How do you balance living in this world and your imaan, without compromising either?
The answer is a full course question. The simple answer is you have to focus on what Allah Almighty will ask you about.
Your relationship with Allah is number one; your relationship with your parents is number two; your family is number three; your earnings are number four etc. This is how we prioritise our life.
Don’t make number 4 number 1. Usually we put number 4 (our business and earnings) first. We put it above everything else. We sacrifice our relationship with Allah, our parents, our family for the sake of money and for the sake of earning.
We need to get our priorities right.
Balance is the defining quality of a Muslim
I was asked what the defining characteristic of a Muslim is. The question requires a long answer, but in a nutshell, the unique, distinctive quality of a Muslim is being a balanced person.
Allah Almighty when He talks about our ummah, He says in Surat al Baqarah that He made us a balance ummah – umaatan wasata:
Thus We have made a well-balanced nation. [2:143]
The balanced ummah
Balanced means between two extremes and this is unique to our ummah, it has never been the case with any previous nation. Allah did not describe any other ummah as a balanced ummah because they introduced concepts which were not from His divine revelation. This is where corruption came and crept into the religion and this is where the final message came with the perfection:
This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour unto you, and have chosen for you as religion al-Islam. (5:3)
Thus Allah perfected the message when He sent it for the last time. He never perfected previous messages. So they were tweaked and updated and presented to humanity in their final form – Islam.
Allah Almighty created this sunnah in this universe, the sunnah of balance and equilibrium. Hence, we have day and night, mountains and valleys, darkness and light, desires and the spirit, the body and the soul, the mind and the heart etc. If you don’t strike the right balance, you will end up at one or other extreme.
The beauty of wasata is that it is balanced. We do not stay stray outside the boundaries by partying all the time, nor do we live as hermits with extreme asceticism, fasting everyday, praying all night, shunning marriage, and abstaining from eating meat etc. These are extremes.
This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) was so angry with those 4 companions who went to Aisha to ask about he Prophet’s (peace be upon him) actions in his absence.
Anas bin Malik narrated:
A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) asking how the Prophet (ﷺ) worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said, “Where are we from the Prophet (ﷺ) as his past and future sins have been forgiven.” Then one of them said, “I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever.” The other said, “I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast.” The third said, “I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever.” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) came to them and said, “Are you the same people who said so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women. So he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me (not one of my followers). (Bukhari)
The men assumed that the Prophet (peace be on him) did not fast or pray all the time because he had been forgiven all his sins and that as they were not at his level, they had to do more than him. However, the Prophet (peace be upon him), clarified sternly that this is not the right way. This is not the concept of Islam. Our way is to fulfil our desires in a halal way and not to go to the extreme of letting your desires rule you.
Therefore, it is important to remember that relaxing and halal entertainment is allowed and required. We cannot just pray, fast and seek knowledge as we are human not angels.
This is the unique point about our religion and any person who follows this religion should live a balanced life.
Do not go overboard in your love of the dunya
Love of dunya is the main disease and the last thing that will be uprooted from the righteous people’s heart.
How can we uproot materialism from our heart?
We have a long way to go. I wish I could give everyone an injection which would remove this, or offer an anti-love-of-dunya vaccine. However, it does not exist. However, scholars like Ghazali and others show us how to boost our immunity against the love of the dunya through their experiences and their understanding of the Book of Allah Almighty. Through their experiences, they show us what worked for them and what we can try. You can take whatever suits you and is convenient for you to do.
Have good company
Without doubt being in good company is very helpful and this is one of the main reasons of staying on the straight path or veering off it. Your friends do affect your inward state and your outward actions. Therefore the company you keep is so important and this is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) in different narrations he recommended to be with the right people.
The Prophet (peace be on him) said:
The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend, is the likeness of a (musk) perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you, or you may purchase something from him, or you may benefit from his sweet smell. And as for the blacksmith, he may either burn your clothes, or you may be exposed to his awful smell. (Bukhari and Muslim)
The scent of the good friend lingers on you and the stench of the bad friend lingers – you choose.
The early years of our life in school show us how strong the influence of friends are in our life and the importance of good company. If you have a good friend, the influence is positive. You follow the footsteps of your friends.
We see this with gangs, the member might not be bad at heart – if you take him out if the gang he would be a good person- but as he’s following the herd, he ends up getting deeper and deeper into crime and becomes vicious.
Do we have a say in choosing our companions? Certainly. Our companions affect our relationship with Allah Almighty. If you ask your friend for advice, and he gives you the wrong advice it will change your life. A good friend gives you the right advice. If he sees you doing something wrong, he corrects you with kindness. If he does not correct you, he is not the right friend. He is not loyal. Loyal friends are not the ones who just praise you. Sincere friends show you your goodness and your shortcomings. It is the trait of the team around politicians always flattering and praising them despite their grossest misjudgements short-sightedness and mistakes. Always give the right advice.
We need to visualise the akhirah before our eyes and the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned that we should keep remembering death because it cuts the distraction of the dunya.
“Remember often the destroyer of pleasures: death.” (Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, At-Tabarani, Imam Ahmad, Ibn Habban, and Al-Hakem)
Remembering death makes you closer to Allah Almighty. Part of the sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the morning is to say the supplication:
We praise Allah that he has given us life after death and onto Him we shall return.
This supplication in the morning when we open our eyes reminds us about our final destination that we will go back to Allah and meet Allah Almighty. And no wonder when we recite Al Fatiha everyday, 17 times everyday, when we say Maliki yawmiddeenn [1:4] it should remind us about the Day of Resurrection. Sometimes we are on autopilot, we don’t mean what we say or we don’t understand what we say or we don’t reflect on what we say. But if reflect it would make our attachment to the dunya less and our connection to Allah Almighty more.
The antidote to loving the dunya
The love of dunya is the antidote of forgetting the akhirah. The more you remember the akhirah, the more you get rid of love of dunya. These are opposites and usually the love of dunya is in our hearts. Part of our test in life is that Allah Almighty beautified the dunya for us. We must not be so absorbed in dunya that we forget the akhirah, but definitely need to be involved in the dunya and get the balance right and this is where the ayah comes into play, Allah Almighty says:
Seek the life to come by means of what God has granted you, but do not neglect your rightful share in this world. (28:77)
This means you have to live in balance.
Do not isolate yourself
This is why, as Ibn Umar reported, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“The believer who mixes with people and is patient with their harm has a greater reward than the believer who does not mix with people, nor is patient with their harm.” (Ibn Majah)
This means we have to get the balance right and not focus on either the dunya or the akhirah exclusively.
The Lord, the body and the soul
As we were taught, we have to strike the balance, as we have to fulfil Allah’s rights but also our body has rights and our family have rights.
Abu Juhaifa (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:
The Prophet (ﷺ) established a bond of brotherhood between Salman and Abu Darda’. Salman paid a visit to Abu ad-Darda and found Um Ad-Darda’ dressed in shabby clothes and asked her why she was in that state.?” She replied, “Your brother, Abu Ad-Darda is not interested in the luxuries of this world.” In the meantime Abu Ad-Darda came and prepared a meal for him (Salman), and said to him, “(Please) eat for I am fasting.” Salman said, “I am not going to eat, unless you eat.” So Abu Ad-Darda’ ate. When it was night, Abu Ad-Darda’ got up (for the night prayer). Salman said (to him), “Sleep,” and he slept. Again Abu- Ad-Darda’ got up (for the prayer), and Salman said (to him), “Sleep.” When it was the last part of the night, Salman said to him, “Get up now (for the prayer).” So both of them offered their prayers and Salman said to Abu Ad-Darda’,”Your Lord has a right on you; and your soul has a right on you; and your family has a right on you; so you should give the rights of all those who have a right on you). Later on Abu Ad-Darda’ visited the Prophet (ﷺ) and mentioned that to him. The Prophet, said, “Salman has spoken the truth.” (Bukhari)
Therefore, we must neither neglect nor be overwhelmed by the dunya.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – The Thursday Al Ghazali Class
Transcribed by Rose Roslan
- Cover the faults of others. Ghazali’s Rules 12-13 for dealing with people.
- How to deal with people according to their status. Ghazali rule 9-11
- Dealing with gossip and arguments. How to deal with people: Ghazali’s rules 7-8
- What do we learn from the Euros 2020? Lessons on success
- Should you only drink while sitting down?
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