Our Inner vs. Outer Condition

“…And the believer – subhan Allah, glory be to You, O Lord – is liked by everyone no matter what.


The believer isn’t fake. There is nothing you can hold against him. What he does in secret is what he does openly. There aren’t secret acts and public acts. He doesn’t have a personality in secret and a different one in public. They are both the same. So, if you were to peek into his life when he’s alone, you’d find him even better than he is in public. If you were to see him at home at night, you’d find him either praying, sleeping, eating suhur, or reciting the Qur’an. There is nothing you can hold against him. There is no girl he has snuck in to his home to commit indecent acts with, nor does he have stolen money that he is counting.

His outer condition is like his inner condition. In fact, his inner condition is even better than his outer, and the early Muslims would say ‘O Allah, make our inner condition better than our outer condition, and make our outer condition good.’ There is nothing you can hold against him. He has inner confidence, is sure of himself, and is relaxed.

As for the hypocrite, he fears that everyone will discover his faults and that they are privy to his sins. This is why it’s as if the suspicious person wants to tell people ‘Take me away, take me away.’ Why? He is filled with faults, and he suspects that this person knows of them, that person found out, etc. So, his whole life is full of anxiety and constriction.

As for the believer, ‘Umar bin al-Khattab nullified his ablution while on the pulpit. He said: “O people, I’ve passed gas, and I am going to make ablution and return.” He is sure of himself. So, why would he care what people think? On a day other than Friday, he ascended the pulpit and gathered the people and said: “O people, a few years ago, I used to herd sheep for people in Makkah for a few copper coins.” So, ‘Abd ar-Rahman bin ‘Awf took him aside and said to him privately: “Commander of the Believers, you did nothing but belittle yourself in front of everyone.” So, ‘Umar said: “That was exactly my intention. I felt impressed with myself, and therefore wanted to humble myself in front of everyone.””

[‘Fi Dhilal Surat at-Tawbah’; p. 489]



“The problem is NOT with my Lord”

Ibn al-Qayyim related from al-Jariri:

“I was told of a man from the Children of Israel who had a need that he wanted fulfilled by Allah. So, he engaged in constant worship and then asked Allah for his need. When he did not see that his need was fulfilled, he spent the night blaming himself, saying: “O self! What is wrong with you that is preventing your need from being fulfilled?”

And he spent the night sad and holding himself to account, saying: “By Allah, the problem is not with my Lord. Rather, the problem is with myself,” and he remained in such a state of holding himself responsible until his need was finally taken care of.”

[‘Ighathat al-Lahfan’; 1/77]


Reality vs perception.

It was related that when Ibn Taymiyyah was being transported by the ruler’s representative to prison in Alexandria, a bystander saw him and said: “My master, this is the time for patience.”

So, Ibn Taymiyyah looked at him and replied: “Rather, this is the time to be thankful. By Allah, such joy and happiness are descending upon my heart at this moment that if it was divided between the people of Sham and Egypt, there would be some left over, and if I had that amount in gold and distributed it, it would not equal even a tenth of the blessing that I am experiencing.”

Later on, on Monday the 6th of the month of Sha’ban 726 AH, he was again arrested on orders from the ruler, and was ordered transferred to the Citadel Prison in Damascus. When he first learned of this, he said: “I was waiting for this, and this contains great benefit.” When he was later in the prison, he said: “If this prison was exchanged for its weight in gold, I would not consider this to be enough to repay this blessing I am in and the good that it has brought me.”

When he entered the grounds of the Citadel Prison in Damascus, he stood and looked at its walls, reciting the verse: {“…So a wall will be put up between them with a gate therein. Inside it will be mercy, and from the outside, it will be torment.”} [al-Hadid; 13]

[See Ibn ‘Abd al-Hadi’s ‘al-‘Uqud ad-Durriyyah’; p. 177-178, 365, as well as p. 44 of Ibn al-Qayyim’s ‘al-Wabil as-Sayyib’]

Three Distinctions Often Confused.

There are certain things that the soul often confuses and mixes up, and only those with deep insight and wisdom are able to properly distinguish between them. Ibn al-Qayyim points out some of these fine details and distinctions that should be made.

i) Self-Respect vs. Vanity

“Self-respect is to make your soul rise above the petty and insignificant things that cause people to bend their necks pursuing. So, he prevents himself from this.

This is different from arrogance, which is a characteristic that is born from two things: being impressed with oneself and belittling others. So, arrogance is born from these two things, and the first (i.e. self-respect) is born from two things: honoring oneself and making it noble…

The basis for all of this is to prepare and condition the soul, and to place preference for its Owner over it. So, if one fails in his preparation and conditioning, he has failed in everything.”

ii) Protection of Self vs. Arrogance

“The one who protects himself is like the man who puts on some new clothes, pure and white, and expensive. So, he enters upon the kings and those below them in these clothes. He strives to protect these clothes from any stains or dirt that could affect its whiteness and purity. So, you see him looking noble and constantly escaping from the places where he fears could make his clothes dirty. He does not allow any stain or speck of dirt to come onto his clothes.

This is the likeness of the one who strengthens and builds his heart and religion: you see him avoiding any stains of sin, as they stain the heart and dirty it more than any blot of dirt can dirty a pure, white garment. However, the eyes are covered from seeing these stains. So, you see him running from any potential stain, being cautious around the people, seldom mixing with them out of fear that the same thing would occur to his heart that occurred to his white clothing when he was around the butchers and cooks.

This is different from the one who elevates himself, as even if he is similar to the above in his avoidance of these things, he intends with this to step over the people’s necks and to put them under his feet. So, this is a color, and that is another color.”

iii) Humility vs. Humiliation

“Humility is born from a) knowledge of Allah, His Names, His Attributes, and His Loftiness, as well as loving and elevating Him, and b) knowing himself and his faults well.

So, from these two comes the characteristic of humility, and it is the subduing of the heart to Allah and lowering the wing of submission and mercy to His servants. So, he does not see any virtue that he has over others, and he sees no rights of his over others. Rather, he sees the virtue of others over him, and he sees their rights before his own. This is a characteristic that Allah gives to those He Loves and wishes to make noble and close to Him.

As for humiliation, it is lowliness and exertion of the soul in acquiring what it desires, like the humility of the low ones in fulfilling their desires, the humility of the victim to his oppressor, and the humility of anyone who seeks something from someone else to that person. This is all lowliness and inferiority, and has nothing to do with true humility. Allah Loves humility, and He hates lowliness and humiliation. It is reported in the ‘Sahih’ that the Messenger of Allah said: “It was revealed to me that you should be humble such that none should boast over others, and none should transgress against others.”

[‘ar-Ruh’; p. 313-317]


The best reciters.


Indeed the best of people who recite is one whom when you hear his recitation you can see that he Fears Allah.

Truly, the one who has one of the finest voices among the people for reciting the Qur’aan is the one whom you think fears Allaah when you hear him recite. [1]
“The one with the best voice with the Qur’an is the one that when you hear him, you feel that he fears Allah,”
“The best of people in recitation are those who when they reciteyou see that they fear Allah.” [Bayhaqi, Sahih]

[1] A saheeh hadeeth transmitted by Ibn al Mubarak in az-Zuhd (162/1 from al-Kawaakib 575), Daarimi, Ibn Nasr, Tabaraani, Abu Nu’aim in Akhbaar Isbahaan and Diyaa’ in al-Mukhtaarah.