< Thoughts & Readings


Friday, May 30, 2003  

Priorities in Actions and Intentions A believer eager to pursue the good pleasure of God, to attain His nearness and honor in His sight, and proximity to Him in His abode, should hear of no religious virtue or otherworldly good without striving with his utmost to obtain it; and he should allow nothing to impede him, whenever this is possible. There are meritorious acts that any individual is able to perform, such as supererogatory Prayers, Fasts, recitations of the Qur'an, and invocations of God the Exalted. There are other acts which can be performed only by a few rare individuals, while there are still others which some believers are prevented from performing because of being engaged in other meritorious activities, which in their particular cases are more important and must be given priority. So whenever you hear of a praiseworthy or meritorious activity and find that you cannot do it, either because it is physically impossible for you or because you are engaged in other activities that are more important to you, then you must have the intention to do it the moment it becomes possible or you have the time. This good intention of yours joins you to those who actually do it, for "the intention of a believer is better than his act," and he may achieve through [good intention] what he cannot achieve by action. You may hear, for instance, of the merits of jihad, when it is effectively beyond your reach; or of the merits of charity and feeding the poor, which you may be unable to do because of your own poverty; or of the merits of establishing justice, truth, enjoining good, and forbidding evil, which may be practically impossible for you because you possess no power and no jurisdiction over such matters. You must have the intention that if those acts were to become possible, you would perform them. Meanwhile, do whatever you can and help the people responsible for those things by whatever means lie within your power, even if only by praying for them and exhorting them to be thorough in their work. You may thus gain as much in the way of recompense as they do, for [the Prophet] said, may blessings and peace be on him, "One who shows the way to an act of goodness is equal to the one who does it." Also, "One who exhorts [people] to right guidance has a reward equal to that of all those who follow him without this diminishing their rewards in any way." Whatever act of goodness you are able to do, you must do. Should you have to choose, then choose the better and more perfect one. With regard to what you are unable to do, you should have a sincere intention to do it whenever it becomes possible. Some good things carry no risks whether at their beginnings or ends, for example, acquiring beneficial knowledge, multiplying supererogatory devotions, such as Prayers and Fasts, and similar things. These you must strive for and diligently seek in any manner you can. Other good things carry risks and one fears for those who are exposed to them lest they fall into certain kinds of evil and prohibited things. Examples of these are positions of power and positions of wealth. These should be avoided and not chased by men of intelligence and wisdom, for if chased until obtained, they may destroy them, as has happened to many people who are exposed themselves to such dangers and then lost both their religion and their worldly goods and fell into a state which brought upon them the wrath of their Lord. It is sufficient for you, as far as these things are concerned, to have between yourself and God the Exalted the intention that if you ever become established in such a position, you will agree to assume it only for His sake and will behave according to His good pleasure, and do so in a way that brings you nearer to Him. Then through these good intentions, you will recieve as much divine reward as those who are actually in such positions, but you will remain safe form risks and tests. [The Prophet], may blessings and peace be on him, once said to one of his Companions, "Do not seek governorship, for if you are given it, having sought it, you will be left to cope with it; but if you are given it, having not sought it, you will be assisted with it." An example is the well-known story of Tha'laba, who asked the Messenger of God, may blessings and peace be on him and his family, to pray that God give him wealth so that he could give alms and do good. It is to him that God's revelation refers, Among them is one who swore an oath to God that should He give him of His bounty he would give charity (Qur'an, 9:75) Anything carrying a risk should be avoided and not chased. So be content with safety, for it is one of the two gains. You may hear, for instance, of the recompense that reach those who patiently endure trials and illnesses. You may desire it and hope to win the goodness of such things, only then to be tested and find yourself unable to endure patiently. The Messenger of God, may blessings and peace be on him and his family, often encouraged and prompted people to pray for well-being. It suffices you to have the intention and sincere determination that, should God test you, you would be patient and endure in expectation [of God's grace]. Meanwhile, pray for well-being and use it as a support in obeying God and seeking His good pleasure. You are now aware that you must do everything you can in the matter of benign activities; combine as many as is possible for you, and choose the more perfect alternative whenever you have to choose. But you must also refrain from exposing yourself to anything very risky, even if good, save that which is forced on you or with which you are tested. And you must refrain from giving priority to anything save that which is the most important and beneficial to your religion, according to the rules that we have just explained. All these matters are interrelated and illuminate each other. Ponder them and reflect well. May God assist you and us with permanent success and guide us all to the even way, the straightest path, in ease and well-being! -Imam 'Abdullah ibn 'Alawi al-Haddad, Knowledge and Wisdom (Fusul al-'ilmiyah wal usul al-hikamiyah)



posted by SuFiSTiC | 5/30/2003 12:52:00 AM |
As for him who fears to stand before his Lord and restrains the ego its desires, the Garden is shelter.
(The Snatchers:40)
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The Fire is surrounded by all kinds of desires and passions, while Paradise is surrounded by all kinds of disliked, undesirable things."
(Bukhari)
Whoever does good at night is rewarded during the day and whoever does good during the day is rewarded at night. Whoever is sincere in abandoning a desire is saved from catering to it. God is too noble to punish a heart that has abandoned a desire for His sake.
(Abu Sulayman ad-Darani)
Beware of your ego, and trust not its mischief;
The ego is worse than seventy devils.
(Arabic Poem)
Abu Bakar Balkhi
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I seek God's forgiveness, and do not claim that my intention in producing this Blog is confined to good religious purposes; how may I do so when I am aware of the hidden desires, egotistic passions, and worldly wishes that I harbour? I do not claim innocence for myself; the ego is indeed an inciter to evil, save when my Lord shows mercy; my Lord is indeed Forgiving, Merciful. O God! I seek Your protection against my committing idolatry [shirk] knowingly, and Your forgiveness for that of which I am not aware! I ask God to make me and all other believers benefit from this Blog and to render my production of it purely for the sake of His Noble Countenance.

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