Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura Friday Sermon
10 January 2020 / 14 Jamadilawal 1441H
The Strength of a Believer
My blessed brothers,
Let us have taqwa towards Allah s.w.t by fulfilling what He commands and abstaining from what He prohibits. May our presence today in the mosque increase our faith and the value of taqwa in our hearts in relation to everything that Allah s.w.t has ordained. Amin.
The Prophet’s wife, Ummu Salamah r.a. was asked, “What du’a did the Prophet s.a.w often recite when he was at home?” Ummu Salamah answered, “The Prophet s.a.w. often read:
Which means: “O Turner of the hearts, affirm my heart upon Your religion.” [Hadith reported by At-Tirmizi].
Another companion named Anas bin Malik r.a. also narrated that Rasulullah s.a.w. often uttered this prayer, and then he would say, “He (Allah) turns hearts (of human beings) whichever way He wills.” [Hadith reported by At-Tirmizi].
These two hadiths remind us about how vulnerable the heart of a person is. It changes according to the situations and surroundings they are currently in. Sometimes, one’s heart changes because of the difficulties they are going through in life. From a state of peace to a state of calamity, from joy to sorrow.
Such is the reality of life. As human beings, we all need to experience both ease and hardship as well as laughter and tears. Whatever that befalls upon us is a decree of Allah s.w.t. as well as a test from Him. Our life in this world is Allah’s way to distinguish between His grateful servants from those who are disobedient. Hence, we as believers in Allah do not want to become servants who are unappreciative of the favours bestowed upon us. However, the question is: how do we become constantly grateful towards Allah? What are the ways to protect our hearts so that our faith remains strong and sturdy to govern our daily life?
My beloved brothers,
A heart that is filled with strong faith can guide someone to always be grateful towards Allah. A heart that is filled with gratitude towards Allah will then protect oneself from having bad assumptions of Allah. This is indeed very important. Sometimes, when we are overwhelmed by hardships and difficulties, our hearts will begin to whisper and question, “What have I done wrong? Why am I being tested this way?”, so on and so forth.
At this very moment, my brothers, we have to remember, whatever that Allah has ordained for His servants also entails His mercy and love towards us. Rasulullah s.a.w. said in a Hadith Qudsi, where Allah s.w.t. says, “I am what My servant thinks of Me.” [Muttafaq ‘Alaih] When we are able to think positively of Allah’s s.w.t decree, this is a sign that our hearts are full of gratitude and contentment with what Allah has ordained for us. Therefore, it is very important to develop a heart that is full of gratitude. It will steer us towards the mercy and love of Allah s.w.t. The Prophet s.a.w. said:
Which means: “Verily the greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. And indeed, when Allah loves a group of people, He subjects them to trials, so whoever is content, then for him is pleasure, and whoever is discontent, then for him is wrath." [Hadith reported by At-Tirmizi].
In our efforts to strengthen our faith, cleanse our hearts, and nurture our sense of gratitude towards Allah s.w.t. in every moment, there are several guidelines that we need to take note of.
The first and foremost thing to do is to start with making du’a. Practise the Prophet s.a.w.’s du’a that was read earlier, so that our hearts remain faithful. Allah s.w.t. praises His servants who always pray for their hearts to be firm and steadfast and to be guided. Allah s.w.t. says in Surah Ali Imran verses 7-8:
Meaning: “But those firm in knowledge say, "We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord." And no one will be reminded except those of understanding. [Who say], "Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower.”
My brothers, this verse does not only give praise to those who are knowledgeable but encourages the individual to strive to be from those of knowledge. This is in line with last Friday’s sermon on the virtues of seeking knowledge. Knowledge that is certain will produce a strong faith and a righteous Mukmin.
Secondly: Continue to remain firm and consistent in obeying Allah based on our own abilities. Avoid from doing things that exceed what we can, such as imitating what others do and forcing ourselves to perform what others have done, to the point of overstraining ourselves. The Prophet s.a.w. once reminded his Companions to perform acts of worship and good deeds consistently and continuously based on their own capabilities.
In a hadith reported by Imam Al-Bukhari, the Prophet s.a.w. advised Abdullah bin Amr bin al-‘Ash radiyallahu ‘anhuma in a hadith which means: “O Abdullah, do not be like that person who woke up for qiyamullail once and then left it completely.” Imam Ibn Hajar explained that this hadith encourages us to perform acts of worship consistently without overworking ourselves.
Thirdly: Always make improvements and work on our own weaknesses instead of looking out for the flaws of others. We should not be blinded by the faults of others to the point of not being able to recognize our own shortcomings. Do not become the person that was described by Abu Hurairah r.a. – in a mauquf hadith reported by Imam Al-Bukhari in his book Adab al-Mufrad – “One of you looks at the mote in his brother's eye while forgetting the stump in his own eye.”
May our hearts remain steadfast and full of hope in Allah s.w.t when facing all the challenging and uncertain phases in our lives. May the deeds that we have done make our hearts remain faithfull, instead of causing them to stray away onto the path of misguidance. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.