Source: Ramadan and al-Muraqaba, by Ibrahim bin Muhammad al-Huqail. (Dar ibn Kuzaimah)
Awareness Taqwa ( fear of Allah) and righteous in a person is indicated by aware of Allah’s Supervision both in secret and public. This is a degree called Ihsan (perfection), which is greater in degree than Islam and Iman (faith). Ihsan has been explained by the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) by the following:
“To worship Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion, then you must consider that He is watching you.” [Al-Bukhari]
Allah’s continuous observation of the slave make shim feel that he cannot disobey Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) because he knows that while he may conceal himself from people he cannot hide from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) the blessed, the Most High.
The Fruits of Observation:
Being aware of Allah’s Supervision bring great fruits in this life and the Hereafter, such as:
1- It is a means by which the slave is led to obedience of Allah and which prevents him from the seven people whom Allah will shade on the Day when there is no shade except His and that is because of their performance of acts and their abstention from committing sins, he fact that nothing urged them to do that except their awareness of Allah’s Supervision and their observation of Allah’s Rights.
The just Imam (ruler) who observes Allah’s Rights in regards to his people (wards) and rules them with justice, if he is just, without Faith, this will not benefit him in the Hereafter; but his faith pushes him (urges him) to be aware of Allah’s Supervision and makes him fear Allah in regards to his wards. Therefore, he deserves to be shaded by Allah on the Day of Judgment.
The youth who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, who always observes the Rights of Allah, beginning with his childhood through to his becoming an adult, and the man whose heart is attached to the mosque by observing Allah’s rights in performing the five obligatory prayers in the mosque, do so because of their realization of Allah’s Watchfulness over them.
Also, we can see the same in two people who love each other for the sake of Allah and who meet and part in Allah’s cause only. Their awareness of Allah’s Supervision and observation of Allah’s Rights show in that their love for each other does not change, because it is sincere love for Allah’s Sake; their love for each other is not for worldly purposes our mutual interest. Their love remains unchanged till death separates them. They observe Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) and know that He is watching them and He knows what is in their hearts.
The observation is even more clearly shown in the last three cases mentioned in the Hadith and they are:
A man who refuses the call of charming women of noble birth for illegal sexual intercourse with her and saying: “I am afraid of Allah.” His fear of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) is because of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) or his awareness of Allah’s Supervision and Watchfulness.
All the means for commiting the Fahisha (the sin of adultery) are easy; the woman is beautiful, and noble; as a result no one can harm her or whoever she has relations with. There is no fear of the harm of people or their punishment because of her nobility. Her beauty is encouraging him to commit the adultery with her. Nothing remains to prevent him from committing the sinful act except the observation of Allah (Azza Wa Jall) which helps the righteous man to say: “I am afraid of Allah.”
Similarly, we find the man who gives charitable gifts so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. no one knows how much he has given in charity). This man knows that Allah is watching him. Therefore, he remembers and is aware of Allah’s supervision whenever he gives charity. This is why he hides his charity from the people, in order for no one to see it except Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala), and he exaggerates in hiding his charity to such an extent that even he, himself does not know about it.
Also, we can see it in the man who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes become flooded with tears. His awareness of Allah‘s Supervision moves his heart when he remembers Allah(Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala); therefore, his eyes become flooded with ears.
Whoever is aware of Allah’s observation in secret and in public deserves to be shaded by Allah’s shade on the Day of Judgment.
2- Being aware of Allah’s Supervision is a primary means of relief from calamities and the removal of distresses in this life, before the Hereafter.
To illustrate this point, we have the story of the three people who set out together till they reached a cave at night and entered it. A big rock rolled down the mountain and closed the mouth of the cave. They invoked Allah by giving reference to the righteous deeds which they had done (for Allah’s sake only).
These deeds were the cause which relieved them from their distress.
The first one used to customarily provide milk to his parents first, then to his wife and the children. One day, by chance, he was delayed and came late (at night). He found his parents had slept. He waited for them with the bowl of milk in his hand , and kept on waiting for them to get up till the day dawned. He did not want to provide his family with the milk before his parents. When they (the parents) got up, hey drank the milk. Had it not been for his observation of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) as regards his old parents, he would have slept and left them or he would have provided his children first before them, especially since they were sleeping and unaware of what he was doing. But he observed
Allah’s rights and was aware of Allah’s Supervision and the behaved with his parents while they were sleeping as he behaved when they were awake.
The second one had a cousin who was the dearest of all people to him and he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her, but she refused. When she had a hard time during the year of famine, she came to him to help her. He gave her the money in the condition that she would not resists his desire, she said, “It is illegal for you to outrage by chastity except by legitimate marriage.” So he left her without fulfilling his desire and he also left the money that he had given to her. Had it not been for his awareness of awareness of Allah’s Supervision and Watchfulness, her words would not have had an affect on his heart, although she was the dearest of all the people to him. His fear of Allah and awareness of Allah overcame his desire and love for his cousin.
The third one employed a few laborers and he paid them their wages, with the exception of man who went away without taking his wages. The employer took the wages and invested them. As a result, he got great profit. (then, after some time), the laborer returned and asked man to pay him his wages. The man told him that all the camels, cows, sheep and slaves that he saw were his. So, he (the laborer) took the entire herd and drove them away, leaving nothing. Had it not been for his observation of Allah(Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala), the man would have eaten up the wages of the laborer or at least he would have given him only his wages and kept for himself all the herd and the property, especially since the laborer did not know about it until he was informed by the man, who said:
“All the camels, cows, sheeps and slaves you see, are yours.” The laborer said: “O Allah’s slave! Don’t mock me.” He replied: “I am not mocking you.” The man knew that it was not the laborer who had any knowledge or who had been watching him; it was Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) who was All-Watcher over him.
All these righteous deeds, which were a direct result of awareness of Allah’s Supervision, were means of relieving them from their distress and the complete shifting of the rock so that they could exit the cave. Being aware of Allah’s Supervision and Watchfulness is a means of relief from distresses in this life and the Hereafter. In this life, it is indicated by the narration of the three men and he cave; in the Hereafter, it is indicated by the narration of the three men and the cave; in the Hereafter, it is indicated by the Hadith of seven people whom Allah will shade on the Day when there is no shade except His.
Ibn al-Mubarak was asked about the interpretation of al-Muraqabah (being aware of Allah’s Supervision), he said: “to be always as if you see Allah(Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala).” [Al-Ihyaa’ 4/397]
A man asked al-Junaid (Rahimahullaah), “With what can I seek help over lowering of the gaze?” He said: “With knowing that the sighting of the One who is watching (looking) at you precedes your sighting of what you are looking at.” [Jami’e al-Uloom wal –Hikam]
Abu Uthman an-Nisapoori (Rahimahullaah) said: “Abu Hafs told me, If you sit to preach to the people, be a preacher for yourself and our heart. Don’t be deceived by their watching you outwardly and Allah is watching you inwardly.” [Madarij as-Salikeen /66]
Zaid bin Aslam narrated: “Abdullah bin ‘Umar (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhuma) passed by a shepherd and said to him, ‘O shepherd! Can you give me one goat (or something similar)?’ The Shepherd said: ‘Its owner is not present here.’ Ibn Umar (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) said: ‘Tell him a wolf ate it.’ The shepherd raised his head to the sky and said: ‘Where is Allah?’ Ibn Umar (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhuma) said: ‘by Allah! I should be the one who says, ‘where is Allah?” So, Ibn Umar (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhuma) bought the shepherd and freed him and bought the goat and gave it to him.” [Shu’ab bin al-Imam 4/86 and Sifat-as-Safwa]
The relationship between fasting and Muraqabah
There is a strong relationship between fasting and Muraqabah (being aware of Allah’s Watchfulness). That is because fasting is based on he awareness of Allah’s Supervision. Leaving the food, drink and other things which nullify fasting is a secret which no one knows except Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala). A slave may claim that he is fasting and sit with the fasting people, while he is not and the people think that he is fasting. No one knows about his reality except Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala).
Therefore, it is mentioned in a Hadith, narrated by Abu Hurairah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu), that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “All the deeds of Adam’s sons (people) are multiplied from ten to seven hundred times. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) says: ‘Except Saum (fasting), which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it. He has left his food, drink and desires for My sake.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Although all acts of worship are for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala), here Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) singles out Sawm (fasting), because Sawm cannot be practices for the sake of showing off because no one can know whether one is observing Saum or not, except Allah. Therefore, saum is a pure performance that cannot be blemished with hypocrisy. [Fat-h al- Baari vol. 5, pp.10]
This is different from other good deeds. For instance, a person who is offering prayer may offer prayer for the sake of showing off or for the sake of people; also the pilgrim and the one who gives charity, if he shows his charity just to be seen. This does not mean that fasting is free of Riyaa’, especially the voluntary fasting to the people by informing them or intending to show them an indication of his fasting.
Actually, no one knows the reality of fasting of the people, except Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala). Anyone can break his fast secretly without the knowledge of the people.
Fasting is a secret between the slave and his lord; therefore, the recompense for it is from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) directly, without intermediary. (Although the reward for all the other good deeds is also from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala)). Another reason for specifying the fasting with a special reward from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) is that all the other acts of worship through which the believers draw near to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) are also practiced by the polytheists, through which they are seeking the nearness to their idols (false deities) such as the Salat, Hajj,tawaf (circumambulating around Ka’bah), giving charity, etc. except in Allah’s Laws which He has ordained (enjoined) on His slaves. Therefore, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) said: “Fasting is for Me,” i.e. no one shared it with Me nor was anyone else worshiped by it; hence I will reward for it according to its designation to Me, and I will be One Who recompenses for it and I don’t entrust anyone with it, whether he be an angel or others. [Ibn al athir, Jamie’ al- Usool 9454]
It is incumbent on the fasting person to observe Allah’s Rights while he is fasting and watch Allah as regards his hearing such that he should no hear what is unlawful; he should be aware of Allah’s watchfulness as regards his eye sight, such that he should not look a forbidden things; he should be aware of Allah’s Watchfulness as regard his limbs, such that he should not commit sins. Also he should not walk to unlawful places or sin in sinful and vain gatherings.
Many of fasting people watch Allah’s Rights as regards their eating, drinking and desires and they may be strict with themselves to an extent that they ask about the verdict of using eye, nose and ear drops; they ask about dust, smoke and perfume and whether they nullify their fast or not, but they don’t fear Allah and are not aware of His Supervision as regards the sins which nullify or cause defects (faults) in their fasting or render fruitless the reward, such as backbiting, gossiping, telling lies, looking at and hearing forbidden things!
This is the greatest defect in their understanding of the reality of fasting. It is real deprivation. They have deprived themselves from what Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) made lawful for them in other than the fasting period….and made lawful what Allah has forbidden during their fasting as well as when breaking the fast.
We ask Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aala) to protect us from all what He has forbidden upon us and guide us to all what He loves and is pleased with of deeds, acts and utterances. He is the All-Hearer, the One Who responds (to invocations)