This Khutba is about something we as muslims are enjoined upon to believe, as Allah says:
“This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah; who believe in the Unseen"
[Qu'ran 2: 2-3]
Believe in the Unseen is exactly that: a belief. But not any belief, and not any unseen; rather, the unseen that believers are meant to believe in is that which is attested to by the Book, that which is attested to by our belief in Allah and His Messenger.
The Prophet Muhammad [peace and blessings be upon him] when asked what faith was, responded by saying it is, “That you believe in God, His angels, His revealed books, His messengers, the Last Day, and predestination - both its good and evil.” [Sahih Muslim]
A key aspect of this prophetic response is at the very beginning of the statement, “That you believe.” He did not say that you test, measure and subject to empirical scrutiny by adopting the scientific method and only then you can be certain. Belief is something entirely different. It is another type of certainty, one whose experience, is rooted ultimately in what Islam terms “the heart,” that is, the spiritual heart. This is the locus of belief for the human. It is this faculty within the human being that enables him to know the Divine, with a knowledge that results from submission, devotion, contentment in His decree, and gratitude. These are the means by which we reach knowledge of God, and they are the only means.
The intellect, as important and valuable as it is, is therefore not the only capacity with which the human can perceive truth. It is a useful servant, but a terrible master.
This understanding by no means negates the value of human intellect. The mind is one of the greatest gifts of God to humanity. Therefore, the very first task of the intellect is to realize its limits, to realize its own incapacity compared to the infinite power of the Divine. Our sensory organs, despite their amazingness, are limited, this is why we are asked to believe through our hearts - the world of the Unseen is the domain of faith.
Let us take the human eye; it cannot perceive all of reality. We now know that certain wavelengths comprise what is termed “the visible spectrum,” and that the eye - despite it being an amazing organ - is limited and cannot perceive wavelengths outside the visible spectrum. We know that certain species of birds and bees, for example, can indeed see outside of our visible spectrum. They have access to what we do not have access to. Just as birds and bees can see realities beyond the visible spectrum, certain humans have been shown realities beyond the scope of human perception. God singled them out and honored them to relay His message of Divine oneness and submission, and He showed them many realities to which we have no access, in order for them to convey to us those realities based on direct experience rather than merely being informed. As the Prophet Muhammad [peace and blessings be upon him] stated, “Being informed is nothing like actual experience.” [Musnad Ahmad; Mustadrak Hakim]
Such experience can come to the slave that Allah chooses, so for example when the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, asked him, "Harithah, how are you this morning?" He said, "This morning I have become a true mumin." He said, "Think about what you are saying! Because every statement has a reality." He said, "Messenger of Allah, my self dislikes the world, so that it is sleepless at night and thirsty in the day, and it is as if I am gazing upon the Throne of my Lord appearing, and it is as if I am gazing upon the people of the Garden in the Garden and how they visit each other in it, and as if I am gazing upon the people of the Fire and how they howl in it." He said, "You have seen, so remain firm. (Arafta, Falzam)[You are] a slave whom Allah has illuminated the Iman in his heart." So Iman has an actualization and from this is noor or light that opens up domain of the unseen commensurate to their Iman.
Amongst these matters unseen is Jannat – the paradise that awaits the sincere believer which cannot be grasped in this world through our limited senses but is instead as the Prophet said:
I have prepared for My slaves what no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no human intellect/heart can imagine.”
The Paradise that has been prepared as an inheritance to those of righteousness:
That is Paradise, which We give as inheritance to those of Our servants who were fearing of Allah."
[Surah Maryam: 63]
The Paradise that is the fulfillment of our desires: Allah the Almighty says:
"So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion."
[Surah Al Imran: 185]
Why is the enjoyment of this world a delusion? The answer is, because its temporal. Whatsoever it gives you, is prone to be lost, be it beauty, wealth or power.
Only recent Margaret Thatcher died, for the better part of two decades she was the leader of the UK, they called her the Iron Lady, "there's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women", she said. From being amongst the most powerful people on earth, amongst the most powerful orators, she went on to suffer from dementia; reportedly having to be reminded each day towards the last years of her life that her husband had died and each time crying as if hearing it for the first time. From having a nation at her command, she died alone in a hotel room with no family by her side. Her life is a similitude of the world, the world with all its glitter and glamour may occupy and entertain us for a while, but it will eventually leave us, and nothing will go with us except what we did for Allah.
As Allah says:
"Say, The enjoyment of this world is little, and the Hereafter is better for he who fears Allah. And injustice will not be done to you, [even] as much as a thread [inside a date seed]."
[Surah Al Nisaa: 77]
So if we were really serious about maximising our lives in this world, then we would aim for Jannat (Paradise):
"Race toward forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in Allah and His messengers. That is the bounty of Allah which He gives to whom He wills, and Allah is the possessor of great bounty."
[Surah Al Hadid: 21]
The bounty of such Paradise cannot be imagined, but it will be a delight. As Allah says:
"And when you look there [in Paradise], you will see a delight (that cannot be imagined) and a great dominion."
Though unimaginable, the delight of Paradise does have some similitude. For the Scholars say that every form of delight we have in this world, be it physical or spiritual is a precursor to the delight to be beheld in the next. So some these delights involve the delights of physicality, such as dress, abode, food and even sensuality, the intimate companionship of our wives, husband, all of these having a physical dimension of pleasure; and some delights will be spiritual. With regards to the physical delights, the Qu'ran describes the dwellings of belivers as:
".... beautiful mansions in Gardens of everlasting bliss...."
Elsewhere it says the believers will reside:
"…they will reside in the high dwellings [Paradise] in peace and security...."
Alongside such mansions will be palaces and tents made of pearls, as hadeeth in Bukhari and Muslim speak about the tents made of hollowed out pearls and houses and palaces made of special brocade, in which there is no noise or exhaustion. With regards to food – the Qu'ran mentions that believers will have every kind of fruit.
"…In it is from every fruit."
Although the Qu'ran does specifically mention some fruits by name, thereby conferring on them a special status such as grape yards, date palms and pomengranates. All of these fruits will be on trees, piled together one above the other.
"In shade long-extended Water flowing constantly, And fruit in abundance Neither limited [to season] nor forbidden,"
Alongside these fruits, there are rivers, but not just any rivers; rivers of milk, (non-intoxicating) wine and clear honey. As the Qu'ran says:
"Wherein are rivers of water unaltered, rivers of milk the taste of which never changes, rivers of wine delicious to those who drink, and rivers of purified honey."
But there will be a similarity to all of this:
"Every time they are fed with fruits therefrom, they say: "Why, this is what we were fed with before," for they are given things in similitude."
Scholars say that this similarity applies to all delights; not just food. For things are known through our realm of experience and in that regards every true delight we avail in this world, is a pointer to the delight that awaits us in the next.
So for every delight, its manifestation will be that it will be increased manifold in paradise, with its good remaining but having everything negative of it removed. So this applies to clothes (people will be wearing bracelets of Gold, green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade), this also applies to all types of food, drink, so for wine, as the Qu'ran says it will be:
Crystal-white, of a taste delicious to those who drink (thereof), Free from headiness; nor will they suffer intoxication therefrom
Just as the wine won't lead to intoxication, the food won't lead to indigestion, acidity, diabetes or high blood pressure. In-fact there will be no illness, no death, for as the Hadeeth in Sahih Muslim says, paradise is where people will be healthy and never be sick again, live and never die again, young and never grow old and feeble again, be in constant enjoyment and never be feel sorrow or regret again.
Amongst the inhabitants of Jannat, there will be no ill-feelings:
They will not hear therein ill speech or commission of sin Only a saying: "Peace, peace."
People will be in this state, constant bliss, reclining on raised thrones, as the Qu'ran says:
"They will recline therein on raised thrones. How good the recompense! How beautiful a resting place to recline on!"
So sufficient it is to describe paradise by the words of Allah:
“They shall have whatever they wish with their Lord.”
[Qur'an: 39: 34]
In Paradise, if we wish for something, it will be there before us, and no one will find anything less than everything they could possibly seek. Allah will inspire each to seek what is good, in accordance with their sincerity and spiritual striving in this life.
They will have all of this and yet it is worth reflecting on Paradise for a monent, because the Qu'ran speaks to people on different levels and Fear and Hope is how most people are motivated. So what is Paradise really?
Allah hath promised to Believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of Allah. That is the supreme felicity.
The greatest bliss is the good pleasure of Allah and in the final analysis – that is what Paradise represents: the Ridhwan (or good pleasure) of Allah. It is because Paradise is the representation of Allah's pleasure that the key to realize his pleasure is the actualization of La ilaha illah Allah. Bukhari mentions in his ‘Saheeh’ from Wahab bin Munnabih that it was said to him: ‘Is not ‘La ilaha ‘illa Allaah’ the key to Paradise?’ He said:
‘Of course, however there is no key except that it has teeth, so if a key is brought which has teeth then it will be opened, otherwise it will not open.’
The essence of La ilaha illa Allah is removing the heart from all things besides Allah and then adorning it with the light of the Prophetic message. As Allah says:
"For them who have done good is the best [reward] and extra."
[Surah Yunus: 26]
May He give that to you and me.
Delivered on: 12-April -2013