Reflections on Munajat Sha'baniyyah (3)

Reflections on Munajat Sha'baniyyah (3)

اِلـهي اِنْ كُنْتُ غَيْرَ مُسْتأهِل لِرَحْمَتِكَ فَاَنْتَ اَهْلٌ اَنْ تَجُودَ عَليَّ بِفَضْلِ سَعَتِكَ

My God, although I am not qualified to receive Your mercy, You are suited to be generous to me through the grace of Your plenty. At times we are given instructions that if we are to do certain acts then we will receive certain rewards. Some people have managed to perform good, and in return Allah gives them His mercy. But I? I have done nothing to receive the mercy of Allah, as far as I am concerned.

Hence, we state, ‘O Allah, if you do not give me then I cannot blame You. If I had done something of worth then I could have called on it to appeal to Your mercy, but alas I do not have anything like this. I know I am not qualified, but I am still hopeful, because for me to receive Your mercy I am not only reliant upon my qualifications, but I know You also have qualifications. I have wasted mine, but what about You? One of these qualities of Yours is to give mercy to those who do not deserve it.

When Allah created us, had we done anything to deserve this? When He guides us, is it because we deserve it? Regarding all of the bounties that He bestows upon us, is it due to our deservedness? Nay, it is due to His qualities and not ours. Hence, even though I am not qualified, I still harbor hope due to Your qualities.

O Allah, You and Your qualities is why You should give me Your mercy. For You, it is natural and expected – compatible with Your nature. For people to demand and deserve mercy is not certain; some may deserve it and some may not. My situation is so bad that I know I do not deserve it, as I have not done enough to earn it; but I know you have such good qualities and characteristics that You give mercy to those that do not deserve it, and in this way You keep the channel open between You and Your creation.

The meaning of perfect detachment

Let us reflect on another passage of this prayer, beginning with: اِلـهي هَبْ لي كَمالَ الانْقِطاعِ اِلَيْكَ : O Allah give me perfect detachment from everything, [and then attachment] to you.

Our problem is that we, claiming to be believers (mu’mineen), who believe in Allah, are still attached to many things rendering us not truly monotheistic. We believe in Allah while at same time think people or material techniques we use are independent of Allah. Many of us think that our success comes either from Allah or from the various worldly means. There is a kind of polytheism (shirk) that unfortunately exists in the minds of many believers: وَمَا يُؤْمِنُ أَكْثَرُهُمْ بِاللَّهِ إِلَّا وَهُمْ مُشْرِكُونَ And most of them do not believe in Allah without ascribing partners to Him. (1)

The majority of the believers are in a sense suffering from hidden polytheism and this is caused by giving independent positions to creatures of Allah, such as our own efforts, skills, and talents. We think our success will come through the efforts of our mother, father, tribe, party, community, government, doctor, boss, and so forth, and hence we have attachment to many things alongside Allah; we also have an attachment to Allah, but it is mostly in a polytheistic way.

At this point in this munajat we ask Allah to give us complete detachment from everything other than Him. This is not in the sense that we forget, neglect, or fail to properly use other things, or neglect them, or that we live in a cave, but in the sense that we do not put hope and trust in them, and that our hope and trust remains only in Allah.

So, we continue to act and behave as reasonable people act, and we do not ignore worldly means and the cause and effect system of the world, but neither do we place our hope and trust in them. Muslims are to strive for excellence. They are to be the best they can in any field they are employed in, whether it be farming, constructing, business dealing, researching, or parenting. We must try to use all the techniques available to us, employ the best technology, methods, plans, while simultaneously doing this whilst knowing clearly that this will not guarantee our success; Our success rests only in Allah. We must not even have trust in our own works, prayer, fasting, or public service.

Indeed, we must not have trust in our own righteous deeds, if there are any, or in our good qualities, if there are any good qualities. We should even not have trust in the Ahl al-Bayt as independent from Allah. Our trust is in our Lord, Allah, and this is the true meaning of:

اِلـهي هَبْ لي كَمالَ الانْقِطاعِ اِلَيْكَ : O Allah give me perfect detachment from everything, [and then attachment] to you. Therefore, we must begin to detach ourselves from what is bad, and then from what is neutral, and then from what is good, and then from what is holy. This is a process of refinement, and anything other than Allah should be left aside. This is pure monotheism (tawhid), to have our hope only fixed on Allah.

Once this is achieved, we can proceed and ask for what is mentioned in the next line, because there is a connection between the first sentence and second sentence.

Illumination of the eyes of the heart

Once we are detached from everything, we will no longer be interested in other things. Hence, we first require a proper orientation. Whenever you want to see something, you will require a proper orientation to face the right direction to see that thing. For something physical, a physical orientation is required, and for something spiritual, a proper spiritual orientation is required, which is measured by the orientation of the heart.

Therefore we need to ask: what is filling our heart? What is giving it energy? What is making it busy and preoccupied? For what is the heart yearning? That will allow us to understand the orientation of the heart. Hence, we ask Allah to illuminate the eyes of our hearts:

وَاَنِرْ اَبْصارَ قُلُوبِنا بِضِياءِ نَظَرِها اِلَيْكَ

And illuminate the eyes of our hearts with the light of observing You.

Our eyes are too little to enable us to look at Allah, but there are eyes of the heart that are capable of seeing Him, because this heart is the best thing we have, with unlimited capacity, given to us by Allah, in which He has called His spirit:

فَإِذَا سَوَّيْتُهُ وَنَفَخْتُ فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِي فَقَعُوا لَهُ سَاجِدِينَ

So when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of My spirit, then fall down in prostration before him. (2)

Therefore, this unlimited capacity of the heart renders it capable of looking at Allah. Of course, we cannot contain Him or claim to understand everything about Him, but at least we can have immediate and direct encounter with Him. Anything other than this would be through something else, but it is through the eyes of the heart that you can come to a direct encounter with Allah.

In a physical sense, we require sunlight, electric light, or a candle, etc, so as to look at one another. But to look at Allah, we do not require external light; the light is in Allah himself. We need to look at Him, and His light will help us to see Him.

وَاَنِرْ اَبْصارَ قُلُوبِنا بِضِياءِ نَظَرِها اِلَيْكَ

And illuminate the eyes of our hearts with the light of observing You.

By looking at God, our eyes would have light to look at Him. Hence, it is wrong to think there is anything else able to help us in this process. Thinking this way is a sign of not having progressed from the stage of:

اِلـهي هَبْ لي كَمالَ الانْقِطاعِ اِلَيْكَ

O Allah give me perfect detachment from everything, [and then attachment] to you.

But if we reach the stage of kamal al-inqita then the light of looking at Allah should come from Allah Himself and not from anything other than Him. Therefore, we say:

وَاَنِرْ اَبْصارَ قُلُوبِنا

And illuminate the eyes of our hearts.

And the way this is done is:

بِضِياءِ نَظَرِها اِلَيْكَ

With the light of observing You.

Continue in the next article: ( Reflections on Munajat Sha'baniyyah (4) )

NOTES:

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1. (The Holy Qur’an 12:106)

2. (The Holy Qur’an 15:29)