We often wonder why some people are ahead of us in certain areas of life but not after we are made to know that the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary is the extra. The extra represents the edge and the differential responsible for stratifying people into various categories. Thus, there are those who can go to any length to get what they want while there are those who are satisfied with little provided it meets the basic requirements. As life keeps evolving, realities change, and new challenges emerge with the dynamism of life. So, there’s a restratification which may push some people up to further or deep down.
Islam being a universally consistent faith with regards to both time and clime has this peculiarity ingrained in its system through which Muslims are categorized. This is not about injustice or undue preference for some over others, the amount of investment determines the amount of returns. Life is fair to all.
From the popular saying credited to our Frontline Companion, Umar (RA) about the knowledge exchange encounter where Jibreel came visiting as a human, we find that there is a three-fold stratification into Muslim (Islam), Mu’min (Iman), Muhsin (Ihsan), with the last being the highest level where there are no holds barred between the servant and his Master. In Q35:32, another three-fold stratification is also mentioned as “he who wrongs himself, he who is moderate, and he who is foremost in good deeds by permission of Allah. However, what is of utmost concern is the benefits of doing more in worship to get closer to Allaah. In a famous saying of the Prophet stated below, we see how honoured a slave can be.
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (RadhiyAllahu ‘anhu) who said: The Messenger of Allah (SallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Verily Allah (Glorified may he be) has said: ‘Whosoever shows enmity to a wali (friend) of Mine, then I have declared war against him. And My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the religious duties I have obligated upon him. And My servant continues to draw near to me with nafil (supererogatory) deeds until I Love him. When I Love him, I become his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him; and were he to seek refuge with Me, I would surely grant him refuge?’ ” [Reported by Bukhari]
Isn’t that awesome? How often do small means lead to magnificent ends! Attaining that lofty position is no mean feat, having your Lord fight for you against your traducers, to love you and take complete control of your life- your major tools for living, that you become a Robbaniyy. What else can you long for after having your Lord to whom belongs the best example (Q16:60) direct what you see, hear, hold and step on? This is too special a favour. People in this category are those referred to as the Awliyyaah- Allies of Allah- upon whom there shall be no fear nor shall they grieve (Q10:62). They are characterized by Faith which leads them to worship and Piety which prevents them from sinning (Q10:63). They shall have glad tidings in both worlds (Q10:64).
What makes these set of people unique is their insatiable quest to please their Lord, to go beyond the ordinary. This keeps them moving till their Lord becomes pleased with them. They are extraordinary.
Yes, they are mere humans like you and I, but their dedication to the service of Allah has elevated them to a higher place. This means that you and I can also be like them. The key factor here is consistency, the ability to keep keeping on, not getting tired which is the bane of our spirituality. The pomp and glamour of the world has created a barrier for the Muslim and made him satisfied with little as long as it meets the basic requirements of the religion. Having to meet up with schedules and appointments, to unwind and relax among other things have limited the closeness of Muslim slaves with their Master. This is even threatening the basic requirements so much that we mostly make up for them, Subhaanallaah! Was it not for Allah’s mercy which prevails over His wrath and His grace, how will we stand before Him as worthy servants?
If we truly knew what the love of Allah can earn us, we would surely leave everything and focus on Him. When Allah loves a person, such person becomes a celebrity among the angels, becoming the talk among them, a supercilious scenario better than that of the world. What’s more, he is granted his desires instantly and placed under Allah’s direct care. That’s the supreme felicity. If this is understood rightly, what then would be the world that a Muslim will be engrossed in at the detriment of his Lord’s special honour.
Brethren, it’s up to us to make amends and free ourselves from the traps of Iblees the accursed, to return to the basis, and increase in our ibaadah, that we may become the Robbaniyy we are expected to be. Let’s get busy with what truly matters, let’s do the needful and top it up with the extra. Let’s become extraordinary.