Oftentimes when we think about Da’wah, the thought that comes to mind is that we have to strive to bring in new converts/or what we nowadays call reverts to Islam. Not all of us by the way are able to take on such a feat. We know Islam in how we practice it and with that we are struggling already, but many of us don’t know “about Islam” which is usually a vital component for those who want to dialogue with non-Muslims who come with hosts of questions. That does not mean you are off the hook—because Da’wah has a more comprehensive meaning than just calling non-Muslims to Islam. We are not limited to calling to Islam only those who are non-Musims, but rather enjoining good and forbid evil among Muslims as well is Da’wah. Helping Muslims become better worshippers of Allah and helping them mend their relationship with Allah, and coming back to the fold of Islam is also Dawah. Surely, each and every one of us can do that.
Nowadays, we need to realize that it is not just non-Muslims who need Da’wah, but it is the Muslims too. So many are out there, struggling with their Islam. Some are lonely, don’t feel a sense of community. So many issues in our communities, that need to be addressed. So many Muslims who need a hand in coming back to Allah. We have a saying in Arabic that roughly translates to, “The carpenter’s door is falling off of its hinges.” You would think that the carpenters’ door of all doors would be that “model” door that everyone would look admirably at but that is not the case most of the time. Such is the case with Da’ees as well. They are so effective out of their homes and communities both of which are plunged in darkness and ruin. It’s an unattractive scene, even repelling to some new converts to Islam to see how far many Muslims are far from Islam, how divided they are as a community. After saying their ‘Shahadha’, and witnessing this miserable fact some go into hiding. Others isolate themselves, even leave Islam shortly afterwards. So, let’s fix first ourselves, our families and communities—let’s take them on as Dawa Projects. Let’s start from the center and move out to the closest circles to the outer circled. We all know that a ripple starts from its center—so in my opinion should Da’wah.
So, in considering Da’wah we should not limit ourselves to just bringing ‘new’ people to Islam—but understand the Hadith of the Prophet (saw) in which he said, “If Allah guides a person through you, it is better for you than all that is on the earth.” (Bukhari and Muslim) The Prophet (saw) means any person, and that includes another Muslim or Muslimah. So today I want us to an action of Da’wah that all of us have the ability to do. No exceptions! Today’s action is one whose effect on your life will amaze you, and those around you. And believe it or not that amazement will carry on to the Hereafter, when the prophets and the righteous will be amazed by you. You will be placed on a pedestal/pulpit where and when it matters the most. Although one who does this action attains such prominence in the Hereafter, to achieve it requires that one lower ones wings to others, humbles oneself, make oneself available to others.
The action that I want to talk about today that is closely related to Da’wah—is one that allows you to be supported and support others in staying within the fold of Islam. Helps you influence others for a longer period of time. It’s like a Hasanaat [rewards] meter that is continuously calculating. This action is love for the sake of Allah. Loving for the sake of Allah no doubt facilitates Dawa. It is what makes our hearts fertile ground so that we can guide and be guided. Let’s see how much Allah loves this action “Love for the sake of Allah”? But before I go into that, I want to say that most of us are confident that we have this quality nailed down to a T. It’s nice to be confident that we do, but for us to really know whether we have it in actions and words we must first of all be aware of what it is. So I hope Insha Allah, we look into our hearts today; that we hold a private therapy session with ourselves. And as we look into our hearts we find in it no revolution between what “love for the sake of Allah” really means and its state in our hearts. For the health of our Ummah [the Muslim Ummah] relies on it.
So, let’s first of all find out how much Allah (SWT) loves to see us love each other for his sake —simply because when we truly believe in Allah, we want to know what He [SWT] loves. And when we know what He loves we want Him seeing us doing only that which he loves. So, let’s fast forward to a scene on the Day of Judgment:
We’re all there. The sun is exceptionally hot and we’re all at its mercy—we’re dripping with our own sweat, other people are drowning in theirs, others wading through it. We wonder if there will be relief from the heat. We see billions of people around us, waiting for “Al Hisaab” –judgment by Allah [SWT] to start. We’ve been waiting 50,000 yrs as the Prophet (saw) says in a hadith. Then comes Allah [SWT] and calls out to a special people among the billions and billions of people since the beginning of Adam. Allah calls out, “Where are those who loved each other for my sake” and He [SWT] continues, “Today I will shade them on a day when there is no shade but Mine.” Remember there are no trees, no mountains, no buildings—nothing to cast a shadow for shade. No respite from the burning sun’s rays. Shade is one of the greatest blessings in Dunya. It is a blessing that Allah [SWT] reminds Bani Israel when they were lost in the open desert, “And We shaded you with clouds and sent down to you manna and quails.” [Surat Al Baqara ayah 57]
Shade will still be a great blessing on the day of the Judgment. So ask yourself, do you want the shade that day? If you do then you have to pay attention today, and have to adopt today’s action into your life. If it’s the first time you hear of it, then take it and cram it into your heart, and make dua that Allah [SWT] makes your heart comfortable with it. This action is love for the sake of Allah. On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (raa) reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Allah will say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Where are those who love one another through My glory? Today I shall give them shade in My shade, it being a day when there is no shade but My shade.'” (Bukhari)
Scholars say that levels / degrees in the Akhira go from ‘best’ to ‘best’ to ‘best’—not good, better, best as in this world. Actually we don’t have a language here in this world to express the levels, but it helps to know that they ends with those on the ‘best’ level seeing the face of Allah [SWT]. So, if on that day we are called out as ones who loved for the sake of Allah, and are granted shade of Allah, then we can’t even entertain the thought that we will be touched by the hellfire. So, it’s absolutely worth adopting in your life.
The prophet says, “On the Day of Judgement, those who had mutual love for the sake of Allah’s Greatness shall be on pulpits of light and all [the prophets and the righteous] shall envy them.” (Tirmidhi) Pay attention to the hadith, the pulpit is of light [noor] and who is envying them—the Prophets and righteous [and by the way the word that is used in Arabic is ‘Ghibta’ which is a nice kind of envy, one of awe and no trace of negativity]. Now, When the companions heard this hadith, they asked the Prophet (saw) –listen to the beauty of their request, they said, “Ya Rasool Allah [O’Prophet] of Allah describe them to us so that we may love them.” Look at the Sahabah, who just wanted to love them so that they could be close to them. Why not be like them? Because they thought, “This is a really high status. We can’t possibly attain it, but maybe by loving them we can be close to them.” The Prophet answers the companions questions and says, “Those who have no blood relations but who love each other for the sake of Allah.” Abu Idris Khulani, one of the most famous tabi’in says that once he visited Mua’adh ibn Jabal in the Masjed of Damascus and told him “By Allah I love you for the sake of Allah.” Mua’dh repeatedly asked him to swear if it was so and when Idris Khulani answered in the affirmative every time, Mua’dh pulled him by his shawl and said, “Hear the good news! I have heard and blessed Messenger of Allah saying that “My love [the love of Allah] shall certainly be for those who love each other for my sake, who sit in each other’s company for my sake, who go to meet each other for my sake and spend money on each other for my sake.” (Muwatta Imam Malik)
Abu Hurairah (raa) narrated that the Prophet (saw) said, “A man set out to visit a brother (in Faith) in another town and Allah sent an angel on his way. When the man met the angel, the latter asked him, ‘Where do you intend to go?’ He said, ‘I intend to visit my brother in this town.’’ The angel said, ‘Have you done any favor to him?’’ He said, ‘No, I have no desire except to visit him because I love him for the sake of Allah, the Exalted, and Glorious.’ Thereupon the angel said, ‘I am a messenger to you from Allah (to inform you) that Allah loves you as you love him (for His sake).’” [Muslim]
There’s an important question we have to ask: why does Allah [SWT] make this quality [love for the sake of Allah] a requirement for us to achieve nearness to Him [SWT]? There are so many speculations from scholars of course, but one I was blown away with is the one I am going to share with you today. Scholars say that when we love for the sake of Allah [SWT] we are acknowledging and accepting the souls that Allah chose for us in Alam Al Dhar [the realm of the soul] for remember the hadith of the Prophet (saw) reported by Aishah: “Souls are like soldiers grouped in ranks: those of them which are familiar with each other will be friends, and those which are unfamiliar will be in conflict.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others) Those whom we love for the sake of Allah we have met before in the realm of the soul—we knew each other and parted only to find each other in this world. It’s like finding our friends of the past that Allah [SWT] chose for us before we came to the earth in our bodily form. It’s like re-finding a long lost friend. So when you love for the sake of Allah, you are acknowledging and appreciating Allah’s choice of friends, for you. You realize that even your friendships can be attributed to Allah [SWT]. The good ones of course.
How do we know that our friends are those chosen for us by Allah? Know, sisters and brothers, that Allah only chooses the best for us. So if you have a friend around you whom you love for the sake of Allah, who guides you, from whom you learn all that benefits you in this life or the Hereafter, who keeps you firm in the path of Allah—it’s no guessing game. If you have one of these, then all Praise is due to Allah. Mind you though, that does not mean that you’re friends are perfect because in the end they are human and they have their faults. But they are perfect for you—and the evidence is that in spite of all your differences you experience a friendship and love for each other that is out of this world. You love each other for the sake of Allah, accept each other’s faults and help each other overcome them solely for the sake of Allah. Because you love each other for the sake of, Allah [SWT] makes the friendship work.
So, when you love your sisters or brother in Islam for the sake of Allah you are loving Allah’s choice for you in friends. So when you come and stand on the pulpit of noor, of light, you are not a person whose friendships are based on personal fain [even just your own personal happiness] but you come as a person who has preserved in this world the choices that Allah made for you from all the souls that He created. I feel sorry for those who isolate themselves from others because of a single bad experience they had—they have deprived themselves of seeing what other souls Allah has chosen for them. So make sure you reach out, because in reality you are reaching out to the soul chosen for you by Allah.
Scholars say that you need to posses three qualities to be a person who loves others for the sake of Allah: that you are person whom others can rely on in times of need; that you are patient with others; and that you have a pure/clean heart. Let’s consider each one:
Are you a person who can be relied on? As human beings we are not complete entities. We need each other—so Allah has surrounded us with people who need us and people we need. It’s not survival of the fittest. We expect that others support us, as they expect us to support them. Whoever said life is give and take was absolutely right. That’s why we are very hurt, when we are let down by others. Real love involves giving, not just taking. If you say you love a person and you never give anything but lip service then you don’t really love that person. Ali Bin Abi Taleb said, “Your best friend is the one who is with you at all times, even when you are apart. He might harm himself to benefit you. He partakes in your worries, and is ready to be scattered so that you can be whole.”
So, let’s say for instance that you have a friend whose shy and withdrawn, and it is preventing him from communicating and sharing his thoughts with others. What is more is that his grades are suffering in public speaking. Once you realize this you turn to Allah and promise Him that you will help your friend overcome this negative shyness that is preventing him from contributing with his knowledge. So, you help you friend for the sake of Allah. This is love for the sake of Allah.
I used to be such a shy person among sisters that oftentimes I would not do the right thing out of shyness like saying “Assalaam Alaikum” when I would come to the Masjed and see other sisters gathered together. I would pray my Tahiyat Al Masjed and sit down and wait for others to initiate greetings or conversations with me. Even then I would hold back. One day, I saw a sister who frequented the Masjed and was amazed by her. She would come in, pray Tahiyat Al Masjed and then start her, “ Assalaam Alaikum” rounds to every sister in the Masjed—including the kids, including those babies who couldn’t speak but who would respond with smiled. She inspired me without knowing it. I felt fortunate to be around her; I wanted to be like her. I told myself, “Why are you letting this shyness come between you and your sisters in Islam. Open up to them.” And I did, and I found out that when I did Allah opened up their hearts to me. But I had to take that first step. For cccAllah had planned for me to meet so many souls that he chose for me in the realm of the souls but it would only happen when I was ready to break those walls that I had set up between myself and them.
I am reminded of the story of a man who rushed home one day to fetch some money for a friend who’d asked him for a loan. After he gave it to his friend, he walked back home with tears in his eyes. His wife asked him, “Why are you crying? Did you need the money?” He said, “No I am crying at my brother in faith’s state of affairs. How could I not have known what he was going through? If I had, I would have offered my help before he was compelled to ask for it.” This brother was lamenting the fact that he saw his friend “sighing” but he never asked him “What’s up?” He saw him distracted and staring in the distance yet never bothered to inquire about his situation. How many times have we done the same in the name of “I don’t want to invade other peoples’ privacy”. He was crying, because he was not there to prevent his brother in Islam from going through all those struggles that culminated in him holding out his hand to others and asking for a loan.
Are you patient with others, regardless of whether they are with you? That’s the second quality that you need to have if you love for the sake of Allah. Oftentimes we look for comfort in our relationships with others. We want to make our contact with each other as painless as possible—or we get all flustered and enraged etc. We have to be patient—Allah (SWT) is patient with us, and our Prophet (saw) was so with everyone he came into contact with. A sister once has a friend whom she loved so much. She showed her much affection; she would text message her poetry that was inspired by their friendship. Whenever she would see her she would run to greet her. But her friend, on the other hand, did not show the same affection towards her. This nagged at the sister. But Allah [SWT] wanted to show her that this was indeed a true friend who loved her for the sake of Allah, even though she didn’t show it as often. One day it so happened that this sister fell ill and was hospitalized. Her friend took a whole week off from work to stay with her in the hospital. What a friend—a friend in need is a friend indeed! So make sure you are patient with your friends and do you rush to judgment about them. Focus on their 100 good qualities and overlook the 1 or 2 bad ones.
The third characteristic is purity of the heart. A pure heart Allah gladly receives on the day of judgment. So, let’s not have hearts with low capacity seating—but let’s have ones that have unlimited capacity seating for our fellow Muslims
You should not be selfish in your friendship. Don’t be too slow to accept apologies. Don’t compose negative scenarios from a word, or gesture. Don’t build twin towers of doubt, out of a word you heard from a friend. Allah wants you to be like Saeed Ibn Al Musayeb “ Do not doubt in a word that came from your brother, especially when you can possibly find a good explanation/interpretation.” Al Shafi’i said, “He is not your friend whom you have to beg for forgiveness.” You should be such a friend who makes dua for her friend in her absence—and in turn your friend in faith will not make dua for you. Be a friend whom others hold special in their heart, so special that in your absences they are compelled to make dua for you. For remember Allah [SWT] has a special angel waiting to say “Ameen” to whoever makes dua for their sister/ brother in Islam in their absence. Remember that Allah does not love a person who deserts his sister or brother in faith, “Allah forgives every Muslim except for those who are deserting each other. . .” “. . . and the best of them is the one who initiates salaam.” Why is he or she the best? Because he/she were the first to re-open the lines of communication; that person has overcome him/herself’s pride solely to please Allah [SWT].Look at this beautiful hadith : “The best Mu’mins are those who are best in their akhlaaq, those whose shoulders’ are trodden over.” What does this mean? It is an expression in Arabic meaning that they are humble. The Prophet [saw] said they are those who are friendly and respond to friendliness, meaning they achieve “ulfa”. Allah loves pure hearts, because it is what makes a person exceptional.
I want you all today to send out beautiful messages [text, emails, voicemails etc] to those whom you love for the sake of Allah. Make sure you search for those long lost friends. Let’s work towards achieving that shade on the day when there will be no shade but that of Allah, and let’s aspire to be raised on pulpits of light in the Hereafter by humbling ourselves to others in this life.
To listen to the Circle of Light Halqa instead Part 1 and Part 2