The Proximity of Almighty Allah

The poster ”Khadim” posted the following comment. I think that this is an excellent line of discussion and so I am opening it up in a post. If anyone has good resources on this subject (articles, lectures, etc.) then please let me know and I will post them on this page.

Jazak Allah Khayr al-Jazaa’

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[Comment by Khadim] In a recent sermon, Hadhrat Khalifat-ul-Masih V (atba) commented – if memory serves correctly; link not found – in favour of integration within society (employment etc) and admonished against living in seclusion (as in the case of monks). The gist I picked up was that we are meant to live in this world as tangible, useful individuals, whilst obviously never neglecting our main aim of attaining nearness to Allah.

The author of The Ashab al-Suffah (linked above) mentions those who “… sacrificed all of the temptations of this world in search of a far greater reward in the Hereafter. – Of the companions who chose a life of asceticism were Abu Hurairah, Ka’ab ibn Malik al-Ansari, Hanzala ibn Amir al-Ansari, Harithah ibn al-Nu’man al-Ansari (most of these companions had houses in Medina but chose to live in the Suffah).”

In his conclusion the author writes, “The ways and examples of the As’hab us-Suffah are as important today, if not more so, than during the days of the Holy Prophet (saw). Many living in today’s world may feel that the example set by the Holy Prophet (saw) and his As’hab us-Suffaa is beyond them, however, never has it been more necessary for us to inculcate the spirit of their example into our lives than today.”

I wanted to invite discussion in to ways a Momin today can aspire to attain nearness to Allah. Some of the great Momins in the era of the Holy Prophet (saw) left their houses and endured great hunger in order to immerse themselves in a life of supplication. The Promised Messiah (as) has set a similar example. Where does that leave the ordinary man of today who wants to get close (closest!) to his Creator?

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3 thoughts on “The Proximity of Almighty Allah

  1. We must remember the reasons for which some Sahaba (r.a.) decided to remain constantly in the presence of the Holy Prophet (s.a.), despite being able-bodied men capable of earning a living. It was so that they could benefit fully from his presence and could record the maximum of his blessed words. It would be wrong to conclude that they had chosen a life of asceticism, in contradiction to the teachings of Islam. It was only for a while – for as long as the Prophet (s.a.) lived.

    The Ahl Al-Suffah were not only comprised of such people. They also included the guests of Islam, who visited the Holy Prophet (s.a.) and slept in the suffah of the Prophet (s.a.)’s mosque. This was a shaded room (with palm-frond roofing) that the Prophet (s.a.) had ordered to be added for such guests around the back of the mosque. The numbers of such guests varied over time. The Holy Prophet shared his food and drink with them and answered their queries. So they were privileged to learn Islam directly from the Prophet (s.a.), and sometimes from any senior Sahabi according to the instructions of the Prophet (s.a.).

    Similarly, people used to visit with the Promised Messiah (a.s.) to ask him questions. These were treated as staying guests in exactly the same fashion as were the Ahl Al-Suffah, often remaining for months and even years. These people were privileged to hear the words of the Promised Messiah (a.s.) directly. The Langar Khana, or free kitchen, was set up to cater for these guests, a tradition that has been maintained all over the world in many local Ahmadiyya Jama’ats receiving truth-seekers as regular guests.

    Clearly, the time spent with the Holy Prophet (s.a.) in the Suffah was not to be permanent and was not for all to undertake. What the As-haab al-Suffah did was not an example to be emulated permanently by anyone. So, it would be alright for a person to spend some time, even years, in the company of an Imam, to derive benefit from his teaching. But this should not last forever, and eventually the person would have to re-integrate normal society. The case of the long-stay residents in the Suffah was a very important one, as we can see from the simple fact that it was one of them, Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) who reported the greatest number of Ahadith. So, it was a sacrifice they made on behalf of the whole Ummah for all time to come, one that was not meant to be a permament practice for any individual thereafter, let alone all Muslims.

  2. Jazak Allah, I agree with many of your points. The Ashab al-Suffah were one example of the Sahabah – there were others. Hadrat Abu Bakr (radi Allahu ‘anhu) did not live with the Ashab Al-Suffah. I recall some very beautiful things said by our beloved Hudur (abta) on this recently. Rather than mentioning it second hand, I will find it and post it.

  3. Assalam Alaikum,

    As i understand it, what God requires from us is absolute devotion, that is to say complete submission or constant state of worship [2:209, 3:20, 13:29]. Worship comes in many ways, but ultimately whatever action is taken for the sake of God is then by definition worship (of course as long as it does not contradict the Unity or other commands of God) [9:20]. The reconciliation between ordinary life and worship of God is then in ones outlook or motive relating to an act rather than the other way round. To give an example, Dr Abdus Salam wanted to win the Nobel Prize and prayed for it. It was not for monetary gain or any desire for accolades, but was rather so by way of winning the prize money and the stature of the Nobel prize winner he would be able to serve the poorer nations much better, which came about due to his love for The Creator, and His Creation. The proof of this is the legacy he left in Trieste and countless new research centres that have opened up in economically less developed countries as a result of this. [Derived from various biographical accounts, specifically one by Imam B.A.Rafiq Sahib]
    We are not created with equal abilities and interests [71:15] and therefore, some will be better at business and some better at theological studies. Nonetheless, if excellence is sought in ones respective profession then there is no contradiction in beliefs as long as the motive/intention is to serve God and His creation. A Salesman would sell goods with the aim of serving the customer (a creation of God), picking what he deemed truthfully to be the “right” product. In his practice of truth, which if he does for the sake of God, satisfies the purpose of his existence: the worship of God. This does also mean of course for the salesman that he is duty bound to inform the customer if the product is harmful for him/her.
    Another example would be of Hadhrat Abu Bakr (ra) was bestowed great wealth, he utilised it to free the slaves without hesitance and I doubt any one would refute that he was the best of the companions.
    In my humble opinion and from what i have come to understand of the writings of the Promised Messiah (a.s.) and from the sermons of the Khalifatul Masih V (atba), that one does not need complete solitude at all times to worship God, but rather whatever situation(s) surrounds them, one must mould himself/herself such that that he worships God. Every situation we are bestowed with is a gift from God, to sacrifice it because our own notions and fancies surely ends up harming us. If solitude is bestowed to someone then lucky is that person, but if not, then lucky is that person.

    Just my two pence worth.

    Wassalam

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