Lecture by Shaykh Tahir ul Qadri
Summarized and Translated by Alveena Salim
Allah (swt) has created different seasons and climates. There are some fruits and vegetables which only grow in certain seasons, whilst other fruits and vegetables are readily available all year round. Then there are certain special fruits which are of a higher value that are only available in a specific season for an extremely short period of time.
Similarly, there are some spiritual fruits which can be derived all year around. Then there are certain special spiritual fruits which are only available in specific spiritual months for a short period of time. These spiritual months are known as Muhurrum, Rajab, Shabaan and Ramadan. Within those blessed months there are certain times, which are of a higher spiritual value. For instance the last ten nights of Ramadan are considered spiritually superior and within those last ten nights, the odd nights are considered superior. Further, within those last ten odd nights people seek an auspicious night called ‘Laila tul Qadr’ which is considered more superior then a thousands months.
In the same way the month of Shabaan is also spiritually superior. Sayyidina Ali (RA) has reported that the Holy Prophet (saw) said: ‘When the fifteenth night of Shabaan comes, perform nafl prayers and fast that day, for as soon as the sun sets that evening Allah’s illumination and Mercy descend on to the skies and He says, “Is there any servant of Mine who begs Me for pardon and forgiveness, so that I may decide to forgive him? Is there anyone who is desirous of peace and security so that I may grant him peace and safety? Is there anyone who seeks sustenance so that I may grant him sustenance? Allah’s Mercy keeps calling His servants all night from sunset to sunrise. . In another narration we are told that on this auspicious night Allah (swt) forgives more Muslims than all the hair of the sheep, except for the ones who commit Shirk (associate partners with Allah), a murderer and the one who bears grudges in his heart.
There are some people who are void of spiritualism; they view all nights as equal. Such people are unable to understand that there a certain times which are spiritually superior then others. If we reflect upon creation, we can evidently see that not everything, nor everyone for that matter, are ‘equal’ and we should recognise and acknowledge this and give the rights that are due to each. For instance, amongst the Angelic realm, we find the degrees and levels evident as well. There are countless angels all assigned with different duties that ‘None knows the hosts of your Lord except Him (74; 31).
‘Equality’ cannot exist anywhere between two beings because there cannot be two distinct beings that are at the same time alike in every respect. Similarly, not everyone is equally fitted to understand the same thing. For instance, if we came across a flower we would admire its beautiful fragrance and colour, however if a botanist came across a flower he would be able to name all its different segments. In the same way if we glanced up at the clear black sky we would notice the stars shining above us, however if an astronomer glanced up at the sky he would be able to name all the different constellations. Everyone is ignorant on different subjects; however the highest form of ignorance is to reject something just because one is not familiar with it.
We are unable to see particles of dust which are in the air. Every morning we wake up, put clean clothes on and by the end of the day our clothes are dirty. However we are unable to work out where the dirt came from. We do not notice the dirt attaching itself to our clothes; the dirt is only bought to our attention when it has attached itself to our clothes. Similarly, we do not notice the particles of dust which are in the air attaching itself to our tables it is only when it has attached itself to our table that we notice that our table is dusty.
In the same way our negative day to day dealings causes darkness to be clouded over our hearts and souls. All day long without even realising the errors of our ways we bear grudges in our hearts, lie, backbite, wish bad for others (badgamani), and hurt other people’s feelings.
Unintentionally we spend our days acting in a manner in which Allah (swt) and his Beloved Prophet (saw) would be displeased with. However, we do not notice the errors of our ways whilst we are committing sins; it is only when those sins have gathered up to such an extreme extent that we notice the errors of our ways. For instance, a blind man is unable to notice that his clothes are dirty. Such a man will only notice that his clothes are dirty when the dirt has accumulated to such an extreme extent that it begins to smell. In the same way, only a person with a keen insight to its inner self would be able to notice the errors of their way. The person who is spiritually blind to his inner self will only notice the errors of his way when he begins to feel restless, anxious and can no longer derive any pleasure from his acts of worship.
Every action can either bring noor (light) or darkness. Two men, for instance cooked some bread. There was no difference in the taste and fragrance; they both extinguished their hunger. Furthermore, they both derived equal amount of energy and carbohydrates. However, one man bought his bread with lawful money, whilst the other man brought his bread with unlawful money. As a result one man derived noor (light) from his meal whilst the other mans meal caused darkness to cloud over his heart and soul.
Similarly, words also have an effect. If one man called someone else a ‘wretched person’ then this action will cause darkness to cloud over his heart and soul, for this action manifested pride and belittled someone. However, if a man called himself a ‘wretched person’ then this very same action will bring him noor (light), for this action manifested humbleness.
In the same way, if an individual placed a stone in the middle of the road, with the malicious intention that people would trip over it in the dark, then this action would bring him darkness. However, if an individual placed a stone in the middle of the road with the intention of warning people about a pot-hole, then this action will bring him noor (light).
In the same way if we meet someone in an amiable manner however inwardly we are unhappy to see them, inevitably the guest is able to empathise with our sentiment. As a result this action brings darkness. In the same way if we meet someone in an amiable manner, and our heart also corresponds with our action then this action will bring us noor (light).
Our daily actions can either bring us noor (light) or darkness. There is no action which can be described as ‘neutral’ (i.e. neither brings noor (light) nor darkness). Even if we spend our time doing nothing at all, this will cause darkness to cloud over our hearts and soul because time is such a passing phenomenon that even a fleeting moment results in a reduction of man’s life-span. This is because man has been granted a limited period of time on this earth therefore he should try to earn whatever he can.
If one does not know how to be good, then they should copy the actions of good people. One should follow in the footsteps of good people. Allah (swt) has pronounced the life of the Holy Prophet (saw) as the eternal model of moral excellence for the whole of mankind. Therefore, to follow in His footsteps (Sunnah) is the only way to achieve salvation.
The tree that bears fruit receives it nourishment from it roots, which are hidden underground. In the same way, to acquire spiritual benefits/fruits we need to clean our hearts of negative characteristics such as hate, pride, envy and badgamani (thinking negatively about someone), which are also hidden from view. In the past people used to have less money however there was more barkat (blessing) in their money. Today, we have more money however our needs are not met. This is because there is no longer any barkat (blessing) in our money.
This then raises the following question, ‘where did this barkat (blessing) go?’ Nowadays people do not value goodness as much as they did in the past. Hence, as a result there is no longer any barkat (blessings) in money. It is often the case that when a religious or elderly person is present in a household, that household is secure, financially and spiritually. It is due to such people that many misfortunes, trials and tribulations are diverted; furthermore the people in that household live in peace and happiness. Nowadays however, the recent decline of the extended family has resulted in a decline in barkat (blessing).
There are some people who have barkat (blessing) in their tongues. Their words have a phenomenal effect on others, and an individual perceptibly detects goodness radiating from such blessed individuals whilst sitting in their company. In the same way there are many knowledgeable Ulama’s (Islamic Scholars), however their insincere words which lack love, patience and compassion result in Islam being conveyed in a strict and harsh hearted manner, as a result limited people are reformed and re-motivated.
The Holy Prophet (saw) said ‘There are certain sins of which there is no expiation except earning a lawful livelihood. He who refrained from begging, was good towards his family, was kind to his neighbour’s and sought a livelihood via lawful means will meet Allah (swt) with an radiating face which will be as bright as the full moon.
Nowadays however, we are inclined to seek undemanding work which requires little or no effort at all. We fail to understand that pain, hardship and inconvenience suffered for the sake of Allah (swt) will bring us immeasurable rewards and a multitude of spiritual benefits. It is for this reason alone why night worship is considered far more superior and brings more reward than worship taken place during the day.
We spend our life focusing on our exterior whilst neglecting our interior; in other words we pay no attention nourishing our inner self. Our physical body requires nourishment (food) three times a day whilst our inner self requires nourishment in the form of Salaah five times a day.
Food is not equal; there is a significant difference in the nutrientional value of all food. Different fruits and vegetables are rich in different nutrients. All fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, fibre, and other substances that are important for good health. A healthy body must receive a set amount of nutrients, which will help protect it against many chronic illnesses.
Some people despite eating to their hearts content still do not receive the correct amount of essential vitamins and minerals. In the same way some people despite praying derive insufficient spiritual benefits. If one correctly fulfils the rights of prayer they spiritually ascend through decreasing stages of darkness to the ever-increasing light. As a result an individual recognises the supremacy of Allah (swt). Our Holy Prophet (saw) described Salaah as the Miraj of the believer. However, there are some people who derive nothing other then Riya (show) from their prayer. If an individual wants to derive the full benefits of Salaah, he must improve his day to day dealings with others, earn an honest livelihood and keep his heart clean by not harbouring any negative feelings about others.
When an individual fulfils the rights of prayer, his soul would begin to receive the correct nourishment, he would derive a tremendous amount of noor (light), receive an increase in Rizq (livelihood), and have barkat (blessings) in his speech. Furthermore, whenever he asks for something from his Creator his supplication will be answered immediately.
Asking for forgiveness keeps one humble and close to Allah (swt). Our Holy Prophet (saw) was sinless yet still he used to ask for forgiveness seventy times a day, some Hadiths state that he used to ask for forgiveness one hundred times a day. It is apparent that in order to ask for forgiveness one must sin first. In addition we are told that if a man makes the intention of doing a good deed and does not do it, he still receives the reward. However if a man makes the intention of doing a bad deed and does not do it then there is no sin on him. At the same time, it is pivotal that we believe that intentional disobedience cannot enter their hearts because Prophets and Messengers are innocent and infallible.
This then raises the following question ‘why did our Holy Prophet (saw) ask for forgiveness when He was pure and sinless?’ Shaykh-ul-Islam Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri answers this question by pointing out that it is the distinctive feature of a man that he is an Abd (slave) of Allah (swt). In order to fulfil the rights of being an Abd (slave), man must consider himself sinful and must believe that all negative characteristics are prominent in him. Furthermore, it is essential for him to believe that he is full of many flaws and weaknesses. If one does not recognise and acknowledge any flaws within himself then this manifests that he is not fulfilling the rights of being an Abd (slave).
Allah (swt) Himself describes His Superior Being as being Subhan (glorified, praiseworthy, pure, free from any faults), hence only Allah (swt) has the right to consider Himself pure and faultless. In other words when our Holy Prophet (saw) asked for forgiveness he was not manifesting to His followers his sinful state, rather He was fulfilling the rights of being an Abd (slave) of Allah (swt). In addition, humblesness, modesty, innocence and considering oneself lower then what one really is elevates the status of man in the eyes of Allah (swt).
To sum up, there are some spiritual fruits which can be derived all year around. Then there are certain special spiritual fruits which are only available in specific spiritual months for a short period of time. When man falls ill and lacks nourishment he is given vitamin tablets to revive his health. However, if he is given an injection instead it is far stronger and effective then the tablet. Furthermore, if he is given a drip he regains his health quicker. Similarly, we are able to ask for forgiveness all year around. However there are certain spiritual months such as Shabaan and Ramadan which are spiritually superior and can greatly enhance the chance of our repentance being accepted in the Court of Allah (swt). It is essential that we realise that there are times which are considered spiritually superior to others; therefore we should give the rights which are due to each.