Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) delves into the deeper meanings of remembrance.
All types of closeness are superficial except that which is close to the Lord, the Close. Your closeness to one another is based upon your closeness to Allah. According to your closeness to Allah, you will be close to one another, and all distance and dispute will end – for these are illusions. They are illusions that dominate the superficial world, the physical world. They dominate most people, such that it is correct to say: Most people do not know and most people do not understand. The greatest thing they reach or hope to reach can be called ‘play,’ or it can be called ‘delusion,’ or it can be called ‘conjecture,’ or it can be called ‘a mirage,’ or it can be called ‘ash scattered by the wind on a stormy day.’ This is what Allah has called it in His Book.
You need to focus on renewing your approach to Allah by working on remembrance. Remembrance is for the presence of the One being remembered to dominate the heart of the one remembering. How? May Allah open this door to you. The one remembering Allah Almighty may be so busy with the outward form of remembrance or the words or some of the meanings that he is not actually remembering Allah! Do you hear? Our aim is that you firmly attain this presence with the One being remembered because even actions which outwardly seem to be acts of obedience may in reality be performed in heedlessness of the One being obeyed. Look at the statements of the Messenger of Allah:
“Had this man’s heart been in a state of submissiveness, so too would be his limbs”
“A man may be killed on the frontline but only Allah truly knows his intention”
“Pray again, because you have not prayed.”
Outwardly he had prayed – he sat, bowed, prostrated but the Prophet said to him:
“Pray again, because you have not prayed.”
What we want is for you to truly remember Allah. Through the gatherings that you attend and in them you remember Allah. Through the prayers you remember Allah: Establish prayer for My remembrance (20:14).
If you have not truly remembered Allah, you have not established the prayer. Likewise in your other actions and through these actions you remember Allah – in praising Him, proclaiming His oneness and greatness and in the etiquette which you show to one another. Many people, even those who are seen to be callers to Allah, remember their actions, not their Lord! So their actions become a kind of veil. They could have some light in them, but they are still a veil. Or they could be pure darkness, depending on where the heart is pointed. You hear in the hadith that Jihad is the pinnacle of Islam but: “A man may be killed on the frontline but only Allah truly knows his intention.”
It is not about outward forms. We want to establish true remembrance of Allah. Train yourselves, and the All-Compassionate will open the door for you such that you remember Allah through all that you do and in all that you do. At the beginning, you anticipate attaining presence with Allah and if the foundation is sound you will witness the presence of the One present with you.
The more you witness your own presence, the more His presence vanishes. The more you witness His presence, the more your presence vanishes. Your presence is a tiny candle but no sun or created thing is similar to His presence. When his presence radiates does your candle remain? Praise be to the Witness, the One present. The Shaykhs used to teach their students to say: ‘Allah is with me, Allah witnesses me, Allah is present with me, Allah is looking at me, Allah is close to me.’
Your heedlessness is a type of ingratitude. The earth did not exist in the first place and it only became manifest by Him. He is the Manifest, not it. It only became manifest through His wisdom. He made it manifest. It will turn into nothing: is not everything save Allah false? May Allah purify us from ingratitude. May Allah make us firm in our witnessing of Him.
Renew your approach to Allah. Find a new way to remember Allah, different from any way you have used before. You are now present in this gathering because He has made you present. You are remembering Him by His remembrance. I ask you by Allah: if He had not first remembered you, how could you remember Him? Leave the remembrance of yourself, your body, your soul and all your affairs. Help us to remember You, be grateful to You, and perfect our worship of You, by Your mercy, O Most Merciful!
Extracts from a talk at the opening gathering of the Fourth Dawah Conference in Dar al-Mustafa, Muharram 1431 / December 2010.