Everything that I have mentioned so far has been in relation to oneself before anybody else. So start with yourself before the members of your family and look at what is lacking in you in order that you may start treating it.
So if there is a common deficiency amongst you and one of your companions or family members then join him with you in resolving this problem because the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever from amongst you sees an evil he should change it with his hand and if he is not able to then with his tongue and if he is not able to, then (he should hate it) in his heart, and that is the weakest level of faith.” 15
Likewise before you think about spending time amongst your companions either for the sake of knowledge, action or inviting to Allah, contemplate and think:
How is your relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?
How is your humbleness in prayer?
Read about that which will better your condition and that of your prayer, increase your humbleness in it and soften your heart.
Are you one whose supplications are answered or do you notice most of your supplications not being answered?
Look into your ‘aqidah and the level of your certainty and reliance upon Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and observe closely your food and drink – are they from that which is halal or haram, or is there some doubt about their source?
If the situation was on that requires enjoining the good and forbidding evil, what would you do? 16
… all that to solve the reason why our supplications are not being answered.
Maybe you would benefit from reading hadiths pertaining to the punishment of the grave and that of its bliss, about the terror of the Resurrection, and the torment of the Hellfire. You could well continue reading for days, weeks, or months, accompanying that with good actions and self struggle.
It is imperative that a person takes his soul to account and treats his deficiencies. Match yourself against the Qur’an and the Sunnah to know who you are, and look what you have set aside for Allah to know what Allah the Almighty and Majestic has prepared for you because of the saying of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:
“WHOEVER WANTS TO KNOW WHAT ALLAH HAS PREPARED FOR HIM, THEN HE SHOULD LOOK TO WHAT HE HAS PREPARED FOR ALLAH.”
Are you prepared for the meeting with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?
Have you fulfilled the rights of the creation, one to another? Or are you in a constant state of postponing and deferring?
Have you converted your knowledge of repentance into crying and penitence?
Have you turned whatever you have read about the loving for Allah, into real love for your Muslim brothers?
Do you often visit them, and overlook their faults? Do you aid the needy amongst them, feel delight for their happiness and grieve for their sorrow?
Do you taste the sweetness and delight of Faith?
If the answer is in the negative then go back to the hadith of the Prophet:
“There are three attributes whoever is characterised by them will relish the sweetness of faith: he to whom Allah and His Messenger are more beloved than anyone else; he who loves a person solely for the sake of Allah; and he who has as great an abhorrence of entering into disbelief after Allah has rescued him from it, as he has of being thrown into the Fire.” 18
Is Allah and His Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam more beloved to you than anybody else?
Do you give precedence to the love of Allah over wealth, business, whims and desires?
Test yourself when you hear the call to prayer, if you notice a desire to delay answering it in order to pursue your interests in trade (for example) then know that Shaytan has succeeded in gradually leading you astray and that your love for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is deficient. In this way it is upon you to consolidate yourself, giving precedence to that orders of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala over any other wordly matter.
Then contemplate the second matter, may Allah have mercy upon you, “He who loves a person solely for the sake of Allah”. Look into the reality of your love for people: What is the basis of your love? What is the basis of your hating and detesting? Why do you love a particular person more than another? Is it because he is from your people? Or for his wealth and status, or for some worldly interests? Or is it because of his compliance to the orders of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and his undertaking of righteous actions?
Maybe you are still facing difficulty for not having relished the sweetness of Faith. So where does the problem lie? It could be that the third matter has not materialised, that is the saying of the Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ” … and he who has as great an abhorrence of entering into disbelief after Allah has rescued him from it, as he has of being thrown into the Fire.”
How is your abhorrence of entering into disbelief? Do you abhor it as you would abhor being thrown into the Hellfire?
Do you live this abhorrence and this fear?
It ought to be that you cultivate this feeling in you, so that your sincerity to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is cultivated and that you may hasten to purify your soul.
Contemplate the hadith of Umm Salamah radhiallahu ‘anha who said: “Most of the invocations of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to be: ‘O Changer of the Hearts make my heart firm upon your religion.’ ” 19
Reflect upon how Ibrahim ‘alayhis salam feared associating partners with Allah, so he used to supplicate, “And keep my and my sons from worshipping idols.” [Al-Qur'an 14:35]
Don’t forget the supplication of Yusuf ‘alayhis salam, “Cause me to die as a Muslim and join me with the righteous.” [Al-Qur'an 12:101]
You should aid yourself through fear: living with the fear of eternal abode in the Hellfire and of never coming out of it, from everlasting hunger and continous thirst, with fear of crying blood continually, so much so that if a ship was to be sent into it, it would float.
The Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Verily the inhabitants of the Fire cry, so much so that if ships were sailed into their tears, they would float, and verily they would cry blood – meaning instead of tears.” 20
Dont rest and sit around while the sweetness of Faith is missing or is weakened. How many people set out on journeys for the prupose of treating their illnesses and how many of them spend out of their wealth to treat these illnesses? Do not the souls and the hearts have more priority in being treated, as their matter is one of total eternity?
Bring to mind the hadith:
“Every slave will be resurrected upon that which he died.” 21
Then expect death at any moment. It is better for you if you were to meet death whilst trying to improve your own coniditon than to die whilst striving to improve others’, being held accountable at the same time for leaving off obligatory actions just like the lantern that burns itself out and gives light to others, as in the hadith:
“The example of the scholar who teaches the people good things but forgets himself is that of a lantern, it gives light to the people but burns itself out.” 22
This is what Abu ad-Darda radhiallahu ‘anhu used to fear hence his saying, “Verily what I fear from my Lord on the Day of Resurrection is that He calls me at the head of all creation and says to me: ‘O Uwaymir,’ so I say ‘Here I am, My Lord, at Your service,’ so He says, ‘What did you act upon from the knowledge that you acquired?’ ”
WHO SHOULD I GIVE PRIORITY TO IN INVITING FIRST?
Begin with yourself before your family members and anyone else, as has already preceded. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said:
“O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded.” [Al-Qur'an 66:6]
Then, attend to your wife, before your neighbour and your companions, so that she can help you in bring up the children. Before you give da’wah to your cousins, give da’wah to your brother’s children yet give da’wah to your cousins before giving da’wah to your companions – and carry on in this manner.
Why is preference to be given to your own children before, for example, your brother’s children? Once you are under the earth’s surface (i.e. in your grave), your children, your brother’s children and your beloved ones will all feel great sorrow for your absence. But as days go by, forgetfulness has to affect them, except your children, for they will be praying to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for you everyday, rather many times a day, rather, in many of their prostrations. You will still be receiving good deeds while you are in your grave – how?
The Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam made it clear for us, when he sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “When a person dies, all of his actions discontinue, except three: a recurring charity, or knowledge that is being benefitted from, or a righteous man that prays for him.” 23
He sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Verily the purest of what you eat is that which is of your own earning and indeed your children are from that which you have earned.” 24
Yet it is surprising to see some propogators of Islam, rather, many of them, unfortunately being very active with great strength in giving da’wah to the people, but their women and their children are in a condition that they themselves are not pleased with, so which of the people have more priority to be given attention, education and da’wah?
FROM A MAN’S PERFECTING HIS RELIGION IS LEAVING ALONE THAT WHICH DOES NOT CONCERN HIM:
It is imperative for us to build the levels of knowledge and action upon a firm, strong foundation, and that is the saying of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “From a man’s perfecting his religion is his leaving alone that which does not concern him.” 25
In Fayd al-Qadir, the author writes, “It is understood from this that from a man’s deficiency in his religion is his indulging in that which does not concern him. This includes everything of secondary importance, whichever form it may take. What should concern him is all that relates to the essentials of his livelihood, that which fulfills his need for sustenance, clothing, keeping himself chaste thereby, and the like thereof from the necessities of life, excluding those things relating to his own personal pleasures. He should be concerned with all that relates to his salvation in the Hereafter, that being Islam, iman, and ihsan. In this way he stays safe from ruin, all forms of evil and from argumentation. This is part of perfecting his religion, firm establishment of his piety and keeping away from following his desirs. Whereas striving to accomplish other than this is loss of irreplaceable valuable time, in doing what he was not created for. So whoever worships his Lord, with realisation of his closeness to his Lord, and of his Lord’s closeness to him, has perfected his religion, as has proceeded.”
It is further stated in Fayd al-Qadir, “Part of that which does not concern the worshipper is his learning fields of knowledge of lesser importance whilst leaving knowledge of greater importance, like the person who abandons knowledge which causes benefit to himself and engages himself in learning that which he could correct others with, like, for exmaple, the knowledge of how to debate, excusing himself for that saying, ‘My intention is to benefit the people.’ Yet if he was truthful, he would have busied himself with correcting himself and his heart, by removing bad characterisitcs, like jealousy, showing off, pride, haughtiness towards others and other destructive attributes. They say, ‘debating is equivalent to a quarter of Islam and other say: half of it, and some say: all of it.’ ”
Islam consists of acting as well as abstaining. By relinquishing all that does not concern him and leaving that which is of no importance to him and that which doesn’t benefit him, a person perfects his religion. The only way this abandonment is accomplished is by having a full realization that, “From a man’s perfecting his religion is his busying himself with that which concerns him”, and what is of concern and importance to him is based upon levels and grades of importance, in beliefs, faith in the unseen and in hurrying to do good deeds mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah. By that he would have striven to act upon everything that he has been ordered with and would have abandoned everything prohibited. This is Islam and depending on how well these things are accomplished, determines the position of the worshipper with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and Allah knows best.
If we understand these two important principles, we are able to derive many other principles from them, and we would come to know that there is no way of recognising what “concerns us and what doesn’t concern us”, except through knowledge, which necessitates properly understanding the principle: “The more important takes precedence over that which is less important”. From here we would move on to acting upon the principle of “determining the most important.” In this way knowledge, speech and studies are purified so that the unimportant, the prohibited and the corrupted are removed, so all that is left being the beneficial pure things like remembrance of Allah, sunnah, fiqh …
In the same way had actions, characteristics and mannerisms are sifted out so that every attribute denounced in the Book and the Sunnah is removed and what remain are the beneficial worthy actions like reciting the Book of Allah, studying together the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam enjoining the good, forbidding the evil …
This is the way the Muslim arranges and plans his affairs, portraying them in the form of everything good and beneficial whether it be intention, speech or action, avoiding everything detestable, hating that for himself as mentioned in the hadith, “Verily Allah the Mighty and Majestic, is Generous, He loves generosity and noble character and hates the despicable character.” 26
From amongst the unfortunate things one hears is some people using this hadith as a proof to oppose those who encourage engaging in recommended actions. The reason being is that they understand the “despicable” things to include the recommended actions or the “superficialities” – as they claim. What I previously mentioned disproves them on the one hand. On the other hand we request these people to explain to us how something could be made recommended or made part of the Sunnah and be detestable and hated to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala at the same time?! The wording of the hadith is “and He hates the despicable manners”, so is it possible that what has been considered recommended be of those things hated?!
WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF GIVING ADVICE AND ADMONITION?
On the authority of Hakim ibn Hizam radhiallahu ‘anhu who said, “I asked the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (for charity), and he gave me. Again I asked and he gave me. Once again, I asked and he gave me, then he said, ‘O Hakim! Verily this wealth is like a sweet fresh fruit, whoever takes it without greediness is blessed in it and whoever takes it with greediness is not blessed in it, just like the person that eats yet is never satisfied, and the upper hand is better than the lower hand.’ ” Hakim added, “So I said, “O Messenger of Allah, by the One who sent you with the Truth I shall not accept anything from anybody after you until I leave this world.’ ” Later Abu Bakr radhiallahu ‘anhu used to call Hakim in order to give him his share of war booty but he would refuse. Also ‘Umar would call him to give him his share but he would refuse to take anything from him. On that ‘Umar said, “O Muslims! Verily I hold you as witnesses that I offered to Hakeem his share of the booty, but he refuses to take it.” He never took anything from anybody after the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam until he died.27
Hakim would ask from the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and he would give to him – this happened three times, upon which the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then directed him to contentment, self-respect and to refrain from begging. What was Hakim’s radhiallahu ‘anhu reaction to that? He vowed by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that he would never return to such a thing, and that he wouldn’t take anything from anyone until he parted from the world.
He did not just listen to the exhortation, shake his head crying, having been affected by it and return the next day to what he was doing before, as if nothing had ever taken place. Instead he kept to his promise, during the lifetime of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and of Abu Bakr, who would call him in order to receive his due but he would refuse. In this manner he continued, until the Caliphate of ‘Umar radhiallahu ‘anhu who used to present to him his rightful share of the war booty, that which Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala had specified for him from above the seven heavens, but he would refuse, having been affected by the admonition of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He remained in this condition until he passed away sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
The effect of this advice stayed with him until the final moments of his life. This is how we should act and should be, carrying into effect what we hear so that our condition and the condition of our ummah may change. Yet how sorrowful our condition is, as we have had an abundance of books, lectures, sermons and admonitions yet it is as if they are only for the purpose of learning culture and acquiring information, not to act upon or carry into effect. To Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is our complaint.
How beautiful and sweet this wealth is! But the love of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is more beautiful and the love of the Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is sweeter and more cherished. What was the price Hakim paid for this love? It cost him a great amount. He has outlined for our Ummah lessons in patience, power of determination, firm will and acting upon knowledge