In one of his lesser-known Traditions, Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) speaks of the inmates of Paradise, who have serious concerns over the periods on the Dunya during which they had not remembered their Lord. They are in Paradise, in an indescribable condition of pleasure, but they have periods of worry; those periods in which they had not celebrated their Lord’s praises. They are in Paradise, experiencing what their Lord had promised them but they still have periods of concern, those periods on this planet when they were in states of forgetfulness. Many of the intensely pious people consider forgetting Allah (ﷻ) as sinful, at least for them.
Can we imagine, that we are engaged in so much dhikr every day, that despite the time spent in these celebrations, there are still periods in our lives during which we forget our Lord. It pains one to think that one’s faith and religious practices are so shallow, that despite what we do, there are major gaps in our remembrance. It pains one to think that Allah (ﷻ) created one only to worship Him and not for all the other activities, and we are unable to comply. Doesn’t it worry one that one is drifting away from the reason for one’s creation and existence? Doesn’t it worry one that one is not engaged in a large number of activities that have nothing or little to do with the reason for one’s existence?
Perhaps I can talk like this because of my seniority, but it is because of my seniority that I can look back over decades of my existence within which there are major gaps of forgetfulness. Somehow asking for repentance for this does not satisfy the feelings of negativity in one on the issue. One knows that the peak of one’s existence or the peak of one’s activity should be an almost permanent state of remembrance of one’s Lord. One knows that is the ultimate aim of each one of us, or should be the ultimate aim. I am worried because of myself and I am also worried because of others. We can all look back at all our activities, and we can all examine what we are doing today but if we want to be truthful, we have to admit that we are doing so little for our Lord. No, it is wrong. Our Lord does not need anything from us, what we do we do for His sake, but for our benefit. The benefit of remembering Him is for us. And what about forgetting Him? Is the impact of that also on us?
One of the most remarkable statements that I have come across and which has encouraged me in my life is the one that states that when Allah (ﷻ) desires His servant to remember Him, He inspires His servant to resort to such remembrance. It is always Allah (ﷻ) at work. Even if we remember Him, it is He at work. It is His Will that is operating although we are remembering.
What we do know is that those who constantly remember Him are those who He desires to remember Him. This is one of the honours granted to the rememberers. They remember because their Lord wants them or desires them to remember. And so when they call His Name in remembrance, it is His remembrance of the servant that causes the servant to call out. It is this that makes the servant who remembers, so special. We must understand this. When the one who remembers his Lord, calls out in such remembrance, it is his Lord that is busy with him. But the opposite is also true, when one forgets one’s Lord, one’s Lord, in a sense also forgets one. It is this forgetting of one’s Lord or periods of forgetting one’s Lord that will cause the inmates of Paradise to regret that they had not tried to fill the gaps of forgetfulness with remembrance.
Those who are rememberers, desire not to be outside their Lord’s remembrance. It is this that causes them to worry. They wish to be of those who are permanently remembered by their Lord. Worldly activities have granted them gaps of forgetfulness, and now they cry.
You see, many of us do not understand this. When one calls out “Allah”, not only is one’s Lord “with one” during that calling, but one is also remembered by one’s Lord during that call. When one does not call on one’s Lord, then one is not remembered by Him. It is this that causes the pious people to go into states of regret, and because of the status of remembrance, and the status they can gain through such remembrance, that they consider forgetfulness to be a major deviation in their religious practice.
Let me put it to you in another way. One day Sayyiduna Ali (r.a.) was very disturbed and said: “My Lord has forsaken me.” When it was enquired why he said that, he replied: “I have not had somebody to share my meals with me, during the last three days.” What would the people of remembrance say, if they had not celebrated the praises of their Lord for a number of periods? Would they also say: “Our Lord has forsaken us”, just as Sayyiduna Ali (r.a.) had said? It is this being forsaken by their Lord that causes so much worry to the pious people. They can take anything, but they cannot take this.
I sometimes or rather many times think about all of us. I know many of us are very busy with different forms of the remembrance of their Lord. I know that. I also know that in relation to what many others do, we do more. But I also know that we do very little if I think of our potential to do much. Allah (ﷻ) has given us the potential to engage in considerable remembrance of Him in order to attain certain spiritual stations that He has prepared for us. Some of us find doing additional adhkar almost as a burden, despite this potential. I worry because we might be characterized as negligent since we do not make use of the full potential that our Lord has granted us. We must be so careful. Allah (ﷻ) has granted us the ability to strive in His Cause and be involved in His Remembrance for large periods of our existence. And He has prepared for us certain spiritual stations at which we can enjoy the benefits of that striving. These benefits are for us. Allah (ﷻ) says: “They are for you.” And, if we do not do that striving, or we neglect what He had asked us to do, or we think we are doing too much or enough, then what? I worry about myself and about others when I dictate this. We are still so far removed from being truly of the Ahludh dhikr (the people of dhikr). Allah (ﷻ) has opened so many doors for us for this striving; one door after the other, each door different from the other. But many of us are so reluctant to go through those entrances. Some of these entrances are in the poorest areas amongst the poorest people, amongst the most depressed of us, but we turn away from those doors. So many doors, so many entrances, and so few who want to go through. Those who are going through are on their way to special stations. Others lag behind outside the entrances.
We must truly believe that Allah (ﷻ) is there to help us, to give us direction and to take our hands in leading us to our goals or to take our hands and lead us through the entrances. We must truly believe this and then we must call on Him with the prayer: “O my Lord, I am solely for you. I see the entrances to Thy grace far in the distance. I appeal to Thee to take my hand and to lead me to the goals that are desired and that are lodged in my heart. I ask Thee, O my Lord, to let me enter the Hereafter as a rememberer, and I ask Thee, O my Lord, to grant me the help I need to become special by Thee, amin.”