The 9 Characteristics of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman (8/10) – Respond To The Ayat of Allah s.w.t.

ibadur-rahman-8

A Project in collaboration with The Ideal Muslimah.
Articles authored for The Ideal Muslimah are available here.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

And those who, when they are reminded of the Ayat of their Rabb,
fall not deaf and blind thereat.
[Surah Al-Furqan 25:73]

🌸 Eighth Characteristic: They Respond To The Ayat of Allah s.w.t.

Alhamdulillah, today we will be discussing the eighth characteristic of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman. This next category could include you who are reading this right now!

Before we proceed, let us think back: How many of us have read the Qur’an, or listened to heartfelt reminders regarding the Deen, or read something that is absolutely beneficial that we just gotta share with everyone – yet at the end of the day, we’re like: “Yeah it was a nice speech / post, but I’m still gonna do what I’m gonna do anyway.” So we close our computers, we return to our homes, and nothing changes.

This attitude has got to change.

Because Allah s.w.t. tells us that the ‘Ibad-ur Rahman are nothing like this. When they read, listen, or are reminded of the ayat of Allah, they do not pass or trip over the ayat like the deaf or the blind. They are not those who like to read and keep on reading, or listen and keep on listening, or share and keep on sharing, yet nothing of themselves have truly changed. The hearts of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman are attentive and moved by the ayat of Allah – its commandments, its prohibitions, its reminders, its stories – and their limbs carry out the good actions that they have learned.

This is like the ayah:

The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts
and when His Ayat are recited unto them, they increase their Faith;
and they put their trust in their Rabb.
[Surah Al-Anfal 8:2]

The ‘Ibad-ur Rahman are nothing like the disbelievers, who are not affected nor want to change their ways when they hear the Words of Allah. So they continue as they are, as though they have not heard the ayat, and persist in their disbelief, wrongdoing, ignorance and misguidance. This is as Allah s.w.t. says:

And whenever there comes down a Surah, some of them say:
“Which of you has had his Faith increased by it?”
As for those who believe, it has increased their Faith, and they rejoice.
But as for those in whose hearts is a disease, it will add suspicion and doubt to their suspicion, disbelief and doubt, and they die while they are disbelievers.
[Surah At-Tawbah 9:124-125]

Indeed, how many have read the ayat of Allah, but they remain deaf and blind. How many have looked at the signs of Allah, yet they do not see. How many have heard, but they do not comprehend. These are certainly not the characteristics of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman.

Qatadah said:

“The believers (‘Ibad-ur Rahman) are not those who are deaf from hearing nor blind from seeing the truth. By Allah, they are those who want to think,
and those who benefit from the Qur’an.”

We all love attending Islamic seminars or classes, or watch Islamic youtube videos, or listen to Islamic podcasts, or read Islamic articles. But sadly, some have turned these khutbah, classes, seminars, posts – and even recitation of the Qur’an – as entertainment. They have been reduced to just becoming something fun to do or participate. We’re not guilty for enjoying them of course, but these reminders should be taken as something more serious – because the ayat of Allah is not about casual listening, it’s about taking decisive actions. When Qur’an enters our hearts, there must be significant changes within us.

So here’s an advice for me and you: When we read an article, or listen to a podcast, a youtube video, or an Islamic dars, say to ourselves that these are lessons for life which I will not pass them over like the deaf or the blind. Remember the advice by Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah:

The people of the Qur’an are those who read it and act upon it,
even if they haven’t memorized it.

May this reminder motivate us to become the people of the Qur’an.

🌸 ‘Ibad-ur Rahman Characteristics Recap 🌸

8th Characteristic
The hearts of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman are attentive and moved by the ayat of Allah – its commandments, its prohibitions, its reminders, its stories – and their limbs carry out the good actions that they have learned. They listen to the ayat of Allah with khushoo’ and are determined to implement the commandments, prohibitions, and reminders that they learn in their everyday lives.

______________
References:
Tafsir Ibn Kathir
Tafsir Surah Al-Furqan by Dr Abdullah Yasin
Rumaysho.com
Who Gets Allah’s Mercy by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan

The 9 Characteristics of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman (1/10) – Introduction

Ibadur-Rahman 1

A Project in collaboration with The Ideal Muslimah.
Articles authored for The Ideal Muslimah will be available on their website, insya Allah.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

In the last several ayat of Surah Al-Furqan, Allah s.w.t. describes nine (9) beautiful characteristics of a special group of faithful, believing slaves called ‘Ibad-ur Rahman. Who or what is ‘Ibad-ur Rahman?

A slave of Allah s.w.t. in the Qur’an is referred to as [‘abd], and has 2 plurals: [‘Abeed – عَبِيدٌ] and [‘Ibaad – عِبَادٌ]. Both plurals in simple English translation mean “slaves (of Allah)”. However they actually carry a different meaning altogether from one another.

‘Ibaad VS ‘Abeed
The plural [‘Ibaad] refers to slaves of Allah s.w.t. who do fall into error, who do make mistakes – but they always repent to Allah for the sins they did. They have a strong desire to constantly rectify themselves, to continuously strive to be a better person than yesterday – all done solely for the sake of Allah.

Meanwhile, the plural [‘Abeed] also refers to slaves of Allah s.w.t. who err and make mistakes – but the difference is that this group do not want to rectify themselves nor want to repent. They have no desire in becoming better slaves of their Rabb.

[‘Ibaad] is what we should strive to be – slaves of Allah who are imperfect, but when fall into sin, they swiftly make tawbah and constantly want to rectify themselves.

It was narrated from Anas r.a. that Rasulallah ﷺ said:
“Every son of Adam commits sin,
and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent.”
[Sunan Ibn Majah | Grade: Hasan]

So immediately from the get-go, Allah s.w.t. is already letting us know that the people mentioned in the last few ayat of Surah Al-Furqan are special than the rest. But on top of that, not only does Allah call them [‘Ibad] – He s.w.t. also calls them ‘Ibad-ur Rahman. Think about it: Allah s.w.t. has many Beautiful Names, He could choose to call them ‘Ibadullah or ‘Ibad-ul Khaliq, yet He chooses to describe them as ‘Ibad-ur Rahman. Allah s.w.t. chooses to associate His Rahmah (Mercy) with this special group of ‘Ibad, subhanallah. And at the end of this series, we will discuss about the amazing rewards that will be granted upon these special slaves.

Every believer has aspirations to become better, and everyone has bad traits they want to get rid of. So as we go through the series, think deeply: Which of these traits that I do not have, that I have to work on? With that goal in mind, we will be discussing the 9 characteristics of ‘Ibad-ur Rahman in the next several posts, insya Allah.

May Allah s.w.t. help us all become ‘Ibad-ur Rahman.

Note: Some may have translated that there are between eight to thirteen characteristics of ‘Ibadur-Rahman mentioned in Surah Al-Furqan – these opinions do not contradict one another.

[Madaarij us-Saalikeen] The Station of Firasah

Have you heard the term [firasah]? In the Malaysian local dialect, it’s known to mean intuition.

Ibn Al-Qayyim rahimahullah wrote that [firasah] is a sense of insight / perception / visual acumen. It’s the ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood via one’s eye, ear and heart. And this firasah is a light which Allah s.w.t. deposits in the heart of His slave, enabling him to distinguish between right and wrong.

Firasah allows a believer to know more about a speaker’s hidden intention from the speaker’s speech and tone of voice than from physical appearance. In general, the sahabah had the most accurate and sharpest firasah. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq r.a. is considered to be the one with the greatest firasah in the ummah, and Umar Al-Khattab r.a. was the second.

Ibn Mas’ud r.a. said:

“There are three people with the sharpest firasah. (1) The Egyptian who bought Yusuf a.s. and then said to his wife: ‘Make his stay comfortable, maybe he will profit for us or we shall adopt him as a son.’ [Q12:21]. (2) The other was the daughter of Shuaib, who said to her father with regards to Musa a.s.: ‘Hire him!’ [Q28:26] (3) And Abu Bakr r.a., for he appointed Umar r.a. as his successor.” Another narration includes (4) the wife of Fir’aun who said about Musa a.s.: ‘A comfort of the eye for me and for you. Kill him not, perhaps he may be of benefit to us, or we may adopt him as a son.’ [Q28:9]

Ibn Al-Qayyim rahimahullah wrote that the strength of firasah is dependent on the strength of faith. A person with stronger faith has sharper firasah. Amr bin Nujaid said that Shah al-Kermani had sharp firasah and was never wrong. He also used to say that whoever does the following, then his firasah will never go wrong (insya Allah):

1. Lowers his gaze away from prohibitions,
2. Restrains himself from vain desires,
3. Constructs his interior according to muraqabah (knowledge that Allah is watching over us),
4. Constructs his exterior according to the Sunnah,
5. And accustoms himself to eat only halal.

Firasah is also connected with one’s sharp intellect. Ibn Al-Qayyim rahimahullah wrote that there are two factors in firasah. (1) One is the quality of one’s mind, the sharpness of the heart and the intelligence. (2) The second is the appearance of the signs and indications on others. When both factors are present, then one’s firasah may not be wrong.

And Allah s.w.t. knows best.
___________
Reference:
Madaarij us-Saalikeen, by Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah

[Madaarij us-Saalikeen] The Station of Fear

Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah wrote that fear is one of the most important stations on the path of worshiping Allah and most beneficial for the heart. Allah s.w.t has praised those who possess the attribute of fear, saying:

“And such (are the believers) who are humbled by the fear of their Rabb.”
[Al-Mu’minun 23:57]

Fear of Allah’s displeasure and punishment is not only for the grave sinners, but it is also for the pious and observant believers, as in the following hadeeth:

‘Aishah the wife of the Prophet (ﷺ) said,
“I asked Rasulallah (ﷺ) about this Ayah: And those who give that which they give, with their hearts full of fear… (23:60) referring to someone who drinks alcohol and steals?”
He (ﷺ) said:
“No, O daughter of As-Siddiq. They are those who fast, perform Salat, give charity – while they fear that their Rabb will not accept it from them: It is these who hasten to do good deeds, and they are the foremost of them (23:61).”

[Tirmidhi | Graded Hasan]

Al-Hasan commenting on this said, “By Allah, they (the Companions) obeyed Him and strove hard in it, yet they feared it might be rejected. A believer combines righteousness with fear in his heart, while a hypocrite combines evil with impunity.”

The true and praiseworthy fear is that which stops a person from the prohibitions of Allah. And another praiseworthy category of fear is to fear returning to the state of sinfulness and heedlessness after one has attained closeness to Allah.

Abu Uthman said, “Sincerity of fear is vigilance from sins, open and secret.”
Sheikh Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said, “The praiseworthy fear is that which prevented you from the prohibitions of Allah.”

🔖 Two Types of Fear: Khawf and Khashya
There are several words used in the Qur’an to refer the word [fear], but in this particular post, I will only highlight two that are mentioned in Ibn al-Qayyim’s book. Allah s.w.t. said:

“So fear them not, and fear [khawf] Me alone, if you are believers.” [Ali Imran 3:175]
“So do not fear people, but fear [khashya] Me.” [Al-Maaidah 5:44]

Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah wrote that scholars said [khawf] means:
The anticipation of punishment.
Allah’s lash with which He straightens up those who are fleeing from His door.
To do away with careless sense of security by envisioning the great news (of the Last Day).

However, the word [khashya] is more specific – it is specific to the true knowers of Allah. Khashya is fear associated with the intimate knowledge (ma’rifa) of Allah, as Allah s.w.t. said: “Truly, those who fear [khashya] Allah from among His servants are the knowers.” [Fatir 35:28]

In essence, as what my teacher taught, [khawf] means a general fear, fear of something that is impending, eg. death, or the Day of Judgement. However [khashya] is fear with knowledge, a higher station of fear, for this fear never subsides within a believer’s heart who truly has knowledge.

For example, two people are attending a funeral processing, during which both of them are humbly reminded of their deaths to come. One of them is fearful [khawf] of this impending event. He fears for that day. However, one month or two months later down the road, he forgets about it and returns to sins and transgressions. But the other person is a person of knowledge, he has [khashya] – fear with knowledge, he steers away from all types of sins because he WHOLEHEARTEDLY KNOWS that Allah is Ever-Watching, Ever-Hearing. His fear does not diminish.

This is one of the reasons why – my dear sisters in faith, and my brothers in Islam – that the beautiful Names and Attributes of Allah s.w.t. is a critical branch of knowledge that every believer must try to learn. Only the true knowers of Allah s.w.t. will truly experience [khashya]. Subhanallah, it is a fundamental knowledge of a Muslim and extremely beneficial in all aspects of our lives, and more so for our Akhirah. May Allah grant us beneficial knowledge – Allahumma ameen.

🔖 Balancing Fear with Hope
Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah wrote that when fear exceeds boundary, it may bring hopelessness and despair. This is why it is important for a believer to balance his fear with hope. The heart in its journey towards Allah s.w.t. is like a bird whose head is love, and hope and fear are its two wings. When the head and the two wings are sound and healthy – the flight of the bird is good; but when the head is cut off – it immediately dies; and when either or both wings are deficient – the bird cannot properly fly and may become victim of a trap. The righteous predecessors preferred to strengthen the wing of fear during good times when heedlessness is feared, and to strengthen the wing of hope at times of calamity and when near death.

Fear is not the end in itself, but a means towards an end. When that end, i.e. Allah’s ultimate pleasure, is attained, then there is no longer need for fear. As Allah says to the people of Jannah: “There is no fear upon them, nor do they grieve.”

The one who fears Allah is a refugee
towards His Rabb’s [mercy] from his Rabb’s [displeasure].

___________
Reference:
Madaarij us-Saalikeen, by Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah
(most texts are extracted from this book)

Intention Is Far Serious Than The Action

“Learn the intention, for it is more serious than the action.”
Yahyaa ibn Abee Katheer
[Jaamiul-Uloom wal-Hikam, p.34]

Ibn Kathir mentioned in his Tafseer that Abu al-Darda’ r.a. said: If I become certain that Allah has accepted even one prayer from me, it will be better for me than this life and all that in it. This is because Allah says:

“Verily, Allah accepts only from the those who have Taqwa.”
[Al-Maaidah 5:27]

And Rasulallah s.a.w. said:

“The deeds are considered by the intentions, and a person will get the reward according to his intention.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

Whenever we do a good deed, have sincere intention that it is done for the sake of Allah s.w.t., not for praise nor popularity. Unfortunately today, especially with the easy access of social media, it’s easy for us to do things in public, but difficult in secret. Ask ourselves when we publicize a good deed: Am I doing this sincerely for Allah?

Our righteous salaf loved to conceal their acts of worship. Tameem ibn Aws al-Daari r.a. was asked, “How do you pray at night?” To this, he got very angry and said, “By Allah, one rak’ah that I pray in secret in the small hours of the night is more beloved to me than praying the whole night long and then telling people about it.” Indeed how far away have we become?

We have a problem if our private affairs are not better than our public affairs. The greatest loss of all is when all those good deeds we thought we were accumulating amount to nothing on the Day of Judgment.

So be humble. No matter how many good deeds we may have done, don’t be amazed by them. And unless we wish to encourage others, it’s best not to publicize our good deeds, lest Shaitan corrupts our intention.

Every Blessing Will Be a Proof For Us or Against Us

We often forget that every blessing we receive will be a proof for us or against us, depending on whether we fulfilled its rights or not. Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said:

“The son of Adam will not be dismissed from his Rabb on the Day of Resurrection
until he is questioned about 5 issues:
his life and how he lived it,
his youth and how he used it,
his wealth and how he earned it,
and he spent it (how he disposed of his wealth),
and how he acted on his knowledge.”

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhi 2416
Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani