by Sheikh Kamaludeen Ahmed*
Allah SWT gave us a beautiful gift and He announced in the Quraan that, “Indeed I am intimately near to you. I am very close to you” and “We are even closer to you than your own Jugular vein”. We are closer to you than your own self. Allah SWT gave us the gift of His being near to us, the gift of being most near to us. Allah SWT didn’t have to do this. Allah SWT says He alone is our companion wherever we are. Allah SWT could have been a distant, absent Rabb that deals with us on the Day of Judgement, so His nearness is a gift to us.
Anyone who has travelled will know that when you travel alone and when you have a companion it’s a totally different feeling. When you travel alone, you feel very much alone and when you travel with a companion you will very much feel their company. We are travellers in this world. Nabi Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) told us to “be in this world and feel in this world as if you are a stranger to it and it is strange to you and as if you are just a traveller on the path”. But you are not just any traveller, you are travelling on the journey of this world but Allah SWT is your companion. Imagine what a beautiful life that is and what a beautiful journey that would be. If in our lifetime, every second we felt that yes, Allah SWT is with me, Allah’s SWT Help is with me, His companionship is with me then you will enjoy life.
All the great Auliyah and Mashaaikh, Siddiqqeen, Saadiqeen and Muttaqeen, felt this. That’s why they are happy in life, because they have a happiness in their heart that they feel all the time. They feel the companionship and nearness of Allah SWT all the time. They feel the extreme nearness of Allah SWT all the time and that’s a life worth living. Anything other than that and anything less than that is not worth living. What value is there in life if we are distant from Allah SWT, if we don’t feel Allah SWT Nearness? Just going through the motions of earning to eat and eating to earn, living, spending, comfort. What’s the benefit to that life? What value is there in this kind of life?
It is not a tragedy if a non-believer doesn’t feel this because they don’t have Imaan. The tragedy is that Mu’mineen and Mu’minaat, believing men and believing women do not feel the Nearness and Companionship of Allah SWT. How can you be Muslim and say you feel distant to Allah SWT? Allah SWT said in the Quraan that He is closer to you than your own self.
After Ramadaan passes people begin to say they feel distant from Allah SWT. Allah SWT in Ramadaan is the same Allah SWT, the only One Allah SWT, in Shawwaal also. It is the same Allah SWT giving Nearness and Companionship in Ramadaan that gives His Nearness and Companionship in Shawwaal. How does this distance take place? In any relationship, if you feel distant from the other party, one of two things happened. Either the other party pulled away from you or you pulled away from them. There is no third possibility. Allah’s SWT Quraan is absolute Haqq, it is absolute, eternal Truth. Allah SWT said in the Quraan that He is closer to us than our own self, and if anybody feels distant from Allah SWT, it can never be, it’s impossible that it is because Allah SWT pulled away from them.
If we feel distant from Allah SWT it is only because we pulled away from Him. Imagine in this world if you have a lover and a beloved and the beloved says to the lover, I am close to you, I am near to you, I am with you and then the lover pulls away, how can you call that person a lover? That their beloved is giving them the gift of their nearness and companionship and that lover is pulling away, it’s not a lover. It’s fake. That person was a fake lover, not a true lover.
The month of Ramadan actually came to make us the lover of Allah SWT. Ramadan was not the month of fasting. If you think Ramadan was the month of fasting, then it’s finished on Eid. It’s a mistake. People tell their children that Ramadan is the month of fasting. You have to complete the sentence. Ramadan is the month of fasting in order to get the Nearness of Allah SWT. Ramadan was the month I fasted in order to become the lover of Allah SWT. Ramadan was the month I fasted in order to become the beloved of Allah SWT. Now that the fasting is finished the nearness and companionship is supposed to continue. You have to complete the sentence then you can complete the mission. If people think that Ramadan is just the month of fasting, then it’s finished, it’s all finished. Wait another 11 months then.
Ramadan is the month of Wilayah, fasting in order to become the Wali of Allah SWT. And it is a cheap price to pay. To get the Wilayat of Allah SWT, all you have to do is stay away from food and drink and lawful relations inside Nikah from Fajr to Maghrib. It is a very cheap price to pay. But the question is do we have that Wilayah, do we have that nearness? Do we feel that intimate friendship to Allah SWT, His Companionship and Nearness? Most of us say no, fresh out of Ramadan. We need to reflect on this. If you want this Ramadan to be different, the only hope that you and I have of making it different is right now in Shawwaal. Shawwaal is the make and break month, it will be determined whether Ramadan has any effect on you or not. Within Shawwaal it will be manifested and realised by ourselves and everyone around us whether Ramadan had any effect on us at all. It’s up to us.
How do we achieve this closeness to Allah SWT? We want to feel close to Him when we pray Salaah, we want to feel close to Him out there, in the shop, in the market, in the factory, in the office. Everybody feels close to Allah SWT in the Masjid. That’s the nature of the Masjid. The test is can you feel close to Allah SWT out there. Everybody feels close to Allah SWT in Ramadan, the test is can you feel close to Allah after Ramadan.
The way to get closer to Allah SWT is through two basic prime things. To feel more love for Allah SWT and to do more Dhikr (remembrance) of Allah SWT. The more we love Allah SWT and the more we remember Allah SWT, the closer you will feel to Allah SWT. Actually that’s what was happening in Ramadan. When you unpack the ingredients of Ramadan, it wasn’t the hunger and the thirst. When we were fasting for Allah SWT, what was happening? Why would anybody do that? Why would you stay away from lawful things? It can only be one reason, out of your love for Allah SWT.
And we love Allah SWT so much that none of us even thought of cheating in the fast. Otherwise every time you make Wudu with water right there in your mouth, you could just take a gulp and no one would have ever known. You weren’t even tempted, it wasn’t even in your range of thought. This is called love. Love means to obey to obey your beloved so entirely, to be so loyal to your beloved, that you can never ever imagine betraying them. The thought of being disloyal to them could never cross your mind. We were feeling love for Allah SWT in Ramadan. The same thing about Dhikr. When we were fasting, throughout the day we remembered that we were fasting. Nothing could make us forget that we’re fasting. This is perpetual Dhikr of Allah SWT because we were fasting for Allah SWT, out of Ibaadah (worship) to Allah SWT.
All that time we were in dhikr and all that time we were feeling love for Allah SWT, these were the two ingredients in Ramadan that enabled us to feel closer to Allah SWT. If we still want to feel that closeness to Allah SWT we have to find ways to do the same thing. These are feelings. Love is a feeling in the heart. Dhikr is also a feeling. Taqwa (piety) is also a feeling. All of these things in Deen, they are called the feelings of Imaan. Sabr (patience) is a feeling. Shukr (Gratitude) is a feeling, Tawakkul (trust) is a feeling – these are all feelings. and we are supposed to feel these feelings all the time. Not just in Ramadan.
*Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed was born and raised in Manhattan, New York City. He recieved a BA in Political Science and Arab & Islamic Civilization from the University of Chicago. Shaykh Kamaluddin then spent many years in Pakistan, studying full-time the classical disciplines of Islamic learning including tafsir of the Qur’an, Hadith, Arabic grammar, law and legal theory. He recieved the ‘alimiyyah degree as well as formal authorization to transmit legal opinion (ifta).
From 2005-2010, he was a lecturer in Islamic Intellectual History, Legal Theory, Spirituality and Ethics at one of Pakistan’s leading universities. In 2012, he completed a Masters degree from the University of Oxford and currently is a Doctoral Fellow in Islamic Intellectual History at the Berlin Graduate School.
For over seventeen years, Shaykh Kamaluddin has consistently remained in the close company of the highly respected Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad, and was granted ijaza by him in tasawwuf (islamic spirituality) in 2002. Since then, he has continually tutored seekers on the path to becoming closer to Allah.
Shaykh Kamaluddin divides his time between the UK and Pakistan, guiding students and delivering lectures at masajid, universities and institutions of learning.
The Shaykh and his wife have also established Zaynab Academy, an Islamic educational institute which offers free online courses for women the world over.