Allah says “If he comes walking I will come running to him” (Hadith Qudsi). The path of submission and devotion to Allah is a laborious one, strewn with thorns and scarped with potholes. There are vast spaces of arid deserts to cross as well as perilous jungles. It requires enormous courage and bags of enthusiasm to reach the destination. However, Allah is most Merciful and Gracious, He does not leave the seeker of truth wandering in the wilderness. He comes to every sincere seeker, holds their hand and leads them on the path. The following verses allude to this:
“As for those who strive hard in our cause, we shall most certainly guide them onto paths that lead unto us, for behold God is indeed with the doers of good” (Ankabut: 69).
This heralds good news for the passionate and enthusiastic believer as it helps to transform the torturous path into a path carpeted with scented roses. ‘Strive hard’ which commentators define as: ‘Jihad’ and ‘Mujahada’ meaning to expend whatever capability one has defending against an enemy. There is an external enemy and an internal enemy. To fight in the battlefield is jihad and to strive hard against Shaitan and the human ego is an even greater jihad, known as Mujahada.
The preposition ‘Feena’; ‘in us’ or ‘in our cause’ excludes all those whose motives are other than the Divine path. The people who strive to gain Divine pleasure or countenance. A man once asked the Messenger (peace be upon him) about a man who fights in battle but for the name of his people, or his personal gain, he tells him there is nothing good in him, the reward is only for those who have no such ulterior motive. Those who are enthusiastic, passionate and yearning for divine pleasure, “Behold Allah is with such Righteous people”. He is their supporter, helper and guardian who is always with them. What a great honour! Men who spend their every joule of energy in Allah’s way are welcomed with open arms as beautifully described in this Hadith:
Allah says: “When my seeker draws a hand-span near me, I come an arms length to him, when he comes near me an arms length, I draw near to him two arms lengths. If he comes walking I come running to him” (Muslim reported by Anas).
With such promises why shouldn’t the true seeker strive? The beloved Messenger (peace be upon him) would stand in the night vigil for so long that his feet would swell and start bleeding. His wife Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) could not bear to see this and would lament, “O Messenger, why do you do this? You are sinless!” He would reply “Why shouldn’t I want to be a grateful servant of my Lord?”
How much time, effort and wealth do we expend in Allah’s way? We can measure the degree of our relationship with Him by quantifying our struggle. How well do you think you will fair on a scale of 1-10? Where 1 is least effort and 10 the effort of our venerable ancestors. Make this your new year’s resolution to go up a few points.
The sacrifice of Ibrahim provides us with a beautiful example of serving the Lord. The wish to please Allah at any cost is a real challenge for us in an age of plenty and abundance. Can we control our carnal desires and work for Divine pleasure? May Allah guide us and protect us all.
Have a happy and prosperous new year!