You Cannot Count the Blessings of Allāh
During the Seminar, Bulūgh al-Marām: Chapter of Purification in January 2017, our noble and respected elder, Abū Muʿādh Taqwīm Aslam, delivered a powerful khuṭbah at TROID (2017.01.27), concerning the blessings of Allāh, all of which we could never even begin to enumerate, and the greatest of which is guidance to Islam and the Sunnah. In this khuṭbah, he also highlighted the grave importance of seeking and equipping oneself with knowledge in order to worship Allāh as He has commanded us, so we may protect ourselves and our families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones.
O Servants of Allāh, listen to the statement of Allāh in the Qurʾān when He says,
۞ وَإِن تَعُدُّواْ نِعۡمَتَ ٱللَّهِ لَا تُحۡصُوهَآۗ ۞
"And if you count the Blessings of Allāh, never will you be able to count them"
[Sūrah Ibrahīm,14: 34]
Indeed, were you to enumerate the blessings of Allāh, you would not be able to do so. Such are the great number of blessings that Allāh bestows upon his servants. Consider the narration which the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) mentioned in the Ḥadīth Qudsī where Allāh, the Mighty and Majestic says,
"Each of you is in [a state of] hunger except for the ones whom I feed, so seek your provisions from Me and I will provide for you...All of you are naked except for those whom I clothe, so seek your clothing from Me and I will clothe you."
This is all an indication that we, as the servants of Allāh, are in a state of poverty before our Lord, and are in great need of Him and His blessings, and all of these blessings are not due to our own competence or skill; rather, it is from the blessings which Allāh has bestowed upon us. Abū Hurayrah (raḍi Allāhu ʿanhu) heard Allāh's Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) saying, "Allāh willed to test three Israelites—a leper, a blind man and a bald-headed man. So, He sent an angel who came to the leper and said, 'What thing do you like most?' He replied, "Good colour and good skin, for the people have a strong aversion to me.' The angel touched him and his illness was cured, and he was given a good color and beautiful skin. The angel asked him, 'What kind of property do you like best?' He replied, 'Camels [or cows].' (The narrator is in doubt, for either the leper or the bald-headed man demanded camels and the other demanded cows.) So he [i.e. the leper] was given a pregnant she-camel, and the angel said [to him], 'May Allāh bless you in it.' The angel then went to the bald-headed man and said, 'What thing do you like most?' He said, 'I like good hair and wish to be cured of this disease, for the people feel repulsion for me.' The angel touched him and his illness was cured, and he was given good hair. The angel asked [him], 'What kind of property do you like best?' He replied, 'Cows,' The angel gave him a pregnant cow and said, 'May Allāh bless you in it.' The angel went to the blind man and asked, 'What thing do you like best?' He said, '[I like] that Allāh restores my eyesight so that I may see the people.' The angel touched his eyes and Allāh gave him back his eyesight. The angel asked him, 'What kind of property do you like best?' He replied, 'Sheep.' The angel gave him a pregnant sheep. Afterward, all the three pregnant animals gave birth to young ones, and multiplied and brought forth so much that one of the [three] men had a herd of camels filling a valley, and one had a herd of cows filling a valley, and one had a flock of sheep filling a valley. Then the angel, disguised in the shape and appearance of a leper, went to the leper and said, 'I am a poor man, who has lost all means of livelihood while on a journey. So none will satisfy my need except Allāh and then you. In the Name of Him Who has given you such nice color and beautiful skin, and so much property, I ask you to give me a camel so that I may reach my destination'. The man replied, 'I have many obligations [so I cannot give you].' The angel said, 'I think I know you; were you not a leper to whom the people had a strong aversion? Weren't you a poor man, and then Allāh gave you [all this property].' He replied, '[This is all wrong]; I got this property through inheritance from my fore-fathers.' The angel said, 'If you are telling a lie, then let Allāh make you as you were before.' Then the angel, disguised in the shape and appearance of a bald man, went to the bald man and said to him the same as he told the first one, and he too answered the same as the first one did. The angel said, 'If you are telling a lie, then let Allāh make you as you were before.' The angel, disguised as a blind man, went to the blind man and said, 'I am a poor man and a traveler, whose means of livelihood have been exhausted while on a journey. I have nobody to help me except Allah, and after Him, you yourself. I ask you in the Name of Him Who has given you back your eyesight to give me a sheep, so that with its help, I may complete my journey'. The man said, 'No doubt, I was blind and Allāh gave me back my eyesight; I was poor and Allāh made me rich; so take anything you wish from my property. By Allāh, I will not stop you from taking anything [you need] of my property which you may take for Allāh's sake.' The angel replied, 'Keep your property with you. You [i.e three men] have been tested and Allāh is pleased with you and is angry with your two companions." (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī No. 3228)
It is upon us to accept and recognise the blessings of Allāh so that we may be from those whom He is pleased with. The blessings of the food you have, the clothes you have, the homes you have; and from the greatest of all of those blessings is the blessing of guidance from Allāh (subḥānahū wa-taʿāla) who has guided you to Islām. Allāh mentions in the ḥadīth Qudsī, 'All of you are misguided except the ones whom I have guided, so seek your guidance from Me and I will guide you.’ And that is what you do in every prayer when you say,
۞ ٱهۡدِنَا ٱلصِّرَٲطَ ٱلۡمُسۡتَقِيم ۞
You are asking Allāh to guide you to the truth, to tawḥīd and the Sunnah, and to keep you away from misguidance, shirk and bidʿah. That guidance which you have been given is from the tremendous blessings of Allāh upon you. The fact that you are sitting here right now, attending the Jumuʿah prayer that has been legislated upon you; that in itself dictates that you be grateful to Allāh (subḥānahu wa-taʿāla). Perhaps some years ago you did not find yourself in the Jumuʿah prayer, or even establishing the daily prayers, then after those years Allāh guided you to the truth, to Islām, tawḥīd and the Sunnah, and that is indeed from the greatest blessings of Allāh upon His servants.. How many there are on the streets who call themselves Muslims, yet do not know of the Jumuʿah prayer and its importance, and neither do they pray or care about the prayer, look to their state. The fact that your state has been changed by Allāh and you find yourself in the Masjid is a tremendous blessing, and you should ask Allāh to let you remain firm upon that guidance once you have been guided.
Do not think that you are safe and secure upon that guidance, for you do not know what will occur to your heart, hence the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) used to supplicate to Allāh saying,
يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِى عَلَى دِينِكَ
'O Turner of hearts, keep my heart firm upon Your Religion'
O servants of Allāh, the blessings of Allāh are not to be forgotten. Indeed, the one who forgets is in a great state of loss. It is a tremendous blessing that Allāh has guided you to the understanding of the methodology of Salaf, and it is upon you to thank Allāh and strive upon this path that He has placed you upon from His favours upon you. So strive and do not let it become wasted before your eyes; strive upon the path of knowledge, for indeed the affair of seeking knowledge is from the greatest affairs which lead to increased īmān. For indeed, the more you learn about your Lord concerning His Names and Attributes, and about the life of the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) and the sacrifices he made to spread this dīn, the greater your īmān will be.
Indeed knowledge is an affair of honour. A Muslim should be upon knowledge of his religion, not ignorant and only Muslim by name. Look to the narration of Muḥammad ibn Abd al-Raḥmān al-Awqas, an individual who was disfigured, his neck was tiny, his head was in his shoulders, and his shoulders were protruding. He was disfigured in appearance. His mother said to him, 'You will not go to any gathering of the people except that all of the people will make their jokes about you due to your appearance, so upon you is to seek knowledge my son', so he said, 'Those words of my mother impacted me, and so I sought knowledge of the religion.' Indeed, he sought knowledge until he became the judge of Makkah, and he became honourable due to his knowledge of the religion. Look to how Allāh raised him from a person who used to be mocked due to his appearance, to such an extent that when the people would enter his courtroom, they used to shake in fear due to his level of knowledge. And it is for this reason that ʿAlī ibn Abi Ṭālib said, 'Sufficient for knowlege is its honour and nobility, since even the one who does not have knowledge claims to be knowledgeable'
ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (raḍi Allāhu ʿanhu), whilst he was Amīr al-Muʾminīn, appointed Nāfiʿ to be in charge of Makkah while he was in Madinah. On one occasion, Nāfiʿ came to visit ʿUmar (raḍi Allāhu ʿandhu) who asked him who he had left in charge of Makkah in his absence. Nāfiʿ said to him 'I have left a man by the name of ibnu Abza, who was formerly one of our slaves but now he is a free man.' (Perhaps ʿUmar (raḍi Allāhu ʿanhu) was surprised, thinking the people would not give respect to a former slave). But then Nāfiʿ said, 'He is a man despite being a slave, that has knowledge of the Qurʾān and the religion.' So ʿUmar (raḍi Allāhu ʿanhu) said, ‘Indeed you have heard the statement of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam),‘Verily Allāh raises people through the Qurʾān’ meaning those of knowledge, those who learnt the Qurʾān and Sunnah, Allāh gives them nobility and honour, and others are debased due to the Qurʾān, because of their negligence and abandonment of the Qurʾān.
So now it is a time to reflect, O Muslims, upon yourselves, are you a Muslim by name with no knowledge of the religion and of what is in the Qurʾān? How will you protect your families and help preserve your societies without knowledge if you yourself do not have knowledge? How will you worship Allāh, and teach your families and children how to worship Allāh? Make this a time of reflection; recognise that these days and nights, they disappear within the blink of an eye, and death will come upon you. What deeds will you take with you? Indeed, it is knowledge which saves one from the Fire and Allāh's punishment. So reflect, O Muslims, upon the blessings of Allāh for guiding you to this dīn, and thank Him and ask Him to keep you firm upon this straight path.