And whatsoever He has created for you on this earth of varying colors [and qualities from vegetation and fruits, etc. (botanical life) and from animal (zoological life)]. Verily! In this is a sign for people who remember. The Holy Quran 16:13

Seeking Protection of Allah

Transcript of the Friday Sermon delivered by Dr. Munawar Haque on April 14, 2017

Brothers and sisters! There is a hadith that conveys a very important advice and a general ruling in Islam on seeking protection of Allah. In a version narrated by Ibn Abbas in Musnad Ahmad, it reads: “Be mindful of Allah, you shall find Him in front of you. Get to know Allah in prosperity and He will know you in adversity. Know that whatever passed you by could never have happened, and what happened could never have been avoided. Know that victory comes with patience, relief comes with affliction, and ease comes with hardship.” InshaAllah, in today’s khutba, we’ll try to understand this hadith in a little more detail.

This hadith reveals some of the core truths about the nature of our relationship with Allah. If you take care of your relationship with Him, He will take care of you. Whatever you need or desire, in the end it can only come from Him. This is not to say that we can never ask people for help, but we should understand that ultimately Allah is the source of all help that comes our way. The companions used to ask Allah for help in everything, large or small.

We sometimes get bogged down with the side issues in our deen: with definitions, fiqh issues, and the differences between us, while forgetting the essence of our relationship with the Creator. The Prophet (SAW) captured this essence for us, and taught us that as long as we turn to Allah, we will be all right. In order to understand this truth, we must try it out. It is one thing to read about it, and another to actually experience finding Allah at our side in moments of hardship.       

The phrase “Be mindful of Allah” also means to observe Allah’s obligations and to avoid His prohibitions. If we are mindful of Allah, He will be close to us by giving us guidance, help, and victory. He will also protect us.

Allah will protect His servants’ deen and iman. He will protect us from being misled or influenced by misconception and by the evil around us. He will help us and guide us so that we are protected from negative influences. For example, there may be a situation where Allah prevents us from doing something which we want to do. This is actually a protection from Allah. He protects us by not allowing us to perform a particular deed, which in effect saves us from a disaster or from committing a sin. Allah also protects us from Shaytan’s attempt to lead us astray at the last moments of our life. This will ensure that we will leave this world having the iman of a true believer.  

Allah will also protect His servants in their worldly affairs. We enjoy the mercy and bounty of Allah in our faculties of sight, hearing, and speech. Even as we grow old, Allah still allows us to enjoy these senses as well as our intellect and mental faculties. Allah also protects our family, property, and wealth. If one is mindful of Allah during his youth, Allah will protect him during his adulthood.

The other narration of this hadith mentions that if we are mindful of Allah during times of ease, He will help us during our times of hardship. Therefore, when we are blessed with ease and prosperity, we should use that blessing to obtain the pleasure of Allah. Then He will look after us during our times of hardship, weakness, and sickness. Even if we are no longer able to do something good that we used to do during our times of ease, Allah will continue to reward us for that act. 

Gaining Allah’s protection does not come automatically. We have to strive to maintain taqwa, and do actions being mindful of Him. Some of the things we have to do in order to gain Allah’s protection include the following: (1) performing the daily salah on time and in the best way we can, (2) protecting our hearts from being involved in sins, especially major sins, (3) guarding our senses—we should ensure that whatever we see, hear, or say is pleasing to Allah. We should fear Allah and not use these senses in a wrongful manner, (4) maintaining cleanliness and purity, (5) always being truthful, (6) fulfilling our oaths and promises, (7) ensuring that the food and drink we consume are always halal, and (8) observing that our dealings and transactions are halal.

Allah (SWT) has already written down in Lawh al-Mahfuz (The Preserved Tablet) what is to take place. These are events and occurrences that we have no control over, e.g., falling sick, untimely death of a loved one, falling into unexpected hardship etc. Facing these events in the appropriate manner necessitates contentment or rida, which is the highest level for us to attain by accepting and being content with whatever Allah has chosen for us. The second highest level is patience or sabr where we need to be tolerant, patient, and calm. When we are in a difficult circumstance, we need to exercise restraint without saying or doing anything that may displease Allah.

There are several ayat in the Qur’an emphasizing the same meaning that the hadith under discussion conveys.

مَا أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن نَّبْرَأَهَا إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ

“Nothing occurs, either in the earth or in yourselves, without its being in a Book before We make it happen. That is something easy for Allah.” (al-Hadid, 57:22)

وَإِن يَمْسَسْكَ اللَّهُ بِضُرٍّ فَلَا كَاشِفَ لَهُ إِلَّا هُوَ وَإِن يُرِدْكَ بِخَيْرٍ فَلَا رَادَّ لِفَضْلِهِ يُصِيبُ بِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَهُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

“If Allah inflicts harm on you, no one can remove it but He, and if He intends good for you, no one can withhold His bounty; He grants His bounty to any of His servants whom He wills. He is the Most Forgiving, and the Most Merciful.” (Yunus, 10:107)    

In a hadith in Sahih Muslim, we are informed that Allah recorded qadar or divine destiny of all creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and the earth. Belief in qadar is one of Islam's six articles of faith, along with belief in the oneness of Allah, the Revealed Books, the Prophets, the Day of Resurrection and the Angels.

 Qadar regarding occurrences can be broadly categorized into two categories: (1) occurrences not under our control wherein we have to surrender to the will of Allah, and (2) occurrences under our control, and these may be either negative or positive. Negative events can happen as a result of our recklessness, laziness, or carelessness, e.g., erratic driving or speeding that leads to an accident. Positive events on the other hand occur through our diligence, carefulness, and hard work, e.g., a student who studies well does well in his exam.

Generally speaking, we are responsible for whatever we do. Thus, we should act in a careful manner and to the best of our ability. We are also reminded of the importance of ihsan in our actions which generally leads to good results. We should always try to improve ourselves and constantly tell ourselves that we can do better. At the same time, we should not focus too much about future occurrences about which we have no knowledge of, or what is beyond our control. We should do the best we can and leave the rest to Allah.

Part of the appropriate understanding and belief of qadar is to stay away from things that are potentially harmful to us. Things like not wearing a seat-belt while driving or eating a diet very high in cholesterol may cause harm to us. We should be mindful to avoid things that are harmful for us, and not blame it on qadar if it happens out of our own recklessness or negligence. Seeking treatment for an illness does not contradict qadar. If we are faced with a problem, we should make every effort to solve it or to minimize it.

Many people tend to view qadar negatively because of their lack of insight and correct understanding of this topic. Qadar needs to be understood in a positive manner. The Prophet (SAW) commanded us to be proactive with regards to qadar by being diligent in doing good deeds, and not blaming qadar for our inactivity in doing good. Furthermore, we need to differentiate between things which we have control over versus things which we do not have control over. Instead of merely accepting whatever has occurred as qadar, we should accept responsibility for all that we do and the choices that we make. We should analyze the reasons for why things have occurred in our life. We should make the effort to improve the situation and think on how we can avoid pitfalls.

We should also remember that nothing occurs or exists except that it reflects Allah’s infinite wisdom, for He is “The All-Wise” (Al-Hakim). There is always the big picture, a larger context that we are unable to perceive with our short-sightedness. Allah is fully aware of how things unfold in the long run, and we must place our trust in Him, fully realizing that there is wisdom in His decisions. In this regard, our Prophet (SAW) advised us to maintain a good opinion of our Lord, for Allah says in a Hadith Qudsi, “I am in the opinion of My servant” or “I am as My servant thinks I am.” If we are convinced that Allah is looking out for our best interests when He decrees painful situations, and that He will replace what is lost with something much better for us in both this life and the next, then that is exactly how we will find Him, without a doubt.

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

Brothers and sisters! What transformation will take place when we internalize the guidance in this hadith? There is tremendous freedom from the hindrances of fear and loneliness when we rely only on Allah. Great acts of courage, patience, and independence become possible because a person senses the company of Allah by his or her side. This hadith teaches us the importance of complete reliance and awareness of Allah. Those who are mindful of Allah, find Him as their Protector and Helper.

وَاللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ

“Allah is the Protector of all who are mindful of Him.” (al-Jathiyah, 45:19)

وَمَنْ يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَلْ لَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِ يُسْرًا

“Allah makes things easy for those who are mindful of Him.” (At-Talaq, 65:4)

Part of the proper mindfulness of Allah is to have rida and sabr in qadar. In addition to this realization, we still need to understand qadar in a positive manner. We need to be proactive and take responsibility for all our actions. We also should take proper precautions so that a negative result does not occur because of our own negligence.

 

Applying this hadith will lead us to a life in which we are content and stress-free. In this way, we will be mindful of Allah, fulfill His obligations, and fully trust and accept whatever He wills for us.   

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