Islam is a religion of peace and the Prophet SAWS was sent to us to deliver a message of glad tidings and as a blessing and a mercy on mankind.
Unfortunately, some cultures both here and abroad lay the focus during childhood on how Allah SWT will send us to hell if we sin and how we must live in a state of fear over this possibility.
Yes, it is true that we are being tested here and that hellfire does exist for those who will be deemed deserving of this on the Day of Judgement.
However, it is worth remembering that our lives are not designed to avoid Hellfire. We are not, unlike other faiths, by default, going to Hell.
On the contrary, our religion teaches us that each and every soul in this world is born with a clean slate and with every opportunity to achieve Allah SWT’s mercy and forgiveness. Our default is not Hellfire, our default is the highest station in Jannat and it is our test in this world to achieve that potential.
Remember, the primary goal of Shaitaan is not to lead us to making mistakes in our worship but in actual fact, for us to feel such despair at our actions that we become full of pessimism for Allah SWT’s mercy and instead we resign ourselves to the fact that we are bound for Hell.
This then leads to the person thinking that there is no point to do better because we have already done so badly that it is game over for us on the Day of Judgement.
Allah SWT and through his Prophet SAWS instructs us that this is merely a trick of the shaitaan and that everyone is able to obtain His pardon and His forgiveness.
And so today’s reminder is there to uplift each and every one of us. To remind us that we are all destined for Paradise insha’Allah and it lists just some of the ways in which we can achieve this.
Firstly, the primary condition is that we worship Allah SWT alone and associate no partners with Him. The imam reminded us of the 82nd ayat of Sura Baqarah which is translated to say:
As for those who believe, and do good deeds, they are the people of Paradise – there they will live forever.
Dear brothers, we are educated here on the requirements of paradise. To believe is an integral part of it and the remainder is the test of this life. Sometimes we will pass the test, other times we will fail. But each time, we must never let go of the belief in Allah SWT’s mercy and forgiveness, this is the key.
Secondly, it is to follow the teachings of the best of all creation SAWS.
Abu Huraira reported God’s messenger as saying, “All my people will enter paradise except those who refuse.” On being asked who refused, he replied, “He who obeys me will enter paradise, and he who disobeys me has refused.”
Dear brothers, we should firstly take comfort and thank Allah SWT for all the sunnah acts we are already doing. Sometimes we don’t even realise the quantity, from the way we pray to the manners of fasting and living our day-to-day lives, we take for granted the manners we have adopted that go all the way back to the Prophet SAWS. However, we cannot become complacent, and we should always be aiming to add more and more to our habits and manners. Even if it’s one annually, the point here is we are always looking to grow in our worship and our adoption of the mannerism of the Prophet SAWS.
Lastly, we should remind ourselves that the first thing we will be asked on regarding our time in this dunya is our Prayers. The imam reminded us of this in Sura Muminoon, ayat 1 and 2 which is translated to say:
Success is really attained by the believers who concentrate their attention in humbleness when offering Salah i.e prayers.
Dear brothers, we are tested on this point the most. From busy lifestyles to phones that buzz/ring even when in masjid and praying our salah, we are fighting our lifestyles and our habits to offer the salah in submissiveness to Allah SWT.
The practical tip I give myself and others here is to pray in congregation. And if the masjid is too much of a distraction with friends who want to catch up with you then go to a house of Allah that you don’t usually go to. Go to another masjid in the neighbourhood. Tell yourself the primary reason is a concentrated offering of Salah and so it’s worth the extra effort.
The key here is to find a place 5 times a day where nobody can steal your attention away from your Salah. If you have to pray at home, make sure everyone knows you are offering Salah so all distractions are paused whilst you dedicate time to the Salah.
Dear brothers, Allah SWT and his Messenger SAWS have guided us to understand that Paradise is our destiny. We must embrace this fact and not let Shaitaan tempt us with despair or negativity. Alongside this, let us reciprocate the glad tidings and blessings to be the best that we can be, both to show our gratitude to Allah SWT and also to be an example for others around us that we are of the Ummah of the gift to mankind that was Muhammad SAWS.