Ghazali on remembering death V – carrying jewels

Ghazali on remembering death V - carrying jewels

Acute regret

Imagine you are in a dark cave filled with stones, and your friends urge you to pick up the stones and carry them back with you to the exit. You think they are foolish. Why would you want to burden yourself with heavy stones? You don’t want to waste your time and energy carrying these stones and you think your friends are foolish trying to carry heavy stones with them. You feel free and you have fun, laughing and chatting and making fun of them. Then light enters the cave and you notice that the stones your friends have been carrying are rubies and emeralds and sapphires. Your heart sinks with the realisation that all this time you thought you were clever, you picked up nothing and they amassed a fortune, stacks of precious jewels with them. You are filled with regret and intense remorse. You could have been rich. It’s their turn to laugh at you, and you kick yourself for such a wasted opportunity. You can’t turn back the clock…

Sometimes we are that person who doesn’t want to carry any burden or take any responsibility, just relax. Ghazali uses this example to show us that we need to take the opportunity that Allah has given us, even if it feels burdensome and involves some pain carrying these stones, because we only have one chance. If it gets too heavy, we can sit down and take a rest or a nap – that’s fine, but don’t waste the opportunity. We see the regret of those who wasted their chance in dunya, when the reality of the akhirah hits them mentioned repeatedly in the Quran. They plead to Allah for another chance to go back, but there is no way back. The regret will be excruciating because they will have no one to blame but themselves.

If you have a regret in dunya you can do something about it, but when you have regret in the akhirah, there is nothing you can do.

As you cannot see the reward of the akhirah – it is what the eyes have never seen, and the ears have never heard – it is like being in the dark and unaware of the valuable treasures you are collecting. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

حَدَّثَنَا الْحُمَيْدِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو الزِّنَادِ، عَنِ الأَعْرَجِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ قَالَ اللَّهُ أَعْدَدْتُ لِعِبَادِي الصَّالِحِينَ مَا لاَ عَيْنَ رَأَتْ، وَلاَ أُذُنَ سَمِعَتْ، وَلاَ خَطَرَ عَلَى قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ، فَاقْرَءُوا إِنْ شِئْتُمْ ‏{‏فَلاَ تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ ‏}‏‏”‏‏.‏

“Allah said, “I have prepared for My Pious slaves things which have never been seen by an eye, or heard by an ear, or imagined by a human being.” If you wish, you can recite this Verse from the Quran:

“No soul knows what is kept hidden for them, of joy as a reward for what they used to do.” [32.17] (Bukhari)

The burden and the heaviness of these treasures are the weight of carrying out our obligations and duties, praying, fasting, paying zakah and fulfilling our responsibilities towards our families. You will only really see the fruits of doing these in the akhirah. Until then you will hear people saying ‘Why are you bothering doing that?’ or ‘Why are wasting your money on this?’

Ghazali quoted how the people of Hell will ask the people of Paradise to send them some water or any of their provisions, but they will say they are forbidden to do this, because the people of Hell rejected the Hereafter, the Books, the messengers and they ignored what the scholars told them.

وَنَادَىٰ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ أَصْحَابَ الْجَنَّةِ أَنْ أَفِيضُوا عَلَيْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ أَوْ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ ۚ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ حَرَّمَهُمَا عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ

The inmates of the Fire will call on the inhabitants of the Garden, “Pour some water over us, or some of what God has provided for you.” They will say, “God has forbidden them for the disbelievers.” [7:50]

Meanwhile the people of Paradise will be flooded by Allah’s light. This favour is incomparable with any other joy or favour in dunya. It is highest bliss will be seeing Allah Himself. Even the lowest person in Jannah will have ten times as much as what is contained in this world.

فَلاَ يَزَالُ يَدْعُو اللَّهَ حَتَّى يَضْحَكَ اللَّهُ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى مِنْهُ فَإِذَا ضَحِكَ اللَّهُ مِنْهُ قَالَ ادْخُلِ الْجَنَّةَ ‏.‏ فَإِذَا دَخَلَهَا قَالَ اللَّهُ لَهُ تَمَنَّهْ ‏.‏ فَيَسْأَلُ رَبَّهُ وَيَتَمَنَّى حَتَّى إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَيُذَكِّرُهُ مِنْ كَذَا وَكَذَا حَتَّى إِذَا انْقَطَعَتْ بِهِ الأَمَانِيُّ قَالَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى ذَلِكَ لَكَ وَمِثْلُهُ مَعَهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ عَطَاءُ بْنُ يَزِيدَ وَأَبُو سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيُّ مَعَ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ لاَ يَرُدُّ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ حَدِيثِهِ شَيْئًا ‏.‏ حَتَّى إِذَا حَدَّثَ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ قَالَ لِذَلِكَ الرَّجُلِ وَمِثْلُهُ مَعَهُ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو سَعِيدٍ وَعَشَرَةُ أَمْثَالِهِ مَعَهُ يَا أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ مَا حَفِظْتُ إِلاَّ قَوْلَهُ ذَلِكَ لَكَ وَمِثْلُهُ مَعَهُ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو سَعِيدٍ أَشْهَدُ أَنِّي حَفِظْتُ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَوْلَهُ ذَلِكَ لَكَ وَعَشَرَةُ أَمْثَالِهِ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ وَذَلِكَ الرَّجُلُ آخِرُ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ دُخُولاً الْجَنَّةَ ‏.‏

He would continue calling upon Allah till Allah, Blessed and Exalted, would laugh. When Allah would laugh at him, He would say: Enter the Paradise. When he would enter, Allah would say: State your wish. He would express his wishes till Allah would remind him (the desire of) such and such (things). When his desires would be exhausted Allah would say: That is for thee and, besides it, the like of it also. ‘Ata’ b. Yazid said: Abu Sa’id al-Khudri was with Abu Huraira and be did not reject anything from the hadith narrated by him, but when Abu Huraira narrated:” Allah said to that man; ind its like along with it,” Abu Sa’id said:” Ten like it along with it,” O Abu Huraira. Abu Huraira said: I do not remember except the words:” That is for you and a similar one along with it.” Abu Sa’id said: I bear witness to the fact that I remembered from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) his words:” That is for thee and ten like it.” Abu Huraira said: That man was the last of those deserving of Paradise to enter Paradise. [Muslim]

In the long and beautiful hadith, the last believer to leave Jahannum, after his punishment is over, will be told by Allah to enter Jannah. It will seem to him that Jannah is full, so he will go back and ask Allah how he can enter, but Allah will tell him that he will receive the equivalent of the dunya multiplied by ten. Imagine if this is the situation of the least person in Jannah, what would be the situation of the highest person in Jannah, the Prophet Muhammad, who has the Maqam-e-Mahmood, which Allah prepared for just one person – and that will be him inshallah.

The burden of worshipping and learning about how to worship, and deal with different aspects of life are heavy, but they are like the example of the one who is travelling home. He has to go through the hassle of travelling – queuing, changing platforms or reaching the airport, security checks, passport control, but he bears all this because he is going home. Home is the akhirah. So we must be careful not to reach home with any regrets.

Your soul is from the divine world – from Allah Almighty, so you are always longing for heaven, because that is the home for your soul but we are shackled by our desires which pull us down. The more you free yourself from your desires, the more you will be lifted to the heavens.  The more you feed your soul, the lighter you feel, and makes you more angelic. The more you feed your animalistic desires, the heavier you are. Allah told us to be a moderate nation, the Ummatun Wasta, balanced between needs and responsibilities.

Ghazali says that if you know that after death you do not die. Your soul is separated from your body – your body departs but your soul remains. You soul continues to carry your memories and your knowledge. If you were good, obedient to Allah, and acquired knowledge and had a good connection with Allah you soul will be in good shape.

It is a common practice that scholars debate with themselves, challenge themselves and advise themselves – we see Ghazali do this, and others such as Ibn Atta al Iskandari and Al Muhasibi.

My Lord I am poor even if I am rich. I am so in need of you.

Ghazali then says if we were just listening with our ears and not with our hearts, we have wronged ourselves and incurred a big loss. But if you listen as an intelligent person and think deeply about he said attentively, you would leave behind anything that obstructs you from following the straight path. Nothing obstructs you but the love of dunya (hubb ad dunya), heedlessness about Allah (ghaflah), and heedlessness about the Last Day.

The travelling merchant

Exhaust your efforts to empty your hearts an hour after Fajr. Why Fajr? Because that is the time of serenity and clarity. Think about yourself, your beginning and end and take yourself to account. Tell yourself that you are a travelling merchant, struggling and striving over miles, so you can make a profit which is the eternal joy of meeting Allah. The verses that depict the joy of seeing Allah say:

وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ نَّاضِرَةٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهَا نَاظِرَةٌ

(Some) faces that day will be radiant, looking at their Lord. [75:22-23]

تَعْرِفُ فِي وُجُوهِهِمْ نَضْرَةَ النَّعِيمِ

You will recognise in their faces the radiance of pleasure. [83:24]

لِّلَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُوا الْحُسْنَىٰ وَزِيَادَةٌ

For those who have done good is the best (reward) and even more. [10:26]

لَهُم مَّا يَشَاءُونَ فِيهَا وَلَدَيْنَا مَزِيدٌ

There they will have all that they desire and with us is even more. [50:35]

إِذَا دَخَلَ أَهْلُ الْجَنَّةِ الْجَنَّةَ ، قَالَ : يَقُولُ اللَّهُ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى : تُرِيدُونَ شَيْئًا أَزِيدُكُمْ.؟ فَيَقُولُونَ : أَلَمْ تُبَيِّضْ وُجُوهَنَا ؟ أَلَمْ تُدْخِلْنَا الْجَنَّةَ وَتُنَجِّنَا مِنْ النَّارِ ؟ قَالَ : فَيَكْشِفُ الْحِجَابَ فَمَا أُعْطُوا شَيْئًا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِمْ مِنْ النَّظَرِ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ

When the people of Paradise have entered Paradise, Allah will ask, “Do you want me to give you something more?” They will say, “Have you not brightened our faces? Have you not already admitted us into Paradise and saved us from the fire?” He will then remove the covering and they will not have been given anything more beloved to them than looking at their Lord  [Muslim]

Loss is eternal sorry and being veiled from Allah. Allah of us are on this journey, but the end depends on which route you took. In Surat al-Muṭaffifeen, we are told those in loss will be deprived of seeing Allah:

كَلَّا إِنَّهُمْ عَن رَّبِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ لَّمَحْجُوبُونَ

No! Surely, they will be veiled from (seeing) their Lord that day. [83:15]

The pinnacle of reward for the people of Jannah is to see Allah. Our capital as a merchant is our lifespan. Without any capital you can’t do business. Every breath you breathe is a treasure among treasures for through it eternal joy is attained and what treasure is greater than this. So utilise your life in promoting goodness and it will be recorded for you.

When life ends, trade is over. The only things you can to your account are three:

 عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ إِذَا مَاتَ الْإِنْسَانُ انْقَطَعَ عَنْهُ عَمَلُهُ إِلَّا مِنْ ثَلَاثَةٍ إِلَّا مِنْ صَدَقَةٍ جَارِيَةٍ أَوْ عِلْمٍ يُنْتَفَعُ بِهِ أَوْ وَلَدٍ صَالِحٍ يَدْعُو لَهُ 

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “When the human being dies, his deeds end except for three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him.” [Muslim]

  1. Knowledge which you left behind that people continue to benefit from.
  2. Righteous offspring who make dua for you and give charity on your behalf.
  3. Recurring charity – such as schools, water wells and mosques that you built.

The owner of your estate in dunya will be your heirs. Every day is new day and Allah gives us a fresh chance. If He were to take our soul, we would wish to return to dunya to do more good deeds.

Ghazali says to himself, O my nafs, if you died and could have the chance to return to the dunya, what would you do with this one day? You have this day today. Consider every day is this day.

How do you develop certainty?

You have to trust Allah, His Messenger (peace be upon him) and the Quran. The more you know about Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) the more you work and strive towards pleasing them. Unless you have the mind set that you are responding to Allah, you will not enjoy what you do for Him.

Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Thursday Hadith Class 9th March 2023

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[i] Hadith of Gabriel: Angel Jibril came to teach you Islam (abuaminaelias.com)

Umar ibn al-Khattab reported: We were sitting with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, one day when a man appeared with very white clothes and very black hair. There were no signs of travel on him and we did not recognize him. He sat down in front of the Prophet and rested his knees by his knees and placed his hands on his thighs. The man said, “O Muhammad, tell me about Islam.” The Prophet said, “Islam is to testify there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to establish prayer, to give charity, to fast the month of Ramadan, and to perform pilgrimage to the House if a way is possible.” The man said, “You have spoken truthfully.” We were surprised that he asked him and said he was truthful. He said, “Tell me about faith.” The Prophet said, “Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, his Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and to believe in providence, its good and its harm.” The man said, “You have spoken truthfully. Tell me about excellence.” The Prophet said, “Excellence is to worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He surely sees you.” The man said, “Tell me about the final hour.” The Prophet said, “The one asked does not know more than the one asking.” The man said, “Tell me about its signs.” The Prophet said, “The slave girl will give birth to her mistress and you will see barefoot, naked, and dependent shepherds compete in the construction of tall buildings.” Then, the man returned and I remained. The Prophet said to me, “O Umar, do you know who he was?” I said, “Allah and his messenger know best.” The Prophet said, “Verily, he was Gabriel who came to teach you your religion.” [Muslim]

عن عُمَر بْن الْخَطَّابِ قَالَ بَيْنَمَا نَحْنُ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ذَاتَ يَوْمٍ إِذْ طَلَعَ عَلَيْنَا رَجُلٌ شَدِيدُ بَيَاضِ الثِّيَابِ شَدِيدُ سَوَادِ الشَّعَرِ لَا يُرَى عَلَيْهِ أَثَرُ السَّفَرِ وَلَا يَعْرِفُهُ مِنَّا أَحَدٌ حَتَّى جَلَسَ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَأَسْنَدَ رُكْبَتَيْهِ إِلَى رُكْبَتَيْهِ وَوَضَعَ كَفَّيْهِ عَلَى فَخِذَيْهِ وَقَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ أَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ الْإِسْلَامِ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْإِسْلَامُ أَنْ تَشْهَدَ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَتُقِيمَ الصَّلَاةَ وَتُؤْتِيَ الزَّكَاةَ وَتَصُومَ رَمَضَانَ وَتَحُجَّ الْبَيْتَ إِنْ اسْتَطَعْتَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا قَالَ صَدَقْتَ قَالَ فَعَجِبْنَا لَهُ يَسْأَلُهُ وَيُصَدِّقُهُ قَالَ فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ الْإِيمَانِ قَالَ أَنْ تُؤْمِنَ بِاللَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَتُؤْمِنَ بِالْقَدَرِ خَيْرِهِ وَشَرِّهِ قَالَ صَدَقْتَ قَالَ فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ الْإِحْسَانِ قَالَ أَنْ تَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ كَأَنَّكَ تَرَاهُ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ تَرَاهُ فَإِنَّهُ يَرَاكَ قَالَ فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ السَّاعَةِ قَالَ مَا الْمَسْئُولُ عَنْهَا بِأَعْلَمَ مِنْ السَّائِلِ قَالَ فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ أَمَارَتِهَا قَالَ أَنْ تَلِدَ الْأَمَةُ رَبَّتَهَا وَأَنْ تَرَى الْحُفَاةَ الْعُرَاةَ الْعَالَةَ رِعَاءَ الشَّاءِ يَتَطَاوَلُونَ فِي الْبُنْيَانِ قَالَ ثُمَّ انْطَلَقَ فَلَبِثْتُ مَلِيًّا ثُمَّ قَالَ لِي يَا عُمَرُ أَتَدْرِي مَنْ السَّائِلُ قُلْتُ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَعْلَمُ قَالَ فَإِنَّهُ جِبْرِيلُ أَتَاكُمْ يُعَلِّمُكُمْ دِينَكُمْ

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.