Developing a Passionate Relationship

[These are rough notes of a talk delivered by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed (db)]


وَذَرُواْ ظَـٰهِرَ ٱلۡإِثۡمِ وَبَاطِنَهُ
Leave outward sin and inward sin. [6:120]

A person must leave all sins to become a true friend and lover of Allah swt. A lot of people have this problem that they try to do a few sins along the way. Maybe somebody skips their fajr, maybe somebody looks at ghayr-mehram, somebody doesn’t tell the truth. We sometimes think these things are minor, and instead we look at all the good things which we are able to do by Allah’s grace. We look at all the good things that we are doing, and we allow ourselves to cheat a little bit in Islam.

Sometimes when people go on a diet, and they feel so good about their accomplishment, so they allow themselves to cheat a little bit. They allow themselves to indulge a little bit which is, in terms of diet, a sin i.e. they break the rules of the diet. But since it’s just a little bit, so they think it’s okay, because they are looking at all the times they actually did follow the rules.

A lot of believers have become like that. When they take this attitude, they don’t feel guilty about doing the sin. They actually think it’s okay, but it’s not okay. The second you commit a sin, you may think it’s a small indulgence, you may think that nobody will find out, but instantly Allah swt sets in the automatic system.

Like the fancy buildings of hotels have automatic doors. When you are walking close by, they have sensors through which they can detect your presence, and the door automatically slides open. Just like that when you go near a sin, the door slides open and you can feel the heat from the outside. If you choose to go out the door and enter the sin, then Allah swt sets in this automatic system where somehow, somewhere in our life we will have to face the consequences of our sins (unless we make true tawbah).

How to Leave Sins

The way to get rid of these sins is by having fear of Allah swt and also by having love for Allah swt and a desire to obey Him. We should try to have a true, deep and loving relationship with Allah swt. If you love any being, you would want to obey that being. You would want to be true to that being, you would want to be pleasing to that being. And if you don’t have love in a relationship, then you will behave like the person we described in the beginning.

If someone doesn’t love their job, they will do their duties, but if they ever get a chance to slack, they will slack. When the boss isn’t looking, they would be laxed in their duties, because they don’t love the boss, they don’t love their job. But if a person has love – they love what they do, they love their boss, then there is no question of slacking, of being negligent in their duties, because this is what they love.

Our problem is that we don’t have a deep, loving relationship with Allah swt, that’s why we allow ourselves to sometimes be negligent.

Qanoon vs. Junoon

In Persian and Urdu language, there are two words: qanoon and junoon. Qanoon means law, and junoon means passion. A person who is in any relationship, either that relationship will be based on qanoon, or on junoon. Either it will be a formal, factual, or a legalistic relationship i.e. qanoon. Or it will be a relationship of love, loyalty and passion – that type of a relationship is called a junoon.

Sometimes the relationship of a husband and wife is only that of qanoon. That means that they are married in name, but they don’t have deep love for each other. Therefore, they do remain married – maybe due to their children, maybe to avoid public embarrassment – but they are more like roommates in the house. They are like co-partners in managing the household and raising the children, but they don’t really have a husband-wife relationship of true love, being of comfort or sukoon for each other. And when things are done, and everything’s managed, they don’t even want to be with each other. The only thing they want to talk about are the children and managing the house. They would rather be with their separate circle of friends. Their pleasure, solace, happiness is not derived from one another. You can even put it this way – they have a purely functional relationship. That’s called qanoon.

There’s another type of husband and wife who are also joint to their children, they are also co-managers in the household, but they also have love for each other. The relationship isn’t just functional – it’s also emotional, passionate, caring, loving, affectionate. They are genuinely close to each other, they miss one another. If they are free, they would want to be with each other. That’s called a relationship of junoon.

What happens is that when a person is in a functional relationship, any time when they are not required to do something, they will be negligent, they will slack. If it’s required, like they are required to take care of the children, then they’ll do it. They are required to earn money so they’ll do it. They will only do what is required and to the extent it is required, in the relationship. In anything beyond that, they will slack and be negligent.

In the relationship of junoon, a person doesn’t just do merely what is required. They are often willing to do more. The husband and wife in a relationship of junoon would want to do more for one another. Even when they do more and more for the other, they feel like it’s not enough. They say this to each other that I wish I could do everything for you, I wish I could be everything for you, I wish I could do more for you. That’s their junoon.

Just like that our relationship with Allah swt can be one of these. And unfortunately and tragically many people have chosen the relationship of qanoon, it means they have a very formal and legalistic relationship. They only do what is required, when it is required, to the extent it is required. But they don’t want to do more. Any chance they get, they will slack and be negligent. They end up in sin.

This is why we have a very large number, the majority of those believers who pray, fall in this description. They pray 5 times a day, but they sin also. They lie also. They stare also. They have longing for a na-mehram also. They are corrupt, unfair in their business practices also. They mistreat their spouse also. Then what does it mean – why are they praying? They are praying because they do have a relationship with Allah swt, but it’s just one of qanoon. They are doing it because it’s required.

You will find that such a person’s prayer doesn’t have a passion in it, because they are not praying out of love and passion. They are not praying out of junoon, they are praying out of qanoon. It means they pray because they have to, as opposed to praying because they want to. That’s the level of their ibadaat – they do what they have to do to the extent it is required. At other times, they cheat on Allah swt. This is called khiyanah – like Allah swt says: O you who believe, you should not do khiyanah with Allah swt and with Nabi sws.

It means do not break your pledge of imaan. Do not cheat on the commitments of the imaan. But those who have a relationship of qanoon only with Allah swt, they will end up cheating.

We were supposed to be the people who had a relationship of junoon; to have love for Allah swt, passion and yearning for Allah swt. It’s that love, passion and yearning that makes a person want to do more. They pray, and they want their prayer to be better, they want more out of it. They want to feel Allah swt in their prayer. The other person is like no be happy that at least you are praying. But that’s how they talk that it’s not enough for me to just pray!

They want more which is why they go to shaykh, mashaikh, they seek them out and say I have been praying for years, but I want more. Just like people of the world say that I have been married, but I want more, I want the sukoon of marriage. She says I do pray but I want to do more; I want to give charity, I want to give sadqah. I have been to Hajj but I want to spend more time in Ka’abah, more time in Masjid Nabwwi. They say I feel something in my prayer, but I want more. I do make du’a, but I want more. I do dhikr, but I want more. I do have some knowledge of Qur’an, but I want more. This is called a relationship of junoon; that I want more.

That’s what love wants – love is that thirst that can never be quenched. Love is that passion that never extinguishes. True love always wants more. You will find this in the lovers of this world; they always want more. They want to hear more from their beloved, they want to spend more time with their beloved, they want to sit more with their beloved, they want their beloved to call them more, they want their beloved to write to them more, they want more time with their beloved.

That person who has that relationship with Allah swt, their whole life is about wanting more; I want more taqwah, more haya, more dhikr, more sunnah, more du’a, more feelings. They want everything, and they want it more, and they want it better. This is because they love Allah swt. They want to leave sin more. They want to leave it entirely. They get worried that I want to leave this envy that I have, I want to leave this pride that I have, I want to leave this bad feeling that I have about somebody, I was able to leave that lust for 10 days, but then I slipped, I want to be able to leave it more. This is how much a person wants.

When a person enters into this relationship, then they don’t want to sin. They are not tempted by dunya, they don’t want more women, they don’t want more men, they don’t want more love, they don’t want more fame. Their heart is only for Allah swt. This is something that we need to learn from mashaikh, siddiqeen of this ummah. They are the ones who have that heart that has that love for Allah swt.

You will see that anyone who comes to these mashaikh with a sincere talab, wish and desire, even if they don’t think about it, they just come thinking there’s a bayan so I should go, what happens in the gatherings of these mashaikh is that you end up wanting more. This is what they walk away from the gathering with, even if they have just come to one gathering.

This means that love for Allah swt gets shared by putting your heart with the lovers. When we go to the talks of the mashaikh, when we listen to them, even when we read their books, the sign that it’s having an impact is that we end up wanting more. We come out feeling I wish I could also pray more tahajjud, I wish I could also have more taqwah.

What Does Yearning Feel Like?

Sometimes people ask this question that what does it feel like to have a yearning for Allah swt. Allah swt says in Qur’an:

مَن كَانَ يَرۡجُواْ لِقَآءَ ٱللَّهِ
Whoever hopes to meet Allah [29:5]

That that person who is always yearning to meet their Rabb. When people hear this they say that it’s a wonderful concept, but I don’t know how to feel that. They say that I’m too much in awe of Allah swt to feel that I’m yearning to meet Him. Or that I’m too scared of Allah swt to be yearning to meet Him. In the beginning you may not be able to feel the yearning; that who am I to meet Allah swt? How can I yearn for that meeting?

You have to go gradually. This is also something out mashaikh help us with. This path of sulook is the path that trains us how to feel the feelings. The target-feeling is to yearn for Allah swt more. But many of us may not be able to have this direct feeling. So we go step-by-step:

  • Yearning to have more feelings: First you would want to have more dhikr of Allah swt, more tawakul, reliance on Allah swt, to want more sabr, shukr in your heart. That everyone can understand easily.
  • Yearning to do more ‘amaal: Once we have these desires, the next step to do more ‘amaal, to be according to the feelings that are in the heart, you would want to do more of these – this is another type of yearnng. E.g. I yearn to pray tahajjud, I yearn to remember to pray masnoon du’as, I yearn to feel Allah swt in salah.
  • Yearning for Allah swt: Once a person has the feelings and ‘amaal, then they would be yearning for Allah swt. E.g. if a person has yearning for the love of Allah swt, yearning for the action of love is to wish he prayed more tahajjud. If a person can do these 2 things successfully, then they will lead him to have more yearning for Allah swt. Like Allah swt says the person who are always yearning to meet Allah swt, who is going to have that feeling?

Mashaikh are the ones that guide us how to reach the goals and objectives that Allah swt has mentioned in Qur’an. Those of us who are connected, we get to hear those bayans and be a part of the gatherings where we get this yearning to want more feelings, more ‘amaal, and more yearning for Allah swt.

The more and more this world is going towards the times of fitnah, you will find that we live in the age of fitnah and fassad. We are living in a time where there are so many types of evil, some times it gets difficult to stamp it out. Allah swt made another path, that if you cannot wipe out the evil entirely, then you should spread more goodness. This is what the awliyaUllah and mashaikh do.

May Allah swt accept all of us, may He make us from those who remember Him, make us from those who love Him abundantly.


وَآَخِرُ دَعْوَانَا أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ


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