During his Caliphate, ‘Umar radi Allahu anhu set out for Ash-Shaam with Abu Ubaydah. On this journey, they came upon a deep creek, which they needed to cross. So ‘Umar took off his sandals and carried them on his shoulders. Then he took the reign of the camel and began plowing through the water. Seeing the khalifah of the Muslims in this state, Abu Ubaydah felt saddened and said, "I fear that the people of the village will think you without honor."
‘Umar replied, "Oh Abu Ubaydah, if only someone less knowledgeable then you made such a statement. We were of the most disgraced of people, and Allah granted us honor with this Islam. Now, whenever we seek honor in other than that which Allah honored us with, Allah shall disgrace us (once again)."
Dear brothers and sisters, we often hear that the victory of Allah is something promised and very near. However, some of us do not really believe in our hearts that Allah will grant victory to Islam. Some of us may think that this victory that Allah speaks about is only for a certain elite group of believers, or that the victory was only for a certain time in history. We must understand that it is not just anyone who is promising this; it is Allah the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth that is promising this. It is not just a promise of the Hereafter, but it is promised in this life as well:
Indeed, We will grant victory to Our messengers and those who believe in this life of the world and on the Day when the witnesses will stand (Ghafir 40/51).
We can only hope for victory when we surrender our loyalty to none other than Allah, His Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam and the believers:
And whoever is an ally of Allah and His Messenger and those who have believed – indeed the party of Allah will be the victors (Al-Ma’idah 5/56).
Honor and victory come only from Allah. Whoever seeks it from other than Allah, nothing awaits them but disgrace:
Give glad tidings to the munaafiqeen (hypocrites) that there is for them a painful punishment – those that take disbelievers as allies instead of the believers / Do
they seek with them 'izzah (honor)? Rather, to Allah indeed belongs all honor (An-Nisaa’ 4/138-139)!
And when someone thinks that this victory and honor that was promised to the righteous is only a delusion, they are in fact recycling the statements of the munaafiqeen before them. Allah recorded their scoffing in the Qur’an:
And [remember] when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease said, "Allah and His Messenger did not promise us anything more than delusion" (Al-Ahzab 33/12).
Was the promise of victory just a delusion? Let the Qur'an speak to us the outcome of that battle of Al-Ahzab! Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala tells us:
And Allah repelled those who disbelieved, in their rage, not having accomplished any good. And enough was Allah for the believers in battle, and ever is Allah Powerful and Exalted in Might.
Ibn Katheer said, "Whoever wants a place of honor in this life and the next, let him hold firmly to the obedience of Allah and his goal will be realized.” This is because to Allah belongs this life and the next, and all honor is His. Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala says:
Say, O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent (A’le-Imran 3/26).
King, prince, duke, marquee, earl, viscount, baron, baronet, and knight – these were the names the English used to appropriate nobility amongst themselves. Humans want to be honored in this life and so they set out in search of things that will grant them this honor. Some search for it in money, but when the stock market crashes and they lose everything, they commit suicide or live in humility. Some search for it in degrees, but those same degrees may be their citation for arrogance over others. Some search for it in military might or a leadership position, but when the tables turn on them they become the most humiliated.
Only in the worship of Allah is true honor found because all honor belongs to Allah:
And to Allah belongs all honor, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites know not (Al-Munafiqun 63/8).
Al-Hasan Al-Basri said concerning the people of sin, "They – even though their riding beasts pitter patter with them atop and their mules carry them ever so gracefully, upon them at all times is the hovering disgrace of sin. Allah shall never allow for those who disobey Him anything more than disgrace."
And whoever Allah humiliates – for him there is no one to give him honor (Al-Hajj 22/18).
"He is doing what? Building a boat in the desert?" The people of Nuh alayhis sallam ran out to see if the news was true. Yes indeed! There he was, building a huge boat without a drop of water in site. Allah tells us:
And he constructed the ark – whenever a group of the eminent of his people passed him they mocked him (Hud 11/38).
They couldn't help but to ridicule him. "Hey Nuh, you were a prophet yesterday; have you now become a carpenter?"
What happened, dear brothers and sisters, to those devilish people who disbelieved in Allah's Messenger for 950 years? Where are they now? Who was the winner in the end? Certainly, in the end Allah granted a decisive victory to Nuh alayhis sallam. More so, Allah tells His Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam at the conclusion of Nuh's story, how victory will always be for the believers:
So be patient, indeed, the [best] outcome is [and will always be] for the righteous.
In their misguided quest for ‘izzah (honor), the Greeks designated a female god whose sole job was to dispense victory and honor. She was a popular subject in their art, usually represented as winged and bearing a wreath or palm branch. The called her Nike. Sadly, many of us may still find remnants of their shirk present today on our shoes.
The Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:
"Indeed this affair (of Islam) shall reach wherever the night and day reach. Allah will not spare a single clay…home except that Allah will cause for Islam to enter it – whether with nobility or with humiliation; nobility that Allah grants with them entering Islam, or humility that Allah places upon them for their kufr."
The narrator of the hadith, Tamim Ad-Daaree radi Allahu anhu said, "Certainly, I saw this in my own family. Those that became Muslim amongst them found prosperity and nobility and honor. And those that turned to kufr found nothing but disgrace, humility and the jizyah tax."
There are different ways in which Allah grants victory to His righteous servants. For example, Allah may grant victory through martyrdom. Allah tells us in the Qur'an to not think that those who were killed in the way of Allah are dead. Nay, they are alive with Allah, well provided for.
Allah may grant victory through the huge success in spreading one's da'wah. RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam taught us this in the story of the boy and the king. In the end, the only way the king could kill the boy was to shoot the arrow pronouncing the statement, “In the name of the Lord of this boy.” When he did so, although the boy was
martyred, the entire village believed in Allah alone – the Lord of the boy.
Allah may grant victory through the trials that distinguish the believers from the hypocrites. As a sage once said, "All thanks are to Allah who places a hardship on me through which I distinguish my friends from my enemies."
Or victory may come through Allah assisting his servant with clear and decisive arguments. An example of this is how Allah supported Ibrahim alayhis salaam against the tryrant Namrood when he said that he too gives life and death. Ibrahim replied that verily Allah brings the sun from the east and he challenged Namrood to bring it from the west. Namrood was dumbfounded and had no reply.
We all know that RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam started this mission of Islam at the Mountain of Safa. After telling his people about Allah and the final Day, Abu Jahl, his own uncle, turned his back on him and said aloud, "May you perish O Muhammad! Is this why you have gathered us?" On his heels he turned and
everyone followed him, leaving our Prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam standing alone.
Two decades later, in the farewell Hajj, he, sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam stood on that very same mountain. At this time, the victory of Allah had come true as Allah had promised. All of Makkah was now Muslim, a sea of believers memorizing their Prophet's every move. RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam stood there on Mount Safa, faced the Ka'bah and recited: "There is no god but Allah. Only One. He was true to His promise. He granted victory to His servant, he granted honor and nobility to his army, and the confederates did He alone defeat."
So what is the reward for those true believers who believe only in the victory of Allah(SWT). Let me relate short story about the last man to escape Jahannam.
In Saheeh Muslim, Ibn Masood narrates from RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam the warming story of the last man to escape Hellfire:
His crawl away from Hellfire is filled with his face sliping into the dirt, a tremoring walk, and a fire that licks him until he finally escapes.
When he is past it, he looks back, horrified, and announces with the loudest voice, “All praise is due to Allah Who saved me from you.” Then he says, most proud, “Verily I have been rewarded with something that no one from the beginning to the end of creation has been blessed with.”
At that moment, a tree catches his eye – a tree that was commanded to be raised for him. He quickly raises his hands, “O Allah! Allow me to draw near to that tree so that I can cool off under its shade and drink from its water.”
Then Allah ta’aala calls him, “O son of Adam! I fear that if I grant you what you ask, you shall ask for more.”
“Nay, O Allah!” pleads the man and he testifies that he shall ask no more.
As the man basks in the glory of the tree, another tree is raised, one more bounteous and lush than the first. The man pleads, “O Allah! Allow me to draw near to that tree so that I can cool off under its shade and drink from its water.
Allah then says, “Did you not promise me that you would ask no more? Perhaps if I give it to you, you shall ask for yet even more.”
The man testifies that he will not, and is permitted that tree.
Just then a tree is raised near the doors of Jannah, one bigger and lusher than all the rest and the man’s heart sinks.
“O Allah, that tree, that tree. I’ll ask for nothing else.”
“Did you not promise you would ask for nothing more?”
“After that tree, yaa Allah, nothing more!”
He is permitted to draw nearer to the tree and there, as he nears the doors of Jannah, he hears the sounds of its inhabitants and he leaps, “O Allah! Enter me into Jannah!”
“O son of Adam!” Allah announces, “What shall satisfy you and finish your pleading?”
Then Allah offers, “Will it please you if I give you all the treasures and bounty of the entire world and then double it!”
The man’s smile shuts off and his eyes lock up. “My Lord, You’re the Lord of the universe…Are You mocking me?”
… Ibn Masood started laughing. He said to his students, “Ask me why I’m laughing. I’m laughing because RasulAllah laughed when he told us this. And he also asked us, ‘Do you know what makes me laugh? I’m laughing for Allah’s laughter when the man said, ‘You are the lord of the universe…are you mocking me?’”
Allah then tells him, “I am not mocking you, rather I am capable of doing whatever I so wish.” Allahu Akbar!
Turn to almost every page of the Qur’an and you’ll find mention of Jannah. Jannah…have you ever seen it? Have you ever smelt it? Have you ever touched it? Have you ever tasted it?
RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam taught us that in Jannah there is that “which no eye has witnessed, no ear has heard, and that which has never been imagined by any human.” Recite the verse if you wish:
And no soul knows what has been hidden for them of comfort of the eye (satisfaction) as reward for what they used to do (As-Sajdah 32/17).
Many Muslims tasted the eman of Jannah, and Bilal radi Allahu anhu was one of them. His slave master, Umayyah, would drag Bilal out to the grilling desert at noontime – the fiercest moment of the day. Umayyah would press Bilal to the scalding ground and place a boulder on top of his chest to increase the torture. As his back would melt away Bilal would say nothing but, “Ahad! Ahad! – One! Only One.”
Later in his life, when companions would see Bilal’s scarred back, tears would well in their eyes and they would ask him how he survived the punishment. Listen to his answer:
“The pain of punishment mixed with the sweetness of eman. I tasted both and the sweetness of eman overcame everything until I felt no more pain.”
Today, let us sample Jannah, as offered to us in the Qur’an and Sunnah.
The Gates of Jannah
Imagine yourself present on the day when the gates of Jannah will be opened with all of the splendor that lies beyond it. Allah tells us in the Qur’an about when the muttaqoon are escorted to the gates of Jannah by the most handsome of Angels:
“And those who feared their Lord will be led to the Garden in crowds, until – behold – they arrive there. Its gates will be opened and its keepers will say, “Peace be upon you! You have done well, so enter (Jannah) and live in it eternally.”
RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam spoke to the Sahaabaa about the gates of Jannah. He mentioned the gate of prayers, the gate of jihaad, the gate of siyaam, and the gate of charity.
Abu Bakr asked with the desire that took him to where he reached in eman, “Will anyone be called from all gates?”
RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Yes, and I hope that you will be one of them.”
The Shade in Jannah
Imagine yourself in Jannah’s cooling shade – water springs surrounding you, and fruits dipping in hands reach. Allah tells us:
Indeed, the muttaqoon will be amid shades and springs / And fruits from whatever they desire / Eat and drink to your hearts content for what you used to do (in the dunya) / Such we certainly reward the doers of good (Al-Mursalaat 77/41-44).
The Ambience in Jannah
Imagine yourself in Jannah. Jannah doesn’t have any gossip; no, “Did you hear about brother so and so,” or “Did see what sister so and so is wearing.” Your face is shining with joy and you’re so glad that you woke up for Fajr all those days, glad you paid your zakah, glad you wore hijab all those summer days. This is what the atmosphere is like in Jannah:
Faces that day will be joyful (radiant) / Satisfied with the effort they put (in the dunya) / In an elevated garden / Where they shall hear no unsuitable speech (Al-Ghaashiyah 88/8-11).
Jannah: The Greatest Gift
In Masjid An-Nabawee I had been reciting the Qur’an to Shaykh Muhammad Ahmad Ma’bad for over a year. Finally when the time of the Khatm Al-Quran came, I brought a recorder to the halaqah and told him that I wanted to record the Khatm and the du’a for my mother who was in Canada.
When he made du’a he prayed for my parents saying, “O Allah! Bless Muhammad’s parents with crowns of noor (light) on the Day of Repayment!”
A month later in Canada, when I was handing out gifts, I pulled out this tape for my mother. She took it and listened to the entire thing. When my mother heard this du’a, she sat crying. She told me, “This is the greatest gift I could have gotten.”
Truly, Jannah is the greatest gift one can get. As Allah subhaanahu wa ta 'aala says:
“Indeed Jannah is the greatest attainment!”
Regarding the inhabitants of Jannah:
“You can tell in their faces the radiance of the blessing.”
The inhabitants of Jannah shall be in:
“Gardens and rivers.”
The inhabitants of Jannah are:
“Most pleased with what Allah gave them from His bounty.”
Dear brothers and sisters, Jannah is the fruit of a seed planted in this dunya; it is the retirement package that you save up in all your years of work.
There once lived a pious man who was enslaved to a wicked master. The righteous slave wanted to teach his master a lesson that he would not forget; a lesson that would make him change his ways.
The master told him one day to plant wheat. The slave took the opportunity and went and collected seeds of barley and planted them instead. As the season drew near, the master was enraged to see that after all this work and time, the slave had planted the wrong seed. In his thrashing rage, he scolded the slave saying, “Why did you do this?”
The righteous slave said, “I had hoped that the barley seeds would come out as wheat.”
The master said, “How can you plant barley seeds and expect it to come out as wheat?”
The slave stopped and said quietly, “How can you disobey Allah and expect for His bounteous mercy? How can you openly challenge his deen and hope for Jannah.”
The master was stunned and silent. He understood. “You have taught me something today that I had never realized. You are free for the sake of Allah.”
A poet once wrote:
There is no home for a man after death
Except that which he used to build before he died.
If he built it with bricks of good deeds,
Then the architecture shall come out beautiful.
And if he built it with evil,
Its architect will fall into ruin.
Dear brothers, do you know what the greatest blessing for the inhabitants of Jannah is? Don’t let any laziness in Salah block you from being here. Don’t let anything anything stand between you and this blessing. RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam told us:
“When the inhabitants of Jannah enter Jannah, Allah will ask them all, ‘Is there anything more that I can give you?’ They will say, ‘Have you not illuminated our faces? Have you not entered us into Jannah? Have you not saved us from Hellfire?’
“Then Allah will uncover the veil (and all shall see Allah). After that moment there would be nothing more beloved to them than seeing their Lord" (Bukhari and Muslim).
Let’s go home today driving towards Jannah!