When we are deluded by our success and our blessings
It is a fact that all our blessings are from Allah. Yet this is a reality which many of us of forget. Therefore Allah Almighty keeps reminding us of His favours.
Allah Almighty says in the Quran in Surat al Nahl:
وَمَا بِكُم مِّن نِّعْمَةٍ فَمِنَ اللَّهِ ۖ ثُمَّ إِذَا مَسَّكُمُ الضُّرُّ فَإِلَيْهِ تَجْأَرُونَ
Whatever blessing you have is from God. And when harm touches you, it is to Him that you groan. (16:53)
In Surat Luqman, Allah Almighty mentions the inward and outward favours (dhahir and batin) He showered us with:
أَلَمْ تَرَوْا أَنَّ اللَّهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَأَسْبَغَ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعَمَهُ ظَاهِرَةً وَبَاطِنَةً ۗ وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يُجَادِلُ فِي اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَلَا هُدًى وَلَا كِتَابٍ مُّنِيرٍ
Do you not see how God placed at your service everything in the heavens and the earth? How He showered you with His blessings, both outward and inward? Yet among the people is he who argues about God without knowledge, without guidance, and without an enlightening Scripture. (31:20)
There are numerous outward favours which we can touch and see, and there are many more inward favours which we cannot touch. We ask Allah Almighty to preserve our favours and increase them and not make us recognise these favours when we are deprived of them.
In Surat Ibrahim, He says:
اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَخْرَجَ بِهِ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ رِزْقًا لَّكُمْ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ الْفُلْكَ لِتَجْرِيَ فِي الْبَحْرِ بِأَمْرِهِ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ الْأَنْهَارَ
God is He Who created the heavens and the earth, and sends down water from the sky, and with it produces fruits for your sustenance. And He committed the ships to your service, sailing through the sea by His command, and He committed the rivers to your service. (14:32)
وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ دَائِبَيْنِ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ
And He committed the sun and the moon to your service, both continuously pursuing their courses, and He committed the night and the day to your service. Holy Quran (14:33)
وَآتَاكُم مِّن كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَإِن تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا ۗ إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَظَلُومٌ كَفَّارٌ
And He has given you something of all what you asked. And if you were to count God’s blessings, you would not be able to enumerate them. The human being is unfair and ungrateful. (14:34)
The self-deception of Qarun
Among the followers of Musa (peace be on him), was Qarun, who later became corrupted and extremely wealthy and began to oppress his people. Ironically he claimed all the wealth he had given was due to his knowledge and education. He was certain it was his brains and muscles which had made him successful. He was under the false impression that because he had so much it was because he deserved it and because Allah loved him.
Allah Almighty said in Surat Qasas:
۞ إِنَّ قَارُونَ كَانَ مِن قَوْمِ مُوسَىٰ فَبَغَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ ۖ وَآتَيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْكُنُوزِ مَا إِنَّ مَفَاتِحَهُ لَتَنُوءُ بِالْعُصْبَةِ أُولِي الْقُوَّةِ إِذْ قَالَ لَهُ قَوْمُهُ لَا تَفْرَحْ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْفَرِحِينَ
Qarun belonged to the clan of Moses, but he oppressed them. We had given him treasures, the keys of which would weigh down a group of strong men. His people said to him, “Do not exult; God does not love the exultant. (28:76)
قَالَ إِنَّمَا أُوتِيتُهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ عِندِي ۚ أَوَلَمْ يَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَهْلَكَ مِن قَبْلِهِ مِنَ الْقُرُونِ مَنْ هُوَ أَشَدُّ مِنْهُ قُوَّةً وَأَكْثَرُ جَمْعًا ۚ وَلَا يُسْأَلُ عَن ذُنُوبِهِمُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ
He said, “I was given all this on account of knowledge I possess.” Did he not know that God destroyed many generations before him, who were stronger than he, and possessed greater riches? But the guilty will not be asked about their sins. (28:78)
فَخَسَفْنَا بِهِ وَبِدَارِهِ الْأَرْضَ فَمَا كَانَ لَهُ مِن فِئَةٍ يَنصُرُونَهُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُنتَصِرِينَ
So We made him sink into the ground and his mansion. He had no company to save him from God, and he could not defend himself. (28:81)
وَأَصْبَحَ الَّذِينَ تَمَنَّوْا مَكَانَهُ بِالْأَمْسِ يَقُولُونَ وَيْكَأَنَّ اللَّهَ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ ۖ لَوْلَا أَن مَّنَّ اللَّهُ عَلَيْنَا لَخَسَفَ بِنَا ۖ وَيْكَأَنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الْكَافِرُونَ
Those who had wished they were in his position the day before were saying, “Indeed, it is God who spreads the bounty to whomever He wills of His servants, and restricts it. Had God not been gracious to us, He would have caved in on us. No wonder the ungrateful never prosper.” (28:82)
تِلْكَ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ نَجْعَلُهَا لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُرِيدُونَ عُلُوًّا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فَسَادًا ۚ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ
That Home of the Hereafter—We assign it for those who seek no superiority on earth, nor corruption. And the outcome is for the righteous. (28:83)
The paradox of the gift of deprivation
Ibn Attaillah al-Iskandari said in his Hikam:
ربما أعطاك فمنعك، وربما منعك فأعطاك.
و متى فتح لك باب الفهم في المنع صار المنع عين العطاء.
Sometimes He gives while depriving you, and sometimes He deprives you in giving.
When He opens up your understanding of deprivation [al-man‘], the deprivation becomes the same as the gift [al-ata’].
This seems like a riddle, but sometimes Allah prevents you from something but this deprivation protects you against evil. At other times, Allah gives you something and it gives you a false sense that you are worthy of it. This is a test, and you might fail the test and it ends up paradoxically being a deprivation.
See the reality
Therefore always connect the favours you have been given to Allah. In Surat Luqman, He says:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ وَاخْشَوْا يَوْمًا لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ هُوَ جَازٍ عَن وَالِدِهِ شَيْئًا ۚ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ ۖ فَلَا تَغُرَّنَّكُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا وَلَا يَغُرَّنَّكُم بِاللَّهِ الْغَرُورُ
O people! Be conscious of your Lord, and dread a Day when no parent can avail his child, nor can a child avail his parent, in anything. The promise of God is true. Therefore, do not let this life deceive you, nor let illusions deceive you regarding God. (31:33)
وَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ
And do not treat people with arrogance, nor walk proudly on earth. God does not love the arrogant show-offs. (31:18)
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ ۖ فَلَا تَغُرَّنَّكُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَلَا يَغُرَّنَّكُم بِاللَّهِ الْغَرُورُ
O people! The promise of God is true; so let not the lowly life seduce you, and let not the Tempter tempt you away from God. (35:5)
۞ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ
O people! It is you who are the poor, in need of God; while God is the Rich, the Praiseworthy. (35:15)
وَعَنْ أَبِي بَكْرَةَ رضي الله تعالى عنه قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «دَعَوَاتُ الْمَكْرُوبِ اللَّهُمَّ رَحْمَتَكَ أَرْجُو فَلَا تَكِلْنِي إِلَى نَفْسِي طَرْفَةَ عَيْنٍ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي شَأْنِي كُلَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ» . رَوَاهُ أَبُو دَاوُد.
Abu Bakra (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be on him) said that the supplications to be used by one who is distressed are:
“O Allah, I hope for Your mercy. Do not leave me to myself even for the blinking of an eye (i.e. a moment.) Correct all of my affairs for me. There is none worthy of worship but You.” (Abu Dawud)
All good is from Allah
Ibn Attaillah al Iskandari made the deep observation that it is Allah who creates achievements and then attributes them to us out of His grace. They are not actually ours.
إِذَا أَرَادَ أَنْ يُظْهِرَ فَضْلَهُ عَلَيْكَ خَلَقَ وَنَسَبَ إِلَيْكَ.
When He wants to show His grace to you, He creates states in you and attributes them to you [khalaqa wa nasaba ilayk].
Ibn Attaillah also said:
Whoever is not thankful for graces [an-ni‘am] runs the risk of losing them, and whoever is thankful fetters them with their own cords.
Be fearful lest the existence of His generosity towards you and the permanence of your bad behaviour towards Him not lead you step by step to ruin. “We shall lead them to ruin step by step from whence they know not.”
If you are not experiencing punishment, it does not mean you are in the right
It is ignorance on the part of the novice [murid] to act improperly, and then, his punishment being delayed, to say, “If this had been improper conduct, He would have cut off help [imdad] and imposed exile [bi‘ad].” Help [al-madad] could be cut off from him without his being aware of it, if only by blocking its increase [al-mazid]. And it could be that you are made to abide at a distance [al-bu‘d] without your knowing it, if only by His leaving you to do as you like.
We ask Allah Almighty to protect us from self-deception and to preserve our favours. Ameen
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Khutbah 7th Jan 2022
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