So, I’m overwhelmed. As the first chapter of Fiqh ul Quloob starts, the very first sub-topic, about knowing Allah and His names and attributes, leaves me reeling with shock. Let me tell you why.
This chapter tells us something we have ignored for all of our lives: that knowing Allah swt, and His names and attributes, is the height of all knowledge. It is the most crucial, un-miss-able piece of the puzzle of life. It is an obligation – not something optional! You can read more about the obligation and importance of knowing Allah here and here. What I’m going to talk about in this post is another angle – that not only is it a hukm of Allah to know Him, but we are also morally obliged to recognize Him!
Here is why:
ولا يليق بالعبد الذي لم تزل نعم الله عليه متواترة، وفضله عليه عظيم من كل وجه، أن يكون جاهلاً بربه، معرضاً عن معرفة أسمائه وصفاته وأفعاله
[Rough translation]: “And it is not appropriate for the slave, upon whom the blessings of Allah are constant, and His bounty on him is great (and comes) from every direction, that he remain ignorant of his Rabb, and turns away from the recognition of His names and attributes and actions.”
Imagine receiving a beautiful gift, something that you desperately wanted at that very moment – will you not be desperate to know who sent it? Will you not want to rush to thank the sender? And if you simply accept it and use it and never spare a thought for the sender, will you not be the most selfish, ungrateful wretch?
Now, imagine. Imagine if Allah withholds oxygen from you for the next thirty seconds. Imagine the horror of not being able to breathe. Imagine the searing in your lungs, the wild beating of your heart, the panic in your mind. What wouldn’t you give to be able to draw a single breath? Well, then who sends a continuous supply of clean air to us? Who lets our heart and lungs and brain work in perfect coordination, every second of every day, to deliver oxygen to every part of our bodies?
Next. Imagine you’re walking up the stairs one day. And suddenly, your feet just stop. They refuse to budge. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t lift your foot. Where will you go? What will you do? Who will you call for help? Can all the doctors and medicines in the world return life to your feet if Allah takes it away? But no. Each time we put one foot down, Allah lets us pick up the other one. Ever thanked Him? I can’t remember if I did!
Another situation. Imagine you enter your house one day, expecting mom to welcome you with a kiss, serve you hot food, and pamper you generally, as she does every day. But instead, the second you step into the house, weary and wanting comfort, your parents throw you out. Sounds absurd, but if you think about it, who is the one putting your love in their hearts? Who is the one making their hearts inclined towards letting you live in their house and use up their wealth? If Allah takes away their love and sense of responsibility, is there any court of law in the world that can return you your former comforts? But He does not. Every day they go on loving us, providing for us, caring for us. Every day we have a roof over our heads, a comfortable bed, and delicious food. Who is ensuring these provisions and comforts and security?
There is an infinite number of examples of how much and how constantly Allah takes care of us. Read into the body’s immune system sometime. It’s amazing how Allah has programmed our bodies to safeguard themselves against hundreds of attacks every single day. There are actual standing armies inside, actually trained to protect against the myriad threats they body faces!
So the point is, who is the one safeguarding our hearts? Who is the one safeguarding our souls? Who is the one safeguarding our lives?
Indeed we live in a rain of gifts, coming, as the author says, “from every direction”, and yet we make no effort to get to know the Sender – our Lord – the One Who created us – who gave us our health and wealth and family and friends and privileges and comforts!
And the most scary part is, that even now, even after realizing all of this, some (if not all) of us think, yeah, I’ll definitely study the names and attributes of Allah – if I get time.
What will it take to push us into action? Why are we so heedless? May Allah make us of those who get pushed into action immediately when they realize their lapses, and stay constant on it throughout their lives!
(To know what I mean when I say we don’t know Allah, read part two of this series: On Knowing Allah – Part 2: Come off it, of course I know Allah!)