Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad
اَلْحَمْدُ لِلهِ وَالصَّلَاةُ وَالسَّلَامُ على رسول الله وعلى آله وصحبه ومن اهتدى بهداه
اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ كريمٌ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنَّا
There is a well-known Quranic term which needs careful definition, which is indicated in a number of ayat and hadith. A famous hadith in Sahih Muslim in which one of the Sahaba says
عن أبي عَمْرو، وَقِيلَ: أبي عَمْرَةَ، سُفْيَانَ بْنِ عَبْدِاللهِ الثّقَفيِّ رضي الله عنه قَال:
“قُلْتُ: يا رَسُولَ الله، قُلْ لي في الإِسْلاَمِ قَوْلًا لاَ أَسْأَلُ عَنْهُ أَحَدًا غَيْرَكَ، قَال: “قُلْ: آمَنْتُ باللهِ ثُمَّ اسْتَقِمْ
؛ رواه مسلم(13) باب جَامِعِ أَوْصَافِ الإِسْلاَمِ
It is narrated on the authority of Sufyan b. ‘Abdulla al-Thaqafi that he said:I asked the Messenger of Allah to tell me about Islam a thing which might dispense with the necessity of my asking anybody other than you.He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: ‘Say I affirm my faith in Allah and then remain steadfast to it.’
He’s asking for something very short and sweet. Tell me something in Islam which if I say it and follow it I will not need to ask further ? and he (صلى الله عليه وسلم ) says: “say I believe in God and then go straight”
“قُلْ: آمَنْتُ باللهِ ثُمَّ اسْتَقِمْ”
That’s it, this is من جـوامـع الـكـلـم , one of the words, one of the phrases that kind of include all phrases. Everything we need to know and very often we find that there are ahadith of the chosen one صلى الله عليه وسلم are amazingly comprehensive in telling us everything in a few words. So in this phrase the Holy Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is indicating two things :
Profess your belief in the Creator, the One, the source and the place of return – المبدأ و المعاد (the origin and the return) . Without that you are kind of floating in a void without a beginning without an end without knowing your orientation without a qibla (direction) you are kind of nothing, nihilist and then
اسْتَقِمْ : follow istiqama – go straight. So it’s a matter of statement, ‘qala‘ and how you are, ‘hal‘. You can’t have the one without the other.
Going straight is difficult unless you know where you’re going to – saying ‘Allah’ is not really very meaningful unless you act in accordance with the fact that the world has a direction. So this includes everything.
It’s like the two shahadas, مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ ٱللَّٰهِ , لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ , “No god but God“, what should I do about that ? the Sunnah – follow the Holy Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم
So this istiqama, this going straight which is what we pray for 27 times a day or more :
اِهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِیْمَۙ
Surah Al Fatihah
“Guide us to the straight path“, the upright path, the path of rectitude, the path that is the shortest line between two points. is of course where we go astray we go on other roads – may be in English the word crook refers to the fact that somebody’s gone crooked, we’re not straight, we’re not upright, as the Americans say you’re not a stand-up guy.
So we are created in أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ , in the best of forms. Adam is an upright creature, unlike any other creature. He is heavenward in his direction – but at the same time we look this way and we looked that way and it’s tempting. The scenery of dunya (world) is pretty appealing. In this time, in this month that’s a tap of temptations, is turned off or turned down, it’s just a trickle. Maybe we look at things that we shouldn’t look at. Maybe we think about things we shouldn’t think about. Maybe we are not right with God – we’re not mustaqeem.
But the benefit of this month is that it is easier for us to see this straight path in front of us because the distractions, the scenery is kind of monochrome. The temptations, the possibilities are constrained especially at this time when so many of us are in our homes.
Istiqama is easier by God’s grace than it is when we’re just kind of enjoying the pasture without thinking about where we might be going. So this istiqama is important but we get distracted, that’s our nature. It is said that the reason why man is called insaan is that he is full of nisyaan, forgetfulness – one interpretation, poetic perhaps of what the name of man means – we forget, we remember and we forget and we remember and we forget. But Allah in His grace gives us lots of times and opportunities and days and months to go back to Him. And at a time when many are thinking about perhaps a near return to Him this becomes easier and this inaba, this turning back, becomes more real and more necessary and more yearned for but it’s still difficult.
The Holy Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was asked by Abu Bakr as-Siddiq رضي الله عنه :
Ya Rasulullah, I see that you’re turning gray
The Prophet replied,
شَيَّبَتْنِي هُودٌ وَأَخَوَاتُهَاI’ve been turned gray by the surah of Hud and it’s sisters.
“ إِذَا دَخَلَ شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ فُتِّحَتْ أَبْوَابُ السَّمَاءِ، وَغُلِّقَتْ أَبْوَابُ جَهَنَّمَ، وَسُلْسِلَتِ الشَّيَاطِينُ ”
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.”Sahih al-Bukhari 1899
وَنَادَى مُنَادٍ يَا بَاغِيَ الْخَيْرِ أَقْبِلْ وَيَا بَاغِيَ الشَّرِّ أَقْصِرْ وَلِلَّهِ عُتَقَاءُ مِنَ النَّارِ وَذَلِكَ فِي كُلِّ لَيْلَةٍ‘O seeker of good, proceed; O seeker of evil, desist. And Allah has those whom He redeems from the Fire, and that happens every night.”Tirmidhi 682, Ibn Maajah Vol 1:1642, Sunan Nasa’i Vol 3:2109
وَ اِذۡ اَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِنۡۢ بَنِىۡۤ اٰدَمَ مِنۡ ظُهُوۡرِهِمۡ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمۡ وَ اَشۡهَدَهُمۡ عَلٰٓى اَنۡفُسِهِمۡ ۚ اَلَسۡتُ بِرَبِّكُمۡ ؕ قَالُوۡا بَلٰى ۛۚ شَهِدۡنَا ۛۚ اَنۡ تَقُوۡلُوۡا يَوۡمَ الۡقِيٰمَةِ اِنَّا كُنَّا عَنۡ هٰذَا غٰفِلِيۡنَ
And recall (O Prophet) when your Lord brought forth descendants from the loins of the sons of Adam, and made them witnesses against their ownselves. asking them: ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said: ‘Yes, we do testify.’ We did so lest you claim on the Day of Resurrection: ‘We were unaware of this.’
Just wants to go straight back, straight for the light, if the light is there and seen and felt why go this way or that ? Go straight back ! And this is istiqama
وَالسلام عليكم ورحمة الله