Thursday, January 3, 2013

Shaykh Fahmi Zamzam al-Maliki on levels of sincerity


Alhamdulillah wa shukru lillah

Very grateful to have been given the opportunity to listen to Shaykh Fahmi Zamzam al-Maliki last Sunday. Alfu alfu shukur because I've missed many classes at Ba'alawi KL so I was a bit emotional to see Shaykh Fahmi and hear his fatherly voice again. May Allah grant him sihah wal 'afiah and reward him abundantly for his dedication and contribution towards the deen.   

The shaykh talked about an aphorism of Al Hikam by Ibn Ata'illah on the meaning of sincerity and two levels of sincerity: sincerity of the abrar and the siddiqin. He defined sincerity as murni - a Malay word which describes a quality of an attribute which is luminous or crystal clear. Being sincere means to do something solely for Allah and nothing else. 

He said, we must strive to attain the highest level of sincerity which is an inherent characteristic of the siddiqin. They are the truthful ones. They do an act purely for the sake of Allah and not because they are after the heavens or because they fear the Hellfire. 

We must understand the difference between something which Allah ordains and that which He bestows. Rabiatul Adawiyah, the exemplary lady saint, said: "When my sincerity has become true/valid for the sake of Allah, all things become easy." She is well known to have denounced material possessions because "everything that is on earth, its value is nothing more than earth." Jewelries are from the earth, anything beautiful on this earth belongs here. A good looking person too is from the earth. She also said: "O Lord, may You be sweet and it matters not if the rest is bitter. O Allah may You be pleased (redha) and let others scorn."

The shaykh said, if Allah is pleased with us we would surely go to heaven but we should not mind even if we were to end up in hell. The angels assigned to guard the Hellfire are merely doing their job, they are not subjected to the torments of the Fire. They belong with those who are well pleasing to Allah. 

We must work hard at attaining the sincerity of siddiqin. The majority of us have the lower degree of sincerity, that which is a characteristic of the abrar (the righteous). Hassanatul abrar sayyi'atul muqarrabin. "That which is good for the abrar is a fault for a muqarrabin."

Shaykh Fahmi said, if you wish for Allah to reward you for your good deeds/ibadah, then you had better perform it to the best of your abilities. If you think your sincerity is that of the abrar, you should be cognizant of the standards of your ibadah.

As for the higher level of sincerity, you must think/remember that you don't have the rights to claim ownership to the good deeds/ibadah which you have performed because it is all due to His hidayah and tawfik in the first place. Our prayers, siyyam, hajj, umrah, sadaqah are all a gift from Allah. We cannot claim any credits for any of those because it's not ours. If you still insist on claiming rewards for your worship, then perform them well. But the adab is that you should be grateful enough that Allah is not displeased with you. Hassan al-Basri said: 'A prayer in which you are not present, is closer to Allah's wrath than it is to His mercy'. Therefore, we must have strong resolve in improving our ibadah.

Sayyidina Abu Bakar when leading a prayer would start crying soon after reciting three lines of the Qur'an. What about us? Imam Ghazali said, for you to have khusyuk (to be truly attentive) in your prayer you must understand the meaning of what you recite. Do we know the meanings of the ayah we recite in our prayers?  After some 30 years we still don't understand even the simple surah!

Make time for God/your religion - learn. A knowledge which is beneficial for you is the one which could improve the quality of your ibadah, the one which could increase your piety/taqwa, one which makes you more khusyuk. How can you cry upon hearing verses of the Qur'an if you don't understand them? And if/when you cry, you should weep like a mother who is breastfeeding her baby, then come an evil person and kill her baby on her lap!

The value of one who knows is never the same as one who doesn't know. So spend time to learn your deen, learn about akhirah and its eternal happiness.

Shaykh Fahmi said: "I have given this example before. If you were like me - one who doesn't understand the English language - imagine if I were to receive a letter from President Obama which carries a good news, for me to go to Washington to collect a big token of money. What do you think I would do? I would certainly seek help and get someone to translate the letter properly for me. Likewise, if you don't understand the Qur'an, you should get someone to translate/explain it to you. You should learn it because it is a great bounty coming from Allah. Unfortunately, we tend to focus our efforts more on the worldly matters and so little on akhirah. Remember this: your earnings which is halal will be accounted for. And for that which is haram, you will be punished. Pray Allah will not judge us too harshly and better still if we could be exempted from His judgement."

Ibn Ata'illah said: suffice that you are safe from incurring Allah's wrath and don't you claim for a heavenly reward for something you did not do.

It is Allah who does everything. He merely attributes the good deeds to you. The charity which you give away is not yours. It is from Allah coming through your hands. Everything is a bounty of Allah no matter how big or small it is. The hidayah for you to perform something good is from Allah. You yourself are from Allah. Allah makes you grow, makes you clever. Suffice that He accepts your ibadah, so don't demand/expect any rewards. Those whose amal is accepted by Allah would feel the pleasure/sweetness of performing their amal, and that in itself is sufficient.

The last point to note is that when Allah wants to manifest His bounties on you, He would assign it to your name. He will create something good and then He let you own it and He will "address" it to you. There is a munajat in Al Hikam in relation to this, that anything good is from Allah and anything bad is from our own shortcomings. Pray for Allah to make us a place of tajalli [a receptacle] for His great bounties so that His beauty is reflected on us. May He attribute much goodness and blessing on us.

The great characters we see in Prophet Muhammad [s.a.w] are not his but are that of Allah. The special abilities we see in one who is 'aleem is purely a blessing from Allah for the person. Verily, Allah gives to whomever He wills. Pray so that we belong with the chosen ones.

May Allah give us the strength and determination to improve the degree of our servitude (ubudiyah). May Allah grant us much good. May Allah prevent us from falling into transgressions. May Allah grant us much barakah.

The above is my rough notes and it is far from verbatim. Allahu a'lam.
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  1. salam.
    i have share you article in my facebook. i'm so sorry for late in asking for your permission to do so. thanks to put in writings (you have done it superbly, tabarakallah) what have been conveyed by the shaykh.
    please feel free to visit my facebook. my facebook id is "abu al-fateh siddiq nasir".

  2. Alaykum Salam,
    Akhi Siddiq,
    Please...there is no need to apologize and no need to ask permission to take anything that you think is useful from here.
    Anyone can quote/share anything they wish from this blog - bismillah. The good contents are not mine. I am merely a recorder/transcriber.
    Thank you for your kind du'a.
    Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah.

    - Eza