One of life’s greatest miracles and gifts bestowed upon us is the blessing of life itself, especially when the life is in the form of a small bundle of joy who welcomes her new surroundings with a beautiful cry that calms the hearts of her parents and the medical staff surrounding her, all waiting to hear her first sound in this world. The formation of human beings in the womb of their mothers stands till this day as a scientific miracle and a great sign for mankind. Recently, my beloved mother was granted the blessing of delivering a healthy five pounds and five ounce baby girl. It is this sweet time that I have shared with my mother, as she labored tirelessly for days to take this baby girl from the protection and warmth of her womb to the cold, dark prison of the dunya (world), that I contemplated the true essence of worship and what it means to love Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) unconditionally and to run and flee to Allah (swt), the Creator of all that is beautiful, the Sustainer of all that exists and the Protector and Guardian of all.
Why do you Love Allah?
The first of the many lessons I learnt from this ordeal came in the form of contractions and the act of labor itself. My mother was in labor for many days, and for a woman who bore many children with ease, this was new to her. Though she received the maximum dose of the epidural injection, it had no effect on reducing her pain in any way. As a daughter, seeing this level of pain on the features of your own mother and hearing her cries of agony feels worse than any feeling imaginable! Through this ordeal in which I attempted to comfort my mother, ask for her forgiveness, make du`a’ (supplication) for her, and support her to the best of my abilities, my mother turned to me with tears in her eyes and a pain filled half-smile and said in between contractions:
“If you want the best things in this life and the next, then you must prove to Allah that His gifts to you will not be a waste. Be willing to be grateful to Him and willing to bear His tests with patience and love.”
At that moment, I stopped quoting verses from the Qur’an and ahadith (records of the words and actions of the Prophet ﷺ, peace be upon him). I stopped trying to advise and comfort her. She didn’t need my comforting or motivation. Subhan’Allah (glory be to God), my mother was in great agony, and she chose this moment to teach me. Teach me! By the Lord of all that exists, only by the Mercy, Power and Love of Allah can a mother’s love overcome all forms of pain to teach the child she has already raised and delivered 23 years ago as she is delivering another one! It was this moment that I contemplated and looked at my mother with awe and love in my eyes. At this moment I realized that truly, truly Allah is Great. Verily there is no comparison to Allah, for He is the First and the Last and there is none like Him. I thought that if our love for Allah (swt) is that of the true love and devotion a servant should have towards his Lord, then how do we lose track of that love? How do we keep putting it off to the side in relation to everything else?! A mother’s love can be seen in how she takes a time that was very difficult for her and turned it around to make it into a positive teaching moment for her grown child. In that moment, she wasn’t focused on the pain. What she was going through did not stop her from doing her motherly task. What she was enduring did not prevent her from teaching me to understand that we must truly be grateful for the blessings of Allah (swt), even at the moment of delivery and great pain!
I thought to myself, the pains of childbirth did not prevent my mother from loving and turning to teach me. What then, of my love for Allah (swt)? Has this worldly life prevented me from truly loving and turning to Allah? Can I with all honestly say that every moment of my being is filled with loving Allah (swt) above all that He has created and given to me as blessings? Am I truly conscious of Allah (swt) at all times, as my mother was conscious of me as she delivered a child? Allah (swt) told us in the Noble Qur’an that our wealth and our families should not prevent us from being conscious of Him.
“O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that—then those are the losers.” (Qur’an 63:9)
The things we tend to love and put the most effort in are caring for our families and acquiring wealth to live this life in comfort. Allah (swt) is reminding us not get too caught up in worldly matters that mean so much to us to such an extent that we find ourselves forgetting the One that should matter the most, the One that is the most defining aspect of our existence—Our purpose in this dunya is remembering and worshiping Allah (swt) from the core of our being and from the depths of our hearts at all times, and Allah (swt) is reminding us to keep this at the forefront of our minds even when dealing with other beloved matters. If we get lost in dunya and forget Allah (swt), then verily, we are losers and the loss is ours. What of the everyday mundane things and routine events that really do not matter even as much as family and our jobs, but take us away from the Remembrance of our Creator? The Prophet ﷺ, when asked about the excellence of faith or ihsan (good), said:
“It is to worship Allah as though you see Him, and though you do not see Him, you know that He sees you.” (Sahih Bukhari)
This was a statement that I used to take literally. How would I be if I saw Allah (swt)? In what state would He find me in all that I do and say? Would my heart be conscious of Him as I performed the acts of worship? Will I hasten to good deeds and to His Pleasure on a moment by moment basis? Would I be a humble and loving servant? What would I do to be near Him and to stay close to Him? Subhan‘Allah, our love of Allah (swt) should be unconditional and exemplify the true and realistic meaning of love. By unconditional, I mean that our love for Allah (swt) goes beyond the relationship of an individual who draws near to Allah (swt) solely for his or her dependency and need for a relationship with the Creator. There is none worthy of worship but Him, the Omnipotent King, the Holy, and the Giver of Peace. Yes, we need and depend on Allah (swt) for everything imaginable and beyond. Yes, we stand in great need of His Protection and Mercy and Guidance. Yes, every act that we do or every word that we utter should be to gain the Pleasure of the All-Mighty.
When someone does something for you, you love them dearly. But haven’t you met people who have never done a single thing for you or may not even know you well, yet you love them so deeply and affectionately for the Sake of Allah (swt) that you even keep them in your du`a’s? What about our mothers? Do we love our mothers because of the hardship in which they bore us and raised us or do we love them because in addition to all that, they are our mothers first and foremost? There is no example equal to Allah (swt) and no just estimate to Allah (swt), but our love for the Almighty should be at a level where we love him so unconditionally that we do not look at just what He (swt) has done for us, and has gifted us with, and protected us from, but we look at the amazing fact that He is OUR Lord and we remember Him because of His Greatness.
If you were asked, “Why do you Love Allah?” what would your answer be? As a servant aware of Allah (swt) at all times and remembering Him no matter what, our awareness and remembrance should increase the depth of love in our hearts and widen our chests to fill it with faith and serenity. What matters to us today may not live to see tomorrow, but our constant remembrance and love for Allah (swt) in all spheres of life follows no timetable. May Allah (swt) make us amongst “those who remember Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” (Qur’an 3:191)
How badly do you want it?
There is a piece of flesh in our body that channels our inner most thoughts and desires and translates them into action. What we feed and broadcast into these channels is up to the soul and decisions of the individual. Either he does well for his heart and he is helped and guided by Allah (swt) or he follows the devil appointed to him. There are no other alternatives. Our spiritual heart allows us to take a peek into the state of our souls, and he succeeds who purifies it. Now, how badly do we want to purify our hearts and how serious is our commitment? The second lesson I learnt from my baby sister’s entrance into this world was regarding this commitment.
My mother gave birth at 12:40am alhamdulilah rabbil `alamin (praise be to God, Lord of the worlds). She was extremely exhausted from the long labor and sleepless nights and wanted a much needed rest. I asked her to sleep and told her that I would take care of my new sister. Only Allah (swt) knows of the constant worry in my heart and the sense of alertness I found myself in that night. Each minute that passed I would look at the clock and see if it was near to her feeding time. It seemed as if each second that passed I would get up from my chair and check to see if the blanket covered her or if she was sleeping soundly. Her first sneeze of the night left me panicking and wondering if the room was too cold or if something was wrong with her health. After her third sneeze, (which was 15 minutes after the first sneeze ) I remembered a hadith of the Prophet ﷺ about the indication of the third sneeze, so I called the nurse just to check if all her vital signs were normal and her health was in good condition. I didn’t trust my limited knowledge of biology; I called in the nurse for a sneeze! Subhan’Allah, I would try to sleep in between her feeding time but to no avail. The second I would close my eyes, the fear of oversleeping and missing her feeding time or her smothering herself with blankets would overcome me, so I gave up on sleeping soundly after the first attempt. My sweet mother was also in the same state, waking up every so often to check if everything was going smoothly and if the baby was drinking her milk just fine. At times when exhaustion and sleep overtook me, I would close my eyes briefly to get some rest, only to jump up hastily wondering if I overslept only to see a mere 5-10 minutes had passed. This state of alertness came from a mind, body, and spirit focused entirely on the well being of my new baby sister.
This sense of vigilance and complete awareness came from me channeling all of my energy towards this young one and caring for her. Are we able to channel this type of energy into the purification of our hearts or direct such focus towards standing in front of our Lord in the last two thirds of the night? If we truly want to purify our hearts and we wanted to have qalbun salim (sound heart), then we can. If we truly want to be amongst those who have Allah (swt) in their hearts when they sleep and Allah (swt) in their hearts when they wake up for tahajjud (late night prayers), then we can. If we truly want to obey all of Allah’s commandments and stay away from what He has forbidden, then we can. It all depends on how badly we want it. How badly do we want to meet and converse with Allah (swt) in the middle of the night? How badly do we want to be a thankful servant to Allah (swt)? Our sense of alertness coupled with complete consciousness of Allah (swt) should motivate us beyond description in attaining the true essence of worship. Our soul’s salvation depends on it. We always have excuses ready on why we are not working on our own self-development, why it is difficult to wake up for qiyam ul layl (night prayer), or difficult to pray our 5 daily prayers with concentration. They may sound like reasons and explanations in our heads, but quite frankly, they are excuses. What would have happened if I missed my sister’s feeding time saying, “Well, I really needed to sleep,” or “I had to finish a chapter in this book,” or “I had an exam to study for,” or even “I had a meeting for an Islamic event that is coming up.” All these are important for sure and should be a means of bringing us closer to Allah (swt), but I still missed the time for feeding and the child will wail due to hunger. I wonder how we will react if our souls wailed every time they missed reading or hearing the Qur’an, every time they missed standing in front of their Lord with complete focus and love, every time we missed out on being spiritual.
Our souls need to be fed just as much as a baby needs to be fed. Allah (swt) has already told us what type of food truly satisfies our hearts and our souls; “Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured,“(Qur’an 13:28). We can be God-conscious individuals that flee to Allah (swt) and remember Him in all that we do. It is a matter of choice, a matter of fully turning our hearts completely to the One who fashioned it. It is a matter of having a deep conviction and a true commitment to channel our innermost thoughts, desires, energy, and determination to focus on our actions, worship, deeds, and companionship with Allah (swt) in this world. May Allah (swt) make us of those who say “…I hastened to You, my Lord, that You be pleased.” (Qur’an 20:84)