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How is your relationship with Allah(SWT)?

Imam Tirmidhi narrates in a hasan sahih hadith n the authority of Abdillah ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with both of them) who said: “One day I was riding (In the narration found in the musnad of Ahmad, it makes clear that he was riding behind the Prophet [peace be upon him] on the same animal) behind the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he said to me, “O young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]. Be mindful of Allah and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find him in front of you”.

Ibn Rajab who wrote a very famous commentary on the 40 hadith of Imam Nawawi also wrote a separate treatise on this hadith alone, which is over 100 pages.

Ibn al-Jawzi said “I contemplated over this hadith and it amazed me and made me nearly collapse. How sorry I feel for the ignorance of this hadith, and the minimal understanding of its meanings (by many)”

Ibn Abbas was, at most, 13 years old when he was gifted these words of advice by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Imagine the impression this made on a teenager, who would grow up to be an ocean of knowledge and for whom the Prophet said the prayer, “Allah, give him understanding of the religion, and teach him to discern its meanings.” As we equip children with every means of success, we should not forget to imprint in their memory and hearts these powerful rules to live b. In this hadith, the prophet (peace be upon him) taught him many important things e.g. victory, patience, etc. This shows that we too need to teach our youngsters these things and not say they are too young for this.

Protect and preserve

The literal translation of Ihfadhillah is “Preserve Allah”, but in this context it means preserving the boundaries of Allah, hence has been translated as “Be mindful of Allah”. This means to leave anything that Allah has prohibited and to fulfil everything He has commanded

The prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Narrated Sahl bin Sa`d: Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “Whoever can guarantee (the chastity of) what is between his two jaw-bones and what is between his two legs (i.e. his tongue and his private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him. [al-Bukhari 6474]

Ihfadhillah yahfadhka – “Be mindful of Allah, He will be mindful of you…” This hadith reveals core truths about the nature of our relationship with Allah. If you take care of your relationship with Him, He will take care of you. We sometimes get bogged down with the side issues in our religion: with definitions, fiqh issues, and the differences between us, while forgetting the essence of our relationship with the Creator.

In this context it means to preserve them from falling into sin, and is an implementation of “Be mindful of Allah”. In response, ibn Rajab (rh) said there are two ways “Allah will protect you”:

  1. General way: Protects your wealth, health, etc. Imam Al-Tabari(rh) said to his students when questioned by them why his body is still strong at a very old age, “These are our limbs, we protected them from sins in our youth, so Allah protected them for us in our old age”Allah will also protect our families, as He mentioned in the story of Musa and al-khidr in Surah al-kahf that the reason why He protected the wealth of the two orphans is that {And their father was righteous} [Al-Kahf: 82]
  2. Special way: Protects your iman, diverts you away from sins, etc

The opposite also applies. Scholars said they could see the effects of their sins on their families  e.g. in disobedience, etc How do we know how our relationship is with Allah? Here are some key questions:

How well do you know Him(SWT)?

You can only have a relationship with someone you know and like. How do we expect to build a strong relationship with someone we barely know?

The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Allah the Almighty said: I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.” [Sahih Muslim]

This means that Allah is saying, “I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him.” Expecting the best of Allah is to expect that He will have Mercy on him and relieve him of hardship.

To truly know Him, we need to know His attributes, His beautiful names, and the wisdom behind His actions, as Allah the Almighty said: The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on him by them. (7:180) Wa lillahil asmaa ul husnaa, fad’uuhu bihaa.

If you believe that Allah is not merciful or wise, all you will find in the world is harshness and senselessness. But when you know that God is the Most Merciful, the Most Wise, and the Most Just, that should change the way we view any trial or tribulation. We need to learn about them and reflect on them. Every single name. Each one has its own sweetness. So if you’ve never tasted this than you need to try it.

Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim both narrate that the Messenger of Allah(SAW) mentioned a man from the people of the past. and told his story saying: “Allah had given him wealth and children. When his death approached, he said to his sons, “What kind of father have I been to you?” They replied, “You have been a good father.” He told them that (asrafa ‘alaa nafsihi) he had not presented any good deed before Allah and had indulged his desires only, and if Allah should get hold of him He would punish him in such a way as he has not punished anyone else.’

So he commanded them “When I die, burn me, and when I turn into coal, crush me, and when there comes a windy day, scatter my ashes in the wind.” The Prophet added, “Then by Allah, he took a firm promise from his children to do so, and they did so. (They burnt him after his death) and threw his ashes on a windy day.

Then Allah commanded to his ashes. “Be,” and behold! He became a man standing! Allah said, “O My slave! What made you do what you did?” The man said: [Khashyatuka yaa Rubb] Fear and awe of you, O Lord. Thus, Allah forgave him due to that.” [Bukhārī 7067, Muslim 2756]

Ibn Battal al-Maliki wrote, “Allah forgave him due to the intensity of his fear of Him. The easiest way to draw nearer to Allah is with fear.” (Sharh Ibn al-Battal vol. 19 pg. 254) Abu ‘Amir al-Damashqi said about the fear of Allah, “It is the torch of the heart, by which one perceives the good and evil in his soul.”

This hadith also means that Allah will forgive him if he seeks forgiveness, will accept his repentance if he repents, will answer him if he supplicates, and will suffice him if he asks for something.

How much do you love Him(SWT)?

To love Allah is more than simply pronouncing your love of Allah; just like in any relationship it is acting upon this love by enjoying their company, responding to their every request, devoting yourself to them, liking what they like, and disliking what they dislike. We do this with our friends and our beloved.

A study undertaken at UCLA found that on average, couples where both partners work only spent only about 35 minutes per week actually talking. This only counted genuinely connecting!  Deciding who’s making breakfast, taking out the bins or paying the water bill doesn’t count as a genuine connection. In truth, while that study is heartbreaking, we can all probably relate a little.  It’s very easy to get caught up in our daily lives and duties.

Why is this important? How long do we spend in salaah daily – probably about 35 minutes. But how many of those are genuinely connecting. There is a saying which is attributed to Hadhrat Ali(RA) which states “There are people who worship Allah to gain His Favors, this is the worship of traders; while there are some who worship Him to keep themselves free from His Wrath, this is the worship of slaves; a few who obey Him out’ of their sense of gratitude and obligations, this is the worship of free and noble men.”

How many of us don’t invest enough in this relationship personally and therefore see our children and others around us pay no attention to it. I remember a story of a man from the Majus (Zoroastrian) religion who died and left behind a huge debt. Some of his creditors said to his son “Sell the house and pay off your fathers debt.” To which he replied “If I sell the house and pay of my fathers debt, will he enter Paradise?” They said “No”. To which he then responded “Then leave him in the Hellfire and me in the house”.

So how do we develop a real connection with Allah(SWT). By observation, The stages of a meaningful relationship typically go through a stage of infatuation and buzz. When we first met our spouse or started practising, you’d get those butterflies in your stomach and enjoy every salaah.

Then, there’s a period when the daily reality of the world sets back in, post honeymoon and once your beard has started emerging.

Then there’s the bumps in the road, when you’re going through challenges and not feeling good at all. This is followed by Ramadan when our love is renewed or you go away for a holiday together. Then you really appreciate the benefit of this relationship when you are blessed with children.

However, after this there is the 7 Year Itch or a mid-life crisis, which is a defining point in any relationship and it can break even the strongest of relationships. And finally for those who manage those peaks and troughs, it’s the golden years once a couple has learnt to navigate the troublesome waters of major crises, and they are set to enjoy the richest and most rewarding chapter of their lives. Trust rebuilt, passions renewed, connection reborn.

Love must be nurtured in order for it to grow and for you to experience the fruits of this love. It is a normal part of our human condition to experience highs and lows when it comes to the level of our worship. There are times when we feel the love of Allah is alive and ever present in our hearts and we take delight in our rituals of worship and calling upon Allah. The scholars recognized that we need ways to help us intensify our love of Allah and to help us stay motivated, and they have listed effective steps of keeping the love of Allah alive in our hearts:

  1. Listening to every word, internalising it and repeating it. Reading the Holy Qur’an with understanding. The Holy Qur’an is a book of guidance, so we must not only read its verses, but comprehend what we read, contemplate on the meanings, and implement what we read.Know that He subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) is Al-Khaliq, The One who created us and anything we may desire; As-Sami’, The One who hears every single one of our supplications; Al-Qadir, The One who is able to do anything, no matter how impossible it might seem to our limited perception. This will help us create our relationship with Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) in a positive framework, and make it a relationship that we gladly work on and invest in. So explore, learn and reflect on the Names of Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He).How distant do you feel from Allah(SWT)? As for Allah(SWT): It was We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein. [Surat Qaf, 50:16]

  2. Quality time: Performing voluntary prayers. The prayer no doubt strengthens our connection with Allah, and more so the voluntary prayer because we stand for this prayer purely for the sake of Allah, even though it is not obligatory. It is a two-way love because Allah returns this love for the one who performs the voluntary prayers. It was narrated by Abu Hurayrah that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said in a longer Hadith, “Allah the Mighty and Sublime said, ‘My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him.’” To increase our love for Allah and to be loved by Allah, we should start performing the sunnah prayers.
  3. Cant stop thinking about them: Remembrance of Allah. Try to be in a constant state of remembering Allah, mentioning His name, praising Him, glorifying Him, thanking Him, and asking for forgiveness.During his old age, while Imam Ahmed was travelling he stopped by a town. After the prayers, he wanted to stay for the night in the masjid yard because he didn’t know anyone in the town. Owing to his humility, he hadn’t introduced himself to anyone thinking that if he did, he would be welcomed by many people.Failing to recognize Ahmed bin Hanbal, the caretaker of the mosque refused to let him stay in the mosque. As Imam Ahmed was quite old, the caretaker had to drag him out of the mosque. On seeing this, a baker from a nearby place felt pity for Imam Ahmed and offered to host him for the night.

    While the Imam rested, his host remained busy throughout the night preparing bread to sell in the morning. Imam Ahmed watched as the baker mixed and kneaded the dough, tended the fire, and pulled hot loaves from the oven, all the while uttering Istighfaar (asking for Allah’s forgiveness).

    In the morning, the Imam eagerly asked his host about his continual dhikr and istighfar. The baker told him it had become like second nature, a habit and practice that he had been doing for many years. Imam Ahmad then asked whether the man had experienced any reward from this practice. The baker answered: Imam Ahmed asked the baker if the constant practice of saying Istighfar had any effect on him. The baker responded “By Allah! There is not a single dua that I made except that it was answered – all apart from one.” When Ibn Hanbal asked what that unanswered prayer was, the baker responded: “To see the famed Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal!”

    At this, tears came to the Imam’s eyes and he told the baker: “I am Ahmed ibn Hanbal! By Allah! Not only has Allah(SWT) listened to your dua but had dragged him onto his (the baker’s) doorsteps.

    Distance isnt a big factor in a relationship, communication is. But most of all, commitment is the most important one.

    Be selfless: This means giving up what you want for the sake of another and remaining humble. We should abandon selfishness and pride in our human power, and stand humbled, meek, and submissive as servants of Allah.

    Just as we would change a nappy, despite its smell or feed a child despite their naughtiness. Or listen to our parents, despite their repetition. Or give up time for a friend despite our busy-ness.

    5. Spend on them: Just as we would buy the best gifts for our beloved – the latest toys on returning from a trip, flowers, an extravagant dinner for our families, give to Allah(SWT) from things that are dear to you. This really challenges your heart. When a clothes drive or food drive comes around for the poor, do not give the worn out clothes you do not want, but give from your new, clean, and beautiful clothes.

    Have you heard how Aisha, Prophet Muhammad’s wife, used to give out the coins in charity to the poor? Aisha used to perfume the coins in musk before giving them in charity. When asked why she did this, she explained that the charity reaches Allah before it touches the hand of the person in need.

    Abu Aqil Ansari RA) was a poor Sahabi with a big heart. When the Prophet(SAW) asked all to bring forth their sadaqah for the expedition of Tabuk, he had nothing to give. So he went looking for work and found a job with a Jew who needed some water hauling. Abu Aqil was hence among the last to come forth with charity – a Sa` of dates (enough to fill 2 palms). He said: `O Allah’s Messenger! This is a Sa` of dates. I spent the night bringing water and earned two Sa` of dates for my work. I kept one Sa` (for my family) and brought you the other Sa`. The Messenger of Allah ordered him to spread it over all the charity (that others brought). Some men mocked Abu Aqil, saying, `Allah and His Messenger are not in need of this charity. What benefit would this Sa` of yours bring’. They laughed at him, saying,`Allah does not need the Sa` of Abu `Aqil.” – Upon which Allah revealed

    [9:79] “˹There are˺ those who slander ˹some of˺ the believers for donating liberally and mock others for giving only the little they can afford. Allah will throw their mockery back at them, and they will suffer a painful punishment.”

    6. Doting on them, day or night. This means being at their beck and call, ringing or texting them when you’re away and losing sleep for them. How do we do this with Allah(SWT)? Performing the night prayers, qiyam ul layl. What truly sets apart the ordinary Muslim from a devout believer, who is close to Allah, is the ability to wake up before fajr and pray the qiyam prayers. This is a time full of blessings and rewards from Allah.

    In the fourth year after the Hijrah, the city of the Prophet was still under threat from within and without. From within, the influential Jewish tribe, the Banu an-Nadir, broke their agreement with the Prophet and made plans to kill him. For this, they were banished from the city. This was in the month of Safar. Two months of uneasy quiet passed. Then the Prophet received news that tribes from distant Najd were planning an attack. To pre-empt them, the Prophet gathered a force of over four hundred men. and leaving one of his companions ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan. in charge of the city, set out eastwards. Among this force was the young Madinan, ‘Abbad ibn Bishr.

    On their journey, the Prophet pitched camp in a valley for a night. As soon as the Muslims had settled their camel mounts, the Prophet, peace be on him, asked: “Who will be our guard tonight?” ‘Abbad ibn Bishr and ‘Ammar ibn Yasir both of whom had been paired off as ‘brothers’ by the Prophet when he arrived in Madinah after the Hijrah, volunteered to cover the night. ‘Abbad and ‘Ammar left for the mouth of the valley to take up duty. ‘Abbad saw that his “brother” was tired and asked him: “What part of the night do you wish to sleep, the first or the second?” “I shall sleep during the first part,” said ‘Ammar who was soon fast asleep quite close to ‘Abbad.

    The night was clear, calm and peaceful. The stars, the trees, and the rocks all appeared to celebrate in silence the praises of their Lord. ‘Abbad felt serene. There was no movement, no threatening sign. Why not spend the time in ‘ibadah (worship) and reciting the Qur’an? How delightful it would be to combine the performance of Salat with the measured recitation of the Qur’an which he so much enjoyed.

    In fact ‘Abbad was enthralled by the Qur’an from the moment he first heard it being recited by the mellow and beautiful voice of Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr, when he was just fifteen years old. The Qur’an had found a special place in his heart and day and night thereafter he would be heard repeating the glorious words of God so much so that he became known among the Prophet’s companions as the “Sadeeeq ul Qur’an” – friend of the Qur’an. And so in the stillness of the night, at the mouth of the valley in Najd, ‘Abbad stood up and faced the Qiblah. Raising his hand in surrender to God, he entered into the state of prayer. Finishing the compulsory opening chapter of the Qur’an, he began reciting Surah al-Kahf in his sweet, captivating voice. Surah al-Kahf is a long Surah of one hundred and ten verses which deals in part with the virtues of faith, truth and patience and with the relativity of time.

    While he was thus absorbed in reciting and reflecting upon the divine words, eternal words of illumination and wisdom, one of those who had planned to attack the Prophet crept in the shadows. From a distance, the man saw the figure of ‘Abbad silhouetted at the mouth of the valley and he knew that the Prophet and his followers must be inside the valley. Silently he drew his bow and let fly an arrow. Unerringly it embedded itself in ‘Abbad’s flesh.

    Calmly, ‘Abbad pulled out the arrow from his body and went on with his recitation, still absorbed in his Salah. The attacker shot a second and a third arrow both of which also found their mark. ‘Abbad pulled out one and then the other. He finished his recitation, made ru’ku and then sujud. Weak and in pain, he stretched out his right hand while still in prostration and shook his sleeping companion. ‘Ammar awoke. Silently, ‘Abbad continued the Salah to its end and then said: “Get up and stand guard in my place. I have been wounded.”

    ‘Ammar jumped up and began to yell. Seeing them both the attacker fled into the darkness. ‘Ammar turned to ‘Abbad as he lay on the ground, blood flowing from his wounds.

    “Ya Subhanallah (Glory be to God)! Why didn’t you wake me when you were hit by the first arrow?” “I was in the midst of reciting verses of the Qur’an which filled my soul with awe and I did not want to cut short the recitation. The Prophet had commanded me to commit this Surah to memory. Death would have been dearer to me than that the recitation of this Surah should be interrupted.”

7. Being grateful for their company and presence: For our favourite company, we are so pleased to have their time and attention even if they don’t give us anything other than their good company. In this case however, we are immersed in countless blessings and gifts from Allah and we often neglect thanking Allah and expressing our gratefulness for what we have. The more we thank Allah and acknowledge His blessings, the more we feel the love of Allah, and the more Allah will give us.

Do you love me? Just like a loving partner needs reassurance, we too need reassurance and have to request the love of Allah(SWT) by asking for it. The Prophet(SAW) taught us a beautiful dua:

The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam narrated this duaa in a Hasan (good) hadeeth in Tirmidhi and Ahmad: “O Allah, I ask You for Your Love, and the love of whoever loves You, and the love of deeds that will bring me closer to Your Love.”

Allāhumma Innī As’aluka Ḥubbaka Wa Ḥubba Man Yuḥibbuka Wa Ḥubba cAmalin Yuqarribunī Ilā Ḥubbika

This means that one expects, when he supplicates, for his repentance to be accepted, something disgusting to be repelled from him, and his deeds that are performed with their proper conditions to be accepted. This explanation is supported by another hadith which says,

If My servants ask you (O Muhammad) about Me; (tell them that) I am very close, answering the caller (who invokes Me). [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:186]

Whatever you need or desire, in the end it can only come from Him. This is not to say that we can never ask people for help, but we should understand that ultimately Allah is the source of all help that comes our way. The companions used to ask Allah for help in everything, large or small, even in getting salt for their food.

In a narration other than that of at-Tirmidhee of this same opening hadith, it states:

“Be mindful of Allah, you will find him in front of you. Know Allah during times of prosperity, He will know you in times of adversity. Know that what has passed you by was never to befall you. And [know that] what has befallen you was never to have passed you by. And know that victory accompanies perseverance, relief accompanies affliction and ease accompanies hardship”

Freedom Through Reliance on Allah: We know that whatever harm Allah has written for us is inevitable, because the “pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” We can put our hearts and minds to rest, knowing that what is written will come to be no matter what, and Allah will be at our side.

Difficulty Lies Ahead: It is implied in the hadith that there will be challenges and trials for the believer. Perhaps it is in difficulty that the strength and power of the Prophet’s words shine brightest. Hardship is never meant to break us. Even in the darkest moments, there will be unexpected sources of coolness and ease, and always the hope of victory that comes with patience. Allah says in the Quran:

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَىْءٍ مِّنَ ٱلْخَوْفِ وَٱلْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ ٱلْأَمْوَٰلِ وَٱلْأَنفُسِ وَٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلصَّٰبِرِينَ (١٥٥) ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَآ أَصَٰبَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيْهِ رَٰجِعُونَ (١٥٦) أُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَٰتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ وَأُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْمُهْتَدُونَ (١٥٧)

We shall certainly test you with fear and hunger, and loss of property, lives, and crops. But give good news to those who are steadfast. Those who say, when afflicted with a calamity, ‘We belong to God and to Him we shall return.’ These will be given blessings and mercy from their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided.

(Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)

The Prophet captured this essence for Ibn Abbas and for all Muslims, and taught us that as long as we turn to Allah, we will be all right. In order to understand we must try it; it is one thing to read about it, and another to actually experience finding Allah at your side in moments of hardship.


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