In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful.
THE REMEMBRANCE OF ALLAH
By ABUBAKR KAROLIA
Musa, Peace and Blessings be upon him said:
"O my Lord! Are you near,
so that I may speak to you intimately,
or are you far, so that I may call out to you?”
Allah inspired to him:
"I am sitting next to the one who remembers Me.
" He said: "O my Lord,
we are sometimes in a state of major impurity and
we exalt You from remembrance or fear to remember You .
" He replied: "Remember me in every state."
Imam Al Ghazzali (1058-1111 CE) - Ihya -ul-Ulum Ad Din.
Humanity is confronted with issues and problems in life, which may derail us from appreciating its purpose or objective. We may never discover what it is that can heal us and what will ultimately give us contentment, happiness and even certainty.
Now, towards the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st Century there is a new vigour to search for and to find solutions that will provide a certain satisfaction, contentment and happiness for humankind. There is a re-think about religion, the nature of existence and the nature of the individual and his or her role in society.
What interest me about this issue is that although there is a re-think about religion, it is really about finding a higher being that the individual can relate to and find this contentment and happiness that is so elusive.
This effort discusses and hopefully presents some solutions to the reader as to how a sole reliance of the Creator and the continuing remembrance of Him will allow the individual to have a contented disposition. Although a personal experience and vigils in the remembrance of Allah cannot be compared to my brief dissertation or explanation on this vast and beautiful subject.
Let us look deeper as to why this is so.
Humanity throughout life has been faced with tribulations such as, war, sickness, poverty, crime, fear, anxiety and even extreme wealth that can make things unbearable in our existence.
For example when we think about the people we love, we remember the fond memories and the various ingredients and characteristics that make these relationships successful. When we lose these close relationships they leave a sad vacuum that are not simply replaced. This loss affects our lives and we are sometimes unable to reconcile with what has happened.
In modern times individuals, families and nations are fragmented mostly through misaligned and dysfunctional economic and social injustices which appear to deprive humanity of their best potential. The fragmentation of the individual is probably the harshest oppression that humankind is experiencing and it is probably the reasons behind the socio-economic and political chaos we are witnessing in the world.
How can we take responsibility for this rupture of the individual? What are the challenges and answers that will remedy this damage and hopefully heal the individual and thus humanity in the process?
We can deal with worldly or personal relationships if we can figure out the source behind all relationships and creation.
There are aspects of our nature that can realize happiness from within our self and this is the solution of dealing with the outer world. The choice of faith must be determined from a higher and finer characteristic of human nature and definitely not by the lower or negative form.
The following Qur`anic verse does answer and provide relief to rectify the wrong that has been done to the individual. It is from a position of believing and acknowledging the Supreme Lord of creation and particularly acting on this knowledge of certainty that we can become a groomed and re-organized individual.
To achieve this position is to fulfill the best position of submission, worship and the remembrance of the Creator that begins to develop the individual into a contented, satisfied individual and to perhaps realize one’s true potential.
Allah (S) says in Surah Al Baqarah (The Heifer), Verse 152:
“Remember Me always, and I will remember you;”
Why will the remembrance of the Creator solve our tribulations and set us straight in our life?
The above verse is the widest statement in Islam that cleanses the heart and signifies detachment of everything other then Allah. Emptying the heart from the love of the world and dispelling all negativity from it. This detachment is to understand our position and role in the world, to appreciate and understand it objectively and not to be derailed by our involvement or to be oppressed by its glamour.
When one is suitably prepared and a tribulation occurs in life, one will look behind these mishaps for a solution and the meaning for our change. These tribulations will not overwhelm us and we will see the hand of the Creator, His Blessings and Mercy - Rahma that is always present, to simply imbibe in our difficult time, for a healing and the growth of the self.
The remembrance of Allah makes us conscious and aware of Him. When we establish this consciousness of the Creator in our hearts it becomes a shield against evil. Such a person is a Muttaqi – a person who is always conscious or cautiously aware of his or her Creator. This person will have guidance from the Creator and will benefit profoundly and be better equipped in dealing with tribulations and life issues.
The Noble Qur`an Surah 29, The Spider – Ankabut, Verse 45 timelessly assents.
“The remembrance of Allah is a great thing!”
While developing this awareness it is critical that the individual understands the relationship with the Creator, the world, the responsibility, the object and goal of this knowledge. Therefore humankind must know what the bases are to protect themselves in this world. It must be kept in mind that a person’s happiness and salvation in life is dependent on the way that the individual grooms him or herself with this awareness and consciousness.
This quest for perfection does not stop at a mundane level as The Noble Qur`an explicitly guides us to remember the Creator intelligently by reflecting on the Noble Qur`an itself and the physical signs in the universe. The path to spiritual growth and perfection is continuous and requires constant self evaluation..
We know the quest is ongoing because of some of the words used in the Qur`an in reference to this remembrance of the Creator. One example is the Arabic concept word Tazakkur that simply means a recalling or can lead to an unveiling because it has an essence of the remembrance of the Creator that can experience an immediate, instant or a lightning healing or awareness. This on the spot remembrance serves as a protection from a potential error or difficulty and an immediate appreciation of the Glory and Majesty of the Creator.
Another, such Arabic word in the Glorious Qur`an is Tadabbur which means to reflect and ponder. This then enhances remembrance and knowledge of the Creator. This reflection lets one dwell on the question of enhancing and elucidating all aspects of the universe, the self and simultaneously becoming aware of the responsibilities, duties and guidance of the Creator.
In this glossary of Arabic words in the Glorious Qur`an is also Tafakkur, which means to think or contemplate. To specifically contemplate and think on the Majesty and Magnificence of the Creator, through His creation and Attributes as His Most Beautiful Ninety Nine Names. This contemplation and thinking is to bring out the perfection in the moment which leads to a process of solutions and change by calling on Him in our time of need.
Reflect on the following verses of the Noble Qur`an is to appreciate the points of remembrance, learning, thinking and practicing.
“We have made the Qur`an easy as a means of reminding (men of the truths forgotten by them). Is there any who will benefit from this reminding? (Al-Qamar 54:17, 22, 32, 40)
Here is a book which we have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may meditate on its signs, and that men of understanding may receive admonition. (Sad 38:29)
So, will they not reflect on the Qur`an? (Al-Nisa 4:82)
Do they not then deeply think over the Qur`an, or are their hearts locked up? (Muhammad 47:24)”
The primary steps to achieve Closeness to the Creator are through active Submission and Remembrance of Him. Therefore, in the remembrance of Allah is the basis and tools that the individual requires to place him or herself on the path of healing from life’s challenges and tribulation?
The inner constitution of the individual must be disciplined to value inner peace and contentment.
Let us now look at two Arabic words - as basir and basira that can act as an active participle for our change and transformation. Basir is the vision or sight of the eye and basira is the vision or sight of the heart. This profound understanding of the deeper meanings of sight explains the level of our grooming and facets of ourselves that are transformative. Simply, the vision of our eyes - basir, makes us appreciate the world and its surroundings and teaches us the responsibility to protect, appreciate and value what we have. The inner sight - basira, which is the sight of the heart, shows us the wisdom, the guidance and the appropriate manner to make the correct decisions. Ultimately, the development of the inner sight – basira is to hopefully expand our accessibility to the Creator by our submissive, enlightened, correct behaviour and His Blessings.
Surah 3 Al Imran Verses 190/191 shows the majesty of the world and the disciplines of the individual to enhance him or herself.
"Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed Signs for men of understanding-- men who remember Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides."
The above verse has a wide connotation, variety and method in the remembrance of the Creator. It is active and a vibrant instruction for whenever the need arises to restore ourselves. The remembrance of Allah is the positive action that heals the individual who makes the necessary changes that removes the oppression that he or she feels. The oppression is removed because the individual has become conscious and aware to groom him or herself towards excellence, beauty or a state of Ihsan. Obviously, it is essential to receive wise advice and guidance as to how this transformation can be approached and be inculcated as values in our life which will allow us to transcend.
Great teachers and saints as Junaid Al Bhagdadi (821-911 CE), Imam al Ghazzali (1058-1111 CE), Jalaludin Rumi (1207-1273 CE), Ibn Ata’alla Iskandri (1309 d. CE), and many others, may Allah place His special Blessings upon them, have studied the Noble Qur’an and the Prophetic conduct and they have very precisely developed the various requirements of a spiritually groomed and enlightened individual who is a stepping stone towards a healthy society and nation.
In the present times we have living mentors and companions such as Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri who lives and articulates the message of Islam to achieve the Hubb - love of the Creator and inculcate the respect and value for the Beloved Rasul. This love establishes a sense of compassion and justice which appreciates the guidance of the Noble Qur`an and Prophetic way appropriately, with joy, in a contented, appreciative and a wholehearted manner between fear and hope.
Shaykh Ibn Ata’alla advices us that the world must be in the palm of our hand and not in our hearts, i.e. we must take responsibility in the world that will ensure that our journey of our life is enlightened and purposeful. We must manage our affairs in life so that it does not become a burden or restricts our growth and ability to perfect our conduct and obtain happiness.
Whatever you fill in the heart it will affect your disposition and character. If the heart is balanced then the character will be moreover so. The sensitivity of our heart is like a feather in the wind in the desert. The heart is a yardstick to judge our actions. It contains the constant zone of the enlightened soul which reflects as a mirror and a witnesser. We see each other in these mirrors, perfect our self and help others perfect themselves, which develops and lead to a healthy community for the pleasure of the Creator. To cleanse the heart of other thoughts is to remember the Creator, as the heart is a bottle that must contain only the light of Life.
Ultimately, a healthy body, mind and soul are to be in service of humankind and the world, solely for the pleasure of the Creator. Our Beloved Rasul said that the best of you are those that believe in Allah and help mankind. This can only be achieved if we live with righteous actions, encouraging the truth and shine our hearts with the remembrance of the Creator. Once we have fulfilled these principles and objectives then we can be patient.
Our behaviour becomes contaminated when we are heedless – “Ghafla” and are forgetful and neglectful in remembering our Creator. It ultimately leads to the heart becoming sealed and dark from goodness. We must be cautious not to fall into this state.
When we remember the Creator then the heart attains tranquility and it is able to bear losses in the world but that depends on the level of our perseverance, discipline and effort we have made on this path. This tranquil state becomes a reality because the individual allows the heart to contain nothing but Allah through the remembrance of Him.
The main duty on this Earth is to serve and Worship Allah. The earth will serve those that serve Allah. Allah in his Infinite Mercy puts tribulations in our way so that we may see the path to correct ourselves. If He does not show us these moments of difficulties then the opportunity to correct ourselves would not become apparent.
A vibrant Hadith Al Qudsi told by Ibn Ata’alla in his book At Tanwir fi Iskat at Tadbir, reminds us the manner in which we must look at the world and its pursuit.
“O Earth, serve those that serve Me and exhaust and abuse the energies of those that serve you.”
This Hadith, advices us to be careful in our worldly pursuit, because the world cannot be perfected but we can hopefully achieve this character and state. We can however achieve an inner peace and harmony and reflect this in our dealings with the world. Therefore it is incumbent on us to achieve a certain balance in the journey of our life in this World and the Hereafter.
During times of tribulation it is the presence of mind in remembering Allah that keeps our resilience intact. When a person is in difficulties, he or she must remember to be in the remembrance of Allah - Zikrullah, which is the inward antidote to our problems. This inward effort will enable us to consider solutions for our outward problems effectively, proficiently and with clarity.
The Noble Qur`an tells us in Surah 13 Ar Ra’ad (The Thunder), Verse 28 that:
"Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah. For without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.”
If one has difficulties and one’s heart is tight, unhappy, worried or constricted (Qabid) then call upon Allah with one of His Most Beautiful Names. These names as Ya Rahman, Ya Rahim, Ya Basit, Ya Karrim etc, from the Ninety Nine Names of Allah act as a cure when you call on them. The truth and the cure is one but it depends on how you deal with it.
Another Hadith Qudsi tells us that the Universe and Earth does not contain Allah but the Heart of a Believer can contain Him.
Shaykh Ibn Ata’alla Iskandri gives us a pearl of wisdom that is a discovery an action that can never be erased when used correctly.
“A tablet has to be wiped clean before it can be written on again.
One heart cannot contain two things.
It is filled with the appearances of the senses;
it is rare that it will know the meaning of Allah,
even if it repeated “Allah” a thousand times.
But say Allah once
with the heart emptying of everything
that is not Him and
you will find bliss beyond the tongue to tell.”
The Qur`an profoundly teaches that, through the Remembrance of Allah the heart attains tranquility (See Surah 13:V28 above). To have peace in the heart is to understand that we have an “inner certainty to deal with the outer uncertainty.” An outer sobriety is achieved through a contented heart.
This remembrance of the Creator is the responsibility of everyone who wishes to perfect themselves in every endeavour of life and totally for the Pleasure and Worship of the Creator. This point is important, because our endeavours may be in the various fields of knowledge or learning such as the Sciences or arts or Dawah or teachings or business, or governance and that they all have to be meticulously pursued and acted upon within well defined boundaries to draw closer to the Creator so that He will be pleased with us and we with Him. These endeavours are pursued to always attain a balance of ourselves through grooming and worship and thus be hopefully successful.
We must perform righteous actions for the pleasure of the Creator and not for our ego. How many times in our lives have we not done good to bolster our ego? Righteous actions are for a healthy heart and not to have a so-called piety complex that is a worse form of arrogance. Arrogance is a characteristic that ultimately covers and conceals the truth. Many individuals and nation have erred in this way and have thought themselves to be the chosen race and people of Allah. Therefore a noble and just intention of any act is necessary as it will determine the position of the individual in the eyes of the Creator.
We must be careful about what we influence or place in our heart and all our actions must determine the various stages of closeness to the Creator.
The individual in the eyes of the Creator is the project and objective. When a person progresses the concept of his or her individual consciousness practically then it can perhaps have an affect on advancing a collective consciousness. Individuals broadly reflect benefits to each other which are the beginning of a community.
A successful situation can be achieved if we do not gauge ourselves from our lower ego. Instead we must gauge ourselves from the perfect entity within ourselves. The best result occurs when we begin to reflect the light of the soul - the ruh, which is its mirror. This reflection is a natural gift from the Creator and is dependent on our profound manners, courtesy and justice towards Him.
We must bear in mind that all related righteous actions as a kindness to humanity, kindness to the family, kindness to spouses and children, establishing prayer, establishing charity, learning, pondering, teaching and practising the Noble Qur`an, respecting the Beloved Prophet or to establish a just socio-economic and political system etc, are a form and meaning to the Remembrance of Allah.
The remembrance of Allah keeps us contented in life. Remembrance of Allah brings discipline in our lives and makes us aware and conscious to our responsibilities as human beings and our surroundings. This awareness makes us consistent in our efforts that will make us firm, creative, active and work towards enlightenment and happiness in our life and beyond.
The remembrance of Allah will give us the best solutions for our tribulations, trials and challenges that we may face in life. Our companions who are also inspired in the same manner are our support system during such difficulties. The Best Comforter, Supporter and Sustainer is the Creator and Lord of the Universe. The correct prescription and approach will lead us from this world into the next without barriers or difficulty.
Jalaludin Rumi a friend of Allah beautifully writes on the awe and appreciation of a relationship with the Creator - who is the Lord – Rabb of the Heavens and Earth and all creation. He wrote:
“You have no idea how hard I have looked for a gift to bring You,
Nothing seemed right.
What’s the point of bringing gold to a gold mine?
Or water to the ocean?
Everything I came up with
Was like taking spices to the Orient.
It’s no good giving my heart and soul,
Because you already have these.
So- I’ve brought You a mirror.
Look at Yourself and remember me.”
Remembrance of the Creator is about a permanent love of Him, it brings contentment, satisfaction and happiness which are vital for our well being, a balance in this world and in the Hereafter.
ABUBAKR KAROLIA, SOUTH AFRICA. JUNE 2005
Acknowledgements for editing:
Sister Najma Ansari
Daughter Bahiya Karolia
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