The guidance of Ibn Ataa on keeping the priorities straight (Part 2)

Mental Wellbeing Sadaf Riaz
priorities straight
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As we discussed in Part 1 that Ibn Ataa in his well- known book Al-Hikam guides us about priorities as:

“A sign of following one’s whims is to be active with optional good deeds while being lazy with required obligations.”

We need a deep understanding and sound knowledge in our journey to Allah.

How to follow the Prophet truly?

Unfortunately, in today’s world, we come across some people who claim that they are following the lifestyle of the Holy Prophet (PBUH),i.e., his outward appearance, his way of dressing, the color of his clothes, and his way of sitting, etc. Yet, they are the same people who used to mistreat their parents, misuse the public trust or resources, and backbiting other people.

Hence, they are missing the obligations and fulfilling the outward looks.

Another example of following whims is that most people do not offer obligatory prayers, but they used to perform the Eid prayer strictly, even though Eid prayer comes after obligatory prayer.

Some people perform Umrah every year which is optional. On the other hand, you will find the same people busy committing sins in front of the TV and in public. Avoiding disobedience is obligatory and has priority over optional (Umrah). All we need is to purify our souls.

Allah speaks in a hadith about optional good deeds.

“And my servants continuous to draw near to Me with optional works so that shall I love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks”. (Al-Bukhari)

But we forget that the beginning of the hadith is not “And my servant”. In all of its different narrations the beginning of the hadith goes like that:

“My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the duties I have enjoined upon him.”

We shall enter paradise if we perform the obligations such as zakah, prayers, pilgrimage and fasting, giving up sins, treating the old and young with respect, being kind to parents, and so on.

Keeping priorities straight is the path to paradise

The Prophet did not begin with outward looks and formalities when he was asked about Islam. Once a bedouin came and asked Prophet (PBUH) that, “O Allah’s messenger! Inform me what Allah has made compulsory for me as regards the prayers.”

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) replied: “You have to offer perfectly the five compulsory prayers in a day and night, unless you want to pray an optional prayer.”

Here the Holy Prophet put stress on obligations instead of optional prayers.

Further, the bedouin asked, “Inform me what Allah has made compulsory for me as regards fasting.”

He replied, “You have to fast during the whole month of Ramadan unless you want to fast more as optional fasting.”

The bedouin asked further,” Tell me how much zakah Allah has enjoyed on me.”

Thus, the Prophet explains all the fundamentals of Islam to him.

The bedouin then replied,” By Him Who has honored you, I will neither perform any optional deeds nor will I decrease what Allah has enjoined on me. The prophet said,

“If he is saying the truth he will succeed and will be granted paradise.” (Al-Bukhari)

The words of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) reveal that if we are keen to give priority to obligations over optional deeds, Allah will grant us paradise.

May Allah make all our paths easy and safe and grant us correct knowledge and deep understanding.


(Written by Sadaf Riaz)

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