Today (21 March 2012) is what is called Human Rights Day in South Africa. It is difficult to define what those in authority mean by this, because the vast majority of people in this country do not have the implementation in their lives of rights covering their sustenance, their health and education, their safety and security, and so many other things. In fact, when it comes to human rights then this country is still in the Dark Ages. I am mentioning this to you not because I am interested in the political games that are being played in the country but because as Muslims we should be very concerned that all people receive enough sustenance, have access to the best kind of education and health care and can live in safety and have job and environmental security. This should be our concern. But this concern is perhaps at the very bottom of the scale for many of us. Their position at the bottom of the scale, however, does not in any way reduce their importance for all human beings. Of course, we should all be concerned about the deprivation of those rights that all human beings should have in this country and elsewhere; rights which should assist them in the full development of their personalities as human beings. But this is only part of the story.
I’ve always said that if one wants to have the space for spiritual development and to be able to use that space efficiently, then it helps considerably if one is a contented human being. This is extremely difficult for people who are concerned on a daily basis with their sustenance, their health, their protection and all the other matters that poor people face in this country. Socio-economic poverty can be a major hindrance to spiritual growth. Some people would know how to handle that and still develop but most of the poor people cannot. This is what we find. Parents who everyday have to struggle to feed their children, to see to their health and protection and to see to their education and spend most of the day in these activities do not have the free time and the free space to be busy with their Lord. Again, let me repeat, there are some who can manage this.
In our travels throughout the country we have seen so much degradation of human beings and we have come to know about many of the problems that human beings face. Our hearts go out to these people, because we know, from our own personal experiences and also from what we see, the extreme difficulty that these people face in their lives. And so, to celebrate human rights with people like this is playing games with their feelings and their lives.
Why am I telling you these things? You see, Islam is very concerned with the circumstances under which people live and the religion has made different kinds of arrangements to help these people. But when we as people in Tariqah speak about rights then we are busy with our rights in relation to our Lord. You see, we think differently about rights. Our Lord, on the Day of Promises, established a special relationship between us and Him, the servant-Creator relationship. This means that although we have deep concern for the circumstances around human life and we also know its importance, our concern primarily, or at the top of the scale, are our rights that we have in this relationship. We must understand that our humanity, our spirituality and everything that goes with these two aspects of our lives have to do with our position in this servant-Creator relationship. I do not remember who it was but somebody said something to the effect: “Of what benefit is it if one gains the world but one loses one’s soul?” We will say something very similar: “Of what benefit would it be if we have acquired all essential human rights but our position in the servant-Creator relationship has major problems?”
You see, to us our major and most dominant right is to have access to our Lord in whatever way He provides. By this I mean, first of all, access to all those teachings which He has sent, but I also mean access to special spiritual stations that He provides. This right of access is very special to those human beings who see their Lord as being “with them” at all times (the concept of ma’iyyah). I do not know whether there is anything greater in the life of a human being than to know that his Lord is in charge of his affairs and that he has access to his Lord through those affairs. To put it simply, can you imagine the spiritual feeling of goodness when you raise your hands to your Lord in supplication and He responds to you almost immediately, or whatever the case might be? There is nothing, just nothing that can replace this kind of access to one’s Lord in any way. The other access mentioned is the right to access Heavenly Stations. We have been granted this right of access through our religion. The teachings of Islam on the Sciences of the Hereafter provide us with those spiritual activities, which would allow us to attain to these stations, and it would also grant to us a special spiritual affinity with those like us.
If I look at my own life today, other than the need for certain basic requirements, there is very little interest in matters other than the spiritual. Perhaps this is because of my age. But at this stage in my life my primary concern is the right of access to my Lord through all the religious activities that He has provided, and the right to have access to different spiritual stations. So part of my right of access involves the provisions that He grants to His servants. In a certain sense, the right to access has to do with the right that He has granted His servants to have access to His provisions. And so we come to see that the right to access Him as Lord and the right to access His Heavenly Stations have also to do with the right to receive special provisions from Him. My word! What a combination of religious rights that lie in these accesses. When I think about this now all those other very important human rights dim, because the right to my Lord and what He provides is so overwhelming. I cannot always understand, how people would want to celebrate rights which have very little meaning, although important, when the rights that our Lord has granted us, are so overwhelmingly important.
Of course, not to be hungry, be safe and protected where you live, to have access to healthcare and a good education are important rights but in addition to these religious rights involving access to our Lord, His Heavenly Stations and His Spiritual Provisions are the greatest. We must not forget that all the things, whatever they might be, whether human rights or spiritual rights, in the final analysis have to do with the workings of our Lord. You see, I do not know whether anybody today will mention Allah Almighty with regard to our affairs and whether anybody thinks that one of the many reasons for what human beings are going through today is their neglect of their right to access their Lord, His Heavenly Stations and His Spiritual Provisions. Our thinking is secularized by leaving Allah Almighty out of our affairs.
Many times, I look at those murids who are involved in His Remembrance and I see that by not forgetting their Lord, Allah Almighty has provided for them. This is so simple but so difficult to attain. When we remember Him, this is part of His Remembrance of us. We ask Allah Almighty for peace and contentment in our lives and for provisions which will give us good on the Dunya and good in the Hereafter, amin.