How can you be pleased with Allah?

Sawt Al Umma Issue NO. 107
16 December 2003

No matter how widespread and accepted they may be among people, false ideas and misconceptions, fixed and immovable in the minds of those who hold them, are devoid of lifeblood. They are ideas sealed with red wax. They are like pieces of dry wood. People eat them, thinking them to be honey, and are astonished to find the only things that come out of their mouths are splinters and shavings. Whoever swallows fire will only feel the flame.

One of the most widespread misconceptions about sufis is that they are dervishes (Ar: darawish) – mindless, out of touch with reality, surrendering themselves to circumstance, unwilling or incapable of changing anything. In actuality, those people, who wander in the love Allah’s light and follow in the footsteps of His Messenger (s.a.a.w.s) and who seeks the blessings and intercession of his noble family, see the light of day before the morning sun has risen and feel the bud of the jasmine flower before the seed has been planted and the tree has put forth its branches

There is a vast difference between circumstances caused by Allah and circumstances caused by people. Sufis believe that which Allah gives and that which He withholds are both good. If Allah gives to us, we give thanks. If He withholds from us, we try to be patient. This is what it means to be content with circumstance. Such contentment is not to be misunderstood as surrender or weakness or humiliation. It is best demonstrated in the battles fought by the Messenger (s.a.a.w.s) who  would prepare and make ready for every battle. If he was given the victory, he gave thanks. If not, he would be patient, never despairing of Allah’s mercy.

Some have misinterpreted the concept of trusting in Allah (Ar:at-tawakul ) even though it was explained by the prophet (s.a.a.w.s) who said ’If you were to put your trust in Allah in the way you should, then He would sustain you just as He sustains a bird. It leaves its nest hungry and returns full.’ (Sunnan Ibn Maja Part 2 pp 1349 #4164). A bird has to search for its food. If it stays in its nest food will not miraculously appear. It leaves and returns and exerts effort And if it cannot find food, then it too must remain patient. In this sense at-tawakul means to do what must be done and to accept and be content with the outcome. This is the true meaning. We can add to doing what must be done and accepting and being content with the outcome the phrase ‘….and happiness with it (i.e. the outcome) is according to one’s station’ since there are those who rejoice in both adversity and good fortune. Be careful about hating something that might be good for you and be careful about liking something that might be bad for you. Good can sometimes be found behind what appears to be bad. Bad can sometimes be found behind what appears to be good.

Sayedena Abu Bakr (r.a.a) once came across a man repeating the words “Allah be pleased with me. Sayedena Abu Bakr (r.a.a) asked him ‘ Are you pleased with Allah so He can be pleased with you? ‘ to which the man replied ‘ How can I be pleased with Allah when I am weak and He is strong and when I am poor and He is rich?’ to which Sayedena Abu Bakr (r.a,a.) replied ‘ If you were as joyful in adversity as you are in good fortune, then you would be pleased with Allah.’ This is the station of those who know (Ar: al-a’rafin) They are joyful in the birth of the newborn baby on the day it is born (joy in good fortune) and joyful in the same measure on the day it dies (which is joy in adversity). The Quran says of them: ‘Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. This is for those who fear their Lord’ (Al-Bayyana: 8) It is up to us to exert our best effort but it is not up to us to reach the outcome just as the English proverb says:’Pray to God but do your best to reach the shore’.

Also found in the basket of painful misconceptions is the image of the people visiting the shrines of the prophet’s family, and some of their practices which for some appear to be irrational and abnormal. Such practices include those of touching the walls of the shrine or kissing the shrine itself. In the end, the arguments and controversies that arise around this image may be likened in the end to trying to plow the sea instead of a field or grinding the air instead of flour. Arguments may give rise to mutual rebukes and even to accusations of heresy, and may even be called infidelity. So what is the religious ruling here?

Before we can explain and interpret the first thing that must be said is that a religious judgment or ruling (Ar: fatwa) can only be made about matters of religion and worship. To consider something that doesn’t have a basis in religion and worship with a view to reaching a fatwa is like trying to consider the rights of an orphan to an inheritance. An orphan, in religious law, doesn’t have any legal rights in an inheritance. Other than the ritual kissing of the black stone during the pilgrimage to Mecca, kissing does not have a place in religion or worship. There is no requirement for a fatwa regarding a mother kissing her son. Kissing someone or something does not infer worship. If kissing were a form of worship, then it would have been proscribed, like other forms of worship, by Allah and His prophet regarding the frequency, time and method of kissing. Kissing is not worship and no-one in their right mind would insist that it should or should not be done. The Messenger (s.a.a.w.s) would kiss the black stone but he didn’t insist others should follow suit. We were informed of this by Sayedena Omar Ben Al-Khatab (r.a.a.) as narrated by Sayedna Abi Said Al Khodary (r.a.a.) in the following tradition: ‘We went on the pilgrimage with Omar Ben Al-Khatab When he was circulating the Kaaba he came to the (black) stone and said ‘I know that you are a stone and that you can not harm or benefit and if I hadn’t seen Allah’s Messenger (s.a.a.w.s) kiss you, then I wouldn’t have kissed you.’ and then kissed it. Then Ali Ben Abi Taleb said to him ‘ On the contrary, prince of the believers, it can harm and benefit. By the Book of Allah Most High’ Omar said ‘And where is this in the Book of Allah? Ali responded by saying that Allah said ‘When your Lord took from the backs of the sons of Adam their descendants and made them bear witness to themselves ‘Am I not your Lord? ’They said yes’ Allah created Adam and rubbed his back. They acknowledged that He was the Lord and that they were the slaves. He took their covenants and contracts and wrote them on a parchment. And this stone had two eyes and a tongue and He said to it ‘Open your mouth’ It opened its mouth and He placed the parchment inside it saying ‘Bear witness that whoever comes to you has come’. I testify that I heard the Messenger of Allah (s.a.a.w.s.) say that on the day of judgment the black stone will be brought and it will have a smooth tongue which will bear witness for whoever had touched to be a believer, so it can both harm and benefit o prince of the believers. Then Omar said: I seek Allah’s refuge from living with a people among whom you are not present O Aba al-Hassan) (Mustadrak al Sahihayeen Part 1, pp 626  #1682/74)

Taking the black stone, by way of example, whoever is circling the Kaaba and is unable to kiss the black stone directly because of the crowds of others trying to do the same can touch it with his hand and then kiss his hand. If the crowds prevent him from doing even that and he has a walking stick or a staff he can touch the black stone with the end of the staff and then kiss the staff. If he can’t do that he can point with his hand toward the black stone and then kiss his hand. Kissing one’s own hand or the end of one’s walking stick is a means of receiving the blessings of the black stone. In this instance my hand or walking stick is an intermediary (Ar: wasit) between myself and the black stone. The same thing is true when people kiss the shrine of a wali or a righteous believer. We kiss the shrine because we cannot kiss the hand of the wali bearing in mind also that kissing the shrine or the hand of a wali is not a requirement of the visit. Nor is it haram in so far as it is not prohibited by Allah and His prophet (s.a.a.w.s). What is not prohibited by the Quran and the sunna of the prophet (s.a.a.w.s) is mubah or permissible. To prohibit something without any basis or text what is permissible is to make judgments about things without revelation from Allah Well, enough said !!!