Enslavement of the Hearts
Shaykh Sulaymân as-Sulaymî
Without doubt, we all hate the slavery and subjugation we see upon the earth today. That being the subjugation of men over men, where some subjugate others, humiliating them and trampling over them. This is indeed hated. However, what we will talk about today is different to this. It is as Rabî’ Ibn ’آmir radiallâhu ’anhu said,
||“Allâh has sent us to deliver whomsoever chooses, from the worship of men, to the ’ubûdiyyah (worship and servitude) of Allâh. And from the narrowness of this world, to the vastness of this world and the Hereafter. And from the oppression of the (false) religions, to the justice of Islâm.” 
The Noble Ones
The ’ubûdiyyah (submission and worship) mentioned here is the ’ubûdiyyah to Allâh, which makes a person the noblest of all the creation upon the earth. One of the Salaf said in a couplet:
||“What has made me noble and precious,
Is that You, O Allâh, have made me enter into Your submission,
And You have made me one of the followers,
Of Your Prophet, Muhammad sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam.”
This ’ubûdiyyah – this submission and worship – is what Allâh refers to in His Book:
||“I have not created the Jinn and Mankind, except to worship Me.” 
In another verse, Allâh says:
||“O Mankind! Worship your Lord who created you from a single person.” 
But how do we define this ’ubûdiyyah? This ’ubûdiyyah is all that Allâh loves and is pleased with, whether it is an action of the heart, tongue or limbs. We however, will specifically discuss the ’ubûdiyyah of the heart. 
Enslavement of the Heart
Allâh – the Most High – has placed in everyone that He has created, a heart which must be filled; either with submission and servitude to Allâh, or with submission and servitude to other than Allâh. Every single heart has feelings, desires and inclinations. The question is: will those feelings, desires and inclinations be directed to Allâh alone, or will they be directed to other than Allâh? Only the former truly being the subjugation and servitude to Allâh. The ’ubûdiyyah of the heart to things other than Allâh are many. Sometimes it is submission and servitude to money, sometimes to power and position, sometimes to women; and other such things that people covet very much. However, what they covet can either lessen their servitude and worship of Allâh, or completely nullify it!
The Slave of Wealth
Someone may ask: what is the proof that some people submit themselves to money and other such things? The proof is in the hadîth of the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam where he said,
||“Wretched is the worshipper of the Dirham, wretched is the worshipper of the Dînâr...” 
Someone may ask: how does this servitude to money manifest itself and what is it’s nature? It is when the heart becomes so in love with money, that it covers up, or suppresses the love for Allâh. Even to the degree that the persons attempts to attain that wealth by any means possible – neither caring whether that wealth comes to him through lawful means; in obedience to Allâh and His Messenger sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam, or means that are unlawful and prohibited in the Religion.
Understand by reflection, that every single heart in all created things has feelings, desires and inclinations. It has the desire to love, to gain good and beneficial things for itself; It can feel fear, terror, and also it can submit and surrender. When its feelings, desires and inclinations are all directed towards Allâh, then it is a heart that worships and serves Allâh alone. Therefore, it fears only Allâh, seeks and desires only Allâh’s mercy, it loves Allâh and whatever He loves; and it surrenders and submits itself only to Allâh. However, when these feelings desires and inclinations are directed to other than Allâh, then it is a heart which worships and serves that object which has captured and enslaved it.
Significance of Wealth
The forbiddance of the heart submitting to other than Allâh should not be misunderstood to mean that Muslims must forsake the world and dealing with it. Rather, the true position of a Muslim is that which was with the Sahâbah (Companions) radiallâhu ’anhum. They held the wealth in their hands, yet none of this was in their hearts. The point being made is that we are not trying to call the people to the opinion of some of the Sûfîs, who believe that it was forbidden for a Muslim to possess wealth and take part in any worldly transaction. Rather, it is obligatory for the Muslims to be the richest of people so that they may use this wealth as a means to help people and worship Allâh – the One free from all imperfections.
Another form of submitting to other than Allâh is when people submit and surrender their hearts to power and leadership. They are willing for humiliation to take hold of them and to abandon their scruples in order to gain votes during elections, or other such similar matters. They are prepared to humble themselves in front of other people, doing whatever is necessary for them to do in order to win over other peoples favour and thus gain that position. This is thus another form of submitting ones heart to other than Allâh.
The Sincere ’Ubûdiyyah to Allâh:
As opposed to all of this, the true ’ubûdiyyah to Allâh, the true submission and surrender of ones heart to Allâh, is the same as when we say: Tawhîd - to single out Allâh alone for worship. When the person has this ’ubûdiyyah, he worships Allâh alone, fears Allâh alone, loves Allâh and all his inclinations and desires are directed only to Allâh. For this reason, Tawhîd is the greatest deed a person can perform and the most beneficial deed a person can possess for himself upon the Day of Judgement. This is why the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam said,
||“Whoever witnesses: Lâ ilâhâ illallâh, sincerely, from his heart, will enter Paradise.” 
Meaning, he actualised Tawhîd in his life. Likewise, based upon this, we understand that any act of worship, any good action or nice manner – when it is not accompanied by this Tawhîd – will not be accepted by Allâh upon the Day of Judgement, no matter of what value it seemingly was.
The Greatness of Tawhîd
What shows to you the greatness of this submission and worship of Allâh in the heart, is the incident related in Sahîhul-Bukhârî (6/494) that the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam said,
||“A man sinned greatly against himself. So when death came, he said to his sons: When I die, burn me and crush me and scatter my ashes into the sea. For by Allâh, if my Lord takes possession of me, He will punish me in a manner in which He has not punished anyone. So they did that to him. Then Allâh said to the earth: Bring forth what you have taken – and there he was! Allâh said to him: What induced you to do what you did? The man said: Due to fear of You, O my Lord. So Allâh forgave him because of this.”
This shows us the greatness of khashyah (fear), since this fear he had was one of the meanings included in al-’ubûdiyyah – the servitude to Allâh.
This is why all actions – even if they were to fill the heavens and the earth – will not be accepted by Allâh, unless these actions have sprouted from a person having pure submission, worship and servitude to Allâh, worshipping Allâh alone and not associating any partner along with Him in this worship – not falling into Shirk. Allâh – the One free from all imperfections – says:
||“Allâh does not forgive that any partners should be set-up with Him, but He forgives anything lesser than that to whomsoever He chooses. Whomsoever commits Shirk with Allâh has indeed invented the most grievous sin.” 
Allâh – the One free from all imperfections – also says:
||“And We came forth to what they brought from their actions, and We made it scattered dust.”
That which shows us the greatness of Tawhîd also is this second incident: A Jewish boy who used to serve the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam had become ill. So the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam went to visit him and sat by his head and said:
||Accept Islâm (meaning: Testify to Lâ ilâhâ ilallâhu Muhammadur-Rasûlullâh).” The boy looked at his father who was with him. So his father said to him: Obey Abûl-Qâsim (i.e. the Prophet) sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam. So he accepted Islâm. As the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam was leaving, he said: “All praise is for Allâh who saved this boy from the Fire.” 
Meaning, that although this person had no good deeds, yet because of his saying this statement purely and sincerely from his heart, it was enough to save him from the Hellfire, and cause Him to enter Paradise.
The Fruits of Tawhîd
So as this Tawhîd strengthens in the heart, becoming stronger, firmer, and more well-rooted, then as a result, one’s deeds will likewise multiply and his worship of Allâh will become greater and more firm. Since, if a person realizes with ihklâs (sincerity) and yaqîn (certainty) in his heart. That Allâh – the Most High – is the one who has created him, then he knows that he should only worship Allâh – the One free from all imperfections. As this becomes firmer in his heart, good deeds become more apparent and multiply in number.
Reflect upon the great Wisdom of Allâh, in that when he created Hellfire, He created it with different levels and degrees. The highest level being the one having the least punishment and torment in it – which is for those people who had Tawhîd, yet had many sins. Though they will be punished at this level, until they are purified from their sins – due to this Tawhîd and ’ubûdiyyah to Allâh alone in their hearts – they will eventually be saved from the Fire and admitted into Paradise. This level of Hellfire will then have no inhabitants left in it. This shows the greatness and virtue of Tawhîd and the worship of Allâh alone, due to which they will eventually be rescued from the Hellfire, not being eternally condemned in it.
The Prophetic Method
What also shows the importance of Tawhîd is the life and example of the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam. It can be divided into two stages: The first stage is when he sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam was in Makkah. The second stage was in al-Madînah. In Makkah his message was only to teach one thing; the worship of Allâh alone without any partners – Tawhîd or ’ubûdiyyah to Allâh alone. The Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam did not call the people the leave any other sin, or to do any other good deed. During this period he only called the people to single out Allâh in worship, since this is the foundation upon which all else is built.
We must understand that once a person has truly submitted his heart to the worship of Allâh alone, he will then begin to fulfill all the obligations which Allâh has placed upon him to the best of his ability. This is made clear by the statement of ’آ’ishah radiallâhu ’anhâ - who said:
||“The first part (of the Qur‘ân) to be revealed was a Sûrah giving a detailed account of Paradise and Hell. Then, when people entered into the fold of Islâm, came the revelation of what was halâl (lawful) and harâm (unlawful). Had the first revelation been: ‘Do not drink wine,’ they would have said: ‘We shall never give up wine.’ Had the first revelation been: Do not commit adultery and fornication, they would have said: ‘We shall never give up adultery and fornication.’ ” 
This then is the foundation for which, if a person agrees, he will then agree and desire to give up all other sins and acts of disobedience.
It was only after Tawhîd, the worship of Allâh alone; and the willingness to submit to Him, was understood by the Companions - radiallâhu ’anhum - and it had settled in their hearts, that Allâh – the One free from all imperfections – began to order them with the various commands. It was then that the command was revealed to establish Prayer, pay the zakât (obligatory charity), fast in Ramadhân, then afterwards the command to make Hajj; and so on until all the commands which Allâh – the Most High – and the Messenger sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam have forbidden. Once this worship of Allâh alone, and the submission to Him have settled in the hearts, it is also upon the Muslim to leave, forsake and avoid that which Allâh and His Messenger have forbidden.
The Principle of Ease
There is a very important principle here which shows the greatness of the Religion of Islâm and the Sharî’ah in terms of prohibitions; whether they came by way of the Qur‘ân or from the tongue of the Messenger sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam. It is required of the Muslim to give up all that Allâh and His Messenger sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam have forbidden, without compromise or distinction. As for the orders of Allâh, whether in the Qur‘ân or from the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam, the Muslim is required to fulfill them to the best of his ability. This is because the Religion is one of ease. For example, regarding the command to perform Hajj, Allâh revealed in His Book:
||“It is a command upon mankind to perform Hajj for Allâh to the House, for whomsoever has the means to do so.” 
Meaning, the command is to be fulfilled is one is able, to the best of his ability. Since no Muslim – man or woman – can fulfill every command of Allâh, whether it be from the obligatory duties or the recommended ones. As for those matters that Allâh and His Messenger have forbidden, then they must be completely avoided, without any weakening in resolve. This message of ’ubûdiyyah to Allâh – the One free from all imperfections – and singling Him out alone for worship, is the common message of all the Prophets and Messengers ’alayhimus-salâm. Every single Prophet and Messenger came to his people saying:
||“O people: Worship Allâh alone, none other than Him has the right to be worshipped.” 
This was the message of the Prophet Nûh, Ibrâhîm, Mûsâ, ’خsâ Ibn Maryam ’alayhimus-salâm; and the seal and last of the Prophets, Muhammad sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam. They all came with this same message.
2. al-Bidâyah wan-Nihâyah (7/40) of Ibn Kathîr
3. Sûrahtudh-Dhâriyât 51:55
4. Sûratun-Nisâ 4:1
5. Imâm al-Maqrîzî says in Tajrîdut-Tawhîdil-Mufîd (p. 82), “And know that al-’Ibâdah (worship) has four principles, and they are, [i] ascertaining that which Allâh and His Messenger love and are pleased with, establishing that with [ii] the heart, [iii] the tongue and [iv] the limbs. So al-’ubûdiyyah is a comprehensive term for all of these four stages.”
6. As regards the importance of the heart, the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam said, “Indeed there is a piece of flesh in the body, if it is correct, the whole body is correct, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Indeed that is the heart.” Related by al-Bukhârî (1/126) and Muslim (no. 1599) from an-Nu’mân Ibn Bashîr radiallâhu ’anhu.
7. Related by al-Bukhârî (no. 6435) and Ibn Mâjah (no. 4132) from Abû Hurayrah radiallâhu ’anhu.
8. Ibn Taymiyyah says in Wasiyyatus-Sughrâ (p. 55): “He should regard wealth like he regards the toilet. He has need of it, but it has no place in his heart and he resorts to it only when necessary.”
9. Lâ ilâha ilallâh: None has the right to be worshipped except Allâh.
10. Sahîh: Related by Ibn Hibbân (no. 4) and Ahmad (5/236) from Mu’âdh radiallâhu ’anhu. It was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albânî in as-Sahîhah (no. 2355).
11. Shirk: It is to associate partners with Allâh in those matters which are particular to Him.
12. Sûratun-Nisâ 4:48
13. Related by al-Bukhârî and Ahmad, from Anas radiallâhu ’anhu.
14. Ikhlâs (purity and sincerity) and yaqîn (certainty) being two of the seven conditions of for the establishment and acceptability of Lâ ilâha ilallâh. The meaning, virtues and conditions of this kalimah will be discussed further in the next issue - if Allâh wills.
15. Related by al-Bukhârî - from Yûsuf ibn Mâhik.
16. Sûrah آl-’Imrân 3:97
17. This principle is taken from the hadîth of the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam: “Whatever I have forbidden you, then avoid as much of it as you can. Whatever I have ordered you to do, then do as much of it as you are able.” Related by al-Bukhârî (no. 7288) and Muslim (no. 1337)
18. Sûrah A’râf 7:59