(Inspired by a lecture by Mustafa Hosny) I delivered a summarized and revamped”version” of this during the Ummah Project event Friday the 3rd of September, 2010.Taking into consideration the event, and the audience.
“And remember when Allah said to the angels, ‘I shall appoint a deputy on earth,’ and they answered, ‘Will you place therein one who sows discord and sheds blood while we chant Your praises and proclaim Your Holiness?’ Allah said, ‘I know what you do not.’” (2:30)
The angels didn’t expect any good from us—we were an accident waiting to happen, nothing but trouble. But Allah (SWT) the All Knowing knew what the angels didn’t. Thus, on one of these upcoming nights known as “Laylat Al Qadr” (the Night of Determination) the angels, “By their Lord’s leave” (97:4) will embark on their annual trip to this earth. Do you know why the angels will descend? They will descend to witness firsthand Allah’s (SWT) knowledge in us.
You know, the angels were right to an extent. Today the earth is full of corrupt humans, more evil than any of the angels’ wildest nightmares. It’s no secret, our newspapers and channels are full of their daily atrocities. But the angels won’t be taking the journey from the heavens to the earth for them—they don’t deserve the honor. But rather they will be here to marvel at, and greet with “peace” those who are indulging in obedience to their Lord (SWT). Those for whom the creation of the whole human race was absolutely worth it.
So, on this night Insha Allah we will be elevated solely for living up to Allah’s (SWT) expectations of us. Before that night we might have not been worth a dirty old brass penny, but after it–out of Allah’s Mercy– we are shining stars brighter than any in the sky. On this night it will be determined whether we are among: 1) those who sow mischief on earth, i.e. the low of the low, scum of the earth; or 2) those for whom the creation of the human race was absolutely worth it. I am hoping you intend on the latter. So, let’s give it our all during these last few days of Ramadhan—let’s stand strong to the very last minute. It is the night our “kind” will be determined in the eyes of Allah (SWT). Plus its fair game, the Shaytan is out of the game entirely—so we are back to our “original self.” It’s a time to determine who we really are—a night our mettle is proven.
But unfortunately many of us will be the latter solely during Ramadhan; we will be “the worshippers of Allah in Ramadhan” rather than “worshippers of Allah during and after Ramadhan.” For us Ramadhan is a mere opportunity to prove how smart and intelligent we are in “grabbing” the rewards offered by the blessed month, and the Night of Determination. There is no secret how for the Prophet (saw) in numerous hadiths spelled out the rewards of this blessed month—you can simply Google the key words “rewards of Ramadhan” and scores of entries will pop up on your screen. My blog included. Yes, we all know that the prayer we pray, the Qur’an we recite, the charity we give is worth an x number of rewards, and on the Night of Determination to the power of over 84 years. We have become like hawks hunting around for rewards; and for our special duas to be granted. Indeed, our relationship with Allah (SWT) has become superficial and selfish. And it is more pronounced in Ramadhan than any other time. No doubt, that is why it fizzles to the point of “casual acquaintance” to “non-existence” after Ramadhan.
We see Allah (SWT) as the Giver of rewards, and after we have maintained them we candidly turn our backs on Him (SWT). Then when we have yet another selfish request to ask of Him (SWT) we don our “worshippers of Allah” costumes once again, only to give him the cold shoulder once again after He (SWT) so generously grants our request/s.
Really, how many of us desert the house of Allah (SWT) after Ramadan? Desert raising our hands in dua as often as we do in Ramadhan? Desert the beauty of feeling our tears rolling down our cheeks during Dua? How many of us will deprive our hands of holding the Qur’an, our eyes from looking at the words of Allah (SWT), and our fingers turning its pages? How many of us will place the Qur’an back on the shelf and leave it to accumulate dust? How many of us who wore hijab during Ramadhan will have a hijab-less newlook during Eid and thereafter? How many of us will place goals and objectives for their Hereafter and the benefit of this Ummah on the backburner—like a half finished pullover, patiently waiting for next Ramadhan for the stitches to be picked up.
I sometimes imagine Allah (SWT) asking us why we aren’t in His home as often as we were in Ramadan? Why we aren’t reading His book as often? Why we don’t remember Him as often? Really, why aren’t we close to Allah (SWT) the rest of the year. You know why? Because we attended for the gift, and not the Gifter! For Ramadhan, and not the Lord of Ramadhan! For the Night of Determination, and not for the Bestower of the Night of Determination! Want proof? Go look over your list of duas for this Ramadhan. I would publish mine, but it would probably take up all the capacity on my blog. We all want provisions: of health, wealth, happiness, bright futures both in this World and the Hereafter. We want graves as wide as football fields, full of light. We want a Jannah where we can enjoy what no eye has seen, ear has heard, or imagined in the most wildest of imagination. Allah (SWT) is able to grant them all, for His ability is between two letters—‘B’ and ‘E’—for He says, “Be and it is.” But in earnest, we only need one thing on our list; one thing that will guarantee that all that’s on it will be granted.
What is the one and only dua that you need on your dua list? It is, “O Allah, you named Yourself “Al-Muhyi” (Giver of Life), give life to my heart by expiating my sins this Ramadhan so that I may be worthy to be close to you throughout my life’s journey.” “Al-Muhyi is the one who“. . . gives life to the earth after it had been lifeless! Verily, this Selfsame God is indeed the One that can bring the dead back to life: for He has the power to will anything.” (30:50) Remember, Ramadhan is the anniversary of the Qur’an—on a day, within this very same month, 1400 years ago the Qur’an was revealed to the heart of the Prophet (saw) and from him to the hearts of the inhabitants on the face of the earth. Dark hearts empty of their Creator (SWT) all of a sudden came alive with knowledge of their Creator. The power icon to their hearts was clicked to refresh. That’s what you should aspire to achieve during Ramadhan: that the power icon to your heart is clicked, and your hearts achieve the three R’s– refreshment, resuscitation and re-acquaintance with its Creator. Why? So that you are worthy of completing this life’s journey with Allah (SWT) in preparation to be close to Him (SWT) for all eternity in a Jannah whose width and breadth is that of the heavens and the earth.
So instead of rushing to complete the Qur’an in 30 days in Taraweeh or 10 days during Tahajjud to get the rewards allocated for each letter, read the Qur’an because you want Allah (SWT) to speak to you. Pray, because you want to call Allah (SWT)—for prayer is His (SWT) number—and hold a conversation with Him (SWT). Don’t strive solely for the sake of Jannah, remember you were created in it and it is your final abode, if you want to go home. Say, “O Allah grant me Jannah so I can spend the rest of my life near you.” It is your love for Allah (SWT) and wanting to be close to Him (SWT) that wins you Jannah—it is collateral. Let’s not race for rewards, but rather race to the Giver of the rewards—and the rewards will come despite themselves.
So, how is this closeness to Allah (SWT) achieved? What is the obstacle that comes between us and Allah (SWT)? Our sins. It is the gaze that we enjoy despite the fact that we know that it displeases Him (SWT); the curses we hurl knowing that He (SWT) hears us; the arrogant attitude we show towards the needy despite knowing that a humble demeanor is what pleases Him (SWT). You get my drift. So, Allah (SWT) the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful empties our hearts of all the sins it has accumulated that so we can start anew and afresh with Him (SWT). Turn a new page with Him (SWT). This is the true objective of Ramadhan and the Night of Determination. So, let’s not grab the rewards of Ramadhan and turn our back on the Bestower of the rewards. If you leave Ramadhan with Allah (SWT) in your heart, He will be the light that you see with, the ears that you hear with, the heart that you feel with, and the mind that you think with during your journey after Ramadhan. So say, “O Allah open your doors of Mercy to me. Invite me in so that we can continue together after Ramadhan.”
Now back to the angels:
“When it is the Night of Determination, Allah (SWT) orders the angels to descend from the Heavens to the Earth, because His Creations have adorned themselves with acts of obedience to Him (SWT)– fasting and prayer in the days and nights of Ramadhan. And they have adorned the Houses of Allah with lamps and lanterns. The Lord (SWT) says to the Angels ‘You accused humankind when I created them and said, ‘Will you place therein one who sows discord and sheds blood?’ Did I not tell you that I know what you know not. Go to them tonight, so that you may see them standing, performing ruk’u, and prostrating, so that you know that I chose them out of my knowledge of the Universe.”
Allah is telling the angels, “You expected that they would not turn to me; that they would not love me. Go down and see how much they love me. How they turn to me. How they desperately want to please Me. Go and watch!” So, let’s ask Allah to save us from our selfish selves. Let’s ask for refuge from provisions that will make us forget Him (SWT); or rewards that would make us strive less for His (SWT) pleasure; or abilities that would make us feel, in any way, that we don’t need Him (SWT).
So, ask yourself now as we experience the last couple of days of Ramadhan: do you want to walk out with Allah (SWT) or the gifts He (SWT) offers in Ramadhan? And by the way, He (SWT) wants you. He (SWT) chose you the day that He (SWT) told the angels, “I know what you know not.” Let’s be like the wife of the Pharaoh and say: “. . . ‘My Lord build me a house by Your side in the Garden’” (66.11)