Book of Assistance – Summary Notes

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CHAPTER 1 – ON CERTAINTY

Strengthen Certainty:

  • Strengthen and improve your certainty.
  • When certainty prevails the unseen becomes as if seen.
  • “Were the cover to be removed, I would not increase in certainty.” Ali, Radhiallahu ‘anhu

What is Certainty?

  • Certainty is power, firmness and stability of faith so great that no doubts or illusion can comes in ones way.
  • And if doubt or illusions comme then they are totally ignored by the ear and heart.
  • The devil cannot approach such a person.
  • The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, mentions regarding Umar, Radhiallahu ‘anhu: “Shaytan is afraid of the shadow of Umar, and Umar never takes a road but that Satan takes another.”

Ways to Obtain Certainty:

  • Certainty derives its power and excellence from many things.
  • First: a person listen attentively with heart and ears to verses and hadiths regarding Allah, His Majesty, Perfection etc.
  • And to the truthfulness and perfection of the Messengers, their miracles and the chastisement of those who opposed them.

Ways to Obtain Certainty:

  • Second: learn from looking at the kingdom of the heavens and earth.
  • “We shall show them Our signs on the horizons nd within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it I the truth.” Quran 41:53

Ways to Obtain Certainty:

  • Third: behave according to what one believes, outwardly and inwardly. “Those who strive in Us, We shall surely guide them to our ways.” Quran 29:69

Result of Certainty:

  • Certainty results in, among many things, acquiescence (acceptance without protest) in Allah’s promise, confidence in Him, turning to Him, abandoning things which distract from Him, returning to Him in all circumstances and seeking His pleasure.

Action:

  • Virtues and actions are strong or weak depending on ones certainty.
  • Luqman, ‘alayhi as-salam said, “Action is possible only in the presence of certainty; a servant acts in obedience only to the extent that he has certainty, and a man becomes neglectful in his actions only when his certainty diminishes.”
  • The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, said: “Certainty is the whole of faith.”

First Degree of Certainty:

  • That of the People of the Right Hand: this is firm belief but with the possibility of becoming doubtful or shaky under certain circumstances.

Second Degree of Certainty:

  • One Brought Nigh: possession of the heart by faith and its establishing itself therein so firmly that its opposite becomes no longer possible.
  • In this degree the unseen becomes the seen.

Third Degree of Certainty:

  • Of the Prophets and the True Saints: here the unseen becomes seen, which is called ‘unveiling (kashf)’ and ‘contemplation (mushahada)’.

Grades within Degrees:

  • There are grades within each degree: all good, but some better.

CHAPTER 2 – ON INTENTION

Improve Intention:

  • Improve the soundness and sincerity of your intentions.
  • Intentions are the bases of deeds; according to them your deeds will either be good or ugly, sound or unsound.
  • The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ‘Deeds are only according to intentions; each man has that which he intended.’

Intention for Allah:

  • Utter no word, do no action, and decide no matter without the intention of drawing nearer to Allah and seeking His reward for the act.
  • Drawing nearer to Him can only be achieved through obligatory and supererogatory devotions.

A Sincere Intention:

  • A sincere intention may change the licit into the devotional.
  • Means are judged according to their ends.
  • g. one may eat to get the strength to perform devotions, or sleep with one’s wife to obtain offspring who would worship Allah.

Condition of Intention:

  • It’s a condition of the sincere intention that behaviour does not belie it.
  • E.g. a man who seeks knowledge claiming that his intention is to practice and teach it will be proved insincere in his intention if, when he becomes able to, he does not do so..
  • Or, e.g. a person who pursues the world and claims he is doing so so he may be independent and be able to give charity and help people will be proved ineffectual should he not do so.

Intentions do not Affect Sins:

  • A man who goes along with a slanderer and pretends that he only wanted to humour him, is himself a slanderer.
  • Anyone who refrains from enjoing good and forbidding evil and pretends he only did so to protect himself against the culprit, is his partner in evil-doing.
  • A malicious intention attached to a good deed spoils it and renders it malicious.

Many to One:

  • Many intentions can attach to a single act, and each of them will attract its full reward.
  • E.g. one who reads Quran intending to commune with Allah but also to extract knowledge from it and profit those who listen or hear.
  • Or, e.g. to eat with the intention of obeying Allah, to acquire strength for devotion, and to put yourself in a situation where you must thank your Lord.

One of Two Meanings:

  • The word intention can have one of two meanings.
  • First is the aim which made you decide, do, or say something. The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, said: ‘The intention of a believer is better than his action.’
  • Second is your decision and determination to act.

Three Situations:

  • A man, when he decides to do something, can only be in one of three situations:
  • He decides and acts,
  • He decides but fails to act while able to

The Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, said: ‘Allah has written good and evil deeds, then rendered them clear; anyone who intends a good deed but does not perform it, Allah records it as one good deed, whereas should he intend and then perform it, Allah records it as ten good deeds, up to seven hundred fold, and to yet more multiplications. If he intends an evil deed and does not do it, Allah records it as one full good deed; if he intends and then does it; Allah records it as one evil deed.’

  • He determine upon something which he is for the time being unable to do and says: ‘Were I able, I would do (such-and-such).’ He receives the same as the one who acts, whether this be for or against him.

CHAPTER 3 – ON VIGILANCE:

Be Mindful of Allah:

  • Be mindful of Allah at every moment – with every movement, stillness, with every blink of the eye, every thought etc.
  • Know that Allah looks and is aware of you.
  • Nothing is concealed from Him.
  • ‘Nothing that weighs so much as an atom is hidden from your Lord, whether on earth or in heaven.’ (10:61)
  • ‘He knows your secret (thought) and that which is even more hidden.’ (20:7)
  • ‘He is with you wherever you are.’ (57:4)

Worship Him As If You Seem Him:

  • Have modesty before your Lord.
  • Make sure He never sees you in a situation which He has forbidden.
  • Worship Him as if you saw Him, for even if you do not see Him, He sees you.

Remind Your Soul:

  • Whenever you notice any laziness in worship or inclination to disobedience, remind your soul that Allah hears and sees you and knows all.
  • If this reminding does not benefit, remind your soul of the two angels who are recording.
  • ‘He utters no word but there is with him a watcher.’ (50:17-18)
  • if this reminding does not benefit then remind it of death.
  • Death is the nearest of all hidden and awaited things, frighten it of its sudden pouncing.
  • if this is of no use then remind the soul of the immense reward which Allah has promised those who obey Him and the painful torment which He has threatened those who disobey Him.
  • Say to it, ‘O Soul! After death there will no opportunity to repent and there will be after this life only the garden or the fire.’
  • Endeavour to cure your soul with such reminders when it neglects obedience and inclines to rebellion.

Muraqaba (Vigilance):

  • If you find emerging in your heart a shyness that prevents you from disobeying Him and drives you to exert yourself in obeying Him, you are in possession of the realities of vigilance (muraqaba).

Vigilance:

  • Vigilance is the station of excellence (ihsan) indicated in the Prophet’s, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, saying, ‘Excellence is to worship Allah as if you saw Him, for if you do not see Him, He sees you.’
  • Each believer has faith that nothing is concealed from Allah.
  • That Allah is with hi wherever he is.

Permanent Awareness:

  • Important thing that this awareness be permanent and that ts results appear.

CHAPTER 4 – ON THE INNER AND OUTER SELF

Improve Your Inward:

  • Improve your inward aspect until it becomes better than your virtuous outward appearance.
  • The inward is where the gaze of the Real obtains, while the outward is where the envious gaze of creation is to be found.
  • Allah never mentioned the inward and outward in the Quran without beginning with the inward.
  • The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, used to pray: ‘O Allah! Make my inward better than my outward, and make my outward virtuous.’ (Tirmidhi)

Inward Good, Outward Good:

  • Outward aways follows the inward whether for good or evil.
  • The Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, said: ‘In the body there lies a small piece of flesh; when it is good the rest of the body is good also, and when it is corrupt the rest of the body becomes corrupt also: it is the heart.’

The Pretender & Liar:

  • The one who claims to have a thriving inward but whose outward has been corrupt by his abandoning outward acts of obedience is a pretender and a liar.

The People of Ostentation:

  • The one who exerts himself on the reform of his outward by caring about the way he dresses and appears etc, but leaves his inward full of repellent attributes and vile traits, is of the people of affectation and ostentation, who have turned away from the Lord.

In Secret, Beware:

  • Beware of doing in secret that which is seen by people would make you ashamed and worried about being censured.
  • ‘A sufi is not a sufi unless, were everything that is in him to be exposed on a plate in the marketplace, he would not be ashamed of anything that came to light.’

A Balance:

  • If you cannot make the inward better than the outward, than at least make them equal.
  • This so that you behave equally well privately and publicly on obeying Allah’s injunctions.

to be continued …

Footnotes:

  • Subhanahu wa-ta’ala – Translated as “May He be praised and exalted” and is an honorific often said or written alongside Allah.
  • salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam – Translates as “peace be upon him” and is a conventionally complimentary phrase or durood attached to the names of the prophets in Islam.
  • ‘alayhi as-salam – Translates as “peace be upon him” and is a conventionally complimentary phrase or durood attached to the names of the prophets in Islam.
  • Radhiallahu ‘anhu –  An Arabic phrase meaning, “Allah is pleased with him.” This phrase is usually uttered by Muslims after a male Companion’s name.
  • RadhiAllahu ‘anha – An Arabic phrase meaning, “Allah is pleased with her.” This phrase is usually uttered by Muslims after a female Companion’s name.
  • RadhiAllahu ‘anh’um – Plural form.
  • salaam-o Allah alayha – this expression follows specifically after the name of historical Islamic women, e.g. Fatima, daughter of the Prophet, Asiya, wife of the Pharaoh and Mary, the mother of Jesus.
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