The Secret Beyond Matter

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Not spending to show off

Another attitude displeasing to Allah is to turn what was meant to be an act of worship into showing off. Spending for the purpose of earning praise or other worldly benefits is an attitude peculiar to unbelievers and hypocrites, as described in the Qur'an: 

And also for those who spend their wealth to show off to people, not believing in Allah and the Last Day. Anyone who has made satan his comrade, what an evil comrade he is! (Surat an-Nisa'; 38)

While spending for the cause of Allah, a believer should pay attention not to expect to do anything other than earning the acceptance of Allah. He must not be vulnerable to satan's suggestions like "They should never say that I did not contribute," or "They should see I have great fear of Allah," or "They should respect and love me more," and "They should provide me status and rank" and thereby turn his good deed into idolatry or shirk, which would endanger his life in the Hereafter.

Avoiding idle talk

Idle or empty talk contains no remembrance of Allah, nor is it aimed at His approval. In other words, it is a type of talk that is of no benefit to one's eternal life in the Hereafter. Although worthless talking inevitably brings trouble to the soul, ignorant people spend much of their time engaged in it. It is among the strategies of satan to hinder man from remembering Allah, from seeing the countless signs and miracles of Allah surrounding him, and from reflecting upon the purpose of life. Thus, precious time is lost that should be spent engaging in good deeds for the Hereafter.

Satan always tempts people toward worthless talk and suggests the most pertinent subjects according to their social class, level of intelligence and interests. For example, the subjects that keep common people busy are sports, recipes, the problems of child raising and so forth. Exchange rates, the stock exchange and other subjects related to commerce and economy occupy the minds of people involved in business. Another section of society who call themselves intellectuals and who want to show themselves off as cultured indulge in prolonged dialogues, thinking that they have solved great difficulties, but which generally bring no benefit to society. One frequently sees examples of this in open forums held on television. Participants discuss a particular issue for hours, only to be recognized for their knowledge and to impress others. They ingratiate themselves with those in higher positions in order to have their viewpoints endorsed. Personal complexes and ambitions ultimately cause one to fail when offering solutions because one cannot view the matter objectively. There are people who take such forums as an opportunity to attack religious moral values and reveal their aversion to truth. Allah describes these attitudes in the Qur'an:

But there are some people who trade in distracting tales to misguide people from Allah's Way knowing nothing about it and to make a mockery of it. Such people will have a humiliating punishment. (Surah Luqman; 6)

While indulging in worthless talk is a characteristic of unbelievers, avoidance of it is a quality of believers:

[Believers are] those who do not bear false witness and who, when they pass by worthless talk, pass by with dignity. (Surat al-Furqan; 72)

When they hear worthless talk they turn away from it and say, 'We have our actions and you have your actions. Peace be upon you. We do not desire the company of the ignorant.' (Surat al-Qasas; 55)

As is his usual practice, satan attempts to introduce this habit of ignorance into the lives of believers, which is indeed improper in terms of religious morals. To this end, he employs seemingly legitimate excuses and seeks moments when believers are not attentive. Therefore, one must always be vigilant and not let himself be dragged into such conversations. On the contrary, he should intervene and remind the people involved in such pastimes to remember Allah. A believer must always avoid ignorance, unbecoming manners and blameworthy speech. The absence in Paradise of any offensive speech is described among its blessings:

Gardens of Eden which the All-Merciful has promised to His servants in the Unseen. His promise is always kept. They will not hear any prattling there -nothing but 'Peace.' They will receive their provision there morning and night. (Surah Maryam; 61-62)

Avoiding purposeless deeds

Apart from refraining from worthless talk, believers should not engage in purposeless and futile deeds that bring no rewards in the Hereafter. In the Qur'an, Allah speaks of;

Those who turn away from worthless talk. (Surat al-Muminun, 3)

All kinds of action that is not intended to earn the good pleasure of Allah would fit in this category. Even the good behavior commanded in the Qur'an could be futile if a person exhibits it for any purpose other than earning the good pleasure of Allah -for example, because it has become a habit, because it is a way to avoid another more difficult deed or because it is something everyone around him does. (Allah knows the truth.)

Besides the obligatory acts of worship that a Muslim performs at particular times in the course of the day, he should also spend the rest of his time in acts that will benefit Islam and for attaining the good pleasure of Allah, and he should strive to improve himself in order to obtain the best results.

The priority and urgency of the work is also very important for believers. Scheduled routine work may be a waste of time and energy when there are more urgent duties waiting to be done at that moment. A believer must not consider it sufficient not to indulge himself in the useless pastimes that occupy unbelievers. Rather, he must always have pure intention and not prefer a deed that is less likely to deserve Allah's approval over a more important one. (See "12. Continuation of Good Deeds and Worship.")

Being humble in one's prayers

A number of acts of worship are required from Muslims at certain times. Yet one must take care not to turn them into rituals that are performed mindlessly. On the contrary, awareness that worship is done purely to attain Allah's acceptance and approval inspires zeal and excitement in a believer. Regular prayer is one of these acts which is meticulously performed five times a day. In the Qur'an, Allah states that true believers are humble in their prayers:

It is the believers who are successful. [Believers are] those who are humble in their prayer. (Surat al-Muminun; 1-2)

Humility is recognition of Allah's grandeur and perfection with "fear and respect of Allah." This is the state of mind that a believer must ideally experience during prayers. It is of little worth in the Sight of Allah when acts of worship are performed without sincerity, contemplation and conscientiousness. One may hope for acceptance when his act of worship draws him closer to Almighty Allah, inspires fear and love of Him, improves his understanding and character and hinders him from committing evil. This is what our Prophet (saas) said about the punctiliousness required regarding prayer:

Narrated from Sa'd b. Ebi Vakkas. Sa'd says: "I asked Allah's Messenger about those who were heedless of their prayers." He told: "They are those who fail to pray in due time." Abu Berze says: Allah's Messenger said the following when the verse "who are neglectful of their prayers." was revealed: "Glory to Allah, prayer is better than blessings as much as this world. A person who is heedless of his prayer is the one who does not expect any good from his prayer and who does not fear his Lord because of not praying." (Tafsir al-Tabari, 9/238239)

A believer who has a true understanding of the life in this world and who seeks life in the Hereafter, sees every act as a way of attaining the approval of Allah. He does not miss opportunities to perform good deeds and tries to pay the utmost attention to these.

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