Kellat M’Gouna, April 2017
Once more on this blessed night, Allah (SWT) has honored us, by allowing us to be present and take part in this gathering on this blessed night. Were it not for the bounty of Allah, none of us would have been here today. Allah has chosen us for this. How many of us are there here, today, in this tent? And how many are there of those who are cut off and are not here tonight in this gathering? Many, many, many times more than those who did come.
This is why Shaykh Mohammed Ibn al-Habib said, “The one who is cut off from us has not tasted the sweetness of life.” When he says the ‘sweetness of life’, here, the life to which he refers is not the life of this dunya. Rather, it is the life to which the Messenger of Allah (SAW) refers when he says “There’s no life except the Life of the Akhira”.
No one of us can truly be at peace in this, the life of the dunya. Do not be happy with this dunya, do not be content with it and do not think that you will live a carefree life.
One of the poets said,
“By Allah if a man lived in this world for a thousand years in full possession of his senses and affairs, blessed with every luxury and thing of value” – i.e. in each and every one of those thousand years, he enjoyed the most valuable of blessings – “taking pleasure in the best blessings of the age in which he lived” – i.e. those one thousand years – “Never once being visited by illness” – i.e. he did not fall sick once in that entire period – “Indeed, he did not feel a single worry or concern” – Not once in thousand years did he have cause to worry. Is this not akin to a paradise living for a thousand years, furnished with every luxury and thing of value, never once falling sick and not being afflicted by even a single worry or concern? – the poet continues, “All of that does not equal the first night he spends in his grave” – on that first night, he will be asked, “Have you seen any of the delights of the dunya?” and he will reply, saying, “No, I saw nothing, [I was only there] for but a few short moments.”
Sayyidinah Nuh (AS) lived for 1700 years, 950 of which were spent calling people to Allah. And even though he spent all those years calling people to Allah, only a few believed in him. As for the Messenger of Allah (SAW), he did Da’wa for only 25 years and millions of people follow him. When Sayyidinah Nuh (AS) was asked about those 1700 years, “How was it living for all that length of time?”, he replied, “It was like one who comes into a room from one door and then immediately leaves it by another.”
So, the dunya is just as the Prophet (SAW) describes it, “There’s no life except the Life of the Akhira”. Those who are deceived and deluded by this life and think that it is going to go on forever, are the ones who are the most heedless and in the greatest state of forgetfulness. Allah says in the Quran, “The life of the dunya is nothing but the enjoyment of illusion.”
Qarun was a man who had great wealth – he basically owned the dunya. He thought he had achieved real life. Allah mentions in the Quran that his treasure-houses had many keys, and that those keys alone were so numerous that they required a pack of camels to transport them from place to place. Allah says, “the keys to which alone were a heavy weight for a party of strong men…” – only the strongest of men could lift up those keys. His people who come to him and remind him of his place, saying “Do not gloat. Allah does not love people who gloat…” – “Do not be arrogant and view yourselves as superior to others on account of your wealth”, for Qarun used to take great pride in his wealth, saying, “I have only been given it because of knowledge I have.” – “I have achieved all of this on account of my ideas, my decision-making and my expertise. Then, in a single moment, Allah (SWA) took away his wealth, his house and himself and caused the earth to swallow them all up. “We caused the earth to swallow up both him and his house…” Some of the mufasirin mention that with every day that passes in this world, he sinks a body-length deeper into the earth.
In the time in which he lived – just like in the time in which we live, for it is as if the ayat is directed at us – there were people who wanted to be just like him, saying, “Oh! If only we had the same as Qarun has been given! What immense good fortune he possesses.” They thought that what he had been given was the true good fortune, but when they saw the earth swallowing him up – and we have seen this swallowing up ourselves for the Quran was sent down for us and speaks to us directly – “Those who had longed to take his place the day before woke up saying…” What were they saying? They were amazed and astonished by the Power of Allah (SWT). In the blinking of an eye, a rich man had not just become poor but had lost everything, himself and his life included. “Ah! Truly the unbelievers are not successful.” – everyone who is no grateful for the blessing of Allah and denies it, everyone who is arrogant and gloating, will never have success.
One time when the Prophet (SAW) was walking, the mountains spoke to him in a tempting and seductive manner, calling to him with honeyed words. They said to him, “Messenger of Allah, do you not want us to turn into gold for you so that you can become the richest man alive?” But he (SAW) refused their offer and chose instead to be a man of zuhd. When he (SAW) was on his night journey, during the Miraj, as he made his ascent in the company of Jibril (AS), he came upon a woman, who was calling out for him to come to her. When they saw her, Sayyidinah Jibril (AS) turned to the Prophet (SAW) and said, “Do not speak to this woman.”. So, the Prophet (SAW) said, “Who is she, Jibril?” He replied, “She is the dunya.” Imam al-Busayru (RA) referred to this matter in his Burda ,when he said,
“High mountains of gold tried to tempt him towards them, but he refused due to his high courage. His need simply served to strengthen his zuhd.” – it was proven that he was a man of zuhd, for even before this, his people had approached him and offered to make him the richest man amongst them. They came to his uncle, Abu Talib, and said to him, “If it is wealth that he wants, then we will make him our king. If it is power and renown, then we will make him our lord and leader. Our only condition is that he stop calling us to worship a single god.” In response, the Prophet (SAW)made an oath, saying, “My uncle. Even were they to put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left in exchange for me leaving this matter behind, I would not do so. I will not leave this matter until the moment I die.” The Messenger of Allah (SAW) understood the Haqiqa, the truth. Those who are engrossed in the dunya and have forgotten the real life, the akhira, it is they who are in the greatest state of forgetfulness, it is they whose inner and outer sight is blocked by the thickest of veils, for the love of the dunya causes a veil to be placed upon the heart.
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) gave some advice to his companion, Abu Hurayrah (RA), saying “Abu Hurayrah, when love for the dunya enters the heart, love for Allah leaves it, and when love for Allah enters the heart, love for the dunya leaves it.” Therefore, dunya must never he allowed to take up residence in our hearts.
The Shuyukh (RA) say that that the most dishonourable and despicable thing a faqir can do is to sit in the company of the people of the dunya.” They used to fear for their people sitting in the company of those speaking of dunyawi matters and nothing else – it is most dangerous indeed for the well-being of the heart.
We, as human beings, have great need of the dunya, but the Law tells us to be take the middle way in all things. So, the dunya must not be our only concern. In one of the duas that we recite in our Wird, a dua that is transmitted from the Messenger of Allah (SAW), we say, “Do not make the dunya our biggest concern.” Why do we not say, instead, “Do not make the dunya our concern”? Because Allah does not want our concern to be entirely focused on the dunya, but wants us to take the middle way. We should not place all of our focus and concern on the dunya, and we should not place all of our focus and concern on the Akhira so that we forget and ignore the affairs of this world.
Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib has said in one of his recorded talks, “They are both sources of harm – as soon as you are satisfied with the one, the other one causes you harm. So stand in the middle between the two of them.”
Let me recount the story of a man to you – it is a story I have mentioned many times before, but it deserves to be repeated. There was a man who left home to search for a wali, a man of Allah, who might make dua for him. The one condition he made to himself was that this wali must be a man of zuhd, not a man of dunya. But he had a faulty understanding of zuhd and thought that it meant cutting oneself off from the world completely. So he went from place to place asking after such a man, until he was eventually told that there was such a man, a worshipper, who lived beside the sea. “He is a man who fasts the day and prays the night and fills every moment of his time with worship,” he was told. So he went to the man, and greeted him, saying, “Sayyidi, I have been searching for you for years. There are few men like you left in our time – they have almost become extinct. I would like you to make dua for me about a matter that has caused me great concern.” But the man said to him, “I am not the one you have been searching for. But it is me to whom you have come, so, by Allah, I will guide you to the one whom you seek. You must go to such-and-such a city, and in that city you will find [So-and-So], a right-acting man of zuhd. When you meet him, ask him to make a dua for me as well.”
So, the man left to search for that city, and soon he found it. When he saw that it was a large and highly urbanised city, he said to himself, “Oh no! I left, trying to get away from civilisation, and this man has sent me back to it. He has sent me back to the people of dunya. How is it possible that one of the awliya of Allah is to be found amongst the people of dunya?” When the man entered the city, he asked the first man he met about So-and-so, the man he had been sent to see. The man said to him, “That man is well-known, for he is one of the biggest businessmen in the city.” So he went to the place from which the man [of Allah] conducted his business and asked the first workers whom he saw where he could be found. They replied, “He is that man over there, sitting on that chair.” He looked over at the man and saw that he was completely occupied with affairs of the dunya, continually giving instructions, “Send such-and-such a product to such-and-such a place, and send such-and-such a product to such-and-such a place…” – You know how business people are. So he hesitated and did nothing, saying to himself, “Should I go and greet him and speak to him or not?” But then, all of a sudden, the businessman called out to him, saying, “You! The one standing over there! Come here! Do you not trust the one who sent you to me?” – this is an example of what the people of Tasawwuf call firasa. It is light, for the believer sees with the Light of Allah. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) indicated this when he said, “Be wary of the firasa of the believer, for the believer sees with the Light of Allah.” – So, he came up to the businessman and greeted him. But before he could ask him for a dua, the businessman said to him, “Go on your way. I ask Allah to realise all your goals and remove all your worries and concerns.” So, the man walked away, bewildered and in a state of shock. But before he could leave, the man called out to him again, saying, “Come back! Come back! Do you not have an amana? Is there not something for me with which you have been entrusted?” The man replied, “Yes, I do. The one who sent me to see you asked me to ask you to make a dua for him.” So, the businessman said, “Go back to him and tell him that I ask Allah to remove love of the dunya from his heart.” When he heard, the man was shocked and amazed – here was one submerged by the dunya, surrounded by matters of business and trade, telling one who was completely cut off from the world to “remove love of dunya from your heart”.
So, the man went back to the one who lived beside the sea and said to him, “Sayyidi, I met the man to whom you sent me and he made dua for me.” “Did he also make dua to Allah for me?” the man asked him. “Yes,” he replied, “he did indeed make a dua for you.” “Then tell me what he said,” said the man. But he was too ashamed to say what the businessman said and so remained silent. So the man said, “Tell me! Tell me!” So, he said, “He said in his dua for you, ‘O Allah, remove love of the dunya from your heart!’” The man, who was standing up when he received these words, sat down, placing his right hand upon his heart, and said, “Allaaaah!”
The traveller did not understand any of what had come to pass, so he said, “Sayyidi, I have understood none of this. Please explain to me what has happened here.” The man said, “That one who you thought was engrossed in the dunya, he is constant in his remembrance of Allah and his heart is occupied with Him. As for this one who you see before you here, regardless of what you might have thought, my heart is occupied with the dunya, for I always say to myself, ‘When will I have such-and-such a thing of the dunya.’”
There are two understandings of zuhd that are described in this story. One person understood zuhd to mean cutting oneself off from the dunya and the world, but that is something that the Prophet (SAW) forbade, for he (SAW) said, “There is no monasticism in Islam.” And the other understanding, which is the correct and true one, is for a person to remain in the middle of the dunya, but for his heart to be cut off from it. So, we go back to the words of the Prophet (SAW), “There’s no life except the Life of the Akhira”. Therefore, the believer must take the middle way, and say, “Our Lord, give us the best in the dunya and the best in the Akhira”, and avoid being like those about whom Allah says, “Among them are those who say, ‘Our Lord, give us of the dunya”, but have no portion of the Akhira.”