Khutbas by Hajj Abdalhaqq
Niyya Khutba (12th May 2006)
First Khutba 12th May 2006
Stand and face Him in every mosque and call on Him, making your deen sincerely His. (7:28)
So call upon Allah, making your deen sincerely His, even though the kafirun detest it. (40:13)
He is the Living – there is no god but Him – so call on Him, making your deen sincerely His.
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. (40:65)
Every act of worship contains various obligatory elements and, as we know, if any of them are missed out that action is invalidated. These differ, of course, according to the particular type of ‘ibada concerned – the obligations of wudu are not the same as those of salat or zakat or fasting – but there is one obligatory element common to all of them, without which all of them become invalid: and that is the niyya, the intention. The vital importance given to it can be seen by the fact that the seminal hadith referring to it has been chosen by many of the great muhadiththun, including al-Bukhari, as the first hadith in their collections.
On the authority of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, radiya’Llahu ‘anhu, who said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam say, ‘Actions go by the intention behind them and people only get what they intend. So if someone goes on hijra for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, his hijra is indeed to Allah and His Messenger. But if someone’s hijra is in order to get something of this world or to marry a woman his hijra is to what he went for.’”
This hadith makes the true nature of intention absolutely clear. It is not sufficient for an intention to be on the tongue alone Although there are verbal formulas which people may use when making their intention, the fuqaha are agreed that the place where the intention must be made is the heart. As the hadith shows someone’s intention is in reality nothing more nor less than reason why they are doing a particular thing, it is about what they really want and expect from it, what is in really in their heart. This is not always that straightforward; the heart frequently contains many conflicting motives and desires. You cannot just say you are doing something for the sake of Allah when your motivation is in fact ambivalent and confused. What Allah ta’ala demands of us, as the ayats I began with make clear, is sincerity, ikhlas. Without that our intention will be deficient if, indeed, not totally ineffectual. Shaykh Ibn Ata’illah al-Iskandari says in his Hikam: “Actions are merely cut-out shapes. It is only the presence of the secret of sincerity within them which gives them life.” In other words unless true sincerity is present you are not really doing anything. It is only ikhlas which gives an action real existence, which ties it to the Real, makes it count with Allah.
What, then, is this sincerity, this ikhlas, which it is so vital for us to possess. Allah ta’ala tells us exactly what it is in the sura which bears its name:
Say: He is Allah, Absolute Oneness, All, the Everlasting Sustainer of all.
He has not given birth and was not born. And nothing is comparable to Him. (112)
When you examine Surat al-Ikhlas what you find is that there is nothing mentioned in it at all except Allah, ta’ala and this lets us know that an action can only be called truly sincere if it is done for Allah alone. The lamentable truth, however, is that our hearts are filled for most of the time with all kinds of extraneous odds and ends which leave little room for much else, whereas in order for an action to be truly for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, the heart must be free of all the other conflicting emotions and desires which constantly preoccupy nearly all of us. In other words a pure intention demands a purified heart.
For this reason Imam al-Ghazali, rahimahu’Llah, gives the science of purification of the heart the legal status of being fard ‘ayn, making the purification of their heart an individual obligation for every Muslim, on the basis that, apart from the Prophets and Messengers of Allah, there is no human being whose heart is not in need of purification and without the heart being purified there is little possibility of having the true sincerity necessary for that obligatory intention upon which all our acts of worship are dependent both for their effectiveness and their acceptance by Allah, tabaraka wa ta’ala.
We ask Allah, ta’ala, to make us people who both understand the need to undertake the purification of our hearts and who go about doing it so that our intentions may indeed become truly sincere and our actions have real weight with Allah tabaraka wa ta’ala. We seek refuge with Allah from being those people the reality of whose actions He describes with the words:
…their actions are like ashes scattered by strong winds on a stormy day. (14:21)
and ask Him that we become instead people who can say, together with the Messenger of Allah, salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:
“My salat and my rites, my living and my dying, are for Allah alone,
the Lord of all the worlds, who has no partner.” (6:164)
Second khutba 12th May 2006
There is an unusual hadith from the Prophet, salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, which vividly illustrates what we have been discussing. It is unusual because it takes the form of short narrative and very few similar hadiths have reached us. This version comes from Sahih Bukhari.
‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, radiya’Llahu ‘anhu, said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, say, ‘Three men of the past were travelling and took refuge for the night in a cave. They entered it and a rock fell down the mountain and blocked the entrance. They said, “The only thing that will rescue us from this rock is for us to call on Allah invoking good actions we have done!” One of them said, "O Allah, my parents are both old and it is my custom never to give milk in the evening to either my family or friends before giving it to them first. One day I went a long way in search of something and did not return until they had already gone to bed. I milked their evening drink but found them asleep. I did not want to wake them nor to give my family or friends their evening drink before they had had theirs, so I remained with the cup in my hand waiting for them to wake up until dawn came. The children were at my feet, crying because of hunger. Then they woke up and drank their drink. O Allah, if I did that out of the sincere desire for Your Face, then rescue us from the situation we are in with this rock." It opened up a little (so that they could see the sky) but they still could not get out.
The second said, "O Allah! I used to love a cousin of mine, one of my uncle's daughters, with the most intense love it is possible for a man to have for a woman. I tried to seduce her but she refused me until, one year when she was in dire need, she came to me and I gave her a hundred and twenty dinars, provided that she would let me do what I wanted with her. She submitted to that but when I was about to have my way with her, she said, 'Fear Allah and do not break the seal without having the right to do so.' Then I left her alone in spite of the fact that she was, of all people, the one I loved the most, and also left her with the gold I had given her. O Allah, if I did that out of sincere desire for Your Face, then rescue us from our situation!" The rock moved away a little more but they still could not get out.
The third said, "O Allah, I employed some workers and gave all of them their wages except for one man who went off without taking what he was owed. I invested his wage until it multiplied in value. After a time he came to me and said, '‘Abdullah, pay me my wage!' I said, 'All the camels, cattle, sheep and slaves that you see here are the proceeds of your wage.' He said, '‘Abdullah, do not make fun of me?' I said, 'I am not making fun of you.(Take them).' He took them all and drove them off, not leaving anything. O Allah, if I did that out of sincere desire for Your Face, then rescue us from the situation we are in!" The rock moved away and they walked out.'"
There is clearly much to be learned from this story and many layers of meaning to be uncovered within it but in the context of what we have been looking at it certainly shows us three elements which are necessary for that purity of intention which makes effective action possible. The first, exemplified by what happened with the man with the milk, is that it is necessary to break out of straitjacket of one’s normal patterning, to go beyond one’s normal self-limiting boundaries. Doing that lets the light in. The second, exemplified by what happened with the man and his cousin, is that it is necessary to have mastery over one’s animal appetites. The third, exemplified by what happened with the man and his worker, is that it is necessary to free oneself of love of this world. When these three elements are brought together the results are immediate and dramatic.
What is also certain is that this prophetic teaching did not fall on deaf ears. The Prophet’s Companions, radiya’Llahu ‘anhum ajmaeen, did go beyond themselves, did gain control of their appetites, did remove love of this world from their hearts, and the effectiveness of the purity of the intention which resulted from this can be seen by the fact that within a very few decades literally half the world was under Muslim rule. And they were not supermen. They were human beings more or less like us. Otherwise what would have been the point. This is shown by the fact that on many other occasions others have heard and understood this teaching and taken it on and the result has been the same. Now it is up to us. If we too take it on and act, as they all did, truly for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, there is no reason whatsoever why we, as well, should not also taste the sweetness of the same double victory they achieved: the joy of seeing Allah’s deen completely established once again in this world; and, in the Next World, the supreme delight of the company of the Messenger, salla’Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in the Garden and witnessing the vision of the Face of the Lord of all the worlds.