The Fortunate Ones – Part 1
Transcript of the Friday Sermon delivered by Dr. Munawar Haque on Dec 30, 2016
Brothers and sisters! My khutba today is the first of a series of khutbas that I intend to give on the conditions of success according to the Qur’an in light of verses 30 to 36 of Surat Fussilat. The verses 30 to 32 of Surat Fussilat say,
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ أَلَّا تَخَافُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي كُنْتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ () نَحْنُ أَوْلِيَاؤُكُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآَخِرَةِ وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِي أَنْفُسُكُمْ وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَدَّعُونَ () نُزُلًا مِنْ غَفُورٍ رَحِيمٍ
“As for those who affirm, Our Rabb is Allah, and then remain steadfast, the angels will descend on them, saying, Have no fear and do not grieve. Rejoice in the good news of the Garden that you have been promised. We are your companions in this life and in the Hereafter. Therein you shall have all that your souls desire, and therein you shall have all that you ask for, as a rich provision from One who is ever forgiving and most merciful. (Fussilat, 41:30-32).
The word Rabb used in ayah 30 is very profound and means provider, sustainer, protector, benefactor, owner, and master. The word istaqamu implies that the true believers remain steadfast on the affirmation that Allah is indeed their Rabb. They stick to what they claim and stand up to it. They demonstrate it in their thinking, feelings, actions, and behavior. In a hadith, the Prophet (SAW) said to one of his companions: قُلْ آمَنْت بِاَللَّهِ ثُمَّ اسْتَقِمْ Say I believe in Allah, and then be steadfast." It takes no effort or energy to utter the few simple words—la ilaha illallah (there is no god but Allah) but to stand up to it and to live by it is not that easy.
Claiming Allah to be one’s Rabb means that one should not have any complain against His decisions and should accept them with complete calmness. They could even be unpleasant but whatever comes from Allah has to be beneficial in the long run, if not immediately. If Allah is accepted as one’s Rabb, then He is to be obeyed totally. It should not be that we follow some of His commandments and not follow others. To consider some injunctions of the Qur’an to be practicable and others to be impracticable shows a lack of trust in the knowledge and wisdom of Allah. Since whatever comes from Him is out of His absolute knowledge and wisdom, every divine command has to be accepted and obeyed.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً
“O you who believe! Enter Islam totally”(al-Baqarah, 2:208).
A true righteous believer who says رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ (Our Lord is Allah) and remains firm on it has attained a level which Allah calls wilayah, the state of having a close relationship with Allah. Wali means a friend, guardian, patron, ally, and so on.
اللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا
“Allah is the guardian of those who believe” (al-Baqarah, 2:257). We have in Surat Yunus,
أَلَا إِنَّ أَوْلِيَاءَ اللَّهِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
“Yes, the friends of Allah shall certainly have no fear, nor shall they grieve” (Yunus, 10:62).
These ‘friends of Allah’ (awliya Allah) are not a different species. They have the same blood and flesh as other human beings. But, they have real iman, and real taqwa. If somebody has real iman and real taqwa, then he qualifies to become the friend of Allah (wali Allah). Real iman in the heart permeates one’s whole personality.
When there is real iman, there is no fear. This is because true believers know that nothing happens without Allah’s permission. Nothing can harm them unless He wills it. And if any harm comes, it is only with His permission, and is therefore acceptable to them, as He is their Lord (Rabb). His decision, however unpleasant it may seem, has to be for some ultimate good. The prick of an injection is painful but beneficial. Surgical amputation of a limb is a loss but saves one’s life. Hence the friends of Allah have no fear and are not grieved even if a calamity befalls them. This situation is described in ayah 51 of Surat al-Taubah, where the believers are told to say to the hypocrites,
قُل لَّن يُصِيبَنَا إِلَّا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَنَا هُوَ مَوْلَانَا وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ
“Say, nothing can happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is Our Master. It is in Allah that the believers should put their trust” (al-Taubah, 9:51).
There is a general consensus that angels descend upon believers (Mu’minun) when they are about to die, and move from this world to the next world—the hereafter. The angels come from the unseen world to welcome the souls of these believers in order to escort them honorably to that world. The word for angel in Arabic is malak (pl. malaikah).
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817 - 1898), an eminent Muslim scholar, reformer, educator, and writer from the Indian subcontinent theorized that angels had no personified existence, and were nothing but forces of nature. This hypothesis effects a change in the basic articles of the Islamic faith, and is fundamentally wrong. According to the correct Islamic belief, angels are personified beings assigned to special duties by Allah (SWT). They constitute and represent the administration of the unseen world, and perform the duties assigned to them, and implement and enforce the decisions made by Allah (SWT). Even though they descend upon human beings, they remain hidden from their eyes.
Angels are created out of light as learnt from a hadith which says, Aisha (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, "Angels were created from light, jinns were created from a smokeless flame of fire, and Adam was created from that which you have been told (i.e., sounding clay like the clay of pottery)."
Does the phenomenon of descending of the angels upon virtuous believers occur only when these believers are about to die or do the angels descend upon them in this life also? The Qur’an speaks about angels descending to help and support believers in their fight against the forces of evil. We know from the Qur’an that the angels did descend to help the Muslims in the battle of Badr. We also learn through a hadith that tranquility descends upon people and angels surround them who assemble in a group to study the Qur’an.
Angels are friends of true believers in this world and the next. They descend upon them throughout their lives. However, this phenomenon becomes more relevant during the dying moments of the believers, when they need to be comforted and given glad tidings of the good things awaiting them. The people of real iman and real taqwa are being told that there is good news (Bushra) for them in the life of this world and in the hereafter. Iman is derived from the root amn which means peace, tranquility, inner satisfaction and safety. People with real iman are the ones who have amn in their lives, and amn is the result or the fruit of iman. May Allah make us among the people of real iman and real taqwa.
أَقُولُ قَوْلِي هَذَا وَأَسْتَغْفِرُ اللَّهَ لِي وَلَكُمْ وَلِسَائِرِ المُسْلِمينَ وَالمُسْلِمَاتْ فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهْ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على سيد المرسلين وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين.
Allah (SWT) has created man, and has produced in him the inclination for satisfaction of worldly desires. This is something, which is ingrained in human nature.
زُيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ الشَّهَوَاتِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ وَالْبَنِينَ وَالْقَنَاطِيرِ الْمُقَنْطَرَةِ مِنَ الذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ وَالْخَيْلِ الْمُسَوَّمَةِ وَالْأَنْعَامِ وَالْحَرْثِ ذَلِكَ مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَاللَّهُ عِنْدَهُ حُسْنُ الْمَآَبِ
“The satisfaction of worldly desires through women, and children, and heaped-up treasures of gold and silver, and pedigreed horses, and cattle and lands is attractive to people. All this is the provision of the worldly life; but the most excellent abode is with God” (Aal ‘Imran, 3:14).
At the same time, the wrong and the right path have also been clearly shown to man.
“And We showed him the two paths [of good and evil]” (al-Balad, 9010).
Having been endowed with free will, man is solely responsible for the moral choices he makes. A true believer despite his natural inclination to satisfy his worldly desires does so only through permissible (halal) means and checks himself from indulging in anything that is unlawful or impermissible (haram), however tempting or attractive it may be. For leading a pious and righteous life in this world, he is promised paradise wherein he would be able to satisfy all his desires to the maximum, and he will have whatever he asks for corresponding to the level of his taste and the level of his consciousness and understanding.
وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِي أَنْفُسُكُمْ
“Therein you shall have all that your soul’s desire”(Fussilat, 41:31).
وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَدَّعُونَ
“And therein you shall have all that you ask for”(Fussilat, 41:31).
Having all their desires fulfilled, the last and final desire of the people of paradise will be to have a direct sight of their Lord, with no covering between Him and them. As for the Arabic word nuzul in the ayah نُزُلًا مِنْ غَفُورٍ رَحِيمٍ (a rich provision from One who is ever forgiving and most merciful), it refers to the initial hospitality shown to a guest soon after his arrival at the host’s place. It is extended by welcoming him, honoring him, and entertaining him with something to eat and drink. Thereafter, if he is to reside with the host, then he becomes his guest (dhaif), and is provided with the maximum comfort and luxury that the host can afford to provide. The people of paradise are the guests of Allah. Hence, no one knows what Allah will actually provide them with. We learn through a hadith that Allah (SWT) says,
أَعْدَدْتُ لِعِبَادِيَ الصَّالِحِينَ مَا لاَ عَيْنٌ رَأَتْ وَلاَ أُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ وَلاَ خَطَرَ عَلَى قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, "Allah, the Exalted, has said: 'I have prepared for my righteous slaves what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and the mind of no man has conceived.'”
And then the Prophet (SAW) said,
وَاقْرَؤوا إن شِئتُم
“And recite if you wish,”
فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَّا أُخْفِيَ لَهُم مِّن قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ جَزَاءً بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
“No soul knows what joy is kept hidden in store for them as a reward for their labors” (al-Sajdah, 32:17).
The blessings and bounties showered upon the people of paradise as elaborated in numerous surahs of the Quran including Surat Al-Rahman, Surat al-Waqi’ah, and Surat al-Dahr are only descriptive of the nuzul and not the actual feast (dhiyafah) prepared by Allah for His worthy servants.
May Allah (SWT) make us worthy to be His guests in His Paradise; ameen.