Peace, one and all…
In a recent sohbet we explored the difference between what is necessary and what is sufficient on the spiritual path. Effort is necessary. We have to undertake the hard work of spiritual discipline ourselves. No one else is going to do it for us. But, our efforts are not sufficient. It is only God’s grace that tips the scales in our favour. It is only God’s grace that grants our actions sufficiency.
This makes the ‘size’ of the deed utterly irrelevant. What we do is thus not as important as why we do it. The amount is not as important as the reasoning behind it. Our intention, and our ability to surrender our hearts to God, is thus what attracts divine blessing. As we were exploring this important topic together, the word ‘sufficient’ immediately reminded me of this quranic verse:
‘And rely upon Allah. And Sufficient is Allah as Disposer of Affairs’ (33:48)
Or, ‘Wa tawakkal `ala Allah wa kafa billahi wakeelan’ as the verse runs in (transliterated) Arabic. At the time, it was as if God was speaking to my inner heart, saying: ‘Surrender your deeds to Me, and I shall bless them, regardless of how insignificant you might think them’. What do the greatest of my deeds mean to God, the One who made the heavens and the earth and all that lies between them? Am I sure I know which of my deeds were the greatest? By what scale am I measuring? The surrender of my actions to God is greater than those actions themselves. Can I give up ownership of my actions? Can I return my borrowed ability to act to its Rightful Owner? The ability to act consciously without focusing on its outcome is what determines its spiritual worth, or so my heart tells me in this new moment.
This is underlined by a beautiful hadith:
Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Be deliberate in worship, draw near to Allah, and give glad tidings. Verily, none of you will enter Paradise because of his deeds alone.” They said, “Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet said, “Not even me, unless Allah grants me mercy from himself. Know that the most beloved deed to Allah is that which is done regularly even if it is small.”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6099, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2818
‘Be deliberate in worship’ emphasises the need for conscious presence, for huzur. I must learn to focus my intentions, to be fully present in worship. It also speaks of a need to go deeper, to discover my hidden motivations, all of those semi-automatic behaviours and attitudes that colour and shape my intentions. Intention and conscious action help us draw near to Allah, to clear our hearts of obstructions. ‘Give glad tidings’. Don’t lose hope. Be content. Be happy in yourself. Offer others a kindly word, and a helping hand, all the while remembering that is only divine grace that heals and saves.
‘Say, ‘Only what God has decreed will happen to us. He is our Master: let the believers put their trust in God.’ (Quran 9:51)
The ‘size’ of the deed doesn’t matter, as it is God that is Sufficient and not the deed. An acceptable deed is blessed by God, and it is this blessing that is significant. Consistency is crucial, as it is the manifestation of conscious presence and intention. Consistency is also a measure of sincerity. The more consistent our actions, the greater the spiritual charge they generate. Gratitude is also essential. Being thankful allows us to see that each ‘small’ action contains the whole. Each small deed is a gateway to an infinite universe of divine love.
‘Remember that He promised, “If you are thankful, I will give you more.” (Quran 14:7)
And our last prayer is in praise of God, Sustainer of all the worlds.
Ask olsun! May love increase!