With the name of Allah do I begin writing this article. No benefit can be derived from anything without His will and thus we declare with full certainty His complete worthiness to be praised and glorified. Thereafter, I ask Allah to make this article of benefit to those who read it and let it impact the hearts and minds to an extent that is causes change. We ask Allah to send his peace and blessings upon our beloved Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam, his family, his companions and all those who tread and follow his way. Ameen.
The Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam said in an authentic hadith on the authority of Abu Hurairah radhiAllah anhu:
Seven (people) will be shaded by Allah by His Shade on the Day of Resurrection when there will be no shade except His Shade. (They will be): a just ruler, a young man who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, a man who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes are then flooded with tears, a man whose heart is attached to mosques (offers his compulsory congregational prayers in the mosque), two men who love each other for Allah’s Sake, a man who is called by a charming lady of noble birth to commit illegal sexual intercourse with her, and he says, ‘I am afraid of Allah,’ and (finally), a man who gives in charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given.
Here is a hadith we may have heard on a few different occasions and I too have heard it many times. However, the other day when I read this hadith again, it really hit me, specifically the category of people that are described as those who, “remember Allah in seclusion and his (or her) eyes are then flooded with tears”.
The special environment that has been singled out for this great reward, shade on a Day where there is no shade but His shade, is the secluded environment. The environment in which one is free from showing-off and free from being preoccupied with other than Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Allah established this time for seclusion as a norm for our beloved Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam in the very early days of his mission. Allah says:
قُمِ اللَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
Stand (to pray) the night, except a little
Our Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam was commanded to pray in the nights, in a time of complete seclusion. It was here our Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam would beseech Allah in the most sincerest of ways and cry the nights away in contemplation and du’a.
Many of the pious predecessors would spend long periods of time in seclusion. When one of them was asked: “Do you not feel the bite of loneliness?” He replied: “How can I, when He has said that He is the companion of those who remember Him?” [Aboo Nu'aym, 8/217]
Ibn al-Mubaarak relates that `Umar said: “Take your share of seclusion.” [Fath al-Bari]
Clearly there is a special blessing one finds when he is in seclusion with His Lord, thus Allah rewards them with His Shade on that scorching day. However, looking back at the hadith, and looking carefully at the specific category we’ve been discussing thus far, we’ll realize its not as easy as it sounds.
First layer: A man who remembers Allah
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ ذِكْرًا كَثِيرًاوَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا
O you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance. And glorify His Praises morning and afternoon [the early morning (Fajr) and 'Asr prayers].
Remembrance of Allah is more than just an action, rather its a state. A state in which ones’ eyes, ears, tongue and most importantly the mind and heart are aligned in the thought of Allah; whether that be in a form of contemplation, or dhikr, or recitation of the Qur’an, or sitting in gatherings of knowledge, etc. It’s easy to sit and rattle off words on our tongue, but to truly engage our hearts and mind alongside the words uttered, that’s a serious task.
وَاذْكُر رَّبَّكَ فِي نَفْسِكَ تَضَرُّعًا وَخِيفَةً وَدُونَ الْجَهْرِ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ وَلَا تَكُن مِّنَ الْغَافِلِينَ
And remember your Lord by your tongue and within yourself, humbly and with fear without loudness in words in the mornings, and in the afternoons and be not of those who are neglectful.
وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا
…the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues (while sitting, standing, lying, etc.) Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward.
Layer two: in seclusion
We’ve all been there: It’s the 27th night of Ramadan and ma sha allah the Imaam is making such a heart-warming and emotional du’a that tears start automatically rolling down our cheeks. Or, you’re sitting in the masjid for the jum’uah khutbah and ma sha allah the khateeb delivers such an emotional account of a story that tears start dropping on your lap. Indeed, these are all signs of a heart that is alive, and this is good, and something that this is relatively easy when given the environment. However, the unique thing about this hadith is that the reward is not tied to a general kind of tears, rather its very specific: the tears when one is in seclusion.
These days, with the advent and popularity of social media and smartphone devices, it’s a very difficult task to find a true moment of seclusion. It’s hard to not find our minds inching towards our phone to see the latest Facebook post, text message, tweet or email; even if we are ‘alone’. We may physically be able to seclude ourselves, but are we able to seclude our minds from the plethora of social information that keeps getting pushed our way? That’s the true test and struggle. Are we able to free ourselves from being preoccupied with anything else but Allah in those moments of seclusion?
It’s definitely not something that will happen over night. However, if you’re eager and desire to attain this reward, start monitoring your phone use and see how you can limit the compulsive and almost addictive need to constantly check our phones. Here are some ways that I can offer as advice:
- Shut off notifications. This way you control when you access the information
- Set times to check your phone.
- Set times to completely shutdown or silent your phone
Layer three: his (or her) eyes are then flooded with tears
This layer has two components to it: a) that which precedes the tears b) the tears themselves
A) That which precedes the tears
Emaan (faith) is built upon three very important pillars: belief in the heart, actions of the limbs and statements of the tongue. True emaan (faith) constitutes all three pillars come together in the life of a Muslim; however, one deserves more attention and focus than the others. There is one pillar, amongst the three, that acts as the foundation, the core, the fuel of the remaining two. This pillar is none other than, ‘belief in the heart’.
You will find a lot of discussion surrounding the importance of this heart and the intricacies surrounding it. Allah talks about this heart thoroughly throughout the Qur’an:
رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ
(They say): “Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Bestower.”
وَلَا تُخْزِنِي يَوْمَ يُبْعَثُونَيَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَإِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ
And disgrace me not on the Day when (all the creatures) will be resurrected; The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, except him who brings to Allah a clean heart.
The Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalam has also spoken in much detail about the heart:
“…Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh, which, if it be good, all the body is good, and which, if it is diseased, all of [the body] is diseased. Truly, it is the heart.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
If the heart is sound, you will find that the entire body will follow. Therefore, look closely to your actions and statements, and upon that you can judge the condition of your own heart. If you find yourself talking foul, talking useless and foolish things, acting in unpleasant ways with others, abundantly watching and listening to that which is looked down upon, then indeed these are all signs of a sick heart. However, if you find yourself talking good, talking beneficial and upright things, acting in pleasing ways with others, abundantly watching and listening to things which are looked up upon, then indeed these are signs of a good heart.
Thus we find that the prerequisite for those tears is that first and foremost the heart must be in good condition–full of sincerity, love and fear of Him subhana–which all stems from obedience to Him.
B) the tears themselves
In reality, one could successfully pass through all the layers mentioned above and still not have tears fall from the eyes. He or she could remember Allah, with full sincerity and devotion, in true seclusion and yet tears are not released from the eyes.
This is a matter in which one must reflect upon his actions and most importantly his heart and look to rectify them. The more time one spends looking to his own actions, making them better and more pure for Allah’s sake, the more he will be drawn to His Lord and by His permission granted those marks of sincerity to run down his cheeks.
Indeed all that is good is from Allah and all that is wrong is from myself. Wa sallalahu wasalam ‘alayhi wa ‘alaa alaahi sahbihi wa sallimu tasleeman katheera.