Ikhlaas and Istiqamah (Sincerity and Steadfastness)
When we are working for Deen, we should be as much more vigilant regarding our taqwa and sincerity. For we are the primary targets of shaytaan. Shaytan doesn’t really care about a person who is indulged in all kinds of disobedience of Allah anyways. His primary target are the people who are struggling to be slaves of Ar Rahmaan. If we ever become careless, we are ruined. For a fall of religious person is far dangerous as compared to another person.
Do not let shaytan make you forget your own sins. For as said by one of the salaf, that Iblis (shaytaan) said, “If I win three things from the son of Adam, I will have earned what I wanted from him: if he forgets his sins, thinks high of his actions, and becomes fond of his opinion.”
Then this hadeeth and special attention to the last part.
Abû Hurayrah quoted Allâh’s Messenger’s (Sallallahu alayhe wasallam) warning about a person’s adoration of himself “There are three destructful things: desires that are followed, greediness that is obeyed, and a person’s self-admiration and conceit: and this is the worst of the three! “[Authenticated in Mishkâh al-Masâbîh. no. 5122.]
We have to be very watchful. We should never let the feeling of us being anything “special” enter our hearts. For that is the worst of the three destructful things. So if any thought crosses our mind of praising ourselves, immediately say “Aoudhubillahi..”. That is our only refuge. We can’t deal with shaytan on our own, we desperately need Allah’s guidance in every second. For Prophet Sallallahu alayhe wasallam has been told to seek refuge with Allah from Shaytaan the accursed one, then what about us? Do we think that we are immune to his whispers?
Remember that whatever good one is able to do, its purely Allah’s blessing. We don’t inherent any goodness. It is by the Mercy of Allah ‘azza wa jall that He enables us to do any tiny bit of good work for His sake. Even that tiny bit of good deed that “He” enables us to do, we contaminate it by our lack of pristine sincerity. So then what is making us feel big about ourselves? We have nothing to present to Allah, we should realize that we just have empty hands to offer. Remember all those times when you disobeyed Allah ‘azza wa jall, and you will realize how weak and miserable you are without the help of Allah ‘azza wa jall. Then what kind of foolish person will let shaytaan praise him and think that he owns any goodness, while he doesn’t seek refuge with Allah from these whispers? What kind of foolish person will enjoy and dwell in the whispers of shaytaan, praising his righteousness? For we keep on disobeying Allah, day in and day out, while Allah ‘azza wa jall keeps on granting us opportunities after opportunities to seek His pleasure. It will be the height of ungratefulness, that Allah blesses the person through His pure mercy with a chance to worship Him and get near to Him, and the person rather than praising Allah for this blessing, he praises himself. For Allah doesn’t like the ungrateful people. May Allah forgive us, aameen.
(7:175) And recite to them [O Muhammad] the story of the man to whom We gave Our signs *138 and who turned away from them; then ultimately Satan caught up with him and he was led astray.
(7:176) Now had We so willed We could indeed have exalted him through those signs, but he clung to earthly life and followed his carnal desires. Thus his parable is that of the dog who lolls out his tongue whether you attack him or leave him alone. Such is the parable of those who reject Our signs as false. Narrate to them these parables that they may reflect.
This is extremely scary, the part “Thus his parable is that of the dog who lolls out his tongue” (remember the punjabi lingo Dr Abdus Samie used to explain this). We cannot take this as a trivial matter. Once Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘aala guided you, taught you His Deen, His Quran, then you are so much more responsible than the rest of people. Everytime shaytaan makes you forget about Allah, remember the responsibility that you are bearing. For you to fall into disobeying Allah is not same as the rest of people who do not know about Allah, don’t forget that.
There are two ways people (we) say Astaghfirullah. One is that you recognize the sins that you have committed, and you ask Allah to forgive you with humility and remorse. Another is, that you don’t spot any disobedience of Allah in your life, but you just say this to feel righteous/pious. Thus increasing you in your pride and your arrogance, while outwardly you may be becoming better in practising Deen. We need to have 20/20 Visual acuity to discern the disobedience of Allah in our intentions and actions in life. Don’t fool yourself. Say “Aoudhubillah..” if you don’t see any faults in yourself, for it is surely the beguilement of shaytaan, and not righteousness in you.
If we become happy with the praise of people, then there is something wrong with our intentions. This reminds me of something else which I read from Ibn Hazm rahimahullah some years back, it is really awesome understanding, so I would share this here. Only a person of pure intellect reaches that conclusion and lives it. He says on the concept of praise and criticism, from the section Al-’Aql wa al-Rahah (Rationality and Peace of Mind).
Ibn Hazm rahimahullah says, “Whoever believes he can totally avoid people’s scorn and criticism is mad. Whoever examines matters carefully and disciplines himself to rely on the facts would enjoy people’s criticizing him more than praising him. This is because if they praise him justly and he becomes aware of their praise, it might make him vainglorious, and this would devalue his virtues. If they praise him unjustly and he becomes aware of their praise, he would attain happiness from that which is false, and this would be a grave fault.
On the other hand, if people criticize him justly and he becomes aware of their criticism, it might help him to avoid that for which he is criticized; and this would be a great fortune, which only the faulty would forsake. If they criticize him unjustly and he becomes aware of their criticism and perseveres, he would become more virtuous by his perseverance and forbearance.
Moreover, he gains reward, because he receives some of the good deeds of those who criticize him unjustly. These deeds will count for him on the Day of Judgment, when he will be in most need to be saved; let it be by deeds of which he did not labor and by which he was not burdened. This is a great fortune, which only a fool would belittle.
If he is not aware of people’s praise of him, then whether they talked about him or were silent makes no difference for him. But that is not the case with their criticism of him; for he will be rewarded either way: whether he becomes aware of their criticism or not.
If it were not for the saying of the Messenger (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) about praise: “This [the praise] is the worldly good tiding for the believer,” then it would have been incumbent upon the rational individual to desire to be criticized unjustly more than to be praised justly. But given this saying [of the Prophet (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)], it is clear that the good tiding is obtained from just deeds, not from unjust deeds.”–
Shaykh Yasir Birjas had a really good explanation of this excerpt from Ibn Hazm rahimahullah.
Last thing, remember what our priority in life is. Our priority is to please Allah, to worship Him, to be grateful to Him to the best of our abilities. So if worldly work, which is a necessity, becomes an impediment, then we should hold back ourselves, and reassess our priorities. If we find that the two (i.e. Your purely religious duty and your worldly necessity) can’t work together, then we should be ready to forsake a so called worldly necessity for the sake of a religious duty.
Very last thing, do not belittle taking care of your parents. Do not consider it as something trivial, while we consider da’wah activities to be noble work. This itself is a worldly understanding, because doing da’wah work, you see apparent fruits out of it, while with parents, you may feel as your time being wasted. But remember that whatever we do, we do to please Allah, and in the sight of Allah, being kind and caring towards your parents is a huge thing. It is either a ticket to Heaven, or a ticket to Hell.
May Allah ‘azza wa jall grant us ikhlaas, istiqaama upon His Deen and correct understanding regarding all matters. Aameen.
Taken from Br. Jamal Khattak (Dr. Abdus Samie’s Talk)