Allah Almighty says that all strength and power belong to Him. What we think are our strengths and power is nothing. We have imagination with regard to ourselves. We think that we have power and strength and the nation thinks that it has power and strength. Muslims say no! Muslims say:
لاَ حَوْلَ وَ لاَ قُوَّةَ إِلاَّ بِاللهِ العَلِيِّ الْعَظِيْمِ
(La hawla wa la quwwata illa billahil aliyyil azim: There is no power or strength except with Allah, the Most High, the Most Powerful). This verse, this statement, is one of the treasures of the Jannah, according to a hadith from Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ).
But that is not what I wanted to speak about to you today. We must appeal very passionately to Allah Almighty and ask Him to make us pious people. Piety is the only thing that has any real meaning here and in the Hereafter. All the other things that we think have so much meaning have, in fact, very little meaning. This is because when we pass away all those things that we have accumulated, that we are so excited about, all those things we leave behind. Whether we are millionaires, whether we are professors or doctors or muftis or mawlanas, we leave all our wealth and titles behind when we go from the here into the Hereafter. And the only thing in the Hereafter that will matter to us will be our pious deeds, to what degree we have carried out the orders of Allah with regard to our religion. The only thing that is going to matter in the Hereafter is the extent of our piety, how holy we are, how pious we are. Our piety is the only thing that eventually is going to matter for us.
That is why, look at any person who is passing away, what is his interest during the final moments of his life, or the final hour of his life, what is his interest? His interest is just
لاَ إِلٰهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ
(La ilaha illallah: There is no god other than Allah). That is his only interest. The last words he wants to have on his tongue when he passes from this world to the Hereafter are the words
لاَ إِلٰهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ
(La ilaha illallah). Why is this so? Why doesn’t he say, when he is lying on his death bed: “I am a professor, or I am a great doctor, or I am a millionaire. I want to pass out of this world announcing that I am a multi-millionaire and have so many properties.” Why doesn’t he say that if those things are so important?
What we accumulate in this world, we take 10 years and 20 years and 30 years and 40 years to do so, just to announce that we are millionaires. One person told me that he is a millionaire. I did not even ask him. He just announced that to me. I was not interested that he is a millionaire, but he came to tell me. He thought I would be very excited, and must have been very surprised that I did not get excited. All those things which we accumulate are eventually left for other people. They take it from us. Our millions, our properties, all our things, they take and use them up. The only thing that we want in the Hereafter is not our millions or our titles but
لاَ إِلٰهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ
(La ilaha illallah). We say this over and over and over and over, passing out of this world with the word “Allah” on our tongues. This is the great desire of everybody.
When we come into this world, from the wombs of our mothers, the first words that are supposed to register on our souls are the words
(Allahu akbar: Allah is the Greatest). The first word that is supposed to register in a new born is the word “Allah”. The last word that we want to mention when we go out of this world is the word “Allah”. And so, what I’m trying to explain is that in the final moments of our life we realize the importance of our religion, of being pious, of having taqwa. In the final moments of our lives that is important. You might get people who, in the final moments of their lives are still interested in other things, but they are mad people, they are heedless people. There is nothing in their heads. But people who are Muslim like us, when we leave this world we want to leave under the banner of Islam. And all the other things, that were so important in this world, all those things come to mean nothing, not little, nothing. All my properties and all my money and all my clothing and all the stuff that I have been accumulating over the years mean nothing. They don’t even want to give me some of my clothing to take into the grave. They dress me in a cloth, bury me and leave me in my grave. Who stays with me? Is my son going to stay there with me? Or is my wife going to stay there with me? They leave me alone. I have spent my time in this world. They put me in the grave, close it up, greet and they leave.
We must be very careful with the decisions that we take with regard to ourselves. We must be very careful as to the road we take in this world. Allah Almighty has created this world as a temporary place of residence for us, in which we have to prepare ourselves for the journey back to him. That’s why we say:
إِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَ إِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْنَ
To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return (ii: 156).
Whenever a person passes away, we say those words, not for him, for us. When we say
(Inna lillahi), we say it to ourselves and to those who are around us. We are reminding them and us that we have come from Allah.
At the beginning of time He created our souls in the heavens, and every time He sends the souls to this world for a short period and we have to prepare ourselves for our return to Him. Only Sayyidatuna Hawa (r.a.) and Nabi Adam (a.s.) came down with their souls already in their bodies. This is not so for us. Allah Almighty instructs the angel to take the soul down to the mother of the new child that must be born and the instruction to that soul is that it has a short period on earth, and it must prepare itself for its return to Him.
وَ إِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْنَ
Wa inna ilayhi raji’un is our return back to Allah. Now I want to know, what are we supposed to do for this preparation? What must we do? Must we spend our time in this world just accumulating wealth and property and clothing and money? Must we make that our primary task here? We can make it our primary task, but is that our primary task in this world? Is having a good job, or getting titles or getting rich, are those the most important things in this world for us?
وَ مَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَ الإِنْسَ إِلاَّ لِيَعْبُدُوْنِ
I have only created jinn and humans that they may worship Me (li: 56).
This means that He says: “I have not created human beings and jinn except that they must spend their time in this world primarily in ibadat.” Allah does not say that He had created us to accumulate. The only things we are supposed to accumulate are good things. Nowhere do we find that we are instructed to spend most of our time in this world accumulating properties and wealth and clothing and money. Nowhere do we find that. All the Prophets (a.s.) have said: “Prepare yourselves to go back to Allah.” We must use most of our time to worship Allah so that when we appear in His Divine Court one day, we can stand up straight. We can stand unembarrassed in front of Him.
I am not saying we must not buy clothing. I am not saying we must not buy a nice house. I am not saying we must not get a nice car. I am not saying that. I am saying: We should not focus our main attention throughout our lives on those matters and neglect our ibadat, neglect our salah, neglect our fasting, all because we are busy accumulating. As one young man told me: “I’ve got a job during the day but I also want to go work at night”. What for? For more money, more money! I asked the man: “What about your Islam?” He did not reply. What could he say? Don’t use valuable time only for accumulation. We must look after our families. We must work, that’s quite right. We need transport, so we need cars. We need a roof over our heads, so we buy houses, but we should not forget Allah in the process. So many Muslims are so busy getting rich that they forget about getting rich spiritually. They forget to get rich spiritually. Allah gives us what has been decreed for us. We won’t get more and we won’t get less. If we are with Him, He is with us. Ask anybody who serves Him properly how Allah pours sustenance on one. There are so many examples I can quote to you. If we are for Him, He is for us. We must be very careful about this. We must be very careful how we think about life. We must be very careful in what direction we are going.
Don’t forget salah. Don’t forget fasting. Don’t forget zakah. Don’t forget Ḥajj and Umrah. Don’t forget dhikr. Don’t forget reciting of the Qur’an. We must do all these things, and ask Allah everyday: “Oh my Lord! I am Thy creature. Thou had created me. Please I ask Thee, make me a pious person.” Ask! Allah Almighty says:
أُدْعُوْنِى أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ
Ask Me, I answer you (xl: 60).
Piety is the only thing that is going to have meaning for us. I want to repeat that, the only thing that is eventually going to have meaning for us is going to be our piety, how pious we are, how holy we are. The sad thing is, the sad thing is, that when we are in the Hereafter one day, we will have to answer to Allah for our accumulation. We will have to answer to Him as to what we had done with what we had accumulated and with our time. The accumulation of wealth will not take us into the Jannah. It can help if it is used in the Cause of Allah, if it is used piously. The things that will take us into the Jannah are our pious deeds.
We ask Allah to make us pious people. He must make us people who love His religion. He must make us people who look after the salah, look after the zakah, look after Ramadan, and look after Ḥajj and Umrah. We look after these things, so that one day He will be satisfied with us. The greatest present, the greatest Divine Present, is Divine Satisfaction. When Allah Almighty is happy with us, and satisfied with us then He gives us His love. In a verse Allah says:
وَ أَحْسِنُوا إِنَّ اللهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِيْنَ
And do good for Allah loves those who do good (ii: 195).
He loves people who are good. What does “good” mean? Good things are those things that He has told us to do. If we do those things, He loves us. When He loves us, He gives us special presents. One of the greatest presents that He can give us is called Wilayah. He makes us His Awliya’. He makes us His Friends. He gives us Friendship. On another occasion I had told you about Sayyiduna Umar (r.a.) to show you the nature of this Friendship. Allah had granted him Wilayah. And that Friendship is Divine Love. We must work for that, and ask. We must not be afraid to ask. Don’t be afraid. And remember what I told you at the beginning of my talk, take care of your destination. We must think of our destinations all the time, and think of our destination in the Hereafter. Think of that. We must ask: What am I going to do about that? And ask: What am I going to do about Divine Love? We must ask for that. It is there for us. Mawlana Shaykh Nazim says that Allah has endless oceans, oceans with no shores of Love … Mercy … Forgiveness. All of these are intended for us. Not for the rest of the creation but for us. We must work for that. We must ask Allah: “O Allah, grant us Thy Love. O Allah, Thou had created us, grant us Mercy. O Allah, Thou had created us, grant us forgiveness. Make us of your precious, pious servants.” So that one day when we come in the Hereafter,
إِنْ شَاءَ اللهُ
(insha Allah: if Allah so wills), He will be happy with us and satisfied with us. We ask Allah for that with the blessings of Al-Fatihah …
And Allah knows best, and I ask forgiveness for any mistakes or distortions in what I have said, Amin.
Selected Talks by Yusuf da Costa [Published 2008]