Why doesn’t a person feel this closeness to Allah SWT, why do we feel distant? It’s because we don’t take our Deen seriously. We take every other thing in our life seriously. For every other single thing, education, car, fabric, house, we want to have the best quality we can. And even then those people who manage to get the best quality are always trying to improve. We live in the world of upgrades. When it comes to our Deen we are not quality conscious.
Can you really say that you’re praying the best Salaah that you can? Do you have the best Akhlaaq (character) that you can? Do you have the best Taqwa that you can? Nobody thinks like that. Years go by praying low quality Salaah. And we aren’t interested in fixing it. We couldn’t be bothered. If somebody gives us a low quality meal, it is felt. We wouldn’t be willing to eat a bland meal once, but we’re willing to pray a bland salaah, empty of remembrance and empty of love, over and over again. We are pleased with attaining as much as possible in worldly pursuits and with a scraping by bare minimum attitude in Deen. With this attitude one cannot feel closeness and love to Allah SWT. How can you feel, when you in Sajdah, that you are the closest to Allah SWT? We make dozens of sujood daily, how many can we say brought us closer to Allah SWT? In each successive sajdah did we become closer to Allah SWT? We want progress in every single aspect of our life except Deen.
The second reason we don’t have this closeness and love for Allah SWT is because we are caught up in one of three wrong kinds of love. If you have the wrong love in your heart, you will lose the ability to feel the right love. The right love is love for Allah SWT, the love for Nabi Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), the love for the Quraan, the love for Sunnah, the love for Sahaabah, the love for Siddiqeen, Shuhadah, Saaliheen and Mu’mineen. The wrong love is romantic love, lustful love, love for ghair mahram, Love for people of the opposite gender, love for physical beauty. It is not even permissible for us to look at, let alone dream about it. Some people are stuck in this. Some people have the wrong love for one person in their heart. Some people have the wrong kind of love for just anyone because they cannot lower their gaze. You cannot get the closeness of Allah SWT like this. Another wrong love is the love for dunya. People claim that they cannot get pleasure from salaah yet they can find pleasure in sitting on the leather seat of their cars. They can find pleasure in all the worldly things but not in Deen. Some people are caught up in another unlawful love – the love for themselves. Nabi Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said, “You will never be able to enter Jannah if there is even drop of pride in your heart.” And Allah SWT, the All Knowing, All Seeing and All Aware will be scanning our hearts on the Day of Judgement. The second reason why some of us don’t have this closeness is because we are caught up in one of these three unlawful loves. Ramadan came to rid us of all three. It wasn’t about fasting. Fasting was just a launching pad. Ramadan came to take out love for ghair-mahram, love for Dunya, love for self.Ramadan came to humble us. Thirst and hunger humbles a person. The mission continues, it didn’t end on Eid day.
How do we get this closeness to Allah SWT? You have to know Allah SWT in order to love Allah SWT.To know Allah SWT means to know Allah SWT as He has revealed himself to be in the Quraan. To know Allah SWT as He wishes Himself to be known. There are two ways of doing this. The first is Asma ul Husna (the 99 names of Allah). Allah SWT has revealed Himself through different names that represent His different attributes. Allah SWT says in the Quraan, to Allah belongs His infinitely beautiful names and that we should make dua to Allah SWT using these names.
Turn and orient your heart and feelings towards Allah SWT based on the meaning of these names. It’s only when you know what Ar Razzaq is that you can be Abd ur Razzaq. It’s only when you know the difference of what it means for Allah’s SWT Ar Rahmaan and Ar Raheem that you will also have a different flavour of Abd ur Rahmaan and Abd ur Raheem. You have to know these things, it has to be learnt. Allah SWT says in the Quraan, ask someone who knows what it means that Allah SWT is The One who is infinitely Merciful.
There are very few people left on this earth who are so deeply informed that they can guide on this. They are called the Mashaaikh. Another way to get this closeness to Allah SWT is to know some of the verses in the Quraan in which Allah SWT describes His relationship with us. If one doesn’t know that Allah SWT has told us that His companionship is with us all the time, how is one going to feel it? The beautiful thing about knowing Allah SWT is that the more you know Allah SWT, the more you will love Allah SWT. We’ve chosen to know so many things about this world but we don’t know about Allah SWT.
The second way to get closer to Allah SWT is to remember/make zikr of Allah SWT more. Allah SWT said in the Quraan, “Oh you who have Imaan, you must remember Allah SWT abundantly.” The less you remember Allah SWT, the more distant you will feel. This closeness is an irreplaceable feeling.
The third way to get closer to Allah SWT is the more you associate with those who are close to Allah, the closer you will become to Allah. Allah SWT says in the Quraan, “Oh you who believe, have Taqwa, and keep the company of the Saadiqeen.” The Saadiqeen are those who are more true to Allah SWT and more true to Nabi Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)than you are. They are the ones who love Allah SWT and Nabi Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)more than you do. If you sit in their company as Allah SWT says in the Quraan, then the love that they have for Allah SWT and Nabi Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) will begin to trickle into your heart.
The fourth way to get closer to Allah SWT is called Tallab (yearning, desire, seeking). You have to want to get closer to Allah SWT and you have to want it badly. If you don’t have this, you will not get the first three. The real tragedy is that we don’t even want these things anymore. It’s not in our dreams and it’s not part of hopes and aspirations. We’ve lost this Tallab. To seek Allah SWT due to your yearning, burning desire for Him. This is Tallab. A person who has Tallab is called a Taalib of Allah SWT. This is what we should be. There is nothing else to search for in this life. There is no other reason that we have been given existence other than to seek out the Pleasure of Allah SWT.
This fourth step can happen in one night. For the other three, we need to give more time. It is only through the blessings of Allah SWT that we had this Tallab in Ramadan. We should not let it go in Shawwaal, it is the most important thing. Don’t let it go out, keep lighting it. Be the guardian of the flame of your Tallab for Allah SWT, tend to it and nurture this flame. Don’t ever let it go out. If you let it go out entirely it might take a whole Ramadan to ignite it again.
Ramadan was a taste of what real Imaan is like. In Ramadan Allah SWT gives us a free sample of closeness to Him. It is up to us now, those who want it, they will beg Allah SWT for it, they will strive for it. This is called Tazkiyah. After having begged for forgiveness – Taubah – we make the journey from Taubah to Taqwa, that is from purifying to purity. This journey in our Deen is called Tazkiyah. Tazkiyah is the follow up to Taubah and Ramadan. Tazkiyah was later called Tasawwuf. It means to purify your heart of all the impure feelings. To take out the love for ghair-mahram, to remove the love for dunya and self and to put in the pure feelings of knowing, loving, fearing, obeying and wanting Allah SWT more.
Just as we have teachers for Tajweed, Hadith, Tafsir, Fiqh, we also have teachers of Tazkiyah. These are Sheikhs. If a person feels that they need the Tallab, and to be guided they take Baiyah (a commitment to Allah SWT with someone, to connect your heart with someone in a line of Mashaaikh) with a Sheikh. A Sheikh does two things: He presents to you the teachings of the Quraan Kareem and the Hadith of Nabi Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) in some way that we try to feel the Quraan and Sunnah. The second thing a Sheikh does is he instructs you to do some Dhikr every day. If one does this dhikr everyday, one’s soul gets its daily nutrition, that instructs you on Dhikr, helps you with Dhikr, guides you to fix your Dhikr, gives you topics of Tazkiyah. It is your job to listen and learn and live your life according to those teachings and to do the Dhikr.
The mission begins after Ramadan that we want this Closeness with Allah SWT, that we want to ignite this Tallab in our hearts, we want to become seekers on the path of the Pleasure of Allah SWT. We want to become seekers of the love of Allah SWT.
*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