My brothers and sisters, we humans are social creatures. We all have different relationships and understand that every relationship comes with rights and privileges. The rights of a relationship are our duties towards the one we are related to. The privileges come from being related to that entity. For example, we are related to our parents, and we try to fulfill the rights of our parents on us. As a result, we have the privilege of using their name, getting the benefit of their dua, and inheriting from them. We are related to the nation that we are citizens of. Since most of you are immigrants to this country, let me ask you how you felt when you got an American passport in your hand. That is America telling you and the world, ‘This person is ours. Belongs to America.’ How did you feel? It was something you applied for and prayed day and night to get and when you finally got it, how did you feel? Similar is the case with all our relationships. The basic law about relationships is that the more fundamental the relationship, the more important it is and so it gets precedence over other relationships. Our relationship with our parents supercedes our relationships with anyone else. Our relationship to our country supercedes our relationship to another country that we may be living in.
What then about the two most fundamental relationships that we have, which are not only primordial and foundational, but which are the only two which will transcend death and remain with us when we leave this life for the Hereafter? What are those relationships, what are their rights and what are our privileges from acknowledging, fulfilling the rights and being faithful to these relationships? These two fundamental relationships are our relationship with Allahﷻ and with His Messenger Muhammadﷺ. These two are unlike any other relationship because of what we owe them and the privileges they bestow on us and so fulfilling their rights must be our highest priority.
With this context, let me ask you and myself a question. What happens to us when we hear the name, Allahﷻ? I want you to concentrate on this and check your heart when you hear, ‘Allahﷻ ‘. I say this because before we can start talking about the rights of Allahﷻ on us, we must first ask if we know and recognize Allahﷻ. To be concerned about fulfilling the rights of someone, we must first love them. To love someone, we must know them.
إِنَّمَا ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ ٱللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ ءَايَـٰتُهُۥ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَـٰنًا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
Anfal 8:2 The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts shiver (with His Awe and Glory) when His Ayaat (Quran) are recited unto them, they (Ayaat) increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Rabb (Alone).
Allahﷻ called a responsive heart, the sign of belief. Do we, have it? It is essential to check this and to repair our connection with Allahﷻ because one day we will meet Allahﷻ. We must reflect on Allahﷻ’s attributes and His Mercy and blessings and express our thanks to Him, to build our connection with Him. Only then will it become clear why we must fulfill His rights before we do anything else. It is only when the Glory and Magnificence of Allahﷻ permeates our hearts, that the darkness of the world and all that it promises or threatens us with, will be dispelled. Our hearts will be illuminated with the Khashiyat (awe, magnificence) of Allahﷻ which is a light that transcends this life and will be with us in our graves and on the day when we need it the most, the Day of Judgment.
Allahﷻ introduced Himself and described Himself as only He can do:
ٱللَّهُ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلْحَىُّ ٱلْقَيُّومُ لَا تَأْخُذُهُۥ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ لَّهُۥ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ مَن ذَا ٱلَّذِى يَشْفَعُ عِندَهُۥٓ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِۦ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَىْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِۦٓ إِلَّا بِمَا شَآءَ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ وَلَا يَـُٔودُهُۥ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ ٱلْعَلِىُّ ٱلْعَظِيمُ
هُوَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِى لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ عَـٰلِمُ ٱلْغَيْبِ وَٱلشَّهَـٰدَةِ هُوَ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ
هُوَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِى لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلْمَلِكُ ٱلْقُدُّوسُ ٱلسَّلَـٰمُ ٱلْمُؤْمِنُ ٱلْمُهَيْمِنُ ٱلْعَزِيزُ ٱلْجَبَّارُ ٱلْمُتَكَبِّرُ سُبْحَـٰنَ ٱللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ
هُوَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلْخَـٰلِقُ ٱلْبَارِئُ ٱلْمُصَوِّرُ لَهُ ٱلْأَسْمَآءُ ٱلْحُسْنَىٰ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُۥ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ وَهُوَ ٱلْعَزِيزُ ٱلْحَكِيمُ
قُلْ هُوَ ٱللَّهُ أَحَدٌ
لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ
وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُۥ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌۢ
Let us reflect on every word of these Ayaat. And see what our connection is with our Rabb. We recognize Allahﷻ in His Ayaat and their effect on our hearts. We recognize Allahﷻ in the pulsating lights of the Aurora Borealis, testimony to the magnetic shield that Allahﷻ placed to burn off solar flares or debris, without which our planet would simply go up in flames. We recognize Allahﷻ through the call of the Blue Whale when it calls off the coast of California and is heard off the coast of Japan, across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. We recognize Allahﷻ in the longevity of the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus Longaeva), which has lived for 5000 years and is still living. This means that this tree was over 1000 years old when Ibrahim (AS) was building the Ka’aba. We recognize Allahﷻ in the way elephants communicate across hundreds of miles of savannah. We recognize Allahﷻ in the communication of Acacia trees which warn others many miles away that antelopes, Kudu, Nyala and others, are browsing on them, so that they can secrete toxic, bitter oils in their leaves to prevent them from being eaten. We recognize Allahﷻ in the kaleidoscopic pulsating colors of the Dorado, which turns to a dull grey as soon as it dies and in the tail-dance of the Black Marlin, when he bites off the Dorado just behind the head and dances to thumb its nose at you. We recognize Allahﷻ in the power of the Black Marlin which can do 80 MPH through the ocean. We recognize Allahﷻ as you sit in the hot sun on your boat, in the Mozambique Current in the Indian Ocean, the color of ink. You remember what Allahﷻ said:
قُل لَّوْ كَانَ ٱلْبَحْرُ مِدَادًا لِّكَلِمَـٰتِ رَبِّى لَنَفِدَ ٱلْبَحْرُ قَبْلَ أَن تَنفَدَ كَلِمَـٰتُ رَبِّى وَلَوْ جِئْنَا بِمِثْلِهِۦ مَدَدًا
Kahf 18: 109 Say (O Muhammadﷺ to mankind). If the sea were ink for (writing) the Words of my Rabb, surely, the sea would be exhausted before the Words of my Rabb would be finished, even if we brought (another sea) like it for its aid.
We remember what Allahﷻ reminded us about and beg Him to make us among his thankful slaves.
وَءَاتَىٰكُم مِّن كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ وَإِن تَعُدُّوا۟ نِعْمَتَ ٱللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَآ إِنَّ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنَ لَظَلُومٌ كَفَّارٌ
Ibrahim 14: 34 And He gave you all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, a disbeliever
And finally, we recognize Allahﷻ in the Covid-19 virus. Something that is microscopic and which I am not sure whether we can call it a living being, brought the world to its knees, where we remain two years later. We ask Allahﷻ for relief. And we recognize Allahﷻ also in the knowledge that He gave to the scientists who developed vaccines to combat the virus. Vaccines which have proved their effectiveness many times over. I advise my brothers and sisters to get vaccinated, wear K-95 masks, wash hands and stay at least 6 feet apart. To do otherwise is not a sign of your masculinity, bravery or Imaan. What it indicates is something I don’t want to mention here. Please remember that Allahﷻ sent us to benefit people. Not to harm them and ourselves by our irresponsible behavior.
Allahﷻ is the sole Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He is the Almighty who created everything with absolute wisdom. Allahﷻ is the One who initiated every being from nothing. Allahﷻ told us about our duty and reminded us about our privilege. To live our purpose is to live a worthy life. To get distracted and spend our lives chasing the Dunya is unworthy.
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ ٱلْجِنَّ وَٱلْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
مَآ أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَآ أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ هُوَ ٱلرَّزَّاقُ ذُو ٱلْقُوَّةِ ٱلْمَتِينُ
Zariyaat 51: 56 -58 And I (Allah) created not the jinn and humans except they should worship Me (Alone). I seek not any provision from them (for themselves or for My creatures) nor do I ask that they should feed Me (feed themselves or My creatures). Verily, Allah is the All-Provider, Owner of Power, the Strongest.
Allahﷻ knows what happens to us when we are reminded about the purpose of our creation. Shaytaan frightens us with poverty and starvation. Allahﷻ warned us about this and comforted us and reminded us about His Own Power and Glory. We must reflect on this. Not just recite it.
ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ يَعِدُكُمُ ٱلْفَقْرَ وَيَأْمُرُكُم بِٱلْفَحْشَآءِ وَٱللَّهُ يَعِدُكُم مَّغْفِرَةً مِّنْهُ وَفَضْلًا وَٱللَّهُ وَٰسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
Baqara 2: 268 Shaytaan threatens you with poverty and orders you to commit Fahsha (evil deeds); whereas Allah promises you Forgiveness from Himself and Bounty, and Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.
I remind myself and you that in Islam, Ibaadah (worship) is any action that we do with the intention of pleasing Allahﷻ and seeking reward from Him. Earning Halaal sustenance with the intention of pleasing Allahﷻ is Ibaadah. The key is to decide based on only one criterion: Does it please Allahﷻ? Islam is that simple. Allahﷻ orders us only what we can do. When He told us that He created us for His worship, then we must understand that it is possible to live our life in obedience to Allahﷻ. The Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ is the method by which our life can become Ibaadah. I remind myself and you that Allahﷻ told us what He created us for and promised to take care of all our needs. So, what should be our focus, our priority, and the criterion for all our decision making? The Ridha of Allahﷻ.
Our dua is the best indication of what is important to us. Reflect on the dua we make; “O Allahﷻ grow my business and increase my sustenance.” What if we said, “O Allahﷻ guide and help me to ensure that my business is free from everything that displeases you and increase my charity”? Let us check to see what we ask more of; Dunya or Aakhira? It is not prohibited to ask for wealth and worldly things, provided they are Halaal. But what if we asked Allahﷻ to enable us to fulfil the purpose for which He created us in a way that pleases Him? Do you think that dua will deprive us of worldly wealth or comfort? Allahﷻ mentioned the kinds of duas that people make.
فَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا فِى ٱلدُّنْيَا وَمَا لَهُۥ فِى ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلَـٰقٍ
وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَقُولُ رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا فِى ٱلدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِى ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ
أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ لَهُمْ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا كَسَبُوا۟ وَٱللَّهُ سَرِيعُ ٱلْحِسَابِ
Baqara 2: 200-201 But of mankind there are some who say: Our Rabb! Give us (Your Bounties) in this world! And for such there will be no portion in the Hereafter And of them there are some who say: Our Rabb! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good and save us from the torment of the Fire! For them there will be allotted a share for what they have earned. And Allah is Swift at reckoning.
Allahﷻ told us what should be our primary focus.
وَأْمُرْ أَهْلَكَ بِٱلصَّلَوٰةِ وَٱصْطَبِرْ عَلَيْهَا لَا نَسْـَٔلُكَ رِزْقًا نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكَ وَٱلْعَـٰقِبَةُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ
Ta-Ha 20: 132 And enjoin As-Salat on your family and be patient in offering them. We ask not of you any provision. We provide for you. And the good end (Jannah) is for the Muttaqun (those fearing Allahﷻ’s displeasure).
I remind you and myself once again, that every relationship comes with rights and privileges. What is Allahﷻ’s right and what is our privilege?
Narrated Mu’adh bin Jabal (R), Rasoolullahﷺ asked, “O Mu’adh! Do you know what Allahﷻ‘s Right upon His slaves is?” I said, “Allahﷻ and His Messengerﷺ know best.” Rasoolullahﷺ said, “To worship Him (Allahﷻ) Alone and to join none in worship with Him (Allahﷻ). Do you know what their right upon Him is?”
I replied, “Allahﷻ and His Messengerﷺ know best.” Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Not to punish them (if they do so).” [Bukhari]
I want to conclude with listing the rights of Allahﷻ on us. We will talk about them in detail in the coming weeks In-Sha-Allahﷻ. The rights of Allahﷻ are five.
- Believing that none has the right to be worshipped but Allahﷻ
- Ibaadah (worship) of Allahﷻ alone without partners
- Shukr (gratitude, giving thanks) to Allahﷻ for His blessings
- Having fear and hope from Allahﷻ alone
- Loving Allahﷻ more than anyone or anything else
Sufyan Ibn ‘Uyayna (RA) said:
كان العلماء فيما مضى يكتب بعضهم إلى بعض هؤلاء الكلمات:
مَنْ عَمِلَ لِآخِرَتِهِ كَفَاهُ اللَّهُ دُنْيَاهُ، وَمَنْ أَصْلَحَ مَا بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ اللَّهِ كَفَاهُ اللَّهُ النَّاسَ ، وَ مَنْ أَصْلَحَ سَرِيرَتَهُ أَصْلَحَ اللَّهُ عَلَانِيَتَهُ
“The scholars of the past used to write to one another with the following words: ‘Whoever works for his Hereafter, Allahﷻ will take care of his Dunya. Whoever corrects what is between himself and Allahﷻ , Allahﷻ will correct what is between him and people. And whoever corrects his internal affairs (purifies his heart) Allahﷻ will correct for him his public affairs.”
We ask Allahﷻ to make us His obedient and grateful slaves and be pleased with us and never be displeased.