The Deed by which Ibadah is Accepted
According to the Hukm of Allah, when the servant is obedient to Allah and follows His orders, he performs good deeds. And everyone’s practice is different, but let us consider a person whose practice is very careful, who tries as hard as he can, with full focus upon his heart, and in a principled way, to implement the instructions that Allah gives. There are different ways in which people practice: some do so without any peace in their hearts, some without making much effort, some in a negligent and lazy manner, and some do not do anything at all – and such a person is totally at a loss. Somebody who is lazy and laid-back is not practicing correctly – this is not right – but still, he is better than the person who is not doing anything at all. However, the deeds that he does are not correct and are incomplete. For example, a person who is praying incompletely and incorrectly is doing the Amal and is on the level to match that. Another person practices to a high level, wanting his practice to be first class - whatever principles and rules apply, he implements them correctly. Despite having practiced that deed in a high-grade manner, is there any certainty that Allah ta’ala will accept that Amal? What guarantee do we have for Allah’s acceptance? Why? Whatever level a deed is practiced to, it still has to be in accord with the base that Allah ta’ala has set, and we can never get to that base, can we? It doesn’t matter how much a person strives, and no matter how careful and cautious he is – even if the greatest Wali is implementing that Amal, a Gawth, a Qutb, an Abdal, a Qayyum – still that action alone cannot get to the level where Allah ta’ala will accept it. Nobody can practice in a way that befits the status and desire of Allah ta’ala.
So you might think that this would be a source of depression for a human being. What can we do? You have kept a fast and I have kept a fast, haven’t we? We are getting up early in the morning for Sehri at a time we aren’t used to, waking up and leaving our beds. Some eat more, some eat less, and then we go all day without eating anything – this Mujahidah, and striving is not a little thing. We have held ourselves back all day long, ignored our desires and suppressed our Nafs, but at the end of the day, we are still in this condition where we don’t know if we have practiced according to the standard expected by Allah. Nobody can claim that, can they? Can you claim this?
So what should we do now? What is the cure for this? Despite working hard, we are not sure that Allah ta’ala will accept our efforts. SubhanAllah, Allah subhana wa ta'ala has given a great solution to us for this. For both those who are weak in their practice and also those who are strong and cautious in their deeds, Allah ta’ala has explained such a solution by which Allah ta’ala will definitely accept those actions – SubhanAllah. Even if he is lazy and has defects in his deeds, Allah will perfect those actions. If this was not the case, the situation would be very precarious for a person.
Do you remember the Hadith that I explained to you on a previous occasion, that in Ramadhan, Allah ta’ala has specified four special actions, and through two of them, Allah ta’ala becomes pleased with a human being? Two actions that make Allah ta’ala happy were mentioned, and the first of these that I told you about was Dhikrullah. SubhanAllah – when a person does Dhikr, then Allah is pleased with that person, happy with that person. The more Dhikr he performs in Ramadhan, if he does abundant Dhikr, then this is a sign that Allah ta’ala is pleased with him. Only people with whom Allah is pleased do Dhikr – otherwise, Allah does not give Tawfeeq for Dhikr. If you want to see somebody who Allah is not happy with, look at someone who does not go towards the Tasbeeh. There are various different Ahadith that explain this point that a person with whom Allah is unhappy will not be given the Tawfeeq to do Dhikr. Allah ta’ala will give him such a condition that he runs away from Dhikr – he will feel unwell if he thinks about doing Dhikr. He will be afraid of the mention of Dhikr.
A person was speaking to me today, conversing in a nice manner, and I asked him ‘How is Ramadhan going? What do you do in Ramadhan?’ He replied ‘My Ramadhan is going well – I do this action and that action and these deeds’, and so on. I said to him ‘But you are not doing the action for which Allah ta’ala has given Ramadhan.’ He said ‘What is that?’ I said ‘You are not doing Dhikr of Allah!’ Straightaway he said ‘Oh no, no, no, not Dhikr. It’s ok’ - immediately, he flipped! Allah ta’ala has given such a measuring gauge for His Ridha, for His pleasure, which is this one factor that the person with whom He is pleased will do the remembrance of Allah. For this reason, Allah ta’ala has said that the platform upon which all Ibadaat is built is Dhikr of Allah. The platform of Salah is Dhikr. Allah says ‘What have I established Salah for? For My remembrance – for My Dhikr.’ Allah ta’ala has enabled us to do Dhikr in different ways and has told us to remember Him accordingly. Salah is one form of Dhikr that has been given to us; and sometimes Allah ta’ala wants us to do Dhikr by performing Hajj – Hajj is also a form of Dhikrullah. Sometimes Allah ta’ala says ‘Now I want you to do My Dhikr by keeping a fast’ – so that is also Dhikrullah. All of these conditions and emotions and Ibadaat are Dhikr. All of the conditions, the states, the emotions and the actions these deeds entail are the paths of Allah’s Dhikr. When a person is praying Salah, Allah ta’ala says ‘He is remembering Me.’ When he is doing Hajj, Allah says ‘He is doing My Dhikr’ – and Allah ta’ala says this with pride.
So out of all the actions, whatever they are, Allah ta’ala says that the one which is most beloved to Him is Dhikrullah. This is why Allah’s Nabi subhana wa ta'ala said that there are two qualities that are essential for a person to please Allah in Ramadhan. The pious predecessors have taught that the sign that Allah ta’ala has started to become happy with a person is that he increases in love and intensity of Dhikrullah - and his Batin attests to that, SubhanAllah. If a person becomes distant from Dhikr, he says that he doesn’t feel like it even though he was doing it steadfastly before, and now his ten Tasbeehs have reduced to three or two and his heart doesn’t feel like it. You can give him a phone and he will sit for hours looking at the phone, but when the opportunities to remember the Name of Allah come, he takes shortcuts and bypasses them. There are many people like this, and they say ‘Oh, can you not reduce the amount of Dhikr I have to do? Please give me a reduction so that I can do less.’ There are very few people who say ‘Give me more Dhikr – tell me more!’ Through such emotions and feelings in the Batin, we can tell how much connection we have to Allah, how much love we have for Allah. We spend a lot of time in wasteful talk, and our tongues make false claims as we talk and discuss things – shaytan makes us do this a lot as well – but we should measure ourselves continuously using the gauge that tells us the true state of affairs. We should keep on measuring ourselves.
I remember a statement from a great Sheikh, Hadhrat Shafiq rahmatullah alayh, who was a great Faqih, a great jurist, and was a great Wali of Allah of his time. He mentioned three things through which you can see what state you are in and whether you are pious or sinful. Say SubhanAllah. He made a great statement, saying ‘I will give you such a mirror by which you will be able to see whether you are pious or sinful. You will realise and recognise what you are when you stand in front of this mirror.’ What was the first thing he stated? He said that the emotion and state of your Batin will be made clear by the mirror. Now if you stood in front of a mirror and saw that you had a crooked nose, would you swear at the mirror? You wouldn’t hide the mirror away. The mirror will show you that your nose is crooked if it is a proper mirror. So this great Faqih and Wali of Allah said a beautiful thing – and many Muhadditheen and scholars quote his statements. Many people from the great ranks of scholars and Muhadditheen have quoted this particular statement.
So he said ‘This will make you realise where you stand, and enable you to see whether you are pious or evil, even if you are doing a lot of A’maal.’ We should think about this even if we are doing many A’maal and have improved ourselves and wear an Imamah; we should ask ourselves if we are content with our state. If we do not go in front of a mirror after tying the Imamah, we will wonder if it is lined up and tied on properly. If a person is applying something to their face, they will want to look in a mirror before being satisfied with what they have done. In the same way, the Sheikh has given a solution for you to assess yourself, however many deeds you perform. He said ‘I will show you a mirror that will make you realise whether you are pious or not.’ What was the first mirror that he directed us towards? He said ‘Go and present the emotion of your Batin, the real condition of your inner self, to a Wali of Allah. If he is happy with your inner state and makes Dua for you, then consider that you are pious.’
SubhanAllah. I am telling you the statement of a great jurist, a Wali of Allah, a Sheikh, not someone from the latter generations who runs after money. SubhanAllah - nowadays people ask ‘Is he rich? Ok, you can become my student – you are pious!’ If someone has wealth, he is told that he is successful. You can get many thousands of Mureeds like this, but the true Sheikh will never hesitate or be afraid to tell his students their real state. He will not hesitate, whoever his Mureed is, and will say to him ‘These defects are inside you and you need to correct yourself. You are doing wrong actions and you are certainly not correct inside.’ He won’t think ‘This person will be upset with me if he thinks I am telling him off’ – no. He won’t do this because the real teacher wants to make the Hereafter successful for his student. The mirror is not saying something bad to you when it shows you that your nose is crooked or that your Imamah is not tied on properly; if it is not neat, then people will say something to you when they see you. Similarly, the Wali of Allah says to you that your Batin is dirty and impure, and that you have evil and sinful qualities, and that people are wrong when they tell you that you are good. He says ‘What will happen to you when you go into the court of Allah like this?’ The mirror does the same, telling you before you leave home whether people will laugh at you due to your Imamah not being tied correctly or for some other exterior defect in your appearance. The Sheikh will also tell you if you are not correct, and if he does tell you that you are not right, then consider that you are not right. If he is happy with you and makes Dua for you, then alhamdulillah, your Batin is clean and pure, and you are pious. So the measurement gauge is there – there is a way to measure everything.
In the same way, we are hoping that Allah ta’ala is happy with us and with our deeds - and when we do Dhikr, Allah ta’ala will be happy. If we have appreciation for Dhikr, this is the sign, isn’t it? We will make sacrifices and get up and sit in the Khanqahs in the gatherings of the Wali of Allah – we will pick up their shoes and rub ourselves in the dust. We will lower ourselves – why? We do this specifically for the sake of Allah. If you look back through history at the lives of the Walis of Allah, you see examples of people who were rich and of high standing in society but who went to the Wali of Allah and obtained love for the Dhikr of Allah. The knew that they were getting this love for Dhikrullah from there, that thing which would take them to the pleasure of their Rabb. This is the sign. He lowers himself for the sake of Allah, not for any other reason, knowing that from that place, he is getting the attachment to Allah through which Allah will become happy with him.
So if a Tasbeeh comes into a person’s hands and the Name of Allah is on his tongue and his heart is alive, then consider that he is the beloved of Allah. He has started to tread that path in his life. And even if shaytan gives you Waswasah, saying ‘You are nothing and are not important’, do not care about this at all. Allah ta’ala only gives Tawfeeq to that person and takes him away from his mattress and takes him to the Khanqah and makes him strive and work hard and do Dhikr of Allah if Allah ta’ala holds that person dear and likes him. Never regard your heart as small and minor – if you are getting lazy and you have Waswasah and shaytani thoughts, then consider that Allah is unhappy with you. And never listen if people praise you and tell you are pious and give you titles in the world – this is total nonsense and a waste of time. That poor soul who believes this has lost the plot and has left the real genuine path.
And I was telling you about a second deed, a very valuable point, to help us when we consider whether our deeds are accepted or not. Have our deeds been accepted or not? In order for them to be accepted by Allah, the first thing is Dhikrullah, and Allah’s Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam said that in Ramadhan there is a second factor, a deed which, if we do it, will mean that our fast becomes accepted. What is that second factor? The first is abundance of Dhikr, and the second? The second is Astaghfar – SubhanAllah. Astaghfar, seeking forgiveness, repenting. Astaghfar is such a thing that a human being, whether he does little, or is lazy, laid-back, broken-hearted, or if he practices in a correct and high-status manner, then after he does that deed, he should always do Astaghfar. If he does so, then he can consider that Allah ta’ala has accepted that deed of his. SubhanAllah. That deed has been accepted. It doesn’t matter how weak that person is or how the deed has been performed, if he does Astaghfar thereafter, then it is accepted.
How? Take the example of Allah’s Habeeb sallallahu alayhi wasallam – I will give you an example of the greatest Ibadah, Salah. After the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam had prayed, he would say ‘Allahu Akbar’ – ‘Oh Allah, You are the greatest. My Amal is nothing!’ Did the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam not say ‘Allahu Akbar’ after Salah? He was saying ‘Oh Allah, You are the greatest, You are the most glorious! My Ruku’, my Sujood, my Salah, my prostration – everything that I have done is nothing! I was not capable of doing anything, and nothing that I do can compare to Your greatness, oh Allah!’ SubhanAllah. Who is saying this? Sayyid ul-Mursaleen sallallahu alayhi wasallam – the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam told us that this was his Mubarak practice. Imagine – this is the greatest personality, and he would say ‘Oh Allah, You are the greatest. Through the Ruku’ and Sajdah that I have done in front of You, I am promoting and clarifying and declaring Your Oneness, Your greatness, Your status and Your glory – my Salah is nothing, nothing at all!’ And then immediately after that, not just once but three times, he would say ‘Astaghfirullah, Astaghfirullah, Astaghfirullah’ – ‘Ya Allah, forgive me because I did not practice this deed to that level and on that Maqam that I should have.’ SubhanAllah!
What do we do? We keep a fast, and then straightaway, after eating and drinking, we emphasis how well we have done. We forget to think about whether this fast that we have kept has been accepted by Allah – we forget to do the deed that will bring its acceptance. At Iftar time, when we break the fast so easily with dates and water, just like after Salah, turn to Allah and do Takbir ‘Ya Allah, You are the greatest and I seek Your forgiveness – Astaghfirullah, Astaghfirullah, Astaghfirullah. I could not keep the fast as well as You deserve!’ Allah will become so happy with that servant and will say ‘Oh My servant, you have certainly humbled yourself and lowered yourself, and you remained hungry and thirsty for My sake and yet you consider that you have done nothing at all. Go – I accept this deed of yours!’ SubhanAllah – what a fantastic Amal the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam has taught us.
So we need to do these two things in Ramadhan – and if we do so, we have no need to worry. What do we have to do? Abundant Dhikr and abundant Astaghfar - we need to do both of these things. May Allah ta’ala give us the Tawfeeq for this, both in Ramadhan and for the rest of the year as well. We need to do this whenever we do any Amal which we want Allah ta’ala to accept - what should we do after it? Astaghfar – definitely seek forgiveness from Allah. ‘Oh Allah, I have prayed Salah, I have given Sadaqaat’, and then, if we do not do Astaghfar after any Amal that we do, remember this one point. If you are not doing Astaghfar and seeking forgiveness and repenting to Allah after practicing a deed, then this indicates that this person has Takabbur in his practice. He has pride within.
Let me tell you another point here, which is a point of Tazkiyyah, of rectification and purification. Some people complain very regularly, saying ‘I pray Tahajjud and do so much Dhikr and Ibadah, and Allah ta’ala hasn’t even listened to me; He doesn’t accept my Duas.’ Is this complaint made nowadays, or not? A person very quickly adopts this attitude, thinking ‘Well, I did this action and these deeds and so many A’maal, so why is this problem happening to me? Why am I getting bad experiences? I prayed Salah and other good actions like Tasbeehaat and Dhikr and recitation of Qur’an, but Allah ta’ala didn’t listen to my Duas. And what is more, I have many problems – my business is not flourishing and I have issues and problems in my life.’ This is a big Waswasah, and whoever has these thoughts in his heart should immediately do Astaghfar, because this is a sign of Kibr, of pride. Such a person is Mutakabbir, so proud that he is saying to Allah ‘I did Your Ibadah, so why don’t You listen to me? Why don’t You accept my Duas?’ He says that he is an Abid, a servant, and yet he is saying that Allah should do whatever he wants, that whatever he wants should happen for him. What a big difference between this attitude and that of a true servant. Never bring such statements onto the tongue and give the reference of your Ibadah, or refer to your feelings and emotions and to your piety, saying ‘I have done this action, so why should I have issues in my life? I pray Salah but my Duas are not being accepted – I pray to Allah but Allah is not accepting my Duas.’
Rather than complaining to Allah in this way, a person should submit to Allah even more and say ‘Oh Allah, please forgive me! Maybe my deeds were not good – please accept them and forgive me.’ He should do Katheer Astaghfar rather than complaining. A person who complains has Kibr within him. He has pride in front of Allah, saying ‘I am an Aabid, and I am a good and generous person.’ Look at these two opposite states. What is our Ibadah in front of Allah? Nothing. What is our Salah? Nothing. What is our prostration? Nothing at all.
So a person should do abundant Astaghfar after every Amal. If you stay awake all night long and do immense Ibadah, multiple Nawafil and do Ism-e-Dhat and remember Allah’s Name one hundred or two hundred thousand times, then even after that, do Astaghfar and say ‘Oh Allah, I seek Your forgiveness.’ Do Astaghfirullah on the Tasbeeh again and again, thinking ‘Oh Allah, I couldn’t do enough – forgive me for I am not worthy and my deeds are not worthy.’ If we do this, then obviously Allah ta’ala will immediately elevate those broken practices of ours to the level of acceptance.
So this is what Allah’s Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam has prescribed to us in Ramadhan, and a person should definitely do these two actions that earn Allah’s pleasure, namely abundant Dhikr and abundant Astaghfar. May Allah ta’ala give us the Tawfeeq to do this. Ameen
Recite Durood Sharif.
17th Apr, 2021