What would I understand when I am preached on my Faith orally or in writing ? I understand that by creating me, God gave me the opportunity to have this brief terrestrial experience which I will remember when I am in Heaven, if I ever go there. On the Day of Judgement I will be given a book, it’s a book of my memories. My knowledge of the world, of God, of myself should be a light for me. My knowledge should strengthen my faith. My knowledge and my faith will be like my two hands, my two eyes, my two ears, my too feet. So my mind (be it in my brain or in my stomach) won’t work independently of my heart. I need both of them as I need both of my hands, both of my eyes… My mind and my heart will show me how to best work for both this life of the world (which is only "a pastime and a spot" (6 : 32)) and my eternal life, where I will be able to see God with my own eyes, if I ever go to Heaven.
In my early youth I needed to know things without questioning anything. I grew up as a Muslim, so at school I was taught how to read the Quran, how to perform my ablutions, my prayers, etc. As I grew older I learned more from the mosque, from the media, from books, from society, etc. But there came a time when I realized that what I knew was not enough. There was a book which could have helped me understand why I had been going through a hardship, but I did not know the book at that time. When that book came my way and I read it, I finally understood part of what I had experienced. But the book was too hard for me. (I could not finish reading it on one occasion.) I thought it was for saints, not for ordinary believers like myself. So I continued to think about my faith without relying so much on other people’s thoughts. I studied the Quran on my own. So what would I say now to someone who asked me about my religion ?
The five pillars of Islam are known to all. There’s another five things that are not known to all. What comes first in Islam, I think, is (1) awareness "They said: Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If thou forgive us not and have not mercy on us, surely we are of the lost!" (7 : 23) ; then comes accountability (2) "Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget, or miss the mark! Our Lord! Lay not on us such a burden as thou didst lay on those before us! Our Lord! Impose not on us that which we have not the strength to bear! Pardon us, absolve us and have mercy on us." (2 : 286) ; then comes (3) kindness "Those who entered the city and the faith before them love those who flee unto them for refuge, and find in their breasts no need for that which hath been given them, but prefer (the fugitives) above themselves though poverty become their lot. And whoso is saved from his own avarice - such are they who are successful." (59 : 9) "merciful among themselves" (48 : 29) "and whose affairs are a matter of counsel, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them." (42 : 38) ; then comes (4) solidarity : "And feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan and the prisoner, for love of Him, (Saying): We feed you, for the sake of Allah only. We wish for no reward nor thanks from you." (76 : 8-9) ; then comes (5) change : "And there may spring from you a nation who invite to goodness, and enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency. Such are they who are successful." (3 : 104)
That’s the knowledge. Now the practice. Imams and preachers will not be with me everywhere everytime. It’s my heart that will be with me everywhere everytime. So I have to work on my heart. If I have a clean heart Faith will go in just as the roots go into a fertile soil. How can I work on my heart ? As we said before, and as is well explained by our dear scholars, there’s annafs al ammara and annafs allawama and annafs al mutmainna. When I am in a hell because I don’t know what to do that’s annafs allawama. That means that I fear God, or, if I want to go a step further in my Iman, that I wouldn’t love to do anything that would displease my Lord. That’s out of respect, out of love of my Lord. That’s a good thing. And God likes that. "And there is no sin for you in the mistakes that ye make unintentionally, but what your hearts purpose (that will be a sin for you). Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." (33 : 5) "Know that Allah knoweth what is in your minds, so beware of Him; and know that Allah is Forgiving, Clement." (2 : 235) "Yet whoso doeth evil or wrongeth his own soul, then seeketh pardon of Allah, will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful." (4 : 110) "And whoso committeth a delinquency or crime, then throweth (the blame) thereof upon the innocent, hath burdened himself with falsehood and a flagrant crime." (4 : 112) It’s defiance that is a problem. Even between us humans it’s not right to defy someone whom we want to be good to us. The point is, there are limits that one should be ready to accept. All this is a set of «operations», a process, if you will, that take place in the heart. Defiance comes from the heart first. So it should be tackled in the heart first. I want to move up from Islam to Iman to Ihsan. I want to elevate my nafs from ammara to lawama to mutmainna. This means that it’s I who should endeavour towards reaching that level. I should do my best to please God, not to defy Him. I should do my best, but not the impossible. The prophet (pbuh) said : "The religion (of Islam) is easy, and whoever makes the religion a rigour, it will overpower him. So, follow a middle course (in worship); if you can't do this, do something near to it and give glad tidings and seek help (of Allah) at morn and at dusk and some part of night." I should therefore do what I can. If I can worship God at night while people are sleeping, that’s great, that’s the top honour for a moomin (a true believer). If I can fast very often, that’s great too. But Islam does not ask me to impose on mysef that which I have not the strength to bear. I can express my gratitude to God in many different ways. The prophet (pbuh) said : "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little." He also said : "Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you." "Start with your own self and spend it on yourself, and if anything is left, it should be spent on your family, and if anything is left (after meeting the needs of the family) it should be spent on relatives, and if anything is left from the family, it should be spent like this, like this. And he was saying: In front of you, on your right and left." The Quran says : "They ask thee, (O Muhammad), what they shall spend. Say: that which ye spend for good (must go) to parents and near kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer. And whatsoever good ye do, lo! Allah is Aware of it." (2 : 215) The mere fact that I am willing to give is a sign that I want to be grateful to God. The Quran says : "What concern hath Allah for your punishment if ye are thankful (for His mercies) and believe (in Him)? Allah was ever Responsive, Aware." (4 : 147) This wish to give, to be good, is not peculiar to believers in God. This wish is human because it comes from the heart and every human being has got a heart. Even animals have this kind of thing. Many people have been saved from death by their pets.
Now, I have the wish to do good. How can I do it ? Is it always easy to do good, by the way ? One day I was listening to a radio show in which listeners asked for advice from other listeners. One listener said this : "I am the youngest of three brothers living in a foreign country. My problem is that I see one of my brothers flirt with the wife of my other brother. I am in a hell because I don’t know whether I should turn a blind eye and thus have peace with both of my brothers or tell my poor brother who is betrayed by both his wife and his brother. Please help me. I need your advice." I am sorry I can’t give my opinion on this. But the other day I found a full cigarette as I was walking in the woods. I said to myself : should I crush it since it’ll only harm somebody’s health ? or should I rather leave it for a poor guy who can’t buy a cigarette ? Well, I did not crush it. This is called Ijtihad, meaning you try your best to come up with the right solution to a problem like this. Ijtihad is the work of scholars, of the erudite. But sometimes you need to take action on the spot. Hence the importance of work on one’s heart.
Hearts do get tired at times. They may become blind. What can I do so that my heart won’t go blind ? One way is taking a holiday. One way is taking a rest, any kind of rest. One way is arts or sport. In the time of the prophet (pbuh) people liked poetry and cavalry. Different people like different things.
Listen to this unbelievable story that I heard on the radio. An aged experienced hunter was asked about his hunting feats. Speaking in front of members of his tribe who knew him well, he said he had hunted 72 wolves and scores of foxes, among other things. He and his friends ate those wolves and foxes. Once, the man said, my friends and I were lurking behind a makeshift wall for foxes, wolves or rabbits. Then a rabbit appeared on the bare ground. I aimed at it, and I had never missed a game, and as I was watching it through the viewfinder of my rifle the muezzin started to call for prayer. The rabbit stopped dead in its tracks. It leaned on its buttocks and remained motionless.When the muezzin finished his call, the rabbit wiped its face with its front paws, as in prayer, and went away. I was moved as I saw that, so I left it alone.
That’s quite unbelievable, but one may need to hear or read challenging tales like this one. That’s part of literature, my own hobby. What would entertain my heart may be different from what would entertain your own. Tbourida in my country, Morocco, is not baseball in the US or hokey in Canada or cricket in India. When reading the Quran, an ex-priest who reverted to Islam may be interested in what it says about Jesus Christ and Mary ; an ex-rabbi may be interested in stories about Hebrews ; a scientist may want to focus on something in the Quran that has to do with science, etc. What about me ?
Well, I saw on TV a large crowd of people in China gathering for long hours (one said he waited for no less than three days) in order to see (and take pics of) some mystical fog as it enveloped a beautiful village in a valley. The view was spectacular. It must be breathtaking to see white fog hanging just under your feet. I wish I were with them. I wish I could see sunrise and sunset in those places where people go only to see sunrise and sunset. The Quran speaks of "the close of night, And the breath of morning." (81 : 17-18) The Quran is not poetry, but as a poet I love that kind of language. Have a taste ! This is how it sounds in Arabic : "wallayli iza ’ass’ass wassobhi iza tanaffass"
And this :
"falaa oqsimu bishafaq, wallayli wama wassaq, walqamari izattassaq…"
"Oh, I swear by the afterglow of sunset, And by the night and all that it enshroudeth, And by the moon when she is at the full, That ye shall journey on from plane to plane." (84 : 16-19)
And this :
"washamsi wa dohaha, walqamari iza talaha, wannahari iza jallaha, wallayli iza yaghshaha…"
"By the sun and his brightness, And the moon when she followeth him, And the day when it revealeth him, And the night when it enshroudeth him." (91 : 1-4)
The Quran says : "The Beneficent Hath made known the Qur'an. He hath created man. He hath taught him utterance." (55 : 1-4) What is "utterance" (in Arabic, al bayan) ? It’s the ability to express things in a beautiful way. How can I express things in a beautiful way if I can’t feel beauty ? Why does the Quran speak about beauty, as in the verse : "And wherein is beauty for you, when ye bring them home, and when ye take them out to pasture." (16 : 6) ? Well, normally, the fascination with beauty results in the realization of the greatness of the one who created this beauty and the feeling of this realization appears in the form of sanctification of this creator, and this is but worship ! The prophet (pbuh) said : "Allah is beautiful and loves beauty." When the Arabs and many non-Arab Muslims see, hear or smell something beautiful they say : ALLAH !
The Quran calls on me, as a believer, to "Travel in the land and see how He originated creation, then Allah bringeth forth the later growth." (29 : 20) This travel (in Arabic, siyaha) is spiritual as well as material. When I am practising this kind of spiritual tourism (siyaha) in order to give my heart some rest so that it won’t go blind I am actually practising my faith –just as if I were at prayer : "Have they not then observed the sky above them, how We have constructed it and beautified it, and how there are no rifts therein? And the earth have We spread out, and have flung firm hills therein, and have caused of every lovely kind to grow thereon, A vision and a reminder for every penitent slave." (50 : 6-8) In other words, I am enjoying myself. I am living my (worldly) life while preserving and strengthening my faith.
Most probably, when I am alone, far from the eyes, in a beautiful place or even in a place where I can see a few beautiful things (flowers, animals, etc.), it’s very likely that I shed tears. It’s very likely that I burst into prayers, as though I suddenly realized that I was a sinner and I had to repent. It’s then when I can feel at peace with God. Confrontation can work with men sometimes, but never with God. If I want peace with God there’s one and only one option : istighfar (begging God’s pardon). When I am imploring God to forgive me I am actually confirming my belief that God is my Lord and that He and He Alone can decide my Fate. I am confirming that I believe in the invisible. That’s very, very important. Good believers "believe in the Unseen." (2 : 3) "Those who fear their Lord in secret and who dread the Hour (of doom)." (21 : 49) The more I know the more I should fear the Lord. "The erudite among His bondmen fear Allah alone. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Forgiving." (35 : 28) The erudite who think in good faith can only know God more and fear Him more. But what about someone like me who is not an erudite ? Well, at least I should avoid any kind of conrontation with God. If I understand something, so much better. If I can’t understand the logic of a rule, for example, I should respect the knowledge of God Who set that rule. I should also bring my humble testimony to the fairness of God. "Allah (Himself) is Witness that there is no God except Him. And the angels and the men of learning (too are witness). Maintaining His creation in justice, there is no God save Him the Almighty, the Wise." (3 : 18) It’s a question of Faith. I trust that God did not make that rule against the interest of man. I trust that there must be some good in that rule even though I can’t see it myself. I may not understand the wisdom underlying some rules, but I have to abide by them for the sake of the public good. I should accept the rule first, then philosophize it. I referred in a previous chapter to Adam’s tree, Hebrews’ river and Mecca’s birds. So I should admit that my knowledge is limited compared to God’s knowledge. If I think that I know everything in the earth and in the sky I may still have doubts about what’s most important to me : the fate of my own soul after death. God says : "They know only some appearance of the life of the world, and are heedless of the Hereafter." (30 : 7) "And verily We have displayed for mankind in this Qur'an all manner of similitudes, but man is more than anything contentious." (18 : 54) "And they have no knowledge thereof. They follow but a guess, and lo! a guess can never take the place of the truth. Then withdraw (O Muhammad) from him who fleeth from Our remembrance and desireth but the life of the world. Such is their sum of knowledge." (35 : 28-29) "Most of them follow not but conjecture. Assuredly conjecture can by no means take the place of truth." (10 : 36) As a believer, who evidently want to have good faith when thinking about Faith, I will not seek knowledge in books and schools only. I am being taught everyday in the school of life too. My trials, my ordeals, teach me loads of knowledge about myself and the world. I know and believe and make no barrier between the visible and the unseen, between the world and Heaven. The Quran tells me that, on the Day of Judgement, Heaven people will say : "Take, read my book!" (69 : 19) To Hell people it will be said : "Read thy Book. Thy soul sufficeth as reckoner against thee this day." (17 : 14) It’s a no return trip : nobody is going to be given another chance to think or decide. If I don’t want to take the unseen into account NOW, I may regret it THEN. "Every soul will taste of death. And ye will be paid on the Day of Resurrection only that which ye have fairly earned. Whoso is removed from the Fire and is made to enter paradise, he indeed is triumphant. The life of this world is but comfort of illusion." (3 : 185) "This is a clear message for mankind in order that they may be warned thereby, and that they may know that He is only One God, and that men of understanding may take heed." (14 : 52)
Belief in the unseen is not easy. I began this book with those two verses from the Surah of Yusuf : "And though thou try much, most men will not believe." (12 : 103) "And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners (unto Him)." (12 : 106) When I am put to test my tests will either strengthen or weaken my belief. Knowledge alone is not enough, but it helps. People spend lots of money on psychiatrist consultation. If I manage to acquire that kind of knowledge (of personal experience, through my tests, through siyaha (spiritual tourism), I will never see a psychiatrist. When I am in an adversity and go somewhere on the outskirts of the city and implore God to help me and He does help me from whence I had no expectation, that will help me strengthen my faith. I learn from this experience that when God promises something His promise is true. That’s why siyaha, whenever possible, is very important. It is very important for a believer (like myself) to see beauty.
However, for us, the children of Adam, the beauty of this world is supposed to be only a foretaste of true beauty, that of Paradise. The goodness of this world is only a sample of divine goodness.
"Allah is full of pity, Merciful toward mankind." (2 : 143) God knows what life is like. It’s Him Who made the world and life. "Blessed is He in Whose hand is the Sovereignty, and, He is Able to do all things. Who hath created life and death that He may try you which of you is best in conduct; and He is the Mighty, the Forgiving." (67 : 2) God is running our world everyday, every minute, every second. "All that are in the heavens and the earth entreat Him. Every day He exerciseth (universal) power." (55 : 29) "He sendeth down from the heaven mountains wherein is hail, and smiteth therewith whom He will, and averteth it from whom He will." (24 : 43) God knows what it means for me to have work, to marry, to have a roof, to have children, to eat well, to sleep well. God knows what happiness is. God also knows things I don’t know. "Lo! Allah! With Him is knowledge of the Hour. He sendeth down the rain, and knoweth that which is in the wombs. No soul knoweth what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul knoweth in what land it will die. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware." (31 : 34) God knows what’s good for me and what’s bad for me. "it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not." (2 : 216) What matters is my intention, good or bad faith. What matters is what I have at heart. Life is life. Most people, believers and non-believers alike, eat, drink, work, sleep, marry, build houses, drive cars, etc, etc. But, apparently, most people live for the world only. If I am a believer I can "seek the abode of the Hereafter in that which Allah hath given" me without neglecting my "portion of the world". All I have to do is to be "kind even as Allah hath been kind to" me. God says : "But seek the abode of the Hereafter in that which Allah hath given thee and neglect not thy portion of the world, and be thou kind even as Allah hath been kind to thee, and seek not corruption in the earth; lo! Allah loveth not corrupters." (28 : 77) Nobody is asking me, as a believer, to give up my "portion of the world". For good believers everything is ‘ibaada (act of worship) ; even making love to one’s spouse is ‘ibaada. But to be considered as a good believer I have to be tested. I want something from God ? So I should put my trust in Him and be patient. I should be one of "Such as are steadfast and put their trust in Allah." (16 : 42) Instead of being gnawed by remorse, I opt for patience, contentment and trust in God. If I do that here’s what God promises me : "Whosoever doeth right, whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily we shall quicken with good life, and We shall pay them a recompense in proportion to the best of what they used to do." (16 : 97) "O ye who believe! Guard your duty to Allah, and speak words straight to the point; He will adjust your works for you and will forgive you your sins. Whosoever obeyeth Allah and His messenger, he verily hath gained a signal victory." (33 : 70-71) My "works" is everything I do in my life.
Yes, it’s easier said than done. But what could I do ? I have no other choice. Good quality life is for the faithful only. "Shall We treat those who believe and do good works as those who spread corruption in the earth; or shall We treat the pious as the wicked?" (38 : 28) "Or do those who commit ill-deeds suppose that We shall make them as those who believe and do good works, the same in life and death? Bad is their judgment! (45 : 21) "But he who turneth away from remembrance of Me, his will be a narrow life." (20 : 124) If I am a sensible person, I wouldn’t love to have "a narrow life".
God knows that the material means are so important. God knows that some good believers can’t do without a car, that others need to pay the rent urgently, that others are ill and need medecine all the time, that others don’t even have a shaver to shave their faces or socks or shoes… But God does not see only my depravations. He also sees the reward which I can’t see as yet. He sees my reward in this world and in the Hereafter. "Whoso desireth power (should know that) all power belongeth to Allah. Unto Him good words ascend, and the pious deed doth He exalt." (35 : 10) "Lo! Allah wrongeth not even of the weight of an ant; and if there is a good deed, He will double it and will give (the doer) from His presence an immense reward." (4 : 40) "And had We willed We could have raised him by their means, but he clung to the earth and followed his own lust. Therefor his likeness is as the likeness of a dog: if thou attackest him he panteth with his tongue out, and if thou leavest him he panteth with his tongue out. Such is the likeness of the people who deny Our revelations. Narrate unto them the history (of the men of old), that haply they may take thought." (7 : 176) Why should God deprive me from things He knows are so dear to me ? Isn’t it enough that I believe in Him already and that I am striving to please Him ? Well, that may not be enough. Faith needs absolute yaqeen (absolute belief). "Or think ye that ye will enter paradise while yet there hath not come unto you the like of (that which came to) those who passed away before you? Affliction and adversity befell them, they were shaken as with earthquake, till the messenger (of Allah) and those who believed along with him said: When cometh Allah's help? Now surely Allah's help is nigh."(2 : 214) Personally, there came a time when I realized that all the "bad" things that happened to me and all my past deparavations were in fact good things. I got the feeling that my Lord had been managing my life without my knowledge in such a way that, were He to let me do what I wanted to do with my life, I would have certainly done a lot of wrong to myself ! Only then did I realize how merciful God is to me. This kind of personal experience would make one willingly ready to make great efforts to please the Lord. "And of mankind is he who would sell himself, seeking the pleasure of Allah; and Allah hath compassion on (His) bondmen." (2 : 207) "Allah is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him. They are Allah's party. Lo! is it not Allah's party who are the successful?" (58 : 22) When I am led to show patience and self-denial, others will say of me: This one is lazy, he is good for nothing ; this one would love to be fed by others. It's all part of my ordeal. It is an experience for me so that I have a strong personality, to have more confidence in me, to live for real principles and not for money. "Those who believe and obscure not their belief by wrongdoing, theirs is safety; and they are rightly guided." (6 : 82) "Who have believed and whose hearts have rest in the remembrance of Allah. Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest!" (13 : 28) It’s my trials that will make me "a grateful slave" (17 : 3) It would be a great honour for me if God considered me "a grateful slave". God says : "Few of My bondmen are thankful." (34 : 13) If I am thankful God will take care of me in the best way possible. "He giveth His bounty unto every bountiful one." (11 : 3) What could be better than leading a life managed from above by the Lord, Who knows everything, Who can do everything ? I manage my heart, God manages my life like no manager can. God said to Moses (pbuh) : "And I have attached thee to Myself." (20 : 41)
What about my frustrations that I couldn’t get that particular job or purchase that home or marry that very person ? God says to me : "No calamity befalleth save by Allah's leave. And whosoever believeth in Allah, He guideth his heart. And Allah is Knower of all things." (64 : 11) "Naught of disaster befalleth in the earth or in yourselves but it is in a Book before we bring it into being - Lo! that is easy for Allah - That ye grieve not for the sake of that which hath escaped you, nor yet exult because of that which hath been given. Allah loveth not all prideful boasters." (57 : 22-23) My patience and contentment with God will wash all that away.
But Satan will always be lurking for me. Satan may not be able to disturb me when I am alone. "Lo! he hath no power over those who believe and put trust in their Lord." (16 : 99) But once I am in the midst of other people Satan will be there too. He will inspire them just the kind of words that would make me feel frustrated over things I could not get in the past or aspire to things I may not be able to achieve in the future. While I am being tested (by ordeals) Satan will make me problems with friends, with family members, etc. Those friends, neighbours, family members, won’t think of Satan. But it’s my own responsibility to be aware that Satan is going to use some of those people to make me unhappy. "Lo! Conspiracy is only of the devil, that he may vex those who believe; but he can harm them not at all unless by Allah's leave. In Allah let believers put their trust." (58 : 10) Still, during my trials, God will send me good people to help me when I can’t help myself. But God will not give me everything I want through even the best soul in the world until I have passed the test. Otherwise, why should it be called a test ? God can make my family, or a charity, for example, help me with food but not with money. I won’t get the money I want until God wills so. So I shouldn’t blame people for what they can’t give me. God says : "Tell My bondmen to speak that which is kindlier. Lo! the devil soweth discord among them. Lo! the devil is for man an open foe." (17 : 53) Those people who are "bad" to me may be good to other people. There’s good in all of us, even in criminals. Those people may be "bad" to me now because I was bad to them in the past. God says : "And whoso doeth good an atom's weight will see it then, And whoso doeth ill an atom's weight will see it then." (99 : 7-8) So if I can do good, I should do it for the sake of God. That’s golden education. Genuine generosity (in all its forms) is the top golden education. God says : "If ye publish your almsgiving, it is well, but if ye hide it and give it to the poor, it will be better for you." (2 : 271) "A kind word with forgiveness is better than almsgiving followed by injury. Allah is Absolute, Clement. O ye who believe! Render not vain your almsgiving by reproach and injury." (2 : 263-264) "And whatsoever good thing ye spend, it is for yourselves, when ye spend not save in search of Allah's Countenance; and whatsoever good thing ye spend, it will be repaid to you in full, and ye will not be wronged." (2 : 272) In other words, I should be good and then do good. I should do what I can. I am not obliged to do good to a person who will only hurt me. I have the choice. I alone can know the limits of my patience in this regard. "Allah tasketh not a soul beyond its scope." (2 : 286) So I should not be a complexed person. I should take life as it comes. I manage my heart and God will manage my life.
If I have children golden education is the best thing I can offer them. My family is my people. My home is my kingdom. My conduct is my Law. If I don’t want my children to lie to me, I should not lie to them or in front of them. "Enjoin ye righteousness upon mankind while ye yourselves forget (to practise it)?" (2 : 44) "O ye who believe! Why say ye that which ye do not? It is most hateful in the sight of Allah that ye say that which ye do not." (61 : 2-3) I have to be consistent with myself. God wants me, as a believer, to be honest with myself first. I should be free of contradictions.
What’s the fruit of golden education ? God says : "Such as persevere in seeking their Lord's Countenance and are regular in prayer and spend of that which We bestow upon them secretly and openly, and overcome evil with good. Theirs will be the sequel of the (heavenly) Home, Gardens of Eden which they enter, along with all who do right of their fathers and their halpmeets and their seed. The angels enter unto them from every gate, (Saying): Peace be unto you because ye persevered. Ah, passing sweet will be the sequel of the (heavenly) Home." (13 : 22-24) That’s the fruit of golden education. My parents, my children, my siblings –we can all meet there, in Heaven, as we met here in the earth. Golden education (or lack of it) will either reunite or separate us –for ever. Golden education is not a religion, though. The religion is Islam. Golden education is only a name I liked to call a strategy towards putting Islam into practice on the individual level by people who care more about their faith.
We can all be psychologically broken at one time or another. Only faith can help us rise up again. Faith is light. Faith is freedom. Faith is the freedom of all but the Lord. As a believer, I free myself from what fills my heart with grudges and remorse. I give myself importance. I look for this importance in myself, I will find it in my faith.
I have just mentioned a sensitive subject: freedom. It affects all of us. For example, I want to go out and let off steam a little. Where will I go? With whom ? Alone ? With my family? With a friend ? Which friend ? With my wife? How am I going? Walk ? By bike ? By car? By public transportation? What am I going to eat? Something I prepared at home? Something I would buy at the snack shop? Faith is not far from all that. I have the choice between several destinations: the cinema, the theater, the sports club, the cabaret, the café, the nightclub, nature, the swimming pool, the sea ... Each time I think: 1) Is this halal or haram (licit or illicit)? 2) What will people say about me? Is it going to impress somebody? Eating a home-cooked snack in a remote corner of nature, away from people's eyes, is not like eating in a posh restaurant among people who will notice everything about my looks and actions. For a woman, going out wearing a hijab in a chic neighborhood is not like going out wearing a hijab in a working-class neighbourhood.
The power of society is heavier than the mountains. Even with faith it takes a lot of effort to break free without shocking. What does faith tell you, then? One day a wise man saw a man standing staring right and left. The wise man said to him : "What do you want, man?" The man said to him : "I am looking for a clean place to pray." The wise man said to him, "Clean your heart and pray wherever you please!" If I can clean my heart I can go wherever I want, with whomever I want ; I can eat whatever I want wherever I want ; I can put on the clothes I want wherever I want. My heart will guide me. God says: "There shall be no sin (imputed) unto those who believe and do good works for what they may have eaten (in the past). So be mindful of your duty (to Allah), and do good works; and again; be mindful of your duty, and believe; and once again: be mindful of your duty, and do right, Allah loveth the good." (5 : 93)
See the grades of Faith? If I make a mistake the first, the second, the tenth time, I will be punished and I will understand that this or that thing is not good for me; my heart will take a lesson and lead me where I would no longer have any problems with God or with people. That's wisdom. This is how freedom will become for me second nature. I manage my heart, God will manage my life. My heart is the most precious piece of me. If I keep it clean my life will be clean.
Often when we read a book like this, we want to know what God has to give us. If I myself ask myself the same question, what would be the answer? Well, God has so much to offer me, but me - what do I have to offer to God? God seeks no livelihood from me. He says : "I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me. I seek no livelihood from them, nor do I ask that they should feed Me. Lo! Allah! He it is that giveth livelihood, the Lord of unbreakable might." (51 : 56-58) What God would expect of me is that I give Him a special, very, very special place in my heart. God says in the hadith quodsi: "Neither My Earth nor My Sky has been vast enough to hold Me, but the heart of My believing slave has !"
If I have chosen for my prayers the most beautiful place in my house, I should reserve for the Lord the most beautiful, the cleanest, the most intimate place in my heart. God speaks in the Quran of tijara (trade): if you do this I give you that. I need God. I need the grace of God. I need God's help. But I ought not to trade with God, literally speaking. I should not deal with God on a give-and-take basis. I must see in Him a friend, a reliable and faithful friend forever. I do not hide anything from Him, He knows everything. I do not feign, He knows what's in my heart. If He deprives me of one thing or another, I speak to Him as politely as possible. I ask of Him what I want, I tell Him what I am suffering from. I show Him my tears that I would not show to anyone else. I tell Him the best words, the ones I would not tell anyone. I show Him how much I love Him, how honoured I am to have Him as God, as a protecting friend. I show Him that I love Him for what He is. I show Him how much I need Him, His Grace, His paradise, His pleasure. I show Him, with words and deeds, that I am nothing without Him. He will make me happy as I am, happy with what I do. He will make me feel no longer alone. He will make me happy. He will give me - if He will - more than I asked of Him. "Is the reward of goodness aught save goodness?" (55 : 60) If I soil my heart with a sin, I shed tears, I wet my eyes to clean it. I sweep it every day with the tasbeeh of my tongue. I make the place of God in my heart cleaner than my clothes, my food, my home. And I say: "Praise be to Allah, Who hath not taken unto Himself a son, and Who hath no partner in the Sovereignty, nor hath He any protecting friend through dependence. And magnify Him with all magnificence." (17 : 111)