The elevated rank of adab with our Creator reaches far beyond the level of adab towards those in this life, whether he be the most powerful of kings or the most influential of leaders. This stage of our journey is of paramount importance, since it will allow us to make our foundations firm so that we may reach our final destination, by the permission of Allah (SWT).
If a servant does not know who his master is, nor is he aware of his characteristics or his rights upon him, how will he know how to act towards Him? In the same way, how can we, as servants of the Almighty, show the correct etiquettes towards our Creator without knowing Him?
We must first adorn ourselves with knowledge of our Lord I, the King of the kings, the Possessor of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. By learning about our Creator through the names and attributes He has ascribed to Himself, we will become reacquainted with the fact that we are truly in need of displaying the best of etiquettes with Him. By contemplating each one of Allah’s (SWT) lofty Names and Attributes, our hearts will begin to soften and humble themselves before their Creator, making exemplary adab a step closer.
Out of His great bounty, Allah (SWT) has made it easy for us to travel the path towards knowing Him. He is continually guiding us and bringing us closer to Him by teaching us about Himself. How often do we read verses in His book in which our Lord describes Himself so that we may come to know Him?
Let us take this verse as an example:
“…Whatever is in the heavens, on earth, whatever is between them and under the earth belongs to Him.” (Taha:6)
Time and time again, Allah (SWT) mentions His attribute of ownership. Allah’s (SWT) knowledge encompasses everything, since He is the possessor of the entire creation. So, as mere humans created by Allah (SWT), we are completely helpless before our Lord. Any knowledge that we have been given is just a mere drop from His vast ocean of knowledge. Any material possession that we have been granted is insignificant compared to the treasures that Allah (SWT) possesses. These realities alone should be enough to humble ourselves in front of our Creator. Yet, do we really become humbled by reading this verse and other similar verses? Do we truly realise the implications of such verses, and do they have an effect on the etiquettes we display towards our Creator?
Another example is contained the following verse, in which Allah (SWT) mentions His Oneness.
“He is Allah other than whom there is no god (worthy of worship) the King, the Holy, the One Free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the All-Mighty, the Compeller, the Supreme. Glory be to Allah! (High is He) above all that they associate as partners with Him.” (Al-Hashr:23)
Allah’s (SWT) Oneness, His right to be worshipped alone, is the first attribute that He has confirmed for Himself in this ayah. Singling out our Lord in worship is the greatest right He has upon us, and the greatest of etiquettes we can display towards Him, since it was for this reason that we were created. Such importance is further demonstrated by the fact that the first command we read in His book is to worship Him.
“O mankind! Worship your Lord…” (Al-Baqarah:21)
By worshipping Allah (SWT) alone, we are actualising the iman in our heart and our outward statement of belief, “laa ilaaha illa Allah.” Yet, how can we worship our Lord in the best of manners?
Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) defined ‘ibadah (worship) as: “…obedience to Allah (SWT) by carrying out what He has commanded on the tongues of His messengers,” further explaining that worship “…is a collective term for everything which Allah (SWT) loves and is pleased with from among the sayings and inward and outward actions.”
So, hastening towards obedience of Allah (SWT) and abstaining from His prohibitions, through following the Prophet (SAW), is the fundamental component of adab with our Creator. And how, after coming to know Allah (SWT), could one not respect His boundaries? How, after coming to know Allah (SWT), could one not want to please Him?
Yet, in order for us to earn our Lord’s pleasure through displaying the correct etiquettes with Him, our hearts have to turn towards Him in sincerity. Just as Allah (SWT) stated in the following ayah:
“And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion…” (Al-Bayyinah:5)
So, if our worship is accompanied by other than sincerity, we are no longer giving our Lord the right He deserves. If we truly want to be among those beloved to Allah (SWT), those who perfect their manners with Him, we have to strive to reach the highest level of Islam. What is this level, you may ask? It is called ihsan (excellence). The Prophet (SAW) explained this term in a concise, yet beautiful manner:
“(It is) to worship Allah (SWT) as if you can see Him, and although you cannot see Him, He can see you.” (Bukhari and Muslim).
I want you to imagine; imagine that tonight you will meet your Lord, face to face. You will stand in front of Allah (SWT), the Almighty. You will prostrate directly before the One who created you. How would you prostrate? How would you worship Allah (SWT) if He was before your very eyes?
So, until next time, when we will continue on our journey, I leave you to ponder.
Join Ummu Abdir-Rahmaan in the first of her series on rediscovering the forgotten pearls of manners.
Ummu Abdir-Rahmaan is a freelance writer based in the UK. She hopes to give inspiration and encouragement to fellow believers through writing about the heart-softeners.