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.