One of the weaknesses in our faith is the fact that we see ourselves as central to our activities and that in the way we talk and the expressions we use, Allah Almighty has very little to do with us. We use the phrases “insha Allah” and “masha Allah” but in many cases these phrases are just parts of our speeches. We do not in fact mean them. As I’ve always said in the past, it is mainly with elderly that these statements have some meaning.
One worries because for many years one’s discourse was secular; a discourse without Allah Almighty in it. Although we mentioned His Name, we saw ourselves as active agents and as the first cause of what we did. Today, many of us have to seek repentance for the many secular statements we made and the many secular ideas that floated through our minds.
Alhamdu lillah, and this is meant seriously, our Lord, again through His Mercy and His Generosity has taken us away from the path of secularism to the path of Islam. I must stress here, although we are Muslim, supposedly believing what we are supposed to believe and practise what we were supposed to practise and even publically professing our Islam; our public statements or our arguments within certain discourses have always been heavily punctuated with the pronouns “I” and “we”. These pronouns, although innocent in themselves, when used in certain discourses, reflect a thinking that is highly secular; a thinking in which Allah Almighty is not the First Cause. One worries about what one had done in the past almost unconsciously and when one appeals for repentance one must also appeal for one’s past thinking.
During the week I was asked to supplicate for a lady who has “a few days to live”, as the doctors say. I supplicated, appealing to Allah Almighty to grant her back her health. But you see, when one faces the reality of death, then one comes to understand the reality of the finity of life. But even more than this is the awareness that that lady has, and what she has re-enforced in me; that in the final analysis all decision-making with regard to us lies in the “Hands” of our Lord. Every time this strikes one and every time when somebody comes to one with what one calls an “incurable” disease or a “fatal” disease, and they plead for a supplication on their behalf, one comes to understand our littleness, and the over-riding decision-making of our Lord in our affairs. It is strange that when one looks at other people, at other mirrors, of people in states of desperation, because of their attachment to this world and they wish to lengthen their lives here, as we say, then one learns from them. One learns about the finity of the realities of life; of one’s own life and the lives of others. It is not always easy to absorb totally this concept of the finity of life for each one of us, and it is even more difficult when a person faces someone and one has a sense that he or she has been given what we call a “death sentence”. In my long association with some very pious people I have not come across any one of them ever asking for longer life when their ends are near. In most cases, they welcome these illnesses, because they are returning to their Lord, and in this return, they do not grieve neither do they fear. Just as they have absorbed the understanding of the finity of life they have also absorbed the reality of the Hereafter. And so, going into the Hereafter is another step in their lives, returning to their Lord that they have looked forward to for so many years. To them these returns are culminations of years of hard religious work for a successful return. These people think differently. They have always seen their Lord as being central in their lives and their intense hope in Him when it comes to their return to Him. They are the people of confidence in their Lord, of hope in their Lord and of being for their Lord, and so their return to Him becomes for them the culmination of their spiritually. In their intense piety their passage from the material domain to the Heavenly domain has to do with and reflects their spiritual success. These people are so special by their Lord. They are His people. In many cases they are His Friends and they are returning to a state in which this Friendship is in full bloom. For long periods in their life, it was only their Lord for them. There is nothing else. Now in their return to the Hereafter, this being only for their Lord becomes a reality for them in the Hereafter. It must be one of the most fantastic spiritual experiences to prepare for death with all the excitement that accompanies being for one’s Lord. There is so much envy in one, a good envy, that there are people on this planet who will carry major honours in the Hereafter, because of the sacrifices they were prepared to make while here. Their lives were always for their Lord, and I am sure that as they breathe their last breaths, they look forward to being in His Presence or to experience His Countenance or to be with those who experience His Countenance.
These teachings, which in a sense are an individual religious experience of deeply religious people, have no room for secularism. Allah Almighty has always been central in their lives as they submitted their will to His Will and accepted His decisions with regard to them. It was always Allah Almighty for them. We are sure that each one of us, in our own particular way, desires this; that as a satisfied soul we are welcomed into the Hereafter to become part of the company of the brotherhood and sisterhood of the pious. We all have that in us. To some it is a desire, to others it is a dream and to some it is just imagination; but whatever the form, it is still there.
You see, we must stop thinking that there are certain things out of our reach or that there are certain things beyond us. There is only Prophethood beyond us. All the other categories of pious people or the variety of Heavenly stations are all there for us, but it is a life long journey along a much troubled path to come to be for one’s Lord on this planet and for one’s Lord in the Hereafter. When we strive for these things, and we should be striving for them, be careful of secularism, those discourses in which there is no Allah Almighty and be careful of the pronouns “I” and “me”, because the over-use tells us the extent to which secularism is dominant in our lives. We ask Allah Almighty to guide and to protect us and to place us on a path to eternal happiness, enjoying His Countenance, amin.