The Great Enslavement : By Shaykh Sulaymaan as-Sulaymee

Source: Al-Istiqaamah, Issue No.7

Without doubt, we all hate the slavery and subjugation that we see on the earth today; meaning the subjugation of some men over others, by which some enslave others; humiliating them, and trampling over them. This is indeed hated. However, the enslavement that we wish to talk about is different to this. It is as Rib’ee ibn ‘Aamir radiallaahu ‘anhu said: “Allaah has sent us to deliver whomsoever chooses, from the ‘uboodiyyah (enslavement, worship and servitude) of men to the ‘uboodiyyah of Allaah, And from the narrowness of this world, to the vastness of this world and the Hereafter. And from the tyranny and oppression of (false) religions, to the justice of Islaam.” 2

The ‘uboodiyyah (enslavement, servitude and worship) mentioned here is the ‘uboodiyyah to Allaah, which makes a person the noblest of all creatures upon the earth. One of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors) said in a couplet:

“What has made me noble and precious;
Is that You, O Allaah, have mode me enter into Your submission.
And have made me one of the followers of;
Your Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”

This ‘uboodiyyah – this submission, worship and enslavement is what Allaah refers to in His Book:

“I have not created Jinn and Mankind, except that they should worship Me.” [Soorah adh-Dhaariyaat 51:56].

In another Verse Allaah – the Most Perfect – says:

“O mankind! Worship your Lord who has created you from a single person.” [Soorah an-Nisaa 4:1].

But how do we define this ‘uboodiyyah? This worship or ‘uboodiyyah is: All that which Allaah loves and is pleased with, whether it is an action of the heart, the tongue or the limbs. We, however, will specifically discuss the ‘uboodiyyah of the heart.

[Enslavement of the Heart]
Allaah – the Most High – has placed in everyone that He has created, a heart which must be filled; either with ‘uboodiyyah (worship, submission and enslavement) to Allaah, or ‘uboodiyyah to other than Allaah. Every single heart has feelings, desires and inclinations. The question is: will those feelings, desires and inclinations be directed to and for Allaah alone, or will they be directed to other than Allaah! Only the former counts as being the true ‘uboodiyyah of the heart to Allaah. The ‘uboodiyyah of the heart to things other than Allaah are many. Sometimes the heart is enslaved by, and worships money, sometimes it is enslaved by, and worships power and position, sometimes it is enslaved by, and worships women; or other similar things that people desire and covet so much. However, whatever they covet can either lessen their ‘uboodiyyah of Allaah, or completely nullify it!

[Being a Slave to Wealth]
Someone may ask: What is the proof that some people become slaves to money, or other similar things, and worship it? The proof is in the saying of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam where he said: “Woe be to the’abd (slave and worshipper) of the dirham, woe be to the ‘abd of the deenaar (dirham ond deenaar: equivilant to the Pound and the pence) …”3 Someone may ask: How does this enslavement to money manifest itself, and what is its nature! It is when the heart becomes so in love with money, that it covers up, or suppresses the love for Allaah, This love can reach such an extent that a person desires to attain this wealth by any means possible – neither caring whether the wealth comes to him through halaal (lawful) means; in obedience to Allaah and His Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, or means that are haraam (unlawful and forbidden) in the Religion.

So 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 and terror, and it can also surrender and become submissive. Thus, when its feelings, desires and inclinations are all directed to and for Allaah, then it is a heart that truly worships, submits and surrenders to Allaah alone. Therefore, it has khawf (fear) of only Allaah; it has rajaa (hope) in Allaah’s Mercy; it has mahabbah (love) for Allaah and whatever Allaah loves; and it has istislaam (submits and surrenders) to only Allaah. However, when these feelings, desires and inclinations are directed to other than Allaah, then it is a heart that is enslaved and worships that object which has captured and enslaved it.

The forbiddance of the heart submitting to other than Allaah 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 Sahaabah (Companions) radiallaahu ‘anhum. They held the wealth in their hands, yet none of it was in their hearts. [About this, Shaykhul-lslaam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) – rahimahullaah – said: “The position of wealth should be regarded like that of the toilet, in that there is need for it, but it has no place in the heart, and it is resorted to when needed.”4] The point being made is that we are not trying to call the people to the opinion of some of the Soofees, who believe that it is forbidden for a Muslim to possess wealth and take part in worldly transactions. Rather, it is obligatory for the Muslims to be the richest of people so that they may use this wealth as a means to worship Allaah – the One free from all imperfections – and to help people.

Another form of submitting and being enslaved to other than Allaah is when people submit and enslave their hearts to power and leadership. They are prepared for humiliation to take hold of them, and to abandon their scruples, in order to gain votes during elections; or other such similar situations. They are prepared to submit themselves to people – doing whatever is necessary for them to do – in order to win other people’s favour, and thus gain that vote or position. Thus, this is another form of submitting and enslaving one’s heart to other than Allaah.

[The Greatness of Tawheed]
As opposed to all this, the true and pure ‘uboodiyyah to Allaah; the true submission and enslavement of one’s heart to Allaah; is the same as when we say: Tawheed (to sincerely and purely single-out Allaah alone for worship). When the person has this degree of ‘uboodiyyah, he worships Allaah alone; fears Allaah alone; loves Allaah and for Allaah alone; and all his inclinations and desires are directed to Allaah. For this reason Tawheed is the greatest action that a person can perform, and the most beneficial action that a person can possess for himself on the Day of Judgement.

This is why the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Whosoever witnesses that none has the right to be worshiped except Allaah, with ikhlaas (purely and sincerely) from his heart, will enter Paradise.”5 The meaning of this is that the person who actualised Tawheed in his life, and does what this Tawheed requires of him. Likewise, based upon this, we understand that any act of worship, or any good action or nice manner ism – if it is not accompanied by this Tawheed – will not be accepted by Allaah on the Day of judgement, no matter how great and valuable that action apparently seems. And what shows you the greatness of this ‘uboodiyyah (submission and enslavement) and Tawheed (pure worship) of Allaah in the heart, is the following incident:

The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “There was a man who used to greatly sin. So when death approached him, he said to his sons: When I die, burn me and then crush my remains and then scatter the remains into the air. For by Allaah! If Allaah has power over me, then He will punish me in a manner that He has never punished anyone else. So when he died, then sons did what they were asked to do. So Allaah ordered the earth saying. Gather what you have of his remains. So it did. And behold, there he was standing. So Allaah asked him: What made you do what you did? The man said, Due to fear of You, 0 my Lord. So Allaah forgave him because of this.”6

This shows us the greatness of khashyah (fear), since this fear that he had was one of the meanings that are part of, and included in, the meaning of ‘uboodiyyah to Allaah.

This is why all actions – even if they were to fill the heavens and the earth – will not be accepted by Allaah unless these actions have sprouted from a person having pure ‘uboodiyyah (submission, worship and servitude) to Allaah, worshipping Allaah alone, and not associating any partner along with Him in this worship (i.e. not committing Shirk). Allaah – the One free from all imperfections – says:

“Allaah does not forgive that partners should be set-up with Him, but He forgives anything lesser than that to whomsoever He Wills. Whoever set-up partners with Allaah (commits Shirk) has indeed committed the most grievous sin.” [Soorah an-Nisaa 4:48].

“And We came forth to what they brought from their actions and We made it scattered dust.”

That which shows us the greatness of Tawheed also, is this second incident:

There was a jewish boy who used to serve the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and had become ill. So the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam went to visit him and sat by his head and said: “Accept Islaam.” The boy looked at his father who was with him. So his father said to him: Obey Abul-Qaasim (i.e. the Prophet) sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. So he accepted Islaam. As the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was leaving, he said: “All praise is for Allaah who saved this boy from the Fire.”7 Meaning, that although this person had no good deeds, yet because of him saying this statement of Tawheed – purely and sincerely from his heart – it was enough to save him from the Hellfire and cause him to enter Paradise.

[The Fruits of Tawheed]
So as this Tawheed 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 Allaah will

become greater and much more firmer. Since, if a person realises with ikhlaas (sincerity) and yaqeen (certainty) in his heart that Allaah – the Most High – is the One who has created him, then he knows that he should only worship Allaah – the One free from all imperfections. Thus, as this realisation becomes firmer in the heart, then good deeds become more apparent and multiply in number.

So reflect upon Allaah’s great Wisdom 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 Tawheed, yet along with this, had many sins that they did not repent from. Thus, though they will be punished at this level, until they are purified from their sins, but because of this Tawheed and ‘uboodiyyah to Allaah alone in their hearts, they will eventually be saved from the Hellfire and admitted into Paradise. This level of Hellfire will then have no inhabitants left in it. This shows the greatness and virtue of Tawheed and the worship of Allaah alone, due to which they will eventually be rescued from the Hellfire, not being eternally condemned in it.

“Allaah has sent us to deliver whomsoever chooses, from the ‘uboodiyyah (enslavement, worship and servitude) of men to the ‘uboodiyyah of Allaah; from the narrowness of this world, to the vastness of this world and the Hereafter; and from the tyranny and oppression of (false) religions, to the justice of Islaam.”

[Laying the Foundations]
What also shows the importance of Tawheed, is the life and example of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It can be divided into two stages: The first stage is when he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was in Makkah. The second stage was in Madeenah. So in Makkaah his message was only to teach one thing; and that was the worship of Allaah alone without any partners; which is the matter of Tawheed or ‘uboodiyyah to Allaah alone. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not call the people to leave any other sin, nor to do any other good deed. During this period he only called them to single out Allaah alone with worship, since this is the foundation upon which all else is built. Thus, we must understand that once a person’s heart is truly filled with the ‘uboodiyyah (love, humility, submission and enslavement) to Allaah alone, he will then begin to fulfill all the obligations which Allaah has placed upon him, to the best of his ability. This is borne out by the following statement:

‘Aaishah radiallaahu ‘anhoo said:
“The first part (of the Qur’aan) to be revealed was a Soorah (chapter) from the mufassal (shorter chapters) in which Paradise and Hell were mentioned. Then, when the people entered into Islaam, came the revelation regarding the halaal (lawful) and haraam (unlawful). Had the first revelation been: Do not drink khamr (wine and other intoxicants). They would have said: We shall never give up drinking khamr. Had the first revelation been: Do not commit zinaa (adultery and fornication), they would have said: We shall never give up committing zinaa.”8

So this is the foundation, about which – if a person agrees he will then desire and agree to abandon all sins and acts of disobedience. Indeed, it was only after Tawheed, the worship of Allaah alone; and the willingness to submit and surrender to Allaah was understood by the Companions – radiallaahu ‘anhum – and it had settled in the depths of their hearts, that Allaah began to order them with the various commands and prohibitions. It was then that the command was revealed to establish Salaah (Prayer); pay the Zakaah; fast in the month of Ramadaan; then afterwards the command to make Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah); and so on, until all the commands which Allaah – the Most High – wanted to order and prohibit the people with were given, step by step, one by one …

So this call to the ‘uboodiyyah of Allaah and to single Him out alone for love, obedience and worship, is the common message of all the Prophets and Messengers ‘alayhimus-salaam. Every single Prophet and Messenger came to his people saying:

“O my people, worship Allaah alone, making all your worship purely for Him, since there is none besides Him having the right to be worshiped by you.” [Soorah al-A’raaf 7:56].

This was the message of the Prophet Nooh, Ibraaheem, Moosaa, ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam ‘alayhimus-salaam; and the khaatim (final and last) of the Prophets, Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. They all came with this same message.

1. From a talk delivered by the noble Shaykh at the Jamiyyatul-Qur’aan was-Sunnah Conference (1994 /U.S.A.), slightly edited.
2. Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah (7/40) of Ibn Katheer.
3. Related by al-Bukhaaree (no.6435), from Abu Hurayrah radiallaahu ‘anhu.
4. Wasiyyatus-Sughraa (p.55) of Ibn Taymiyyah.
5. Saheeh: Related by Ahmad (5/236) from Mu’aadh radiallaahu ‘anhu. It was authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no.2355).
6. Related by al-Bukhaaree (no.348 I), from Abu Hurayrah radiallaahu ‘anhu.
7. Related by al-Bukhaaree (no.1356), from Anas radiallaahu ‘anhu.
8. Related by al-Bukhaaree (no.4993), from Yoosuf ibn Maahak.

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