Many of the senior people in the organization are spending the final period of their lives on this planet. We are sure, that there is in each one a deep gratitude to their Lord for having been given the privilege of life as a special creation, and the honour of being part of the nation of Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ). All of these have, of course, been such a massive privilege that one finds few words to express one’s appreciation. To have been given life by Allah Almighty is such a special privilege. To be part of the nation of the greatest of nations of the greatest of Messengers (a.s.), is such a enormous privilege. And to have had the privilege for spiritual development under the guidance of one of the greatest modern servants of Allah Almighty is another unbelievable privilege. Can one quantify this? Can one compare this to other privileges? We do not think so. These are privileges so unique that few enjoy them and that few have been granted. That Allah Almighty has made us of His special servants to enjoy some of His special privileges is something beyond our total understanding. Perhaps deep down in our hearts there is so much gratitude; but as usual there is no comparison in quality between our gratitude and what our Lord has granted us. This applies generally; what we give is infinitesimal in relation to what our Lord grants us. And most of us have no understanding of all of these.
Once in an assembly, Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) said to his (ﷺ) Companions: “I yearn for my brethren.” The Companions (r.a.) asked: “O Messenger of Allah, are we not your brethren?” “No,” he (ﷺ) said, “you are my Companions. My brethren will come after me.” And then after speaking about them, he (ﷺ) said: “The deeds of one of them will be equivalent to the deeds of seventy.” The Companions (r.a.) asked: “Seventy of them?” He (ﷺ) replied: “No, seventy of you.” They asked: “O Messenger of Allah, why is that so?” He (ﷺ) replied: “You have been given help and support towards the good, but they will have no such help and support.” [Ibn Ajiba, A. 2009. The Immense Ocean. Fons Vitae: Louisville, U.S.A., pp. 54-55; p. 81].
Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) was speaking about the generations after him (ﷺ). He (ﷺ) was speaking about those who were going to be privileged beyond their comprehension and who will gain spiritual stations, which they had never dreamt of. Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) was referring to the generations after him (ﷺ), of which we are part.
This is a most remarkable statement on the spiritual possibilities that lie within people’s grasps. It is difficult to say what the Messenger (ﷺ) was referring to when he (ﷺ) used the word “better”. Did he (ﷺ) refer to individual ‘ibadat, to commitments, to dedication, to levels of knowledge, or to spiritual stations? We do not know. What we do know is that in the generations that came after him (ﷺ) there were going to be certain people of such massive calibre in these or other fields; a calibre of such noteworthy importance that the Messenger (ﷺ) referred to those people as his (ﷺ) “brothers”. Surely, the words “better” and “brothers” (which of course also include sisters), were not easily used by him (ﷺ), and the fact that he (ﷺ) saw in the future that some of the deeds of these brothers as being much “higher” than those of the Companions (r.a.), was truly remarkable. Of course, the Companions (r.a.), the generation of Jihad, as I always say, were the best of his (ﷺ) nation; but his (ﷺ) later brothers, were they better or are they better? We do not understand, because we do not understand exactly what the Messenger (ﷺ) was referring to.
For me as an individual, I just feel that Allah Almighty has opened massive doors of hasanat for us, because of the antagonistic environmental factors that we have to contend with as we struggle with our religion. Each one of us, because of all these highly antagonistic factors towards belief and believers, has to walk a path of Jihad in his religion. This is not easy. We know of so many who have fallen by the way and have never been able to recover; but there are a few others with faiths unshakeable and with a deep attachment to their Lord and His Messenger (ﷺ), and with special restraint in their practices. Are they perhaps the brothers? Now, when I dictate this, my heart calls out: “O my Lord, where are these brothers?” These are the special ones; special because of their faith; special because of their commitment to Islamic practices and special because they carry the flag of Islam wherever they go. These are the brothers, the very special ones, whom I think the Messenger (ﷺ) was referring to. Deep down in some hearts there are calls to be part of this brotherhood, calls to be part of the carriers of the flag of Islam, even if it is only in a very small way.
When we think of this, there is a kind of dread that comes into us because of seniority; not because we are approaching death, no … no … no; but rather whether Allah Almighty is going to allow any of this generation to be of the muqarrabun; and allow them to leave deep footprints in the sands of the history of our community. There is the dread that unless they are not of these people, they would not have touched the lives of others. They would just have been little unimportant isolated pebbles on the beach. But those who have left footprints, Allah Almighty opens doors for them, to experience His Magnificence and His Glory. Those who are near to their Lord are so special; enjoying the Countenance of their Lord and possibly witnessing Him from stations, near to the station of Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ). If they are his (ﷺ) brothers, they would be near to him (ﷺ), because his (ﷺ) domain is a domain near to his (ﷺ) Lord. If they are his (ﷺ) brothers, then perhaps they will appreciate with him (ﷺ) the Magnificence of our Lord in all His Glory.
When one scans the history of the Muslim community, here and overseas, one sees individuals, intensely pious and busy with their Lord in the different facets of their lives. Are they the Awliya’? I have always wondered about them; people who have left important footprints in the sands of our history, people who have impacted very dramatically on the lives of others. Sometimes we think that life would only have been worthwhile if one goes into the Akhirah having left a heritage behind. We ask Almighty Allah that what we leave behind, even if minutely small, will help others for generations to come, amin.
[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]