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An Aayah We Recite at Least 17 Times A Day In Our Obligatory Prayers That Uproots Riyaa (Show off), Kibr (Pride) and Ujub (Self-amazement)

In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

Today, whilst engaged in my usual night conversations with my beloved Salafi brother, close friend and confidant Ustaadh Abu Tasneem Mushaf Al-Banghaalee [may Allaah preserve him and his family], he reminded me of a statement of Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] regarding the Aayah: [إِيّاكَ نَعبُدُ وَإِيّاكَ نَستَعينُ – You Alone We Worship And You Alone We Ask For Help].

Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: This (ayah) necessitates having knowledge of the path leading to (servitude to Allaah), which is nothing else other than worshipping Allaah alone through the (deeds) He loves and is pleasing to Him, and seeking His help to worship Him (alone). (1)

[إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ–You alone we worship] is based on four foundations: Fulfilling what is beloved and pleasing to Allaah and His Messenger- through speech of the tongue, belief in the heart, deeds of the heart and actions of the limbs. Therefore, [إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ–You alone we worship] is compliance with the rulings (attached) to these four foundations and consenting to them. On the other hand, [ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ –And you alone we ask for help] is to seek [Allaah’s] Aid and Assistance in these affairs and asking to be blessed with the ability to [act upon them]. (2)

He [Imaam Ibnul Qayyim] said: I used to hear Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [may Allaah have mercy upon him] often saying: [إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ–You alone we worship] repels Riyaa and [ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ – And you alone we ask for help] repels pride. (3)

This statement is about sincerity in worship and seeking aid and assistance (from Allaah). [إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ – You (Alone) we worship] means ‘I sincerely direct my worship to You (O Allaah) and I do not worship other than You’. [وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ – and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything)] means ‘I sincerely (single You out) in seeking aid and assistance, and I do not seek aid and assistance from anyone other than You (O Allaah).’ Also the statement [إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ – You (Alone) we worship] is a disavowal of Shirk, and the statement [وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ – and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything] is a declaration that there is no power nor might except with Allah. Also the statement [إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ – You (Alone) we worship] is an actualisation of the statement ‘There is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah’, and the statement [وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ – and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything] is an actualisation of the statement ‘There is no power nor might except with Allah’. Also the statement [إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ – You (Alone) we worship] embodies freedom from Shirk and Riyaa, and the statement [وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ – and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything] embodies freedom from Self-amazement and pride. (4)

Imaam Ash-Shanqeetee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated: [إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ – You (Alone) we worship]: This statement actualises (or establishes) the meaning of [لَا إله إلا الله – There is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah] because its meaning is built upon two affairs- negation and affirmation. Negating all types of worship to other gods besides Allaah (The Most High) and affirming that all legislated types of worship (i.e. in the Sharee’ah) are to be directed to the Lord of the Heavens and the earth (i.e. Allaah) alone. The meaning of the statement [إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ – You (Alone) we worship] has been affirmed (or established) in detail in other Aayaat, such as the statement of Allaah: [يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ – O mankind! Worship your Lord (Allah), Who created you]; so Allaah made that clear (i.e. affirmation that He alone has the right to be worshipped) in His statement, [اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ – Worship your Lord], and at the end of the Ayah He negated (worship directed to others besides Him) in His statement [فَلَا تَجْعَلُوا لِلَّهِ أَنْدَادًا وَأَنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ – Then do not set up rivals unto Allah (in worship) while you know (that He Alone has the right to be worshipped)] [Al-Baqarah 21-22]

Likewise Allaah’s statement: [وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ – And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taghut (all false deities, etc. i.e. do not worship Taghut besides Allah)]. So Allaah made it clear (i.e. that He alone has the right to be worshipped) in His statement [اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ – Worship Allah (Alone)] and He negated worship directed at others in His statement [وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ – avoid (or keep away from) Taghut (all false deities, etc. i.e. do not worship Taghut besides Allah)] [An-Nahl Ayah 36]

Likewise Allaah’s statement: [ فَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ لَا انْفِصَامَ لَهَا ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ – Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break]. [2:256] He negated (worship directed at others) in His statement: [فَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوت – Whoever disbelieves in Taghut] and He affirmed (that worship should be directed to Him alone) in His statement [وَيُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ – and believes in Allah].

Likewise, Allaah’s statement:
وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ لِأَبِيهِ وَقَوْمِهِ إِنَّنِي بَرَاءٌ مِمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ
إِلَّا الَّذِي فَطَرَنِي

And (remember) when Ibrahim (Abraham) said to his father and his people: “Verily, I am innocent of what you worship, Except Him (i.e. I worship none but Allah Alone) Who did create me… [Az-Zukhruf Aayaat 26-27]

And likewise Allaah’s statement: [ وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ مِنْ رَسُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدُونِ – And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We inspired him (saying): La ilaha illa Ana [none has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah)], so worship Me (Alone and no one else)]. [Al-Anbiyaa Ayah 25] (5)

Finally, We ask Allaah to protect us from Shirk, saying:

اللّهُـمَّ إِنّـي أَعـوذُبِكَ أَنْ أُشْـرِكَ بِكَ وَأَنا أَعْـلَمْ،
وَأَسْتَـغْفِرُكَ لِما لا أَعْـلَم

O Allah, I seek refuge in You lest I associate anything with You knowingly, and I seek Your forgiveness for what I know not. [Saheeh Al-Jaami As-Sagheer 3/233 and Saheeh At-Targheeb Wat-Tarheeb 1/19]

As for Ujub, we ask Allaah not to leave us to ourselves, so we ask Allaah saying:

يَا حَيُّ يَا قَيُّومُ بِرَحْمَتِكَ أَسْتَغيثُ أَصْلِحْ لِي شَأْنِيَ كُلَّهُ وَلاَ تَكِلْنِي إِلَى نَفْسِي طَرْفَةَ عَيْنٍ

O Ever Living! O The Self Subsisting, Upon Whom Everything Depends! By Your mercy I seek assistance; rectify for me all of my affairs and do not leave me to myself, even for the blink of an eye. [Imaam Albaani declared it Hasan in Silsilah As-Saheehah Number 227]

Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: This is where those forsaken have been forsaken and those granted well-being have been granted well-being. The forsaken one is veiled from his reality- he forgets himself- forgets his poverty (in the presence of Allaah), his need of (Allaah) and his (state of absolute dependence on his Lord for all his means of subsistence), therefore he transgresses all bounds (in crimes, sins, disbelief etc), becomes insolent and thus deserves a wretched end. The most perfect [person] is that one who is more perfect in his servitude [to Allaah], the greatest in his acknowledgement of his poverty, dependence and neediness [in the presence of Allaah]. He never [considers himself] self-sufficient in the presence of his Lord in the twinkling of an eye. And that is why among the supplications of the Prophet [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] is that he is used to say: [أَصْلِحْ ِلي شَأِني كُلَّهُ ، وَلاَ تَِكلْنِي إِلَى َنفْسِي َطرْفَةَ عَيْنٍ وَلاَ إِلَى أَحَدٍ مِنْ خَلْقِكَ – rectify for me all of my affairs and neither leave me to myself, even for the blink of an eye, nor to anyone among your creation]. And he [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] used to supplicate saying: [يَا مُقَلِّبَ ٱلْقُلُوبَ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِكَ – O Turner of the hearts! Keep my heart firm upon Your Religion]. He knew [with absolute certainty] that his heart is in the control of Allaah’s [The Mighty and Majestic] Hand and he has no control over it, and that Allaah alternates it [i.e. alternates it from one state to another] how He pleases. (6)

Imaam Ibnul Qayyim also stated some of the reasons behind Ujub (Self-amazement): One’s ignorance regarding the reality of his soul, its characteristics, its dangers and defects of its actions. One’s ignorance about his Lord, the rights of his Lord and how to behave in the presence of his Lord, – which would have resulted in attaining the Pleasure of his Lord and obedience to Him and having a good suspicion of his Lord- and thus leads to self-amazement, arrogance and dangerous outcomes that are greater than the apparent major sins such as fornication, alcohol consumption, running away from the battlefield (see footnote a) and what is similar. (7)

Imaam Ibn Hajr [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Ibn Battaal [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, ‘Whoever exceeds the limits in praising others with what they do not possess, the one praised will not be safe from self-amazement out of thinking that he is of that status, and maybe he fails to perform good deeds and does not increase in good due to relying on the description attributed to him'”. (8)

Imaam al-Aajuree [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: Know that Allaah has mentioned the soul in various parts of His Book [i.e. the Qur’aan] with a notification of many affairs regarding it, and all of it shows that one should be cautious of the soul. Our Generous Protected [.e. Allaah] informed us that the soul tends to incline towards the [evil] it desires, whilst knowing definitely that it is forbidden. Our Generous Protector [i.e. Allaah] made it known and taught us that whoever forbids the soul against the [evil] it desires, then indeed paradise will be his abode. Allaah said:

فَإِذَا جَآءَتِ ٱلطَّآمَّةُ ٱلۡكُبۡرَىٰ
يَوۡمَ يَتَذَكَّرُ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنُ مَا سَعَىٰ
وَبُرِّزَتِ ٱلۡجَحِيمُ لِمَن يَرَىٰ
فَأَمَّا مَن طَغَىٰ
وَءَاثَرَ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةَ ٱلدُّنۡيَا
فَإِنَّ ٱلۡجَحِيمَ هِىَ ٱلۡمَأۡوَىٰ
وَأَمَّا مَنۡ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِۦ وَنَهَى ٱلنَّفۡسَ عَنِ ٱلۡهَوَىٰ
فَإِنَّ ٱلۡجَنَّةَ هِىَ ٱلۡمَأۡوَىٰ

But when there comes the greatest catastrophe (i.e. the Day of Recompense, etc.), the Day when man shall remember what he strove for, and Hell-fire shall be made apparent in full view for (every) one who sees, then, for him who Tagha (transgressed all bounds, in disbelief, oppression and evil deeds of disobedience to Allah). And preferred the life of this world (by following his evil desires and lusts), verily, his abode will be Hell-fire; but as for him who feared standing before his Lord, and restrained himself from impure evil desires, and lusts, then verily, Paradise will be his abode. [Surah An-Naazi’aat. Aayaat 34-41]

It is obligated on the one who hears this from Allaah [i.e. the affairs stated about the nafs in the Qur’an and Sunnah] that he is more careful or cautious about his nafs than an enemy that wants to kill him, or take his wealth, or violate his honour. If someone says: “Why do you obligate – on me – this precaution about the Nafs until you place it in a situation that is more severe than an enemy whose enmity is certainly very manifest? It should then be said to him, “The enemy of yours who wants to kill you, or wants to take your wealth or violate your honour, if he overcomes you with what he does to you, then indeed Allaah will expiate some of your sins and raise your status, but this will not be the case with the nafs because if the nafs overcomes you by way of that which you desire – that which you have been forbidden, then this contains destruction for you in this Dunya and the Aakhirah- disgrace and severe punishment in the Dunyah, an evil state in the sight of Allaah and destination in the Aakhirah. Therefore the sensible person – may Allaah have mercy upon him – compels or obligates caution on his Nafs and strives against it in a manner more severe than striving against an enemy who wants to take his wealth and his life. So, he strives against his nafs in times of anger and in times of happiness. This is how our prophet disciplined us in various hadeeth, saying: The Mujaahid is the one who strives against his Nafs in obedience to Allaah – The Mighty and Majestic. (9)

Footnote a:

[Ref 1: Al-Fawaa’id: page: 41]

[Refs 2 and 3: Badaa’i At-Tafseer Al-Jaami Limaa Fassarahu Al-Imaam Ibnul Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah: Vol 1. pages 41, 53]

[Ref 4: Sharh Ad-Duroos Al-Muhimmah Li-Aammatil Ummah’ page15]

[Ref 5: An Excerpt from ‘Tafseerul Qur’aan Bil-Qur’aan Min Adwaa Al-Bayaan’ pages 32-33. Daar Hady An-Nabawiy]

[Ref 6: An Excerpt from ‘Tareequl Hijratayn pages 25-26]

[Ref 7: Madaarij As-Saalikeen 1/192]

[Ref 8: Fat-hul Baari 10/477]

[Ref 9: An Excerpt From Adabun Nufoos. Pages 1-4. Slightly paraphrased]

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