We must learn to open our hearts to the celebration of the praises of Allah Almighty. We must open our hearts to those praises of Allah so that the praises can enter our hearts. We must learn that. It is almost as if we are diving into the ocean of the Oneness of Allah, and allow the ocean waters to carry us, to carry us, and to carry us. And all the time we are saying: “Ya-Rabbi, Ya-Rabbi, Ya-Rabbi.” Our hearts are only busy with our Lord. That is what Islam is all about, to make our hearts always busy with our Lord. And if the drums help or the flutes help, you must use them. Anything we have to help the word “Allah” to reach the hearts. It doesn’t matter where the water carries us. All the time it is always: “Ya-Rabbi, Ya-Rabbi, O my Lord, O my Lord.” And our whole existence becomes only for Allah. We care about nothing else and we are concerned about nothing else even if is just for a few minutes a day that our hearts beat only for Him.
When Jibril (a.s.) came to Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) in the cave with the first revelation, his (ﷺ) heart was closed to the revelation. Jibril (a.s.) said to him: “Read!” Thrice he did that, and thrice he embraced him (ﷺ). Then Allah Almighty opened his heart and allowed the revelation to pour in. That opening of the heart has come down to us. One of the means that we use to unlock our hearts, to open it up, is to celebrate the praises of Allah Almighty. Whenever we have the opportunity we must call: “Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah!” The tongue says but it registers in the heart, and then the heart responds: “Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah!” This is the main intention of tariqah and the path we are walking. Through constant dhikr eventually our hearts are going to be of such a nature that those hearts will say: “Allah, Allah, Allah!”
We must open up, open up. We must relax ourselves in the celebration of His praises, open ourselves in the celebration of His praises, and submit to His praises. The celebration of His praises comes to have special meaning in our lives even if only for a short time a day. We must take away all those things, all those discourses, all the ideas, all the education, all the things that help to close up our hearts, and try very hard to open up our hearts because there is coming into our hearts, coming into our lives, a love of Islam. And so we want to open up and we must not be hesitant about that. We must not hesitate. We must say to ourselves: “We want to open up,” and the person who has opened will find that all those things that impede the opening up, that stop the opening up, will slowly disappear even if for a few minutes every day. And so for a few minutes every day, we call on Allah in whatever way we can.
Why don’t we want to open our hearts? Why do we want to keep it closed? The heart is the most important organ in the body. It registers what the brain can’t register. It opens up to what the brain can’t open up to. When Allah wants to see how His servant is, He looks at the heart of that servant, not at his clothing, not at his form, not at his cheque book, not at his titles, nothing like that. What we’ve done here tonight is part of the opening up of our hearts. We must respond to the Divine Call. Allah calls us, and He greets us. He says: “Salam (Peace)!” Does He not say that in Surahs Yasin and Qadr (chapters of the Qur’an)? Does He not say: “Salam” to us? And our hearts go to receive the message.
Our hearts are covered up by our education, by the things we believe in, and the types of jobs we have. Of course, it is covered. Nothing can go into our hearts. We have to learn to open up. It’s a whole new process of re-educating ourselves, of re-educating our hearts, to open up our hearts to the celebration of the praises of Allah Almighty. And when the drum sounds it helps in the opening up of our hearts. And when the notes from the flute come, it helps to open up our hearts. Allah Almighty has provided us means of opening our hearts. Use those means. Don’t be afraid to use those means. If we can use our voices, use our voices. If we can use an instrument, use an instrument. It will help us in the process of opening up our hearts. Go into the history of the pious people and you will see how they used all this to help them in the opening up of their hearts. And they reached magnificent stations by Allah Almighty because they had resigned themselves to Him and said: “O my Lord, I am for Thee always. O My Lord, I am for Thee!” They have pushed aside all those other things that interfere with that because they want to be for Allah.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
Say: “It is for the sake of Allah” (vi: 12).
These words, these words are of the most important words to do with spiritual development in Islam. Just those two, what we would say are simple words! There is another verse just as short:
Say: “Allah” (vi:91).
Say My Name! The reason why we recite “Allah” is because we obey the Qur’an. Allah says: “Say My Name.” He also says:
وَ اذْكُرِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ بُكْرَةً وَ أَصِيْلاً
Mention the Name of your Lord, morning and evening (lxxvi: 25).
The Qur’an opens with His Name, Bismillah (In the Name of Allah). That’s why we say “Allah”. Allah says that we must say it. We must open up our hearts to the call, to the Divine Call.
We must stop this kind of life. Stop to understand. Start plotting a direction for ourselves. Don’t just live day in and day out, day in and day out, directionless! We are His greatest creation! Allah says that about us. We are His most honoured creation. He says that about us! He has given us wonderful opportunities for achievement. According to Mawlana Shaykh Nazim, Allah has prepared for us certain stations in the Hereafter, stations for us to achieve and come to. We must not hesitate. We must not let the things that happened in our past prevent us from working for spiritual achievement. We must knock on His “door” or call to Him so that our hearts can be opened. The heart is there. Allah has placed it in our bodies. The heart is the centre for our spiritual development.
I want to appeal to you with regard to this. I was just relaxing here, listening to the drum, listening to the voices, listening to the call, listening, relaxing, saying very little, just listening, just relaxing, letting the sound go through my body as you called: “Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah!” Whenever you called: “Ya Hay, Ya Qayyum (O Everliving, O the Self-Subsisting)!” with the drums beating and the flute playing in the background, the sounds just went through my system … went through my system … went through my system. And again I realized the importance of this, of celebrating the praises of Allah Almighty as a means of coming towards Him.
No one can come to their Lord without celebrating His praises. All those whose histories I’ve studied, came to their Lord celebrating His praises. I want all of us to understand this. I am going to end off now. We ask Allah to help us to open our hearts. Only He can do that. Only He can help. Only He can support. Only He can do that. You must appeal: “O My Lord, open our hearts so that Thy Holy Words, Thy Sacred Words that Thou had sent can penetrate, can go in.” We must ask that. Don’t be afraid to go into sujud and ask. Don’t be afraid to supplicate and ask so that our hearts call: “Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah!”
I always say that when a baby comes into the world, the first word that is sent into that child is
(Allah … hu Akbar: Allah is the Greatest). And when that person dies, the last word that he says when he leaves this world is
لاَ إِلٰهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ
(La-ilaha illallah: there is no god other than Allah). Our life is between the first “Allah” and the second “Allah”. Allah has made us live between two mentions of His Name, the “Allah” at birth and the “Allah” at death. All of us, when we die the last word we want on our tongues is “Allah”. We want to die like that so that the first word that we say when we go into the Hereafter is “Allah”. That word is the greatest word in the Qur’an.
We ask for guidance from Allah with the blessings of Suratul Fatihah …
And Allah knows best, and I ask forgiveness for any mistakes or distortions in what I have said, Amin.
Selected Talks by Yusuf da Costa [Published 2008]