Jul 29, 1999

How to be a Servant of God?

  • Translated by: Aliaa Rafea
You who look forward to being attached to God, seek His Face, who search for the truth, and who want to learn the Law of Life, God speaks to you in all His manifestations, in the natural world as well as in the Holy Books, and the Messages of prophets.
It is a continuous talk and it will never stop. You just need to listen. Whenever you listen, you will know more and get closer to God.
“Though the sea became ink for the Words of my Lord, verily the sea would be used up before the Words of my Lord were exhausted, even though We brought the like thereof to help.” (HQ:18:109)1
Man is guided, in (Islamic Teaching), to search and to learn continuously about every thing and he should not stop searching and learning. His limitations are defined when the subject of search transcends his capabilities.
“O company of jinn and men, if ye have power to penetrate (all) regions of the heavens and the earth, then penetrate (them)! Ye will never penetrate them save with (Our) sanction.”(HQ:55:33)
When man is about to study a certain subject, this requires that he is able to know all about its dimensions. Otherwise, his information will never be accurate, it will be mere guessing.
“A guess can never take the place of the truth” (HQ:53:28)
God talks to people through his verses in an understandable manner so did the prophet. He said:
“We, (prophets) were asked to talk to people according to their level of understanding”.
The verses of Koran and the teachings of the Prophet explained to the human mind how to understand the Law of Life. According to this understanding, they can use and implement this knowledge in their own lives. They will be committed to what they know. This is the reason why we emphasize the fact that Religion is not forms to be followed, rather It is a Path to be taken.
“ For each We have appointed a divine law and a traced out way” (HQ:5:48)
The Divine Law is but a traced out way, a Path. To consider the Divine Law as a traced out way is different from taking its teachings as "orders". To observe fasting, or prayers as mere "forms" will have completely different meanings than taking them as "paths" to achieve certain goals. The same applies on all other practices. This perspective will have its impact on man’s conduct and behavior.
Religion guides man to know his main goal. This goal (is crystallized) in witnessing that "there is no god but God and Muhammad is His messenger". In order to achieve this goal, we need a "Path" to undertake.
To clarify, we may give examples from our world. When we set a goal, such as constructing a huge building, making a machine, or cultivating a piece of land, we think of ways to realize these goals, including scientific knowledge. Considering that "the apparent world is a mirror for the inner one", we would apply the same rule for our spiritual endeavor, we would search for our goal first, and then we will try to find out ways to realize it. As for man’s purpose of life we read:
“I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me” (HQ:51:56)
“"I made thee to be not other than Me"(HQ:20: 39) (our translation).
"I have prepared thee for Myself" (HQ:20: 41)
Our goal in life is to be Servants of God. In order to realize this goal, we have to witness that there is no god but God, Allah, not as a mere uttering of words but all the way through in our life; in the process of living. And we should experience this feeling of surrender to nothing but God from the bottom of our heart and make our work and conduct (in harmony) with our belief. If our goal is clear as such, it will reflect in our attitudes towards whatever we face in our life.
“He who rejecteth the tyranny, and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break” (HQ:2:256)
“ O My son! Lo! Though it be but the weight of a grain of mustard-seed, and though it be in a rock, or in the heavens, or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. (HQ:31:16)
From this perspective, to be committed is to follow what you know or believe to be the truth and good. You aim at investing your deeds for God’s sake, not for any worldly rewards. Yet, you should acknowledge the fact that you have a dark side and that you have to perfect yourself by putting your ultimate goal always before you, having the Messenger of God as an Example. This is one of the meanings when you witness that "Muhammad is the Messenger of God”
"Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah; follow me; Allah will love you"(HQ:3: 31)
"Verily in the messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the Last Day, and remembereth Allah much" (HQ:33:21)
"But, nay, by the Lord, they will not believe until they make thee judge of what is in dispute between them and find within themselves no dislike of that which thou decideth and submit fully" (HQ:4:65) (God is addressing Prophet Muhammad)
To follow the Messenger of God became in itself a goal to be realized when you witness that "there is no god but God". In a round way, we can achieve our goal of being servants of God by following the footstep of the Prophet. This pillar of witnessing that there is no god but God and Muhammad is His Messenger form one experience. That is simply because witnessing the oneness of God is made possible only when the Prophet is followed. He is the Example; the one who represents the perfection of achieving that goal.
“Shall I give you all my prayer Messenger of God?
Well, this means that your sins will be forgiven, and your grief will be lifted”. (Said the prophet to one of his Companions)
“You will not be truly a believer unless you love me more than your money, your offspring and even yourself” (Said the prophet)
Therefore, we find that the pillars of Islam start by witnessing that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger, and the other four pillars are means to achieve that goal.
Some people follow the four pillars mainly out of obedience to God’s commandments. Yet, to know your goal before hand is what makes your obedience meaningful. That is, you will understand that in order to live truly, you should take a certain Path. What is done here is that you surrender to the Divine Law. This is the core of Islam.
In our earthly life we need to know the natural law in order to achieve our goals. If we violate that law we will lose. Can any one invent a law to plant other than the natural one? For a man to reap, he must sow. This simple truth is impelling. The only way to achieve what you want, is to admit that there is a Law that should be followed. Why should a person reject to follow the law? We have to learn and then follow. So are the ways that we are taught, to be spiritually alive. To fast for instance is to purify yourself, to live with your soul, not your body, to experience the seed of divinity from within, to conquer the darkness of yourself, to ask God's support. Prophet Muhammad says:
"No one is totally free from having a devil within. What about you Messenger of God? (asked his followers). I am not an exception; but God supported me, and he (the devil) surrendered."
How could you receive God’s mercy and support while you are buried in your darkness, involved in you desires! How could you receive Light unless you get rid of your darkness and live as a spirit!
Lo! I, even I, Am thy lord. So take off thy shoes, for Lo! Thou art in the holy valley of Tuwa (HQ:20:12). (the burning bush episode of Moses)
The order here of “take off thy shoes” stands to symbolize the necessity of purification as a precondition to receive God’s light. The 'shoes", hence is a metaphor for the lower self, or the dark side of man. This order expresses a path, if followed spiritual transformation takes place.
“He who observes fasting in Ramadhan , expressing his Faith and investing for the sake of God, his sin in the past and in the future will be forgiven” (Hadith of Prophet Moham)
We may be able to understand that past sins can be forgiven, but how the future sins will have the same destiny. One way to understand that is to decode the meaning of fasting. He who fasts truly is he who becomes pure enough to receive God’s illumination, which will transform him spiritually. He will never be back to where he was. Once he is illuminated, he will be looking always to what is better.
Have we known fasting as a lifestyle; a continuous attempts to purify ourselves!
To fast one month a year is a message that we are conveying to those who will join us (the following generations). In other words, fasting in this specific month will be but a message to those who will decode it through practicing.
The month of Ramadhan in which was revealed the Koran, guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Evidence of Truth. And whosoever of you, witnesses the presence of the Month, let him fast” (HQ:2:185)
We pray to God that He make us worthy of His mercy and blessing. We pray that we may be really fasting, really investing for his sake, able to be accessible to his light.
To sum up:
Religion uncovers for us the Law of Life and we could hence see our goal and practice the ways that will enable us to achieve that goal according to this Law. Our goal is to be truly servants of God, through witnessing that there is no god but God and Muhammad is His Messenger. In order to achieve that goal, we have to struggle for the betterment, to attach ourselves to God, to have a direction in our life and to make our worldly life serve those meanings. These are the four pillars. Witnessing that there is no god but God and Muhammad is His Messenger, as the first pillar in Islam condenses all these meanings and reflects the other four pillars. Each of the four pillars is a means and an end at the same time. In order to achieve our goals, we have to decode the meaning of each pillar through practices. If we decode its meanings and achieve the assigned goals, we may achieve our ultimate goal of being Servants of God.
  1. All the verses quoted from the Holy Koran are from Pickthall's Translation. There is very little interference by the translator.