As one walks the spiritual path, there are times when there is a deep desire to be on one’s own or to be alone, as we say. This desire to be on one’s own flows from the desire to have a special connection with Allah (ﷻ). And one feels that the connection can only be special if it is in the form of a very private communication between oneself and one’s Lord. This is referred to as munajat in Islam. We have to understand that it does not matter what is in one’s heart, it is the Will of Allah (ﷻ) that operates with us. It is Allah (ﷻ) that places the desire of munajat in our hearts. In all cases of one’s relationship with one’s Lord, we have to remember, that this relationship is established by one’s Lord through His Will. Our actions are very minor or small contributions to the process. It is like remembrance or celebrating his praises. We always feel as if we are initiating the remembrance. In Tasawwuf we accept that our Lord is overwhelmingly busy with us, even to the extent of our breaths. We are extremely minor players in our own affairs. Although we use the word “communication” for example, it is not that. Our Lord determines the direction of our hearts, what are in those hearts and what those hearts celebrate.
One sometimes wishes that this understanding of one’s relationship with one’s Lord came earlier in life. Again, it is not our relationship with Him, it is His relationship with us. This understanding of the actual nature of this relationship is, in many cases, a major factor in one’s spiritual growth and when very pious people say: “We are nothing,” they are saying: “In our relationship with our Lord, our contribution is nothing.” This concept of Allah’s (ﷻ) dominant role in His affairs with us, and the extent to which He gives direction to those affairs, help enormously in our understanding of who we are in the great arrangement of things.
The concept of “nothingness” as an expression of Allah (ﷻ) being totally in charge of our affairs, tells us about our own status and about our own standing in creation. This is servitude at its best. The servants accept without any opposition the operation of the Divine Will in their lives. And when they go into prostration, recognizing that Will, their hearts become only for Allah (ﷻ). We must understand the relationship between the Divine Will, the actions of our hearts and our status in creation.
I am going to say a very strange thing. It sometimes appears to me that our status was given meaning by our Lord when He gave us special honour in His creation. This honour and the status that comes with it provide the means for us to attain true servitude. Our being “nothing” in relation to our Lord is part of that honour. If there were no honour, there would be no status. It is this honour, whatever its nature might be, that our Lord has granted us that gives us our humanity. This humanity is the humanity of a servant. It is through this humanity that our Lord has granted us that we give expression to being His servants. That is why Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) had, of all human beings, the greatest humanity. And he (ﷺ) was, because of this, the greatest servant.
So many times I have said that Allah (ﷻ) has given us so much. This realisation, Alhamdu lillah, came to many of us late in life, but it came. We did not miss out on it. In the same way, our Lord does not let us miss out on His Grants that make us to be only for Him. This grant of humanity that gives the servants their status as servants is today for me one of His most cherished grants. Without that humanity and without the honour that goes with it or that is part of it, we are like animals. Part of our remembrance of Him through our litanies should also be part of our remembering the many gifts that He grants us. And when we raise our heads from the sujud and having asked Him for forgiveness, we should allow this deep desire “to be for Him as servant” to dominate our hearts. It is always this. All our religious activities and all those activities which do not appear to be totally religious have to do with the status granted to us through the honour mentioned. When we say Alhamdu lillah, those praises are for Him. because of His grants; and those praises are for Him because of what He has placed in our hearts and those praises are for Him because of the direction He has given those hearts. The more intense we are as human beings, the more intense our humanity, the more we accept the operation of the Divine Will in our lives. Being human with all its frailties and being given direction by the Divine Will are for me today Allah’s (ﷻ) greatest gift to us. We are in deep gratitude because of all of these, amin.