In the large variety of experiences that we have gone through in our work for Islam, amongst both Muslims and non-Muslims, perhaps one of the startling facts that stands out for me is the reluctance of Muslims to praise their Lord. I do not only find this surprising, because we come from a long line of history of such remembrance, but I also find it very disconcerting. The latter is because I cannot understand how a community that is defined in terms of Islam shows a major reluctance to celebrate the praises of Allah (ﷻ).
In many mosques, when we are either starting the congregational dhikr, or when we are busy with it, most of the people who come to the mosque for the obligatory prayers, leave the mosque at the end of the prayers. Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) had said: “When you pass by the Gardens of Paradise, participate in them.” The Companions asked: “O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) what are the Gardens of Paradise?” In one Tradition he (ﷺ) said that the Gardens of Paradise are the circles of knowledge and in another Tradition, he (ﷺ) said that they are the circles of dhikr. We go to many areas where the Muslim population is dominant, but few of them would stay with us to make the dhikr or to come and join us. What is going on? If I should announce that there is some great qari from overseas who is going to recite, the mosque will be full. This is good. And if I should announce that we are going to settle some major controversy from the area of the mosque, the mosque will also be packed. However, when tell people: “Come, let us celebrate the Praises of our Lord”, people run away. The only conclusion I can come to is that there is a growing reluctance on the side of many people in different areas to sit down with their brother or sister Muslims and call out to their Lord in praise. If this is not so, then what is operating?
Many times we have a thought that Allah (ﷻ) decides who must celebrate His Praises, and so He decides who must join us in the congregational dhikr. This is in fact what the case is all about. It appears to me that just as Allah (ﷻ) inspires certain people to celebrate His Praises and then He is with them in different ways with His Mercy, Love, Kindness, Forgiveness, etc; in exactly the same way His Decree to celebrate His Praises is not for everyone. Those who leave the mosque when we praise or those who leave the mosque when we are about to praise, are those who Allah (ﷻ) had decreed, that they should not praise Him. Is it like this? Is it correct to say that just as it has been written as part of Allah’s (ﷻ) Decree that some should not worship Him, that they are the non-worshippers, so I feel that in the same way, Allah (ﷻ) has decreed that some would not be of those who spend their time in praising Him, both privately and in congregation.
This worries one, but isn’t it true? Is it not Allah’s (ﷻ) Decree that determines the religious behaviour of each individual? Is it not so? Is it not true that in the “beginning of time”, Allah (ﷻ) placed His Decree on His creation? This is according to the Qur’an. Is it not true? And that Allah (ﷻ) decreed who those people would be that would prostrate themselves in worship to Him and who those people would be to move their tongues with an awareness of their hearts in His Praises. If this Decree is for some, then it means that there are others who fall outside the Decree. Allah (ﷻ) decides. I don’t want to think so but perhaps all those, or many of those who walk out of the mosque when we call His Name, may be of those who fall outside the Decree that I have mentioned. This is worrying me and also frightens me.
The one thing that can change that Decree or ease it, is supplication. Through supplication, again as He had decreed, He might change the Decree on those people who now walk out of the mosque. When we think of our history and how our forefathers sacrificed to keep Islam alive and how previous communities spent large periods of their time in private and congregational adhkar; when we think of this and when we see what is happening today, a sadness comes over me or perhaps it is just a massive disappointment.
Many of us have spent large parts of our time talking on different aspects of the remembrance of Allah’s (ﷻ). But there are so many “deaf” and “clogged up” ears. Very few listen nowadays. Very few, even senior citizens, rather spend their precious time in different forms of escapist activities. We see them leaving the mosques when the dhikr starts. They are senior people and they are not rememberers. Perhaps they want it that way.
Many of us involved in the remembrance of Allah (ﷻ) for many years have come to reap its benefits; usually obtained by combining such remembrance with other essential Islamic activities. Some of us know of these benefits, because we have been informed. Others have received the benefits but they don’t know, because they have not been informed. Now in the last part of our lives, some of us see the profits of what we have done for many years, some at special stations, which we know about and others are on their way to receive these stations. We don’t know if there are words in any language that can express the gratitude when people receive different blessings from their Lord. Some know and some do not know. For some it is good to know and for others it is not; but their blessings are there and the gratitude is there. I am sure that some of those who receive such blessings sometimes think of their lives and they are in deep gratitude for the direction that Allah (ﷻ) had given to them. And today, they have lives filled with the remembrance of Allah (ﷻ). There is so much gratitude that could so easily have been otherwise. We thank Him for this, amin.