It is one of the articles of our faith to believe in Divine Destiny and to be pleased with it. Ridha bil Qadha is proof of our Imaan and a sign of Tawakkul. Islamic understanding about destiny is that we have been given limited choice in our lives. Some things have been written for us and can’t be changed. In others, we have the freedom to choose what we want for ourselves. For example, we are free to eat whatever we want but what that food will do to us physically and spiritually in not in our control. The best way to understand what matters we have choice in, is to look at the questions that we will be asked in the Aakhira. We will be questioned only in matters where we have the freedom to choose. That is justice and Allah is Al-A’adil, The Just. Those are the matters we must be concerned about exclusively.
عَنِ ابْنِ مَسْعُودٍ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ”، لاَ تَزُولُ قَدَمَا ابْنِ آدَمَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مِنْ عِنْدِ رَبِّهِ حَتَّى يُسْأَلَ عَنْ خَمْسٍ عَنْ عُمْرِهِ فِيمَا أَفْنَاهُ وَعَنْ شَبَابِهِ فِيمَا أَبْلاَهُ وَمَالِهِ مِنْ أَيْنَ اكْتَسَبَهُ وَفِيمَ أَنْفَقَهُ وَمَاذَا عَمِلَ فِيمَا عَلِمَ”
Ibn Mas’ud (R) narrated that Rasoolullah said: “The feet of the son of Adam shall not move from before his Rabb on the Day of Judgement, until he is asked about five things: About his life and what he did with it, about his youth and what he wore it out in, about his wealth and how he earned it, and what he spent it upon, and what he did with what he knew (knowledge).”
We understand from this that the quantum of what we can get in this life is fixed. But we have the choice of how to get it. And that is what we will be questioned about. Rasoolullah explained this in the following Hadith.
عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا قَالَ: “كُنْت خَلْفَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَوْمًا، فَقَالَ: يَا غُلَامِ! إنِّي أُعَلِّمُك كَلِمَاتٍ: احْفَظْ اللَّهَ يَحْفَظْك، احْفَظْ اللَّهَ تَجِدْهُ تُجَاهَك، إذَا سَأَلْت فَاسْأَلْ اللَّهَ، وَإِذَا اسْتَعَنْت فَاسْتَعِنْ بِاَللَّهِ، وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ الْأُمَّةَ لَوْ اجْتَمَعَتْ عَلَى أَنْ يَنْفَعُوك بِشَيْءٍ لَمْ يَنْفَعُوك إلَّا بِشَيْءٍ قَدْ كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ لَك، وَإِنْ اجْتَمَعُوا عَلَى أَنْ يَضُرُّوك بِشَيْءٍ لَمْ يَضُرُّوك إلَّا بِشَيْءٍ قَدْ كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْك؛ رُفِعَتْ الْأَقْلَامُ، وَجَفَّتْ الصُّحُفُ.
On the authority of Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) who said: One day I was behind Rasoolullah [riding on the same mount] and he said, “O young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]: Be mindful of Allah and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask Allah [alone]; and if you need help, seek help from Allah [alone]. And know that if the nations were to gather to benefit you with anything, they would not benefit you except with what Allah has already prescribed for you. And if they were to gather to harm you with anything, they would not harm you except with what Allah has already prescribed against you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” (Tirmidhi)
The deception of Shaytaan is that he convinces us to worry about what is not in our control and already written and about which we will not be questioned, i.e., amount of wealth, material, power, knowledge, influence, and all such things. And to not worry about the things that we will be questioned about, i.e., how we acquired all these things. The antidote to this deception is to leave the ‘What’ to Allah and focus on the ‘How’. If we do the ‘How’, right, Allah will put Baraka (blessing) in all that He gave us and fill our lives with the sweetness and light of His Mercy and Pleasure. If instead of this, we use wrong means to get our material wants in this life, it will attract the punishment and anger of Allah but the amount of what we get will not change. We will still get only what Allah wrote for us. Does it make sense to spoil our eternal situation to get something which we would have got anyway and by using the right means, will also get us Jannah?
Imagine this: You are standing in front of a huge warehouse with a glass front, and you can look in and see everything in it. That warehouse contains all that Allah has written for you. Everything physical, mental, material; all knowledge, family, friends, wealth, influence, everything. All of it belongs to you. Everything in the warehouse is yours and all you need to do is to go in and take it. Nobody else can take it away and nobody can prevent you from taking what is in that warehouse. Also, nobody can give you anything other than what is in the warehouse. This warehouse has two doors, one on either end. One is marked ‘Halaal’ and the other is marked ‘Haraam’. Both doors have cameras with retina recognition and will open for you as soon as you stand in front of them.
Imagine that you are standing in front of the door marked ‘Haraam’ and the door is open. You are about to enter, when I call out to you and say, ‘Stop! Don’t enter through that door. Come around and enter through this door which is marked Halaal. You will still get everything in the warehouse. It is all yours and nobody can take it away from you.’ You agree and turn around to go to the other side. What do you think happens to the door which was open when you turn around? It shuts as soon as your face is turned away. What do you do? You panic. You turn around and the door opens again.
I call out and say, ‘Leave that. The other door will also open in the same way. If you use that door, you will get the same things and Baraka and the blessing and pleasure (Ridha) of Allah and Jannah. If you go in through the door marked Haraam, you will get the same things but with them, punishment in this life and the Aakhira. Turn around and come over here.’ You say to me, ‘You open that other door and then I will come. Otherwise, this one is open, and I am going in.’ Can I open that door for you? It will open only for you. This is what is happening in our lives every day. Please think about this.
We must choose the means only. The quantity is already decided. We have no choice in that. If we choose the right door, we will get everything in the warehouse of our Rizq with blessing (Khair and Baraka). If not, we will still get the same, but with the anger of Allah. Does that make sense? Ask yourself and decide once and for all.
Finally, one of the most important Ahadith about Halaal and Haraam.
عَنِ النُّعْمَانِ بْنِ بَشِيرٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْحَلَالُ بَيِّنٌ وَالْحَرَامُ بَيِّنٌ وَبَيْنَهُمَا مُشَبَّهَاتٌ لَا يَعْلَمُهَا كَثِيرٌ مِنْ النَّاسِ فَمَنْ اتَّقَى الْمُشَبَّهَاتِ اسْتَبْرَأَ لِدِينِهِ وَعِرْضِهِ وَمَنْ وَقَعَ فِي الشُّبُهَاتِ كَرَاعٍ يَرْعَى حَوْلَ الْحِمَى يُوشِكُ أَنْ يُوَاقِعَهُ أَلَا وَإِنَّ لِكُلِّ مَلِكٍ حِمًى أَلَا إِنَّ حِمَى اللَّهِ فِي أَرْضِهِ مَحَارِمُهُ أَلَا وَإِنَّ فِي الْجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إِذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ وَإِذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ أَلَا وَهِيَ الْقَلْبُ – صحيح البخاري
Al-Nu’man ibn Bashir (R) reported: Rasoolullah said, “The lawful is clear and the unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which many people do not know. Thus, he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself regarding his religion and his honor, and he who falls into doubtful matters will fall into the unlawful (Haraam) as the shepherd who pastures near a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Verily, every king has a sanctum and the sanctum of Allah is His prohibitions. Verily, in the body is a piece of flesh which, if sound, the entire body is sound, and if corrupt, the entire body is corrupt. Truly, it is the heart.” (Bukhari and Muslim – Sahih, Muttafaqun Alayhi)
قال حسن ابن علي قال رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ دَعْ مَا يَرِيبُكَ إِلَى مَا لاَ يَرِيبُكَ فَإِنَّ الصِّدْقَ طُمَأْنِينَةٌ وَإِنَّ الْكَذِبَ رِيبَةٌ
Hasan ibn Ali (RA) reported: that Rasoolullah said, “Leave what makes you doubt for what does not make you doubt. Verily, truth brings peace of mind and falsehood sows doubt.” (Tirmidhi).
Therein lies safety for the Believer – to leave the doubtful for the certain. Sometimes we believe that we Muslims are held back from progress because we are not allowed to take interest-based loans. Let me try to address this in the only way that matters, which is in the context of the Aakhira. The first thing to get clear in our minds is the meaning of ‘progress’ and ‘success’.
كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَآئِقَةُ ٱلْمَوْتِ وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ ٱلنَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ ٱلْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ وَمَا ٱلْحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنْيَآ إِلَّا مَتَـٰعُ ٱلْغُرُورِ
A’al Imraan 3: 185 Every soul will taste death. And you will only receive your full reward on the Day of Judgment. Whoever is spared from the Fire and is admitted into Jannah will ˹indeed˺ triumph, whereas the life of this world is no more than the delusion of enjoyment.
Islam is a belief system. You enter Islam by believing and declaring that belief. It is equally simple to leave Islam. That is why it is essential to ensure that we never say or do anything that contradicts or denies our belief. That is why knowledge is important and it begins with fundamentals.
To illustrate with a simple example; Salah is a fundamental principle and one of the five pillars of Islam. If someone doesn’t pray, he is committing a major sin for which he must seek forgiveness. But if a person prays but says that prayer is not Fardh (compulsory) but optional and one can pray or not depending on his wish, that person has left Islam, even though he may pray regularly. The same thing applies to everything that Allah commanded or prohibited. If a Muslim believes and speaks contrary to that, he risks leaving the fold of Islam. It is not just a matter of opinion. If the opinion of a Muslim contradicts or denies what Allah ordered or His Messenger taught, it takes the person out of Islam. He will then have to repent, seek Allah’s forgiveness and re-enter Islam. If not, and he dies, he would have died without Islam, even if he had been doing other prescribed things. Allah made it clear that selective obedience is disobedience.
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱدْخُلُوا۟ فِى ٱلسِّلْمِ كَآفَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ خُطُوَٰتِ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنِ إِنَّهُۥ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ
Baqara 2: 208 O Believers! Enter Islam completely and do not follow Shaytan’s footsteps. Surely, he is your sworn enemy.
The Ayah is addressed to the Believers who already believe, showing that merely saying that we believe is not enough. Belief must be demonstrated in all aspects of life and not as a matter of personal choice. The word ‘Muslim’ is a verb. It describes someone who is doing something. Someone who has submitted to Allah. Not someone who knows about Islam no matter how much. A Haaji is someone who has done Hajj, not the bus driver for Hujjaj. A Sa’aim is one who fasts. Not one who knows about fasting. A Musalli is one who is praying. Not someone who knows how to pray but doesn’t pray himself. About selective obedience, Allah declared very clearly:
أَفَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِبَعْضِ ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ وَتَكْفُرُونَ بِبَعْضٍ فَمَا جَزَآءُ مَن يَفْعَلُ ذَٰلِكَ مِنكُمْ إِلَّا خِزْىٌ فِى ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَيَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَىٰٓ أَشَدِّ ٱلْعَذَابِ وَمَا ٱللَّهُ بِغَـٰفِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
Baqara 2: 85 Do you believe in some of the Scripture and reject the rest? Is there any reward for those who do so among you other than disgrace in this worldly life and being subjected to the harshest punishment on the Day of Judgment? For Allah is never unaware of what you do.
This is our biggest problem today. Muslims want Islam in their choice of flavor. But Islam didn’t come in different flavors. The beauty of Islam is that it is universal and the same for all people everywhere, in every era. There is no Arab Islam and American Islam and Desi Islam. There is one Islam and all those who practice it are Muslim and equal before Allah distinguished only by the extent to which they are concerned about pleasing Allah i.e., by their Taqwa. As Allah said in Sura Al-Hujuraat:
إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
Hujuraat 49:13 Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.
More next Friday but let us reflect on what I have said and ask ourselves where we stand. A day will come when that will be the difference between Jannah and the other place. I ask Allah for His Forgiveness and Mercy.