Do not let life distract you from Allah
Those who are distracted are in a state of heedlessness or hypocrisy
In Surat Munafiqoon, which means Hypocrites, Allah Almighty Allah is warning us not to be like the hypocrites:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ
O you who believe! Let neither your possessions nor your children distract you from the remembrance of Allah . Whoever does that—these are the losers. [63:9]
One of the signs of hypocrisy is not to remember Allah much. Hypocrites only remember Allah when they are among a crowd and want to portray that they are with them, but in reality, beneath the façade they are with Shaytan.
إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ وَإِذَا قَامُوا إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ قَامُوا كُسَالَىٰ يُرَاءُونَ النَّاسَ وَلَا يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
The hypocrites try to deceive God, but He is deceiving them. And when they stand for prayer, they stand lazily, showing off in front of people, and remembering God only a little. [4:142]
Can you hear the call of Allah?
Allah is warning believers not to be among the people of heedlessness and hypocrisy. Whenever Allah uses the phrase ya ayyuhal ladhina amanu, ‘O you who believe’, which appears 89 times in the Quran, we have to listen attentively because it always precedes a command or a prohibition, as Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) told us, it is a divine call.
Only those who are truly believers will hear the call of Allah and respond to it.
When we hear ourselves being called, we have to appreciate that the Caller is Allah Almighty, calling upon every single believer, the Ummah of Muhammad, those who accept His call. What would be our response if our father or mother called us? We would listen. When Allah is calling us our response should be ‘We hear and we obey, Ya Allah’.
Continuously Allah is calling on us. He is saying that we should not let our wealth or children distract us from Him. As believers we have to respond to this command, and apply it in our lives, because the call is from our Lord, who is more merciful towards us than our parents.
This is advice – we can take it or leave it. But as believers we know that Allah is the All Wise, and He has sent us into this world with guidance on how to achieve success in it and beyond. He knows how we can attain Jannah, so we need to pay attention if want to succeed.
The dunya is designed to distract you
The dunya has been designed to distract us. It is a test from Allah on a daily basis to distinguish those who are good from those who are not. Somebody might say they are too busy earning their living to remember Allah. Of course, we have to go to work, but there is a big difference between being so absorbed by work that we cannot think of Allah and being at work whilst remaining connected to Allah. We should not switch off our connection to Allah when we work. We can do both- they are not divorced entities.
In the Quran, Allah asks believers to remember Allah at all times.
فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِ
So remember Me, and I will remember you. And thank Me, and do not be ungrateful. [2:152]
Even in the battlefield when one is protecting one’s life and preoccupied with fighting, Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا لَقِيتُمْ فِئَةً فَاثْبُتُوا وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
O you who believe! When you meet a force, stand firm, and remember God much, so that you may prevail. [8:45]
What actually gives one the power to stay firmly in one’s place in the battlefield or when facing any challenge is spiritual strength – thus our connection with Allah should be continuous whether we are working, or teaching or fighting. Whatever position we are in, we should be engaged in the remembrance of Allah on our tongues or in our hearts.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the manifestation of the Quran and Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said he used to remember Allah all the time, no matter what he was doing. He was permanently engaged in the remembrance of Allah.
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported:
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَذْكُرُ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ أَحْيَانِهِ
The Prophet (peace be upon him) would remember Allah at all times. [Muslim]
The distractions that separate us from Allah
As the distractions of life separate us from the dhikr of Allah, Allah has mentioned many verses in the Quran to remind us to do dhikr – before we pray, after we pray, before wudu, after wudu, entering our home, leaving home, before we drive, when we are travelling and even before we enter the bathroom and when we leave it! The dhikr of Allah should be on our tongues all day and in every scenario of our life.
Otherwise we are in the camp of the heedless. Allah says, ‘do not be among the heedless’.
إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَن يُوقِعَ بَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاءَ فِي الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَعَنِ الصَّلَاةِ ۖ فَهَلْ أَنتُم مُّنتَهُونَ
Satan wants to provoke strife and hatred among you through intoxicants and gambling, and to prevent you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer. Will you not desist? [5:91]
In Surat Tawbah, Allah Almighty mentions the continual distractions in our lives:
قُلْ إِن كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُوا حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَ اللَّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ
Say, “If your parents,
and your children,
and your siblings,
and your spouses,
and your relatives,
and the wealth you have acquired,
and a business you worry about,
and homes you love,
are more dear to you than God, and His Messenger, and the struggle in His cause, then wait until God executes His judgment.” Allah does not guide the sinful people. [9:24]
The consequences for those who neglect to remember Allah are grave. This is why in Surat Jumuah, we are shown the scene when some Companions abandoned the Prophet (peace be upon him) while he was at his mimbar delivering his Khutbah, because a caravan belonging to Dihya al Kalbi arrived from Shaam with goods and it was received with an entertainment. The worshippers could not restrain themselves from rushing out to see what there was to buy. They were competing for business and the youngsters were attracted by the entertainment.
Jabir bin Abdillah (may Allah be pleased with him) was one of those who stayed in the mosque with the Prophet (peace be upon him) with Abu Bakr and Omar (may Allah be pleased with them). Jabir bin Abdillah narrated:
وَعَنْ جَابِرٍ بن عبد الله رضي الله تعالى عنه “أَنَّ اَلنَّبِيَّ - صلى الله عليه وسلم -كَانَ يَخْطُبُ قَائِمًا, فَجَاءَتْ عِيرٌ مِنَ اَلشَّامِ, فَانْفَتَلَ اَلنَّاسُ إِلَيْهَا, حَتَّى لَمْ يَبْقَ إِلَّا اثْنَا عَشَرَ رَجُلًا “. رَوَاهُ مُسْلِمٌ.
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was standing while delivering the Khutbah (religious talk, sermon) on Friday when a caravan from Syria arrived. The people flocked towards it till no one was left [with the Prophet (ﷺ)] except twelve men. [Muslim]
Therefore Allah made it a warning in the Quran. He said:
وَإِذَا رَأَوْا تِجَارَةً أَوْ لَهْوًا انفَضُّوا إِلَيْهَا وَتَرَكُوكَ قَائِمًا ۚ قُلْ مَا عِندَ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ مِّنَ اللَّهْوِ وَمِنَ التِّجَارَةِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الرَّازِقِينَ
Yet whenever they come across some business, or some entertainment, they scramble towards it, and leave you standing. Say, “What is with Allah is better than entertainment and business; and Allah is the Best of providers.” [62:11]
A state of distraction is a state of spiritual danger
Allah related this incident a warning for all mankind not to let worldly distractions divert us from the dhikr of Allah, as He is the best provider. Those whose imaan is weak, are firmly attached to dunya.
Fight distraction and remember Allah in all states
This is why we remember Allah from the moment we open our eyes till we go to bed and in between in addition to the five prayers, we have to fight distractions and stay focused in a god-centred life, because the moment we lose our focus we are vulnerable to being attacked by the Shaytan, like the congregation of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who rushed out, leaving him in the mosque because they sought the pleasure of dunya.
فَإِذَا قَضَيْتُمُ الصَّلَاةَ فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِكُمْ ۚ فَإِذَا اطْمَأْنَنتُمْ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ ۚ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ كَانَتْ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ كِتَابًا مَّوْقُوتًا
When you have completed the prayer, remember God, standing, or sitting, or on your sides. And when you feel secure, perform the prayer. The prayer is obligatory for believers at specific times. [4:103]
Start the day by saying:
La ilaha illallah wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu, wa Huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in Qadir; Subhan-Allah walhamdu lillahi, wa la ilaha illallahu, wa Allahu Akbar, wa la hawla wa la quwwata illa billahil-‘Aliyil-‘Azim
None has the right to be worshipped but Allah alone, with no partner or associate. His is the dominion and all praise is to Him, and He is Able to do all things. Glory is to Allah, praise is to Allah, none has the right to be worshiped but Allah, Allah is the Most Great, and there is no power and no strength except with Allah, the Most High, the Most Supreme
End the day by saying:
Allahumma innaka khalaqta nafsee wa-anta tawaffaha, laka mamatuha wamahyaha in ahyaytaha fahfathha, wa-in amattaha faghfir laha. Allahumma innee as-alukal-AAafiyah.
O Allah, verily You have created my soul and You shall take its life, to You belongs its life and death. If You should keep my soul alive then protect it, and if You should take its life then forgive it. O Allah, I ask You to grant me good health.’
May Allah make us from those who remember Him at all times and remain firmly connected to Him through prosperity and adversity. May He enable us to remain focused on Him and to fulfil His commands, worship Him and remain in a state of constant dhikr. Ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim Khutbah 18th November 2022
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