The companions used to frequently ask the Prophet (saw) about the most beloved deeds to Allah [SWT], just so that they could worship Allah [SWT] with what He [SWT] loved and in the way that He [SWT] loved. So, let’s discover another of the most beloved deeds to Allah [SWT. Today’s is one that is among those forms of worship of the heart, and reflected in our actions. It is one that we can’t survive without. Today the emptiness of the heart of this particular action has spread corruption far and wide. The action I want to talk about today is “Fear of Allah.” Are you a person who fears Allah [SWT]?
As I said the emptiness of hearts nowadays of the fear of Allah [SWT] has spread corruption far and wide. But let’s not go far. Look at any gathering that you were in lately. How much idle talk was there? Joking beyond limits in which people were insulted and stereotyped? How much gossiping took place? Let’s look further and make a trip to a local college, and see MSA’s [Muslim Student Associations] that can be mistaken for some soap opera on daytime TV. Where Hijab is merely a dress rather than being a dress that signifies an actual barrier between what is permissible and impermissible between the sexes as prescribed by Allah [SWT] and His Messenger (saw). Where is honesty today? It’s become so outdated nowadays as the Prophet (saw) predicted:
Hudhayfah said, “The Prophet told us two Hadith, one of which I have seen fulfilled, and I am waiting for the fulfillment of the other. The Prophet told us that honesty came down into men’s hearts (from Allah); then they learned it from the Quran, and then from the Sunnah. The Prophet told us that honesty would be taken away. He said, Man will be overtaken by sleep, during which honesty will be taken away from his heart, and only its trace will remain, like traces of a dark spot. Then man will be overtaken by slumber again, during which honesty will decrease still further, until its trace will resemble a blister such as is caused when an ember is dropped onto ones foot: it swells, but there is nothing inside. People will be carrying on with their trade, but there will hardly be any trustworthy persons. People will say, ‘There is an honest man in such-and-such a tribe.’ Later they will say about some man, ‘What a wise, polite and strong man he is!’ even though he will not have faith in his heart the size of a mustard seed. . . (Bukhari)
Let’s enter into some homes, hopefully none of yours, and you will be shocked to see Muslim children looking their parents straight in the eye and raising their voices. Do they not know that among the people Allah [SWT] will not speak to are those who mistreat their parents?
Some of us might already be feeling the weight of our sins this Ramadan, and turning to Allah and asking Him [SWT] to make us fear Him [SWT] so that we do not fall into the sins that we have become so accustomed to. Fact is that Allah [SWT] is constantly sending us messages and it is right under our noses: “Surely in this [the Qur’an] is a Message for any that has a heart and understanding or who gives ear and earnestly witnesses (the truth).” [50:37] Furthermore Allah [SWT] says, “He who fears [ Allah ] will be reminded.” [87:10] He who is apprehensive will remember.
Unfortunately many of us consider the issue of fearing Allah [SWT] a turn off. We would rather talk about His love, and His Mercy [SWT]. This is the approach of many by the way, and that includes me. But remember Allah [SWT] struck a delicate balance between tidings and warning in the Qur’an, hence we should also strive to strike this balance in ourselves . Yes, Allah’s [SWT] is “The Ever-Forgiving, The Ever-Affectionate” [85: 14], but there is no denying that His grip is powerful, “Verily, the Grip (Punishment) of your Lord is severe.” [85:12] But this is because we in earnest don’t understand what fearing Allah [SWT] means. It is the utmost Mercy of Allah [SWT] on us, because without it we would be lost. Doesn’t Prophet Ibrahim (as) say to his father, “O my father, indeed I fear that there will touch you a punishment from the Most Merciful” [19:45] Scholars say that Allah [SWT] wants you to fear Him [SWT] so that you are always safe. Look around you at how much people sought out and even pay for safety and security, from those who do not fear the laws of the land. When you do not fear and respect the limits set by Allah [SWT] then you are a hazard to yourself and to others. You’re like that person driving 80 miles per hour on a road with a 30-miles-per-hour speed limit, confident no police cars are in sight. You are an accident waiting to happen, and a threat to others. A Muslim who lives in fear of Allah [SWT] and realizes that he is constantly under surveillance for his own safety and the safety of others is safe, and others feel safe around him. A person who fears Allah [SWT] has hope in Allah [SWT] that if he does good then good will be done unto him. Oh, and the added bonus is that Allah [SWT] loves him as well. So, today we want to plant this fear of Allah [SWT] firm in our heart.
Let’s face the fact, that our Creation calls for us to fear our Creator so that we don’t step on each other’s toes, I mean rights! In a hadith Qudisi Allah [SWT] says, “O my servants! Have mercy upon your selves! indeed your bodies are weak, and the way is far, and the burden is heavy, and the path is thin, and the fire is high, and the caller is israfeel, and the judge is the lord of the universe.”
So, how should we fear Allah [SWT]:
The first thing is to fear sinning against Allah [SWT]. Don’t we fear violating man made laws because we know the penalties like the back of our hand. Well, we should too realize who we are sinning against; whose laws we are violating. Just like we don’t want to become criminals and humiliated in front of the rest of society, we do not want the flesh on our faces to fall off in shame on realizing that we have disappointed our Creator in us—a reverential fear. Allah [SWT] told us of the penalties for each and every sin, and by the way they’re for us and not for ‘those’ people. They are for us. Fire was created for human beings, and insha Allah we will not enter it because we aren’t going to do the deeds of those of the hell fire. It is a sense of belonging, do you and your deeds belong to the hell fire? Punishment of the grave was created for us, but insha Allah we won’t taste it because we will avoid the actions that lead to it like the plague. So, let’s overcome our stubbornness and repent today from any violation/s we are committing against Allah [SWT] because we fear for our future in the Hereafter, because Allah’s [SWT] grip is powerful. If that does not instantly transform you into a better person, I don’t know what will. It’s a real extreme makeover! Remember that Allah [SWT] will forgive all sins except those who like to show off their sins to others—yes there are people who like to show off their sins believe it or not. The Prophet (saw) said:
My entire nation is safe, except al-Mujahirin (those who boast of their sins). Among the Mujaharah is that a man commits an (evil) act, and wakes up in the morning while Allah has kept his (sin) a secret, he says: “O Fulan! Last night I did this and that.” He goes to sleep while Allah has kept his (sin) a secret but he wakes up in the morning and uncovers what Allah has kept a secret!” [Bukhari]
So, remember don’t look at how small the sin is, but consider the greatness of Allah [SWT] whom you have sinned against:
On the Day when every person will be confronted with all the good he has done, and all the evil he has done, he will wish that there were a great distance between him and his evil. And Allah warns you against Himself (His Punishment) and Allah is full of Kindness to the (His) slaves. [3:30]
You’ve been pre-warned! Is there a sin that you are stubborn to give up don’t delay Allah “warns you against Himself.”
Second, Allah [SWT] wants you to fear death. It needs to register in your head that there is no doubt a moment in your life’s chapter will come to an end. None of us, Muslim or otherwise, can argue this reality. Can you say it won’t happen to you; that you will ‘cheat death’ as the saying goes. No one is exempt! We will all die! Knowing this, if we had a debt we would not rest until it’s paid off in full. We would not rest until we apologized to a person we insulted. Allah [SWT] wants us to fear death not so that we despair and slip further away from Him [SWT]: “Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people” [12:87]; in other words, not this fear that will cause us to flee from Allah [SWT]. Rather the fear of death we are talking about here is one of a preparatory nature; like that of packing your bags to leave on a trip to your final destination. So, it’s a fear that causes you to flee to Allah [SWT] and not flee from him. Umar ibn Al Khattab used to say, “Every day we say so and so died. And tomorrow they will say Umar died.” The most beautiful thing about death is that it shows Allah’s [SWT] love for us. Yes! Allah [SWT] causes us to die so that we can meet Him. Death is the trip to the final destination that starts with our souls receiving this message from the host of Paradise, Allah [SWT]: “O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction!” [89:27] So, let your remembrance of death cause you to make a U turn and flee back to Allah [SWT] by rushing to: apologize to those you have wronged; visiting the poor; being skilled in your trade etc.
Fear of Allah [SWT] can be that life jacket that saves you like this man who used to dig out graves and steal the “Kafan” [white cloth the dead are buried in] and he would toss the bodies aside. On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (raa), who said that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
A man sinned greatly against himself, and when death came to him he charged his sons, saying: “When I have died, burn me, then crush me and scatter [my ashes] into the sea, for, by Allah, if my Lord takes possession of me, He will punish me in a manner in which He has punished no one [else].” So they did that to him. Then Allah [SWT] said to the earth: “Produce what you have taken.”And there he was! And He [SWT] said to him: What induced you to do what you did? He said: “Being afraid of You, O my Lord (or he said: Being frightened of You)” And because of that He forgave him. [Bukhari and Muslim]
This man’s actions, although negative, was done out of fear of Allah [SWT] and it saved him. So, let’s today make the dua of the Prophet (saw), “O My Lord, give us a share of your fear (piety) that comes in between us and committing your disobediences.” [Tirmidhi] Let’s pray that we become allergic to sinning against Allah [SWT] solely because we fear Him [SWT]. Let’s fear Allah [SWT] by running to Him [SWT] for safety. Only with Allah [SWT] is this possible, only with Allah!