Thursday, 25 August 2016

Building a relationship with Him

Do you know someone who has their "own relationship" with Allah?
اية الكرسي

When explaining Islam to those who are not of the faith, it's common to come across people who claim to have their own relationship with the Lord. They claim that the "lord" they worship doesn't expect or demand certain things from them, and that when they pray or supplicate to this "lord", it answers them or makes them feel better. Maybe their faith in this "lord" has a positive effect and makes them better people, so the question they will present to you is: 'What's wrong with what I'm doing?' They might even might try to present themselves as being objective, using expressions like, 'God isn't like that.', or 'God doesn't need you to do that.'


We will put this in points so that this answer is focused and coherent. Although the True Lord is above comparison and cannot be likened to His creation, your relationship with Him does have have parallels with human relationships:

1) Why do human relationships break down?

How often have you heard someone, after or in the process of a break-up, say, "He/she doesn't love me for who I am!" or "He/she is always comparing me to so-and-so!". A person in this situation has been undervalued and underappreciated. They have loved someone and expected love in return,  but that reciprocal love has been found deficient, wanting or thoroughly misplaced. This person maybe had to work extra hard or even act unlike themselves just to get a small portion of that reciprocal love.

2) Why do relationships succeed?

A relationship's success is essentially down to a) expectations of both parties being clearly elucidated and b) those expectations being met. For example, children expect food, clothing, shelter and emotional support from their parents. Parents, in turn, expect loyalty, respect and obedience. If a child's expectations are not met, if they are not given the attention and emotional support they need and crave, obedience to parents will not be forthcoming, and the relationship starts to break down.

This applies to husbands and wives and even applies to consumers and producers. Consumers always expect the goods or services that they have paid for, in terms of both quality and quantity. Producers always expect to be compensated for the goods they have levied and the services they have rendered.

If expectations are not made clear, or if they are altered arbitrarily, the result is confusion and anxiety. This is not a healthy relationship to be in.

3) Has the True Lord made clear who He is?

The answer is obvious. I could quote large sections of the Qur'an to you, but Ayat al-Kursi will do. The True Lord says:

"Allah, there is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He is not subject to drowsiness or sleep. Everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him. Who can intercede with Him expect by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them but they cannot grasp any of His knowledge save what He wills. His Footstool encompasses the heavens and the earth and their preservation does not tire Him. He is the Most High, the Magnificent." [al-Baqarah 2:255]

4) Has The True Lord made clear His expectations?

He says, "I am Allah. There is no god but Me, so worship Me and establish the prayer to remember Me." [Taha 20:14]

The True Lord's expectations, what pleases Him and displeases Him, are in His rulings. In His Book and on the tongue of His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, He has explained your obligations, what you are prohibited from doing and what you are allowed to do.

Therefore, with the above four points in mind, is anyone in a position to tell the True Lord, the Creator and Originator of the universe, who He is and what His expectations are?  Isn't such a person failing to love Allah for who He is? Those who worship the Lord in their own way are not worshiping the True Lord at all but a deity of their own making, a god in their heads, so to speak. And what kind of god allows attributes and expectations to be imposed upon him?

For those of us who are Muslims, we should obviously be wary of failing to meet Allah's expectations of us, but we should especially be wary of falling into the trap of changing those expectations. For example, if performing the five daily prayers is an obligation and performing the night prayer in Ramadan is a recommendation, would Allah be pleased with someone who neglects the former but never misses the latter? Does wearing a necklace with Allah's name on it compensate for not praying at all?

Allah has made His expectations clear. He has said in the hadith qudsi (which is the 38th hadith in the Forty Hadith of Imam an-Nawawi, may Allah have mercy on him), {My slave doesn't draw closer to Me with anything that is more beloved to Me than that which I have made obligatory upon him, and My slave continues to draw nearer to Me with supererogatory acts until I love him, and when I love Him I am his ears with which he ears, his eyes with which he sees, his hand with which he grasps and his feet with which he walks. If he asks Me, I grant him, and if he seeks refuge in Me, I grant him refuge.} [Related by Imam al-Bukhari]

Is this strange in any way? Would a woman love her husband if he beautified himself but failed to provide? What a child love his father if he received fancy gadgets from him but inadequate food? Would a consumer be pleased to receive a beautiful package with nothing inside?

May Allah make us all better believers, which means that we ask Allah to make us better in our relationship with Him. We ask Him to make it easier for us to meet His expectations and to constantly respect those expectations. Furthermore, we ask Allah to grant us success in all our relationships, to only let us be in healthy relationships, and to let those relationships flourish through expectations being clear and expectations being met.

And with Allah is every success.

Related Posts:
The Purpose of Life 

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