Heartfelt Reminders

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

In the midst of clarifying their relationship, I witnessed one saying to another, "...but this isn't about me and never has been. It's about Allah and nothing else." From the outside, one can only wonder what a relationship contains when it is framed by such a delightfully peaceful thought. I often think about these words as I wonder how this wisdom can become a rule in life rather than an exception.

It is easy enough to begin relationships for Allah's sake as sometimes that's precisely what brings people together. But over time, relationships can easily transform into an "it's all about me" attitude inviting a troubling decline and far too many points on Shaytan's scoreboard. But surely there must be a way for the pitiful residue of such relationships to be salvaged and reformed to their glorious beginnings.

I found some direction to my thoughts in Imam Ghazali's, rahimuhullah, chapter on "The Duties of Brotherhood in Islam" in his voluminous work Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya Ulum Ad Din), but I couldn't help but feel that with a lack of adequate knowledge, training, and practice, most of us (myself foremost) are a far cry away from fulfilling the duties of our sisters and brothers in Islam. Perhaps that's why the text even speaks of a contract of brotherhood such that both parties understand the nature of their relationship and feel obliged to honour it, to make excuses for the other, and to see faults in the actions but not the person, among other things.

I really am a world away from figuring out how things work in this world. Where do respect and love meet? Where do they depart? In an ideal world, people are supports for each other. Dr. Tariq Ramadan illustrates this great insight in his book "In the Footsteps of the Prophet" while reflecting on the story of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon them both). He writes,
"When Abraham is tempted by deep doubt about himself, his faith, and the truth of what he hears and understands, the inspirations and confirmations of Hagar and Ishmael (whom he loves but sacrifices in the name of divine love) enable him not to doubt God, His presence, and His goodness. Doubt about self is thus allied to deep trust in God" (pg. 5).
So while we, by our human nature, seek companionship we, too, have explicit guidance about how this companionship must breathe and act. At the base of it all is our own personal relationships with Allah as we cannot expect that comfort comes from humans themselves but rather it's a blessing from Allah, most Glorified is He. Hagar and Ishmael's conviction, as I see it, was independent of their love of Prophet Ibrahim (may Allah be pleased with them all). Rather, the three of them supported each other in the face of trials by remaining steadfast in their obedience to God.

When we are connected with those who are striving for greater God-consciousness (taqwa) and love, we hope that they will help us gently in our times of weakness and more importantly that we, too, can help them for none other than Allah's sake alone.

And if a union of this type should exist, then one must recognize it as gift from the Almighty and thank Him for it. It is only He who is deserving of all praises.

Ya Allahu, ya Latifu, ya Khabir, guide us to You and Your love. Bless us with a sound understanding of our deen and bless us with knowledge and love of You, the All Knowing, the Wise. Ya Allah, give us relief in our difficulties, grant us light in our darkness, give us strength in our weakness, and increase us in our sincere servitude of You. Ya Rabbi, protect me from wronging my soul and protect me and my heart from turning to that which doesn't befit obedience to you. Ya Allah, I seek Your guidance and Your protection. Guide us to Your good pleasure and protect us from Your wrath. Have mercy on us, ya Allah... Ighfir li ya Rabb. Ighfir li ya Arhamar Rahimeen wa salla Allahu 'ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa aalihi wa salim.

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"Do you think that you will enter the Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When (will come) the help of God?' Ah! Verily the help of God is (always) near!" [2:214]



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"Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of God. If you seek help, seek help of God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God has already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried."
--Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]