Question: The Holy Prophet (AS) says to worship Allah as though you see Him, and if you don’t see Him, to know that He sees you. How do we put that in our lives in a way that’s not a philosophy?
This is part of a longer Hadiths. A man appeared to the Prophet (AS). He was dressed completely in white and he did not have a trace of dust on him. It’s impossible if you live in the desert that there’s no dust on you. And the companions understood that this is not an ordinary person, and that Arch-Angel Jibrail appears in different forms.
He sat and decided to ask questions to the Holy Prophet as if he is testing him, quizzing him. What is Islam? What is Iman? What is Ihsan? When is the hour, dadada, other questions that he asked. And this particular one is ihsan, ihsan you can translate as what? Perfection. We’re coming there to perfection.
What is perfection- what is belief, he’s saying. What is submission, what is belief, and what is perfection.
What is submission, what is Islam? Islam is what? To say the shahadat, to pray five times a day, to fast thirty days in the month of Ramazan, what else? To give charity, zakat, from your wealth, and the fifth is to go to the Hajj. Actions, outward actions. Then he says, ‘good,’ then he asked, ‘what is Iman? What is faith?’
So Islam is the outward actions. What is faith? He says, ‘faith is to believe in Allah, to believe in the angels, to believe in the Holy Books, Holy Books meaning the words of Allah. And? To believe in the Messengers, the Prophets. As Allah says, ‘to every tribe we have sent a Messenger.’ Every tribe on the face of this world had a Messenger coming between him and his Lord, to convey to the people how to turn back to their Lord. And? The Last Day. The Day of Judgment, there’s accountability. And destiny, good or bad, it is coming from the permission of Allah. So you have now outward actions, inward belief, then he says, ‘what is ihsan?’ What is perfection? When you have the outward actions and you have the inward belief, then you come to perfection, but what is perfection? And the Prophet says perfection is what? To worship Him as if you see Him, and if you don’t see Him, to know that He sees you.
To worship Allah as if you see Him. If you don’t see Him, to know that He sees you. These are two levels, two levels of perfection. We start with the highest level of perfection. First level of perfection, to worship, worship is not just going up and down to do things, worship it means now, that’s why for a believer, everything he does now is worship. He stands with worship, he sits with worship. Because he’s not separated the actions that he does for the sake of his Lord, remembrance. He eats, that eating becomes a worship because he eats now not for his ego but to remember his Lord, to understand and to meditate on it. Everything that he sees now is bringing him to his Lord, there’s no separation now. Even if he does worldly things those worldly things now brings him to his Lord.
So the highest level is to worship Allah, to live as if you see Him. For the believer, does he need to see Allah? When everything around reminds him of Allah, when everything is a sign coming from his Lord, do you need to? You don’t. But people say, ‘my belief is only strong in as much as I see,’ that is still a low level, you understand? If you don’t see Allah, if you don’t see the signs, if you don’t understand from that so much, the perfection can be gained when, to know that Allah sees you now. That is a different level of taqwa. One maybe you can say it’s high to low but the other way you’re seeing it, it is from low to high. Because now, you are not requiring to see Allah, but you know that your Lord is looking at you. Your Lord is looking at you. One you may do it out of a sense of love, the other one you may do it out of a sense of faith. I mean, fear. Awe. The perfection now, as a believer, it is always between the two. It is always between fear and hope.
How does that become perfection? The second part actually it becomes more perfect because you are very aware of your Lord, you are very aware of His presence, that He is there, you are not there seeing Him, but He is there seeing you. Do you understand? You love someone. The difference between you seeing that person that you love, you love someone but to know that that one is looking at you, it’s different now. Now to know that that one is looking at you and that it is so powerful, you’re so shy, you cannot lift your gaze to look, you’re just putting your head down, to know you’re always being watched. That’s not so easy. We’re sitting in a crowd, you’re sitting down, so many people, but your senses would tingle when you know that you’re being stared at. Yes or no? Something, ‘I’m feeling like someone is staring at me.’ You try to look up, ‘ah, someone is staring at me,’ and something happens, you are unsettled. And imagine you’re in a position where everything is looking at you, how unsettling that is. Now imagine you’re in a position where your Lord who loves you now is looking at you. Ah, what a perfection that is, because now it’s not even you looking at Him, it doesn’t matter, He is looking at you.
So can we reach to that level? Step-by-step, we are drawing very simple examples here so that everyone understands. Because this is something that Allah has put, knowledge to worship Him, to understand Him, this is not only for philosophers, intellectuals, highly spiritual people, no, because everyone loves. Allah has put that into everyone. If you cannot love a person, you love a thing. You cannot love a thing that is of value, you have that love for something that people say, ‘this one you love?’ What do you love? ‘I love my sneakers.’ Oh, you’re smiling because you know that. That attraction, that always thinking about it. Loving food, love this, but that quality is there and that is a human quality but coming from the Divine, and every love that you have must show you to that reality. So now, you just put the thing together and they say, ‘oh, kind of the same but this one is more.’ So, very easy then that time to come back. Allah forgive me insyaAllah. Understand? InsyaAllah.
So how do you fit into that? Don’t try to fit too, too much, but understand there’s certain things that He’s doing for a certain reason, try to pick up on those things. More you are picking up now, more you are coming into the vision, coming into the skin, doing the sunnats now. And more you are doing that, then you are being the vessel, being the physical container, you understand? You are mimicking now. Then once you start imitating, the truth will fill you up. Because what are you imitating? You’re imitating the truth. Don’t rush to say, ‘now I want to have perfection and sincerity and the truth,’ no, first imitate. And this is something that is in religion, this is something that is in Islam. First it is what? Taqlid.
Taqlid is imitation. Don’t start with saying, ‘no, no, I must get one hundred, thousand percent, and then I’m going to do.’ No. Do we need to understand one hundred, thousand percent why we’re breathing, how we’re breathing, what happens to our whole body and the universe and the atmosphere when we’re breathing? No, you breathe, you eat, you do everything. And later when it’s for you, you will get deeper into it and you will understand it. But, first you imitate something that is good, and then when it is for you they will open it up for you to understand what actually happens. So many of us we don’t need to know so much. We know that it works, we need to know how to breathe properly, there are ways that we are breathing not properly, we should leave that, it gives us the benefit insyaAllah. Fatiha, selam aleykum.
Shaykh Lokman Efendi Hz
Khalifa of SahibulSaif Shaykh Abdulkerim el Kibrisi (qs),
Osmanli Dergah New York,
23 Zul Qaida 1440
July 25, 2019