Notes from an Instagram Live session by @HauteHijab and @hosaimojo. Thank you for this lesson on understanding:
- who is Allah swt?
- what our relationship is to Him?
- how do we think positively of God?
- why is it important to develop to develop this relationship?
- what is the best way to speak to Allah swt?
- where do we start?
Who is God?
- The simple answer is that He is the creator of the universe, the heavens and everything. He is our Master and we are his slaves.
- The deeper answer is based on a more sophisticated question – Who is Allah swt to us? Our relationship to Him should be a very personal thing. He has revealed himself to us in terms of definitions of our creator. But when it comes to our experience of who he is and our experiential knowledge – that is very personal.
What is our relationship to God?
- The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Allah says: ‘I am just as My slave thinks I am, (i.e. I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him) and I am with him if He remembers Me. – Sahih al-Bukhari 7405: Book 97, Hadith 34
- Our reality of Allah swt is informed by our understanding of who He is. If we believe Him to be the most loving, accepting and forgiving then that is going to be our experience of Him. He will confirm what we think of Him so this puts the onus back on us. What do we think of Him? How do we define Him? If we define Him as something to be afraid of then that may hinder our ability to form a deeper connection with God.
- There is transparency, Allah swt has not kept it a secret and has disclosed to us that this life is a trial and there will be difficulty. But He’s told us that trials and tests are a mercy and it will bring us closer to Him. All of this is informed by what we believe Him to be. We need to take personal responsibility, go back to the basics and learn aqeedah, the order of the universe and use it to form our relationship with God.
- Rasul SAW said, “If one wishes not to incur the wrath of God, then one should not be wrathful or angry with people unjustly.” This exchange shows the idea of reciprocity. If you want to see certain things in this world and have certain experiences the formula is to put good out into the world and that will be returned to you. He is giving us the ability to create our reality, its in our hands. If we have a positive and informed opinion – it will be reflected to us and vice versa so the onus is on us to get clear on who our Lord is.
How do we think positively of God?
- Every single Human is in one of 4 states and each state has an appropriate response. If Allah swt has decreed something for you then you need to have the appropriate response.
- Guidance – If you are in a state of guidance the appropriate response is that you bear witness that He guided you. This brings you into a state of humility and removes arrogance so you can constantly be in a state of shukr and bear witness that it is due to Allah swt in order to humble your nafs
- Misguidance – If you are in a state of disobedience the appropriate response is repentance. Allah swt loves the tawabeen, the one who sins and keeps returning to him, more than those who have not sinned. Allah swt might have given you a bumpy road with many obstacles in your path but Allah swt loves you all the more for it. Your appropriate response is tawba. Ask for forgiveness with yakeen – with certainty that you will be forgiven. We can apologise to others but still doubt if we are forgiven because humans are flawed. But Allah swt says you can have 100% assurance that I will forgive you. And be sure to surround yourself with people who remind you of this forgiveness so that you are encouraged to ask for forgiveness and form a bond of love with Allah swt. Nothing is unforgivable, There is no sin that Allah swt can’t forgive so don’t block yourself from returning to Him.
- Tribulation – If you are in a state of trial then the appropriate response is patience, sabr. You might be going through a test and wondering why is this happening to me?
- “What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing.” – Sura Nisa Ch 4, verse 147.
- Allah swt has already told us we will be tested so we need to believe in the process and be grateful for it. There are lessons in the sabr of our prophets and that beautiful patience is rewarded. Surround yourself with stories and people who remind you that Allah swt will reward your patience.
- Reward comes in 3 ways, He will reward you either in this world with what you want, or something better for you here, or withhold it for something in the next life. In all three you are not the loser, Allah swt is not obstructing your happiness but rather preparing you for your ultimate happiness which can sometimes come through tribulation
- Blessing – if you are in a state of being blessed then the appropriate response is gratitude, shukr. Allah swt says in the Quran that “And Allah is full of bounty to the people, but most of the people do not show gratitude.” – Sura Baqarah Ch2 verse243
- If Allah swt is saying most people are not grateful, then we need to reflect on how we behave and express our gratitude through our words and deeds. We need to actively show gratitude through good deeds and good thoughts, by reflecting and asking of yourself, am I being gentle and compassionate and following the prophetic model in expressing gratitude?
Why is it important to develop this relationship with God?
- It is important to go inward. Prayer and ibadah are obligatory debts that we pay to Allah swt for creating us. For some people this can feel robotic. There are other things that will enhance our connection to Him and that’s what we need to seek out. Don’t restrict your connection to Allah swt just to rituals like prayer. They are of course fard and important but you can go beyond this.
- If you know Allah swt then you know yourself very well. If you sit and think of the Creator and the beauty of his creation then you realise that we were a thought that He brought into existence. That is amazing.
- You are important. Don’t undermine or undervalue who you are. You are not a rock or an ant. All of creation has value but Allah swt made you a human and He said we have the capacity to being greater than Angels. We are in the Ummah of the Prophet SAW. Others envy us including former Prophets who wish to be in the ummah of the Prophet SAW. We need to recognise this and value ourselves.
- When we read of stories of the past, we wish to be them but Rasul SAW referred to us as his brothers. We are blessed to know him and have closeness without seeing him. So have a more positive attitude about your existence in our current state and align yourself with your purpose.
- Dhikr and connectivity can happen in any activity. Cooking, driving, gardening. You can have internal or external conversations with Allah swt in any state and that’s all counted. When you acknowledge Allah swt in your daily activities you can find awe in the little things. And regain the childlike wonder that we lose as we grow older and become more jaded, cynical and sarcastic. Regain the excitement of life and unplug, find awe, appreciate the natural world.
- Look at what is going on outside, at new leaves on a plant, look at the universe, look at images from the Hubble telescope and our speck of a presence in this massive expanse of a universe that has no answers as to its breadth. And within this speck we are living in a beautiful snow globe like scene.
- This is how we reconnect to our creator. Have the awe, find the moments of heavenly winks. Allah swt is sending messages to us in our daily lives. You can call them coincidences but its Allah swt. There is much more to life than just living and dying. There is a purpose for your existence in this world and more to the story after you die.
- Allah swt is outside time, so in His knowledge we’ve already arrived at our destinations. In Allah swt’s knowledge He knows what will happen and that’s how He shares some of that with us. So if you consider it’s already happened, my story is being told, how is it going to end? I get to determine that with my actions every day. Will it be memorable? Forgettable? How will I use my time to determine a happy ending?
- If you start to value time and being in a state of remembrance of Allah swt in all your actions, through awe of human accomplishment, of nature, of space, even of movies, then connect it all back to Allah swt. If we can create magical realms of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings then image what heaven jhannah is like! If you’re washing dishes and you recall that Rasul SAW washed dishes and your following the sunnah then that’s remembrance of Allah swt.
- “And indeed We have created man, and We know whatever thoughts his inner self develops, and We are closer to him than (his) jugular vein.” – Sura Qaf Chapter 50 verse 16. Allah swt is already as close to us as can be. We need to use our creativity to be capable of this awe.
What is the best way to speak to Allah swt?
- The attributes of Allah swt that are repeated to us the most are Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem. Why do we repeat these so often? Why are they the introductory message, the first impression that Allah swt uses to introduce himself to us as the most Merciful? Ar Rahman means to be attributed with mercy and Ar Raheem is to enacts that mercy onto His creation. Allah swt is saying that I have Mercy and I can put it out in creation
- So the mercy is there, we just need to access is. And you can do this in whatever way your emotional intelligence dictates. Through internal or external dialogue, through the written word. You can engage in dhikr and remembrance, you can have an internal dialogue, you can speak out loud. You might look a little crazy if you sit in your car and talk to yourself but so what? Call out to Him and pour your heart out.
- When something happens to you and you want to find your friend and share it with them, you can just speak to Allah swt who is already there and already knows what you are thinking, saying and your intentions. It is a way to process your emotions and unburden yourself so that you are prepared to face the worldly situation with a clearer mind.
- Whatever way you can express yourself emotionally, use that to connect with Allah swt.
Where do you start?
- Don’t wait to feel that awe to motivate you to go to the prayer mat and start prayer. That feeling is a reward and you won’t get it right away. Like losing weight, you can’t quit if you don’t see results right away. If you feel numb, its part of the process. You need to push past it and keep going because Allah swt wants to see your sincerity through quality of nearness and connection. Don’t give up because that is Shaytan’s influence.
- Don’t try by yourself. Look for good companionship that uplift you, remind you, support you. Even Rasul SAW had people he leaned on form strength. We can’t tackle this beautiful journey of life by ourselves because we are social beings. Materially and spiritually you need companionship so be proactive in forming those relationships.