Garden.
          From it flow the rivers of the Garden, and its roof is the Throne of the All-
          Merciful.56
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  which has been made ready for the truly devout,
                  u‹iddat li’l-muttaqºn.
                  those who spend freely in prosperity and adversity
                  alladhºna yunfiq«na fi ’s-sarrå›i wa ’æ-æarrå›i
        That is to say: “in the state of opulence and ease, and in the state of poverty and
hardship.” They do not refrain from spending whatever they can in both these
conditions, be it little or much. He has begun with the mention of spending, because it
is the hardest thing for the lower self, and the clearest indication of sincere devotion. At
that time, moreover, it was the most important of all good deeds, because it was urgently
needed in the struggle with the foe, and in support of the poor among the Muslims.57
        As reported by at-Tirmidhº, on the authority of Ab« Huraira (may Allåh be well
pleased with him), Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) once said:
                  The generous spender is close to Allåh, close to the people, close to the
          Garden and remote from the Fire. The miser is far from Allåh, far from the
          people, far from the Garden and close to the Fire. The generous ignoramus
          is dearer to Allåh (Exalted is He) than a niggardly worshipper.58
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  who restrain their wrath
                  wa ’l-kåœimºna ’l-ghaiœa
        This means: “those who swallow their wrath, suppressing it when their lower
selves are filled with it, so they do not take revenge on those who cause them harm, and
do not treat them spitefully.” They prefer to endure that with patience, despite their

55   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/277)
56   Ibn Kathºr (1/536,537)
57   al-Kashshåf (1/463,464)
58   al-Khåzin (1/283)
                                                                                                 34

ability to retaliate and exact vengeance, and this is the commendable response. In the
words of the Prophetic tradition, reported by ‹Abd ar-Razzåq and Ibn Jarºr on the
authority of Ab« Huraira (may Allåh be well pleased with him):
                 If someone restrains his wrath, when he is capable of putting it into effect,
                 Allåh (Exalted is He) will fill his heart with security and faith.59
        It is related concerning ‹Á›isha (may Allåh the Exalted be well pleased with
her), that her servant was furious with her, so she said: “How excellent is true devotion
to Allåh! There is no remedy for someone consumed with rage.”60
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and pardon other people
                 wa ’l-‹åfºna ‹ani ’n-nås:
       Pardoning other people is the most splendid of all kinds of doing good. Several
Prophetic traditions have come down to us on the subject of restraining wrath,
pardoning other people, and controlling the lower self on the occasion of anger. That is
a major element of worshipful service and the struggle with the lower self, for the
Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) once said, as reported by al-Bukhårº and
Muslim:
                 The champion is not the expert wrestler. The champion is someone who
          governs his lower self on the occasion of anger.61
        In the mention of these two virtues [restraint of wrath and granting pardon],
according to some of the masters of verification, there is an indication that the Prophet
(Allåh bless him and give him peace) would be well advised to pardon the marksmen,
and to refrain from taking them to task for acting in defiance of his command (Allåh
bless him and give him peace). There is also an instruction to him (Allåh bless him and
give him peace) to refrain from the retribution he had decided to inflict on the
polytheists for what they did to ªamza (may Allåh be well pleased with him), since he
said, when he saw how ªamza had been mutilated:
                 I shall surely mutilate seventy in your place!62
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 for Allåh loves those who do good
                 wa ’llåhu yu¥ibbu ’l-mu¥sinºn.
       You should know that doing good to another is either a matter of providing him
with benefit, or of protecting him from harm. As for providing him with benefit, that is
the import of His saying:
                 those who spend freely in prosperity and adversity
                 alladhºna yunfiq«na fi ’s-sarrå›i wa ’æ-æarrå›i
        As for protecting him from harm, that may be in this world, in which case the
object is to keep him from reacting to one misdeed with another misdeed, for that is the

59   al-Ul«sº (4/58)
60   al-Khåzin (1/283)
61   al-Qur£ubº (4/207,208)
62   al-Ul«sº (4/59)
                                                                                               35

meaning of restraining wrath. It may also be in the Hereafter, in which case the object is
to ensure that his conscience is clear of responsibilities and claims against him in the
Hereafter, for that is the import of His saying:
                 and pardon other people
                 wa ’l-‹åfºna ‹ani ’n-nås.63
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and those who, when they do an evil thing
                 wa ’lladhºna idhå fa‹al« få¥ishatan
                 or wrong themselves, remember Allåh
                 aw œalam« anfusa-hum dhakara ’llåha
                 and implore forgiveness for their sins
                 fa-’staghfar« li-dhun«bi-him:
        In this Qur›ånic verse, Allåh (Exalted is He) has mentioned another type of
people, different from the first type, with whom he has linked them by His mercy and
His gracious favour, for these are the penitents, since imploring forgiveness is splendid
and its reward is momentous.
        As reported by Mak¥«l, Ab« Huraira (may Allåh be well pleased with him) once
said: “I have never seen anyone more frequent in seeking forgiveness than Allåh’s
Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace).”
        According to one of our scholars: “Seeking forgiveness is the essential
requirement. It is that which loosens the knot of persistence [in sin]. Its real meaning
must be established in the heart, not merely expressed with the tongue. As for someone
who says with his tongue: ‘I seek Allåh’s forgiveness,’ while his heart is persistent in
sinful disobedience, that plea for forgiveness is something for which forgiveness needs to
be sought, and his minor sin is attached to his major sins.”
        In my own opinion, he was saying this in the context of his own time, so how
about this time of ours, in which the human being is apparently devoted to wrongdoing,
insatiably greedy for it, while he holds prayer-beads in his hand, pretending that he is
seeking Allåh’s forgiveness for his sins? That is a mockery and a frivolity on his part, and
Allåh (Exalted is He) has said in the revelation:
                 Do not make the signs of Allåh a laughing-stock.
                 wa lå tattakhidh« åyåti ’llåhi huzuwå. (2:231)64
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Who forgives sins but Allåh?
                 wa man yaghfiru ’dh-dhun«ba illa ’llåh:
        He has ascribed to His Essence the abundance of mercy and the readiness to
forgive. He has declared that, in His sight, someone who repents his sin is like someone
who is not guilty of any sin, and that there is no relief for sinners except His gracious
favour and His noble generosity. In this there is comfort for the servants, an
encouragement and incentive to repent, and a deterrent to despair, for serious as sins
may be, His pardon is greater and His noble generosity is mightier.
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and will not persist in what they did.

63   R«¥ al-bayån (2/94)
64   al-Qur£ubº (4/209–211)
                                                                                                36

                 wa lam yuƒirr« ‹alå må fa‹al«
       They will not persist in their evil conduct, without seeking forgiveness. As
reported by Ab« Dåw«d and at-Tirmidhº, the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him
peace) once said:
                 He who seeks forgiveness does not persist [in sin], even if he returns to it
          seventy times in the day.
          He is also reported as having said (Allåh bless him and give him peace):
                 No sin is major in conjunction with seeking forgiveness, and no sin is
          minor in conjunction with persistence.
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 wa hum ya‹lam«n.
                 knowingly
        That is to say: “and they are not among those who persist in sins, while knowing
them to be evil, and that they are forbidden by the threat against them, because pardon
is granted to someone who does not recognize the evil of the evil deed.”65
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 The reward of such will be forgiveness from their Lord,
                 ulå›ika jazå›u-hum maghfiratun min Rabbi-him
                 and Gardens underneath which rivers flow,
                 wa jannåtun tajrº min ta¥ti-ha ’l-anhåru
                 dwelling therein forever.
                 khålidºna fº-hå:
        From the fact that the Garden has been prepared for the truly devout and the
penitents, as a reward for them, it does not necessarily follow that those who persist [in
sin] will not enter the Garden, just as it does not necessarily follow, from the fact that
the Fire has been prepared for the unbelievers, as a requital for them, that others apart
from them will not enter the Fire.66
        For the seeker of the Truth, it is therefore necessary to observe proper conduct, in
order to progress thereby to the highest degree. You must surely be aware of how Allåh’s
Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) would seek Allåh’s forgiveness seventy
times each day, even though his sin had already been forgiven. You must be aware of
how he reached what he reached through the perfection of his conduct, so that following
him has come to be a cause of Allåh’s love (Exalted is He). As He has said (Exalted is
He):
                 Say: “If you love Allåh, follow me;
                 qul in kuntum tu¥ibb«na ’llåha fa-’ttabi‹«nº
                 Allåh will love you.”
                 yu¥bib-kumu ’llåhu. (3:31)
        Nevertheless, his fear and his reverence were of the utmost perfection, and this is
how it must be for someone who follows his guidance.
        The degree of one who does good is superior, but making amends is better than
persistence [in sin], so congratulations are due to someone who makes amends, and so

65   al-Kashshåf (1/464,465)
66   al-Baiæåwº (1/672)
                                                                                               37

attains to doing good, and is rewarded with loving affection in the presence of Allåh, the
All-Merciful.67
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                            *****

                                          7.
                     Patient Endurance of Trial and Tribulation
                               [aƒ-»abr ‹ala ’l-Ibtilå›]
              In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                              Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                Surely you will be tried in your property and in your persons,
                         la-tublawunna fº amwåli-kum wa anfusi-kum:
             and you will hear much wrong from those who were given the Book
                         wa la-tasma‹unna mina ’lladhºna «tu ’l-Kitåba
                              before you, and from the idolaters.
                    min qabli-kum wa mina ’lladhºna ashrak« adhan kathºrå:
                       But if you persevere and practise true devotion,
                                    wa in taƒbir« wa tattaq«
                           that is part of the resolution of matters.
                               fa-inna dhålika min ‹azmi ’l-um«r.
                                             (3:186)

          •Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
                 Surely you will be tried
                 la-tublawunna
          The basic purpose of trial and tribulation is examination and testing [ikhtibår].
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 in your property
                 fº amwåli-kum
       You will be tried by various disasters that will affect your property, leading to its
destruction.68
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and in your persons
                 wa anfusi-kum:



67   R«¥ al-bayån (2/97)
68   Abu ’s-Sa‹«d (2/123)
                                                                                              38

        Your personal tribulations will include killing, wounding, captivity, diseases, the
loss of close relatives, and other kinds of troubles, horrors and hardships. Allåh has
mentioned property before persons to indicate an ascending scale of importance.69
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and you will hear much wrong from those
                 wa la-tasma‹unna mina ’lladhºna «tu ’l-Kitåba
                 who were given the Book before you, and from the idolaters.
                 «tu ’l-Kitåba min qabli-kum wa mina ’lladhºna ashrak« adhan kathºrå:
        This refers to the various kinds of abuse inflicted on the Muslims by the Jews, the
Christians and the idolaters. The Jews would say: “‹Uzair is the son of Allåh,” and the
Christians would say: “The Messiah is the son of Allåh, and the third of three.” They
also used to defame the Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) in every way
they could. As for the idolaters, they used to incite people to oppose the Messenger
(Allåh bless him and give him peace). They would assemble armies to wage war on the
Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace), and prevent the Muslims from
supporting him. The Qur݌nic verse must therefore apply to them all, since there is no
reason for it to apply to one group rather than another.70
        Whenever someone stands up for a truth, or commands something right and
proper, or forbids something wrong and improper, he is bound to suffer abuse. He has no
remedy except patience in relying on Allåh, seeking help from Allåh, and returning to
Allåh (Almighty and Glorious is He).71
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 But if you persevere
                 wa in taƒbir«
        This means that the Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) was
commanded to persevere with patience in the face of tribulation inflicted on his person
and his property, with patience in suffering abuse, and with patience in abstaining from
resistance and confrontation. When Allåh (Exalted is He) required that of him, He did
so because it was most likely to induce the opponent to enter the religion. As He said
(Exalted is He):
                 And speak to him gently,
                 fa-q«lå la-hu qawlan layyinan
                 for then he may be mindful, or perhaps feel afraid.
                 la‹alla-hu yatadhakkaru aw yakhshå. (20:44)
                 Tell those who believe to forgive those who do not hope
                 qul li’lladhºna åman« yaghfir« li’lladhºna lå yarj«na
                 for the days of Allåh.
                 ayyåmi ’llåhi. (45:14)
          What is meant by this forgiveness is patience and abstaining from revenge.
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and practise true devotion

69   al-Ul«sº (4/147)
70   ar-Råzº (9/104)
71   Ibn Kathºr (1/579)
                                                                                               39

                 wa tattaq«
       True devotion signifies guarding against that which is inappropriate. Allåh has
mentioned patient perseverence, then He has gone on to mention true devotion. That
is because, if the human being is going to practise patience, he will do so because he
wishes to guard against that which is inappropriate. He is commanded to practise
patience in order to minimize the injuries of this world, and he is commanded to practise
true devotion in order to minimize the injuries of the Hereafter. On the basis of this
interpretation, the Qur݌nic verse embraces the proprieties of both this world and the
Hereafter.72
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 that is part of the resolution of matters.
                 fa-inna dhålika min ‹azmi ’l-um«r.
        It contributes to the resolution of matters about which people are at odds with
one another. In other words, it is something that everyone must resolve to practise,
because it contributes to the perfection of virtue and nobility. It may also signify part of
that upon which Allåh (Exalted is He) has resolved, which He has commanded, and the
importance of which He has stressed. This means that it is one of the strict resolutions
of Allåh (Exalted is He), so it is essential for you to practise patience and true
devotion.73
        It is therefore incumbent on the intelligent person to model himself on the
characteristics of the Prophets and the saints, and to conduct himself in accordance with
their exemplary patterns of behaviour. They used to be patient in the face of abuse, and,
when confronted by the insolent fool, they would not respond in kind.
                 And when they pass by idle talk, they pass by with dignity.
                 wa idhå marr« bi’l-laghwi marr« kiråmå. (25:72)
       Allåh (Exalted is He) has extolled His Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him
peace) in His saying:
                 And you are indeed of a splendid character.
                 wa inna-ka la-‹alå khuluqin ‹aœºm. (68:4)
       ‹Á›isha (may Allåh be well pleased with her) once said: “The character of the
Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) was the Qur›ån.” By this she meant that
he conducted himself in accordance with the standards of behaviour prescribed by the
Qur݌n.74
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                            *****

                                               8.
72   ar-Råzº (9/104,105)
73   Abu ’s-Sa‹«d (2/124)
74   R«¥ al-Bayån (2/140)
                                                                      40


        Attributes of Those with Understanding Minds
                      [»ifåt Uli ’l-Albåb]
    In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                    Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

          Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth,
                   inna fº khalqi ’s-samåwåti wa ’l-aræi
                  and the alternation of night and day,
                      wa ’khtilåfi ’l-laili wa ’n-nahåri
          there are signs for those with understanding minds.
                          la åyåtin li-uli ’l-albåb.
           [There are signs for] those who remember Allåh,
                      alladhºna yadhkur«na ’llåha
                standing and sitting and on their sides,
                qiyåman wa qu‹«dan wa ‹alå jun«bi-him
    and who reflect upon the creation of the heavens and the earth.
            wa yatafakkar«na fº khalqi ’s-samåwåti wa ’l-aræ:
     Our Lord, You have not created this in vain. Glory be to You!
             Rabba-nå må khalaqta hådhå bå£ilå: sub¥åna-ka
              So guard us against the torment of the Fire.
                        fa-qi-nå ‹adhåba ’n-når.
            Our Lord, whomever You cause to enter the Fire,
                 Rabba-nå inna-ka man tudkhili ’n-nåra
                       him You will have abased,
                           fa-qad akhzaita-h:
             and for the evildoers there will be no helpers.
                      wa må li’œ-œålimºna min anƒår.
            Our Lord, we have heard a crier calling us to faith,
                   Rabba-nå inna-nå sami‹nå munådiyan
          saying: “Believe in your Lord!” So we have believed.
            yunådº li’l-ºmåni an åmin« bi-Rabbi-kum fa-åmannå
                         Our Lord, forgive us our sins
                    Rabba-nå fa-’ghfir la-nå dhun«ba-nå
                       and acquit us of our evil deeds,
                         wa kaffir ‹an-nå sayyi›åti-nå
                and let us die together with the righteous.
                         wa tawaffa-nå ma‹a ’l-abrår.
           Our Lord, give us that which You have promised us
                   Rabba-nå wa åti-nå må wa‹adta-nå
                       through Your Messengers,
                               ‹alå Rusuli-ka
         and do not put us to shame on the Day of Resurrection.
                    wa lå tukhzi-nå yawma ’l-qiyåma:
                Surely You will not fail to keep the tryst!
                       inna-ka lå tukhlifu ’l-mº‹åd.
                                (3:190–94)

•Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
       Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth
                                                                                              41

                  inna fº khalqi ’s-samåwåti wa ’l-aræi
        The purpose of this noble Book is to draw hearts and spirits away from
preoccupation with creatures [khalq], towards immersion in direct knowledge of the
Truth [ªaqq].
        According to Ibn ‹Umar (may Allåh be well pleased with him and his father): “I
said to ‹Á›isha (may Allåh be well pleased with her): ‘Of all that you have experienced
from Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace), tell me what is the most
amazing!’ She burst into tears and spent a long time weeping, then she said: ‘He came
to me during the night, and slipped inside my blanket so that his skin pressed against my
skin. Then he said to me:
                  O ‹Á›isha, could you permit me to devote this night to the worship of my
          Lord?
       “‘I replied: “O Messenger of Allåh, I dearly love your nearness, but I also love
your wish, so I have granted you permission!” He thereupon got up, went over to a
waterskin kept in the house, and performed the ritual ablution, without pouring too
much water. Then he stood ready to perform the ritual prayer. He recited from the
Qur݌n and began to weep. Then he raised his hands and went on weeping, until I saw
that his tears had moistened the floor. Bilål arrived to give him the call to the early
morning prayer, so he saw him weeping and said to him: “O Messenger of Allåh, are you
weeping, when Allåh has forgiven you your former and your latter sins?” He said:
                O Bilål, should I not be a very thankful servant? Why should I not weep,
          when Allåh has sent down to me this night:
                  Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth
                  inna fº khalqi ’s-samåwåti wa ’l-aræi
                  Woe unto anyone who recites it, but does not reflect upon it!’”75
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  and the alternation of night and day
                  wa ’khtilåfi ’l-laili wa ’n-nahåri
       That is to say: “in their taking turns on the face of the earth, and the fact that
each of them replaces the other in accordance with the rising of the sun and its setting.”
Or: “in their alternating as one of them intensifies and the other diminishes.”76
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  there are signs for those with understanding minds.
                  la åyåtin li-uli ’l-albåb.
       There are many indications for those endowed with pure intelligence, free from
the blemishes of fantasies and illusions.77
       For the spiritual traveller to Allåh, it is essential at the outset to have many
signposts. Then, once the heart is illumined by the light of intimate knowledge of
Allåh, his preoccupation with those signs becomes like an obstacle, preventing him from
immersing the heart in direct knowledge of Allåh. At the start of his career, the spiritual

75   ar-Råzº (9/109)
76   Abu ’s-Sa‹«d (2/127)
77   R«¥ al-bayån (2/144)
                                                                                              42

traveller is a seeker in need of many signposts, but then, with the advent of this light in
the heart, the heart becomes a seeker in need of fewer signposts. In due course, with the
disappearance of the darkness arising from the heart’s preoccupation with anything other
than Allåh, he experiences the perfect manifestation of the lights of intimate knowledge
of Allåh.78
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  [There are signs for] those who remember Allåh,
                  alladhºna yadhkur«na ’llåha
                  standing and sitting and on their sides
                  qiyåman wa qu‹«dan wa ‹alå jun«bi-him
         They are engaged in constant remembrance, in whatever position they may be,
such as standing, sitting and reclining. They do not neglect the remembrance in most of
their situations.
         According to traditional report, Ibn ‹Umar and ‹Urwa ibn az-Zubair (may Allåh
be well pleased with them) went out on the Day of Festival [‹Ïd], accompanied by others,
to the site of prayer. They were about to remember Allåh, when one of them remarked:
“Has not Allåh said:
                  [those who] remember Allåh,
                  yadhkur«na ’llåha
                  standing and sitting and on their sides
                  qiyåman wa qu‹«dan wa ‹alå jun«bi-him?”
       —so they set about remembering Allåh while standing on their feet.79
       According to most of the commentators: “The meaning of it is the constant
practice of remembrance in the majority of situations, because the human being is
seldom in any but one of these three states: standing, sitting, and lying asleep on his
side.”
       As reported by Muslim, ‹Á›isha (may Allåh be well pleased with her) once said:
“Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) used to remember Allåh
(Almighty and Glorious is He) in all his moments.”80
       Remembrance is path of the Lord of Truth (Glory be to Him), so the seekers
follow no path more correct and clearer than the path of remembrance. Even if there
were no proof of this, apart from His saying (Exalted is He) in the Sacred Tradition
[ªadºth Qudsº] reported by ad-Dailamº:
                  I am the Intimate Companion of him who remembers Me.
        —that would be quite sufficient!
        Remembrance is the token of sainthood [wilåya], the mark of connection, the
verification of intention, the sign of initial correctness, and the indication of ultimate
purity, so there is nothing beyond remembrance. All praiseworthy virtues are related to
remembrance, and they develop through remembrance.81
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):


78   ar-Råzº (9/109)
79   al-Kashshåf (1/488)
80   al-Khåzin (1/315)
81   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/305)
                                                                                              43

                  and who reflect upon the creation of the heavens and the earth.
                  wa yatafakkar«na fº khalqi ’s-samåwåti wa ’l-aræ:
        Allåh (Exalted is He) has encouraged the remembrance of Allåh, but, now that
attention has moved to thinking, He has not encouraged thinking about Allåh. He has
rather encouraged thinking about the conditions of the heavens and the earth. In
accordance with this Qur›ånic verse, the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace)
once said:
                  Reflect upon the creation, and do not reflect upon the Creator.82
        Reflection is to the benefit of every seeker, and its fruit is communion on the
basis of knowledge. When remembrance is free from blemishes, its practitioner reaches
the springs of verification. When direct witnessing is attained, the visionary ascends
beyond thought to the frontiers of remembrance, for remembrance is eternal.
        The thinking of the ascetics is about the transitory nature of this world, and the
paucity of its compensation for those who seek it, so their abstinence from it is increased
by reflection. The thinking of the worshipful servants is about the beauty of the reward,
so their eagerness for it is increased. As for the insightful, their thinking is about the
benefits and the blessings, so they grow stronger in love for the Lord of Truth (Glory be
to Him).83
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  Our Lord, You have not created this in vain.
                  Rabba-nå må khalaqta hådhå bå£ilå:
        The meaning is: “Our Lord, You have not created this creation, or the
magnificent result of reflection upon it, devoid of wisdom and empty of benefit. You
have created it full of splendid nuggets of wisdom, permeated with glorious benefits,
which thoughts are too bewildered to grasp, and which intellects stop short of
comprehending in their entirety. They include provision of the servants’ means of
livelihood, and a beacon that guides them to intimate knowledge of the conditions of
the outset and the point of return, in accordance with what Your Books have explained,
and what Your Messengers have brought.”84
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  Glory be to You!
                  sub¥åna-ka
       That is to say: “We declare You utterly exempt from all things that do not befit
You, including the creation of that which contains no wisdom.”
                  So guard us against the torment of the Fire.
                  fa-qi-nå ‹adhåba ’n-når.
        That is to say: “against the torment of the Fire, which is the recompense of those
who do not acknowledge that [exemption of Yours].” As for the prefix fa- [so], it serves
to indicate that, because of their knowledge of the purpose for which the heavens and
the earth were created, they need to seek refuge [with their Lord].


82   ar-Råzº (9/111)
83   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/205,206)
84   al-Ul«sº (4/160)
                                                                                              44

        There is also an indication of the importance of remembering Allåh, and an
indication of three stages: (1) remembrance with the tongue, (2) reflection with the
heart, and (3) intimate knowledge with the spirit. That is because the remembrance of
the tongue connects its practitioner to the remembrance of the heart, which is reflection
upon the Power of Allåh. The remembrance of the heart then brings its practitioner to
the station of the spirit, where he acquires intimate knowledge of the realities of things,
and witnesses the Divine wisdom in Allåh’s creation, so that he says:
                 Our Lord, You have not created this in vain.
                 Rabba-nå må khalaqta hådhå bå£ilå:
        In is incumbent upon the believer to persist in the remembrance of Allåh, with
his tongue, in all situations, until he attains thereby to the remembrance of the heart,
then to the remembrance of the spirit. He will thus acquire certitude and intimate
knowledge, escape from the darkness of ignorance, and be illumined with the light of
direct knowledge.85
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Our Lord, whomever You cause to enter the Fire,
                 Rabba-nå inna-ka man tudkhili ’n-nåra
                 him You will have abased
                 fa-qad akhzaita-h:
       Having asked their Lord to guard them against the torment of the Fire, they have
followed that plea with a reference to the enormity and severity of that punishment,
which takes the form of abasement. This is meant to heighten the impact of that plea.
       The wise men of Islåm have cited this Qur›ånic verse as proof that the spiritual
torment is more severe and more intense than the physical torment.86
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and for the evildoers there will be no helpers.
                 wa må li’œ-œålimºna min anƒår.
        He is referring here to those who are caused to enter [the Fire]. The denial of
help does not necessarily mean the denial of intercession, because help is intervention by
brute force,87 whereas intercession is intervention by means of gentleness and pleading.
The denial of one, therefore, does not prove the denial of the other.88
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Our Lord, we have heard a crier calling us to faith,
                 Rabba-nå inna-nå sami‹nå munådiyan
                 saying: “Believe in your Lord!” So we have believed.
                 yunådº li’l-ºmåni an åmin« bi-Rabbi-kum fa-åmannå
     As for the identity of the crier, there are two opinions: (1) He is our master
Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). This is the opinion of the majority.


85   R«¥ al-bayån (2/145,146)
86   ar-Råzº (9/115,116)
87   al-Baiæåwº (1/696)
88   Shaikh Zåda (1/296)
                                                                                            45

(2) It is the Qur›ån, because not everyone has met the Prophet (Allåh bless him and
give him peace), whereas everyone has heard and understood the Qur݌n.89
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Our Lord, forgive us our sins
                 Rabba-nå fa-’ghfir la-nå dhun«ba-nå
          That is to say: “Conceal them from the eyes of creatures.”
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and acquit us of our evil deeds
                 wa kaffir ‹an-nå sayyi›åti-nå
       That is to say: “Delete them from us, so that you do not take us to task for them,
and erase them from the records.” This is tremendous progress in the quest for
forgiveness, for it links the special few to the common folk.90
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and let us die together with the righteous.
                 wa tawaffa-nå ma‹a ’l-abrår.
        That is to say: “specially favoured with their fellowship, enjoying their
proximity, numbered among their company.” The meaning of togetherness is not
togetherness in time, because that is impossible, since their dying will only occur at
successive intervals. Togetherness is rather a matter of sharing the quality of the
righteous in the state of dying.
        There is also an implication that they were longing for the meeting with Allåh,
and if someone dearly wishes to meet Allåh, Allåh dearly wishes to meet him. If Allåh
has included someone among those who have believed in the summoner to faith, He has
thereby honoured him together with His saints in the Gardens of Paradise.
Congratulations are due, therefore, to those who listen to advice and follow the best of
it, and to those who heed the best counsel.91
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Our Lord, give us that which You have promised us
                 Rabba-nå wa åti-nå må wa‹adta-nå
                 through Your Messengers
                 ‹alå Rusuli-ka
       This gives rise to a question: Since the breaking of Allåh’s promise is
inconceivable, why did they appeal for what they know would undoubtedly happen?
       The answer is as follows: The purpose of the supplication is not to request the
action. Its purpose is rather to demonstrate humility, submissiveness and servitude.
Allåh has commanded us to appeal for things, even though we know for certain that
they will undoubtedly occur, as in His saying (Exalted is He):
                 He says: “My Lord, judge with truth.”
                 qåla Rabbi ’¥kum bi’l-ªaqq. (21:112)92

89   ar-Råzº (9/117,118)
90   aƒ-»åwº (1/197)
91   R«¥ al-bayån (2/148)
92   ar-Råzº (9/120)
                                                                                           46


          According to the erudite scholar aƒ-»åwº, who responds to this question in his
Qur›ånic commentary: “The gist of the answer is that the ultimate outcome is unknown.
Allåh’s promise will not be broken if its outcome is extolled, and from whence comes our
finest outcome? The point of the appeal is that Allåh should make their outcome fine,
for, if it is fine, His promise (Exalted is He) will prove true.”93
         •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and do not put us to shame on the Day of Resurrection.
                 wa lå tukhzi-nå yawma ’l-qiyåma:
       This means: “and do not subject us to ruin and humiliation, and do not treat us
with contempt on that Day.”94
         •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Surely You will not fail to keep the tryst!
                 inna-ka lå tukhlifu ’l-mº‹åd.
        This is an assertion designed to confirm what they have stated in the course of
their supplication. These supplications, and the perfection of humble entreaty implicit
in their repetitions, are motivated not by their fear that the promise might be broken,
but by their fear of not being included among those to whom the promise was made, due
to change of condition and a bad conclusion and final outcome. Their recourse to
supplication is therefore intended to establish confirmation, or to emphasize their
worshipful devotion and humble submissiveness.95
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                           *****




                                               9.

93   aƒ-»åwº (1/197)
94   al-Khåzin (1/317)
95   Abu ’s-Sa‹«d (2/133)
                                                                                         47


                         Obedience to Allåh and His Messenger
                              [¡å‹at Allåh wa Ras«li-h]
               In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                               Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                      Those are the limits of Allåh. Whoever obeys Allåh
                              tilka ¥ud«du ’llåh: wa man yu£i‹i ’llåha
                      and His Messenger, He will make him enter Gardens
                                  wa Ras«la-hu yudkhil-hu jannåtin
                       beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever.
                            tajrº min ta¥ti-ha ’l-anhåru khålidºna fº-hå:
                                   That is the mighty triumph.
                                    wa dhålika ’l-fawzu ’l-‹aœºm.
                        And whoever disobeys Allåh and His Messenger
                                wa man ya‹ƒi ’llåha wa Ras«la-hu
                    and transgresses His limits, He will make him enter Fire,
                                     wa yata‹adda ¥ud«da-hu
                     to dwell therein forever; his will be a shameful doom.
                    yudkhil-hu nåran khålidan fº-hå: wa la-hu ‹adhåbun muhºn.
                                            (4:13,14)

          •Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
                  Those are the limits of Allåh.
                  tilka ¥ud«du ’llåh:
        The limits [¥ud«d] are the rules mentioned earlier in this S«ra, regarding the
property of orphans, bequests, marriages and inheritances. He has called them limits
because the laws [sharå›i‹] are like limits set for responsible believers, who are not
permitted to transgress them.96
        His limits are His commandments and His prohibitions, and the means by which
His servants serve Him. The basis of servitude is observing the limits and keeping the
covenants. If someone observes the limit set for him, he will suffer no affliction or
disaster, for the root of all tribulation is transgression of the limits.97
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  Whoever obeys Allåh and His Messenger
                  wa man yu£i‹i ’llåha wa Ras«la-hu
          Some have said: “His saying (Exalted is He):
                  Whoever obeys Allåh and His Messenger
                  wa man yu£i‹i ’llåha wa Ras«la-hu
          —and His saying (Exalted is He):
                  And whoever disobeys Allåh and His Messenger
                  wa man ya‹ƒi ’llåha wa Ras«la-hu


96   al-Khåzin (1/335)
97   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/319)
                                                                                                  48

        —refer specifically to those who obey or disobey in relation to the particular
obligations mentioned in this S«ra.” According to the masters of verification, however:
“The reference is all-inclusive, because the expression is general and must therefore
apply to every case.”98
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 He will make him enter Gardens beneath which rivers flow
                 yudkhil-hu jannåtin tajrº min ta¥ti-ha ’l-anhåru
       That is to say: “Gardens in which their water flows beneath their trees and
buildings.”
                 to dwell therein forever. That is the mighty triumph.
                 khålidºna fº-hå: wa dhålika ’l-fawzu ’l-‹aœºm.
       That is to say: “To enter the Gardens in the manner described, that constitutes
the mighty triumph, meaning success and attainment of the very best result.”99
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 And whoever disobeys Allåh and His Messenger
                 wa man ya‹ƒi ’llåha wa Ras«la-hu
                 and transgresses His limits,
                 wa yata‹adda ¥ud«da-hu
                 He will make him enter Fire, to dwell therein forever
                 yudkhil-hu nåran khålidan fº-hå:
        That is to say: “because he has altered that which Allåh ordained for him, and
contradicted Allåh in His judgement.” This can only be due to lack of satisfaction with
that which Allåh has allotted to him and decreed for him. He has therefore transgressed
it with disdain for the painful and everlasting torment. According to Ab« Huraira (may
Allåh be well pleased with him), Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him
peace) once said:
                  A man may act in accordance with the work of the people of goodness for
                  seventy years, but if he acts unjustly in his final bequest, he will bear the
          seal of his misconduct and will therefore enter the Fire of Hell. A man may
          act in accordance with the work of the people of evil for seventy years, but
          if he acts justly in his final bequest, he will bear the seal of his good conduct
          and will therefore enter the Garden of Paradise.
         Ab« Huraira (may Allåh be well pleased with him) went on to say: “Read, if you
will, [the Qur݌nic verse] from:
                 Those are the limits of Allåh…
                 tilka ¥ud«du ’llåh…
          —to His saying:
                 a shameful doom.
                 ‹adhåbun muhºn.”100


98   ar-Råzº (9/184)
99   al-Ul«sº (4/233)
100   Ibn Kathºr (1/613)
                                                                                                49

          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 his will be a shameful doom.
                 wa la-hu ‹adhåbun muhºn.
        That is to say: “apart from the burning physical torment, for him there will be a
another torment, the extent of which is unknown, for that is the spiritual torment.”
Whereas the people of the Garden will dwell eternally together, he will dwell eternally
in isolation, because isolation is a torment peculiar to the people of the Fire.
        You must also know that worshipful obedience is a cause of the attainment of
both worldly and Otherworldly goals. According to ªåtim al-Aƒamm (may Allåh
sanctify his innermost being): “Adhere to the service of your Master, for then this world
will come to you reluctantly, and the Hereafter willingly.”
        He also said: “If someone claims three things without three others, he is a liar. If
someone claims love for the Garden of Paradise, without spending his wealth on charity,
he is a liar. If someone claims love for Allåh, without pious abstention from Allåh’s
prohibitions, he is a liar. If someone claims love for the Prophet (peace be upon him),
without love for the poor, he is a liar. Whenever the servant increases in worshipful
service and obedience to Allåh, he increases in nearness to Him and in distance from
Satan’s deception.”
        According to Sarº as-Saqa£º: “I asked Ma‹r«f al-Karkhº about those who are
obedient to Allåh: ‘What makes them capable of obedience?’ He said: ‘The departure
of this world from their hearts. If it were in their hearts, not a single act of prostration
would be valid for them. When Allåh honours someone with intimate knowledge of His
Might and Glory, that person is compelled to perfect his obedience.’”
        It is therefore essential for the believer to do righteous work, and to guard against
anything that renders it null and void, such as ostentatiousness and other corrupting
diseases. That is why the elders used to prefer solitary seclusion. According to Imåm
Ja‹far aƒ-»ådiq, and likewise Sufyån ath-Thawrº: “This is the time for silence and staying
at home.”101
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                          *****




                                         10.
                                  Prompt Repentance

101   R«¥ al-bayån (2/175,176)
                                                                                               50


                                    [at-Tawba min Qarºb]
              In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                              Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                       Relenting is only incumbent on Allåh towards those
                              inna-ma ’t-tawbatu ‹ala ’llåhi li’lladhºna
                         who do evil in ignorance, then quickly repent.
                     ya‹mal«na ’s-s«›a bi-jahålatin thumma yat«b«na min qarºbin
                           These are they toward whom Allåh relents.
                                  fa-ulå›ika yat«bu ’llåhu ‹alai-him:
                                 Allåh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
                                  wa kåna ’llåhu ‹Alºman ªakºmå.

                      The relenting is not for those who do evil deeds until,
                     wa laisati ’t-tawbatu li’lladhºna ya‹mal«na ’s-sayyi›åti ¥attå
                   when death attends on one of them, he says: “I repent now;”
                      idhå ¥aæara a¥ada-humu ’l-mawtu qåla innº tubtu ’l-åna
                      nor yet for those who die while they are unbelievers.
                              wa la-’lladhºna yam«t«na wa hum kuffår:
                            For such we have prepared a painful doom.
                                ulå›ika a‹tadnå la-hum ‹adhåban alºmå.
                                                 (4:17,18)

          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                   Relenting is only incumbent on Allåh
                   inna-ma ’t-tawbatu ‹ala ’llåhi
                   towards those who do evil in ignorance
                   li’lladhºna ya‹mal«na ’s-s«›a bi-jahålatin
        In this context, ignorance does not mean lacking the knowledge that what one
has done is a sin. As for those who do evil, but without knowing that it is a sin, they do
not deserve the punishment, so there is no need for them to repent, because members of
this Community are not condemned for mistakes. What is meant by ignorance is
stupidity and mental frivolity. When the stupid fool commits sinful disobedience with
the knowledge that it is an act of sinful disobedience, he is called an ignoramus simply to
reduce him to the level of the ignorant. That is because, if he had acted in accordance
with his knowledge of the reckoning and the recompense, the rewarding of the obedient
and the punishing of the disobedient, he would not have embarked on sinful
disobedience. Since he has in fact committed it, because of his stupidity and his mental
frivolity, he has come to be as if he had no knowledge, so he is called an ignoramus.102
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                   then quickly repent.
                   thumma yat«b«na min qarºbin
       That is to say: “in a short space of time, before the advent of death.”103 It is also
implied that the human being should renew his repentance at every moment, because
death may occur at any instant. That is why Ab« Bakr aƒ-»iddºq (may Allåh be well

102   Shaikh Zåda (2/19)
103   al-Baiæåwº
                                                                                                 51

pleased with him) once said: “It has never happened, when a breath departed from me,
that I expected its return!”104
        According to our scholars (may Allåh bestow His mercy upon them):
“Repentance alone is valid only at this moment, because the risk of repetition remains,
so what is required is remorse and determination to forsake the misconduct.” As
reported by at-Tirmidhº, on the authority of Ibn ‹Umar (may Allåh be well pleased with
him and his father), the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) once said:
                 Allåh accepts the servant’s repentance, provided he does not stutter.105
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Such are those towards whom Allåh relents.
                 fa-ulå›ika yat«bu ’llåhu ‹alai-him:
       Having mentioned these two preconditions [ignorance and repentance], Allåh
(Exalted is He) has said [in another S«ra]:
                 These are the ones towards whom I relent.
                 wa bayyan« fa-ulå›ika at«bu ‹alai-him. (2:160)
       That is to say: “Guidance and direction to repentance, and assistance therein,
are incumbent on Allåh (Exalted is He) in the case of someone who commits a sin by
way of ignorance, then quickly repents it, refrains from persisting in it, and begs
forgiveness for it.” He has then said (Exalted is He):
                 Such are those towards whom Allåh relents.
                 fa-ulå›ika yat«bu ’llåhu ‹alai-him:
       This means that if the servant concerned shows repentance, Allåh will accept it
from him. He has then said (Exalted is He):
                 Allåh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
                 wa kåna ’llåhu ‹Alºman ªakºmå.
         That is to say: “Allåh knows full well that when the servant committed that act
of disobedience, he did so under the compelling influence of carnal desire, bad temper
and ignorance. Allåh is All-Wise in His treatment of the servant, for, when he quickly
repents, He regards it as a necessary favour to accept his repentance.”106
         It is therefore incumbent on the believer to compensate for the error by means of
repentance and begging forgiveness, and to accelerate the return to the All-Forgiving
Sovereign.
         Repentance is an individual duty [faræ ‹ain] for the believers [not a collective duty
(faræ kifåya)], and it has four prerequisites: (1) Remorse felt by the heart. (2) Immediate
abandonment of sinful disobedience. (3) Determination to refrain from repeating the
same kind of offence. (4) The penitent must be motivated by a sense of shame before
Allåh (Exalted is He), and by fear of Him, not of any other.107
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 The relenting is not for those who do evil deeds until,

104   aƒ-»åwº (1/310)
105   al-Qur£ubº (5/92)
106   ar-Råzº (10/6)
107   R«¥ al-bayån (2/178,179)
                                                                                             52

                 wa laisati ’t-tawbatu li’lladhºna ya‹mal«na ’s-sayyi›åti ¥attå
                 when death attends on one of them, he says: “I repent now”
                 idhå ¥aæara a¥ada-humu ’l-mawtu qåla innº tubtu ’l-åna
        From the category of penitents, Allåh (Glory be to Him) has excluded those who
wait till the advent of death, and enter the time of despair. Such was the case of
Pharaoh, when he was drowning in the deluge. His display of faith did not avail him,
because repentance at that time is of no avail, since legal competence no longer exists in
that state. This is the opinion of Ibn ‹Abbås and Ibn Zaid (may Allåh be well pleased
with them), and the majority of the commentators.108
        According to the masters of verification: “The nearness of death does not
preclude the acceptance of repentance. What prevents it from being accepted is the
visible evidence of conditions that utterly eliminate the possibility of returning to this
world.”109
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 nor yet for those who die while they are unbelievers.
                 wa la-’lladhºna yam«t«na wa hum kuffår:
         That is to say: “If the unbeliever dies in his state of unbelief and polytheism
[shirk], neither his remorse nor his repentance will avail him. No ransom would be
accepted from him, even if it filled the earth.”
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 For such we have prepared a painful doom.
                 ulå›ika a‹tadnå la-hum ‹adhåban alºmå.
          That is to say: “a doom that is intensely agonizing and everlasting.”110
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                           *****




                                          11.
                            Fulfilment of Trust and Justice
                             [Adå› al-Amåna wa ’l-‹Adl]
              In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.

108   al-Qur£ubº (5/93)
109   al-Khåzin (1/337)
110   Ibn Kathºr (1/617)
                                                                                             53

                             Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                      Those who truly believe and do good works,
                        wa ’lladhºna åman« wa ‹amilu ’ƒ-ƒåli¥åti
             We shall make them enter Gardens beneath which rivers flow,
                  sa-nudkhilu-hum jannåtin tajrº min ta¥ti-ha ’l-anhåru
                                to dwell therein forever;
                                  khålidºna fº-hå abadå:
                         there for them are spouses purified,
                           la-hum fº-hå azwåjun mu£ahhara:
                   and We shall make them enter plenteous shade.
                             wa nudkhilu-hum œillan œalºlå.
                Allåh commands you to restore deposits to their owners,
                 inna ’llåhu ya›muru-kum an tu›addu ’l-amånåti ilå ahli-hå
                and, if you judge between human beings, to judge justly.
                   wa idhå ¥akamtum baina ’n-nåsi an ta¥kum« bi’l-‹adl:
                     Excellent is this which Allåh admonishes you.
                            inna ’llåha ni‹im-må ya‹iœu-kum bi-h:
                             Allåh is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.
                              inna ’llåha kåna Samº‹an Baƒºrå.
                                           (4:57,58)

       •Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
              Those who truly believe and do good works,
              wa ’lladhºna åman« wa ‹amilu ’ƒ-ƒåli¥åti
              We shall make them enter Gardens beneath which rivers flow,
              sa-nudkhilu-hum jannåtin tajrº min ta¥ti-ha ’l-anhåru
              to dwell therein forever;
              khålidºna fº-hå abadå:
              there for them are spouses purified,
              la-hum fº-hå azwåjun mu£ahhara:
              and We shall make them enter plenteous shade.
              wa nudkhilu-hum œillan œalºlå.
        This Qur›ånic verse [åya] indicates that belief is not the same as work, because
Allåh (Exalted is He) has appended work to belief, and that which is appended is
different from that to which it is appended.
       •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
              Allåh commands you to restore deposits to their owners
              inna ’llåhu ya›muru-kum an tu›addu ’l-amånåti ilå ahli-hå
        The rule applies to all deposits held in trust. The business of the human being is
either with his Lord, or with His servants, or with himself, and conservation of trust is
essential in each of these three categories.
        As for conservation of trust in relation to the Lord (Glory be to Him and Exalted
is He), it requires the servant to perform all the commandments and avoid all the
prohibitions. Every responsibility with which the human being is charged by Allåh
(Exalted is He) is a deposit held in trust by the responsible servant, who is obliged to
restore it to its Owner, and this is an ocean that has no shore.
        As for conservation of trust in relation to Allåh’s servants, meaning a person’s
children, his wife, his slaves, his neighbours, his companions and his fellow creatures in
general, it requires him to protect their rights and not cheat them in any respect.
                                                                                               54

        As for conservation of trust in relation to himself, it requires the individual to
choose for himself only what is most beneficial and useful, in the interest of his religion
and his worldly life. He must also protect his own self from everything that would harm
it in the Hereafter. This is why the Prophet (blessing and peace be upon him) once said:
                 Each of you is a shepherd, and each of you is responsible for his flock.
          Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
                 Allåh commands you to restore deposits to their owners
                 inna ’llåhu ya›muru-kum an tu›addu ’l-amånåti ilå ahli-hå
      —is therefore all-inclusive. As reported by al-Baihaqº and a£-¡abarånº, the
Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) also said:
                 No faith [ºmån] belongs to one who is unworthy of trusteeship [amåna].111
       According to Maim«n ibn Mihrån, as reported by al-Baihaqº: “Three things must
be paid to both the righteous and the profligate: (1) The female relative must receive
her due, whether she be righteous or profligate. (2) The deposit must be restored to both
the righteous and the profligate. (3) The contract must be fulfilled for both the
righteous and the profligate.”112
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and, if you judge between human beings, to judge justly.
                 wa idhå ¥akamtum baina ’n-nåsi an ta¥kum« bi’l-‹adl:
        That is to say: “Allåh also commands you to judge between human beings with
justice.” It is therefore incumbent on the judge to take what is due from the debtor, on
behalf of the one to whom the debt is owed. The basic meaning of justice [‹adl] is fair
balance in all things, so the term is applied to everything beyond the scope of tyranny
and hostility.113
        According to ash-Shåfi‹º: “The judge must strike a fair balance between the two
adversaries, in five things: (1) their access to his presence, (2) their sitting in front of
him, (3) his paying attention to both of them, (4) his listening to them both, and (5) his
passing judgement on them both.” He also said: “What is required of the judge is
fairness towards both of them in his actions, not in his heart. If his heart inclines to
favour one of them, and he would like that person to prove his case against the other,
that is beside the point, because he cannot prevent himself from entertaining such
feelings.”114
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Excellent is this which Allåh admonishes you.
                 inna ’llåha ni‹im-må ya‹iœu-kum bi-h:
       That is to say: “Excellent is this admonition of His, requiring you to restore the
deposit and to judge with justice.”115

111   Shaikh Zåda (2/43,44)
112   al-Ul«sº (5/64)
113   al-Khåzin (1/371)
114   ar-Råzº (10/114)
115   al-Ul«sº (5/64)
                                                                                             55

          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Allåh is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.
                 inna ’llåha kåna Samº‹an Baƒºrå.
      That is to say: “You must act in accordance with Allåh’s commandment and his
admonition, for He is Aware of all things audible and visible, and He will requite you for
what emerges from you.”
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Allåh is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.
                 inna ’llåha kåna Samº‹an Baƒºrå.
        That is to say: “When you judge with justice, He is All-Hearing, so He will hear
that judgement. When you restore the deposit, He is All-Seeing, so He will see you do
that.” Without a doubt, this is the main reason for believing the promise to the
obedient, and the main reason for believing the threat to the disobedient, as indicated by
the saying of the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace):
                 You must worship Allåh as if you could see Him, for, even if you do not
see              Him, He surely sees you!
      There is another subtle point in this: The more intense the servant’s need
becomes, the more complete is Allåh’s providential care.116
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                          *****




                                        12.
                          The Consequence of Obedience
                            to Allåh and His Messenger
                         [‹Áqiba ¡å‹at Allåh wa Ras«li-h]
              In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.

116   ar-Råzº (10/114)
                                                                                              56

                             Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                              And if We had decreed for them:
                                wa law annå katabnå ‹alai-him
                  “Slay yourselves,” or: “Go forth from your dwellings,”
                      ani ’qtul« anfusa-kum awi ’khruj« min diyåri-kum
                            but few of them would have done it;
                              må fa‹al«-hu illå qalºlun min-hum:
                      though if they did what they are exhorted to do
                         wa law anna-hum fa‹al« må y«‹aœ«na bi-hi
                   it would be better for them, and more strengthening.
                           kåna khairan la-hum wa ashadda tathbºtå.
                          And then We should bestow on them
                                wa idhan la-åtainå-hum
                         from Our presence an immense reward.
                               min ladun-nå ajran ‹aœºmå:
                     And We should guide them to a straight bridge.
                         wa la-hadainå-hum ƒirå£an mustaqºmå.
                     And whoever obeys Allåh and the Messenger,
                             wa man yu£i‹i ’llåha wa ’r-Ras«la
                            they are in the company of those
                                 fa-ulå›ika ma‹a ’lladhºna
                     to whom Allåh has granted gracious favour—
                                  an‹ama ’llåhu ‹alai-him
                 the Prophets, the champions of the Truth, the martyrs
                    mina ’n-Nabiyyºna wa ’ƒ-ƒiddºqºna wa ’sh-shuhadå›i
                 and the righteous—and the best of company are they!
                          wa ’ƒ-ƒåli¥ºn: wa ¥asuna ulå›ika rafºqå.
                              Such is the bounty of Allåh,
                                dhålika ’l-faælu mina ’llåh:
                             and Allåh suffices as a Knower.
                                 wa kafå bi’llåhi ‹Alºmå.
                                        (4:66–70)

       •Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
               And if We had decreed for them:
               wa law annå katabnå ‹alai-him
               “Slay yourselves,” or: “Go forth from your dwellings”
               ani ’qtul« anfusa-kum awi ’khruj« min diyåri-kum
        This means: “If We had imposed an extremely hard task on the people, such as
commanding them to slay themselves by way of repentance, as We commanded the
Children of Israel to do, or to leave their dwellings, as We commanded the Children of
Israel to leave Egypt, and if We had decreed for the hypocrites that they must leave their
homes, that would have been difficult for them, and very few of them would have done
it. Their unbelief and their obstinacy would then have become apparent, so We did not
do that, as a mercy from Us to Our servants. We decreed for them only obedience to the
Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) and contentment with his rule, and
that is an easy matter, so let them accept it sincerely, and let them forsake rebellion and
                                                                                                57

stubborn resistance, so they may obtain the best of both abodes [this world and the
Hereafter].”117
          You should know that slaying the self really means subduing its passion, which is
its life, and annihilating its natural attributes. As for leaving their dwellings, that means
leaving the attitudes on which their hearts have come to rely, and to which they have
become accustomed, such as patience, trust, contentment and submission, because they
present an obstacle to the affirmation of Oneness and annihilation in the Essence.118
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 but few of them would have done it
                 må fa‹al«-hu illå qalºlun min-hum:
       They are the sincerely devout believers, like Ab« Bakr (may Allåh be well
pleased with him). As reported by Ibn Abº ªåtim, on the authority of ‹Ámir ibn
‹Abdi’llåh ibn az-Zubair (may Allåh be well pleased with them): “When this Qur›ånic
verse was revealed, Ab« Bakr (may Allåh be well pleased with him) said: ‘O Messenger
of Allåh, if you had commanded me to slay myself, I would have done so.’ He replied:
‘You have told the truth, O Ab« Bakr!’”119
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 though if they did what they are exhorted to do
                 wa law anna-hum fa‹al« må y«‹aœ«na bi-hi
        That is to say: “if they did what they were obliged and commanded to do.” This
obligation and commandment is called an exhortation, because the obligations imposed
by Allåh (Exalted is He) are linked to the promise and the threat, to encouragement and
intimidation, and to the reward and the punishment. As Allåh (Exalted is He) has then
gone on to explain, if they duly fulfil these obligations, they will obtain all kinds of
benefits. For instance, He has said (Exalted is He):
                 it would be better for them
                 kåna khairan la-hum
          —meaning: “they would obtain the best of this world and the Hereafter.”120
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and more strengthening.
                 wa ashadda tathbºtå.
        That is to say: “It would strengthen their commitment to the Truth and
rectitude, by preventing them from going astray and keeping them far removed from
things of dubious legality.” As He has said (Glory be to Him):
                 But those who are guided aright,
                 wa ’lladhºna ’htadaw
                 them He increases in guidance.
                 zåda-hum hudan. (47:17)121

117   Shaikh Zåda (2/47,48)
118   R«¥ al-bayån (2/233)
119   al-Ul«sº (5/72)
120   ar-Råzº (10/135)
121   al-Ul«sº (5/74)
                                                                                            58


          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 And then We should bestow on them
                 wa idhan la-åtainå-hum
                 from Our presence an immense reward.
                 min ladun-nå ajran ‹aœºmå:
       Having explained that this sincerity in faith is better than the hypocrisy they
intend, and more strengthening and enduring, He has now explained that it is not only
good in itself, but also conducive to tremendous benefits, in the form of the mighty
recompense and the magnificent reward. How could it not be magnificent, when the
Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) once said:
                  It contains that which no eye has ever seen, of which no ear has ever
          heard, and which has never occurred to the human heart.122
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 And We should guide them to a straight bridge.
                 wa la-hadainå-hum ƒirå£an mustaqºmå.
        According to Ibn ‹Abbås (may Allåh be well pleased with him and his father),
the meaning is: “And We should direct them to the right religion, which is the religion
of Islåm.” It has also been said to mean: “And We should guide them to righteous
deeds, which lead to the Straight Bridge, that being the Bridge over which the believers
pass to the Garden of Paradise.” That is because Allåh (Exalted is He) has mentioned
the mighty recompense first of all, then He has mentioned the Straight Bridge after that,
because it leads to the Garden of Paradise.123
        Well then, O servant who does not do what he is exhorted to do, and does not
fear his Lord, why have you forsaken what is best for you, and turned away from what is
to your benefit?! There is nothing for you now, except repentance of what plunges you
into acts of sinful disobedience and forbidden things, and returning to Allåh through
acts of obedience and acts of worshipful service. You must become extinct to your
egocentricity, by heeding the Guide who directs you to the secret of exclusive devotion,
accepting His commandment and His exhortation, submitting the lower self to His
instruction, and maintaining vigilant awareness on the path. Allåh is the Source of
enabling grace!124
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 And whoever obeys Allåh and the Messenger…
                 wa man yu£i‹i ’llåha wa ’r-Ras«la…
        This provides an additional stimulus to worshipful obedience, and an extra
encouragement thereto, by explaining that its result is the ultimate goal of the
aspirations of the religious Communities. The meaning of obedience is complete
conformity and perfect compliance with all the commandments and prohibitions.125
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):

122   ar-Råzº (10/135)
123   al-Khåzin (1/376)
124   R«¥ al-bayån (2/233)
125   Abu ’s-Sa‹«d (2/197)
                                                                                              59


                 they are in the company of those
                 fa-ulå›ika ma‹a ’lladhºna
                 to whom Allåh has granted gracious favour
                 an‹ama ’llåhu ‹alai-him
        As reported by ath-Tha‹labº, this was revealed in connection with Thawbån, the
freedman of Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace), whom he dearly
loved and from whom he could not bear to be separated. When he came to him one day,
his complexion had changed, his body had lost weight, and sadness was apparent in his
face, so he asked him: “O Thawbån, what has altered your complexion?” He replied:
“O Messenger of Allåh, there is nothing wrong with me, and nothing amiss, except that
when I do not see you, I yearn for you and feel terribly lonely until I get to meet you.
Then I remembered the Hereafter, and I fear that I will not see you there, because I
know that you will ascend in the company of the Prophets, and that I, if I enter the
Garden of Paradise, will be in a station below your station. If I do not enter, there will
be a time when I never see you at all.” Allåh (Exalted is He) thereupon sent down the
revelation:
                 And whoever obeys Allåh and the Messenger,
                 wa man yu£i‹i ’llåha wa ’r-Ras«la…
                 they are in the company of those
                 fa-ulå›ika ma‹a ’lladhºna
                 to whom Allåh has granted gracious favour, the Prophets….
                 an‹ama ’llåhu ‹alai-him mina ’n-Nabiyyºna….
       Obedience to Allåh includes obedience to His Messenger (Allåh bless him and
give him peace), but He has mentioned it explicitly, in honour of his worth and to extol
his name (may Allåh bless him and his family and his Companions, and may He give
them peace).
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 they are in the company of those
                 fa-ulå›ika ma‹a ’lladhºna
                 to whom Allåh has granted gracious favour
                 an‹ama ’llåhu ‹alai-him
         That is to say: “they are together with them in a single abode, and a single state
of bliss, enjoying the sight of them and presence in their company.” It does not mean
that they are equal to them in degree, for they are different, but they will visit with
them, on account of their loyalty and obedience in this world. Everyone there will
experience contentment with his state, for he will be left with no sense of inferiority.
Allåh (Exalted is He) has said:
                 And We remove whatever rancour may be in their hearts.
                 wa naza‹nå må fº ƒud«ri-him min ghillin. (7:43)126
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 the Prophets, the champions of the Truth,
                 mina ’n-Nabiyyºna wa ’ƒ-ƒiddºqºna
                 the martyrs and the righteous
                 wa ’sh-shuhadå›i wa ’ƒ-ƒåli¥ºn:


126   al-Qur£ubº (5/271,272)
                                                                                             60

        He has divided them into four groups, in accordance with their degrees of
knowledge and practice. He has also urged people in general not to lag behind them.
The first group are the Prophets, who have achieved the perfection of knowledge and
practice, and have passed beyond the limit of perfection to the degree of perfecting
others. Then come the champions of the Truth, whose rising aloft has sometimes been
due to progress in observing the proofs and the signs, and sometimes to climbing the
ladders of purification and spiritual exercises, up to the pinnacle of insight, until they
perceived things and told about them as they really are. Then come the martyrs, who
were so eager to obey, and to strive for the manifestation of the Truth, that they
sacrificed their lifeblood for the sake of exalting the Word of Allåh. Then come the
righteous, who spent their whole lives in obedience to Him, and spent all their wealth
for the sake of His good pleasure.127
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and the best of company are they!
                 wa ¥asuna ulå›ika rafºqå.
       That is to say: “The Prophets, the champions of the Truth, the martyrs and the
righteous are the best of company.”
       As reported by Anas (may Allåh be well pleased with him), a man once asked
the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) about the Final Hour, saying: “When
is the Final Hour?” He said: “And what have you prepared for it?” The man said:
“Nothing, except that I love Allåh and His Messenger,” so he told him:
                 You are together with those you love.
       Anas (may Allåh be well pleased with him) said: “We were never happier with
anything than with the Prophet’s saying (Allåh bless him and give him peace): ‘You are
together with those you love.’” Anas (may Allåh be well pleased with him) also said: “I
love the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) and Ab« Bakr and ‹Umar, and I
hope that I shall be together with them, because of my love for them, even if I do not act
in accordance with their actions.”
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Such is the bounty of Allåh
                 dhålika ’l-faælu mina ’llåh:
       That is to say: “Such is the splendid recompense that Allåh has granted to those
who are worshipfully obedient.”
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and Allåh suffices as a Knower.
                 wa kafå bi’llåhi ‹Alºmå.
        That is to say: “as One who knows how to reward those who obey Him.”
According to some, the meaning is: “Allåh suffices as One who knows His servants, for
He enables them to obey Him.” In this it is implied that they have not attained to that
degree by their worshipful obedience, but only through the grace and mercy of Allåh
(Exalted is He). This is also indicated by the report from Ab« Huraira (may Allåh be
well pleased with him), according to whom Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give
him peace) once said:
                 Not one of you will be admitted to the Garden by his own work.

127   al-Baiæåwº (2/48)
                                                                                                61


          They said: “Not even you, O Messenger of Allåh?” He replied:
                  Not even I, unless Allåh enfolds me with His grace and His mercy.128
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                              *****

                                            13.
                          Propriety in the Exchange of Greetings
                                    [Adab at-Ta¥iyya]
               In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                               Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                              When you are greeted with a greeting,
                                   wa idhå ¥uyyºtum bi-ta¥iyyatin
                               greet with better than it or return it.
                              fa-¥ayy« bi-a¥sana min-hå aw rudd«-hå:
                                  Allåh takes count of all things.
                              inna ’llåha kåna ‹alå kulli shai›in ªasºbå.
                                                (4:86)

          •Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
                  When you are greeted with a greeting
                  wa idhå ¥uyyºtum bi-ta¥iyyatin
        This is a lesson in good social behaviour and the proprieties of friendship. If
someone does you a favour, that will be on your conscience like a loan, so you must
either do something extra for him, or at least do nothing less than the same.129
        ‹Abdu’llåh ibn Salåm (may Allåh be well pleased with him) is reported as having
said: “When I heard of the arrival of the Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him
peace), I joined the crowds of people, and this was the first thing I heard him say:
                  O people, spread peace around, serve food to your guests, preserve the ties
          of kinship, and pray at night when other people are sleeping, for then you
          may enter the Garden of Paradise in safety.”130
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  greet with better than it or return it.
                  fa-¥ayy« bi-a¥sana min-hå aw rudd«-hå:
          The best way to return the greeting is to add to it.

128   al-Khåzin (1/376)
129   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/352)
130   ar-Råzº (10/168)
                                                                                                62

        In the salutation of peace [as-salåmu ‹alai-kum (Peace be upon you!)], the Arabic
pronoun must always be in the plural, even if the person saluted is a single individual.
As reported by al-A‹mash, Ibråhºm an-Nakha‹º said: “When you salute a single
individual, you must say: as-salåmu ‹alai-kum [using the plural pronoun -kum], for the
angels are with him.” The plural pronoun should likewise be used in the response [wa
‹alai-kum as-salåm (and on you be Peace!)].
        It is customary for the rider to salute the pedestrian, for the person who is
standing to salute the person who is seated, and for the small group to salute the large
group. This is based on the Prophetic tradition [¥adºth] reported in the »a¥º¥ of Muslim,
on the authority of Ab« Huraira (may Allåh be well pleased with him), according to
whom Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) once said:
                  The rider should salute the walker, the walker the sitter, and the few the
          many.
         He began by mentioning the rider, because of his elevated rank, and because
pride might otherwise deter him from being the first to salute. The same principle was
then applied to the walker [in relation to the sitter]. It has also been said: “Since the
sitter is in the state of dignity, calm and composure, he is entitled to that prerogative [of
being saluted], rather than the walker, whose state is the opposite.” As for the salutation
offered by the few to the many, it is a mark of respect for the majority of the Muslims.
As recorded by al-Bukhårº, this Prophetic tradition includes the additional words:
                  The youngster should salute the adult.
        As for the salutation offered by the adult to the youngster, it is reported in the
two »a¥º¥’s that Sayyår said: “I was walking together with Thåbit, and he passed by some
youngsters, so he saluted them.” He also mentioned that he was walking together with
Anas (may Allåh be well pleased with him) and he passed by some youngsters, so he
saluted them. He also related that he was walking together with Allåh’s Messenger
(Allåh bless him and give him peace) and he passed by some youngsters, so he saluted
them. This is typical of his splendid character (Allåh bless him and give him peace). It
also contains a lesson for the young, an incentive to provide instruction in the customary
practices [sunan], and training for them in the proprieties of the Sacred Law. You should
therefore be guided by it.
        As for the unbeliever, the rule is that his salutation should be returned by saying
simply: “and upon you [wa ‹alai-kum].” According to Ibn ‹Abbås (may Allåh be well
pleased with him and his father), among others, the implicit meaning of the Qur݌nic
verse is as follows:
                  When you are greeted with a greeting
                  wa idhå ¥uyyºtum bi-ta¥iyyatin
          —if it comes from a believer:
                  greet with better than it
                  fa-¥ayy« bi-a¥sana min-hå
        —but if it comes from an unbeliever, respond in accordance with the advice of
Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace), by saying: ““and upon you [wa
‹alai-kum].”131
        The customary practice is to pronounce the salutation of peace in a clearly
audible voice, because that is more effective in pleasing the heart. The custom of


131   al-Qur£ubº (5/299)
                                                                                               63

shaking hands at the moment of salutation is based on the habit of the Messenger (Allåh
bless him and give him peace), who said:
                 When two Muslims shake hands, their sins fall to the ground, as the
leaves           of the tree fall to the ground.
        According to Ab« Y«suf: “When someone says to another: ‘Give so-and-so the
greeting of peace on my behalf,’ he is obliged to do so.”
        When you enter an empty house, you must offer the salutation of peace. There
are several dimensions to this: (1) You are saluting yourself on Allåh’s behalf. (2) You
are saluting the believing jinn who occupy the house. (3) Through the blessing of peace
[salåm], you are seeking safety [salåma] from the devils and harmful influences present in
the house.
        Custom requires the person who initiates the salutation to be in a state of ritual
purity, and likewise the respondent. It is related that somebody once saluted Allåh’s
Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) while he was fulfilling the need of
nature, so he went and performed the dry ablution [tayammum], then returned the
salutation.
        When two people meet, custom requires them to try and forestall each other in
offering the salutation, as a demonstration of humility.
       As for those situations in which the salutation of peace should not be offered,
they are eight in number:
          1. It is related that the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) once said:
                 A Jew should not be given the initial salutation.
        2. When joining the Friday congregation while the prayer leader [imåm] is
delivering his sermon, it is not appropriate to offer the salutation, because the people are
concentrating on their collective purpose.
        3. If someone enters the public steambath [¥ammåm] and sees that the people
there are wearing loincloths, he should offer them the salutation of peace, but if they are
not wearing loincloths, he should not salute them.
        4. It is better to refrain from saluting the Qur݌n-reciter, because the need to
respond may interrupt his recitation. The same applies in the case of someone engaged
in narrating the Prophetic tradition, or lecturing on religious knowledge.
        5. One should not salute the person preoccupied with the call to prayer [adhån]
and the iqåma [announcement that the prayer is about to begin], for the reason we have
mentioned.
        6. One should not salute the card-player, nor the singer.
        7. One should not salute someone who is attending to the need of nature.
        8. When a man enters his own home, he should greet his wife with the salutation
of peace, but if a female stranger is present with her, he should not salute the pair of
them.132
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Allåh takes count of all things.
                 inna ’llåha kåna ‹alå kulli shai›in ªasºbå.
       As related by an-Nas固, ‹Imrån ibn ªuƒain (may Allåh be well pleased with
them both) once said: “We were in the presence of the Prophet (Allåh bless him and
give him peace), when a man came and offered the salutation, saying: “Peace be upon

132   ar-Råzº (10/170,171)
                                                                                           64

you! [as-salåmu ‹alai-kum],” so Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace)
said: “Ten times!” Then he sat down. Another man then came and offered the
salutation, saying: “Peace be upon you, and Allåh’s mercy! [as-salåmu ‹alai-kum wa
ra¥matu’llåh],” so Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) returned his
greeting by saying: “Twenty times!” Then he sat down. Another man then came and
offered the salutation, saying: “Peace be upon you, and Allåh’s mercy and His blessings!
[as-Salåmu ‹alai-kum wa ra¥matu’llåhi wa barakåtu-h],” so Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless
him and give him peace) returned his greeting by saying: “Thirty times!”133
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                           *****

                                     14.
                    The Remembrance of Allåh (Exalted is He)
                            [Dhikr Allåh (Ta‹ålå)]
              In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                              Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                         When you have performed the ritual prayer,
                                    fa-idhå qaæaitumu ’ƒ-ƒalåta
                               remember Allåh, standing, sitting,
                              fa-’dhkuru ’llåha qiyåman wa qu‹«dan
                                   and reclining on your sides.
                                        wa ‹alå jun«bi-kum
                   And when you are in safety, perform the ritual prayer.
                             fa-idha ’£ma›nantum fa-aqºmu ’ƒ-ƒalåh:
               Surely the ritual prayer is a timed prescription for the believers.
                    inna ’ƒ-ƒalåta kånat ‹ala ’l-mu›minºna kitåban mawq«tå.
                                              (4:103)

          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 When you have performed the ritual prayer, remember Allåh,
                 fa-idhå qaæaitumu ’ƒ-ƒalåta fa-’dhkuru ’llåha
                 standing, sitting, and reclining on your sides.
                 qiyåman wa qu‹«dan wa ‹alå jun«bi-kum.
        According to the majority [of the commentators], the remembrance that is here
commanded should follow immediately after the ritual prayer of danger [ƒalåt al-khawf].
In other words, the meaning is: “As soon as you have finished performing the ritual
prayer, remember Allåh with the heart and the tongue, in whatever situation you may
be:
                 standing, sitting, and reclining on your sides.
                 qiyåman wa qu‹«dan wa ‹alå jun«bi-kum.

133   al-Qur£ubº (5/305)
                                                                                                  65


         —and persist in His remembrance with the takbºr [the declaration: “Allåh is
Supremely Great (Allåhu Akbar)”], the tahlºl [the declaration: “There is no god but Allåh
(lå ilåha illa ’llåh)”], and the supplication for victory, especially in the situation of armed
combat:
                  When you encounter an army,
                  idhå laqºtum fi›atan
                  hold firm and remember Allåh frequently,
                  fa-’thbut« wa ’dhkuru ’llåha kathºran
                  so that you may be successful.
                  la‹alla-kum tufli¥«n. (8:45)134
        The external obligations are restricted to particular times, but the heart’s
commitment to remembrance is perpetual and unceasing. As for the formalities, they
must be observed from time to time. As for the duty of the heart, you must beware of
absence from Reality [ªaqºqa] for a single instant, regardless of how your circumstances
may vary. You must persist in remembrance however you happen to be. As for the ritual
prayer, you must perform it when you can do so in safety.135
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  And when you are in safety
                  fa-idha ’£ma›nantum
       That is to say: “When your hearts are relieved of fear and you feel safe, after the
war has laid down its burdens.”
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  perform the ritual prayer.
                  fa-aqºmu ’ƒ-ƒalåh.
        That is to say: “Perform the ritual prayer that has now entered its prescribed
time.” In other words: “Perform it with due attention to its basic elements, and be
careful to observe its sacred rules.”
        If someone understands remembrance in the general sense of remembrance with
the tongue, and performs the ritual prayer in accordance with the ªanafº school of
Islåmic law, he may interpret the Qur›ånic verse as follows: “Persist in the remembrance
of Allåh in all conditions. When you intend to perform the ritual prayer, perform it
standing, if you are in the state of good health and ability to stand; or perform it sitting,
in the state of illness and inability to stand; or reclining on your sides, in the state of
inability to sit.”136
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  Surely the ritual prayer is a timed prescription for the believers.
                  inna ’ƒ-ƒalåta kånat ‹ala ’l-mu›minºna kitåban mawq«tå.
       That is to say: “It is a compulsory religious duty [faræ], prescribed at particular
times.” In this context, the word kitåb means makt«b [prescribed].137

134   al-Qur£ubº (5/373)
135   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/358)
136   R«¥ al-bayån (2/276)
137   ar-Råzº (11/23)
                                                                                             66


       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                          *****

                                        15.
                          The Benefit of Confidential Talk
                                [Khair an-Najwå]
               In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                               Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                    There is no good in much of their confidential talk,
                               lå khaira fº kathºrin min najwå-hum
                  except for him who enjoins charitable giving or kindness
                           illå man amara bi-ƒadaqatin aw ma‹r«fin
                             or peace-making among the people.
                                      aw iƒlå¥in baina ’n-nås:
                     Whoever does that, seeking Allåh’s good pleasure,
                         wa man yaf‹al dhålika ’btighå›a maræåti ’llåhi
                           We shall bestow on him a vast reward.
                                  fa-sawfa nu›tº-hi ajran ‹aœºmå.
                                              (4:114)

          •Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
                 There is no good in much of their confidential talk
                 lå khaira fº kathºrin min najwå-hum
       This is a reference to their habit of whispering to one another, while they
engaged in reprehensible talk. In classical Arabic, the term najwå means a secret shared
by two people.138
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 except for him who enjoins charitable giving
                 illå man amara bi-ƒadaqatin
         The most virtuous of deeds are those of which the benefits extend to other people
beyond their performer. Charitable giving [ƒadaqa] is such a virtue, since its benefit
extends to those who are its recipients. Chivalry [futuwwa] signifies that your endeavour
is for the sake of others. In the words of the traditional report:
                 The worst kind of person is someone who eats all by himself.
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 or kindness
                 aw ma‹r«fin

138   ar-Råzº (11/33)
                                                                                                67


       Everything that is good in the Sacred Law is a kindness [ma‹r«f], including
support for the Muslims and making them happy with what they have, for the sake of
nearness to Allåh and good standing in His presence.139
       The Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) once said:
                  Every kindness is a charitable gift. If you greet your brother with a
cheerful                face, that is an example of kindness.140
          The Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace) is also reported as having said:
                  If a door of goodness is opened for someone, let him seize the opportunity,
                  for he has no way of knowing when it will be closed against him.
         According to al-‹Abbås (may Allåh be well pleased with him): “Kindness is not
complete without three factors: (1) its immediacy, (2) thinking little of it, and (3) its
concealment. If you provide it immediately, you will make it welcome. If you think
little of it, you will magnify it. If you conceal it, you will make it complete.”141
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  or peace-making among the people.
                  aw iƒlå¥in baina ’n-nås.
       There is nothing mysterious about this. The meaning of peace-making [iƒlå¥]
among the people is effecting reconciliation [ta›lºf] among them with loving affection,
when they have become estranged from one another, so long as that does not involve
transgressing the limits of the noble Sacred Law. It is even permissible to lie for that
purpose, since the two Shaikhs [al-Bukhårº and Muslim] and Ab« Dåw«d have reported,
on the authority of Umm Kulth«m bint ‹Uqba (may Allåh be well pleased with her),
that she heard Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) say:
                The liar is not someone who makes peace among the people, for he is
          promoting something good or saying something good.142
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  Whoever does that, seeking Allåh’s good pleasure…
                  wa man yaf‹al dhålika ’btighå›a maræåti ’llåhi…
       A person benefits by such conduct only if he is acting for the sake of Allåh and in
search of His good pleasure. If his purpose is hypocritical display and the pursuit of
reputation, the case is reversed, for it then becomes one of the worst forms of corruption.
       This Qur݌nic verse is one of the strongest proofs that the value of external
actions depends on keeping the states of the heart within the sincerity of the intention,
and keeping the motivation pure and free from interest in any purpose other than
seeking the good pleasure of Allåh (Exalted is He). This is confirmed by His saying
(Exalted is He):
                  And they were commanded only to serve Allåh,
                  wa må umir« illå li-ya‹budu ’llåha

139   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/363)
140   Reported by at-Tirmidhº.
141   al-Qur£ubº (5/373,374)
142   al-Ul«sº (5/145)
                                                                                            68

                 devoting the religion to Him sincerely.
                 mukhliƒºna la-hu ’d-dºn. (98:5)
                 And that the human being has only that
                 wa an laisa li’l-insåni
                 for which he makes an effort.
                 illå må sa‹å. (53:39)
          —and by the saying of the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace):
                 The value of actions depends on the intentions.143
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 We shall bestow on him a vast reward.
                 fa-sawfa nu›tº-hi ajran ‹aœºmå.
        That reward is too vast to be described, and whatever worldly goods are lost seem
utterly insignificant by comparison.144
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                          *****




                                            16.
                              Submitting One’s Face to Allåh
                                      (Exalted is He)
                             [Islåm al Wajh li-Llåh (Ta‹ålå)]
               In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                               Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.


143   ar-Råzº (11/34)
144   R«¥ al-bayån (2/284)
                                                                                            69

                             And who is better in religion than he
                                wa man a¥sanu dºnan mim-man
                       who submits his face to Allåh, while doing good,
                           aslama wajha-hu li’llåhi wa huwa mu¥sinun
                  and follows the tradition of Abraham, a man of pure faith?
                               wa ’ttaba‹a millata Ibråhºma ¥anºfå:
                        And Allåh chose Abraham for a bosom friend.
                              wa ’ttakhadha ’llåhu Ibråhºma khalºlå.
                                            (4:125)

          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 And who is better in religion
                 wa man a¥sanu dºnan
                 than he who submits his face to Allåh…?
                 mim-man aslama wajha-hu li’llåhi…
      As this question implies, that [submission] is the utmost limit attainable by
human strength. That is because the religion of Islåm is built on two foundations: belief
and work. Allåh (Exalted is He) has pointed to the first in His saying (Exalted is He):
                 submits his face to Allåh
                 aslama wajha-hu li’llåhi
        Since the face is the finest of all the members of the human body, it represents
the whole person, as if it were said: “No one is better in religion than he who
acknowledges his Lord, confirms His Lordship and devotes himself sincerely in servitude
to his Lord, by neither obeying nor submitting to any other, and by not attaching his
heart to anything except for the sake of pleasing his Lord.”
        Allåh has pointed to the second [foundation of the religion] in His saying:
                 while doing good
                 wa huwa mu¥sinun
        In other words: “in firm commitment to righteousness, by fulfilling all his
obligations with an attitude of humility and submissiveness.” As the Prophet (Allåh
bless him and give him peace) once said:
                 Doing good means serving Allåh as if you could see Him, for even if you
do               not see Him, He surely sees you!145
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 while doing good
                 wa huwa mu¥sinun
          That is to say: “while performing good deeds and abstaining from bad deeds.”146
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and follows the tradition of Abraham
                 wa ’ttaba‹a millata Ibråhºma



145   Shaikh Zåda (2/71)
146   al-Ul«sº (5/154)
                                                                                             70

        To follow the tradition of Abraham is to be in conformity with the religion of
Islåm. There is general agreement as to the correctness of the tradition of Abraham, and
its acceptability among all the religions, as opposed to the tradition of Moses and Jesus
and other Prophets (blessing and peace be upon them).147
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 a man of pure faith
                 ¥anºfå:
       The term ¥anºf means må›il [inclining]. As applied to Abraham (peace be upon
him), it signifies that his inclination was away from all religions apart from Islåm,
because all others are false.
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 And Allåh chose Abraham for a bosom friend.
                 wa ’ttakhadha ’llåhu Ibråhºma khalºlå.
        This sentence is linked to what immediately precedes it, and it presents two
aspects for consideration:
        1. Since Abraham (peace be upon him) attained to the highest degree in the
religion, to the point where Allåh choose him for a bosom friend [khalºl], he is worthy of
being followed in his character and his spiritual path.
        2. When Allåh mentions the tradition of Abraham, and describes him as a man
of true faith [¥anºf], then goes on to say:
                 And Allåh chose Abraham for a bosom friend.
                 wa ’ttakhadha ’llåhu Ibråhºma khalºlå.
        —this informs us that He (Glory be to Him) chose him for a bosom friend
because he had knowledge of the Sacred Law, and because he was fulfilling its
obligations. This is confirmed by His saying (Exalted is He):
                 And [remember] when his Lord put Abraham to the test
                 wa idhi ’btalå Ibråhºma
                 with certain words, and he fulfilled them.
                 Rabbu-hu bi-kalimåtin fa-atamma-hunn:
                 He said: “Behold, I am making you a leader for the people.”
                 qåla innº jå‹ilu-ka li-’n-nåsi imåmå. (2:124)
        This also indicates that Allåh (Glory be to Him) made him a leader for the
people only because he fulfilled those words.
        Since the Qur݌nic verse indicates that Abraham (peace be upon him) was
appointed to this high rank, and became a bosom friend for Allåh (Exalted is He), for
the very reason that he was acting in accordance with the Sacred Law [Sharº‹a], this
conveys the following message: If someone acts in accordance with this Sacred Law, he
is bound to achieve the most splendid ranks in the religion. That arouses keen interest
in this religion.148
        As for the occasion on which Abraham (peace be upon him) was awarded this
noble title [the Bosom Friend of Allåh (Khalºlu ’llåh)], it is related that an angel came
down to him in the shape of a man, and pronounced the Name of Allåh with a soft,
melodious voice. Abraham (peace be upon him) said: “Repeat it one more time!” The

147   R«¥ al-bayån (2/293)
148   ar-Råzº (11/46)
                                                                                             71

angel said: “I shall not pronounce it gratuitously,” so Abraham said: “All my wealth is
yours!” The angel then pronounced it with a voice even more melodious than the first
time. Abraham then said: “Pronounce it a third time, and my children are yours!” The
angel responded by saying: “Be of good cheer, for I am an angel. I do not need your
wealth and your children. The purpose was simply to put you to the test.” Since
Abraham offered his wealth and his children in exchange for hearing the mention of
Allåh (Exalted is He), it comes as no surprise that Allåh chose him for a bosom friend!
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                          *****

                                        17.
                         Refraining from Following Passion
                             [‹Adam Ittibå‹ al-Hawå]
               In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                               Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                                   O you who truly believe,
                                  yå ayyuha ’lladhºna åman«
                   be staunch upholders of justice, witnesses for Allåh,
                         k«n« qawwåmºna bi’l-qis£i shuhadå›a li’llåhi
                       even against yourselves or parents or kindred,
                    wa law ‹alå anfusi-kum awi ’l-wålidaini wa ’l-aqrabºn:
               whether a rich man or a poor man, for Allåh is Nearer to both.
                    in yakun ghaniyyan aw faqºran fa-’llåhu awlå bi-himå
                       So do not follow passion in case you deviate.
                               fa-lå tattabi‹u ’l-hawå an ta‹dil«
                               And if you twist or turn away,
                                    wa in talw« aw tu‹riæ«
                            Allåh is ever Aware of what you do.
                        fa-inna ’llåha kåna bi-må ta‹mal«na Khabºrå.
                                             (4:135)

          •Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
                 O you who truly believe, be staunch upholders of justice
                 yå ayyuha ’lladhºna åman« k«n« qawwåmºna bi’l-qis£i
        That is to say: “Be dedicated to justice in all matters, sparing no effort therein
and letting nothing divert you from it.”149
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 witnesses for Allåh
                 shuhadå›a li’llåhi

149   al-Ul«sº (5/167)
                                                                                            72

       That is to say: “Be staunch upholders of justice in your testimonies.” The
expression “for Allåh [li’llåh]” means “for the Essence of Allåh, and for the sake of His
countenance, His good pleasure and His reward.”
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 even against yourselves
                 wa law ‹alå anfusi-kum
        Allåh (Glorious and Almighty is He) has thus taught the believers an important
rule of proper conduct. According to Ibn ‹Abbås (may Allåh be well pleased with him
and his father): “They have been commanded to speak the truth, even against
themselves.”150
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 or parents or kindred,
                 awi ’l-wålidaini wa ’l-aqrabºn:
        That is to say: “even if your testimony is against your parents and your close
relatives.” You must tell the truth by saying, for example: “I testify that so-and-so has
such-and-such a claim upon my parents, or upon my close relatives.” This makes it clear
that the son’s testimony against his parents does not constitute disobedience [‹uq«q]. It
is not permissible for the son to withhold testimony against his parents, because
testifying against them with the truth is a means of preventing them from wrongdoing.151
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 whether a rich man or a poor man, for Allåh is Nearer to both.
                 in yakun ghaniyyan aw faqºran fa-’llåhu awlå bi-himå
       That is to say: “You must not refuse to testify against the rich man, seeking his
approval, or against the poor man, out of sympathy for him, because Allåh (Exalted is
He) is Nearer to both types, and More Aware of them than any human beings. If true
testimony were not in their best interest, He would not have made it a legal
requirement, so observe the commandment of Allåh (Exalted is He), for He is More
Aware than you of the best interests of His servants.”152
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 So do not follow passion in case you deviate.
                 fa-lå tattabi‹u ’l-hawå an ta‹dil«
        That is to say: “in case you do not act justly.” This explains the prohibition,
because someone who follows passion is temperamentally disposed to injustice, whereas
someone who refrains from following it is not so disposed. The meaning is therefore:
“Desist from following passion, so that you will not be guilty of injustice.”153
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 And if you twist or turn away
                 wa in talw« aw tu‹riæ«
150   al-Qur£ubº (5/413)
151   R«¥ al-bayån (2/301)
152   al-Ul«sº (5/168)
153   aƒ-»åwº (1/251)
                                                                                              73


        That is to say: “If you twist your tongues from bearing witness to the truth, or
from the rule of justice, or if you turn away from testifying, and withhold the evidence at
your disposal.”154
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Allåh is ever Aware of what you do.
                 fa-inna ’llåha kåna bi-må ta‹mal«na Khabºrå.
       This means that Allåh (Exalted is He) will recompense the doer of good for his
good deeds and the evildoer for his evil deeds, for He will recompense you for your
actions.155
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                           *****




                                          18.
                            Devoting the Religion Sincerely
                                to Allåh (Exalted is He)
                            [Ikhlåƒ ad-Dºn li’Llåh (Ta‹ålå)]
               In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                               Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                 Surely the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth of the Fire
                       inna ’l-munåfiqºna fi ’d-darki ’l-asfali mina ’n-når:
                             and you will find no helper for them,

154   al-Kashshåf (1/570)
155   al-Khåzin (1/412)
                                                                                             74

                                  wa lan tajida la-hum naƒºrå:
                 except those who repent and amend and hold fast to Allåh
                        illa ’lladhºna tåb« wa aƒla¥« wa ’‹taƒam« bi’llåhi
                         and devote their religion sincerely to Allåh.
                                     wa akhlaƒ« dºna-hum li’llåhi
                                   Those are with the believers.
                                    fa-ulå›ika ma‹a ’l-mu›minºn:
                 And Allåh will bestow on the believers an immense reward.
                       wa sawfa yu›ti ’llåhu ’l-mu›minºna ajran ‹aœºmå.
                           What will Allåh do with your torment,
                              må yaf‹alu ’llåhu bi-‹adhåbi-kum
                             if you are thankful and believe?
                                 in shakartum wa åmantum:
                           Allåh is All-Thankful, All-Knowing.
                              wa kåna ’llåhu Shåkiran ‹Alºmå.
                      Allåh does not love the utterance of harsh speech,
                         lå yu¥ibbu ’llåhu ’l-jahra bi’s-s«›i mina ’l-qawli
                             except by one who has been wronged.
                                          illå man œulim:
                              Allåh is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
                                wa kåna ’llåhu Samº‹un ‹Alºmå.
                    If you do good openly or keep it secret, or forgive evil,
                         in tubd« khairan aw tukhf«-hu aw ta‹f« ‹an s«›in
                              Allåh is All-Pardoning, All-Powerful.
                              fa-inna ’llåha kåna ‹Afuwwan Qadºrå.
                                             (4:145–9)

        In this Qur݌nic verse, the Lord of Truth (Glory be to Him and Exalted is He)
has informed us that the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth of the Fire, since He has
said (Exalted is He):
                 Surely the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth of the Fire
                 inna ’l-munåfiqºna fi ’d-darki ’l-asfali mina ’n-når:
       —and that is the layer at the very bottom of Hell. The reason for that is their
being the worst of the unbelievers, because they added to unbelief the mockery of Islåm
and betrayal of the Muslims. As reported by an-Nas固, the Prophet (Allåh bless him
and give him peace) once said:
                  Three are contained therein, for each of them is a hypocrite, even if he
          fasts and prays and claims to be a Muslim: someone who is lying when he
          speaks, someone who breaks his promise, and someone who betrays his
          trust.
      Like other such sayings of his (Allåh bless him and give him peace), this is an
example of intensely severe admonition and extremely harsh warning.156
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and you will find no helper for them
                 wa lan tajida la-hum naƒºrå:

156   al-Baiæåwº (2/78)
                                                                                              75


       That is to say: “no one to rescue them from the torment and extract them from
the lowest depth of the Fire.” This is addressed to everyone for whom it may prove
beneficial, whoever he may be.157
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  except those who repent and amend and hold fast to Allåh
                  illa ’lladhºna tåb« wa aƒla¥« wa ’‹taƒam« bi’llåhi
                  and devote their religion sincerely to Allåh.
                  wa akhlaƒ« dºna-hum li’llåhi
       He has stipulated four preconditions for waiving the punishment from the
hypocrites:
       1. Repentance of the evil deeds they have committed.
       2. Making amends and complying with the Sacred Law, through actions of the
heart and the physical limbs and organs.
       3. Holding fast to Allåh, with the purpose of abandoning evil deeds and
performing good deeds, in search of Allåh’s good pleasure and His mercy.
       4. The steps just mentioned must be sincerely devoted to Allåh. That is to say,
the person concerned must entertain no notion of any purpose other than seeking
Allåh’s good pleasure, and that purpose must not be mixed with any other purpose.158
        All of these preconditions have not been stipulated for anyone seeking to repent
of his sinful offence. They have only been stipulated for hypocrites seeking to repent of
their hypocrisy, because of the difficulty of their situation in their unbelief. After they
have fulfilled these preconditions, He has said of them:
                  Those are with the believers.
                  fa-ulå›ika ma‹a ’l-mu›minºn:
       —and He has not said: “among the believers.” In this there is also an indication
that their status remains inferior, even if, through their sincere devotion, they make
amends for their previous vices.159
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  And Allåh will bestow on the believers an immense reward.
                  wa sawfa yu›ti ’llåhu ’l-mu›minºna ajran ‹aœºmå.
        The extent of that reward is incalculable, so they will simply share in it and
distribute it among them.160
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  What will Allåh do with your torment,
                  må yaf‹alu ’llåhu bi-‹adhåbi-kum
                  if you are thankful and believe?
                  in shakartum wa åmantum.


157   R«¥ al-bayån (2/309)
158   Shaikh Zåda (2/78)
159   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/379)
160   al-Ul«sº (5/178)
                                                                                               76

        That is to say: “Will He inflict it out of anger, or use it to exact revenge? Will
He derive some benefit from it, or use it to repel some harm, as is the custom of the
worldly rulers?” In other words: “He will do nothing of the kind with the thankful
believer, because all of that is inconceivable where He is concerned (Exalted is He), for
He is Independent of needs by virtue of His Essence, and the procuring of benefit and
the repelling of harm can in no way be attributed to Him (Exalted is He).”
        As for the infliction of torment on someone who does not believe, or who
believes but is not thankful, that is not for the sake of any advantage accruing to Him
(Exalted is He). It is rather the necessary consequence of the responsible person’s
condition, just as illness is the necessary consequence of a bad state of health. Its
purpose is to convert responsible individuals to belief, to acts of worshipful obedience, to
refraining from wickedness and abandoning things that are reprehensible. It has
therefore been said, in effect: “If you do good deeds and abstain from misconduct, how
can it befit His noble generosity that He should torment you?” His correcting His
servants does not increase His sovereignty, and His authority is not diminished by His
waiving the punishment for their misconduct.
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Allåh is All-Thankful, All-Knowing.
                 wa kåna ’llåhu Shåkiran ‹Alºmå.
        Thankfulness on the servant’s part is acknowledgement of the gracious favour
bestowed upon him, combined with expressions of reverence. On the part of Allåh
(Exalted is He) it is good pleasure; that is to say, He is well pleased with even a little
worshipful obedience from His servants. He doubles the reward, or multiplies it by ten,
or by seven hundred, or by whatever figure He wishes.
        He is All-Knowing in relation to your thankfulness and your belief, so it is
inconceivable that He should not pay you your wages in full. The seeker of the Truth
must therefore submit to Him with complete humility, and thank Him many, many
times.161
        This is one of the Qur݌nic verses that call for good hope and positive
expectation, because Allåh (Exalted is He) has specified two signs of security from
punishment: thankfulness and belief, and these are easy and simple virtues.
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 Allåh does not love the utterance of harsh speech,
                 lå yu¥ibbu ’llåhu ’l-jahra bi’s-s«›i mina ’l-qawli
                 except by one who has been wronged.
                 illå man œulim:
        What the victim says to his persecutor, in the manner permitted to him, is not
really bad. As Allåh (Exalted is He) has said:
                 And the recompense of an evil is an evil just like it.
                 wa jazå›u sayyi›atin sayyi›atun mithlu-hå. (42:40)
        —but the recompense is not an evil in itself. It is also said: “If someone knows
that his Master is listening, his sense of shame will keep him from uttering much of what
his lower self prompts him to say.”
        It is also said: “If someone views his fellow creatures [khalq] with the eye of
connection to the Truth [ªaqq], since they are Allåh’s servants, he should not address
them with the tongue of blame. A man should say to his companion: ‘I feel a respect for

161   R«¥ al-bayån (2/311)
                                                                                              77

you, on account of your service, such as I do not feel in relation to my son.’ If this is
appropriate among creatures, it is even more appropriate for the servant to cultivate such
a relationship between him and his Master.”162
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                   Allåh does not love the utterance of harsh speech
                   lå yu¥ibbu ’llåhu ’l-jahra bi’s-s«›i mina ’l-qawli
       This is linked to the previous mention of the states of the hypocrites. That is to
say: “So do not assume, O intelligent person, from the fact that Allåh speaks harshly to
some of His servants, that it is permissible for everyone to speak harshly to someone of
whom he knows, or suspects, that he is guilty of something bad.”
       It is not permissible to curse the wrongdoer by invoking a bad final outcome
against him, with deliberate intent, however extreme his wrongdoing may be, nor to
invoke the ruin of his houses or his destruction. It is more gracious to refrain from
invoking any curse at all, and that is why the Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him
peace) was commanded by His saying (Exalted is He):
                   So forgive with a gracious forgiveness.
                   fa-’ƒfi¥i ’ƒ-ƒaf¥a ’l-jamºl. (15:85)163
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                   Allåh is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
                   wa kåna ’llåhu Samº‹un ‹Alºmå.
         He is All-Hearing of the things you say, All-Knowing of your faults, so do not say
to others what you know to be equally true of yourselves.
         It is also said to mean: “He is All-Hearing of the things you say, All-Knowing of
the innocence of those you slander.” It therefore conveys a warning to someone who
slanders the innocent.
         It is also said to mean: “He is All-Hearing, O you wrongdoer, All-Knowing, O
you victim!” It therefore conveys a warning to the former, and good news to the
latter.164
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                   If you do good openly or keep it secret,
                   in tubd« khairan aw tukhf«-hu
                   or forgive evil
                   aw ta‹f« ‹an s«›in
        You should know that the basic principles of most good deeds are two: (1)
truthfulness with the Lord of Truth, and (2) proper conduct with your fellow creatures.
As for the latter, it involves two things: (1) providing them with benefit, and (2)
shielding them from harm. His saying (Exalted is He):
                   If you do good openly or keep it secret
                   in tubd« khairan aw tukhf«-hu



162   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/225ff.)
163   aƒ-»åwº (1/255)
164   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/382)
                                                                                             78

       —is therefore a reference to providing them with benefit, and His saying
(Exalted is He):
                  or forgive evil
                  aw ta‹f« ‹an s«›in
       —is therefore a reference to shielding them from harm. All kinds of goodness
and works of righteousness are thus included in these two sentences.165
       It is also said to mean: “If someone treats you well, you must treat him well in a
manner plain to see. If someone spares you his badness, you must respond with sincere
friendship and pray for him in secret. If someone treats you badly, you must forgive him
generously and graciously. You will then find that you receive pardon from Allåh for
what you have committed, for your own sins are more numerous, and He is Capable of
granting you more bounty and benefit than you could ever obtain by taking revenge on
your adversary.”166
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                  Allåh is All-Pardoning, All-Powerful.
                  fa-inna ’llåha kåna ‹Afuwwan Qadºrå.
       That is to say: “Allåh (Exalted is He) pardons sinful offenders despite His ability
to exact revenge, so it is incumbent upon you to follow the custom of Allåh (Exalted is
He).”167
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                          *****




                                             19.
                                   Holding Fast to Allåh
                                       (Exalted is He)
                               [al-I‹tiƒåm bi’Llåh (Ta‹ålå)]
               In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                               Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                                       O human beings,

165   ar-Råzº (11/73)
166   La£å›if al-ishåråt (1/382,383)
167   ar-Råzº (11/73)
                                                                                               79

                                      yå ayyuha ’n-nåsu
                        a proof has now come to you from your Lord,
                            qad jå›a-kum burhånun min Rabbi-kum
                        and We have sent down to you a clear light.
                              wa anzalnå ilai-kum n«ran mubºnå.
                          As for those who truly believe in Allåh
                              fa-amma ’lladhºna åman« bi’llåhi
                     and hold fast to Him, them He will cause to enter
                            wa ’‹taƒam« bi-hi fa-sa-yudkhilu-hum
                                 into His mercy and grace,
                                fº ra¥matin min-hu wa faælin
                      and will guide them to Him by a straight road.
                           wa yahdº-him ilai-hi ƒirå£an mustaqºmå.
                                         (4:174–5)

          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 O human beings, a proof has now come to you
                 yå ayyuha ’n-nåsu qad jå›a-kum burhånun
       Proof is the evidence by which a claim is established as valid. In this context, it
means the Qur݌n, which provides evidence of the validity of the Prophethood of the
Prophet (Allåh bless him and give him peace), and which substantiates the rules and
principles it contains. The principles established by its noble verses [åyåt] include the
veracity of truth and the falsity of falsehood. As related on the authority of Ibn ‹Abbås
(may Allåh be well pleased with him and his father), the Prophet (Allåh bless him and
give him peace) referred to the Qur›ån as the Proof [al-Burhån], because it is associated
with so many miracles that bear witness to its truthfulness.
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 from your Lord
                 min Rabbi-kum
       The second-person-plural pronoun -kum [your] is affixed to the title of Lordship
in order to demonstrate gracious kindness towards those addressed, and to announce that
the proof has come to them for their instruction and their development to perfection.
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and We have sent down to you a clear light.
                 wa anzalnå ilai-kum n«ran mubºnå.
        This also means the Noble Qur›ån, which Allåh sometimes refers to as the Proof,
and sometimes as the light that is luminous in itself and illuminating for others. It is
called a clear light because it is clear in itself, independent in the certainty of its
truthfulness. Since it comes from the presence of Allåh (Exalted is He) by His
miraculous power, it needs none other than Him. Its purpose is to clarify for others the
matters mentioned above, to impart His guidance to creatures, to bring them out of the
darkness of unbelief [kufr] into the light of faith [ºmån], and to ascribe its revelation to
Him (Exalted is He) by drawing attention to the perfection of its noble exaltation.168
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):


168   Abu ’s-Sa‹«d (2/262,263)
                                                                                         80

                 As for those who truly believe in Allåh
                 fa-amma ’lladhºna åman« bi’llåhi
        That is to say: “those who believe in the Uniqueness of Allåh (Exalted is He),
and in the Messenger He has sent and the Book He has revealed.”
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and hold fast to Him
                 wa ’‹taƒam« bi-hi
       This means: “Hold fast to Allåh, so that He may establish you firmly in faith,
and shield you from the perversion of the Devil.” According to some, it means:
“Adhere to the light, which is the Qur’an that He sent down to His Prophet Mu¥ammad
(Allåh bless him and give him peace).”169
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 them He will cause to enter into His mercy and grace
                 fa-sa-yudkhilu-hum fº ra¥matin min-hu wa faælin
       According to Ibn ‹Abbås (may Allåh be well pleased with him and his father):
“Mercy is the Garden of Paradise, and grace is what He will bestow on them, such as no
eye has ever seen, and of which no ear has ever heard.”
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and will guide them to Him by a straight road.
                 wa yahdº-him ilai-hi ƒirå£an mustaqºmå.
          This means a religion that leads straight [to Him].170
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                           *****




                                         20.
                        The Means of Access and the Connection
                             [al-Wasºla wa ’t-Tawassul]
               In the Name of Allåh, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
                               Bismi’llåhi ’r-Ra¥måni ’r-Ra¥ºm.

                  O you who truly believe, practise true devotion to Allåh,
                          yå ayyuha ’lladhºna åmanu ’ttaqu ’llåha

169   al-Khåzin (1/468)
170   ar-Råzº (11/95)
                                                                                               81

                           and seek the means of access to Him,
                                wa ’btagh« ilai-hi ’l-wasºlata
                         and wage the sacred struggle for His cause,
                                     wa jåhid« fº sabºli-hi
                                 so that you may succeed.
                                    la‹alla-kum tufli¥«n.
                                            (5:35)

          •Concerning Allåh’s saying (Exalted is He):
                 O you who truly believe, practise true devotion to Allåh,
                 yå ayyuha ’lladhºna åmanu ’ttaqu ’llåha
                 and seek the means of access to Him
                 wa ’btagh« ilai-hi ’l-wasºlata
        This means: “and seek nearness to Him through obedience to Him and conduct
that is pleasing to Him.” We say that because all obligations are included within two
kinds, there being no third.
        1. The first kind is the avoidance of forbidden things, and this is indicated by His
saying (Exalted is He):
                 practise true devotion to Allåh
                 [u]’ttaqu ’llåha
       2. The second is drawing near to Allåh (Exalted is He) through acts of worshipful
obedience, and this is indicated by His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and seek the means of access to Him
                 wa ’btagh« ilai-hi ’l-wasºlata
        The means of access is absolutely everything that brings the believer close to
Him. It includes love for Allåh’s Prophets and His saints, charitable donations, visiting
the friends of Allåh, frequent supplication [du‹å›], preserving family ties, frequent
remembrance [dhikr], and so on. The meaning is therefore: “Whatever brings you near
to Allåh, you must adhere to it, and you must avoid whatever keeps you at a distance
from Him.” If you acknowledge that, you must recognize the obvious error committed by
those who accuse Muslims of unbelief for visiting Allåh’s saints, claiming that visiting
them amounts to the worship of others apart from Allåh, when it is actually part and
parcel of love for the sake of Allåh.171
        The means of access is that by which one attains to the desired goal. It is also a
signpost to the highest station in the Garden of Paradise, that being the station of
Allåh’s Messenger (Allåh bless him and give him peace) and his abode in the Garden,
which is the nearest of all places in the Garden to the Heavenly Throne.
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 and wage the sacred struggle for His cause
                 wa jåhid« fº sabºli-hi
       The sacred struggle [jihåd] is among the most important acts of worshipful
obedience, and it consists of two parts: (1) a lesser struggle, waged in combat with the
polytheists [mushrikºn], and (2) a greater struggle, that being the effort to keep away from
passion, the lower self and the Devil.


171   aƒ-»åwº (1/282)
                                                                                                82

       The battle with the polytheists is a lesser struggle because there are times when it
is immediately present, and other times when it is absent. If you are slain by the
unbeliever, you become a martyr [shahºd], and if you kill him, you become blissfully
happy. The opposite is true of the self, for it is never absent from you, and if you kill it,
you become one of the wretched. We beg Allåh for salvation!
          •Concerning His saying (Exalted is He):
                 so that you may succeed.
                 la‹alla-kum tufli¥«n.
       That is to say: “in gaining access to Allåh (Exalted is He), and in obtaining His
gracious favour.”172
       We beg Allåh (Exalted is He) to enable us to match the attributes of His
righteous servants, and to model ourselves on the characteristics of the Chief of the
Messengers, our master Mu¥ammad (Allåh bless him and give him peace). Ámºn.
       Praise be to Allåh, the Lord of All the Worlds. There is no might nor any power
except with Allåh, the All-High, the Almighty. May Allåh bless our master
Mu¥ammad, his family and all his Companions, and may He grant them peace.

                                            *****




172   al-Baiæåwº (2/112)

				
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