Don’t talk to me about rich people who are not generous and who do not carry out the instructions of the Qur’an to distribute what Allah Almighty has given them. Rather talk to me about those rich people who pay Zakah and distribute considerable voluntary sadaqat. These people are of the salt of the Earth because through their actions others are able to eat and drink.
Many of the NGO’s including SANZAF and our organisation depend to a large degree on the generosity of those classified as rich. You have to understand that on numerous occasions we plead to our Lord to send generous philanthropists to us to help us in the variety of activities that have been placed on our shoulders. By the responses we get from so many people, we are convinced that Allah Almighty inspires them to help us. Without these people that our Lord inspires, we would not be able to put forward even one footstep in the variety of projects that we run. When we thank our Lord for these philanthropists, we are also expressing our deep gratitude to Him for involving us in His Cause. In explaining this to you, I am in no way denigrating the large number of very small amounts that come from some people’s pockets. The gratitude we express our Lord, includes the large variety of small amounts that so many people give us. Alhamdu lillah, through all these contributions from the rich and the not so rich, we have been able to achieve what no other organisation has been able to achieve in the history of the Muslim community. Sometimes I think about this. And all that our Lord wants from us are the words Alhamdu lillah. I have said on numerous occasions that there is no comparison between what our Lord grants us and what we do or respond. Allah Almighty gives us so much and we give so little in return. For a few simple prayers a few times a day, we get massive rewards, and the reward for each prayer is multiplied ten times. Even when we say Alhamdu lillah for what Allah Almighty has granted us, He rewards us further just because we have mentioned those Sacred Words. What this means is that as long as we are in a state of Alhamdu lillah we are receptacles of Divine Grace and Blessings. But this, for another time.
I am talking about what you should talk to me about. Don’t talk to me about people’s bank accounts or their titles or their social status or their abodes or their vehicles. These are all matters of this planet and they all, without exception, will only last for short periods of time. What is it that I want to hear? What is it that thrills my heart with satisfaction when you talk to me? Who are the people who interest me? Talk to me about those servants of their Lord for whom Allah Almighty has stashed away, not rands, but an abundance of hasanat, the account of which they will appreciate in the Hereafter. Talk to me about those people who have sacrificed their lives, their time, and their energies for their Lord; so that on the Day of Judgement they will be people of special titles. Talk to me about those who leave the warmth of their beds in the middle of the night and go to their prayer mats and leave the comforts of their home to work in the Cause of their Lord. Talk to me about them; those with a special status or station by their Lord. Don’t talk to me about people’s houses in one or other upmarket area. Talk to me about the palaces in Paradise that many of His servants will occupy.
You see, many of you are much younger than me and have seen and experienced a little of what I have seen and experienced. There was a time in my life when my primary occupation was the affairs of this world. I thought, like many others, that the gems and the activities of this planet were real; that the true reality was what I experienced in the spaces I occupied. When I placed my hand in the hand of a religious guide who directed me on a different path and provided for me alternative goals, I realised that this world is in fact only a “carcass” over which dogs are fighting. When one is on this path and you appreciate the true reality of things, then not only do you see the world for what it is but you also come to understand what the Hereafter is all about. Those of us who turn our sights and our attention away from this world and engage ourselves in the activities of the Hereafter, are all on different paths.
One day the Messenger (ﷺ) was asked by one of his Companions (r.a.): “Whom should I sit with?” The Prophet (ﷺ) replied: “Sit with the one who, when you see him, he reminds you of Allah Almighty, and he teaches you about the Hereafter, and he himself is busy with the activities of the Hereafter”. This is more or less what the Tradition meant.
If you examine this letter very closely you will see that I have put certain people on very special pedestals. These are those people that Allah Almighty has granted Friendship; through their acquisition of knowledge, the variety of ibadat they perform and their working in His Cause without wanting any remuneration from any person. Their hearts are for their Lord, and those hearts are filled with His Presence and His remembrance. Their sights are towards the heavens and their beings call out His Names at different times, as part of the continuous unknown glorification of their Lord, by every single aspect of their being. They might know or might not know that they are in a permanent state of such glorification. All that they know are the times when their tongues are wet with their Lord’s remembrance and their hearts re-echo the different litanies their tongues are reciting. These people, these very special people, Allah Almighty has placed at unique stations and has prepared for them not only of His Shade, but special pulpits of light. When they sit on these pulpits it will just be one display of light as the light that emanates from them merges with the light of the pulpits.
A few years ago a photograph was taken of one of the hairs of the Prophet (ﷺ). When the photograph was examined, the hair shone like a filament of light. I said: “My word! It is actual light”. And so the light that emanates from the intensely pious is actual light. Its origin and its nature, we do not understand. On occasions it becomes visible to us. You see, Allah Almighty says in the Quran:
كُوْنُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِيْنَ
Be with the pious, truthful people (ix: 119).
One of the big mistakes that many of us make is that we associate with those who are not good people. Just as an intensely pious person emanates very positive vibes through the light that comes from him and this impacts on the heart of others in a strange kind of way, so also people who are not good, give off very negative vibes through their personal darkness, which also impact on others. On occasion one can resist the negative vibes through one’s spirituality but if this spirituality is weak then those negative vibes impact negatively on one. When Allah Almighty says associate with good, pious people, He is also saying, don’t associate with the impious. It is because in many cases, our associations do not fall into the category of this verse that we find, through the negativity of our associations, that all kinds of unexpected negative intrusions come into our lives. Why would Allah Almighty say in the Qur’an that we must be with those people who are truthful and pious, and why would Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) warn us about the kinds of people we associate with? It is the most amazing thing that when one associates with people who are not good, how one strives to become like them.
I might add here that when I entered this path of Islam seriously, I very deliberately dropped all those associates who were not Muslims or not good Muslim; who did not pray, for example. We must all be very careful of our associates and we must appeal to Him every day to put us in the company of the pious. We ask Him for that, amin.
[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]