Transcribed from a lecture by Shaykh Ahmad Musa Jibril
All of our deeds at all times must be solely for the sake of Allah. You do not give any portion of your deeds to other than Allah, not for Riyaa’ (show off) or anything else.
(وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ حُنَفَاءَ… ﴿البينة: ٥
And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him).
One of the best cures for those who struggle or think they struggle with show off is to establish in your heart that in this simple world people run into trials and tribulations by the Qadhaa’ and Qadr of Allah and everyone here and everywhere can tell you of times where people turned away, in minor and major difficulties they went through. People turned away and left them alone. If they are not going to stand in this simple world, why would you give them some of your most valuable assets (your deeds) when the only One who will be there for you and worthy of your deeds is Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala, both in this life and in the life after. Secret, discreet, sincere deeds between you and Allah are what you ask Allah with when you are in a desperate need both in this life and for matters of the life after.
You know the story in Sahih Muslim of the three men who sought refuge in a cave when it began to rain. As they entered the cave, it closed upon them. One of the three men said get up each one of you and make Du’aa through your deeds so Allah can rescue us. So the first man got up and said oh Allah my children wept at my feet because I did not deem it advisable to serve milk to them, because when I returned from work late I found my parents were sleeping. Oh Allah I remained at my parents’ head as my children wept all night long until daylight broke out and I fed them, then I fed my kids. Oh Allah if I did that for Your pleasure and Your sake and Your sake only, grant us riddance from this trouble that we are in oh Allah. The rock slipped away a little, but not enough for any of them to leave.
Note how he said if I did it for Your sake and Your sake only. Yes it was the deed he did but it is also the sincerity of that deed, the secretiveness of that deed. The next one gets up, he says oh Allah I had a cousin that I wanted to have relationship with and she refused. One day she fell on a hardship, she said I need to borrow one hundred Dinaar and I agreed to give her one hundred Dinaar if she had relationship with me. He said oh Allah when I approached her for intercourse, she said servant of Allah, fear Allah (إتق الله) and do not break this seal of chastity except by its lawful means. Yaa Allah I got up, oh Allah if I did that for Your sake and Your sake only, grant us riddance from the trouble and problem that we are facing. It opened a little bit, not enough.
Likewise the third man gets up, the third one says oh Allah I had a worker, he did not take his wages for that day. He left some of his rice, so I planted it and I became rich with flocks of cows and sheep from that investment. He returned to me later and he said fear Allah and give me my wages, so I told him that flock of sheep and cows are all yours. He said fear Allah and do not mock me, he said oh Allah I told him I am not mocking you. Yaa Allah if I did that for Your sake and Your sake only then remove this hardship that we are facing. The rock moved away and they were finally able to leave from the cave.
You want that to happen to you? It is not impossible, that is why the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam taught us this. If you want that to happen to you, Ramadhaan is the best time to stock up on secretive, sincere deeds. Let nobody know about them, you yourself try to forget about them. The days go by, life is pregnant with its trials and tribulations, after years maybe a child will get sick, maybe cancer, pain, poverty, may Allah safeguard all of you from all that. Then you raise your hand, you say oh Allah I have that deed and I did it in secrecy and sincerely for Your sake, oh Allah grant me riddance from this trouble that I am facing. Or forget about it all together and let Allah remind you of it when it is placed in your scale on the balance on Judgment Day. Wallahil-‘Adheem Allah will remind you of it.
(وَنَضَعُ الْمَوَازِينَ الْقِسْطَ لِيَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ فَلَا تُظْلَمُ نَفْسٌ شَيْئًا ۖ وَإِن كَانَ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِّنْ خَرْدَلٍ أَتَيْنَا بِهَا ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِنَا حَاسِبِينَ ﴿الأنبياء: ٤٧
And We shall set up balances of justice on the Day of Resurrection, then none will be dealt with unjustly in anything. And if there be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it. And Sufficient are We as Reckoners.
Ibn al-Qayyim Rahimahullah said deeds without sincerity are like a traveller who carries a water jug full of dirt, carrying that jug burdens him and does not bring him no benefit. What a statement, what an amazing statement. Deeds without sincerity are like a traveller who carries a water jug full of nothing but dirt, carrying it burdens him and brings no benefit.
*Dawood Ibn Abi Hind fasted for forty years, his own wife did not know about it. He was a wool maker and his wife would prepare some food for him and send him off when he leaves to work. He would give it to a poor man in the market and return at night after Maghrib to break his fast with his wife. The people in the market think that he ate with his wife, and the wife thinks that he ate from that which she prepared for him, which he gave to a poor man. Sincerity, that is what it was about. He prayed Qiyaam for twenty years, his wife did not know about it, Ikhlaas.
*Ayyub as-Sikhtiyaani used to pray the entire night and then a few moments before Fajr he would raise is voice in recitation, in Qur’an, so people would think he got up just a few moments before Fajr when he in reality never even got sleep all night long.
*Hassaan Ibn Abi Sinaan, his wife said my husband used to trick me like we parents trick their kids. He used to trick me to sleep and when I would sleep, he would get up and pray. One time she caught him, she said Abu Abdillah with his Kunyah, why do you punish yourself like this? Easy on yourself. He said woe to you woman, you want me to sleep, I will sleep and I am going to sleep and get my rest on a day when I will never wake up from my sleep.
*Zayn al-‘Aabideen the great grandson of Ali Ibn Abi Talib radhiallahu ‘anhu, he used to feed poor people in Madinah for ten years, nobody knew who was bringing them food. Every day in the morning they would find food in front of their houses. When Zayn al-‘Aabideen died, they figured out it was him because no longer did they get any food. And more so when they washed him and shrouded him, they found marks in his back from carrying the bags to the poor people.
*Al-A’mish said I visited Ibraheem an-Nakha’ee and he began to read Qur’an and he constantly read Qur’an. Whenever he had guests he would quickly put the Qur’an and hide it away and he would tell me, confide in me, I do not want people to see that I am reading Qur’an. What a difference between them and those who never sweat for the sake of Allah yet bolster about it. Those who bolster about a simple little Khutbah they gave, a couple of orphans they sponsored, maybe a five minute talk or just going for the Taraweeh two or three nights out of Ramadhaan, it is usually those with such deeds that they bolster about that have no effectiveness or sincerity. And it is those with secret deeds that have the effective sincere deeds.
*Ibn al-Jawzi Rahimahullah said Abdullah Ibn al-Mubaarak who died a hundred and eighty one years after the Hijrah, he was a sincere master who feared losing sincerity of his deeds if people knew about his deeds or if they praised him. Na’eem Ibn Hammaad said when Ibn al-Mubaarak read a Hadith he would cry like a camel or a cow when they are being sacrificed, the noise they make when they are being sacrificed. Sufyaan ath-Thawri said I wished for one year of my life I could do the deeds that Ibn al-Mubaarak Rahimahullah did. He said I could not even do three days worth of what Ibn al-Mubaarak does. Abdullah Ibn al-Mubaarak, a worshipper, an Imaam in knowledge, a man who put his knowledge into action, beneficial knowledge, a Mujaahid.
He went with the Muslim army one time to fend off the Romans and when the armies clashed or are posted up to begin the war, as was the trend back then, a man from each side will start off the fight. So a man from the Romans got up, he said who wants to sword fence with me? Which is the one on one fighting with the sword. One Muslim stood up to him, fought him for a while, he was wounded and the Roman killed him. A second Muslim went up to him, same thing happened. Third Muslim got killed, same thing. The fourth man fought him for some time and killed him. The people crowded around this heroic man to see who he was, ‘Abda Ibn Sulaymaan said I was among those who crowded around this hero to see who he was. He turned out to be someone who was masked, he covered his face. He did not want anybody to know who he was, and he walked away from the crowd as if nothing happened. ‘Abda said I grabbed his mask and I took it off, and it was no other than Abdullah Ibn al-Mubaarak. Abdullah Ibn al-Mubaarak said Abu Umar (the Kunyah of the man who pulled the mask off), you are among those who expose us? He considered it exposing him.
Commenting on this story, Ibn al-Jawzi said he is a sincere master who feared it would affect his sincerity if anyone ever seen or praised any of his deeds. Ahmad Ibn Hanbal said Allah did not raise Abdullah Ibn al-Mubaarak to the elevated status that he reached, except by secrets he had between him and Allah.
Establish those secrets this month, these days. Ibn al-Jawzi mentioned that al-Hasan al-Basri and Ibn al-Mubaarak, they lived in the same time for a period and they took a walk one day. When they got to a fountain to drink, it was crowded. Had people known who they were and recognised them, they would have opened the way for them, but no one knew who these men were. Abdullah Ibn al-Mubaarak reached the fountain, broke through the crowd, reached the fountain, drank and left. And then al-Hasan al-Basri said he looked at me and said this is the right way to live.
Imaam in every aspect that you look at it. They were all Imaams in every aspect, they did not want anything to be known. Secret deeds that no one knows about, tears in the deep darkness of the night, recitation in the deep darkness of the night, Allah will raise your mention and honour in both worlds.
*Ar-Rabee’ Ibn Khuthaym, the worshipper who used to cover his worship so no one would know what he did. When he recited Qur’an and he seen people were about to pass by, he would cover it with his Thobe so no one would know he was reciting.
(فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَّا أُخْفِيَ لَهُم مِّن قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ جَزَاءً بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿السجدة: ١٧
No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.
Why did Allah say hidden? Why is it hidden? They hid their deeds from humans so Allah hid for them a special reward. Reward depends on the kind of deed, you reap what you sow. You hid something, Allah is going to save something hidden for you.
رُبَّ أَشْعَثَ أَغْبَرْ مَدْفُوعٍ بِالْأَبْوَابِ لَوْ أَقْسَمَ عَلَى اللَّهِ لَأَبَرَّهُ
In Sahih Muslim, a dishevelled men (أشعث), Aghbar (أغبر) means dusty. Madfoo’in bil-Abwaab (مدفوع بالأبواب) meaning he is looked down upon so much that if he knocks on your door, you will not even open the door. He is neglected in society, everyone looks down on him. What about him? The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said if he gives an oath by Allah, Allah will fulfil it. You may think he is a nobody, I may think he is a nobody, but he has got some secrets at home in the dark nights that if he gives an oath to Allah in a Du’aa like fashion, Allah will answer it. Meaning if he says Wallahi Yaa Allah You are going to do this for me, but the intention is of course in Du’aa, it will be answered.
Every single day you say seventeen times:
(إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ ﴿الفاتحة: ٥
You (Alone) we worship, and you (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything).
By Fardh you say it seventeen times. Every day you say seventeen times, You alone we worship and You alone we ask for Your help, and tens of more times other than that in Sunnah you say them. Every time you say it, remember to renew your vow that you are only doing this for the sake of Allah and make it as secretive as possible.
For this Ramadhaan, plan and make your deeds secret and establish a secretive relationship with Allah. Worship no one knows but you and Allah, sincerely for the sake of Allah. Keep it hidden, Salah, prayer, Zakah, reciting of the Qur’an, Taraweeh, charity, knowledge or Da’wah. You yourself try to forget it, Wallahi you are going to be reminded of it on the Judgment Day, Wallahil-‘Adheem you are going to see its affect in this life. If you are inflicted with a hardship years and years later, raise your hands to Allah and say Yaa Allah I got up every single night of Ramadhaan, no one knew that but me and You. If I did that sincerely for Your sake and Your sake alone, then grant me riddance of this trouble and trial that I am facing.
اللَّهُمَّ إنَّا نَعُوذُ بِك أَنْ نُشْرِكَ بِك وَ نَحْنُ نَعْلَمُ وَنَسْتَغْفِرُك لِمَا لَا نَعْلَمُ