Allah SWT says in Sura Al-Furqan, ayat 63 and 64:
And the slaves of the Most Beneficent (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness.
And those who spend the night before their Lord, prostrate and standing.
Dear brothers and sisters, we live in a time of political correctness. Some would argue political correctness gone mad. And our education teaches us the concept of slavery has negative connotations.
As Muslims, we do not succumb to political correctness. If our faith is says one thing then we do not alter it for the sake of political correctness as this concept is man-made and Allah SWT’s word is divine.
It is clear the word ‘abd’ is in the Quran. This is the Arabic word for slave and it is used by Allah SWT to describe the believer.
So let’s first break this definition down. To be a slave is to be completely under the whim of the master.
If I was a software engineer, I may be asked in my job to write some computer code but if my boss asked me to mop the floor I’d be inclined to reply it’s not in my job description. I have some control. A slave, however, has no control. His master can ask anything of him as he is under complete control of the slave.
However, we need to remind ourselves of two key differences between the worldly definition of slave and the definition as stated by Allah SWT.
First one is that unlike slavery that existed in this world and sadly still exists today, Allah SWT has stated that it is optional for you to be a slave of Allah SWT. You can choose to follow completely the orders of your master, Allah SWT, and thus to be a Muslim or you can choose to disobey Allah SWT and the consequences of that is a separate matter. The point is that unlike worldly slavery, this is done willingly by those who follow Allah SWT.
The second point is that unlike slavery that exists in the world, Allah SWT hasn’t put restrictions on you enjoying your life. He isn’t making you work to the point of exhaustion or taking away your dignity as is associated usually with slavery. In fact, the restrictions on life, if you look at the immeasurable things you can do during your life, is not that many.
And out of the restrictions Allah SWT has imposed upon you, unlike the slavery of this world, they are actually for your benefit. They are placed upon you out of love by Allah SWT. Let’s pick a common restriction of drinking Alcohol. We see today the impact of this drug in the society in which we live and the fact that it cripples the emergency services on the weekend.
Just like a child being asked to drink medicine when it is unwell, the parents in this room will know that the child can often play up. But we as parents know that this thing we are forcing our children to do without any say by the child, is for the benefit of the child.
These concepts are important to help us understand the concept of a slave of Allah SWT.
And following on from the ayats earlier, there are three practical points to conclude this reminder with.
- Allah SWT talks of walking the earth with humility. This is giving up the trait of being arrogant. After all, this trait originates all the way back to Iblis himself when he arrogantly refused to prostrate before Adam. We need to remind ourselves that we are in no position to feel superior to anyone else Muslim or Non-Muslim. Treat one another without arrogance and with mercy in the hope that Allah SWT judges our shortcomings with mercy.
- The second concept can be interpreted as a blueprint on dawah or inviting someone to Islam. Unfortunately the political events of the last 12 months have had their toll on our community. Islamophobia or hate crime has gone up and we need to be more vigilant especially for our sisters, mothers and daughters sake.
However, we also need to remind ourselves that we are ambassadors for Islam. How we behave, speak and conduct ourselves is being witnessed by those who see negative perceptions of Islam in the media so let’s readdress the balance and respond to any negative talk towards us with a smile, a calm and an answer full of compassion and knowledge. Who knows, the person delivering the bad words may not be swayed but a witness may ponder over the way in which a Muslim dealt with the confrontation.
- And lastly Allah SWT speaks of those who spend the night before their Lord. We all know that the Prophet SAWS would spent the night praying for us and that this prayer of Tahajjud is a virtuous act. Besides the rewards, this is the time also to ask of Allah SWT. In fact one could go as far as saying, if there is something you want in life and you are not praying tahajjud for it, you don’t really want it. Surely if you did, you’d pray Tahajjud for it, no?
In regards to how to perform tahajjud prayer. Practically this is praying at least 2 units of prayer outside of the compulsory prayer. It’s advised to pray this after isha and before fajr and a tip for those who want to start this practice is to wake up 15 minutes before the start of fajr so that you can fit it in before the fajr prayer begins.
Dear brothers and sisters, Allah SWT calls it Ibad-ur-Rahman meaning the slaves of Allah. If we can train our mind and heart to removing the negative connotations of the word and understanding the benefits to Ibad-ur-Rahman, then we can achieve the definition of Allah SWT’s by practically following the three examples given in the Quran for this definition and thus be of the successful upon our inevitable return to Him.
May Allah SWT make us Ibad-ur-Rahman. May Allah SWT enable us to carry out the acts of Ibad-ur-Rahman. And may Allah SWT rewards us for our efforts in becoming Ibad-ur-Rahman.