Serjeel Ahmad, Missionary, Micronesia
Another blessed Ramadan comes and we strive to elevate our spiritual status by offering humble supplications; the spiritual mirage of a believer. We forego eating and drinking the lawful for only a few hours in aspiration of Allah’s love. Fasting is an act for which the reward is Allah himself. We spend our nights prostrating at the threshold of His mercy, equipping our soul with the delights of which no eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor any mind has imagined.
Yet, many ask why Muslims put themselves in such “distress”? Why do they not liberate themselves in the name of freedom? What motivation does a Muslim have in sacrificing their time and effort?
This question brings us to the time of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. The first Companions to accept the message were weak and poor. Still, the resolve they gained by acceptance of the Prophetsa was such that no money or worldly rank could ever procure.
The early Muslims of Mecca would forego their nights in the worship of Allah, imploring His mercy, but would wake up ready to endure hardships enforced on them by the Quraish. Having tasted the truth of Islam, the worldly pain appeared trivial.
They bore the hardship with such resolve that the Holy Quran stands testament to their faith:
“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. And those who are with him are hard against the disbelievers, tender among themselves. Thou seest them bowing and prostrating themselves in Prayer, seeking grace from Allah and His pleasure. Their mark is upon their faces, being the traces of prostrations.” (Surah al-Fath, Ch.48: V.30)
The once arrogant and assertive Arabs, whose hearts were hardened by generations of savagery, became extraordinarily tenderhearted. They could not bear to spend time away from the worship of Allah and were told by the Holy Prophetsa that the best among them was the one who could maintain a consistent balance in life. This consistency is the hallmark of a believer!
What was in the heart of Hazrat Bilalra, who was mocked and dragged in the streets of Mecca, only because he believed in oneness of Allah? How beautiful was his response of “ahad, ahad”, announcing to the world that their Lord is “One”, without partners.
How can we measure the depth of love that Hazrat Talhara bin Obaidullah demonstrated on the day of the Battle of Uhud? It was he who shielded the Holy Prophetsa by stopping the flying arrows aimed for the Prophetsa with his hand. Due to the loss of blood, he lost consciousness. When he awoke, his first enquiry was about the condition of the Prophetsa. Upon learning of the Prophet’s well being, he exclaimed, “All praise be to Allah! After learning that the Holy Prophetsa is fine, every hardship seems insignificant.” (Al-Sirat al-Halabiyyah, Vol. 2, p. 324, Ghazwah Uhud, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2002)
These are not isolated stories of a few who were devoted, but a small example of devotees whose vision reached beyond the realm of this world. This was the revolution of love caused by the message of the Holy Quran, which they witnessed in the being of Prophet Muhammadsa – love that included all of humanity.
This is not the story of one man. It holds for all the prophets that have graced the world with the love from Allah. History holds witness to the fact that prophets would think naught of their own wellbeing. Recall the story of Josephas, who was cast into a well by his brothers; of Jesusas being nailed to the cross, and Abrahamas being thrust into a raging fire.
What then was in their hearts that made them ever so ready to sacrifice their lives in the way of their faith?
The main element of their selfless acts was quite simply the love and recognition of Allah. Their ability to recognise the heaven that awaited them. It was the conviction that helped them put the being of the Almighty Allah before every being and object this world could offer. Nothing could deter them from their pursuit of the Almighty, a reward worthy of achieving, even at the cost of their own lives. It is this sentiment that the Holy Quran pronounces in these words:
“Say, ‘My Prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds.’” (Surah al-An’am, Ch.6: V.163)
Thus, Allah points our faith towards a higher purpose. While others may deem worship as acts within themselves, Allah instructs us that every moment should be fueled towards the attainment of His love and mercy. The greatest goal perhaps is to diminish ourselves like drops within the ocean, allowing our souls to levitate towards the pull of the Almighty.
The Holy Prophetsa beautifully explains this relationship between the Master and His servant in the words:
“The most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing nawafil [praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory] till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears and his sense of sight with which he sees and his hand with which he grips and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him and if he asks My protection, I will protect him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Riqaq)
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a French writer with an aptitude of poetry, writes in his classic Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince):
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
Thus, if we as Ahmadi Muslims want to build the ship of faith, we must fall in love with the “immensity of the sea” of faith. When we genuinely recognise Allah and the beauty of his majesty, the ship of our faith will become a labour of love.
The Promised Messiahas describes this love most beautifully with the words:
“Our paradise lies in our God. Our highest delight is in our God for we have seen Him and have found every beauty in Him. This wealth is worth procuring though one might have to lay down one’s life to procure it…” (Our Teachings)