Shaikh ‘Abdul Bari Ath-Thubaity

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) quotes Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) in a Hadeeth Qudsi: “Every deed of the son of Adam is for him except Sawm (Fasting); it is for Me, and I shall reward (the practicing person) for it.”

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says in Quraan:

وَاللَّهُ عِنْدَهُ حُسْنُ الثَّوَابِ [آل عمران: 195]

“……. It is Allah with Whom lies the beauty of the reward.” (Aale ‘Imraan 3:195)

He also says:

وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا أَوْ يَظْلِمْ نَفْسَهُ ثُمَّ يَسْتَغْفِرِ اللَّهَ يَجِدِ اللَّهَ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا [النساء: 110]

“Whoever acts evil or wrongs himself, then seeks forgiveness from Allah, shall find Allah Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.” (An-Nisaa 4:110)

The Prophet, Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllahu ‘Alaihe WaSallam) said: “Sawm is a shield”

That may mean Sawm protects the person from falling into sin and in turn Jahannum (Hell).”

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ [البقرة: 183]

“O you who believe! The Sawms (Fasts) have been enjoined upon you as they were enjoined upon those before you, so that you may be God-fearing,” (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

There are many things in which people take pleasure and find delight, but such pleasures and delights are transient and short-lived, and some of them even end in remorse and regret. The true pleasure is the spiritual pleasure; it is the pleasure that the heart finds in Ibaadah (Worship), which makes a Muslim experience the highest degree of happiness and joy. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “He has found the taste of faith who is content with Allah as his Lord, with Islam as his religion, and with Muhammad as his Prophet.”

In this Hadeeth, the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) informs us that faith has a taste that the heart can feel, just as the tongue tastes food and drink. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) also said: “There are three qualities that whoever possesses will taste the sweetness of faith …”

Faith, then, has sweetness and pleasure that make the heart happy and the soul calm and peaceful, and it is with this feeling of pleasure that the servant can reap the true fruits of his deeds and find eternal happiness. Such feeling of pleasure sets the heart right, makes it successful, joyful, and sound, and causes it to find peace and tranquility. Nothing else could give the servant this feeling, even if he got all that can cause pleasure to people.

All the delights of the world provide only one type of pleasure which soon fades away, except for the worship of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), which results in three types of pleasure: the pleasure you feel while performing the act of worship, the pleasure you feel when you remember performing it, and the pleasure you will have when you are rewarded for it. When the heart finds the sweet taste of worshipping Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) in all purity to Him, nothing else will be better, sweeter, or more pleasurable than this taste. Indeed, loving Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and drawing nearer to Him by doing what He loves overwhelm the heart with total delight and never-ending pleasure.

Experiencing the delight of worship and obedience to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and the pleasure of talking privately to Him, one of the righteous predecessors once said: “I was in a state in which I said: ‘If the people of Jannah (Paradise) have this feeling, then they will be living in great bliss.’”

Describing how faith creates pleasure and blissful joy in the heart, another one of the righteous predecessors said: “The heart experiences moments when it is thrilled and elated with joy. Nothing in this worldly life is akin to the delights of the Aakhirah (Hereafter) except the bliss of faith and true knowledge.”

The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) always found comfort and peace of mind in performing Salaah (Prayers).

He would say: “Prayer has been made the comfort of my eyes.”

Standing in Salaah at night provides pleasure and sweetness that none can taste or describe except for those who spend the night worshipping Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). One of the righteous predecessors said: “I rejoice at the night when it falls, for the night is the delight of my life and the comfort of my eyes and it makes me able to talk privately to the One I love. I feel sad when the dawn breaks, because the daily chores distract me from all that joy.”

One also finds pleasure, joy, beauty, and majesty in reciting the Quraan. When the words of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) are recited and reach the ears, the souls become humble, the hearts become soft, and the body becomes calm, out of fear, submission, love, and joy. For those who love Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), there is nothing sweeter than the words of their Beloved, for He is the delight of their hearts and the only One they seek. How can a lover feel that he has had enough of the words of the One he seeks?

Hadhrat ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affaan said: “If your hearts were purer, they would never feel they had enough of Allah’s words.”

There is also pleasure in giving charity. This the pleasure that Abud-Dahdah found when he spent the best and most precious of his property in the cause of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), then he came to his wife and said: “O Umm Ad-Dahdah! Get out of the farm, for I sold it for the sake of Allah.”

Upon that she said: “What a profitable deal!”

She went out of the farm all delighted and overjoyed, for instead of the farm Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has given her a great reward and made her feel the pleasure of spending in His cause and taste the sweetness of faith which makes the servant elated with joy while giving away his most precious property.

Similarly, Ulamaa (Scholars), who are preoccupied with acquiring religious knowledge, stay up late at night reading and studying despite all the challenges and difficulties, because of the pleasure they find in searching for knowledge. In fact, one of the righteous predecessors spent forty years on writing a single book. It is through knowledge and the pleasure of learning that scholars rise in higher ranks of virtue and perfection of character. Most people, however, are unaware of this sweetness and the great value that is associated with learning; otherwise, they would fiercely compete with one another to obtain such pleasure. As this pleasure is surrounded by hardships and most people are ignorant of it, they are unaware of its great value, and Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) chooses to bestow His great favors upon whom He wills from among His servants.

Taking pleasure in the remembrance of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) brings about rest and inner fulfillment, and it is for this reason that the gatherings for remembering Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) are called the Gardens of Jannah. Indeed, there is nothing more delightful to the soul than the remembrance of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Truly, there is no act of worship that is simpler to perform and more pleasurable, joyful, and delightful to the heart than the remembrance of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says:

إِنَّ الْأَبْرَارَ لَفِي نَعِيمٍ [الانفطار: 13]

“Surely the Abraar (the pious believers) will be in bliss.” (Al-Infitaar 82:13)

Such delight is not confined to the Day of Resurrection alone, but the pious are in delight in all the three abodes (i.e. this worldly life, the grave, and the Aakhirah). Is there any delight in this worldly life that is more sublime than that of righteousness, soundness of the heart, knowledge of the Lord and love for Him?

It is a sign of suffering, deprivation, pain, and loss for a servant to be denied the pleasure of obedience and worship.

Ibn Al-Jawzi said: “One of the monks of the Children of Israel said: ‘O Lord! I have disobeyed You so many times, but You have never punished me!’

It was said to him: ‘I have punished you so many times, but you do not know it. Have I not deprived you of the sweetness of privately talking to Me?’”

One of the righteous predecessors was asked: “Can a person who disobeys Allah feel the pleasure of obedience to Him?”

He said: “No. Nor can the one who intends to do so.”

Imam Ibne Taymiyah said: “If you do not feel the sweetness and joy of a good deed that you have done in your heart, then doubt its sincerity, for the Lord is Appreciative of good deeds.”

Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “This means that Allah will definitely reward the good-doer for his deeds in this worldly life by granting him sweetness which he feels in his heart, in addition to great joy and comfort. If the servant does not experience this, then his deed has not been done purely for the sake of Allah.”

Permanent, lasting pleasure which is not mixed with sorrow, not followed by pain, and not diminished by worry and sadness, is the pleasure of the Aakhirah. This is the best and greatest of all pleasures and delights. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says:

وَلَأَجْرُ الْآخِرَةِ خَيْرٌ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَكَانُوا يَتَّقُونَ [يوسف: 57]

“And the reward of the Aakhirah (Hereafter) is surely better for those who believe and constantly observe Taqwaa (Piety).” (Yousuf 12:57)

The greatest pleasure and ever-lasting bliss is that of looking at the Countenance of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Therefore, the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) used to say in his supplication, “… And I ask You (O Allah!) to grant me the pleasure of looking at Your Countenance, and the longing to meet You, without any harmful adversity or deluding trial.”

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ [آل عمران: 102]

“O you who believe! Fear Allah, as He should be feared, and let not yourself die save as Muslims.” (Aale ‘Imraan 3:102)

Ramadhaan provides us with matchless bliss and unparalleled pleasure, which overwhelm the heart with sweetness and fill it with joy and happiness at having this great opportunity to do acts of obedience to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). It combines contemplation of the Quraan, the spirituality of Sawm and performing Salaah, and the splendor of solitude and silent supplication to Allah. In Ramadhaan, the heart becomes soft, the eyes shed tears, and the body becomes calm. Ramadhaan restores to the heart and the body their health that has been taken away by worldly preoccupations and life distractions. It also purifies the soul from any blemishes and impurities.

When the Prophet forbade the practice of continuous Sawm (Wisaal), his Sahaabah (Companions) said to him: “But you practice it yourself.”

He said to them: “Who amongst you is like me? My Lord gives me food and drink during my sleep.”

Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “Food and drink here mean the knowledge that Allah grants His prophet, the overwhelming pleasure that his heart feels when he privately supplicates His Lord, the comfort of being near Him, the bliss of loving and longing for Him, and all the accompanying conditions that feed the heart, delight the soul, and comfort the eyes, which provide the best and the most beneficial type of food. This type of food will strengthen the body to such an extent that it may dispense with material food for a period of time.”