Shaykh Yusuf da Costa: Imraan, the Malawian

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Perhaps the greatest blessing that we have received from Allah Almighty is the blessing of existence. If this blessing were not there, then we would not have been able to come to know of Allah (ﷻ), of His Messenger (ﷺ) and of His Message. Our existence means that we were present on the Day of Promises to accept the Oneness of our Lord and to give recognition to Him as our Creator.

Everything starts with existence. Our lives started like that. So our Lord, by bringing us into existence, gives us the opportunity to strive for servitude under His guidance on earth, and gives us the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of that servitude in the Hereafter. There are some of us to whom He gives a short existence. To others, He gives a long one. There are special blessings in a short existence. It means that you only have a very short period of time to transgress. Many of those with the short existence, are of the inhabitants of Paradise. The long existence might be a purely negative one in which transgressions dominate and outweigh Divine merits and virtues. On the other hand, it can be a life of unbelievable acquisitions of merits based on considerable repentance in the quiet of the night. To these people who vacate the warmth of the bed for the cold of the prayer mat, Allah Almighty has provided so much. On them come showers of repentance … forgiveness … blessings … mercy … and so much that we do not even know of. These individuals are the recipients of Divine Good and they form a special category of people in the company of the pious. They are the fortunate ones. On the cold of their prayer mats they achieve while others achieve nothing in their sleep. They are the sincere ones whose hearts are for their Lord and many times during the day their tongues say: “O my Lord” and their hearts echo back the same words. And so between their tongues and their hearts there is a constant remembrance of their Lord, and His Countenance is all that they wish for. These people are the strangers. They live in this world as strangers; not only because they have the exceptional characteristic of being for their Lord, but also because they live in a world they don’t really want to be in. The world finds them strange and they find the world strange. They will only be truly happy one day when they stand witnessing the Countenance of their Lord and enjoy the pleasures of Paradise. In the hands of these people are the banners of Islam and they march holding the banners aloft while their tongues and their hearts say: “O my Lord,” and “Allah, Allah”.

How we all wish that we can be of those people, the achievers on the cold of their prayer mats. In many of our hearts this is a desire that lingers there all the time. This lingering desire of wanting to be for their Lord and of wanting to be of the strangers, motivates them in ways which others do not know. They know what they are doing, and Allah (ﷻ) knows what they do and what their reward is. They do not work for virtues in this world, although it is granted to them, but they work to be recipients of Divine Virtue in the Hereafter.

We are writing this to you perhaps to reflect upon our state of mind after the death of one of our most loyal murids. He was from Malawi, but he was part of us in more ways than one; not in the sense of being part of the Ummah; no, not in that sense. It is in the sense of his physical presence amongst us, a presence we are going to miss intensely because of the religious joy that always emanated from him. He died, as we have learnt, as a martyr of the Dunya. Whatever the case might be, we do not know. But our memories of him will tell everybody about him. I do not know whether anyone of us has a negative memory of him in any way. All our positive memories are our calls to our Lord to grant to him the kind of bliss that is available to those who die loving Him, worshipping Him, and being for Him. We have lost a valuable murid. His value only Allah (ﷻ) knows, but his memory will continue to live with us for many years to come. He was Imraan, the Malawian. We raise our hands to our Lord and ask Him: “O our Lord we appeal to Thee to grant to him of the best in your heavenly Domain and to place him amongst the best in that Domain … amin … amin … amin”.

This du’a is not only for him. It is for all of us, because each one of us will eventually have to walk the road that he has walked. He has experienced the passage from Dunya to Akhirah, which we must still experience. Although it appears from our perception that this passage presents finality, it is in fact not so. As religionists, we believe very firmly in the Hereafter and all those activities associated with it. What this means is that we accept that death is the opening of a “door” to the Hereafter. To some, this “door” represents an entrance to Divine Punishment. To others, those who have obeyed intensely, this “door” represents an entrance to Divine Pleasure. Of course, our supplication is that Imraan had gone through the door that leads to Divine Pleasure and that this “door” will also be for us, amin.

We do not think that we always understand the seriousness of this “door” and what its entrance is going to mean for each one of us. We in Tariqah are in fact on a path to the “door” that leads to Divine Pleasure. We believe this from the very depths of our hearts. Our whole focus is on the door leading to witnessing our Lord and to the heavenly pleasures of Paradise. This is what we desire for Imraan, and this is what we desire for all of us. This desire is a reflection of a religious passion that swirls through our hearts and that drives us to the prayer mats, the rosaries, the Qur’ans, and whatever else we need to do to be welcomed at that “door” by angels reciting the Words of the Qur’an for us:

يَأَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَةُ إِرْجِعِى إِلَى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَةً

O soul at rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, well pleased and well pleasing unto Him (89:27-28).

This verse is filled with an ocean of blessings for us. If we have traversed our earthly existence successfully in terms of the Divine Law then those angels will call to each one of us: “O soul at rest and in peace, return to your Lord.” There is so much love and expectation of good in these words. It is almost as if our Lord is waiting for us. We must supplicate that it must be like this and that our heavenly welcome will be by Him. There is so much in this verse. This call will only be made to those who have reached a level of servitude at which Allah Almighty is well pleased with that servant, and that servant is deeply grateful, because of His Lord’s Satisfaction. Sometimes our imagination runs wild. But it is not our imagination when there is the desire in one that when one’s turn comes to enter this passage to the Hereafter, then one will be welcomed in this way. We desire this passionately for ourselves and we desire this passionately for each one of you. In a sense the end of this passage is to be placed amongst the other servants in Paradise and to enjoy the ultimate pleasure by witnessing His Countenance. This “witnessing” is the greatest heavenly pleasure. There is nothing greater than this for us. But “witnesses” are limited to only a “small number” in comparison to those who are not witnessing. And so we ask for Imraan and for ourselves that we should be of the “witnesses”. This would be an unbelievably great spiritual achievement – to be able to stand on the ground of Paradise and see one’s Lord. We ask our Lord for that from Him for us. He is Most Generous. He is Absolutely Generous. He is All Generous. And so, we appeal to His Generosity not to deny this to each one of us and to make us of His favourites. Again we say: “Amin … amin … amin.


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