The Sweetness of Imaan
I have mentioned previously that when the sweetness and ecstasy of Imaan enters the heart of a person, then his whole life changes.When a person does something out of his love for Allah Ta’ala and His Rasool, and not merely out of a sense of obligation, then Allah Ta’ala blesses this person with the sweetness of Imaan.
Fulfilling our Deeni obligations i.e. Salaah, Fasting, Zakaat, etc. just because it is our duty to do so is very different from fulfilling them out of love for Allah Ta’ala and Rasulullah e. Our weakness is that everything we do stems from ‘duty’ and ‘obligation’ and not love.
This is comparable to a person working for me and I tell him to go to the post office and fetch the post therefrom. Since no car is available, the person has to take a walk. He will not find enjoyment in his heart in having to walk to the post office.
Take a person who enjoys jogging. It is the pleasure of his life. Now if he is told to run the errand, then if the distance is 5 km, he will consider this too short a distance.
Then again, there are many of us, whose objective in fulfilling our Deeni obligations is that we derive pleasure, enjoyment and happiness as a reward for fulfilling them. We are therefore not Aashiqs (lovers) of Allah Ta’ala, rather Aashiqs of pleasure, enjoyment and happiness.
It is not Haraam to ask Allah Ta’ala for peace, contentment, pleasure, enjoyment and happiness - indeed, we should ask and continue asking Allah Ta’ala for these things. But since, most of the virtuous deeds we do revolve around a sense of duty and not the love of Allah Ta’ala, we don’t achieve this sweetness of Imaan.
For example : we render some service to Deen, but we do so because we think : “People are going astray and there is so much of corruption. It is our duty to make an effort.”
Yes, indeed, it is our duty, on which, we will Insha-Allah gain Thawaab (reward) but we will not taste of the sweetness of Imaan, because everything done stems from a sense of duty and not from the love for Allah Ta’ala and the desire to gain His pleasure.
Such khidmat (service) to Deen needs to be rendered out of love for Allah Ta’ala, with a deep-felt concern for those going astray, that some attempt be made to save them from deviation and that all the Ummaties of Nabi e follow the path laid out by him and gain salvation in the Akhirah.
Added to this, Deeni work should be undertaken with the understanding that it is Allah Ta’ala who has blessed us with life, with health, with wealth, with the faculties of sight, hearing and speech and He has granted us intelligence, coupled with knowledge. It is thus only befitting that a servant utilizes all these invaluable bounties of Allah Ta’ala for His pleasure alone.
Even though - the reality and essence of the sweetness of Imaan is not acquired so easily. To obtain such a precious commodity, we have to sit in the company of those whose hearts are aflame with the Love of Allah Ta’ala and who thus do everything for His pleasure alone. In their blessed company, where the lessons of Divine love are taught and where we may draw from their hearts, that fire of love, there we will reap the sweetness of Imaan.
Signs of the Sweetness of Imaan
1. Enjoyment in Ibaadat
The acquisition of the Sweetness of Imaan brings immense enjoyment in the Ibaadah undertaken. The pleasure a person finds in his Salaah, impels him to delay his Sajdas. His Zikr of Allah Ta’ala emanates from the deep recesses of his heart, intoxicating him. The requirement for this intoxication and ecstasy is neither wine nor worldly love; the requirement for this ‘high’ is neither heroine nor cocaine; it is the remembrance of his beloved Allah.When he recites the Qur’aan Sharif, then it is as if he is conversing and communicating with his Rabb. The speech of Allah Ta’ala, which he recites, deeply impresses upon his heart and establishes a profounder and stronger Imaan within him. With a deep hearted enjoyment, he believes that his Allah is listening to His own Kalaam (speech) from the tongue of His sinful servant.
The mercy and kindness of Allah Ta’ala is such that despite us having used and abused the tongue in Gheebat, lies, false oaths and Qasms and so many other evils, Allah Ta’ala still grants us the ‘towfeeq’ to read His Kalaam. He would have given it to the angels to read, because to read such pure and untainted speech, we require tongues which are sinless.
The objective will not be to complete as many paras or Qur’aans as is possible and thus read at breakneck speed, hastily and disrespectfully. There will be calm, dignity and beauty which will adorn the Qur’aan Sharif and which will win one special ‘audience’ from Allah Ta’ala.
When expending his money in the path of Allah Ta’ala, in charities and Zakaat, then this person does not feel financially burdened. There is an enjoyment in this person’s generosity, kindness, in his concern for the poor and needy and in the fulfillment of the rights of his kith and kin, neighbors and others.
Because every sphere of his life has become an Ibaadat, his entire life is blissful. When a person does any good deed, for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala, then the heart is rewarded immediately with pleasure and joy.
2. Suppressing the Nafs
Another sign indicating that a person has tasted the sweetness of Imaan, is that this person will overcome and suppress all his evil and carnal desires. He will not succumb to his haraam passions and desires. He will regard them as cursed passions; the fulfillment of which earns him the displeasure of his Beloved Allah.”We regard such pleasures As worthy of being cursed, By which, O friends, My Lord becomes displeased.”
When evil thoughts enter the mind and evil desires enter the heart, then we should overcome them by ignoring them and not entertaining them. Let them pass by, but pay no attention to them. We should not invite these thoughts and lay out the dastarkhan (table) for them and amiably say: “O you wonderful thoughts, please remain in my heart for a long time because I am deriving much enjoyment from this visit of yours.”
It is natural that these thoughts and desires will come … this is expected, but it is sinful to entertain them. At such times, we should immediately focus our attention to something permissible.
It is mentioned that some of the Sahabah (R.A.) once presented themselves to Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and said : “Our condition is that sometimes we experience such evil thoughts and sentiments in our hearts that it is most painful even to mention them.”Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) enquired : “Is it really so ?”
They replied : “Yes, this is our condition.”
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) exclaimed : “But that is pure faith.” … meaning, that to feel grieved and distressed at such thoughts and sentiments is a sign of good Imaan.
In another narration, a person said to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam):
“Sometimes such wicked ideas come to my mind that I would prefer to be burnt down and reduced to charcoal than to give utterance to them.”
Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) replied : “Praise be to Allah who turned back the matter towards thought and sentiment.” … meaning, that it is the grace of Allah Ta’ala that these thoughts and desires were not accepted and adopted but remained as is.
Thus a person who has achieved this sweetness of Imaan, will not act upon his evil desires and thoughts. He will burn up these evil desires in the furnace of Taqwa and light up his heart with the Noor of Taqwa.
A beautiful woman passes by and one happens to cast an accidental glance at her. Thereafter a strong desire plagues at the heart of the person and he feels that he simply cannot forego the sight of such a beauty. What is he to do ? If he suppresses this desire …” I will not look, I will not look, Never will I look at one, Looking upon whom, displeases my Lord.”
… then Allah Ta’ala rewards him on this sacrifice.
Allah Ta’ala has stated in a Hadith-e-Qudsi : “Verily evil glancing is an arrow from the poisonous arrows of Shaitaan. Whosoever fears Me (Allah) and refrains from it will receive from Me such Imaan, the sweetness of which he will taste (feel) in his heart.”
If, on the other hand, he appeases the evil desires of his nafs, and continues glancing lustfully at the woman, then the end results of having displeased Allah Ta’ala will be restlessness, restlessness and more restlessness.
Allah Ta’ala promises a life of restlessness, difficulty and anxiety for those who indulge in sin.
Allah Ta’ala states in Surah Ta Ha :
” Whosoever turns away from My reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Quran nor acts on its orders, etc.) verily, for him is a life of hardship …”
Ayaaz and the Priceless Pearl
Moulana Jalaluddin Rumi (R.A.) mentions in his Mathnavi, a story of Sultan Mahmood : One day the Sultan decided to test his ministers and ordered them to crush the most prized pearl of his treasury. One by one, each of 65 ministers declined, stating that the pearl was far too valuable to be destroyed.The King then summoned his closest and trusted courtier, Ayaaz, and ordered him to crush the pearl. Without any delay or hesitation, Ayaaz crushed the pearl into fragments. When the ministers expressed disbelief and shock at such audacity, the King asked Ayaaz to inform them as to the reason for him having broken the pearl.
In response, Ayaaz asked these ministers : ” Which is more important, the Royal Decree or the pearl ? “
The question we pose to ourselves is : ” Which is more important, the command of my Allah or the desire of my heart ?”
The desires of the heart are akin to pearls, which appear to be quite beautiful but we should not fulfil these desires at the cost of breaking the decrees of Allah.
Ayaaz attained closeness to the king through his loyalty and faithfulness and his obedience and submission. Similarly, we will gain the extreme nearness and intimate closeness to the King of Kings through loyalty and faithfulness. This in turn is dependent upon sincere obedience and complete submission to His decrees.
The Test of Imaan
Imaan will not be tested in the Musjid because a Musjid is not a place for the testing of Imaan. It would obviously be very easy to be pious and abstain from sins therein. The testing grounds of Imaan are the streets, universities, bazaars and businesses.What kind of Imaan do we display, if we indulge in illicit relationships at the high schools, universities, etc., if we cast lustful glances at every woman who passes by us on the streets and if we cheat our customers, commit fraud and employ semi-nude women to work along side us in our businesses, believing that by employing them we will be saving on salary ?
Know that at such places our Imaan will definitely be tested. At such times we have to project and assert our Imaan and Islam. If the person passes the tests here, then indeed this person has tasted of the sweetness of Imaan.
3. Sacrifice for Deen
The third sign of the sweetness of Imaan, is that one will be prepared to undergo all forms of difficulties and hardships for the sake of Allah Ta’ala and Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). When a difficulty comes in the way of him fulfilling the commands of Allah Ta’ala, he will say :” For the pleasure of my Allah and His Rasool (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) , I will suppress my desires and withstand the difficulties which come my way.”
Thus, out of his love for Allah Ta’ala, he will walk to the musjid for Fajr Salaah even on the severest of winter mornings. If, however, he is ill or has some valid reason for missing his Jamaat Salaah, then this is different from not going to the Musjid due to laziness.
Such a person will also be prepared to defend his Deen on the battlefield and will even sacrifice his life for it. Of course, he must not beg or ask Allah Ta’ala for difficulties and hardships, rather for goodness and well being.
We are not of the caliber of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahabah (R.A.), yet Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) taught the Sahaba-e-Kiraam (R.A.) to always ask Allah Ta’ala for Aafiyat, ease and comfort. We too should seek the same goodness from Allah Ta’ala.
Nevertheless, if a difficulty comes this person’s way, as a test, he will remain firm and steadfast in his beliefs and actions and endure it for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala.
We receive many calls from people saying that they make dua and read their Salaah, read Ishraaq, Chasht and Salaatul Haajaat and even awaken for Tuhajjid, but then say that despite all this, Allah Ta’ala still does not want to hear their duas (Na-oozo-bil-lahi-min-zaalik)… as if Allah Ta’ala is obliged to do so.Moulana Jalaluddin Rumi (R.A.) has said : “Sometimes Allah delays in answering the prayers so that one may continue to call on Him earnestly and crying in humility. While this is done, He is Aware thereof and He greatly approves thereof.”
Delay in acceptance of one’s duas is not a sign that Allah Ta’ala has rejected the dua. On the contrary, it is a sign of the pleasure of Allah; that His servant has recognized Him to be the only one who can fulfill all his needs. In fact, the person who sincerely asks of Allah, not despairing and losing hope in Allah, Allah enshrouds him in His Mercy.
Nabi Yacoob (A.S.) made dua that he be reunited with his missing son, Hazrat Yusuf (A.S.). After 40 years, this dua of Hazrat Yacoob (A.S.) was answered.Thus, Allah Ta’ala, knows best when and in what manner to answer a person’s duas. Therefore Nabi e has explained :
“Any Muslim who makes a dua and his dua does not contain a request for anything sinful or anything regarding the severance of family ties, Allah grants him one of three things most assuredly, namely,
1. ) What he has asked is granted immediately, or
2. ) What he has asked is saved for him as a treasure in the Aakhirah, or
3. ) Allah wards away some calamity from him in lieu of the object asked for.”
Our condition is that we make dua to just get over the problems we are faced with. There is that restlessness at heart because we are waiting for the problem to make a quick exit from our lives so that we may revert to our old lifestyle. To cite an example : many students are to be found in the Musjids at the time of their examinations … the dua, Ibaadah is merely done in order that we overcome the difficulty or problem at hand.
4. Sabr and Shukr
In the midst of difficulties, a person with the sweetness of Imaan, exercises Sabr and is neither found to be disturbed nor perplexed. He does not complain of his Master, Allah Ta’ala, rather he adopts patience and views this patience as the gateway to the closeness, Ma’rifat and Muhabbat of Allah Ta’ala.When blessed with abundance in bounties from Allah Ta’ala, like wealth, prosperity, etc. he makes Shukr and regards this gratitude as the gateway to the proximity, Ma’rifat and Muhabbat of Allah Ta’ala.
In both conditions, the person retains his trust and his faith in Allah Ta’ala. When afflicted with difficulties and trial, then Sabr is exercised and the heart is blessed with the sweetness of Imaan. When granted the best of bounties and gifts, plenty of gratitude and appreciation is expressed and the heart is blessed with the sweetness of Imaan.
Rasulullah(sallahu alayhi wasallam) has said :
“The Mu’min is a wonderful being. If goodness/prosperity comes his way, he praises Allah and offers Shukr (gratitude). And, if hardship/adversity strikes him, he (also) praises Allah and adopts Sabr (patience).”
This relationship with Allah Ta’ala is analogous to two pages stuck firm by glue. That glue has created such a ’strong’ bond that the page can be torn, but the two pages will not separate. This is the kind of relationship we need to build with our Allah; that irrespective of the condition, we will not separate ourselves from Allah Ta’ala.
A Lesson from Children
Many a time we have seen mothers slap or hit their children when they have been naughty or disobedient, yet those children cling on to their mothers and refuse to leave them. That little child is teaching us a lesson : Although I am getting a hiding well deserved, how can I leave my mother ? Where would I go ?If that child is not prepared to leave its mother, then where are we going to go, leaving our Allah? There is no one else for us, except Allah.
It is mentioned in the Mathnavi of Moulana Jalaluddin Rumi (R.A.) that once Allah Ta’ala said to Nabi Moosa (A.S.) :
“I love My bondsmen very much when they behave towards Me like infants, who in spite of their mother’s punishment and anger still attach themselves to her, instead of fleeing. When that mother gives him a slap, he still flees to her and while crying, holds onto her strongly. The small child does not want help from anyone save the mother. He even shows no inclination to his father. Instead he looks upon his mother as the source and origin of all good and evil. O Moosa (A.S.), your imagination and connection with us in good and evil is similar to that; that except for Us, your attention is not drawn to anyone else …”
Thus, no matter what the condition or circumstance, our dependence upon Allah Ta’ala should be as the child’s dependence upon its mother.
On the acceptance, patience, tolerance and fortitude exercised, Allah Ta’ala blesses a person with the sweetness of Imaan. As I have mentioned, this quality of Imaan is, however, acquired from the Ahlullah, those who possess the same in their hearts. This then is transferred and kindled into the hearts of those who keep their company.
The companions of Nabi(sallallahu alayhi wasallam) are known as ‘Sahabah’ because they spent time in the company of Rasulullah(sallallahu alayhi wasallam)and received from his heart, the great wealth and treasure of Imaan and Ishq of Allah Ta’ala.
My Sheikh, Hazrat Moulana Hakeem Muhammad Akhtar Saheb (D.B.) says most beautifully and aptly in one of his poems : ” … the condition (of success) is (some) kind attention of the men of love, otherwise this gem of love cannot be had …”
The quality of Radha-bil-Qadha has also been cultivated within the person who has this sweetness of Imaan and is implemented under all conditions.Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (R.A.) once asked Hazrat Moulana Abdul Ghani Phulpoori (R.A.) :
“Is there any stage higher than Ikhlaas (sincerity) ?”
Hazrat Moulana Abdul Ghani (R.A.) replied :
” Ikhlaas is a very high stage; I cannot think of anything higher than that.”
Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (R.A.) then said :
” Higher than even Ikhlaas, is Radha-bil-Qadha - that you be satisfied with whatever Allah Ta’ala gives to you.”
This does not mean that a person can do the wrong thing and expect Allah Ta’ala to decide in his favour. We must not blame Taqdeer for our own mistakes. If a person takes a knife and slashes his throat, this is not ‘Taqdeer’. But if someone else slashed this person’s throat, then yes, this is Taqdeer.
One person gave his very young daughter in marriage to a very old man. For some wealth and property, the father pressurized his daughter and so, even though unwilling and unhappy, she was left no choice. As would be expected, plenty of problems surfaced. When the matter was brought before Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (R.A.), he asked the father as to where his intelligence had disappeared for him to have arranged such an unsuitable match for his daughter. The father replied : “Taqdeer.”
Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (R.A.) got very angry, saying :
“You made the mistake and now blame Taqdeer.”
We should not deliberately do the wrong thing and then blame Taqdeer for the end result. Using the means which are available, the correct effort should be made; thereafter accept whatever transpires.
Handing all matters to Allah Ta’ala, resigning oneself to the decisions of Allah Ta’ala and believing that there is great wisdom in His decisions, creates peace in one’s life.
Allah Ta’ala has mentioned in a Hadith-e-Qudsi :
“… Some of My slaves are keen to offer special type of (optional) prayers, but I do not let them do so, for it may lead to vanity; some of them are such, who can have sound faith only when in good health, if I destine sickness for them, they are adversely affected; there are others who can maintain their faith only in sickness, if I order health for them, they may go astray. I give orders befitting the affairs of My slaves, because I know all that which is in their minds.”
Thus, to protect the Imaan of His servants, Allah Ta’ala, out of His Infinite Kindness, grants some people favourable conditions and blesses them with plenty of wealth and prosperity and keeps them happy; for if He inflicts them with poverty and difficult conditions they may commit Kufr.
To some people Allah Ta’ala gives them poverty and less material wealth, because He knows fully well that if He were to give them plenty of wealth, then instead of coming to Him, making Ibaadah and Shukr, they will expend and squander this money in Haraam avenues e.g. gambling, prostitutes, etc. So Allah Ta’ala deprives these people of wealth so that their Imaan remains intact… such is the wisdom Allah Ta’ala has in everything which He does.
Due to the deficiency in our understanding we do not accept, acknowledge and appreciate Allah Ta’ala’s benevolence, loving-kindness and favours upon us as we should. Yet Allah Ta’ala informs us in the Qur’aan Sharif :
“Many a time you dislike a thing while (in fact) it is good for you, and many a time you love a thing while it is evil for you. And Allah knows while you do not know.”(Surah Baqarah 2 : 16)
As the servants and slaves of Allah Ta’ala we should understand that our Master will grant to us only that which is good for us. Our duty and endeavor is that we supplicate and ask of Allah Ta’ala, then make the correct effort (tadbeer) and thereafter leave the final decision to Allah Ta’ala. This brings peace, contentment and happiness into our hearts.
Allah Ta’ala grants the sweetness of Imaan, together with all the accompanying conditions of peace, tranquility, happiness, etc., to those who are faithful and sincere servants. And if the Kings of this world knew of this condition of the heart, they would go to great lengths to snatch it away. However, this is something which Allah Ta’ala gives to whomsoever He chooses to.
Whilst this in itself is not difficult to attain, effort is a precondition. The effort is directed more in suppressing the nafs from Haraam because, in comparison, finding enjoyment in Ibaadat is a little easy. We sometimes derive enjoyment in Zikr, Tilawat, Haj, etc. The real test is in suppressing the nafs from Haraam. On doing this, Allah Ta’ala will ignite our hearts with the Noor of Imaan.
My sheikh mentions an example : he says that that area which is struck by a flood, earthquake or any other disaster, then due to the damage, the government declares it a disaster area and supplies the material - the sand, cement, etc. - for the reconstruction of those homes and buildings destroyed in such a disaster.
In a similar vein, when evil desires make their way into our hearts and we smash and destroy them for the pleasure of Allah, then this fragile building of our heart is shattered into thousands of fragments. On the pain and grief experienced at this destruction, Allah Ta’ala will reconstruct our hearts with the sweetness and the Noor of Imaan.
When a person experiences this, he will then really know and understand what it is … It will be as if he is here but not here; eating, drinking, laughing and joking, talking to his friends, etc. but his heart will always be connected to Allah Ta’ala …
” Whilst occupied in the world, he is still with Allah.
And in spite of being with everyone, he is still away from everyone.”
May Allah Ta’ala grant us all the ‘towfeeq’ of practising upon the teachings of the Qur’aan Sharif and the ‘towfeeq’ to follow the beautiful lifestyle of our beloved Nabi, Sayyedena Muhammad(sallallahu alayhi wasallam). May He bless us with implicit trust and faith in Him. May He strengthen our Imaan so that we accept all decisions made by Him, to be the best for us. May He give us the understanding that He is the Creator of means so that after adopting the means we may not trust in those means gaining us our desired objective but instead trust in Allah Ta’ala and pray to Him to grant us success in our endeavors. May Allah Ta’ala forgive us all and bless us with the best of both worlds.Wa Sal-lal-lahu alan Nabiyil Kareem wa ala aalihee Wa as-habihee ajma’een