Today we’re going to spend a few moments talking about how we can empty our hearts of love for this world for Allah’s sake, so we can think of Allah.
And look what we’ve done for the setting. In a beautiful setting like this, we’re on the Nile in Cairo in Egypt: palm trees, beautiful water, sunshine…
Who would not think of Allah Almighty with such beauty around?
So that’s our setting.
You know, life is very busy and it’s very easy to get trapped in all the business of this life. We want to be good Muslims, but we find ourselves pushed about, and all the “hustle and bustle” takes us away from Allah.
And often we find ourselves, from one day to the next, we’re not really thinking about Allah at all, even in our prayers. We’re missing thinking about Allah; and we’re thinking about football, about business, about work, how we’re going to get along, how we’re going to feed the kids…
How to Think About Allah?
And so, as Muslims we’re asked to think about Allah Almighty. So how do we do that?
How do we get rid of the things of this world to think about Allah?
Well, first of all, it’s very important to remind ourselves that there are no monks in Islam, there are no monasteries in Islam, there is no fleeing from this world in Islam. This is very important; and it tells us something very important: this world and everything in it is good.
Allah Almighty made this world and everything there is; so we’re starting with the very basis, not of fleeing the world; that would be a mistake, we’re starting on the basis that this world is very beautiful.
Work for this World and the Next
And we enjoy all its richness in moderation, but we’re trying to think about how we concentrate on Allah and not get caught up in the things of this world.
You know, there is a prayer that we say “Rabana atina fi dunya hasanah wa fi al akhira hasanah”, we pray to our Lord for blessings in this world and the next. So we wouldn’t pray that if this world is bad, this world is beautiful, just look at that behind me. Subhanallah, this world is very very beautiful.
So what we’re asked to do then is we are asked to concentrate on what is important in life, maybe that’s the difference.
You know sometimes, this world sucks us in to the things that are not important, and it sucks us into things that take us away from Allah. Let’s think for example of films or music or whatever it may be.
You know, if I had a knife in my hand. A knife is neither good nor bad, it’s just a knife. But with that knife, I can either spread butter on my toast or I can stab you in the heart. So the knife in itself isn’t bad.
In the same way, the things of this world, music, films, television, … all the things we have around us in themselves are not bad things, but we could watch a bad film or we could watch a beautiful film about fish on the Nile. There nothing wrong in watching beautiful programs about nature and so on.
So what we must try and learn to do is avoid the things that take us away from Allah and instead concentrate on the things that take us to Him.
How Do We Do That?
First of all, we need recreation, we need to set aside time, if we’re serious that we really want to know Allah. That intention in itself will be enough to start the process.
I learned long ago, there is a lovely saying: “You become good by doing good things”. You know, if we do good things, it has an effect in our lives, it makes us good people, and the converse is true, if we do bad things, it takes us away from Allah.
So we need to be realistic, we need to know ourselves. For example, we’ve got a computer. Computers are good, nothing wrong with computers. But on computers, we can watch good things or bad.
Now, know yourself. If the computer is taking you away from Allah, for example, you’ve got a computer up in your room, no one knows what you’re watching, if you know that watching stuff is taking you away from Allah, be realistic, take the computer out of your room.
It’s obvious, you go to the cinema a lot with your friends. You’re going to watch films that are not really good films… stop going. You have to make choices. If you want to be close to Allah, you have to make choices of what you want to do.
You need, for example, to set aside time for Him. It’s not just a case of going through the motions of doing things. You know, some of us Muslims, we use sibha (beads) saying subhanallah, Alhamdulillah, allahu akbar. It’s very beautiful.
Listen to those words. If we are just mumbling, this isn’t going to take us close to Allah; we need to take time. Take time and think about what we’re doing.
Reflect on Allah’s Message
We recite many chapters of the Quran, but how many times, my dear brothers and sisters, we’re reciting Quran and we’re not even thinking about what we’re reciting.
I invite you, if you want to come close to Allah and leave the things of this world aside, when you get up in the morning for fajr prayer, after you’ve prayed, sit down quietly, sit in your room, sit in the mosque, sit by the bank of the Nile… wherever is your quiet place, sit and take the Quran and just take one verse and ask yourself, what is Allah Almighty saying to me today? What does He want me to do?
“This day, I’ve perfected your religion to you…” reflect on that verse. You know, instead of just reciting, instead of just mumbling with the beads, instead of just going through the prayer five times a day… take time. If you want to be close to Allah, you have to give Him time. Relax, look at beautiful things.
If all you’re doing is watching the television all day long, all night; if all you’re doing is chatting on the internet all the time, well this world is going to be so cloudy in your mind that Allah doesn’t really have a place in it, and when you go for praying you go for salah all you’ve been thinking is the football, or the internet or whatever you’ve been thinking about you need to give yourself time my dear brothers and sisters.
So if you want to empty your heart of the things of this world. All things in this world are good; all things in moderation from Allah are good.
You know, when we excessively spend too much time on stuff that isn’t of Allah, how could we think about Him?
When your forehead touches the ground in prayer, just take time, let your forehead stay there a bit longer than normal and say to Allah: “O Allah, help me to be a better person, help me to be a better Muslim” and surely He will reply. He will help those who want Him to help them. Surely He will help you.
Give yourself some space. If you’re with people all the time, if the radio is on all the time, if the television is on all the time… Give yourself some space; turn it off. Just sit quietly, sit and think: “Allah I thank You for all the good things in my life.”
Sit and think, think about your wife, your children, your husband, your parents, your friends, think about the fact that you can breathe and see and hear and speak.
Think of Those Who Have Less
Final thought I’ll give you.
You know once, I was travelling to make a television program here in Egypt and a friend of mine was making a program for the first time, he’d never been on TV and he said to me: “Idris come and be my guest, it will make me feel comfortable”
So I traveled all the way from Alexandria to Cairo, it was about three hours, and when we got to the studio, there was a total chaos, nothing was set up. We were supposed to start recording straight away, there were no lighting, no set and there were people melding away, producers, directors, engineers, electricians… There was complete chaos, and we had to wait around for many hours.
We made the program eventually, about six hours later, and the interviewer asked me: “O Idris what about this in your life, and that …” And his final question was, he said: “Idris, tell us how we can avoid the things of this world? How we can avoid believing in our importance rather than concentrating on what is essential in Islam?”
He said: “You know, you make films all over the world, you write books, you write in newspapers… how do you avoid getting sucked in to thinking you’re very important?”
I said: “Muhammad, it’s very simple. When we had all this business today, there was a little boy called Ahmad, and he went down on his hands and knees and he cleaned underneath where you’re are sitting now, and he cleaned underneath my seat and I talked to him and Ahmad was very pleased that he had some money to take home to his parents.
“You know Muhammad” I said to him, “if we never forget the Ahmads in this world, we’ll stay grounded in what is important.”
If we think, my dear brothers and sisters, of those who are less fortunate than we are, we won’t get carried away, computers won’t have any importance to us. You know television, business won’t have any importance.
By doing good things, by helping people who are less well-off, by relaxing and reciting the Quran and meaning what we’re doing.
By relaxing Allah’s presence and praying to Him and asking Him “O Allah make me a better person, make me a better Muslim” we’ll avoid all the business of this life.
On a day like this, it’s easy to think about Allah. You just take your own quiet time; forget what the world is telling you, forget all the commercials and the brand names… all of those are as nothing.
Look at that instead, that’s the best brand of all, the brand behind me. It’s called Allah Almighty. He made it better than any company.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)