Hope and Closeness: Voluntary Actions and Closeness to Allah Most High

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

This article is transcribed by a SeekersGuidance scholarship student based on the lecture series “Hope and Closeness: The Way to Allah” by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. This is the nineteenth session of the series.

Introduction

The remembrance of Allah is the very soul of the universe. Human beings have been given life as an opportunity to worship and continuously seek nearness to Allah Most High. The foundational principle of religion is to correct our relationship with the Creator and the rest of His creation.

Quran beautifully identifies the purpose in this aya, “and I created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me alone.” [Quran, 51:56] Thus, the rightful engagement of a believer with Allah Most High illuminates his path, outlines his endeavors, and regulates his footsteps, actions, and positions.

Purpose of Existence

In this session, we embark on a journey to explain the pathways of seeking closeness to Allah. The first step of proximity to God (Qurb) is the proximity to obedience to Allah Most High and continuous endearment through serving Him (‘ubudiyya).

As we know, seeking Allah Most High’s pleasure is the aim of every sincere believer, “and among the people there is he who sells himself for the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is kind to His worshippers.” [Quran, 2:207]

Proximity to Allah Most High

Man’s proximity to Allah starts first through the window of faith and then through the establishment of obligatory prayers and performing good actions. Allah Most High informs the believer through the Hadith Qudsi, “My servant draws close to me by nothing more beloved to me than what I have made obligatory upon them.” [Bukhari]

This is the first step of fulfilling the obligatory devotional practices to reach the epitome of Allah’s love and closeness.

Allah, the Most Exalted, enjoined us to observe five obligatory prayers and further commands us to be persistent in offering them. Allah, the most compassionate and most merciful, says, “maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah, devoutly obedient.” [Quran, 2:238]

So, whoever maintains the obligatory prayers, do them at their prescribed times and fulfill their pillars and state of devoted submissiveness. Allah Most High will forgive their misdeeds and admit them to His Paradise on the Day of Judgment.

Drawing Closer to Allah

The essence of fulfilling one’s obligations means submitting oneself in the rightful servitude of Allah Most High. To remember the significant aspect of this journey is to acknowledge that there is no love without obedience to Allah Most High. As the Hadith mentioned above further maintains, “My servants continue to draw close to Me through extra prayers until I love them. When I love him, I become his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him; and were he to seek refuge with Me, I would surely grant him refuge.”[Bukhari]

After that, fulfilling the recommended Sunna and other recommended acts manifest our love for Allah Most High.

This Hadith is an expectation of extending our efforts to achieve closeness to Allah Most High. Another hadith Qudsi wherein Allah Most High mentions, “if my servant comes to me walking, I rush to them,” beautifully manifest the sacred proximity between the Creator and the creation.

God’s Mercy for His Servants

Allah has endowed us with His favor by decreeing voluntary prayers (Nawafil) as extra good deeds that can complement our obligatory ones and compensate for any deficiency in performing them. An illustration of this can be seen in the following Hadith.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The first thing for which a servant of Allah will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be his Salah. If it is found to be complete, then it will be recorded as complete, and if anything is lacking, Allah will say: “Look and see if you can find any voluntary prayers with which to complete what was defective in his obligatory prayers.” [Tirmidhi]

For this reason, Allah Most High has kept the door open for voluntary prayers to compensate for the uncompleted obligatory ones and draw closer to Allah Most High.

Holding on to the Obligatory Before Voluntary

Before shifting to recommended and voluntary acts, one must be aware and conscious of our fundamental responsibilities as believers. Also, staying away from sexual transgression, backbiting, slander, and all other sinful activities only takes us away from our fitra and, subsequently, from Allah Most High.

Commitment to the obligatory prayers and reminding ourselves of being in the consistent presence of Allah will make this journey easier and cast away the evil effects of these sins on our conscience.

Voluntary Acts and Chosen Servants

Focusing on voluntary acts will open ways for us to be the beloved servants of Allah Most High. This is how we will reach the station of the chosen servants of Allah Most High, and these chosen ones are so special to Allah that if someone shows hostility to them, Allah declares war on them.

Knowing every believer is at some electhood to Allah Most High and being elected servants of God facilitate our journey to Allah Most High. One can achieve the station of the chosen servant of Allah through the establishment of obligatory prayers and the introduction of voluntary acts in life in the form of routines.

Conclusion

Building up the routine of five daily prayers, spending on the way of Allah, reciting the Quran, seeking knowledge, and many other consistent practices will bring us closer to Allah Most High.

Reminding ourselves Allah is more precious to us than anything else, and He is Greater than all else. His pleasure is more valuable than any other objective, which we need to carve into our hearts and minds, “but the greatest bliss is the Good Pleasure of Allah-that is the supreme success.” [Quran, 9:72]

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age. He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.