In a tazkiyah (purification) consultation meant to help change major misconceptions held by Muslims today and survey how people perceive Islam and their relationship with Allah, the results were telling. With 16 questions and over 100 applicants, patterns emerged. The answers for two of those questions really stand out.
The first question:
Do you feel like you deserve difficulty or punishment?
18% said hardly. 72% replied with either often or sometimes.
The second question:
Do you feel undeserving of Allah’s bounties upon you?
15% replied with hardly. 75% replied with often or sometimes.
This really is quite sad and it points to an underlying misunderstanding of our relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). In fact, it’s proof that too many people are ignorant of Allah (swt) and what He teaches us about Himself.
In a hadith qudsi, Allah (swt) says:
“I am as the perception/assumption of My slave.”
Narrated in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim.
This means that if you think that Allah (swt) is Merciful, you will experience that Mercy. If you think that Allah (swt) is only Wrathful, then your outlook on life is dark and you feel that Wrath.
Also, too much of this can lead to depression, which can lead to a total lack of hope, which can lead to kufr (disbelief). Allah (swt) says:
“Despair not of relief from Allah. Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.”
This can also be a doorway for Shaytan (Satan) to lead you astray. Hearts come to resent the ones that show them difficulty and punish them. In this case, the perception would be that Allah (swt) is doing that. It would be very dangerous to resent Allah (swt), yet many people do.
You will also resent yourself if you do this because, ultimately, it’s your perception. Deep down you know this. This can then lead you to want to punish yourself more (for doing this to yourself). It therefore becomes a vicious self-perpetuating circle.
If deep down you feel that you deserve difficulty or punishment, then you will do that which is deserving of difficulty and punishment. That’s the primary cause for so many people sinning. They are fulfilling their own self-initiated prophecy.
Undeserving of Allah (swt)’s Bounties:
Don’t get this confused with being thankful or even overwhelmingly thankful for Allah (swt)’s bounties. It’s the exact opposite.
How can you be truly grateful of something that you think you don’t deserve? In fact, you’ll push it away or mistreat it, which is the exact opposite of gratefulness.
Also, since you can’t be satisfied with that which you don’t think you deserve, it means that you’ll continue to want more. You’ll never feel ‘full’. Always that sense of being incomplete, not good enough, wanting to ‘keep up with the Jones’—though ironically, when you get the next thing… you’ll feel like you don’t deserve it!
It’s not that we are deserving of Allah (swt)’s bounties. It is that He has willed it so. We then become grateful. It would be a lack of gratitude to think that you deserve what He has given.
So we don’t deserve and we don’t not deserve. We are, instead, just plainly grateful. It all happens with His Mercy. Same with entering Jannah (Paradise). We must work and attain good deeds, but ultimately we don’t enter jannah because of our deeds.
Poverty vs Grace
Allah (swt) says:
“Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality, while Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.”
It’s really interesting that Allah (swt) doesn’t mention the opposite of poverty first. It would make sense that Allah (swt) would respond to Satan’s promise/threat of poverty by reassuring us that He promises grace. Instead, Allah (swt) starts with forgiveness.
There are two reasons for this that are relevant to our discussion here. The first is that when one buys into the premise of poverty and scarcity, they perpetrate sins. They steal, they sell themselves or their children, they lie, they cheat. And so Allah (swt) reassures us against the consequences of believing in poverty (committing sins) and not just against poverty itself. He is indeed the All-Merciful.
Secondly, it is a sin in-and-of-itself to believe Satan. To believe that The Creator and Sustainer is not generous or not able enough to provide for everyone and everything. And so Allah (swt) mentions forgiveness first, so we understand this point clearly.
Part of poverty is shunning Allah (swt)’s bounties. Part of poverty is believing that you need to be punished. Think about what punishment means: isn’t it the stripping away of bounties? Isn’t it that Allah (swt) removes the bounty of His Mercy from you?
In actuality, the two questions asked above are the opposite sides of the same coin. How would you have answered them?
Spirituality or Depression?
There are people who think that pain is a good thing. They think that their aching heart is a sign of their closeness to Allah (swt). They have taken the path of self-impoverishment as the method for getting closer to Allah (swt).
They believe that hating themselves and feeling that they deserve punishment is a way of repentance. Repentance is the exact opposite. They think they are humbling themselves to Allah (swt) by thinking that they are undeserving of Allah (swt)’s bounties.
I read and hear famous people say things like: “O Allah (swt), my heart is bursting with pain for you.” Haven’t they heard the ayah (verse):
“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah . Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.”
If you’re feeling pain in your heart, this is not tranquility. Don’t think it’s coming from your love to Allah (swt), you’re very wrong. You’re very likely to be sinning as well.
Read these verses:
“O mankind, what has deceived you concerning your Lord, the Generous, Who created you, proportioned you, and balanced you?.”
When you think that Allah (swt) needs or wants your pain, you are being lured away from the Most Generous. You have been deceived into thinking that He is not Generous.
And to conclude, Allah (swt) says:
“What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing.”
Tazkiyah and austerity is the process of being so full and tranquil on the inside with love for Allah (swt) that you don’t care what worldly good you have or do not have. When difficulty afflicts you, it feels like a breeze on your skin, it doesn’t shake you.
If you’d like your free tazkiyah consultation, please go to www.iPersonalEnrichment.com. the experience itself will change your paradigms insha’Allah (God willing).
Let’s return to the Most Merciful. Do so now. Realize that Allah (swt) is the Most Merciful. Submit your heart to His caring. Decide to shed your pains to be replaced with the tranquility of love for Allah. Decide now. That’s repentance.