I know that's a confusing title. Stay with me for a second.
Recently, I got an epiphany of the sort that leaves you a little different than before. One that immediately struck me and that flooded my eyes with tears. As soon as I felt them on my cheeks, I began questioning whether they were tears of joy or tears of agony, tears of regret or tears of humility? Whatever they were, I knew at that moment that I had transformed my idea of who I should be as a human being and a servant to Allah. The joy was from the relief of finding truth and an answer. The agony was from the pain of not having known for so long. The regret was from the shame that I felt. And the humility was from the reality of how small I am in comparison to His universe and the Almighty Allah Himself.
I realized something profound. A part of me had been projecting my notions of human relationships onto my relationship with the Creator. Many of my insecurities about people became ones I practiced when I spoke to Allah (swt). Although, I had been speaking to Allah as a friend and a father figure, there was a flaw in this I could not see. Once I began to compare the way I felt in human relationships with the one I had with my Lord, it became instantly clear how much of myself I had put in Him. I realized how much I was really projecting of my own expectations of people onto my relationship with Him and this caused me to feel some shame and regret. I came to the conclusion that if I was to redefine my relationship with Allah, I must first decode my projections and learn about Allah's mercy with his servants first hand - and that is from His ahadeeth.
People have limitations. Even the ones who claim to be in infinite love have limitations. Their time and energy devoted to caring is dependent on a number of factors that can be clouded by the ego. It is impossible to confidently claim for any human on this earth that they are in a genuine and fully committed relationship ; as you are not their creator and you have no access to their deep thoughts and feelings. We mustn't forget that their very essence of their humanity is built on sin and imperfection. Thus our expectations from our relationships with people should not be same ones we place on our relationship with the Lord. Your father and your mother or your wife or your husband as well as your siblings and friends can be the best of people on this earth whom you know but they are not Allah. The rules of engagement and the relationship which we practice with them can never be compared with the one with the Al Mighty. How do we tell the difference? What makes our relationship with Allah special? That was the question I sought to answer.
I'm going to share with you through the following, the thoughts going through my head that struck me into the realization that I had to redefine my relationship with Allah. Here goes:
1) Relationships with people are those that are human and that are based on a similar background or relative experience. So, by saving up five minutes to speak to Him at the end of my day when it is convenient, I have therefore decided to treat my relationship with Allah like mine with other humans. I am indirectly saying that I can do without him in the time in between. Or that there is no space or appropriateness for me to connect with Him throughout my day (not including prayers). Now I'm aware that the fact that He watches me at all times means I can assume He is by my side as well. Somewhat like an imaginary friend that's not so imaginary, and who lives in my heart and the universe as a whole.
“I am with those whose hearts are broken for My sake.” Hadith Qudsi
2) My general feelings of mistrust towards people was evident in my belief that as soon as I committed sin, I spent hours begging for forgiveness, never feeling like I have earned or deserved it. I realized that I was implying that Allah's mercy is difficult to attain and that I must be a perfect saint to get some of it. Also expressing that Allah loses something by forgiving, similarly to the way humans perceive to lose ego when they forgive others. It is me that has much to lose, not Him.
A servant [of Allah's] committed a sin and said: O Allah, forgive me my sin. And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them. Then he sinned again and said: O Lord, forgive me my sin. And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them. Then he sinned again and said: O Lord, forgive me my sin. And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for sins. Do what you wish, for I have forgiven you. Hadith Qudsi
"O My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you."Hadith Qudsi
"O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request of Me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more that a needle decreases the sea if put into it." Hadith Qudsi
4) The physical reality we live in with other humans forces us to assume that forces other than our own come from outward places. So I used to look up to the sky when I made supplication. Although I believed Allah is aware of the hearts of all his beings, my actions did not reflect my belief.
"I am as My servant thinks I am (1). I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assemble better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I draw near to him a fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed. (1) Another possible rendering of the Arabic is: "I am as My servant expects Me to be". (Hadith Qudsi)
5) Although I could perceive Allah's presence when I supplicated, the idea of a response was hard to conceptualize. This was further expressing my notion of human relations as one where if a person listens and does not respond, then they do not care. Also untrue.
The prophet (peace be upon him) said " Call upon Allah with conviction in an answer"
6) My supplications did not last longer than 10-15 minutes. Similarly to the way I speak to authority figures and acquaintances I respect, in order to not take up from their valuable time. Although I was aware that these laws do not apply to my relationship with Allah, my basic instinct to replicate my relationships with other humans kept this habit in my duas. The fact that Allah does not sleep and that he can be in the hearts of all of his creation at once, is one that struck me. Realizing He is aware of even the times when I am asleep prolonged my supplication.
"O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and will not attain benefitting Me so as to benefit Me. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as pious as the most pious heart of any one man of you, that would not increase My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease My kingdom in anything."Hadith Qudsi
7) My requests were limited. So I would say alhamdoulillah and refrain from asking for material things. But if Allah can permit you into Jannah, He can make even the most insignificant desires come true. His powers are not like human powers, His blessings are endless. You are free to ask for all you desire, in this world and the next.
"O My servants, all of you are hungry except for those I have fed, so seek food of Me and I shall feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked except for those I have clothed, so seek clothing of Me and I shall clothe you."Hadith Qudsi
8) I needed to stop asking the question of whether Allah loves me. I am one of his delicate creations. My anatomy itself is His gift to me. I am blessed in the good and in the trials. I remember Him and He remembers me. As long as I love Him and fear Him only, I must find ease in knowing that it was Him who loved me long before I perceived His presence. To show gratitude, I must let this love translate into actions. I must show my appreciation for His gifts by using them in things He loves.
Allah (mighty and sublime be He) said: Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him. (AlBukhari)Hadith Qudsi
9) I thought that if Allah has decreed anything anyway, I must accept it and therefore my duas were limited. But little did I know that it is the combination of acceptance of Allah's word and His mercy and powers that grant us what we please.
Allah (swt) said "Oh Dawud, you desire and I desire. If you are satisfied with what I desire then I will give you what you desire and if you are not satisfied with what I desire I will make you weary with what you desire and then only what I desire will be. Verily, I do what I desire."
10) I thought Allah could not help my wrongdoings. The same way that we are expected to abide by rules of human society and to claim responsibility of our actions, I could not attribute my sins to anyone but myself. In this way, I forgot that I could make dua from Allah to guide me to the straight path. If Allah is aware of all places, then he can surely make every condition possible, internal or external, to help me get closer to Him. I choose not to limit my thinking of his abilities to my thinking of human abilities.
"O My servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you."Hadith Qudsi
To be honest, all of these ahadeeth are overwhelming. They overwhelm my heart and flood me with tears of joy. I can only feel gratefulness now. Islam is a beautiful religion and we are given so many doors of opportunity to fix our deen. So, if I've learned anything from all of this, is that we cannot give up on ourselves. We must always be hopeful because Allah is with us regardless. One last thing; my advice to you is to take these ahadeeth and let them hit you in the heart. Take them as much more than words or rules of engagement. Take them with you as a philosophy and a chance to explore a new relationship with Allah (swt). I can promise that your life will never be the same and in sha Allah you will be one of those who find light where others find darkness.
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