She must be merely in her early twenties. I would see her daily on the college bus. A loner and extremely mysterious, she had something so special about her that I, despite my bubbly self, couldn’t help but notice her. Clad in black from head to toe, she used to uncover her face for brief moments when it would get all stuffy in the girls’ bus. She rarely spoke to anyone; she didn’t need to, said the look of absolute contentment on her face. I would either see her reading some book or her lips would be quietly moving as if reciting a prayer, and countless of times, I am sure I had seen her eyes welled-up. ‘Must have a rough life, a broken family, a wicked step-mother, an oppressive environment at home..’was all that my narrow-mindedness could cook-up about her. Yet, when I or some other girl would ask her the routine ‘how are you’, her response was unfailingly a deep ‘Alhamdulillah’ accompanied by a smile that I’d never forget. It was that smile; that look of complete tranquillity and serenity on her face even when she would be crying, that defied all of my self-thought causes for her more than frequent wet eyes.
So one day my nosy self could contain itself no more and I asked her what was the matter with her! Why was she always so – detached….could I help?
She responded with the familiar heart-warming smile of hers and said:
I blinked once. I could actually feel my cheeks reddening as an embarrassed ‘oh’ escaped my lips. With all the useless juicy stuff already building in my sixteen-year-old foolish mind, I asked her, ‘So….who is he?’
This time her sweet smile was accompanied by those big round readily available tears as she whispered, ‘Allah!’
I blinked twice. All I could manage at this point was a confused smile. Honestly, I did not get it.
That was the first and the last time I ever conversed with her. But that moment has stayed with me ever since. Past all these years, her smile, her voice and the stars in her eyes when she said ‘Allah’, everything is still so fresh in my mind. In fact, it’s a part of me now; a part of me which makes me extremely attracted towards and curious about the ‘lovers of Allah (SWT)’; His blessed slaves who relish the sweet pain of His love.
The mysteries of Allah’s (SWT) love unveil at a pace of their own. There is no formula; no pattern that can define the coming of this sweet acknowledgement. This love is such an exotic cocktail of emotions and yet, the one who drinks it can savour each flavour in it distinctly; drawing a special pleasure and satisfaction from each. At one point, one flavour would over-power the others and at another time, another flavour. But the one drinking this cocktail surely enjoys every sip, every minute of it.
An onlooker can only guess and fantasize about these divine flavours. But one thing is for sure; this love-cocktail is so strong that the one drinking it cannot help being entirely consumed by it, and the one witnessing with the eyes of the heart, cannot help feeling a strong pull of attraction towards it.
Talking of love of the believers for their Lord (SWT), Allah (SWT) says in the Quran: ‘and those who believe are most extreme in their love for Allah.’ (Al Baqarah: 165); Allah (SWT) does not say, ‘the devout worshippers’ or ‘the religious scholars’ or so on, but He (SWT) plainly says that believers; all of them, love Allah (SWT) with extreme firmness and devotion. But unfortunately, the kind of believers that we are, only few of us actually fulfil that criteria, and only they know what the intensity of this love feels like.
No one can love someone without knowing him. So definitely, those who have this extreme love for Allah (SWT) possess the highest and truest form of His knowledge and recognition.
Many a times, knowledge brings fear. For instance, if a person experiences some pain in his abdomen, and he has two friends with him; one of whom is a medical doctor. Now the first friend might tell him ‘don’t worry, it’s just a tummy-ache, might be gas or something…have a fizzy drink and you’ll be fine’, but his doctor-friend would ask him to indicate the exact spot that hurts, and then he might list all the possible conditions he could be suffering from, and might advise him to get himself scanned properly to rule out the dangers.
So, the one who knows more and is not ignorant, is more cautious, and fearful too. Similarly, the lovers of Allah (SWT) have knowledge, recognition and realization of Allah’s (SWT) Might and Majesty, and this knowledge makes them fear Allah (SWT) in the correct manner. Not only do they have this fear in their hearts, but their fear is openly displayed through their actions and their moods too. Our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasaallam) once said that if we really knew what we will undergo after death, we would never eat or drink with desire; we would laugh less and cry more. Only these lovers of Allah (SWT) seem to actually have faith in that knowledge.
It is natural for a person in love to want to become the way his beloved wants to see him. The yearning of the lovers of Allah (SWT) to completely become the ‘desired’ slaves of Allah (SWT) springs out from knowledge too. The revered Mufti Shafi Uthmani (RH) explains this very accurately by saying: “Ilm is that noor, that if you don’t act upon it, you are restless.” It is understood that this ‘process’ of becoming the ideal slave of Allah (SWT) is boundless; it could keep on going for a lifetime. Yet, the desire of the lovers of Allah (SWT) to become that ideal; to be accepted by their Lord (SWT) is so strong that it does not let them rest. They are often torn between their passionate ambitiousness and their shortcomings, and it makes them helplessly tearful quite often.
One can find idealism in the finest of its forms in these lovers of Allah (SWT). Not only do they wish themselves to be perfect believers, they also want to see the world around them bowing down before Allah (SWT) in entirety, both out of the love for Allah (SWT) and out of the goodwill for this world. But this world with its imperfections, flaws and the shortcomings in its nature, seldom is able to satisfy this very sincere thirst of these devotees of Allah (SWT). Rather, they are often ignored and even scoffed at. Hence, another nagging Hasrat; another reason to shed tears!
But these tears are never ever out of in-gratitude. In fact a lover of Allah (SWT) is gratitude personified because he acknowledges all the favours of his Rabb (SWT); starting from the invaluable blessing of Iman, right down to his shoe-lace. When things go his way its ‘Alhamdulillah’ and when they don’t, its ‘Alhamdulillahi alaa kulli haal’ because he is happy with whatever his beloved decrees. When any lover thinks about, imagines or meets his beloved, all these situations can bring him to tears; surely out of gratitude and joy. So a lover of Allah (SWT), who is never ever without Allah’s (SWT) consciousness, is constantly in a state of gratitude. And sometimes, this feeling/flavour of gratitude is so overwhelming, that again, the tears are inevitable.
This theatrical world defines liveliness in the terms of noise and clamour. Hence the inhabitants of this world would heedlessly laugh-out-loud at foolishness in the name of fun but forget to smile when it’s due. But a lover of Allah (SWT), despite being a part of this world, knows well that liveliness of a person cannot ensue without the heart being alive; that too much ‘laughing out loud makes the heart dead’ while frequently smiling is the blessed Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam). So, for the sake of the well-being of his heart, he prefers his tears and smiles over the laughter and hilarity.
Physical distance from one’s beloved can make a lover sad too. Despite having full faith about one’s firm connection and bond with one’s beloved, even a minute physical distance from the beloved can be extremely burdensome and painful for a true lover. These lovers of Allah (SWT) have the firmest of bonds with Him and they are constantly conscious of the fact that Allah (SWT) is actually ‘near’. Also, they have an assurance by their beloved (SWT) Himself that this love of theirs will be rewarded by His blessed Deedar in Jannah Insha’Allah. Still, the anguish of waiting is too much for the extremely soft hearts of these lovers of Allah (SWT). They would remember Allah (SWT) abundantly, wish that everyone else would talk of only Him too, and still miss Allah (SWT) terribly. So they cry, weep, sob and sigh in this excruciating desire to see their beloved (SWT) and to be with Him.
كؤئ نہیں جو یار کی لا دے خبر مجهے
اے سیل اشک تو ہی بہا دے ادھر مجھے
There’s no one who would bring me news of my beloved
O the flood of my tears, may you take me along there
(Mawlana Hakeem Muhammad Akhtar)
Everything and anything that reminds them of their beloved (SWT) can bring them to tears and refresh their longing anew.
So these tears, sighs and nagging yearnings are the very parts of the nature of a lover of Allah (SWT). These apparently sad expressions are an asset to this slave of Allah (SWT); he treasures them dearer than life. These expressions could be out of love, joy, hope, gratitude, concern or longing, but they are never out of sorrow, despair, depression or deprivation as this world knows them.
That is because the beloved (SWT) of these blessed lovers is the very creator of all the pleasures and satisfactions imaginable – And loving Him (SWT) is the ultimate degree of pleasure ever possible to be attained. Also, longing and yearning for Him (SWT) frees His slaves of all other longings and yearnings.
تیرے غم کی جو مجھ کو دولت ملے
غم دو جہاں سے فراغت ملے
The attainment of your grief
Could free me of the grief of both worlds
(Syed Suleman Nadwi)
Alas, the world remains ignorant of the treasure and pleasures that these lovers of Allah (SWT) relish. Their ignorant fellow-beings would witness them and may feel pity at their ‘states’, like I did for the girl in my college, completely oblivious of the reality.
Later, a beloved teacher of mine once explained this with a very interesting analogy. She asked me to consider the people who love spicy food. An onlooker would see them having all that spice, with their eyes red with tears and their noses sniffling, and he might think that they are in extreme discomfort. But for the lovers of that spicy food, those are the moments of extreme pleasure and fulfilment. For them, it’s nothing but total bliss!
May Allah (SWT) make all of us drench and drown in His sweet love. Ameen.