For His Sake

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

A week or so before my departure, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus began a series of classes on Imam Al Ghazali's book Ayyuhal Walad. Alhamdulillah, I had the opportunity to attend the first two lessons, I believe, but it troubled me that I would miss the rest of the classes as he mentioned in the introductory lesson that we would learn why some people might spend their lives doing good works yet they would not be accepted by Allah.

For some time, I worried about what he said as I wondered which pursuits would engage my time and what would prevent them from being accepted by Allah. Surely, anything unacceptable to Him cannot be part of one's life ambitions, yet even doing good had the potential of being weightless. Sometime since then, the obvious key (at least as I see it, but then I really should listen to the recordings to find out) behind his words were illumined for me, al hamdu lillah wa ash shukru lillah.

My father always says, "You're either doing something that is pleasing to Allah or pleasing to Shaytan, so choose that which is pleasing to Allah." But what is pleasing to Allah? It is not only to do that which is good, but it is to do that which is good for His sake alone. Hence my love of the words, "It's about Allah, and nothing else."


A co-worker recently suggested that my commitment to additional work was mutually beneficial. I understood how it would benefit others, but I curiously asked her how it would benefit me. She told me that it would look good on my employee record. I wondered, then, how many others care what their employee records say. It seems it is not sufficient for one to only do his best but he also seeks comfort in knowing that those who have the power to praise or criticize him see him as an asset. Perhaps this is because it is nice to feel valued or perhaps it is because for some it could be the difference between having a home and living on the streets.

But what about our life-long record which is compiled by angels at the command of the Lord of all that exists? Where is our concern for its contents?

وَأَمَّا مَنۡ أُوتِىَ كِتَـٰبَهُ ۥ بِشِمَالِهِۦ فَيَقُولُ يَـٰلَيۡتَنِى لَمۡ أُوتَ كِتَـٰبِيَهۡ
But as for him who is given his record in his left hand, he will say: Oh, would that I had not been given my book. 
(25:Al Haaqqah-69)

The greater understanding, as I see it, is to know that Allah alone is our provider. We do not depend on others for our sustenance nor do we work for their pleasure. We depend on Allah alone for each and everything and we act for His sake alone. Is this not part and parcel of what it means to be a Muslim? We cannot fear that we will miss anything as nothing will come to us except that which He wills. 

 ما شاء الله كان و ما لم يشأ لم يكن و لا حول و لا قوة إلا بالله العلي العظيم
Whatever Allah wills will be, and whatever He does not will will not be, and there is no power or might except with Allah the Most High, the Great.


Living our lives in isolation makes it easier for us to remember to adorn our acts with worthwhile intentions, for the sake and pleasure of Allah alone. It is easier to submit our affairs to Him and to affirm His complete control over the dominions of the Heavens and Earth. The greater difficulty, I find, is understanding "for the sake of Allah" in relationships where expectations are seemingly intrinsic and the potential for disappointments are great. But that is another topic for another day, inshaAllah.

Allahu Khaliquna - Part 2

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In college, I had a friend who had greenish-brown eyes. They were stunning and I would often tell her - mid-conversation - that I couldn't believe that it was her real eye colour. As the months passed, I remember thinking to myself that I stopped noticing the colour of her eyes despite that they were unchanged and still a wonder.

How long can we behold a thing of beauty and savour its offering before we can't contain any more of it? Or before the wonderment fades and something akin to boredom leads us elsewhere? It is not that we no longer consider that thing beautiful, but rather that we are unable to access, appreciate, or relish any more of it.

If sunrise was a constant, full-day phenomenon, for how long would we or could we enjoy it?

There are two truths of outward beauty. The first is that it is not an end and the second is that it heightens when shared. This is of course a very elementary perspective on beauty.

We must then go deeper and first acknowledge that nothing in creation is without purpose. Beauty exists in every inch of the physical world and every aspect of the intellectual and intangible world. But it is useless if it serves only as a passing amusement. Thus, it must necessarily be connected with the inward: the emotional -on a primary level- or the spiritual -on an elite level- if we are to discover the real meaning and taste of beauty. Only then is beauty savoured and appreciated long past sensory stimulation.

Beauty leads to an experience not a state so it cannot be constant unless or until, I imagine, it is connected to a spiritual insight. With deep reflections, physical, momentous beauty soars in spiritual insights, the inward. Alternatively, we find that a thing of momentous pleasure rises to become a source of deep reflection which is eventually harvested as a state of deep gratitude and profound peace.

Perhaps the reader may consider this articulation a culmination of feathery words and baseless meanings, to which I might agree. However, as I am exposed to innumerable breathtaking sights, I know not how to savour them regularly as I have no one to share them with outwardly. I recognize that they are clearly not in vain and a deeper and prolonged appreciation of them need not require mere pleasant companionship as God is most just and kind.

Thus, I must return to my heart and mind in an attempt to discover what must be made aright so that my appreciation of such beauty is not a mere snack for the sight but is rather utilized as fuel for the heart. Such a transition, I'm afraid, seems impossible without the subtle assistance of weighty companionship 
(those who inspire deeper inward progressions) or the training and guidance of a teacher or spiritual guide. But at least by articulating it, I can now understand some points of my difficulties and failure.

O Allah, all praises and gratitude are due to You alone. You have created all that exists, has ever existed, and will ever exist. We affirm Your beginningless and endless existence, Your majesty, and Your transcendence. Ya Khaliqu, raise your weak and disobedient servants so that creation and its beauty are means through which we draw closer to You. Protect us from vanity as we behold beauty it in all its forms. Let us be of those who recognize You and Your Lordship despite beauty and not because of it. Your governance, power, generosity, and all Your attributes are limitless and must not be limited by only what the eyes behold. O Allah, guide us to You. We are lost and experience the pain and punishment of this misdirection. There is none to lead us to You except You. O Allah unite us with the reality of Your beloved, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam, his existence, his beauty, his character, and his way, and guide this ummah to rise to the way of following him for Your sake alone.

اللهم اغفر لي و لوالديّ و لاحبابي و لجميع المسلمين و المسلمات و المؤمنين و المؤمنات و اهدنا إليك
يا ارحم الراحمين يا ارحم الراحمين يا ارحم الراحمين
آمين يا رب العالمين
The response of a scholar and a wali as he beholds the sight of the Niagra Falls. الله يحفظه

Allahu Khaliquna

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

If you're reading this, then you're about to embark on a relatively brief journey through one cycle of my thoughts ("relatively" being the keyword of course). Consider this fair warning.

It starts with the notion of modesty as I learned from the Yemenis. Modesty in its outward form manifests itself as niqab. Yet in one of the first khutbas that I heard at a masjid in Sana'a, the imam spoke about how women in the neighbourhood, despite wearing niqab, adorned their eyes with lavish makeup seeking the obvious attentions of the all-too-attentive men on the streets.

In a country where niqab is the norm, one learns that there is a deeper level to modesty which includes veiling the eyes from conveying meaning. I learnt this lesson quickly as it irked me to find that despite being entirely covered, some men still sought a message from the eyes. 

Eyes are miraculous. They are truly phenomenal. Consider the difference between the sound of laughter and the sight of it in one's eyes. Sometimes cameras capture a sliver of the heart shining in people's eyes that moments can almost be relived soundlessly. Almost. Allahu khaliquna.

I then remembered how Yemeni women did not shy away from beautifying themselves in their homes. One evening, as I sat with the children, the lady of the house came into the room. I looked at her and said, "Wow. Where are you going?" She said, "Nowhere." I smiled and said, "I could get married in that."  I admired her commitment to beautifying herself for those who were worthy of beholding her entire beauty, a beauty that was increased by the mere fact that it wasn't available to any wandering eyes. Allahu khaliquna.

A friend, who I imagine has just married or will be married in a few days inshaAllah (may Allah bless her marriage and grant her and husband righteous offspring and protection from all evils, ameen) mentioned how her fiance suggested that she wear coloured contact lenses. Interestingly, the Yemeni sister also had a pair of blue contact lenses. I personally draw the line of beautification at faking one's eye colour, but each their own. Allahu khaliquna.

My friend embraced her fiance's suggestion for all the reasons that would make her a good wife, mashaAllah. It was nice to to find them in agreement in this regard. I had once asked her about whether they attended the same Islamic lessons. She said they hadn't spoken about it. I was dumbfounded as how they could be agreeing to marry yet they hadn't discussed, what I perceived (or assumed) to be such a large aspect of her life.

It dawned on me today that it is sufficient - for some or even most - to say to each other, "We intend to be a comfort to each other's eyes. We intend to be good to each other and to each other's families. We intend to be good people." If their hearts are inclined, then it is a done deal. The missing link, I find, is what people base those ideas of "good" on and how they plan on persevering in them when things get rough. Perhaps my gross intellectual incompetencies on the topic explains my apparent failure in it. Allahu raziquna.

I will say though, returning to the idea of niqab, that it is a very beautiful thing. There is so much more twirling around in my head about it and this idea of modesty and other things, but alas, this tireless thought must end with one minor insight and not much to show for it. Perhaps it'll be more useful to the reader than the writer. Or not. Allahu karim.

Allahu Khaliquna - Part 2

"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]