Whilst in the company of one's Shaykh, or when in good company, or during the month of Ramadan, we find an undeniably positive effect concerning our overall behaviour and our relationship with Allah Ta'ala.
It suddenly becomes easy to perform good deeds and abstain from sins. Our hearts become light and happy after being relieved of the terrible burden of sins. Noor and Sakinah permeate the heart, and life becomes pleasant, Alhamdulillah.
Then we leave the company of the Shaykh or Ramadan passes, and we find ourselves susceptible and vulnerable to the invitations and temptations of sins. We fall prey to nafs and Shaytaan. We ask: Why? How come? We were slowly but surely improving, and then we started stumbling, faltering, falling, and sometimes we are floored by nafs and even land up in the gutters of sins. May Allah Ta'ala protect us all.
We, ourselves, are the reason for our weaknesses and failings.
Whilst in the company of the Masha'ikh or during Ramadan, we do not develop sufficient Taqwa to insulate ourselves against sins, nafs and Shaytan. The Suhbah (company) of the pious and righteous and the month of Ramadaan offers special protection. However, we generally visit or keep company with the pious for short periods, and Ramadan visits us once a year.
The time certainly comes when we have to face the many challenges outside the company of the pious and outside of Ramadan. Therefore, it is necessary to strongly insulate the heart and soul against the harsh climate of sins.
For better understanding, let us take an example: It is a freezing Winter's day; whilst we are indoors, we keep warm because our homes offer some insulation: the walls and the roof provide protection; the carpets, heater, fireplace add to that protection and also generate warmth.
We will enjoy this warmth if we sit near the fireplace or heater. However, when we go outside, we obviously cannot carry the heater with us.
We have heard and read of people who climb mountains covered in snow. What do they do? Do they carry heaters with them? —No! They insulate themselves with warm, thermal clothing.
If we have to go outdoors, then knowing the extreme temperature outside, we adopt measures to protect ourselves.
To keep warm while we are outdoors, we first insulate ourselves by wearing warm clothing, thick jackets, warm hats, socks, gloves, etc.
We may even drink some hot soup or any hot drink to warm ourselves from the inside. If we adopt all these means before leaving our homes, we will be shielded against the icy, bitter cold —insha Allah.
Similarly, while in the company of the Mashaikh, or during the blessed month of Ramadaan, we must do our best to insulate ourselves with the qualities of Taqwa, Sabr, Shukr, Zuhd, Tawadhu, etc.
In the company of the Shaykh, we draw the warmth of the love of Allah Ta'ala—this is what is generated from his heart. This then becomes the insulation and protection against the demands of Nafs and the attacks of Shaytan.
It is not possible to be with the Shaykh twenty-four hours a day. He has a life to lead. He will teach at the Madrasah, give talks at the Masjid, travel out in the Khidmat of Deen, etc.
What do we do at such times? In the company of the Shaykh, we prepare for ourselves—for the harsh climate of sins and distractions of the outside work. We adopt protection measures just like the person who covers himself with a blanket or wears a heavy jacket before going out.
In the Majlis of the Shaykh, we also insulate the heart with the Sifah of Ihsan, with the conscious awareness of Allah Ta'ala –keeping before us that Allah Ta'ala is All-Seeing, All-Hearing, All-Knowing, All-Aware —and that nothing escapes the knowledge of Allah Ta'ala. This quality is what we take with us wherever we go.
Even though the Shaykh cannot be with us all the time, Allah Ta'ala is with us at all times:
“And He is with you, wherever you are.”
[Surah Al-Hadid 57:4]
If we maintain a conscious awareness of Allah Ta'ala's presence at all times, then when we have to go to the bazaar, marketplace, university or college, we will be well-insulated.
Therefore, when we sit in those Majalis, we should not think that it is just a bayan, just a talk given. The bayan will take place, and even if there is no bayan, the silence of those who are Kaamil generates a Noor, a light. This enters through the eyes and ears and lights up the heart with the love of Allah Ta'ala. It gives the person strength in his Imaan. After that, when the person goes outside, that spiritual warmth is with him —like the person who wears his jersey and jacket, warm hat and warm socks. May Allah Ta'ala bless us all with well-insulated hearts.
Allah Ta'ala has granted us such great means for renewed fortification. Our insulation is also found in our Salaah, which needs to be established five times a day in the Masjid – and that too, with concentration and attention. It should not be a ‘slap-dash', ‘hit and run' Salaah, as is so common. (na’uzu billahi min zaalik).
Allah Ta'ala says:
“…Verily Salaah restrains from shamelessness and evil….”
[Surah Ankabut 29:45]
We also insulate with our Tilawah, our Zikrullah, and our deep-hearted Dua for protection. My Shaykh, Hazrat Maulana Shah Hakim Muhammad Akhtar Saheb (rahmatullah ‘Alayh), would repeatedly make Dua:
‘O, Allah! Wherever I am – whether on earth or in the skies – my Taqwa must always remain safe.'
Together with these, we also insulate our lives by ridding our homes of all those elements that will nullify the spirituality that we develop in the company of the Shaykh. We throw out the television, give up music, and whatever other Haraam pollutes our homes and lives.
The Suhbah of the Shaykh and the beautiful month of Ramadaan are opportune times to insulate our hearts and souls – since they facilitate ease in practising on Deen.
Thus, when Ramadaan ends, or we leave the company of our Masha'ikh, then despite the harsh climate of sins on the outside and all around us, Allah Ta'ala will protect us and assist us in abstaining from evil because we made a concerted effort to insulate ourselves against the severe and dreadful environment of sins.
Of course, to whatever extent we can, we should attend Deeni programmes regularly and maintain some connection through correspondence or even phoning the Shaykh from time to time. This will be very conducive to one's progress, insha Allah. May Allah Ta'ala grant us the Taufeeq.
Sometimes, some mureeds are content to wait for their Shaykh to come from Pakistan, India or some other part of the world, and they say: “We will make our Islah when the Shaykh visits.” The Shaykh may only visit once a year and may be in one's city for seven days, ten days, or just a few days. Then he is gone, and the rest of the year passes. What is to be done?
“Suhbat” is something that has to be continuously. If, for some reason, there are not many Majalis in the area or there are no Akabir or Masha'ikh, then take the kitabs (books) of the Shaykh or other Masha'ikh, and read them or listen to the CDs or programmes via audio-streaming. Insha Allah, this will keep a person insulated against nafs and Shaytan – otherwise, the person will become like the lone sheep, which is easy prey for the wolf.
May Allah Ta'ala grant us the correct understanding and the Tawfiq to protect ourselves from Nafs and Shaytan, Aameen.