The letter of Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [rahimahullaah] from his prison in Alexandria to his companions urging them to turn to Allaah and be attentive to Him.
In the name of Allaah Most Merciful, Dispenser of Mercy
“And of your Sustainer’s blessings shall you always speak.” [al-Qur’aan 93:5]
I would like to inform my companions, may Allaah please and favour them in this life and the next, that I am in a state of bliss the like of which I have never seen or experienced before. Allaah has indeed opened wide for me the gates of His endless bounties. These blessings from Allaah will only be tasted by those who have acquired insight into the realities of eemaan and tawheed, and were granted a share in what all people endeavour towards: knowledge and faith. The subsequent pleasure and happiness, total joy and excitement, that are difficult to describe, are all found in and are a manifestation of, the higher spiritual wisdom and knowledge of Allaah the Exalted in Might, believing in Him and worshipping Him Alone in the true way.
One shaykh used to say, “I experience a state where I think to myself: Lucky are the people of Paradise if they are in this state!” Another says, “There are times when my heart dances with joy due to the blessing of knowledge and belief; since there is not one blessing in this life equal to that of the Hereafter’s, apart from those.” In the same vein, the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) used to say to Bilaal:
Comfort us by Prayer, oh Bilaal.
The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) had never asked to be comforted from prayer, as the sluggish might say. As Allaah says in His Book:
“And seek help in patience and prayer and truly it is heavy and hard except for the Khaashi`oon.” [al-Qur’aan 2:45]
Attentiveness is the total surrender to Allaah. It is the inner peace derived from the confidence in Allaah in heart and limb. The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) used to say:
“It has become beloved to me from this life of yours, women and beautiful scent,”
Until he said,
“And my total peace and ultimate delight are from prayer.”
The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) did not just pronounce the first sentence of the hadeeth. Some people today pronounce the first sentence and stop, although it was not the way that Imaam Ahmad and Nasaa’ee had related it. Those Imaams explain the joy of attentive prayer, and the subsequent satisfaction, to be more significant than the other things mentioned.
It is the heart where the whispers of the inner-self dwell. The Shaytaan commands the following of desires, and makes them seem attractive. He whispers doubts and, thereby turns life into a miserable existence. He who loves any other besides Allaah is tormented in this life and the next. If that person attains his urges, he will then be punished for it. However, if he does not, he will be distressed and saddened.
There is no complete happiness and total delight but in the love of Allaah and in practising the acts instructed by Him. This love is attained through the rejection of all others, and this is the reality of Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah. It was the religion of Ibraaheem `alayhissalaam, and the rest of the Prophets and Messengers, may the peace of Allaah be upon them all. The Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) used to say to his companions,
“Say that we are on the fitrah of Islaam, the word of sincerity, the religion of our Prophet Muhammad, and the way of our father Ibraaheem who was a true believer, and never a mushrik.”
Yet man is wicked and ignorant, as his Creator, Allaah said:
“Verily, We did offer the trust to the heavens, and the earth, and the mountains, but they refused to bear it because they were afraid of it. Yet man took it up – for verily, he has always been prone to be most wicked, most foolish. [al-Qur’aan 33:72]
So the objective of those loyal to Allaah, His successful party and victorious soldiers, is repentance. And due to this, this religion is a mixture of affirming Allaah’s true Oneness and seeking His Forgiveness:
“Your God is one, therefore, take the straight path unto Him and seek forgiveness of Him.” [al-Qur’aan 41:6]
And so, the achievement of all the commands and abandonment of all the forbidden acts, are a part of the tawheed of laa ilaaha ill-Allaah. When the willing servant of Allaah is blessed with tawheed, and he has absolute confidence and conviction, then Allaah will bless him with safety, happiness, joy and mercy. Alternatively, the fear that dwells in the heart is ash-shirk as Allaah says: Into the hearts of those who are bent on denying the truth
“We shall cast dread in return for their shirk.” [al-Qur’aan 3:151]
Similarly, in an authentic hadeeth, the messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) said:
“Grief unto the servant of Dinaar and grief unto the servant of Dirham. Grief unto the servant of ostentatious clothes, and grief unto the servant of beautified cloth. may grief and distress be on him, and if he was to feel pain, may he never be relieved.”
When the Prophet of Allaah, Ibraaheem was threatened with the idols of his people, he replied:
“And why should I fear anything that you worship which you set up beside Allaah, seeing that you are not afraid of ascribing divinity to others beside Allaah, for which, He has revealed unto you no warrant? [Tell me] Which of the two parties has a better right to be secure? [Answer me that] if you have knowledge!” [al-Qur’aan 6:81]
There, Imaam Ahmad said to one man, “If your belief is correct, you should fear no one.” Furthermore, every act that the Muslim does in accordance with the Prophet’s command has a share in Allaah’s saying:
“Grieve not, verily, Allaah is with us.” [al-Qur’aan 9:40]
We have seen and experienced this godly company many times. It is this company which was foretold of in Qur’aan, that will ultimately be victorious, and will exist until the Day of Reckoning. Alternatively, he who rejects what Muhammad (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) came with will have a share of:
“Verily, he that hates you has indeed been cut-off [from all that is good].” [al-Qur’aan 108:3]
Aboo Bakr bin `Ayash says, “The Ahlus-Sunnah live and so does their fine reputation. Whereas the death of the people of innovations ends their mention. This is due to their dislike of what Allaah had revealed, and so they were cut-off accordingly.” Those who proclaim the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) will have a share of Allaah’s Promise to him:
“And We have raised you high in dignity.” [al-Qur’aan 94:4]
In conclusion, what Allaah had blessed me with whilst in this place has been enormous, and I am unable to even count His favours upon me here. Yet what pains me my distance from my ‘group’ [meaning the shaykh’s followers and beloved brothers in Damascus] for I would love for them to attain the delight and happiness which they strive for. I would also love for them to be more obedient to Allaah, and to reach the highest level through participation in jihaad for His sake.
I aim to tell the group that, Allaah’s favours upon me are increasing. If I cannot be with them in person and to be of service to them, then I am supplicating to Allaah day and night for their well-being; thereby fulfilling part of my duty towards them. What I command every one of them, is to fear Allaah and be conscious of Him, to be reliant solely on Him, to be a mujaahid in His Way, and for his supplication and all other acts to be in accordance with Allaah and His Messenger’s commands.
Oh Allaah! Be merciful on the believers, men and women. Gather their hearts and resolve their differences. Make Muslims victorious over Your and their enemies, and distance them from sin, the apparent and the hidden.
Oh Allaah! Aid Your Religion, Book and faithful servants. Oh Allaah! Punish the disbelievers and hypocrites who desire to obstruct Your Path and change Your Religion.
Oh Allaah! Send Your unswerving might upon the transgressors. Oh Allaah, the Mover of clouds, the Revealer of the Book, and Striker of the confederates! Strike them, pulverise them, shake the earth under them, and assist us against them.
Oh Allaah! Aid us and do not aid others against us. Plan for us and not against us, and help us overcome our oppressors.
Oh Allaah! make us amongst the thankful, the obedient and those who return to You.
Oh Allaah! Accept our repentance, and cleanse us of our sins. Strengthen our reasoning and correct our tongues, and take out those dreaded diseases from our hearts.
And Praise be to Allaah, whose succor of the Sunnah is permanent, and His crushing of the people of innovation is plain and evident. May blessings and peace be upon Muhammad, his kin and companions.