I’m sitting here  in the middle of a congregational dhikr and the room is full of ladies who have come to celebrate the remembrance of Allah Almighty. The important thing with regard to what we are doing, is that everything that we do must be a step for Islam, must be a step for Allah. All our ibadat, and all the other things that we do as Muslims must always be in terms of what Allah wants, and the message that He has sent through Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) to us. This is very important for us to understand. As Muslims we run to Allah and say: “O My Lord or Ya Rabbi, I am here to obey Thee. I’m here to carry out Thy instructions. I’m here to obey Thy Messenger (ﷺ) and I’m here to obey the instructions of Thy Messenger (ﷺ).” And so Allah has provided us with the Qur’an, and provided us with the Practice of His Prophet (ﷺ) in order to help us in what we are doing.
So every time we strive in His direction, it must be a struggle in humiliation, a humble strive in obedience. Everything that we do all the time, and it is very important for us to realize this, must be for Allah. That must be the important thing in our minds. We must say: “I’m doing this for Allah’s sake,” and if we can get that right then a lot of our Islam will fall into place.
There is a du’a that we always make, part of which is a verse from the Qur’an:
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِى الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَ فِى الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَ قِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ وَ أَدْخِلْنَا الْجَنَّةَ مَعَ الأَبْرَارِ
يَا عَزِيْزُ يَا غَفَّارُ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ
Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter (ii: 201), and let us enter Paradise with the intensely pious, O Most Mighty, O One Who grants forgiveness, O Lord of the Worlds.
What does this du’a mean? What does it mean when we say: “Rabbana”? We say: “O our Lord,” giving recognition to the fact that Allah is the Creator, Allah is the Sustainer, Allah is the Provider. That is what that means. On a previous occasion, I mentioned that at the beginning of time Allah extracted from the loins of Nabi Adam (a.s.) all his descendants and after gathering us together, addressed us. The Qur’an says:
أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُوا بَلٰى شَهِدْنَا
“Am I not your Lord?” They said: “Yes truly. We do testify!” (vii: 172).
When we say: “Rabbana”, we are reaffirming what we said at the beginning of time giving recognition to Allah Almighty as Lord. When we say at the beginning of the du’a,
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِى الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً
(Rabbana atina fid dunya hasanah: O our Lord, grant us what is good in this world), we are not talking about material possessions but those things, if we do them, Allah will grant us goodness in the Hereafter. Let me say this to you very slowly because this is very important. When we say:
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِى الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً
(Rabbana atina fid dunya hasanah), we are asking Allah to give us the strength and the understanding to do certain things that if we do them, Allah will be happy with us, and when we come in the Hereafter, He will grant us goodness. The first part of the du’a is linked to the second part:
وَ فِى الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً
(wa fil akhirati hasanah: and goodness in the Hereafter). What is the goodness that we want in the Hereafter? When we appear in the Divine Court one day, we would want Divine Satisfaction and Divine Love.
There is a very important verse in the Qur’an in which Allah speaks about this process:
يَأَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ ارْجِعِى إِلَى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَةً فَادْخُلِى فِى عِبَادِى وَ ادْخُلِى جَنَّتِى
“O soul at rest and satisfaction! Return to Thy Lord, well pleased and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter thou among my devotees! Enter thou My heaven (lxxxix: 27-30).
And so when we say
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِى الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَ فِى الأَخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً
(Rabbana atina fid dunya hasanah wa fil akhirati hasanah), we are asking for the status as in this verse. We want Allah Almighty to grant that to us. The angel must say to us when we come in the Hereafter: “O soul that is at rest, return to your Lord. He is waiting for His servant to return. He is satisfied with you because of your religious behaviour on earth, what you did as a Muslim, He is happy with you. He is content with you. He has prepared something wonderful for you. He has prepared goodness for you.” What a fantastic welcome!
The rest of the du’a is very, very interesting:
يَا عَزِيْزُ يَا غَفَّارُ وَ قِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ وَ أَدْخِلْنَا الْجَنَّةَ مَعَ الأَبْرَارِ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ
(…wa qina adhaban nar wa adkhilnal jannata ma’al abrar, Ya Aziz, Ya Ghaffar, Ya Rabbal alamin). We are saying: “O Allah, I want Thee to grant me a special favour. Grant me good in the Hereafter. Guide me on that path that Thou hast prepared for those whom Thou hast granted good on earth and good in the Hereafter. Protect me from the Fire and let me enter Paradise with the abrar.” Who are the abrar? They are people who have birr, intense piety. What are we asking Allah? We are asking to be placed amongst the intensely pious. Surely intense piety is a very special achievement. It is not for everybody. At different places in the Qur’an, Allah speaks about groups of very pious people, the special achievers, the receivers of special grants. We are asking: “O my Lord, please, I appeal to Thee. Thou art my Lord. Please, I’m appealing to Thee, let me enter Paradise with the best people, in the best company. I don’t want second best. I don’t want third best. O my Lord, I want THE best.” We are asking for that! We are asking that our Lord grants us the best because only He can do so. No one else can do that! In the Hereafter, as on earth, Allah decides. He is the decision maker with regards to our grants in the Hereafter, and so our appeal is to Him.
Now, if we wish to be with the abrar, how must we be? Very important question! If we want to be with the abrar, if we want to be in the best company, if we want special favours from Allah, we must start looking at our own personal religious behaviour, at how we behave, at how we perform as Muslims. Allah says:
وَ أَحْسِنُوا إِنَّ اللهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِيْنَ
And do good, for Allah loves those who do good (ii: 195).
Allah says that if we do good, He will love us. This is very special. Not everybody gets Allah’s love because Divine love is a special grant that Allah gives to only certain of His servants, not to all! Those servants who obey Him and His Messenger (ﷺ) all the time become special servants to Him and so He grants those servants Divine Friendship. He gives them Friendship! He puts compassion and calmness in their hearts, and they become peaceful people. And when others look at them, they are reminded of Allah. They look at you and say: “My word, look at this lady. This must be an intensely pious lady. Listen to the way she talks. Look at the way she carries herself. I’m sure that she is a person that is deeply involved with her God, deeply involved with His Messenger (ﷺ). It must be like that because when I see her, I think of Allah.”
These special servants of Allah love each other, not because they are related but because they walk a special path of obedience to their Lord together. They follow a certain spiritual methodology in order to reach a state of happiness through a grant of Divine Love. Divine Love is one of those very, very special presents that Allah gives us. It has nothing to do with our material possessions, nothing to do with that. The path that we are trying to walk has nothing to do with material possessions, not our cars, not our money, not our children, not our wives, not our husbands.
On the Day of Judgement we are going to stand, in a sense, on our own and ask Allah for relief from what we had done and forgiveness for our transgressions. We must know that Allah is Most Merciful. Let me repeat to you what I spoke about last night in the dhikr (celebrating the praises of Allah) because this is important for each one of us for our understanding of Islam. We must start thinking of Allah in a different way, in a totally different way. Allah spoke to Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) and said to him: “I am as my servant thinks Me to be!” This is very important. It is an important principle of Islam that we are forgetting. If we think of Allah as the One Who grants love, the One Who grants peace, the One Who grants satisfaction, the One who shows mercy, then that is how Allah is going to be for us on that Day. I want to repeat this to you. This is important for our spiritual development, very, very important. If we think of our Lord we must think: “My Lord is Merciful. My Lord is Compassionate. My Lord is All-Forgiving. My Lord grants repentance. My Lord grants love,” Allah will be like that for us. Don’t think of Allah in other terms. Only think of Him like that. I hang on to that with regards to my religion. I hang onto: My Lord says that He is as His servant thinks Him to be.
How do I think of my Lord? I think of my Lord as Al-Rahman (Most Merciful), as Al-Rahim (Most Compassionate, Most Good), as Al-Ghaffar (the One Who grants forgiveness), and as Al-Tawwab (the One Who grants repentance). This is because I desire to have those things from Him. I think that all of us want those matters from Allah Almighty. We see Him as being merciful, compassionate, forgiving, and granting repentance for us. If we think like that, then that will, in a sense, impact on our religious behaviour because now we will walk a path in Islam thinking all the time that my Lord is Most Merciful. I know that He will place His Mercy on me, and He will put mercy in my heart so that I can show mercy.
When I look at all these things that I have spoken about I ask myself: “What is the path that I must walk if I want to have goodness on earth? What is the path I must walk if I want goodness in the Hereafter? What is the path that I must walk so that Allah categorizes me as of the muhsinin, those who do good and whom Allah loves?” The answer is easy, but to carry it out is very difficult because we must obey Him to the best of our abilities all the time and we must obey His Messenger (ﷺ) to the best of our abilities all the time. And when we do that, engage in obedience, more obedience, more obedience, Allah raises us in stations. Up we go, up we go, up we go, until he declares to the angels that we are of His special servants. Allah is special to us because we are special to Him. The servants have become special, and He grants those servants Friendship. And you know what that is? What is Friendship from Allah? It’s called Wilayah. Allah makes us of His Awliya’. Isn’t that fantastic? May Allah grant that to us. Let me end off now. We ask Allah with the blessings of Suratul Fatihah to grant that to us. We want to be special to Him. We want to be of the muhsinin. We want to be loved by Him. We want to see Him as All Merciful, All Compassionate, and Most Forgiving. He says: “Ask Me!” O our Lord, we remembered Thee here all afternoon. We remembered Thee here for more than an hour, O Allah, we ask Thee with the adhkar we had made to grant these things to us. We ask Thee. We are on our knees. O my Lord, our foreheads are on the floor. We ask Thee for those grants.
We ask for all of these 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]