Originally Posted 05/28/2010
We’ve all had intense moments. For me, one such moment happened while standing on the rooftop of Masjid al-Haram. Above me was only sky, below me, the most beautiful view of the Kaba’a and an acute sign of Allah, this life, and the life to come. I was surrounded by an overwhelming crowd – that exists nowhere else on this earth – but, for me, it could have been that I was standing completely alone. With Allah.
I brought with me to that rooftop so much heartache, confusion, and doubt. I came with so much weakness, human frailty, and pain. Standing at a crossroads in my life, I brought with me fear of what was to come, and hope in what could be. So, as I stood on that roof, I remembered the story of Musa (`alayhi assalam – may Allah be pleased with him) standing at the Red Sea. His physical eyes saw nothing but a wall of water, entrapping him as an army approached; but his spiritual eyes saw only Allah, and a way out so certain it was as if he had already taken it. While the voices of his people – bereft of trust or hope—spoke only of being overtaken, Musa (as) did not waiver.
As I stood there, I heard the distant voices warning me of what was to come – but my heart heard only, “Inna ma’iya rabee sa yahdeen…Truly my Lord is with me, He will guide me through.” (Qur’an, 26:62)
But seeing through the illusions of hardship, confusion and pain that surround us can only happen when we allow our heart to focus. The foundation of Islam is tawheed (Oneness). But tawheed is not just about saying that God is One. It is so much deeper. It is about the Oneness of purpose, of fear, of worship, of ultimate love for God. It is the oneness of vision and focus. It is to direct one’s sight on one singular point, allowing everything else to fall into place.
One of the most beautiful traditions of the Prophet ﷺ captures this concept perfectly. He ﷺ said: “Whoever makes the Hereafter his preoccupation, then Allah places freedom from want in his heart, gathers his affairs, and Dunya (worldly life) comes to him despite being reluctant to do so. And whoever makes Dunya his preoccupation, then Allah places his poverty in front of his eyes, make his affairs scattered, and nothing of the Dunya comes to him except that which has been decreed for him.” [At-Tirmidhi]
If you’ve ever seen a “magic eye” picture, you can see a wonderful metaphor of this truth. At first glance, the picture looks like nothing but a collection of shapes, with no order or purpose. But if you start by bringing the picture right up to your face, focusing your eye on one singular point, as you move the picture slowly away from your face, the picture suddenly becomes clear. But, as soon as you take your eyes off that singular point of focus, the picture disappears and again becomes nothing but a sea of shapes.
In the same way, the more we focus on the dunya, the more our matters become scattered. The more we run after the dunya, the more it runs away from us. The more we chase wealth, ironically, the more poverty we feel. If money is the focus, you will find that no matter how much money you have, you will always fear losing it. This preoccupation is poverty itself. That is why the Prophet ﷺ says about such people that poverty is always in front of their eyes. That is all they see. No matter how much they have, there is no contentment, only greed for more and fear of loss. But, for the ones who focus on Allah, the dunya comes to them, and Allah puts contentment in their hearts. Even if they have less, they feel rich, and are more willing to give from that wealth.
And when such people feel trapped by life, by financial hardship, by pain, by loneliness, by fear, by heartbreak, or sadness, all they have to do is turn to Allah, and He always makes a way out for them. Know that this is not some feel-good theory. It is a promise. A promise made by Allah Himself, who says in the Qur’an:
“…And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out, And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him…” (65:2-3)
Allah is sufficient for them. Allah is enough. For those who make Allah their primary concern, there is only peace, because whatever happens to them in this life it is good and accepted as the will of Allah. Imagine having only good in your life. That is the state of this type of believer, as the Prophet ﷺ says: “Wondrous are the believer’s affairs. For him there is good in all his affairs, and this is so only for the believer. When something pleasing happens to him, he is grateful, and that is good for him; and when something displeasing happens to him, he is enduring (has sabr), and that is good for him.” [Muslim]
And so in the heart of such a believer is a sort of paradise. That is the paradise that Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy on his soul, spoke of when he said: ‘Truly, there is a Heaven in this world, [and] whoever does not enter it, will not enter the Heaven of the next world.’
And in that heaven, complete peace is not something of a moment. It is a state, eternal.