One of the things that I think many of us regret is that we were not made aware in the past, when we were much younger, about the process of purification in Islam. To a large degree many of the forms of worship in our religion are ritualized. We prayed because we were told to pray. And so, under instruction by our parents usually, we performed ibadat. In many cases when we could dodge, we dodged, because we were never made aware of the almost unlimited spirituality in our religion. To many of us it was just one of those inconveniences in our lives, inconveniences which we had to perform.
This is extremely sad because it drove large numbers of people away from Islam. They kept their so-called Muslim names but their practice of Islam was only an occasional thing. You might not believe this, but I can remember going to a mosque in Salt River with my two brothers and there was nobody else in the mosque for the Maghrib payer. Mosque attendance was a very limited thing at the time. It is not this, however, that I am concerned about in this letter. It has to do with the fact that we were reared in an Islam, unaware of its spiritual goals and unaware of spiritual achievement. I think that if we had been made aware of the endless depth of spirituality in our religion and the spiritual achievements of many of our forefathers, the picture might have been different. It is my view today that many of those who criticize spirituality are still living in the Dark Ages. To them, like many others, Islam consists of a few beliefs and a few rituals, which have to be performed. Today there is deep regret in me that I was made aware of this path of spirituality so late in life. But it was as Allah (ﷻ) had decreed. He had decided at which moment He was going to turn my face and our faces in His direction. Although we say we regret, we have no control over events. Allah (ﷻ) is the Changer and Opener of hearts. He (ﷻ) is also the Controller of all events. Every single event that happens at every moment of time in every place in His (ﷻ) creation is under His Decree. So when we say we regret it is just a personal expression of an event or events in which in fact we have no say. So many times I have thought of the intense relief in me that the cause of my life or the causes of our lives are not in our hands. I am being very specific about us here. I am not concerned about others or their lives. I am concerned about us and our lives. The fact that the direction of our lives is under Divine Decree, and that it is the Divine Decree that has put us possibly in the forefront of the defence of the Ahlus Sunni Wal Jama’ah, must be to us one of the greatest blessings that has come to this community.
On so many occasions I have stressed our historical role that Allah (ﷻ) determined for us in this country. We must look around and open our eyes. We must move around and listen and we will see how the impact of a few individuals in this order has changed the lives of people, or have touched people’s lives. I have not found in the history of this community, and I have studied that history, anything similar to what all of us are engaged in. There might be small indications of similar work in our past history, but there are no records.
We have brought into the da’wah movement in this country or might rather be called da’wah work in this country, a new dimension. We have shown through our work, as decreed by our Lord and as implemented by our Shaykh, that our Lord’s remembrance is a major vehicle for impacting on the hearts of people.
At one stage in the community its history was characterized by the remembrance of Allah (ﷻ), but the remembrance has been slipping away. Then at a particular moment, Allah’s (ﷻ) Decree came into operation for a revival of His remembrance; not only to take the hearts of Muslims back to Him but also to take the hearts of non-Muslims to Him. You must understand. You must please understand and think deeply how Allah’s (ﷻ) Decree has worked for us to perform His Work. This is done, not through fancy speeches or the distribution of literature or whatever the means might be, but by changing hearts or their redirection through His remembrance. We have come to learn in our structures, as we see the tongues moving in His remembrance by both Muslim and non-Muslim, that remembrance of Allah (ﷻ) is the greatest weapon that He has provided for us in da’wah work at all different kinds of levels. The words of His (ﷻ) remembrance are so simple but they carry within themselves the power to open hearts, to give hearts another content, to turn hearts in the direction of their Lord and to make those hearts submit the human will to the Divine Will. We have all come to learn that the celebration of His Praises are important stepping stones in spiritual development, towards a station at which only Allah (ﷻ) matters, and nothing else.
While I am dictating this letter, I think about the massive ignorance not only here, but also overseas of His (ﷻ) remembrance. Muslims do all kinds of things supposedly in remembrance of their Lord but more to forget Him (ﷻ). Allah (ﷻ) is remembered in the way He (ﷻ) tells us to remember Him (ﷻ) and in no other way. He (ﷻ) says:
وَاذْكُرُوا اللهَ كَثِيْرً لَّعَلَّ كُمْ تُفْلِحُوْنَ
And celebrate the praises of Allah much so that you may prosper
And it is through this considerable remembrance that is mentioned numerously in the Qur’an and in the Traditions that make our hearts react. Our forefathers were like that. They concerned themselves with all the aspects of Islamic civilization but when it came to the purification of their souls or the stepping stones for spiritual development or the striving after different stations, they intensified the celebration of His Praises. They knew this is the way, and we by our experiences have also come to know this is the way. I do not believe that there are other ways that can so rapidly change hearts and take one to higher stations. I do not believe this. Our experiences tell us a different story. It is religious experiences through the celebration of His Praises that have made a major impact on all our hearts. We know today, about the nature and impact of the celebration of His Praises. We have come to know this on our prayer mats in the privacy of our homes, and we have come to know this in the public display of such celebration in congregation. We are deeply thankful to our Creator for opening this door for us, otherwise we would have been like many others, scratching around in the sand instead of reaching out to the heavens. We ask Allah (ﷻ) that our reaching out to Him (ﷻ) must be accepted by Him (ﷻ), amin.