The Last 10 Nights (2021)

As we enter the last 10 nights of Ramadan, I just want to share a small point regarding the most important organ in our body – the heart.

The heart or قلب stems from the root meaning to constantly turn or change in it’s state. Sometimes it is in obedience to Allah and other times, otherwise. But it’s status is paramount as it is the *source* by which the rest of the body acts. 

The more Ramadan’s that go by, the greater the realisation that it’s important to recalibrate our deeds in these nights under the shade of a broken, hopeful heart. What does this mean?

Fear of Allah/Grief

Everyone has and continues to sin in their life. Our hearts have been tainted – whether someone is a Shaykh/Ustadh, a generous donor, a front-row worshipper, all have succumbed to the 4 spiritual enemies to various degrees – the Dunya, Shayṭān, nafs and desires. 

Whilst we respond through repentance, when you look at the sins (backbiting, rancour, taking interest, you name it) in addition to the countless blessings Allah still bestows upon us, we are still and forever always dependent on his mercy. 

For this reason, Imam al-Ghazali in his ‘Beginning of Guidance’ says ‘When your heart is filled with grief over your shortcomings in religious duties, then Allah is your inseparable companion’. He then goes on to mention that part of our manners with Allah is;

الخضوع تحت الهيبة، والانكسار تحت الحياء

‘Humility in awe of him, brokenness under a sense of shame’. 

The point here is that when we self-introspect sincerely and realise our true state – that the praise of people and the likes we accumulate is *not* the indicator of Allah’s pleasure with us, then if one is true to him/her self, they will humble themselves before Allah due to their shortcomings. 

Hope in Allah

On the other hand, this needs to be balanced with hope in Allah – the firm knowledge that Allah is the *most* Compassionate, the most Merciful. That his dominion is his alone and he decides the fate of every single living thing. Nothing can overpower his decree if he wills goodness for you. 

The numerous narrations of Allah’s forgiveness for the man who killed 99 people, the adultress giving water to a dog, the one who commits the same sin again and again – all indicate that no man is too sinful to be entered into Allah’s paradise.

Part of Imān is to have a good opinion of Allah for he says in a hadith qudsi:

أنا عند ظن عبدي بي، (إن ظن خيراً فله، وإن ظن شراً فله)

“I am as my slave thinks of me” (Bukhari) 

In another narration, it continues, ‘If he thought well, of me, it is for him, and if he thought bad, of me, it is for him’. Therefore, from good character with Allah, is to have hope in his Mercy, forgiveness, blessings as he is the source of all good.

Balance

In most cases, we know that we should strive to balance equally between the two. Especially in light of Laylatul-Qadr, the Prophet (saws) beautifully incorporated both when asked by ‘Aisha (ra), what to say on this blessed night:

قولي: اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي

“Say, O Allah, You are One who forgives and You love to forgive, so forgive me” (Al-Tirmidhi).

Here we see the advice to seek Allah’s forgiveness [FEAR] with referring to Allah as the Oft-forgiving and loving to forgive [HOPE].

Finally, some small nuances to bear in mind in light of the above not specific to Ramadan, taken from Imam al-Ghazali’s al-Arba’īn and others:

– One who inclines to sin (or some said, in their youth), then his fear of Allah, should be slightly more than hope.

– One who is generally obedient to Allah, then fear and hope should be balanced.

– One who is old in age or close to death, then his hope should be more than fear.

Everyone is different and will approach the nights differently – there is no doubt that these are the best of nights and Allah’s mercy is unlimited for his slaves, but the more our hearts feel the need for Allah and yearn for his forgiveness, the more likely it will be sincere and dependent upon him.

یَوۡمَ لَا یَنفَعُ مَالࣱ وَلَا بَنُونَ ۝٨٨ إِلَّا مَنۡ أَتَى ٱللَّهَ بِقَلۡبࣲ سَلِیمࣲ ۝٨٩

“The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children, except one who comes to Allah with a sound heart”. (Shu’ara: 88)