[These are rough notes of a talk delivered by Shaykh Omar Mukhtar on Ramadan 25 in Post Asr Majlis, South Africa i’tikaf, 2015]
25 attributes of a true mu’min
As for those who strive in Our way, We will certainly take them onto Our paths, and indeed Allah is with those who are good in deeds. [29:69]
In last year’s i’tikaf we have covered the 25 things that are important to become a true mu’min.
- To correct your niyyat (intention)
- Have qilat e kalam (to speak less)
- Always remain in a state of wudhu
- Learn the masnoon du’as of Nabi sws
- Have a life of it’teba e sunnah
- Have Shukr in one’s life
- Have Sabr
- Sleep right after ‘Isha
- Be consistent in tahajjud
- To do ihtamam of all the nawafil
- Have khushu and khuzu (concentration) in one’s salah
We have already covered in great detail from point 1 till 11. In this series we will be doing point 12 onwards.
12. To do Muraqaba
Muraqaba is an amazing thing. Whoever wants to develop love for Allah swt in their hearts, muraqaba is one of the easiest ways to get that. For example, if someone told you that I have cooked a biryani for you, especially in Ramadan, you would be very excited to have it after aftar.
If someone tells a little child that I will give you an ice-cream if you do this for me, the child would do anything to get that ice-cream. Because the word ‘ice-cream’ triggers a feeling of enjoyment in that child. And biryani triggers enjoyment for you. Similarly, the word muraqaba can also trigger enjoyment in you.
This is what happened to the Awliya Allah. For them muraqaba is like food. It gives them enjoyment. The WaliUllah would take out hours from their time for this; they wanted to do muraqaba all the time. They would always make themselves free and do it. For us, it is like medicine. We have to force ourselves to do it.
Developing the Habit of Muraqaba
There is no way a lover wants to spend only a few minutes with their beloved. We are amazed that some mashaikh used to do muraqaba all night long. They would do it in their free time. It was their hobby. We should also try to develop this craze for muraqaba. How? Just do it.
In the beginning, it is tough but then you will see yourself being attracted towards it. Any time that you get free, you would want to do it. Our mashaikh say that a person should do as much muraqaba as they can. The more sugar you put in the tea, the sweeter it gets.
Some people smoke so much; the chain smokers – they smoke one cigarette after another. Our mashaikh were chain muraqaba doers. In the West there is a saying that to leave an addiction you need a higher addiction. This is the highest addiction possible.
Take out a time that is convenient for you. After i’tikaf, you can make a schedule. For example, you may keep a time for muraqaba after fajr, or after zuhr or asr etc. Then fix that schedule and do not change it.
We give it less priority and always move it for some other task. This way you will not be able to switch it so easily. We should do it every day and view it as our meeting with Allah swt. Otherwise Shaytan will keep you so engaged in the world that you will not get any time to do it.
Do muraqaba when you are fresh and you are free from worries. Awliyah Allah used to prefer tahajjud time for muraqaba, and between asr and maghrib. Those who are free at this time should do muraqaba at that time, otherwise you can always choose another time which is easier for you.
A Wise Anecdote by Imam Abu Hanifa
Hadrat Imam Abu Hanifa rah was once in a place where salah was going to be offered. Some people said we will have food and then pray, and some said we will pray and then have food. Imam Abu Hanifa rah had food and then prayed his salah.
Someone asked him that howcome you preferred food over salah? He said, no I made food my salah. Meaning I ate first so that I can have full concentration during my prayer, while others wanted to pray quickly so they could enjoy their food.
You should concentrate on the word Allah Allah Allah, ignore all the other thoughts coming to your mind. Imagine you are in a room and their is a lot of noise coming, you will not scream back at the noise, right? In fact, you will focus more at what you are doing so sooner or later you will become unaware of the noise.
The easiest way is to just sit and do it. Many of your questions will be answered automatically because your heart will become cleaner. Our mashaikh say that initially when we sit it is like cleaning the room. When you start cleaning, the dirt starts flowing. When you do it for a few minutes or hours, the dust will go down. One day you will yourself say that I cannot wait to sit for muraqaba.
Another way to understand is through the example of driving. On the first day, you do not enjoy driving at all because you are so worried. One person was driving with his instructor who was telling him something, and he was so worried that he said stop talking I’m concentrating right now! But when you keep driving you get the hang of it and you start enjoying it. Just like that once you get the hang of muraqaba, you will be able to do it for hours.
13. To do Muhasiba
Do your muhasiba. Look at your own self everyday and see what you did the whole day and what you did not do the whole day. You should think of all the sins and do tawbah. And do shukr for all the good deeds you were blessed with because it is not in our own hands. Best time to do muhasiba is when you are going to sleep. Imagine as though this is the last day of my life.
Some awliyah used to speak so little they would write down whatever they spoke in the entire day on a piece of paper and then see if they had spoken anything bad. They were so detailed that they would write down everything. This is one way to increase spirituality.
Just doing mamulat is not enough. Check whether you had concentration during your mamulat or not, in your salah, at the masjid, how did you feel while fasting? Do muhasiba everyday.
For example, we see in MNCs that there is a huge yearly audit. All the departments are trying to put all the bills together and some are working all night long. Just imagine this is self-audit and Allah swt can call us any night. If you do istighfar every night, it is like you are sleeping with a clean heart. This is what we should do every night.
Hadrat Umar ra told one of the Sahaba ra that you should come and remind me everyday of death in case I forget. And when he got one single white hair, he told that Sahaba ra that you do not need to remind me anymore as I will remember now because of this white hair.
In contrast, look at us, we are so ghafil (negligent)! So many people tell us last Ramadan we had done so much good deeds, this year we cannot, last year we could lower our gaze or stop a certain sin, but now I cannot stop myself in this Ramadan.
This is because we are not doing our muhasiba, if we were doing muhasiba we would be aware and we would have caught ourselves the minute we had slipped. We are so ghafil so we slip. Revive this habit of doing muhasiba. Do it now in these nights to get in the habit.
You may assess yourself by asking did I spend every second of i’tikaf the way I should have? Every second here is priceless, we should not let even one second go to waste. In the washroom, while doing wudhu, before sleeping stay in dhikr, then you will get the reward for doing dhikr 24 hours a day.
Then Allah swt will grant you deed e kasur (ability to see ones own faults). If you are not careful, Shaytan will put you in a trap that you are doing so well. Do not worry about these sins etc. Make dua that Allah swt grants us deed e kasur and that if at anytime we have inclination towards any sin, we should catch ourselves right then.
وَآَخِرُ دَعْوَانَا أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ