Characteristics of the Followers of the Way of Allah
To love Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala
To remember Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala
To offer Qiyaam (night prayer) regularly
To hasten to do good things
To be preoccupied with religion and Da’wah (inviting to Islam)
To abstain from the pleasures this world and prepare for the approach of the Hereafter.
Before Ramadan, we stood at the crossroads, and mentioned that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala opened Ramadan, so that one would attain forgiveness, and the means of emancipation from Hell. Furthermore, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Disgraced is the one who witnesses Ramadan without being forgiven! Disgraced and lost is the one who witnesses Ramadan without being forgiven! May Allah keep him far (from Paradise) and admit him to Hell! Say Aameen!’ I then said ‘Aameen.’” [At-Tabaraani] [Ibn Hibbaan: Saheeh]
Thus, people would have no argument against Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala afterwards. If people neglect and give up this opportunity, and neither achieve its means, nor prepare for it, by doing their best to attain forgiveness, then they will have no excuse with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We stood at that point. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has opened for the people of faith the month of Ramadan, in order to liberally grant them forgiveness.
Do you think they have come out with their sins forgiven? Do you think they have come out emancipated from Hell? Do you think they have taken it seriously, and learnt that they will be made to stand and be questioned about it before Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? Do you think they have come out of Ramadan, with the traces of mercy, forgiveness and emancipation from Hell visible on them? Do you think that they, rather, say that this did not take place, and pledged, in the coming Ramadan, to start from its beginning, do their best, strive their utmost, and continue to do such-and-such? Do you think they have received this opportunity from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gladly, seriously and determinedly, and devoted their time, effort, property and health to achieve the means of forgiveness? If they were to sacrifice the entire world and what it contains – along with their lives, efforts, property and time – in order to attain forgiveness, it would not be too much. Do you think they have attained that? Do you think they have come out (of Ramadan) with the traces of forgiveness, emancipation from Hell and repentance visible on them, and become a new creation, much dearer and nearer to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and swifter to please Him, with humility, submission, approach to the truth and readiness meet Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?
That is indeed the crossroads. The question to raise today:
Have we really followed that way fixed and enjoined by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, or have those ways misled us, and those destined to return have returned, those destined to slacken have slackened, and those destined to procrastinate have procrastinated, waiting for the next Ramadan to come?
One should ask this question, in order to know whether he has really followed the way in which we have stood, or withdrawn from it. That is because he should either move forward towards or turn back from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. None stands stagnant in the way to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala: people either proceed quickly to Him, and compete with each other to obtain His good pleasure, or approach this world, utilize its means, rely on desires and pleasures, and engage themselves in attaining the perishable pleasures (of this world), which they soon will leave after they die. That is the question.
In this case, let us say that the way we choose to follow has signs which one should detect in himself to decide whether he, who has come upon those crossroads, has really proceeded to the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and followed His path, with its traces visible on him, or has not started yet. In this case, he seems to be addressed by the statement of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, “‘Disgraced is the one who witnesses Ramadan without being forgiven, may Allah keep him far (from Paradise) and admit him to Hell! Say Aameen!’ I then said ‘Aameen.’” [At-Tabaraani] [Ibn Hibbaan: Saheeh]
It may be asked: What are the signs of this way?
This way begins with those meanings to be observed in Ramadan, as regards worship and motivation, and the relationships which should be established between the individual and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, between him and his family, between him and his Ummah (Muslim nation), and between him and people. He should have undertaken all this in such a way that if he is told, at the moment, that he will (die and) move to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, he will have no more to present in this respect. That is, he will have nothing more to sacrifice, neither time, nor property, nor effort to offer. This is because he will have exerted his effort – as much as lies within his capacity – to achieve the means of his salvation, in the same way as anyone may exert his utmost efforts to obtain the means of this world; regardless of the difficulty and suffering he finds in his journey, he will die and leave it.
1. To Love Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala:
The first sign of this way is to have love for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. When one emerges from Ramadan with his sins being forgiven for him, this means that he has come out loving his Lord, drawing closer to Him, being attached to Him, relying on Him and confident of what is with Him. His heart is filled with His love, light, remembrance, reassurance about Him, solace with Him, longing and readiness for meeting Him, hastening to obey Him, and sacrificing his property, soul and effort s to attain the good pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Do you give priority to that over your children, wife, parents, dwellings and the world which you see? It is that about which Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says (what means):
“Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire – of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return. Say, ‘Shall I inform you of [something] better than that? For those who fear Allah will be gardens in the presence of their Lord beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally, and purified spouses and approval from Allah . And Allah is Seeing of [His] servants,’” [Aal Imran 3: 14-15].
Do you still give priority to your own soul, offspring, wealth, comfort, sleep, health, children, and wife over Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? It should be known to you that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says (what means):
“Say, [O Muhammad], ‘If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and Jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.’” [At-Tawbah 9:24]
This is the first meaning: has one come or not come out with it? That is the very state in which the believers should be, who have followed that way. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has opened for them all the months of Ramadan, thereby to test them, and put them to trial, so that those who love Him would be distinguished from those who falsely claim His love and those who are negligent in His love, the obedient from the negligent and lazy, and those who approach Him from those who turn back from Him. That is the beginning of the way to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, the crossroads at which we have already stood. Have they really proceeded to Him or turned back on their heels in retreat from Him to this world, competing with each other over it, thereby heedless of the Hereafter, and careless about meeting Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?