[These are the rough notes of a talk delivered by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed (db) in Cape Town, on Jun. 29, 2015]
وَٱلَّذِينَ جَـٰهَدُواْ فِينَا لَنَہۡدِيَنَّہُمۡ سُبُلَنَاۚ وَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَمَعَ ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ
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]
Allazeena Jahadoo – in one sense it means physical jihad; those people who exerted themselves physically for Allah swt so much so that they were willing to give up their lives for Allah swt. We are talking about true mujahideen, there are many people these days who are false mujahideen. But at least you can think in terms of mujahideen of the past. Imagine that mujahid takes one last glance at his house, he looks at all the blessings that Allah swt gave him, and he is ready to give all of that up for Allah swt.
Once a shaykh started crying on hearing how much a person (wrestler?) would physically exert himself while training, then the students also started crying. After a while shaykh explained that look at how much people exert themselves just for a worldly cause. You can see this exertion in the life of athletes even today.
In the life of Ashaab al-suffa this effort can also be seen. They would spend all their time near the wall of Nabi sws so much so that Allah swt told Nabi sws to sit in their company and told Nabi sws to not to lower his gaze from them, why? Because they were making so much mujahida to get raza of Allah swt. This is also a type of mujahida. These are people called allazeena jahadoo.
We are allazeena amanoo. We want deen to fall into our lap. People say oh this is so difficult for me. It doesn’t mean that they are not able to do it. It means they just want what is easy and whatever is easily accessible. We only want what falls into our lap. Allazeena amanoo do the bare minimum.
There’s a third option that is to make yourself that allazeena amanoo who connects themselves to those who are allazeena jahadoo. This is tasawwuf; that if we cannot be like those people, we chose to sit with these people, we spend time with them, we let ourselves be inspired by them. Allah swt says that don’t content yourselves just with the basic Islam. Strive for taqwah.
When you make the intention that I don’t want to be content with this I want more. But then you look at yourself and you see nothing. So Allah swt tells us what we should do: kunu ma’a sadiqeen – connect yourself to the sadiqeen. That is, become those ordinary believers who come and sit in the company of allazeena jahadoo. When steel is put near a magnet, it completely becomes magnetized. Allah swt has put signs in nature for us to see.
This connection is not just for barakah. If you sit with them, and you don’t see yourself changing then there is something wrong with the connection. If you plug in the switch and it doesn’t work it means there is something wrong with the connection. The power generation plant does not have the problem. Allah swt also has distribution points connected to the power plant. The master distributor is Nabi sws. Nabi sws said ana qasim – he himself called himself the distributor. Sahaba ra had big hearts so they could directly plug in to Nabi sws. They were the greatest of insan after Prophets. Then tabi’in plugged into Sahaba ra. Then it kept continuing until our generation.
In Pakistan you can see it all, the transformers are there, then you have the sockets then you have the adapter to which you can plug your cellphone into. You cannot plug in your charger directly to the transformers or the main power plant because your charger cannot handle it. Our mashaikh are the adapters. They have nisbat, they are connected. And it goes all the way to the master distributor Nabi sws that has power sent by Allah swt. This is the system.
If you want to have more taqwah, if you feel I have wasted so much time, how much surfing and idle things I have done; if a person thinks that I want to lead a life of dhikr and want to leave the sins, it means you are starting to get charged. It is very important that we make this effort of mujahida. Everything in the world has the potential of taking you away from dhikr unless and until you change it.
You don’t have to leave the dunya; you have to change your outlook towards the dunya. Like Allah swt says that Don’t let your wealth and children distract you from the remembrance of Allah swt. Those who get distracted are the ultimate losers.
Our mashaikh use terms called fana and baqa. This is the process. What’s the worst situation? That the heart is 100% connected to dunya and 0% connected to Allah swt. This person must now do dhikr, ibadah and sunnah for Allah swt. Then his heart will start getting connected to Allah swt and the percentage will start to increase.
Then comes a time, like sunnah i’tikaf and you want your heart to be 100% connected to Allah swt. For this you will have to spend sometime completely disengaged from the dunya. Maybe for some it’s 10 days of i’tikaf. For some it might be 40 days. But you cannot live like that your whole life.
First you must strive in your own lifestyle, along with your studies etc. to see how much you can push it. How much can you connect to Allah swt? Keep pushing. Then when you feel I cannot get any more connection, then leave everything for Allah swt for sometime. Why was Nabi sws going to Cave Hira? He sws could have just sat in his room.
Allah swt told us the story of As’hab e kahf because it has a lesson for us i.e. if you live in a corrupt society then you will have to go to some seclusion so that you can get 100% connected to Allah swt. This seclusion is in the Qur’an and in the Sunnah. Then you keep pushing in seclusion and you feel that 100% connection for Allah swt has now entered your heart. Now when you go back to the world you will still love your parents etc. but you would love them for Allah swt. This is called baqa.
In our deen fana is just a passing ground – just a phase that you go through during your tazkiyah process. Fana is not sunnah. Nabi sws came back from the cave. You keep reconnecting until you become a 100% fully engaged person in the dunya. You are completely working in the world but your heart is connected to Allah swt completely. You are doing things in the world for the sake of Allah swt. Everything you do will be for the sake of Allah swt so you get 100% connection with Allah swt and 100% connection with the world for Allah swt – this is baqa and this is the ultimate goal. Seclusion is just a phase.
People who have baqa they walk through the mall they are not attracted to it, they are not dazzled by it. They are only attracted to Allah swt. If you have ever had Häagen-Dazs, you would not be interested in any other ice cream. When you get interested in Allah swt you will get disinterested in the world. Our mashaikh say how can you glance at the world lovingly when Allah swt has never glanced lovingly at it? Allah swt never glanced lovingly at any of these fashion magazines or car magazines. Allah swt says:
Qul mataud dunya qaleel –
Say O my beloved Prophet sws that all of the dunya is but a trifle. It is nothing but fluff. You are not interested in the fluff when you have seen the substance. You have made your deen fluff. You have made Prado and Mercedes your substance. When you make deen your substance, all of this world would become fluff for you.
There is some preliminary effort that we have to make in order to become successful in the dhikr of the heart:
1. Be silent. Both from tongue and minds. A lot of people think too much. They think non stop. You won’t be able to tell. Apparently they are motionless but their mind is in 5th gear. It is called a scattered mind – intishar. When you pick up the newspaper and read so many scattered news from different sections, your mind gets scattered. Then on TV so many images are scattering your minds. In computer language we call it defragging the computer to get rid of all the scattered files to make it run faster.
Then the cellphone is the ultimate tool of intishar. Smart phone – that’s like a computer in your pockets. Sometimes when some boys give us the phone to make a call, just the home screen has so many apps. Intishar. We need silence. We have to get rid of the scatter. If you talk less you will feel dhikr e qalbi. People traditionally used to say that women talk a lot. But men talk so much. And men in South Africa take a special award! We do love your jolly and friendly nature, but not when it affects your dhikr.
Initially in dhikr you will get many thoughts, but you have to ignore them. When you sit in an office and you tell your boss that I cannot work because there are too many cars passing outside the window, you will get fired if you say that! In the beginning when you sit for dhikr you will get thoughts, your job is to just ignore it. Just like the guy sitting in the office ignores the traffic and focuses on the work. You have to focus on the name Allah. You will be better at this when you start avoiding unnecessary speech.
2. Reduce Screen Time – on your smartphone, iphone etc. You must do all productive and beneficial things on the screen. But you have to stop yourself from the unnecessary. You have to be extremely strict on it. If you click one story about the dolphins and read it for 30 seconds, the internet will get you – and you will be stuck for the next 30 minutes. Just look at your browsing history and you would know how long you had been surfing. Leave the screen. Learn silence and leave the screen. The more silent and screen-less you are, the more you will get dhikr.
Shaykh Baqi billah (rh) would often be quiet. Nabi sws used to sit after fajr salah and sometimes he sws would just be silent. That’s it. It would be a majlis of silence. So once a student said to Shaykh Baqi Billah rah that Shaykh give us some advice so we may benefit. He said, that person who cannot get benefit from my silence will not benefit from my words. For the mental development we have silent places called libraries. They should exist. But when will we have places to have silence for our spiritual development?
Nabi sws was always in a state of sorrow and worry for the ummah. He sws would never let himself rest or relax because of his deep sorrow over the condition of the humanity. He had long periods of silence. Once Nabi sws told Sahaba ra just for tarbiyah that if you knew what I knew you would laugh less and cry more. I’m not saying you should become dry people. Keep your natural jolliness, but also have your natural seriousness.
3. Practice the two adhkar of the heart: wuquf e qalbi and muraqaba these two reinforce one another. One is sponge and you submerge it in the water. The more you submerge it in the water, the longer it will last when you take it out of water. This is muraqaba. This is the daily exercise of fana. There should be some time of the day when you try to disconnect from the world. The deeper you go in the dhikr, it’s like submerging your sponge deeper in water.
Wuquf e qalbi is like spraying water – like we have spraying water bottles while ironing that we locally call fush-fush, because that sounds nice. When you cannot completely submerge at those times you should spray. All 24 hours in a day should be either be drowning or spraying. Then you will become dhakir.
You know, this is what the ummah needs. We don’t want you to leave your profession or studies. But we want you to do all it as dhakireen. We want dhakireen doctors, dhakireen professionals. Maybe you will say my sponge has dried so you will realize you have to either spray more or maybe submerge more. You can only increase in either of these two.
The purpose is that try to live your life such that you never forget Allah swt. When you reach that point, all other things will become easy; it will be easy to not get angry, it will be easy to lower your gaze. It is only difficult because we don’t remember Allah swt.
May Allah swt accept it from us. Ramadan is the best time to work on your dhikr. In our book of deeds we have so many pages about dunya. Now make the intention that I want some pages in my book of deeds that only has Allah swt on the whole page. Maybe Allah swt will take out that page and put it on the Day of Judgement. Maybe that one page would be so heavy on the scale that day.
4. You must follow up. You must listen to the recordings, you must listen to live talks. We can only follow up with you a couple of times in a year. But you have to put in effort. You have to follow up to get dhikr in your heart.
وَآَخِرُ دَعْوَانَا أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ