I have always wondered what it would be like to know Allah [SWT] for the first time? What would my first knowledge of Him be? What would be that first impression? If you ask me to try and remember my first encounter of Allah, I would say that it is the same as what my culture endorses among kids growing up in Yemen. It was a culture in which parents introduced Allah for disciplinary purposes. I am not saying that that is wrong, it has had its advantages—the hellfire is a reality. But it was wrong to show Him [SWT] as just one faceted. In my mind as a child I always associated Allah with “punishment” for my shortcomings. The phrase, “Stop it or Allah will burn you in the hellfire” would jerk me away from whatever mischief I had my hand in. No one talked about Allah’s love for me or His Creation for that matter. At some point I had to get to know Him through what He says about Himself, and not what others say about Him.
So, let’s today imagine that we have no knowledge of Allah [SWT]. We don’t know who He [SWT] is and we want to know Him [SWT]. We want to know what He loves and what He hates. Where is the best place to search for what Allah says about himself? Scholars say that if you want to talk to Allah [SWT] then establish that Divine Link, Salaah [or send knee-mails as Sheikh Yasir Birjas called it in the Fiqh of Salaah class] and if you want Allah [SWT] to speak to you then read the Qur’an. Logical right? We want to go organic today, we don’t want processed information about Allah [SWT], so let’s head to the Qur’an.
So, let’s open Allah’s book the Qur’an—for where best to start to know Him but through His own words. So, we open the Qur’an and read after, “Bismillah Arrahman Arraheem” [in the Name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Compassionate] “Alhamdullilah Rab Al Alameen” [All Praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds]. We continue reading the Quran, and Allah [SWT] tells us about the worlds He is the Lord of. He tells us that He is the Lord of this world [dunya] and another we are yet to witness in the future after our deaths called the “Hereafter” [Al Akhira]. We stumble upon a snapshot of the Hereafter, when we are all in Jannah Insha Allah and it’s the end. Final statements are made on the closing of the chapter of Judgment Day; everyone is where they should be—those who deserved to go to Jannah have settled in and those who are in the hellfire are suffering therein. The closing statement is made by Allah [SWT] who says: “And you will see the angels surrounding the Throne, exalting [Allah] with praise of their Lord. And it will be judged between them in truth, and it will be said, “[All] praise to Allah , Lord of the worlds.” [39:75] In the same vein, in the words of those in Jannah Allah [SWT] says in the Qur’an: “And the last of their call will be, ‘Praise to Allah , Lord of the worlds!” [10:10] So, it is with “Al Hamdullilah” that His book Al Qur’an started , Al Hamdullilah that this world will end, and with Al Hamdullilah that Insha Allah those of the Jannah will settle in their final abode.
When we contemplate some more, we find that the most beloved person to walk on the face of this earth was named “Muhammad” a name derived from the word “Hamd” [meaning praise and gratitude]. Furthermore, when Allah [SWT] who loves praise and gratitude–that is due to Him alone– broke the news to the angels about His creation of Adam (as) the angels wondered if they did not praise and give gratitude enough. They wondered if they had neglected or lacked in their praise and gratitude to Allah [SWT], “They said, ‘Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?’” [2:30] And furthermore Allah [SWT] says, “The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts [Allah ] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving.” [17:44]
Every atom and every cell praises its Creator, Allah [SWT]. “Alhamdullilah” is the best word—it’s in vogue since the beginning of our creation. It never gets old. It’s in. It’s the word to have on your lips day in and day out. Say, it “Alhamdullilah” “Alhamdullilah” Alhamdullilah.” Abu Dharr (raa) reported that the Prophet (saw) said, “Shall I tell you the words that Allah loves the most?” I said: “Yes, tell me, O Messenger of Allah.” He said: “The words dearest to Allah are: subhan Allah wa bihamdihi. [Glory be to Allah and Praise Him].”
And if I were to ask you, what was the first word uttered by a human being ever? Allah [SWT] said, “And He taught Adam the names of all things”—so the first thing Allah [SWT] taught Adam after creating him was language. So, out of all of the words Allah taught Adam (as) which one was the first he uttered. It is said, that when Allah created Adam from water, dirt, and clay and so on, He then blew the soul into Adam. The soul entered Adam (as) in different stages, and when it arrived at his nose he sneezed and the angels told him, “Say Alhamdulilah” and he did. Imagine that “Alhamdullilah” was the first word.
Why does Allah [SWT] love this word “Alhamdullilah”? Loves to see our hearts content with Allah [SWT] being our Lord? Because it is evidence of the health of our Iman [belief in Allah]. We all believe in the existence of Allah [SWT], but what comes to mind when you think of Allah [SWT]. You know for some people their god is symbolized by a stone, a rat, a cow etc. Their symbol is the meaning that comes to their minds when they think about their god. What is the meaning that comes to your mind when you think of Allah [SWT]? It is that “meaning” that makes you content and happy that Allah is your Lord; that meaning that makes you say “Alhamdullilah.” These three meanings should settle firmly in your heart when you think of Allah. That He [SWT] is:
1) The Creator [Al Khaleq]—“He is the one who has Created, and His Creation is nothing short of a masterpiece: “Then fashioned We the drop a clot, then fashioned We the clot a little lump, then fashioned We the little lump bones, then clothed the bones with flesh, and then produced it as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators!” [23:14]
2) In His hand is the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is in it: “Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion, and He is Able to do all things.” [67:1]
3) He is the regulator of all affairs: “Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that ye can see; is firmly established on the throne (of authority); He has subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law)! Each one runs (its course) for a term appointed. He doth regulate all affairs, explaining the signs in detail, that ye may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord.” [13:2]
Let’s revisit our father Adam (as). What was he (as) praising Allah [SWT] for? For creating him from nothing; for his very existence! Do you know what it means to be blessed with existence from nothing? Do you know what it means to be once zero? We were all zero by the way as Allah says in Surat Al Insan: “There surely came over man a period of time when he was a thing not worth mentioning.” 
Why did Allah [SWT] create us? So we may enjoy ourselves. I know some of you have raised eyebrows now, and probably wondering, “What on earth is she talking about?” Yeah to ‘enjoy’ ourselves! If you have a righteous friend in this life, your companionship with them is full of enjoyment. Right? Now imagine how much you would enjoy life if you knew Allah [SWT], and led your life in His companionship? How much will you enjoy your life when you know Allah who asks: “Do you feel Me who gave life to you? Who created you in your mother’s womb, and provided for you? Do you feel me in your everyday life as I provide for you? Do you know how much I love you, and have incurred My wrath and decreed punishment on those who wrong you? Do you feel My presence with your during times of misfortune? Do you feel know how shy I am to let you go empty handed when you have raised your hands calling Me in dua? Do you know how much I love you, and ask for your affection through My blessings? Knowing this, feeling it, being certain of is the true pursuit of happiness. Ibn Taymiyyah said: “There is in this world a Jannah, and the only way to enter the Jannah of the hereafter is to enter the Jannah of this world. And he who does not enter the Jannah of this world will not enter the Jannah of the hereafter. And that Jannah of this world is the worship of Allah (SWT).” This is called “Jannat Al Ma’rifa”, A Jannah/A Paradise of Knowledge and Awareness of Allah]. A different Jannah than the one in the Hereafter, where you get to eat, sleep, play, and do whatever you want—it’s a different kind of enjoyment than the one we are talking about. If you experience this one, then you will the other.
No doubt, we find so much enjoyment in this life knowing Allah [SWT], being aware of Him [SWT], living according to His instructions. So much enjoyment in this life, that is less than a drop in the ocean of the Jannah in the Hereafter. I mean look around you at the beautiful colors of the leaves this fall; the flowers of all colors, shapes and sizes; the shades of blue and gray of the sky; the softness of the clouds; the fresh air. Taste the—variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices, herbs and meats that Allah [SWT] has blessed us with. There’s so much to be content with, and Allah loves to see you content in this life and show gratitude and praise to Him. Seriously, what does Allah gain from blessing you with Jannah in the Akhirah, in the Hereafter? It will simpley make Him happy to see you happy. In this world, Allah [swt] wants you to enjoy yourself through your awareness of Him even though you do not see Him, and in the Jannah of Al Akhirah He wants you to enjoy seeing Him and being close to Him in Jannah.
Who forced Allah [SWT] to Create you from nothing? No one! Who forced Him to make Himself known to you? No on! Who Him to bless you day in and day out—to literally drown you in His blessings [Allah [SWT] says: “And if you were to count Allah’s favors, you would not be able to number them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Sūrah Al-Nahl: 18) ]? No one! Who forced Allah to choose you from the millions of people to be a follower of Muhammad (saw)? No on! He chose you out of His own will to create you from nothing, so that you might enjoy yourself in His realm. You enjoy life through the knowledge that you benefit from obedience to Him, and do no from disobeying Him. So, know that your creation is a blessing, and the continuous supply of blessings is another a blessing.
Our journeys in this life are full of divine gifts—every second we are opening a gift from Allah. Why aren’t we content when we have done all that is necessary on our part to achieve a ‘good’ life, and once we realize that Allah [SWT] has chosen a good life for us [although different from what we had in mind]? Why can’t we say “Alhamdullilah” this is what Allah wants for me; what He has decreed for me? Allah [SWT] does not life after you have done your part and the results of your hard work have come out, to see a revolution in your heart against Allah’s system in your life. Oftentimes we shrug our shoulders while we utter a contradictory, “Alhamdullilah.”
What does a content heart mean? It means a heart that has accepted the blessings Allah [SWT] has gifted you. Those gifts that Allah has tried to come close to you through—through which He seeks your your affection. Do you even know that Allah tries to win your affection through His blessings: “And Allah brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and hearts that haply ye might give thanks.”[16:78] He has made that apple taste so good to you, asking you whether you love Him?” He has made your heart yearn to see Him when you listen to the beauty of the recitation of the Qur’an, asking whether you miss Him? He has taught you certain words to say so that He may forgive your sins no matter how big or small they are, asking you whether He is enough for you?” He has made you love gatherings of His remembrance.
Do you come back home after a long days work to find your family and home safe and sound? Do you come back to a home just as you left it? Untouched? You could have sinned that day, yet Allah [SWT] did not punish you in your health, home, family or property even though you deserved to be. Look around you at the world, where people are living in homes with no roofs. They live with the suns beating on their heads during hot summer days, feet digging into muddy floors during the rainy season, and shivering with cold during cold winter nights. All this while we complain about where we live; with the homes that Allah [SWT] has blessed us with. How many of us are not content with the food we eat? All this while 100’s are dying in Somalia; while we choose what to eat, a Somali mother chooses which child of hers lives.
What if you have lost your rights—does that mean that you just have to be content with the fact? No, that is different. You have struggle in Allah’s way and fight for your rights, but within the means and tools that are in obedience to Allah—the end does not justify the means, the means has to be equally in obedience to Allah as the end. Do what you can, and leave the rest to Allah [SWT], and whatever Allah decrees after you have done your best be content with the results. Do from A to B, and leave B to Z to Allah [SWT] so to speak.
Before we end this today, I want to warn you of that organ that can cause you to show discontent with and even refusal of Allah’s gifts ; one that can convey a bad image of Allah [SWT]. That organ is the tongue. May be you have said, “Life sucks!” and forgotten that life is Allah’s decree. Life is a gift we have been blessed with; an experience which we benefit from by saying and doing the right things. Use the blessing of life to fulfill the will of Allah, and don’t let Shaytan distract you from that focus. Don’t allow him to cause you to focus on a part of your life that is not working out the way you want it to, and make you forget everything else that is perfect Subhan Allah. Realize that life is the greatest gift from Allah. It is not meant to be cursed and refused. So, say “Alhamdullilah”—a word that you inherited from the Prophet (saw)—with a sweet tongue and a content heart.
So, let’s have tongues that scoop up the word “Alhamdullilah” continuously from our hearts and broadcast it to the world at large.