Shaykh Yusuf da Costa: Hearts which only our Lord knows

I have always wondered why, on the Day of Judgment, the poor people will enter Paradise years before those who are well off in the Dunya.  I could understand that their poverty on the Dunya would be an importance mitigating factor with regard to their judgment.  But we are going to have large numbers of very poor people who never believed.  So, it cannot only be poverty.  There must be at least another factor involved.

I have had the good fortune to associate with some extremely poor people especially from Blikkiesdorp and have come to learn, by listening to them, how they take their poverty in its stride, because of their faith in their Lord.  Sometimes, in fact, many times, I am just taken aback by the extreme to which they depend on their Lord to survive their poverty and also to eventually get out of Blikkiesdorp.  I have never seen anything like this before.  One of the ladies in that area makes constant reference to Allah Almighty when she describes her situation or how to get out of it.  There is no despondency, which I find amazing.  There is so much confidence in their Lord, and I ask myself the question whether I am like that.  It is difficult to say.  The same lady gets up in the middle of the night to pray, and she has turned around her whole family’s religious direction.  I have never experienced what I experience with her when she talks.  Everything that she does, has to do with Allah (ﷻ) and everything that she receives has to do with Him.  I ask myself the questions: Has her poverty taken her to her realisation of her Lord that we can only envy? What is the nature of the faith of an individual who is socially heavily deprived but has all the confidence in the world that her Lord is with her?  What is the nature of the faith that Allah Almighty has placed in her heart, and would that faith have been there if she was living under better conditions?  This is so important for my understanding.

Every Saturday they gather in one of the “blikkies” calling on their Lord.  These people of Blikkiesdorp with nothing to their names except their shack, have an awareness of their Lord and a dependence on Him that I have not seen elsewhere.  Again, I pose the question: Would their faiths have been different or of a lesser degree had they not been so poor and downtrodden?  One of them remarked to me one day that she does not envy what other people have, because she has Allah (ﷻ) with her.  Many of us strive day in and day out with different kinds of ibadat to reach a station of constant awareness of one’s Lord.  Here, a person so poor that she eats very little during the day; so poor that she only has meager possessions; and so poor that there is nothing in life from which they can get any kind of enjoyment.  All of these mean nothing to her, because she said: “Allah is with me.”

My experiences among poor people, and this is not general, have shown that Allah Almighty places in some hearts a strength of faith to take them through the day and a strength of faith that places in these hearts a consciousness of Him that we can only dream of.  I can understand today through my experiences why some of the poor will enter Paradise long before others.

Of course, I have not answered the question whether their faith would have been any different if they were not so poor.  Would they have been people of lesser faith if they have the comforts of this world?  Would they have been people of more faith if they had such comforts?  It is difficult to say.  We do not know, because how Allah Almighty deals with hearts is His Priority.  It appears, from my understanding, that each heart is unique and that what Allah (ﷻ) places in each heart is also unique.  This means that the reaction of each individual heart within different circumstances is also unique.  No two hearts are the same in structure or in content.  And no two hearts are the same in turning to their Lord.  It is amazing that every single heart of every single human being is unique in all aspects of structure, of spiritual content, of being for its Lord, of being inspired, or whatever else the case might be.  And in all cases each heart is between “Two Fingers” of Allah Almighty.

When one talks about hearts, one is busy with an ocean.  Perhaps to be absolutely truthful, one is busy with a subject that one knows almost nothing about.  We only see as we look around people’s experiences and reactions and some of these give us little bits of information about a heart that might even have the Presence of its Lord.  You see, this is what it is all about.  It is all about the extent of the Presence of one’s Lord in one’s heart.  And many times what one expresses in everyday language tells others about the extent of that Presence, but the full story of the impact of that Presence on the spirituality of the human being lies with our Lord.  We can only ask for some of that knowledge of our own hearts and of the hearts of others.  And it is through the generosity of our Lord if He decides to grant us some understanding.  Perhaps this is also something we also have to ask for and strive for, and when we say: “amin” it is to express a desire in our hearts to know something of what our Lord only knows.

[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 3 – Unpublished 2012]

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