Graciousness of the Most-Gracious Lord
Īyāka Na`budu Wa 'Īyāka Nasta`īn:
You (alone) we worship; You (alone) we ask for help. We recite this verse daily at least seventeen times in Surah Al-Fatiha during our prayers. It is a reminder of our covenant with Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala of total and absolute servitude. Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya has discussed in detail how this one verse comprises the entire message of Islam by eliminating every other source of devotion and assistance from our lives. The only time we are truly surrendered to Allah is when we refuse any form of reliance on others and know that the only one who is capable of helping is Him (Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala).
Another esteemed scholar has explained this verse from a very different angle. He said that since Allah SWT has created this earth as a testing ground, He (Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala )has already ordained that believers will be tried in order to determine their spiritual status. Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala says in Surah Al-'Ankabut, ayah 2:
Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, "We believe", and that they will not be tested? (Surah Al-'Ankabut, Verse 2)
The esteemed scholar goes on to explain that the following verse is the confirmation of this sunnah of Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala.
You alone we worship, and you alone we ask for help (Surah Al-Fatihah, Verse 5)
Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala has already ordained that once you proclaim 'Iyaka na 'budu, (you alone we worship) you'll have a problem; a calamity or opposition to test your level of sincerity of this proclamation; you will have a trial in the form of immense happiness or fear to see where your fidelity lies.
Therefore, Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala has already ordained that believers, from the moment they agree to become an 'abd (slave of Allah), will face opposition. Right after telling us that, Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala continues in order to answer His slaves' inevitable question 'what do we do then?', in the following words: "Wa 'Īyāka Nasta`īn" (and only from You we seek support). Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala is telling us that we will have trials but there is nothing to worry about because He is there and if we ask, He will help us through our tribulations.
The Element of Victory:
The element of victory is total and absolute surrender to Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala. Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala opens for His slaves once they have reached a state of desperation such that the slave has exhausted all means and has realised that there is nothing else that can be done. This does not mean that one should not try physical means to relieve a problem; it is really the status of heart while the means are being tried. It is the yaqeen or conviction in the heart that the only one who can open any doors is Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala, and without Him we cannot achieve anything. It is at times like this that Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala opens means for believers in ways that defy all possible physical laws and common sense. The secret of this victory is the absolute believe in the One you are asking from. The victory is for the believer and it doesn't suit him to have any doubt or hesitation in his heart about the ability of his Lord. By this way when the believer reaches the status of 'ubudiyyah (slavery), he will face trials and opposition and Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala assures him that He is there to take care of him. But to gain that you cannot have any doubts or thoughts that somebody else will support you. It is from the graciousness of Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala that He notifies His slaves that trials are part of the plan that cannot be avoided, and at the same time also assures them that they are not alone while being tested. Rather, He is there to provide any support that they might need.
Goals vs. Actions:
At this point we will waver a little from our topic and discuss the differences between our goals in life and the actions we carry out. The question is, which of these have priority—the goal or the actions? It is the goal—because once I define my goal I will take steps or actions that will help me reach my goal. Once I have a defined goal, a defined purpose, it'll drive me to set a plan to achieve that purpose as opposed to taking actions which will keep me busy but might not bring me the results I want. The actions carried out impulsively have no comparison with those that are planned. Think of a beach where there is sand and rocks for miles to see. Big waves come and move the sand and rocks, and they are rearranged according to their weight—big, middle, and small rocks clustered according to their sizes. So the waves rearranged the rocks; an action took place without any particular plan. Whereas if you take the same sand and decide to build a castle, you would have to plan it. You'll collect rocks and sand based on the size and design of your castle. All I am trying to emphasize is one thing: random actions vs. planned actions to achieve a goal. The waves did not build a castle even though the rocks were collected, because the wave did not have a plan or a goal. It is just a force pushing the rocks, though systematically according to weight, yet unable to produce any outcome. The point is that if I do not define my goal and my purpose in life and plan step by step on how to achieve that goal, my efforts will be rendered fruitless.
My Goal—The Gracious Lord:
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'To God belongs 99 names, 100 minus 1, anyone who memorizes them will enter Paradise.'
One of these beautiful names is Ar-Rahman, the Most Gracious. Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala honoured the name Ar-Rahman by mentioning it in the opening verse of the Qur'an:
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. (Surah Al-Fatihah, Verse 1)
In fact, this name is so important that Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala has made it incumbent upon His slaves to remember it at least seventeen times a day. Every time a Muslim performs salah (prayers), he/she has to recite Surah Al-Fatiha which also contains the name Ar-Rahman:
Most Gracious, Most Merciful. (Surah Al-Fatihah, Verse 3)
And it is at least seventeen times that a Muslim recites this verse in fard (obligatory) prayers alone; the rest are extra. It is also the only name that is the title of a surah (chapter) of the Qur'an as well; no other name of Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala is used to name a surah. So what message is Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala, the author of this magnificent book, trying to convey? Our benevolent scholars have provided explanations as to why Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala would choose Ar-Rahman over any other attribute. When you are in a desperate situation and you call on Allah for assistance, 'Ya Allah' or 'Ya Ilah' do not ring as close to the heart as 'Ya Rahman'. So what is the Most Gracious saying by choosing this particular attribute? The first message really is to know who Ar-Rahman is and how important He is in my life. When a person calls on Allah in a state of desperation and beseeches Him by calling Him 'Oh, My Most Gracious Lord!' what effect does it have on the slave? It brings infinite hope and a sense of relief to the heart of the believer. Regardless of how weak, incapable or a great sinner a person is, he is reminded that he is dealing with the Most Gracious Lord who is willing to overlook any shortcomings as long as the slave has no one but Him SWT in his heart. The esteemed scholar goes on to explain that Ar-Rahmaan in here becomes a purpose and a goal in itself. Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala wants me to know that my goal and purpose in life is to reach Ar-Rahmaan. I have to establish the relationship with the Most Gracious Lord in order to be empowered in this life.
He (Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala) challenges us in the Qur'an in following words:
"He is the Lord of the heavens and the Earth and all that is in between them, so worship Him and be patient in His worship; do you know any equal to Him?" (19:65).
Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala is asking us if we know anyone equal to or better than Him (Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala) who is the Most Gracious and Most Exalted? Is there anyone or anything better that we can have as a goal in life rather than Ar-Rahman? If no, then what are we waiting for? And if yes, then who is it? Can a job, wealth, business, educational credentials, status, spouse, children, or anything else be better than Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala as our goal in life?
This is what has happened today with us as humans. We have replaced the Creator and His conscientiousness in our lives with petty materialistic ambitions and this is why the world has become the way it is—a miserable selfish dwelling.
Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala in His ultimate wisdom knew that we would fall trap to this forgetfulness and dexterity so He (Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala) sent us the reminder and the criteria of happiness in His holy book, Al-Qur'an. Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala tells us in Surah Rahman that the best goal is to strive towards establishing the relationship with Him and He SWT also provided us the steps and the sequence of achieving that.
Sequence of Surah Ar-Rahman:
The Sequence of Surah Ar-Rahman has two major principles:
•It has the sequence of a'laa, the sequence of receiving ultimate gift from Allah for ourselves.
•It also has the sequence of Allah's planning for us. It clarifies that Allah already did the planning for us and it is up to us to follow this plan. If we follow the plan we will succeed, and if we do not follow the plan we will be groping in darkness without achieving real success.
The first ayah of the surah is consisted of only one word:
"((Allah)) Most Gracious!"
By this way, the first plan of Allah is to want me to be with "Ar-Rahman".
What does He Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala want my goal to be? "Ar-Rahman".
What does He Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala want me to choose as my purpose in life? To achieve the relationship with "Ar-Rahman"
How do I do that? –Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala takes me to the second step, the second verse:
It is He Who has taught the Qur'an.
Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala is letting me know that after recognizing my goal, I have to get the guide book or the map on how to reach my goal; and this map is Al-Qur'an. Upon following this book, one will be able to walk on the path to success.
It goes on to say:
"He has created man. "
The sequence in this surah is the sequence of priority so the first priority is Ar-Rahman, second is Al-Qur'an, and the third is Allah telling us that he has created us with an already defined purpose and an honour as a chosen creation to carry this blessed message of Islam.
Now if you ask, "Oh Allah how do I achieve that?" He tells us "I have given something to you that I have not given any other creation" and that is:
"He has taught him speech and intelligence. "
Bayaan is a profound term whose definition is more comprehensive than speech and intelligence as it is usually translated. In Arabic it encompasses the meaning of communication – mode and ability of listening and speaking. It is the ability to translate your feelings into words the listener can understand; while the listener has to be ready to receive the message and act accordingly. But what kind of bayaan is Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala mentioning? It's greatly different from what we believe. Allah wants my ear to hear His message and my tongue to talk about Him (Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala). If my ears belong to the message and if my tongue is talking about the message, I am engaged in bayaan. This was the quality of the messengers and prophets. Any other form of communication falls below this great ability that Allah has honoured humans with. Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala wants us to govern the bayaan by His technical manual; meaning if my speech and my hearing belong to Allah, I can have bayaan. The messengers and prophets never received bayaan until their ears and their tongues developed this desired quality. This quality is when the ears listen only to Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala and the tongues talk only about Allah. Now the sending and receiving is acceptable.
What is happening to us today? When the ear is mixed with all kinds of things like backbiting, gossiping, and wanton speech, what happens? – My reception is not clear. This automatically means that my sending will also not be clear and the talk will be full of emotions that have nothing to do with the message of Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala. Will talks filled with anxiety, whisperings of shayateen, worry, envy and jealousy fall under the category of bayaan? No way! One of the elements of bayaan is Sidq (truthfulness) and the truthfulness in this context is to be able to communicate according to the standards set by Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala. Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala is the Creator and we are His creation. He doesn't carry out hasty actions like humans, rather has everything planned in a perfect order. Therefore, the Creator created us with a completely planned sequence on how to achieve the success and the purpose of our lives. If I am in the state of 'ubudiyyah (slavery) and I develop an honest ear and an honest tongue, I'll be able to listen to and talk about the message, and that is when I will belong to Ar-Rahman. This topic envelops most aspects of your life and if you are really focused in these steps, you're done! If you look at us today, any failure in our lives is due to lack of proper communication—inability to receive and transmit, lack of purpose or goal; all the basics that we as Muslims are supposed to have but we lack! Why? – Because we rebel against the plan of Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala. Imagine how simple and relaxing life would be if we follow the plan that Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala has for us? The first step towards accepting this plan of Allah Subhana Wa Ta 'Ala that He has chartered for His creation is cleaning out the faculties—our eyes, ears, tongue, and heart. Why do we rebel or are unable to surrender to the will of Allah? Because we are spiritually impure; we have diseases like hastiness, fear, worry, and arrogance which prevent us from submitting to Allah's decree. "
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