Shariffa Carlo Al Andalusia told a story about a young Muslim girl, the daughter of her friend. The girl was sitting in the company of some other girls and the conversation turned to boys. Typical.
The girls were sitting outside the mosque on a picnic bench. While they were talking, a young man passed by, and he overheard one of the girls make a complimentary comment about his looks. Now, the comment was not meant for his ears, and he did not know which of the girls had commented. The young man, knowing that this was inappropriate behavior and conversation for the girls, went to the father of one of the girls.
He told the man what had happened, and left it at that. Next, the father went to his daughter and asked her if she knew about this incident. She said that she did. She said she was present at the table and heard the comment, but did not know which one of them had said it. The father knew she was lying but said nothing. He walked away, showing on his face that he was not pleased with the girl. Later, the girl was talking to a friend of mine and related the incident. She told her how she did not know what to do because her father was angry with her. The sister looks at the girl and asks her why she lied. The girl answered that she did not want to get her friend in trouble. Now comes the part that truly made me think. So the sister said to her, "What kind of friend is worth displeasing Allah?"
She told the young girl that she had failed at all the stages of the events to remember one key question, "Where does Allah fit into the picture?" Such a simple question, but has such a massive meaning. The young girl had failed to think about Allah when she was talking about boys. She had failed to think about Allah when she heard the inappropriate comment. She had failed to think about Allah when she lied to her father. All these stages could have been avoided by thinking about her relationship with Allah, not her relationship with each of the people who had filled her day with fitnah and sin. Her love of her friends, in this case, seemed to overshadow her love for Allah.
In a hadith Qudsi, Allah says, on the authority of Abu Sa'id (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: Let not one of you belittle himself.
They said: O Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) , how can any one of us belittle himself? He said: He finds a matter concerning Allah about which he should say something, and he does not say [it], so Allah (mighty and sublime be He) says to him on the Day of Resurrection: What prevented you from saying something about such-and-such and such-and-such? He says: [It was] out of fear of people. Then He says: Rather it is I whom you should more properly fear.
The girl had failed to put Allah into the picture. She should have changed the conversation with her friends instead of participating in it. She should have advised her friend and admonished her when she commented. She should never have lied. Too often we all fail to fit Allah into the picture. We need to make sure we remember that Allah is the Most Aware of what we are saying and doing and that His Great Knowledge is everywhere.
In a hadith, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was asked several questions, among them: "...What is Ihsan (Perfection)?" Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) replied, "Worship Allah as you see Him, and if you do not see Him, He sees you..."
[Sahih al-Bukhari 1,2:47]
We need to consider Allah with the sure knowledge that He sees us. He knows what we are doing, saying, thinking, feeling, etc... We need to make sure that the actions we make in front of Allah are those we want Him to see. Allah says, And keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, and whatever good you send before for yourselves, you shall find it with Allah; surely Allah sees what you do. [2:110].
And the parable of those who spend their property to seek the pleasure of Allah and for the certainty 'of their souls is as the parable of a garden on an elevated ground, upon which heavy rain falls so it brings forth its fruit twofold but if heavy rain does not fall upon it, then light rain (is sufficient); and Allah sees what you do. [2:265].
We need to keep thinking about Allah. We can not allow love for our family, friends, or society to divert us from what is truly important:
worshipping Allah, and attaining Jannah.
Allah warns us about our devotion to the things of this life and how it diverts us from what is truly important. This diversion will lead us to an evil end while remembering Allah will bring us the greatest of blessings. Allah says Every soul shall have a taste of death: And only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have attained the object (of Life): For the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception. [3:185].
We need to constantly remember Allah. Keep Him in the picture, you can say. We need to hold fast to our deen and use our remembrance of Allah as a way to help us be stronger. Allah says, And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember with gratitude Allah's favor on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, you became brethren; and you were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. This is how Allah makes His Signs clear to you: That you may be guided. [3:103].
The reward for remembering Allah is immense. Allah says, Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obeying men and the obeying women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgiving men and the almsgiving women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember-- Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward. [33:35]
Our greatest challenge is to achieve Ihsan. It is hard to think of Allah being present when we don't see Him, but it needs to be our goal to achieve this level of faith. Another young girl I used to know told me about a school trip she took. She had decided to go with her class to a Broadway play that had been brought to her town. She knew it was not appropriate, but she just wanted to see it, to experience it. As she sat there, in the audience, while the men and women were singing and dancing on stage, she said that she suddenly became very scared. She remembered something I had taught her before. She realized that if she died in this place, she would be raised like this on the day of Judgement. She remembered Allah. She said that all she could do was pray to Allah to let her leave this place alive and to forgive her. She did not want to die here and be raised in this condition before Allah on the day of Judgement. I was so proud of her this day, for she had experienced Ihsan, recognition that Allah Sees her. I pray Allah gives us all the ability to experience it and to make it a part of us. Our Prophet tells us that the more we do to please Allah, the more dear we become to Him and He to us.
Abu Huraira narrated that Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, "Allah said, 'I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine. And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him, and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My protection (Refuge), I will protect him; (i.e. give him My Refuge) and I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death, and I hate to disappoint him."
[Sahih al-Bukhari 8,76:509]
O Allah, make us of those who remember you. O Allah, make us of those who love and fear you. O Allah make us of those who please you. O Allah make us of those who live and die for you. Salat wa salaam ala rasul Allah.
Subhanak Allahuma wa Bihamdik (Glory & praise/gratitude is to You). O Allah, Ashhadu Anlaillaha Illa Ant (I bear witness none has the right to my worship but You), Astaghfiruka Wa'atubu Illaik (I ask Your forgiveness and repent unto You.)