Divine Pleasure: The Ultimate Ideal

By Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri

The individual mode of living forms the first phase of human life. A deep study of the Holy Quran reveals that the ideal and purpose of individual existence is acquisition of the highest form of moral excellence. The following verse possesses a fundamental significance in relation to the aim and purpose of human creation:

"But keep on exhorting; for exhortation benefits the believers. I have created Men and Ginn that they may worship me. I desire no financial support from them nor do I desire that they should feed me." (Al-Zariyat: 55-57)

This verse has expressed the object of human life and the purpose of his creation with remarkable clarity. It is quite clear from the verse that the creation of human beings does not serve divine interest because Allah is absolutely independent of human limitations. He is beyond human limitations. He is beyond human cravings and desires. Allah wills and it is done. There is no gap between His wish and its fulfillment. He does not need human help and assistance in any form or shape because He is absolutely self-sufficient. He declares in the Holy Quran:

"Surely it is Allah Who is the great Sustainer, the Lord of power, the Strong" (Al-Zaryat: 58)

Here there is a need to remove the misunderstanding about the word `Ibadat` for people may tend to misinterpret it or delimit the immensity of the Quranic message out of sheer ignorance or mischief. There is a tendency to reduce the meaning of the word `Ibadat` to the fundamentals of prayer, pilgrimage, Zakat and fating etc and there is a belief among people that the ideal of human life is the performance of these fundamental obligations only. This is however a very limited view. The Holy Quran has itself declared that complete surrender and submission to the will of Allah is the exclusive purpose of human creation.

If `Ibadat` means only prayer or `namaz`, it is only obligatory five times a day and does not affect the rest of the time at man`s disposal. This creates the undesirable impression that out of twenty four hours in a day and night, Allah has reserved only a few moments for five obligatory prayers. This interpretation makes the act of creation a pretty lop-sided affair which hardly reflects the wisdom of the Creator.

If `Ibadat` means fasting, it is obligatory only for one month in a year and non-obligatory for eleven months, a stretch of time that far exceeds the obligatory period of fasting. This interpretation creates the impression that Allah has reserved only one month in a year during which man can fulfill his obligations as a creature and give free indulgence to his moods and whims in the remaining eleven months.

If `Ibadat` means Zakat, it is obligatory only once in a year and during rest of time, man can give free rein to his base desires and ignoble motives. This is again a very limited concept of `Ibadat`.

Again if `Ibadat` means only pilgrimage, it is obligatory only once in a life-time and it is not obligatory for everybody. This obligation is imposed only on those people whose financial position is sound enough to bear expenses of the pilgrimage. This creates erroneous impression about divine justice and wisdom. It implies divine discrimination between the rich and the poor on the basis of financial capability.

The fact is that all the noble and virtuous acts of human beings are added to the fundamentals of Islam, even their total aggregate fails to explain the diversity and complexity of life. Therefore it becomes imperative to define and specify the nature of `Ibadat`, which may be declared the object and ideal of human creation and which may serve as guiding principle in man`s diverse engagements and preoccupations. It should be noted that a true ideal can never be ignored; it is always present like the incessant beat of the heart. An ideal that fades in and fades out is no ideal. It is an imitation of an ideal. A true ideal is a point of steady reference and a constant source of illumination and consolation.

The only way to remove a sense of doubt and complication is to present a comprehensive view of true form of prayer that may encompass the totality of human life and which has been specified by the Holy Quran itself in these words:

"Righteousness or true form of prayer is not that you turn your faces to the East or West; but truly righteous are those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Books and the Prophets, and spend their wealth for love of Him on the kindred and orphans and the needy and the way-farer and those who ask, and for procuring the freedom of captives, and who observe prayer and pay the Zakat and whenever they make a promise, they carry it out and are steadfast in adversity and under affliction and in battle. It is these who have proved faithful and it is these who are righteous." (Al-Baqarah 177)

Islam does not accept any view of righteousness or any philosophy of life which excludes the practical life of man from its area of application. On the other hand, Islam posits a very broad view of human life that recognizes all of its speculative and practical aspects. Islamic conception of the right mode of submission and righteousness includes attributes such as strength of convictions, love of God, financial sacrifice, strength of actions, fulfillment of promise, patience and steadfastness etc.

Moral excellence or perfection is the ideal of individual human life and this condition of perfection is achieved through complete surrender to the will of God and its highest manifestation is the attainment of His pleasure.

The Holy Quran throws light on the fact that the only purpose of human creation and its preservation is the pleasure of Allah Almighty. This is the greatest blessing and has no parallel in the entire universe. Allah says in the Holy Book:

"And the pleasure of Allah is the greatest of all blessings." (Al-Tauba, 72)

The attainment of divine pleasure is declared by the Quran to be the greatest triumph of human life.

"Allah is pleased with them and they are well pleased with Him. That indeed is the supreme triumph." (Al-Madina: 119)

Each act of a true believer is dedicated to Allah`s pleasure. He does not desire any other reward except the reward of Allah`s pleasure because to entertain any other reward for him is a form of greed and covetousness. The Holy Quran says in the context of torture inflicted on Hazrat Bilal (RA) by the Ummiyyah in an attempt to make him defect from Islam:

"He owes no favour to any one, which is to be repaid, his purpose being only to win the pleasure of his Lord, the most High, and surely his Lord will be well pleased with him." (Al-Layl: 19-21)

It is already established that the entire pattern of the believers` life is carved out by the essential dynamism of Allah`s pleasure. The matrix of his relations is woven on this basic premise. He has sunk his will in the will of Allah Almighty. He does not allow his personal preferences to interfere in his choice of friends and enemies. The life of holy companions that carried the stamp of their long association with the Holy Prophet (SAW) is described by the Holy Quran:

"Muhammad (SAW) is the messenger of Allah. Those who are with him and have benefited from his company are unyielding towards the disbelievers, compassionate towards one an other. You will find them in a state of humility and prostration. They (under all circumstances) continue to seek the pleasure and blessing of the Lord." (Al-Fath: 29)

When man is totally dedicated to the ideal, he himself becomes the transformed ideal. This is a stage when man is so comprehensively absorbed into his object that he himself turns into the divine object. The Holy Quran says:

"Continue your companionship with those persons who call on their Lord, morning and evening and seek only His pleasure. (You should stay near them in such a way that your eyes do not wander away from them).

To conclude it can be said that true form of prayer and surrender is that man should pattern his life in total conformity with the will of Allah and the only aim of his life should be to seek His pleasure.

Daily The Nation July 29, 2007