When the word 'king' is mentioned, we imagine a person who is the leader of his country, is very wealthy, has many servants and whose worldly desires, whether food or pleasure, are brought to him whenever he commands. He lives a luxurious and lavish lifestyle.
Once there was a king who went to sleep one night, just like we do. The only difference was that his bed was more expensive. In his sleep, he had a dream in which he saw himself being punished, chased and hit with objects. Snakes and scorpions appeared and began to bite and sting him. He experienced something that was the total opposite to his real lifestyle. He ran to and fro in his dream, attempting to ward off the people and animals that were attacking him. It lasted all night while he was lying there asleep on his bed. Just before the sun came out, the king awoke and realised that he was sweating and that his heart and pulse rates were high due to his fear of what he had seen in the dream. He sat up, relieved that it was only a dream. However it still bothered him.
Then the sun came out, and his servants began to serve him. They made his breakfast, brought his clothes and so on, and he saw his wife and family. He sat and drank delicious drinks, and ate a breakfast fit only for a king. He looked around and saw that his palace and lavish lifestyle was all still intact, and it was only a matter of minutes before he sobered up and forgot about the terrible dream that he had had during the night. And if someone would have asked him, "Do you remember your dream? Doesn't it worry you?" he would have replied, "It was only a dream, a temporary experience, so why should I worry?" He forgot his dream, for the luxuries that he was offered on awaking reduced the fear and anxiety of the dream to all but nothing.
My friends, I ask you: what is our life on this Earth? It is just like a dream. And Allah subhana wa ta'ala makes us practise our death every night when we go to sleep. Before going to sleep we recite, "O Allah, in Your Name do I die and live." In fact, what we are saying to Allah is that we are about to die, and it is with His permission that we will be brought back to life in the morning. Our life on this Earth is like the dream of that king. The hardships that a person experiences in life, such as illness, accidents, deaths, poverty, family problems and all other testing situations are temporary, but we seem to think of them as real and lasting hardships.
Allah's Nabi sallallahu alayhi wa sallam has told us that when a person sees the rewards of Paradise after he dies, he will forget all the hardship that he suffered in the world. It will be like that king's dream; all night he suffered in his dream, but when he awoke, he forgot all about it for it was just a dream. In the same way, the people of Paradise will enjoy what Allah has prepared for them, and when they are asked about the hardship they faced in the world, they will reply, "What hardship? It was just for a very short space of time. It was just like a short dream." Our attitude, though, is that we consider hardships to be calamities. We worry and get extremely anxious when we lose a job or can't buy what we would like to eat. Our lives are miserable unless we own our property. But when we die suddenly, whether it is at the age of eighty, fifty or twenty, it will all seem just like a little dream.
Now let us define hardship. There are two types of hardship, the first for the sake that of the world, and the second for the sake of the Hereafter. The first one affects everyone, believers, sinners and non-believers, but the second one, the one for the Hereafter is only for the believers. These are hardships that take a person to Paradise. The hardships of the world cannot benefit a person in the Hereafter.
Only when a person suffers hardship after following the Shari'ah does he obtain the rewards of the Hereafter. For example, when he leaves what is haraam and does what is halaal, regardless of worldly consequences, then Allah will reward him for all the hardship he suffers on His path. Only for the people who follow the Shari'ah will the hardships of this world seem like a little dream in the Hereafter. For those who disobey Allah and refuse to follow the Shari'ah, this world will seem like a pleasant dream, because they will suffer severe punishment in the Hellfire. We cannot mix halaal with haraam, and break the rules of Shari'ah, and then expect to go to Paradise.
If you were to ask someone who has just passed away how long he had lived in this dunya, he would reply that it was a very short while. Shaytaan deceives us into thinking that this life is long, and thus our efforts are geared towards trying to make it as comfortable as possible, but the reality is that it is a very short space of time indeed.
A person breaks the Shari'ah in order to have some temporary enjoyment; for example he listens to music. Soon, other worldly amusements that are against the Shari'ah become integral parts of his life. As for the person who adheres to the Shari'ah, he is looked down upon in society, and people think that he has no pleasures in his life and that his life is not worth living. People think he is ignorant and a fool. He is faced with hardship at every turn, but he knows that the promise of His Lord is true and he remains steadfast upon the Shari'ah.
This is also the case with the people who speak the Haq (truth) in matters of Deen. The scholars who do not inform the people of their duties to Allah enjoy this life, for they are given presents and financial benefits by people. But the scholars who speak the Haq suffer at the hands of their ruling governments and the public. Take, for example, the life of one of the greatest scholars in history, Imam Abu Hanifah rahmatullah alayhi. He was imprisoned by the ruler of his time, and it was from the prison that his janaazah (funeral) procession set off.
Imam Abu Hanifah rahmatullah alayhi is one of four people, the other three being companions of Allah's Messenger sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, namely Hadhrat Uthman bin Affan, Hadhrat Tameem ad-Dhari and Hadhrat Saeed bin Jubayr radhiallah anhum, who were in the habit of reciting the whole Qur'an in one rak'ah of prayer. Allah's Nabi sallallahu alayhi wa sallam had foretold the coming of Imam Abu Hanifah rahmatullah alayhi, and described him as a person who would revive the Sunnah. He has such a great status in Islam, but if you look at his life you will find that he faced many hardships due to the fact that he followed the Shari'ah steadfastly. He passed away in prison after being jailed by the ruler of that time.
He was jailed because he refused to accept the position of judge in the king's government. He refused because the king's lifestyle was not in line with the Shari'ah of Allah's Messenger sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. He did not worry about consequences, as he knew that all the pleasures and hardships of this life are very temporary. Even the hunger we suffer on Allah's path is temporary. Allah subhana wa ta'ala states in the Qur'an:
And surely We shall try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops; and give glad tidings to the patient.
(Surah al-Baqarah, v 155)
Allah subhana wa ta'ala informs us that He will test us with a little hunger, and that if we remain steadfast and patient throughout our short period of hunger, then we will get are unimaginable rewards.
This reminds me of a saying of Hadhrat Abdul Qudoos Gungohi rahmatullah alayhi, who would spend three or four days continuously without a meal, due to poverty. Unlike many women of today, his wife was a pious woman. She did not come to him and complain about their poverty, or ask him to produce money quickly. In this day and age, many women encourage their men folk to adopt haraam means to make a living. May Allah save us from such women, and give us wives that are patient and exhort us to stick to the Shari'ah and not to do anything haraam to make money, women that want us to feed their children with halal earnings even if they are small, women who say, 'We do not seek approval from other people, we wish our children to grow up as pious individuals.' By contrast, there are women for whom there is never enough; if they are given three hundred they want three hundred and fifty, and if they are given four hundred they want five hundred. They are never satisfied and their financial needs are never fulfilled. Only the fire of Hell can fill their bellies. They force their men folk to lie and defraud the system, just so they can be a little better off financially. They see this as progress.
My friends, I mention the story of Hadhrat Abdul Qudoos rahmatullah alayhi to you since you are people of tasawwuf, and your goal in life is to follow the Shari'ah of Allah subhana wa ta'ala. Shaytaan is always waiting to attack us from whatever angle he can, and he sees that we have adopted the Sunnah in appearance so he attacks us in spiritual matters. For although we may look like we are upon the Sunnah, Shaytaan will try other means to deceive us, encouraging us to break the Shari'ah in our conduct of day-to-day duties, thus causing us to perform haraam actions. If we listen to him and do what he says, then we are just like a picture that hangs on a wall; it looks very nice, but it has no life and with a gust of wind it falls off and breaks. My friends, do not be pictures, be real. If you think that life will always be rosy, and that you will not be tested with your wealth, health and life on Allah's path, then you are seriously mistaken. A person will have to make some sacrifices on this path.
When the household of Hadhrat Abdul Qudoos rahmatullah alayhi went for three or four days without food, his wife would say, "Hadhrat, it has been a few days since we had a meal." He would reply, "Don't worry, Allah has prepared for us the most delicious meals you can imagine in Paradise." His wife relates that as soon as he would say this, she would feel that she had just eaten food from Paradise and her hunger went away. The problems of this world really are temporary. Happiness too is temporary in this world, and good and bad times fly by. A person must hold steadfastly to the Shari'ah, and never let anxiety overcome him. When faced with hardship on Allah's path, we should realise that it is all just like a dream that will soon end.
Everything in this world is temporary, whereas in the Hereafter it is eternal. Isn't it sad that today we worry more about the temporary things of this life than the eternal life of the Hereafter? What is ours today will not belong to us when we die, and our possessions will be distributed according to the Shari'ah. If a person was to die suddenly, either in an accident or some other way, the wealth that he has accumulated by unlawful means, upon which he sits like a snake, becomes the right of other people through inheritance. And if he commanded for it to be distributed in any way other than that prescribed in the Shari'ah, he would be sinful and get punished. When he dies, the relatives come and take their rights. When a woman dies, her gold and jewellery is distributed. The reality is that nothing actually belongs to a person. He leaves everything behind for others to take. A person can never take his worldly possessions with him into the Hereafter.
It is better for a person to concentrate on following the Shari'ah and then to die in Allah's path. There was once a Shaykh who, while walking through the countryside, saw a wounded man lying unconscious on a footpath. He went up close to the person and saw a light radiating around him. The Shaykh realised that this person must be special, so he sat down and cleaned his wounds and helped him return to consciousness. When the man opened his eyes, he asked the Shaykh, "Who are you?" The Shaykh replied, "I saw you here and thought that I should help you." The man replied, "There was no need for you to come between me and my Creator. You should have left me here to die in His path."
May my last breath be taken at your doorstep,
This is my wish and this is my desire.
A person should hope to be destroyed in Allah's love, and wish for martyrdom in His path. He should never lose heart if he is faced with problems and difficulties year in and year out, for eventually he will return to His Lord. He must remain steadfast on Allah's path. Shaytaan tries to scare a person by telling him of all the worldly disadvantages of following the Deen, but if he has true yaqeen (certainty) and belief in Allah, he will not listen to Shaytaan and will hold on firmly to the Qur'an and Sunnah and accept all hardships that come his way. Whether hunger or wealth, he knows that it is all from Allah. All the wealth and children we have in fact belong to Him. Nothing in this world is ours. What we can keep for ourselves is love for Allah in our hearts. We must accept Allah's commands with our hearts and minds, and carry them out in accordance with the Sunnah. Our life should revolve around carrying out the duties that Allah has given us.
And when a person repents, he should intend with that repentance never to break the Shari'ah in future. He should resolve to be steadfast on Allah's path, upon dhikr and upon Sunnah. He should turn away from everything haraam and concentrate on improving his manners. When a person repents in this way, his life becomes worth living and he begins to enjoy the tests and hardship that comes his way from Allah.
On the other hand, if we continue to indulge in haraam, then it is evident from the Qur'an that on the day we are brought before our Lord to account for our deeds, nothing will be able to help us. Allah says that even were He to give you something equivalent to the whole world for you to offer in compensation, so that your punishment could be decreased a little, it would not happen. No compensation could decrease the punishment of Allah subhana wa ta'ala. Today we can do so much, but on that day we will be helpless, and the only thing we can hope for is Allah's mercy.
Today we have a great opportunity. All we have to do is bow our heads before Allah and say, "O Allah, please forgive me for my sins. I will never sin again and will try my best to follow Your Messenger sallallahu alayhi wa sallam." Allah subhana wa ta'ala says that when you do this, He will forgive all of your sins. When we shed a few tears in fear of Allah and in hope of His mercy, He forgives us immediately. Not only does He forgive a person when he sincerely repents, but He also converts the person's bad deeds into good ones and makes him a beloved who is praised in the heavens before the angels. It is stated in the Qur'an that Allah loves those who repent.
We must repent while life is with us, while we still have the chance, for when we die it will be too late and we will not be able to help ourselves in any way. Then we will be told, "You were given the tawfeeq to listen to and read the Qur'an, you were taken to the gatherings of dhikr and you heard the scholars telling you to repent. You were even taken to the gatherings of the friends of Allah and had an ideal opportunity to repent, but you refused and kept putting it off until tomorrow. Now it is too late.”
When a person repents sincerely, he becomes content with what Allah has given him. Even though he may be earning a lot less he is satisfied with what he has. It is stated in the Qur'an:
And be patient for your Lord's command, for indeed you are in Our Sight; and hymn the praises of your Lord when you arise.
(Surah At-Toor, v 48)
Allah subhana wa ta'ala commands that we be steadfast upon His command, which is to follow the Shari'ah. Why? Because we are in His Sight. Allah will look after us if we are steadfast on His path.
Let me give you an example of Ishq - of intense love. When a person falls in love with something or someone, he gets a lot of pleasure from looking at the object that he loves. Someone might be in love with money, for example, and when he holds his notes in his hands, it pleases him greatly to look at them. Shaytaan deceives a person into loving all sorts of things. There was once an Ashiq (a lover) who was punished for his love for a woman. He was tied and lashed in public. He stood quietly as he was lashed ninety nine times, but on the hundredth lash he screamed out in pain. Afterwards somebody asked why he had stood quietly and patiently, with no expression of pain, for the whole duration apart from the last whip when he had screamed out. He replied, "While I was being punished, I could see my beloved in the crowd and could not feel a thing as I was engrossed in her sight. But when the last lash came, I could not see her and that last blow felt as if a sword were striking me. I felt severe pain and could not stop myself from screaming.”
Now it follows from the verse we read that people who have Ishq for Allah do not grieve or feel anxious when they are inflicted with hardship on Allah's path. Why? Because they know that their beloved, who is Allah, is always watching them and has them in His sight. Hunger and worries cannot disturb the Ashiq of Allah. It looks as though they are suffering to anyone else, but in fact they enjoy the tests that Allah puts in front of them. The martyrs are an example of this. When a person is being martyred, it looks as if he is suffering immensely, for it is no small matter for a person to die from serious wounds such as severed limbs and so on, but in reality, as stated in Ahadeeth, the martyrs will be asked by Allah what else they desire, once they have been granted Paradise. They will say, 'O Allah, you have given us all we can ask for, but there is one pleasure that we do not get here, which is the pleasure of dying in Your path. We wish You would send us back to the Earth again, just so we can be martyred in Your path time and time again.'
My friends, try to follow the Shari'ah and the Sunnah. Grow your beards and experience difficulties from people in the world - and also from your wife. Nothing can be achieved if we don't live in accordance with the Sunnah. Life is short, so do not waste it. In truth, we are very fortunate that Allah has brought this message to our doorsteps. If He had wanted, He could have left us to go astray. It is undoubtedly a great favour of Allah subhana wa ta'ala that He has explained to us the true Deen. Of all the people in the world, Allah has chosen us to listen to this message, a message that informs us to follow the Shari'ah, to leave haraam and to grow our beards. Truly, this is a great favour. We mustn't ignore this message and say, "Maybe I will start practising the Deen later," because later never comes. Allah forbid that the time comes when Allah ignores us, and no matter what we do we will be punished. When Allah is displeased, then no one can punish like He can. And when He is pleased, no one can be more pleased than Him.
The temporary hardships of this life are just for a few days. We should pray that Allah gives us the patience to live out this difficult time in His obedience, because what we really want is comfort in the Hereafter. May Allah grant us all the tawfeeq to act upon this, and to be deserving of His promises in the Hereafter.