LOVE OF ALLAH (SWT) IS THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF DUA
Lecture 12 in the Ramadaan series:
DUA IN THE LIGHT OF QURAN & AHLUL BAIT (A.S)
Saturday 18 May 2019 (12 Ramadaan 1440)
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
This is the final lecture in the series of discussions about “Dua in the light of Quran & Ahlul Bait (a.s)”. I would like to address something I personally and humbly believe after all these discussions about dua over the past 11 nights, and that is: The ultimate purpose of dua.
Before I enter into this question directly, I would like to draw your attention to 3 very important verses of the Holy Quran which we repeatedly quoted during these discussions, which requires further reflection.
The first is verse 60 from Surah Ghaafir (chapter 40 of the Holy Quran):
وَقَالَ رَبُّكُمُ ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِي سَيَدْخُلُونَ جَهَنَّمَ دَاخِرِينَ
And your Lord says: “Call on Me; I will answer your (Prayer): but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell – in humiliation!”
The second is verse 77 of Surah Furqaan (chapter 25 of the Holy Quran):
قُلْ مَا يَعْبَأُ بِكُمْ رَبِّي لَوْلَا دُعَاؤُكُمْ ۖ فَقَدْ كَذَّبْتُمْ فَسَوْفَ يَكُونُ لِزَامًا
Say (to the Rejecters): “My Lord is not uneasy because of you if ye call not on Him: But ye have indeed rejected (Him), and soon will come the inevitable (punishment)!”
The third is verse 186 of Surah Baqarah (chapter 2 of the Holy Quran):
وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ
“And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way.”
Similarly, in numerous duas and verses of the Holy Quran which we quoted over the past 11 nights, we notice something very clear, namely that dua is very special to Almighty Allah (SWT).
DUA IS VERY SPECIAL TO ALMIGHTY ALLAH (SWT)
Allah (SWT) commands us to make dua! This is especially clear when we reflect on the 3rd verse cited above. Allah (SWT) refers to Himself 7 times in this verse. We have discussed this in detail in the introductory lecture to this series.
The word “samee-ud-dua” appears numerous times in the Holy Quran too. There clearly is something special in this verse 186 of Surah Baqarah, more than what we normally understand from dua.
In the definition of dua (lecture 2) we said that dua is the diversion of attention of abd (servant) towards Rabb (Master). Dua is when we turn our direction to our Lord (SWT). Furthermore, what we repeatedly mentioned through this series is that dua is about establishing the channel of communication between you and Allah (SWT).
In the previous lecture (lecture 11), I presented examples of duas in the Holy Quran made by Ambiyaa (Prophets), angels, pious people, great women and oppressed people. This all shows that dua is not simply confined to seeking something. Seeking something is the base level of dua, because dua ultimately is about communication and expression.
It is the dialogue between you and your Lord (SWT) ie. it is about the relationship between lover and beloved!
We should always remember the 4 elements of dua we discussed in lecture 4. These are:
- Da’aie – the one who is making dua ie. the beggar;
- Madou’we – who we are making dua to ie. who we are begging from;
- Dua – supplication ie. the begging itself
- Madou’we lah – what we are begging for
DUA IS OUR LANGUAGE OF LOVE WITH ALMIGHTY ALLAH (SWT)
In the previous lecture (lecture 11), we also discussed a long list of subjects of dua in the Holy Quran ie. what we are begging for (Madou’we lah). This is what we are commanded to ask and seek from Almighty Allah (SWT). So, dua is seeking help, guidance, and the long list of demands listing in the previous lecture.
In this lecture, I want to take this even further, as dua also goes beyond the subjects we spoke about. If you really think carefully, behind dua and all the commands to make dua, something is hidden, and that is love of Almighty Allah (SWT).
The ultimate purpose of dua is love of Almighty Allah (SWT). You see, if it is attention towards Allah (SWT), and establishing the channel of communication with Allah (SWT), and requesting help from Allah (SWT), these all talk to the foundation of your relationship which you have built between you and Allah (SWT), and that relationship in dua is one of LOVE!
The ultimate purpose of dua is to awaken that love for Almighty Allah (SWT) from within ourselves. Let us look at verse 165 of Surah Baqarah (chapter 2 of the Holy Quran) in this regard:
وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَتَّخِذُ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ أَنْدَادًا يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ اللَّهِ ۖ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِلَّهِ
“Yet there are men who take (for worship) others besides Allah, as equal (with Allah): They love them as they should love Allah. But those of Faith are overflowing in their love for Allah.”
Of course, there are other verses too, which speak about the love of Almighty Allah (SWT), but what we understand in the background of these verses of the Holy Quran about dua, and especially in the light of the duas and teachings of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), is the message of LOVE of Almighty Allah (SWT).
This message emerges so very clearly! The point being that dua should awaken that deep love in our hearts and thereby make us lovers of Almighty Allah (SWT).
LOVE IS THE ATTRACTION BETWEEN CAUSE AND EFFECT
The great Quranic commentator of the 20th century, Allama Tabataba’i (r.a) explains the above verse by saying that love is the attraction between cause and effect. A student loves his teacher because the cause of his knowledge is from his teacher. Similarly, the teacher loves his student, because the student is the fruit of his work, and the outcome and product of his knowledge.
So, you see from this example that the effect loves the cause, and the cause loves the effect.
If we love Almighty Allah (SWT), it is because He is the cause of us. And if Allah (SWT) loves us, it is because we are all His creation and thereby connected to Him.
Another important point which Allama Tabataba’i (r.a) makes regarding the above verse is that the foundation of love is love for oneself! Everybody loves him/herself and if you love someone else then it is because that someone else is somehow connected to you.
Almighty Allah (SWT) loves Himself and therefore He loves His creation, because we are all the result and effect of His magnanimity and power. This genuine love for Almighty Allah (SWT) is very important.
KNOWING ALLAH (SWT) VERSUS FINDING ALLAH (SWT) – WHICH IS BETTER?
Our religious scholars say that one way of reaching to Almighty Allah (SWT) is through philosophical, evidence-based arguments, logic and intellectual discussions. This is one way of reaching Almighty Allah (SWT), namely, through the intellect.
Our religious scholars go further to say that there is also another route to reach Almighty Allah (SWT), and that is through the heart! The route of the heart is much shorter and quicker than the route of the intellect!
Our religious scholars go further to explain that what we attain through philosophical arguments is knowledge of Almighty Allah (SWT). This means that the final outcome is that you get to know that there is Allah (SWT), and these are His attributes.
However, when you take the direction to reach Allah (SWT) through the heart, the final outcome is that you find Allah (SWT)! Naturally, this is a lot deeper than simply knowing that there is Allah (SWT)!
Now, what I am trying to say is that the Ahlul Bait (a.s) tried to draw our attention, through their duas, towards this most important path towards Almighty Allah (SWT), namely, the path of LOVE! The duas of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) are a catalyst of divine love!
This chapter relating to love of Almighty Allah (SWT) in the duas of Ahlul Bait (a.s) can be the subject of a whole month discussion during the nights of Ramadaan! This is the vast nature of this subject, but in this discussion, we will cover an introduction to this most central theme of the duas of Ahlul Bait (a.s).
LOVE OF ALMIGHTY ALLAH (SWT) MELTS THE MOST HARDENED HEARTS
Our 4th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s), says in that most remarkable Dua Abu Hamza Thumali:
اللّهُمَّ إنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ أَنْ تَمْلأ قَلْبِي حُبّاً لَكَ
“O’my Lord! I ask You to saturate my heart with Your love
And with fear of You
And with belief in Your Book
And with faith in You
And with terror from You
and longing for You”
Through these short sentences, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) has opened different highways going towards Almighty Allah (SWT), but all these highways are going through the heart! Each word is a pearl, especially when we reflect on what Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is asking in the phrase “wa faraqan minka”.
He is asking Almighty Allah (SWT) to fill his heart with that burning desire. Faraq means separation. Now, it is immensely painful when a lover is separated from the beloved, and there is that burning desire to reconnect.
So, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is saying is that his heart is yearning and a deep craving for Almighty Allah (SWT). This is the best direction for our hearts to be in.
Love is the best amongst all methods of relationship with Almighty Allah (SWT).
There is a narration that Almighty Allah (SWT) sent revelation to Nabi Dawood (a.s) saying that His remembrance is for those who remember Him, and that His paradise is for those who obey Him, and His love is for those who aspire for Him! This revelation to Nabi Dawood (a.s) goes further, where Almighty Allah (SWT) reveals that He is especially for His lovers!
Sheikh Kulayni, the author of al-Kafi, narrates from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) that the best of people are those who love and embrace Ibadah (worship) and leave everything else because of Ibadah. These lovers are those who do not mind what happens in their worldly pursuits (dunya), irrespective of whether they are experiencing difficulty or ease. The reason it does not matter is because the power of their love for Almighty Allah (SWT) is too strong.
Our 6th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) says the whispers of mystics rotate on 3 principles, and they are fear, hope and love!
Therefore, Imam Hussain (a.s) says in the exemplary dua of Arafah, that blind are those eyes who cannot see Allah (SWT) watching, and the loser is one who has not received a share of love from Allah (SWT).
عَمِيَتْ عَيْنٌ لاَ تَرَاكَ عَلَيْهَا رَقِيباً
“Blind be the eye that cannot see You watching it.
وَخَسِرَتْ صَفْقَةُ عَبْدٍ لَمْ تَجْعَلْ لَهُ مِنْ حُبِّكَ نَصِيباً
Losing is a servant’s deal that does not dedicate a share to the love for You.”
There is so much to discuss, but in these duas, the Ahlul Bait (a.s) teach us that a person is in a different world if he/she really has love of Almighty Allah (SWT). Such a person’s duas are of a different status.
LOVE OF ALMIGHTY ALLAH (SWT) BRINGS CONFIDENCE
The most important matter which the Ahlul Bait (a.s) speaks about is that when someone has love of Almighty Allah (SWT), he/she experiences amazing joy in this love. Let us reflect on this deeply thought provoking couplet:
“O Allah, how pure is the taste and flavour of Your love
And how sweet is the drink of Your closeness”
This common theme of love for Almighty Allah (SWT) permeates through the duas of Ahlul Bait (a.s), including the duas for Ramadaan. Yes, there is also the reminder of fear of Allah (SWT), but the main purpose of dua is to enjoy the love of Allah (SWT).
Let us again go to Dua Abu Hamza Thumali by Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s), where we understand his love for Almighty Allah (SWT) is flying on a very different height. He says in this most beautiful dua:
فَوَعِزَّتِكَ يَا سَيِّدِي لَوْ نَهَرْتَنِي مَا بَرِحْتُ مِنْ بَابِكَ وَلا كَفَفْتُ عَنْ تَمَلُّقِكَ
“By Your Majesty I swear, O my Lord, even if you chide me, I shall never leave Your Door and I shall never stop flattering You.”
Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is saying that even if Almighty Allah (SWT) expel him from His divine door, he will not leave His door, because of his love for Almighty Allah (SWT). He will also not stop begging from Allah (SWT), because he knows the generosity and honour of Almighty Allah (SWT).
What can be a greater expression of love? You see, love brings confidence. If you love someone deeply, and that love is mutual, then even if something goes wrong, you have full confidence that you are not going to lose that person, because he/she loves you. Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) and the Imams of Ahlul Bait (a.s) want to establish this type of confidence through dua!
It is so amazing to reflect on the arguments presented by the Ahlul Bait (a.s) when they engage in dialogue with Almighty Allah (SWT). Sometimes we wonder what is this we are reading in their duas?!
وَلَئِنْ طَالَبْتَنِي بِلُؤْمِي لأُطَالِبَنَّكَ بِكَرَمِكَ
“And if You order me to be taken to Hellfire, I will tell all the inhabitants therein that I love You”
HOW CAN WE SUFFICIENTLY THANK ALMIGHTY ALLAH (SWT)?
You will recall that we discussed in lecture 5 in this series, the relationship between dua and actions. Dua does not replace actions! You cannot say that I don’t want to do anything and simply sit and make dua and everything will come right! Far from it!
Now, this point should be married with the fact that we can never do enough. It is impossible to respond to the great bounties, favours and kindness bestowed upon us by Almighty Allah (SWT). We can never thank Him enough!
The famous Persian poet Saadi beautifully says that nobody can thank Allah (SWT) or count His favours, because there are 2 blessings from Him in every breath we take. He says that we inhale the air, which is the source of life, and when we exhale, it is the source of sustenance and continuation.
So, through our actions and deeds, we can try, but we can never pay the right of Almighty Allah (SWT). We can never do enough, plus we have weaknesses. Therefore, this concept is amazing in the duas of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) when they say that this love for Almighty Allah (SWT) compensates for the shortage of deeds!
REFLECTIONS OF LOVE IN DUA ABU HAMZA THUMALI
The following is deeply thoughtful from Dua Abu Hamza Thumali where Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) says that his knowledge of Almighty Allah (SWT) draws him towards Allah (SWT), but his love for Allah (SWT) is the intermediary between him and Allah (SWT):
مَعْرِفَتِي يَا مَوْلايَ دَلِيلِي عَلَيْكَ
“My acquaintance with You, O my Lord, is the path taking me to You
وَحُبِّي لَكَ شَفِيعِي إلَيْكَ
And my love for You is the intermediary between You and me
وَأَنَا وَاثِقٌ مِنْ دَلِيلِي بِدَلالَتِكَ
And I am sure of the path to which You have lead me
وَسَاكِنٌ مِنْ شَفِيعِي إلَى شَفَاعَتِكَ
And I rely upon my intermediary’s success before You”
Basically, what Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is saying is that he knows that his actions, deeds and knowledge of Almighty Allah (SWT) can take him towards Allah (SWT), but he knows that this is not sufficient. Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is saying that what will compensate and rescue and liberate him is his love for Almighty Allah (SWT).
Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) goes further to address Almighty Allah (SWT) in this beautiful dua, saying that Allah (SWT) knows that his obedience is not permanent. It comes and goes. One day he is obedient and the next day he is not. However, what Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) says is permanent is his love for Almighty Allah (SWT).
Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) then says to Almighty Allah (SWT) that he loves to obey Him, although he does have shortcomings in his obedience. He then says that he dislikes disobeying Almighty Allah (SWT), even if he does disobey Allah (SWT).
So, Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) is saying that he likes to obey Allah (SWT) because he loves Him, but he still has shortcomings in obeying Him. He hates to disobey Allah (SWT) but unfortunately he does disobey from time to time. So please accept me in Your paradise out of this love I have for You!
LOVE HAS DIFFERENT LEVELS
You will notice that there are different degrees of love in the duas of Ahlul Bait (a.s), starting from weak love, then medium love, then strong love, then stronger love and the strongest love, where we reach the point where we know nothing other than Almighty Allah (SWT).
Let us reflect on the level of love in the dua of Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), where he says:
“O Allah, I am hungry and thirsty for Your love
A hunger and thirst that can never be fulfilled
Someone who sees me and I do not see Him”
We experience love on a similar sublime level when we read Dua Kumayl every Thursday night, which is a continuous expression of love throughout this dua by Imam Ali (a.s). Let us just extract one sentence to taste this supreme level of love, where Imam Ali (a.s) says to Almighty Allah (SWT) that let us assume that he can tolerate His punishment, but how will he tolerate separation from Almighty Allah (SWT)!
فَهَبْنِي يَا إِلَهِي وَسَيِّدِي وَمَوْلاي وَرَبِّي صَبَرْتُ عَلَى عَذَابِكَ،
“Then suppose, My God, my Master, my Protector and my Lord that I am able to endure Your chastisement,
فَكَيْفَ أَصْبِرُ عَلَى فِرَاقِكَ
How can I endure separation from You?”
Similarly, this sublime level of love moves us when we read Munajat Shabaniyah, which Imam Ali (a.s) and the Imams of Ahlul Bait (a.s) used to recite in the month of Shaban. In this dua we read that we have no power to breakaway from sin, as we are weak and stuck in our sins. We try to leave our sins but cannot. We keep falling back into the trap, but the power that will get us over our acts of disobedience is when Almighty Allah (SWT) will awaken that love within our hearts.
“O my God, I had no strength by which I would rid myself of the acts of disobedience to You
Except after You aroused me to love You.”
LOVE OF ALMIGHTY ALLAH (SWT) BRINGS SERENITY TO OUR HEART
Since we are in the month of Ramadaan, I would like to conclude with the reflection of the level of love expressed in the beautiful Dua Iftitah we read every night. It is all about the mutual love between us and Almighty Allah (SWT). Love from Almighty Allah (SWT) to us, and our love for him.
فَلَمْ أَرَ مَوْلَىً كَرِيماً أَصْبَرَ عَلَى عَبْدٍ لَئِيمٍ مِنْكَ عَلَيَّ،
“I do not know a generous Master who is more accommodating to the dissatisfied servants than You are to me.
يَارَبِّ، إنَّكَ تَدْعُونِي فَأُوَلِّي عَنْكَ،
O Lord! You give an invitation but I turn down,
وَتَتَحَبَّبُ إلَيَّ فأَتَبَغَّضُ إلَيْكَ،
And You become familiar with me but I do not care for You,
وَتَتَوَدَّدُ إلَيَّ فَلا أَقْبَلُ مِنْكَ
And You show affection to me but I do not correspond to You
كَأَنَّ لِيَ التَّطَوُّلَ عَلَيْكَ،
as if You are overreaching me!
فَلَمْ يَمْنَعْكَ ذلِكَ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ لِي وَالإحْسَانِ إلَيَّ،
Yet You do not abstain from having mercy upon me and doing favors to me
وَالتَّفَضُّلِ عَلَيَّ بِجُودِكَ وَكَرَمِكَ،
and blessing me out of Your magnanimity and generosity
So, the final point of reflection is the following dua by Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s):
“O my Lord, who is the one to have tasted the sweetness of your love and then looked for a replacement in place of you?
Who can claim to have become familiar with your nearness, then wanted removal from you?”
We tend to run away from Ibadah because we have not tasted that joy of the love of Almighty Allah (SWT)!
Let us pray to Almighty Allah (SWT), that with the barakah of these nights of Ramadaan, and the barakah of the discussions we’ve had, and the barakah of our recitation of the Holy Quran and beautiful duas from the treasures of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), to make us better servants of Almighty Allah (SWT).
We ask Almighty Allah (SWT) the way that Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s) asks:
اللّهُمَّ إنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ أَنْ تَمْلأ قَلْبِي حُبّاً لَكَ
“O’my Lord! I ask You to saturate my heart with Your love”