Reflections Spiritual Purification

For the Sake of Allah Ismahan Abdullahi

There was a time when words spoken were binding contracts; pledges held and honored, where an individual would act as a testimony to his character.  Speech was not just words of folly, but rather true and honest communication between individuals. Often times we utter words heedlessly without realizing the impact it has on our hearts and in our lives, failing to comprehend the weight of what we have just spoken.  We tend to abuse or misuse certain words as we throw them around, to the point where we use such words and phrases without truly understanding their meaning and the inner state of being that should come with it. Amongst these words and phrases is “for the sake of Allah” (lil Lah ta`ala).

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) mentions in Surat As-Saf, “O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do? Great is hatred in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do.” (Qur’an, 61:2-3). Subhan Allah (glory be to God), let us ponder these verses for a moment. Typically, we may associate these verses with individuals who promise to do something but do not follow through, or lie in saying they have done something when they have not. However, we tend to forget that Allah (swt) addresses all of us when He says, “O you who have believed.” This is an admonition and a reminder for the believer which is of great benefit. Thus, when we say the words “for the Sake of Allah”, can our hearts and actions testify that we have truly acted for His Sake?

When we hear the words “for the sake of Allah”, how do we understand and interpret them? Do they even affect us? When we realize the power and depth of that phrase, it becomes the coolness of our eyes and nafs (soul). Our perception of life and the world around us changes to such a degree that you will strive to embody the lifestyle of the Prophets, the martyrs, the truthful ones and all those who follow in righteousness. We may know our true purpose is to worship Allah (swt) as He states in Surat al-Qaf; however, how many of us can truly say we try to live our lives for His Sake?

When we utter that beloved phrase, we are going beyond mere intonations of the voice to matters of the heart. When those words escape our lips, our hearts should tremble in recognition of the full depth of its meaning. They should flourish as words spoken of love for Him into willingness and eagerness to obey. We say those words with Allah (swt) in our hearts and minds. We say those words recognizing the Omnipotent King and Creator of all the worlds.

This changes our lifestyle and allows us to be men and women of God. It increases our God-consciousness, and constantly reminds us that our souls are in His Hands and the time of return is dawning upon us from every corner. The adhan (call to prayer) has been called for us at the time of our birth and its prayer, our janazah (funeral prayer), is ever close. To utter these words is to pledge again and again that we are servants of ar-Rahman (the Most Compassionate) and our deeds and actions will be the proof of the pledge we have made. Allah (swt) promises us that His Promises are true, and never will He disappoint anyone. Wouldn’t it be a terrible loss if it was us who broke the pledge we made with Him, missing out on His Pleasure and jannah (paradise)?

Allah (swt) mentions in Surat Muhammad, “So know, [O Muhammad], that there is no deity except Allah…” (Qur’an, 47:19) that is, “La ilaha ila Allah”. Allah (swt) uses the word “know” as opposed to “say”. To know something, you have to comprehend it, and Allah (swt) commands us to know that none has the right to be worshipped but Him. To know Allah is your Lord and the only One worthy of being worshipped gives you a sense of peace, guidance, and urgency to action in your life. What then of us who know the depth of the phrase “for the Sake of Allah”?

The one who knows what it truly signifies will start to live a life of true submission. When they are wronged they can forgive easily for His Sake. When they spend in charity, they do so readily. When Allah (swt) commands them to veer away from a sin or action, they do so without a second thought. When they see the state of their society, they become truely committed Islamic workers who benefit their community. There is no longer a struggle when it comes to the halal and the haram or the commandments of the Creator; it becomes automatic submission to His Will. “Same`na wa aTae`na—we hear and we obey.”

We say “for the Sake of Allah” because we know our goal is to live by it as it serves as a constant reminder that Allah (swt) is the All-Aware, the only One in charge, and that legislation belongs solely to Him. We strive to live by it as we are taught in the verse, “Say, ‘Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.’” (Qur’an, 6:162) No hesitation whatsoever; complete and automatic submission.

There is a simple yet profound equation I learned from my sheikh that can help us get a better grasp of what it means to live your life for His Sake. “When dealing with Allah (swt) remove people from the equation and when dealing with people remove yourself from the equation.” Every day should be spent aiming to please Allah and not the people, for living a life for His Sake means embodying that in the state of worship you are in and the deeds you put forth and strive for. When you deal with people, you understand that you are dealing with the creation of your Lord so you give them the best and prefer them over yourself, whether it is through noble manners and character, standing up for justice and the oppressed amongst this world, giving in charity, etc. You remove any malice, jealousy, apathy, anger, insincerity and other negative emotions for His Sake because you truly recognize the dignity of your created brethren through your Creator.

You are now an individual with a purpose—seeing the world through a different lens. You have a mission to be living, doing, and speaking only for His Sake. In that, you have truly become independent. In other words, realizing that your independence comes from being dependent on Him as opposed to your own nafs or this world and what it contains.

Thus, for the one with a purpose, who has a vision and understands their mission, the outlook in this world changes. This dunya (this life) becomes a place of opportunities and a place to accumulate wealth (in the form of good deeds) for the hereafter. Every trial they come across in this world becomes an opportunity to be patient and content. Every blessing they’re given and witness around them becomes a means of being thankful and humble. Every temptation they struggle against they see it for what it is; a mirage meant to deceive and entrap their soul. You see, they strive to keep the dunya in their hands and not their hearts. They have a mission and know the amana (trust) they are carrying—for they are living for His Sake now and they are employed by Allah (swt).

AlhamdulilLah (praise be to God), we are only a few months away from Ramadan. May Allah (swt) bless us to live through many Ramadans that bring us closer to Him. Rather than preparing as it dawns upon us in the last 10 days, let us prepare early as the sahaba (companions of the Prophet ﷺ, peace be upon him) used to prepare; six months in advance! Let us set a goal now where we strive to live a life of true submission and love. Anytime we utter the words “for the Sake of Allah” let our hearts know the beauty and power behind these powerful words and let our deeds and actions attest to that phrase we uttered. We are Muslims and the true meaning of a Muslim is one who submits. May Allah (swt) make us of those who say that which they truly do and make us of those who when they are asked to submit, they submit completely and wholeheartedly to Him, Lord of the worlds.

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    • I have been trying to actively set myself goals for this Ramadhan. What does it mean to utter the words ‘for the sake of Allah?’ this article has really permeated my soul and given me a different perspective on how I should really approach life.
      I was able to appreciate the meaning behind some of the phrases in the Quranic text. Please all the Muslims around the world, make dua so that Allah will imprint the love and understanding of Qur’an in all our hearts.
      Article has driven motivation in me. Jazakallahu khayran, Ramadhan Kareem.

    • A good read on a Sunday at 7am. Alhamdulilah! As a new Muslim, this was what I needed to read. May Allah bless you.

  • Choose our actions carefully, choose our words more carefully. The AlQuran is evidence – every single word choosen by Allah is in its correct place! Allahu Akhbar. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Assalmualaikum Ismahan,

    Your article touched me deeply and spoke to me. May Allah reward you many folds for writing this beautiful article. I pray that you continue to write and share such beautiful gems with everyone.
    Jazakiallahu khairun

  • jazaakallahu khairan, Ismahan, a really thought provoking article to really ponder within ourselves as to where do we stand as a true slave of Allah.

  • As Salamu Alaikum,

    Jazak Allahu Khayran for this awesome article! I’m really trying to change my ways and really trying to do things ‘for the sake of Allah’ so, this article is just what I needed.

    Two questions in this regard:
    1. Looking back in my life, I found most of what I have done was not for truly for the sake of Allah. Is all of this past completely lost?

    2. People are always saying, ‘I love you for the sake of Allah’ – what does this really mean?

    Jazakum Allahu Khayran in advance any help!

  • Jazakil Allah Khairan. May Allah (swt) make it easy for you and grant you Tawfiq.

    1.) One of the misunderstood concepts when it comes to being sincere towards Allah in one’s action is that intentions are purified only in the beginning of an action. That once you make the intention, that’s the end of it. In reality, when one undertakes any action, one needs to understand that our intentions are constantly changing and fluctuating. Thus, one needs to renew and purify their intentions before taking an action, during the action itself and after taking that action. For example, if you are planning an event you strive to renew your intentions in the beginning stages of the planning and you constantly renew your intentions as you go through the planning process and the event itself. After the event has passed, you also renew your intentions and ask Allah (swt) to accept from you. Sincerity is an all-encompassing factor of life and the one who strives for it succeeds in this life and the next.

    However, when we strive to improve our relationship with Allah (swt) and continue on the journey to Him, we sometimes start to fall down a spiral path, getting stuck in the past instead of moving on. While none of us truly know if our good deeds are accepted, we know our Lord is Allah and He is the Most Merciful and Oft-Forgiving and that it is easy for Him to change our past deeds to good, if we are truly sincere in our repentance and our efforts to be His faithful and committed servant.

    Allah (swt) mentions in the Quran:

    And perform the Salah, at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night. Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds. That is a reminder for the mindful. And be patient; verily, Allah wastes not the reward of the doers of good. (Qur’an 11:114)

    When you start doing good deeds for His Sake, Allah will make it easier for you to continue to do good deeds. When our understanding of what it means to be truly sincere to Allah grows and we strive to live a life of Pleasing Him and doing things only for His Sake, it changes our lifestyle completely. Does this mean that our past deeds are void because they were not done with sincerity for the Sake of Allah? Not necessarily. A sincere individual is constantly worried about whether or not he has fulfilled his duties to Allah (swt). All that is done for the Sake of Allah (swt) remains while everything else perishes for sure. But as Muslims, we have supreme hope in His Love and Forgiveness and know that He is Just. Thus, our past sins can be easily forgiven and our past deeds accepted just as easily by Allah. For example, an individual who performs a complete Hajj that is accepted is as sinless as a newborn child. Isn’t it Allah, the Lord of the seven Heavens and the Earth the One who forgave and wiped his/her slate clean? Then verily, He can also do so with our past deeds. This is why it is crucial to keep renewing our intentions and asking Allah (swt) to grant us sincerity in our actions and to accept from us. Have hope and faith that Allah (swt) will accept those deeds from you and constantly turn to Him to accept from you all the good that you put forth.

    2.) To love someone for the Sake of Allah (swt) is to truly appreciate and recognize the worth of an individual because of their connection to their Creator. You love them dearly simply to Please Allah (swt) and because they believe and love Allah. The Prophet (saws) mentioned in a Hadith:

    “Anyone who possesses three attributes will experience the sweetness of Iman (Faith): that he loves Allah and His Messenger more than anything else; that he loves someone for the sake of Allah alone; and that he hates the idea of reverting to disbelief, after Allah has released him from it, as much as he would hate being thrown into fire.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

    To love for the Sake of Allah is to realize that the bond between you and the individual is not based on any worldly desire or motive, but based on the One who created your hearts. It is not a bond that is formed merely for one’s benefit, but a bond whose foundation is firmly rooted in the Pleasure of Allah. Keep in mind, that anything done for Allah (swt) remains while all else perishes. It is a love that stems from the simple fact that YOU love Allah (swt) and this person loves Allah. Thus, the believers are all brothers and sisters under the weight of the Shahadah, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad (saws) is His Messenger”. It doesn’t matter their race, culture, background, wealth, etc. Their love for Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saws) is the basis of your love for them. It is not based on any favors or gifts one receives from individuals, it is not based on how well the person treated you or their character. It is based on Allah, the First and the Last. Thus, when two individuals love each other for the Sake of Allah (swt) their love is pure and endless. For example, look at the love between the Prophet (saws), Abu Bakr (RA), and Umar (RA). They were together in this Dunya, they are buried next to each other in the life of Al-Barzakh (Grave) and they will be together in Jannah bi’ithni Allah. Subhana Allah! It is a beautiful love indeed. To love one for the Sake of Allah is to truly value the creation of Allah, especially His believing Servants and to not be distracted by worldly standards.

    When the love of Allah (swt) is the basis for any friendship or relationship, many problems and difficulties are avoided. You fulfill the rights they have upon you and you do not distress or cause them harm. You are motivated to forgive them easily and give them more than 70 excuses if they wronged you. You will make dua for them in their absence and you are a source of support for them, advising them and working together to get closer to Allah (swt).

    People who love on another for the Sake of Allah (swt) are amongst the 7 types of people who will receive the Shade of Allah (swt) on Reckoning Day. Abu Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (saws) said:

    “Allah will ask on the Day of Judgment: ‘Where are those who loved each other for the sake of My glory? Today, on a day when there is no shade but Mine – I shall shade them with My shade.” [Sahih Muslim]

    That’s the power of loving your fellow Muslim brother and sister for the Sake of Allah. Subhana Allah, this is an in-depth topic which I only scratched the surface. If you would like more information or for me to expand on any particular point, please feel free to let me know insha Allah. Anything khair that I have said is from Allah (swt) and anything wrong is from me and Shaytan.

    Jazakil Allahu Khairan!

    • As Salamu Alaikum!

      Jazakum Allahu Khayran for such a detailed and thorough response to my questions. Your thoughtful answer really touched my heart and made me feel better in so many ways.

      Regarding my past actions, I now have hope. Insha Allah I can learn from my past, and, in that way, my past can be of use to me and perhaps even be accepted by Allah. And, as you mention, perhaps He can even turn them into good! Allah is indeed the All-Powerful, the Most Merciful, and All Forgiving.

      2. Loving for the sake of Allah. With your answer, I understand the concept more intellectually. However, its still a bit of a mystery to me – I think most likely because, thinking about it, I have never to date really loved someone solely for the sake of Allah.

      I hope Allah grants me the ability to love others for solely for His sake – I can see that doing so, or even trying to do so, will really help me grow as a person.

      Once again, thanks so much for such a comprehensive answer! May Allah reward you greatly.


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