What is yaqeen? And how can you increase it?
The main principles in Islam: Certainty (part 3)
What is yaqeen
What is yaqeen? Yaqeen is being certain that Allah Almighty is in control of everything. Certainty is one of the main principles of Islam. It is knowing that nothing is beyond Allah’s control, whatsoever, even if we don’t understand the underlying wisdom is the bedrock of Islam.
Nothing should shake your certainty of Him. The moment you feel your yaqeen has been shaken, then there’s something wrong in you – something wrong between you and Allah, something wrong in your action, something wrong in your understanding. I have come across this many times, especially in the last 7 years after the so-called Arab spring. Many people’s imaan just collapsed with uncertainty. Their imaan plummeted and they left Islam altogether.
This is why it’s so important to have the right understanding of yaqeen in Allah Almighty. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said there are some people whose yaqeen in Allah Almighty is like the tall mountains. Unshakeable. Wow! Abu Bakr and Omar (may Allah be pleased with them) were among them and some of the companions.
Yaqeen requires training
Yaqeen has to present on a daily basis. Sometimes it only takes a split second to lose yaqeen. A fragment of a doubt can flip you. And you have to be very careful when you are making dua, If you do not trust deep down that Allah Almighty will answer your dua, then it won’t be answered. Your doubt killed its chances of being answered. Having certainty requires training. It doesn’t come overnight.
Have a good opinion of Allah
Yaqeen requires good intentions and always having a good opinion about Allah Almighty, which is called Husn udh-dhann billah. The Prophet (peace be on him) said:
No one of you should die except thinking positively of Allah (Muslim)
Don’t ever have bad opinion about Allah Almighty. No matter what you do. Even if you are immersed in sins, come back to Allah Almighty with a pure heart and sincerity and Allah Almighty will accept you. He says:
I am as My servant thinks I am. (Bukhari)
The hidden and highly personal nature of yaqeen
Yaqeen is an essential component of the main principles of Islam, yet it is highly personal, as no one knows the level of your yaqeen but Allah Almighty. There’s no yaqeen-checker, which can scan you and check your level of yaqeen. However you can increase it with daily practice and training. When you open your eyes, always begin with yaqeen in Allah Almighty that your day is going to be a good day.
Dua for Yaqeen
Supplications also help increase yaqeen. The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) would begin the day with this dua:
When one rises in the morning, one should say: ‘We have reached the morning, and in the morning the dominion belongs to Allah, the Lord of the universe. O Allah! I ask You for the good this day contains, for conquest, victory, light, blessing and guidance during it; and I seek refuge in You from the evil it contains and the evil contained in what comes after it’ (Abu Dawoud)
When you follow his footsteps, (which is another mainstream principle, by the way, called itibah) it increases your yaqeen. This dua asks for goodness (khayrahu), opening (fatahu), victory (nasrahu), light (nurahu), blessings (barakahu) and guidance (hudahu). Another Five a Day!
The Sunnah boosts imaan
There are mechanisms in the sunnah to help us boost our yaqeen. They are ours for the taking – on our doorstep and at our fingertips if we choose to adopt them. They are very easy but they require us to be active, not passive. We need to take steps forward towards Allah Almighty and then Allah Almighty eases the way for us to be closer to Him and to have more yaqeen in Him.
Loving Allah increases yaqeen
Another one of the main principles which is interlinked with yaqeen is having love for Allah Almighty. This would fill a complete course in itself. Love is an emotion we don’t talk about very much in general- perhaps only on Valentine’s Day. We talk about many things in our lives, but it seems we don’t talk that much about love.
We need to spread the Sunnah of love. The Sunnah is filled with love for Allah and for all of His creation. In order to spread this love, and we need to know how to love. Many people do not know how to love. Or if they know how to love, they do not know how to express their love.
First we have to have love between us and Allah Almighty, not just love between husband and wife. This is my focus. How to express our love to Allah Almighty. There are plenty of verses and hadith which teach us how to do this.
Introducing Allah to your children with love not fear
We often neglect to talk about love when we are teaching our children about Islam. Be very careful not to teach your children about Allah Almighty through His punishments. Don’t scare them into obedience and threaten them that Allah Almighty will punish them if they do something wrong. If they only hear that the One who is upset with you is Allah and the One who is angry with you is Allah this is the wrong introduction to Allah. In their minds Allah will only be the one who punishes. Rather we teach them to do things to please Allah and out of love for Allah. Remind them how much Allah loves us and how He provides for us.
In order to love Allah Almighty you need to know more about Him, because you cannot love someone without knowing them. By learning more about Him, His beautiful names, His attributes, His actions, His bounties, His favours, His power, His beauty, you increase your love and awe of Him. Know Him through the signs in His creation. Reflect on how perfectly balanced and complex is His creation.
Imagine if you received a very expensive gift which you needed, and it was given to you for free, how would you feel towards the one who gave it? Indebted. Allah Almighty has gifted us countless favours which we can reflect on, from our senses to our health, let alone everything else which we take for granted.
Those who love Allah Almighty, feel loved by Him in return. When they feel loved by Him, they enter a special club, where they have a code to crack any difficulty. The nature of this life is dealing with problems, but Allah Almighty sends the solutions to those who are attentive.
How not to love Allah
On the other extreme from being unable to express love, we have some misguided expressions of love in some airy fairy Sufi traditions. I am not saying all Sufi traditions are airy fairy, but under the banner of love, some people think they can just fly with wings! We need to be careful. There are limits and we need to be careful to navigate ourselves through these limits. The guidance here, as always, is the Quran and the Sunnah.
When love turns sour
At times love can slip into hatred. How? I can tell you as well from experience. I have seen people leaving Islam because they misunderstood the concept of God’s love. They say ‘If He loves us, why does He let people suffer or die?’ This is when incomprehension changes love to hate and then to atheism. Its conclusion is ‘I don’t believe in God if He allows people to die.’
The nature of this life is thorny
Love does not mean this life is without tests. Do not misunderstand the nature of this life. Allah mentioned this many times in the Quran that He will test us. The whole exercise is that it is a test.
And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, (2:155)
This is part of the equation. This is the dunya-package. If we do not understand that this dunya is about tests, then we do not have the correct understanding of what love is. Though we love our children, sometimes we need them to face challenges and difficulties in order to learn certain lessons and to grow in themselves. Not because you hate them. Not because you want them to suffer. No. Because you want them to learn. Your love, concern and wish for them to thrive is not lessened because you tested them. This is what we do as parents, and as humans, whereas Allah’s wisdom is on a different level.
Allah Almighty’s wisdom is far beyond our comprehension, so we can have issues which disrupt our understanding of Allah’s love.
To have Allah’s love gives you comfort in the first place. It allows you to treat the dunya differently. Why? Because you’re not attached to the dunya anymore. Your heart is attached to Allah Almighty. Nothing can match it. It’s incomparable. Loving Allah Almighty is incomparable to anything – loving your mother, your wife, your children. Nothing.
In order to reach to the level where you love Allah Almighty more than dunya takes time and practice. And this is what we need to work on.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) showed through his practice how strong his connection with Allah Almighty was. When Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) described his night prayer. They asked her, how did he pray during the night, she replied:
He used to pray 4 rakats and then another 4 rakats. Don’t ask me about the length of these rakats and the beauty of these rakats because I can’t tell you.
He used to stay standing (peace be upon him) in night prayer for hours. This is the reflection of his love for Allah Almighty, until his feet were swollen out of standing for long hours (peace be upon him). His feet were swollen, but he couldn’t feel them. He couldn’t feel them because he was so fully focused on his discourse with Allah Almighty, conversing with Allah Almighty.
So can we do that? Of course we can’t just jump from level 1 to level 100 but we can slowly, slowly do some night prayers, so some salah with khushoo and work on this.
Relying on Allah (tawakul)
Tawakul in Allah Almighty is another main principle.
There are plenty of verses and hadiths which refer to tawakul. It is another huge topic which could fill a course on its own. This is why I call it a principle or ‘kuliya’ in Arabic. And has so many details, conditions and etiquettes.
There are different levels of tawakul (reliance) in Allah Almighty. In one of the deep and beautiful narrations in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him), we have been taught:
If you were to rely on Allah as He should be relied on, He would provide for you as He provides for the birds. They go out early in the morning hungry and return in the evening full. (Tirmidhi)
Therefore, if you rely on Allah with sincere reliance, (not just reliance, sincere reliance, full reliance) He will provide for you. Just as a bird, fragile and needy, goes out in the morning to seek its rizq (provision) and comes back with a full stomach, Allah Almighty will provide for you too. Bear in mind that the bird left its nest in the morning, and we too have to do our homework, prepare for exams, and interviews, we can’t sit at home and wait for our rizq to land on us.
Full reliance is when we use the means, not that we are lazy, (which is tawaakul in Arabic). Sometimes we treat tawakul like tawaakul. Laziness rather than applying real tawakul currently.
Don’t ever understand tawakul as being passive. Never! When we understand how to properly apply tawakul in our life it increases the closeness of our relationship with Allah Almighty and make, and He makes things easy for us in the dunya.
Do the planning, make the business plan, do your due diligence. If you’ve done none of these don’t expect results. This is not tawakul. You have to use the means.
Once you have used the means, then rely on Allah Almighty for the outcome. The effort is in your hands. The outcome is not in your hands. Knowing that the outcome is in Allah Almighty’s hands is tawakaul.
We deal with the means, but we do not rely on the means, we rely on the Creator of the means.
It is a mistake to think you have studied well and now your success is guaranteed. This is not the case. It is not in your bag. David Cameron thought he had the result of the referendum in his pocket and look where we are now? Suffering the curse of Brexit. It has destroyed 3 prime ministers and who knows what is going to happen next. Allahu alam.
It is arrogance. There are countess examples and probably you have seen this yourself, when you think you had done all the preparations you needed, you failed. Don’t become overconfident about your preparation. Allah is the facilitator. Do what you can, then rely on Allah Almighty. Done.
We ask Allah Almighty to give us understanding of these principles and help us to improve ourselves in our closeness to Him. Ameen
Part II of the talk delivered to City Circle by Shaykh Haytham Tamim, September 2019 in London.
Transcribed by Rose Swinburn.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim’s Islamic MOT defines the essentials of being Muslim.
Islam is more than five pillars. It is the core of who you are.
The Shaykh has distilled his life’s learning into the principles and traits that should characterise you deep down, and enable you to gain Allah’s pleasure.
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