Many of us search for His signs hoping He will guide us, yet we remain lost. There may be moments when we witness His absolute infinite wealth of guidance (tawfiq) and blessings, still most of the time we persist in a world of emptiness and neediness. We search endlessly for His messages. But if God were to answer your call, would you know it? Would you heed His guidance? Is it possible that you are repeatedly shown signs, and dismiss them as simple coincidences?
Understanding His will and receiving His call requires closeness (taqwa). It requires a tearing of the veil between you and Him. It requires a love and intimacy so powerful and so consuming, that only the vessel of one’s heart can carry this one love.
If we desire His guidance, it’s critical that we first learn how to fill our hearts with Him alone. This is a condition expressed in the Qur’an. “Indeed, within the heavens and earth are signs for the believers,”(Qur’an 45:3). This verse refers to the mu’min (believer).
• Tranquility triggered by a strong sense of faith
• Being present, in the higher dimensions of a moment, without expectations
• Emptying one’s heart from everything except for the trust one instills in Allah (swt)
Allah (swt) tells us that paying heed to His signs is the benefit, indeed the essence, of being a mu’min. Nothing is real outside of Him, and if we are able to fill our heart with this reality, if all circumstances and all conditions become a manifestation of His will in our eyes, than His guidance will come regardless of how heavy or complex our affairs may seem. “For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” (Qur’an 94:5)
Believing in the Oneness of God’s purpose and design is critical to the way we view the events that take place in our lives. This is especially true if we desire His guidance. Ibn Qayyim radiAllahu anhu (may God be pleased with him) in his book Madarij as-Salikeen discusses guidance as being a primary benefit in achieving a true internal state of tawheed (Oneness of God). The states are articulated in four stages:
1. Tawba (Repentance): Ibn Qayyim suggests that in order to achieve the greatest and most insightful state, one must start with a constant (and never ending) state of tawba (repentance), and recognize the hearts thirst to seek the truth. It’s through the deep thirst for truth that light enters ones heart. And once light enters the heart, seeking the Source becomes deeply rooted cause within the individual.
2. Awakening Level (Fikra): This is the level of thinking and pondering. In this early stage, the heart starts to stare in the direction it wants to go in and after recognizing, it desires a wakeful state. In this phase the heart starts to understand and distinguish truth from falsehood. It starts to determine what is good and what is bad.
3. Bassera (A light in the heart): Bassera becomes a form of revelation for the mu’min. Bassera is very powerful, because it places ferasa (insight) in the heart and it makes the believer aware of the good and evil in life. It removes all forms of shock in dunya. It helps one ease the need to set expectations. In this state, the believer is aware of what others can’t see or understand.
4. Azim (Determination): The ultimate by-product and fruits of the previous stages lead to Azim. To reach this state a mu’min must set a qada (goal). The goal must be a path towards God. Once you have ferasa (insight) the believer is able to set a goal that will lead them on the right path. Once the goal is set, and one pursues it, his determination increases (Azim). This determination will create a sustaining bias towards action in the believer. He will constantly and without tiring struggle on the path to reach his goal: God.
Of all the states listed by Ibn Qayyim, the most important one is repentance. Tawba isn’t a phrase we say at the end of each prayer, nor is it just a gesture. Tawba in its deepest sense represents humility and God-consciousness. It means, before doing something, we ask ourselves whether it will bring us closer to Him. It means, every time we incline towards a sin, our heart aches for forgiveness. It means, loving Him with a sincerity that penetrates the deepest aspects of our wants, desires and hopes, because we can’t have the love of dunya and His love in the same vessel.
So start with tawba. Let your life become completely consumed by it. It will bring you so much closer to Him, His signs, and His revelation. Even if you don’t have the chance to reach the higher stages in this life, tawba will protect you, guide you, and reassure you in moments of weakness and in moments of need.
May Allah grant us all goodness & tawba to become a true MUKMIN.. Ameen