Three Special Connections for a Successful Life in This World and the Hereafter
Thanks to Allah, the Lord of all worlds, and blessings and peace be upon Allah’s Messenger.
Dear brothers and sisters, we witness that life passes swiftly. As one Islamic sage said: “I opened my eyes!” – They said, “He is born!” “I closed my eyes!” – They said, “He has died!” This blink of an eye is called “life.”
In accordance with Allah’s divine principles, this ephemeral existence, this blink of an eye, can be transformed into a source of lasting benefit if we establish three profound connections that shield us from the trials of this world and the hereafter.
The primary and paramount connection is with Allah, the Most High. It marks the genesis of all positive endeavors, a thread woven into the fabric of our worldly existence. It is attained through sincere and upright worship, with prayer standing out as a unique form of worship that binds us intimately with Allah. As we recite the verses of Fatiha, the Most High responds to our supplications, as recounted in authentic hadiths. Central to this connection is unwavering belief—an unwavering conviction that Allah loves us, supports us, tests us, and provides for us. This connection mirrors the strength of our faith and the depth of our understanding of Allah.
In the tapestry of our discussion, allow me to share the story of Habib al-Adhami, a virtuous Muslim who served Hasan al-Basri and gleaned wisdom in jurisprudence. On a cold, rainy night when dinner was delayed, Hasan al-Basri inquired, “Where is our meal? This hunger may be our undoing!” Habib responded, “Sheikh, a destitute man came to our doorstep, and I gave him all the food we had. I recalled your words that true belief lies in being more certain of what is with Allah than what is in our hands.” Hasan al-Basri acknowledged, “Habib, your conviction is strong, but your knowledge is modest. Why not give him half and keep the rest to satiate our hunger?” As they conversed, a knock on the door revealed a servant bearing a dish of delectable food—a gift from their neighbor. Habib smiled and remarked to Hasan al-Basri, “Sheikh, your knowledge is vast, but your conviction is weak.” Hasan al-Basri chuckled and replied, “Habib, we were your guides, yet you have surpassed us.”
The second connection deserving our attention and cultivation is the bond with fellow humans, a tie forged through exemplary manners and conduct. The loftiest strength a person can cultivate is the strength of noble character. Those adorned with virtuous character are most beloved to Allah’s Messenger. Upholding amiable relations, especially within our families, serves as a testament to our character. Moreover, fostering friendships for the sake of Allah exemplifies the pinnacle of virtuous behavior.
Consider the companionship between Ahmad ibn Hanbal and the eminent Imam Shafi’i, a bond steeped in respect and affection, as articulated in the verses:
“They say I visit Ahmad, and he visits me,
I reply that virtues never abandon their abodes.
If he visits me, it’s an outcome of his kindness,
And if I visit him, it’s again a manifestation of his benevolence.
In both instances, benevolence belongs to him.”
The final thread weaving through these connections that imbue our worldly existence with meaning is the link with oneself, an awareness that is sustained through continuous remembrance of Allah. The Most High admonishes: “And be not like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient.” (Hashr, 19)
The early generations illustrated this verse with countless examples. Sufyan al-Sevri would often extract a piece of paper from his pocket and read silently. His friends, curious yet unaware of his readings, were enlightened when the paper accidentally slipped from his pocket. A friend retrieved it and read aloud: “Sufyan, remember standing before Allah!”
As we conclude, let us implore Allah to grant us the awareness of His presence, to be exemplars of virtuous behavior, and to safeguard us from forgetting our true selves. Amen.