Float like a butterfly

Destoor ya Sayyidi madad

A’uzubillah himinsh shaitan nirrajeem

Bismillahir Rahman-nir Raheem

Assalamu’alaikum wrh wbkt

Spiritual Cleanliness by repentance

Alhamdulillah, last week we touched on matters of spiritual cleanliness. We learnt that whatever we do is a spiritual food for us. If we are doing something which is sinful, which is dirty, which is bad – it will result in dire consequences.

The examples Allah showed us in the Qur’an were of Sayyidina Adam (as) and Sayyidina Yunus (as). Maulana descibed how Sayyidina Adam (as) was dressed in the clothings of honour, but the moment he oppressed himself, when he acted without mercy for himself, all the dressings of honour were stripped from him, he lost everything and he was ejected from Paradise.

So Maulana is teaching us that Paradise is a place that cannot accept dirtiness, that cannot accept oppression, that cannot accept sins. So the moment Sayyidina Adam (as) performed something bad, he was immediately removed from Paradise.

Similarly when we look at Sayyidina Yunus (as), when he fell into oppression, he was swallowed up by the whale. So once we oppress ourselves, we will be swallowed up by sufferings and disasters, pain and problems. And we are seeing that all around us today.

In Summary, last week’s Suhbah was to show us that any actions of spiritual dirtiness (sinfulness, actions that are against the teachings of Allah and Rasul), would immediately bring us problems and difficulties, in this world and in the hereafter. Anyone whose life is not following the spiritual cleanliness that Allah has enjoined upon human beings, their lives will be filled with sufferings and burdens.

You are doing to yourself, not others

To continue along that same theme, we must realize that whatever we do, we are doing to ourselves. We are not doing upon other people. Even though we humiliate somebody or we backbite about him or we cheat him of his money or we create fitnah against him – although it appears that we have hurt that person and derived some ‘victory’ or profit from our actions – we haven’t. We have merely heaped sin and darkness upon ourselves. Whatever we do, it will come back to ourselves. Allah says in Surah Zalzala (99):

On that Day will men proceed in companies sorted out, to be shown the Deeds that they (had done). (6) Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good, see it! (7) And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil, shall see it. (8) (Quran 99:7-8)

You will be shown every atom’s weight of your deeds! All your life, it is as if you are standing at your own grave with a shovel and every time you do something, you are shoveling something into your own grave. You are not given permission by Allah to shovel something into somebody else’s grave, only your own. So you must be very careful what you do, because everything you do, you are doing to yourself, not to anybody else.

That’s why we have been enjoined to have mercy and pity upon ourselves first, only then we can bring that mercy and pity to other people.

Maulana describes his mureeds as patients in a hospital, we’re all being treated for spiritual illnesses, we are bring guided away from a sinful life. Look at hospital patients. As they lie in their beds, recovering from their illnesses, they are being given medication and healthy food.

Having started to pull away from sin and love of this worldly life this Ramadhan, we must start replacing the spiritually dirty food that we have been taking, with spiritaully clean food. Now we must start to do zikrullah, we must perform proper fasting, we must do qiyamulail, we must read Qur’an, we must do charity – it is very important to start to do these good deeds, because this is good spiritual food for ourselves.

Fasting makes us appreciate the Spiritually poor

How often have we heard that fasting is to teach us how poor people feel, so that we can sympathize with them? It is not enough just to understand how poor people feel. Allah wants you to understand what happens if you are poor in akherat. What does that mean? Just going without food for one day, by the time we come to break fast time, we are very, very hungry and thirsty, we are weak and tired.

Imagine if you haven’t eaten spiritual food for a full day — your soul would be very hungry, thirsty and weak too. What happens if you haven’t eaten for 50 years? Can you imagine how hungry, thirsty and weak your soul is, if you are not ‘feeding’ it for 50 years, 60 years, 70 years?

Pangs of death

That’s why it is described by Rasulullah (saw), that when a person is at the door of death, he experiences the pangs of death, and it is described in a hadith that sometimes, that person experiences intense hunger, such that even if ate all the food in the world, that hunger would not disappear. And he would experience such thirst, so much so that even if he drank the seven oceans, his thirst would not disappear. That’s how hungry and thirsty some people are, on their deathbeds.

It’s not because the body is hungry. We are eating 3 times, 4 times, 5 times a day, we are eating a lot, so our physical body has enough food. But it’s a spiritual hunger, our Ruh (Soul), has not been eating, we are not doing good deeds, we are not remembering Allah day and night, we are not working hard for our akherat.

When people are dying, it’s the Soul that is coming out, and as mentioned in the last Suhbah, your Soul is carrying all that spiritual dirtiness, and without spiritual food, that Soul is going to be very thirsty, hungry and weak, if we have not done good deeds all our lives. That’s why it’s said,?seven oceans of water cannot remove the thirst of a dying man.

Spiritually poor people are Spiritually weak ones in Akhirat

We must do as Rasulullah (saw) says, “Wet your tongue with the zikrullah (remembrance of Allah).”? Because that is your spiritual food. Some people, their Souls come out of the body, and they are happy, they are not hungry at all, they are not thirsty, because they’ve been eating their daily spiritual food. But people without spiritual food, when their Souls come out, they’re going to be hungry, they’re going to be thirsty, they’re going to be very weak. That’s why Maulana describes that in akherat, when some people rise from their graves, they cannot even stand up. Why?

Again, it’s not because their bodies are weak. Their bodies were very strong during their worldly lives! It is their Souls that are very weak. So they cannot even stand up because their Souls have no energy, they have not done sufficient good deeds, they are like starving, malnutritioned Souls.

If you read, you will find people moving about on Judgement Day, in different ways. Some are walking, but many others are crawling or rolling on the ground. Some are being dragged on their faces. Now why aren’t they all walking like human beings? Because they don’t have energy, as spiritually, they are very poor people.

Is your pail leaking?

And we ask ourselves, we are doing good deeds, so how come we are described as poor ones in akherat? After all, we are fasting and praying daily. So how come some of us are raised as poor people on Judgement Day, as bankrupts?

Rasulullah (saw) described this to his Companions, “Oh my Companions, who are the bankrupt people?”? We have heard this hadith so many times. The Companions say, “The person who has no money.”? Then Rasulullah said, “No, the person who is bankrupt in akherat is he, whom all his good deeds are given to other people, because he was doing sins against other people, he was oppressor unto himself.”

Imagine if we have a pail of water and there is a leak, so…as much as we are filling the pail with water, the water is still leaking out. In the end, even after many years of filling the pail, it is still empty.

So if you do ill towards people, when that person is oppressed by you, in the Divine Court, he will ask from you for all your good deeds, one by one until you are bankrupt. And he will then heap his sin onto you too. So dear fellow seekers, we must be very careful to make sure that this Ramadhan, we are starting to cover the leaks that are present in our pails. All our sins and oppression are holes in our pails, make sure that those holes are sealed well. We are learning during this Ramadhan, insyaAllah, by the grace of Allah, to cover up those holes.

And then we are learning to fill that cup with water (by doing regular good deeds) even though it’s just a small capful everyday. But slowly it will be filled up. So then, insyaAllah, at the time of our death, we will not be hungry, we will not be thirsty and we have the strength to stand up on Judgement Day, as one of those people who can walk, or even fly across the Siraat (Bridge). (Ameen!)

A journey of a lifetime starts with yourself

So we have to work very hard on this journey. We must learn that once we are practising kindness and mercy upon ourselves, we must bring that kindness and mercy to other people. That’s why, it’s always important to start with yourselves. Last week, we learnt that Allah said, “I forbid evil upon Myself and I forbid evil amongst the creation.”? So Allah begins with Himself.

Allah says in the Qur’an,

O ye who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded. (Quran 66:6)

In this Ayat, Allah commanded us to start by saving ourselves, and then to save those nearest and dearest to us. Always start with yourself. Don’t try to change the world. Change yourself.

Many people fail in their attempts at da’wah (preaching), because thay are trying to bring the whole world to Islam. You must preach to yourselves first.

Your eyes may be obedient (you lower your gaze) but your ears may not be obedient (you listen to backbiting). Your ears may be obedient (you shun music), but your tongue is not obedient (you lie and slander). You must bring everyone of your organs to be obedient to Allah first. Every organ!

Advise with gentleness

You have to bring yourself to be obedient first, you must be strict with yourself and you must be very gentle with other people. The mistake we make today, is that we are very, very strict with other people, we judge them harshly and sternly, but we are very, very lenient with ourselves. We give ourselves leeway, we give excuses when we fall into sin.

Let me share some examples of how the Prophet (saw) was a very strict person with himself but very kind and lenient with the Ummat.

There was once a man who came to see the Prophet and he had some medical problems. I believe he was diabetic although that word did not exist back in those times. He said to Rasulullah (saw), “I have an illness, this is my problem…”? So Rasulullah (saw) said to him, “Come back tomorrow. InsyaAllah, I’ll give you the solution.”?

So the man came back the next day and the Prophet (saw) said, “Don’t take sugar.” ? This Companion then said, “Ya Rasulullah (saw), you could have told me that yesterday. Why did you wait one full day to tell me that?”? The Prophet (saw) said, “Because yesterday, I had eaten sugar (before you came), and since I had eaten sugar on that day, ?I can’t tell you not to take sugar. But today, since I knew you were coming to see me, I didn’t take sugar the whole day. So now when you come, then I can tell you, not to take sugar.”?

So you see our Prophet was a person who practised it himself first, sometimes for days, weeks, months, years ?- before he brought any advice to the Ummat. We must be very strict upon ourselves but very lenient/gentle to others.

A story of how lenient and gentle Prophet (saw) was with the Ummat, was during the war of Uhud. We all know that during Uhud, the Muslims suffered some losses. The Prophet (saw) had instructed some archers to remain at a certain point, we all know this story, I won’t go through it. The archers disobeyed the Prophet’s instructions, resulting in heavy losses for the Muslims. ?Seventy Muslims died as martyrs, including Sayyidina Hamzah (ra) whom the Prophet loved very, very much. The Prophet (saw) loved Sayyidina Hamzah (ra) so much, that each time he prayed Solatul Jenazah over one of the martyrs of Uhud, he placed the body of Sayyidina Hamzah (ra) alongside, and so Rasulullah (saw) prayed for Sayyidina Hamzah (ra), seventy times Solatul Jenazah. That’s how much he loved Sayyidina Hamzah (ra), Prophet (saw) was so sad to have lost him.

So after that the war, there was rain that cleansed them and they fell asleep. When they awakened, the Prophet spoke to them in the gentlest of ways. Even though they had disobeyed him, resulting in massive losses, and his family members died, and he was very distraught, very upset, he didn’t scold anybody. He spoke to them so gently.

And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah’s) Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). (Quran 3:159)

Allah says, “Oh Rasulullah, if you had been harsh with them, verily they would have run away from you.”? So you see, even though a massive mistake was made, the Prophet never scolded, never raised his voice, he was kind and loving, he overlooked their faults, he prayed for their forgiveness and he consulted them in all matters. A leader who practises these traits, will be loved and revered by his followers.

Anas (ra), a Companion of the Prophet, and one who was the khadam (servant) to Rasulullah said, “I served the Messenger of Allah for ten years, and never once did I hear him object to any of my actions, saying ‘Do this’ when I hadn’t done something I should have done, or ‘Don’t do this’ or ‘Why did you do this?’ when I had done something wrong.”? So Rasulullah (saw) was a person who was very gentle with everyone.

There was once a man who came to the Prophet’s mosque, Masjidil Nabawi. He started to urinate at the back of the mosque. The Companions were angry, some even drew their swords. The Prophet (saw) stopped them, talked to the offender nicely, explained to him his fault, and he became a good Companion of the Prophet (saw). So we have to practise this gentleness in our life.

Be a butterfly, not a fly

Maulana revealed the secret as to how we can become such a person – somebody who is gentle with others, but strict with ourselves. He said, we must be like butterflies and not like flies. Although they both can fly, they are very different insects.

When a fly enters an area, it will look for the dirtiest place first. If there’s a toilet, it will go to the toilet. If there’s a clump of cow dung somewhere, it will go straight to the cow dung. It will look for the dirtiest and filthiest place to land on. It will go there first, to the najis, spend time there and it will carry the najis from place to place after that, infecting a lot of people.

So Maulana is teaching us that if we have the (sifat) attribute of the fly, when we meet a human being, the first thing we do is, we note his mistakes, we note his faults. We look for all his dirtiness and then we condemn and backbite about him, we say, “This guy is not good. He’s like this. He’s like that.”? We complain about him and we carry that story to other people after that. Just like the fly.

Let us take an example that we are all familiar with, and let us be honest with ourselves if we are guilty of doing this. If we see a person entering a mosque, and he looks like he just came out of a nightclub, with long hair, smelling so strongly of cigarette smoke, and he’s covered in tattoos, we would have so much to comment about this person, we are like the flies picking up all the najis that we see – we would have lots of bad things to say about him. ?In fact, we would have so much to say, we could probably write a book about this guy. Maybe you’d come back home, and even write something on your blog about him!

But how will a saintly one look at such an unkempt man coming to a mosque? He’d say, “MasyaAllah, Allah said that if you take one step towards Me, I will take ten steps towards you. This man has taken his first step towards Allah by coming to this mosque, MasyaAllah, he’s a man whom Allah is taking ten steps towards…”? And that saintly one will welcome him with open arms to guide him to the love of Allah. ?That is why Maulana says that the heart of a Saint is a gatherer of hearts, for no one is rejected or looked down upon.

The saint in our example above, is a butterfly, for he is looking for the goodness in that man. All the Saint saw was, that the unkempt man had taken his first step to the mosque, that was enough. He didn’t look at all the other things (tattoos, cigarette smoke etc). That is why we must be like a butterfly, because when a butterfly enters a garden, it looks for the beautiful flowers first, there could be a single flower there, it is happy and it will go straight to the flower, it will stay there taking the nectar, the sweetness of that relationship.

So we don’t have the sweetness in any relationship today because we are like the flies. We don’t look for the good in people. We look for the worst that we can find in other people and we start condemning. And we look for the best in ourselves and we start to praise ourselves.

Reverse it! Look for the worst in yourself, and the best in others.

A Hadith of Nabi (saw) says, “Hide your goodness, like how you hide your badness.” All of us know how to hide our bad points. Nobody wakes up late for fajr (subuh) prayers and then announces it! We would be too ashamed to tell our friends that we missed our prayers. But when we wake up for tahajjud, we would so subtly show that sleepy face at work, and when our colleagues ask us why we look so sleepy, we would so ‘humbly’ announce to them that we had awakened early to worship Allah. ?We are good at advertising our good and we are very good at hiding our faults, right?

So we should reverse everything. Upon ourselves, we look for our worst points and those are the things we should repent and seek forgiveness for, we must be very strict with ourselves and say, “Ya Allah, I did this, please forgive me.”? But upon other people, look for that one good thing in them and help them come to the love of Allah.

This Ramadhan is an opportunity for us to transform into  butterflies. We are all now caterpillars. You know caterpillars?

How to transform into a butterfly

They sit on a leaf and they just eat and eat and eat. That means, we caterpillars have spent our lives just fulfilling our desires (ego and nafs). We eat, drink, sleep and seek pleasure all the time. We are like that. We’ve been caterpillars for 30, 40 years of our lives. We’ve kept eating, even though the food is tasteless, we have kept going because we have been programmed to seek pleasure, enjoyment and entertainment in this life.

Some caterpillars also have a very hairy skin, covered by poisonous hair. If you touch them, you become itchy. We are like that too, when people touch or offend us, we scratch them, we spite them, we hurt them, we sting them. If you check on Wikipedia, some caterpillars can even secrete poison, some can shoot out small stings, so some caterpillars, some of us, can be very vicious creatures.

But for caterpillars who are destined to become butterflies, there comes a time in their lives, when they stop eating.

A point will come when it says, “Enough, I’m not going to eat anymore.”? That is the Ramadhan of the caterpillar, I’m not going to eat anymore. I’m not going to fulfil my desires anymore, I am not going to be a slave to my ego and my desires.”

Alhamdulillah, we caterpillars have come to Ramadhan, we have been reducing our sins and our slavery to our desires.?And this caterpillar who has stopped eating, will just start to look for a place that it can be away from any disturbances. It will go to the underside of the leaf and start to form a cocoon. We’ve been doing that in the past 10, 15 days of Ramadhan. We have been pulling away from our dunya, our worldly desires, we have gone to one corner where we are starting to be away from the disturbances and distractions of dunya.

Iktikaf, a cocoon to change you forever

And what will this caterpillar do then? It will build a cocoon and when the cocoon is complete, it will shut itself off within that cocoon, for some time. And that is what we call the iktikaf (spiritual retreat) that we are approaching to now. The last 10 days of Ramadhan, we must be in our little cocoon, away from dunya, away from too much conversation, away from intimacy with our spouses.

Even though we are working, and we cannot sit in a mosque for 10 days, we can come back after work and do iktikaf still, sit quietly and do remembrance and reflection. Make fervent doas to Allah and seek intimacy with your Lord. But you must be away from the spouses, that’s very important, even at night. That is the condition for iktikaf.

And do not have sexual relations with them (your wives) while you are in I’tikaf (i.e. confining oneself in a mosque for prayers and invocations leaving the worldly activities) in the mosques. These are the limits (set) by Allah, so approach them not. (Quran 2:187)

So now when you are inside your little cocoon, in the next last 10 days of Ramadhan, insyaAllah, if you really make the effort to sit down and ask Allah to help you, you can transform, you can transform from a very fat green caterpillar into a lovely butterfly with beautiful wings.

A thing of beauty is a joy to behold

Hjh Naziha said (when she was in Kuala Lumpur), that her father, Maulana Shaykh Nazim loves to sit in his garden just to look at the butterflies. He is so amazed and mesmerised by them. No one sits down to look at the flies on cow dung, ?but everybody likes to admire a butterfly and that beauty is what we call, the perfection of a Muslim behaviour.

When you emerge from your cocoon as a beautiful butterfly, compared to the caterpillar, you can now fly, you can now climb to higher spiritual levels, you can go up higher and higher and higher. You are now beautiful, people look at you, they’re attracted to your practises, your adab, your religion. People will look at you and ask, “Can you tell me more about Islam?”? because there is a beauty in what you are carrying within yourselves.

People are no longer going to run from you. ?You are going to be a beacon of love, you are going to bring to them a means of salvation. “Come, let me show you the beauty of Islam”?. Like what Maulana Rumi (q) says, “Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, idolator, worshipper of fire, come even though you have broken your vows a thousand times, Come, and come yet again. Ours is not a caravan of despair,”? and from there, they are guided towards the goodness.

So insyaAllah, let us make du’a (invocation) that this Ramadhan, we will all emerge as beautiful butterflies and there’s a lot more secrets behind that, but we don’t have time to go through so much today. Butterflies can taste the sweetness, unlike caterpillars. Right now, we are just eating from the leaves, not tasting any sweetness. We ask from Allah, after we go through the 10 days of good iktikaf, that we will be able to taste the sweetness of Islam, the sweetness of Iman (faith), the sweetness of love for Allah and His Rasul and our Shaykh. (Ameen!)

May Allah help us transform, for it is very difficult. May Allah remove from us our desires for dunya, our evil characteristics and replace them, by His endless Mercy, with all the good things, insyaAllah, Ameen Ya Allah Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.


If you enjoyed this, do accept our invitation to join us. Watch this lovely poem by Farid al-Din ‘Attar, the Poem of the Three Butterflies.

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