The effects of Takbeer on the Heart of a Muslim:
By Shaykh Abul Hassan Ali Nadwi (RA)
Taken from “The Four Pillars of Islam”
We are required to begin the Salat with Takbeer or the prescribed formula of Allaho‐Akbar (God alone is Great). It is that clear, eloquent and forceful affirmation which is capable of evoking a ready response among all peoples and at all times. Before it, the magic spell of the mightiest of rulers and the most powerful of men, as well as of the man‐made deities, idols and images is broken and they are reduced to a heap of ashes provided, of course, that it is uttered with conviction and understanding and the pretenders to divine power and majesty know what its implications are and how far‐reaching can its effects be.
In truth, the desire for divine power and eminence is the common attribute among all the images of stone that are worshipped, the personalities to which reverential homage is paid, the things that are held in fear and respect, the forces of nature before which prostration is carried out and the national leaders and men of authority who are blindly followed and to whom unqualified obedience is rendered.
This brief but revolutionary proclamation, enjoined by the Quran through the exhortation of ‘And glorify thy Lord’, strikes at the root of all such claims, pretensions, myths and deceptions and destroys them forever. It rejects and repudiates the power and authority of everyone except God and puts an end to each and every source of tyranny and corruption.
When a person believes with a sincere heart in this affirmation and proclaims Allaho‐Akbar as a mark of testimony to the Greatness and Majesty of the Lord and this conviction sinks into the innermost depths of his heart and begins to pervade his entire existence the mighty and splendour of the worldly kings, political leaders and overlords loses its significance in his eyes and they evoke no fear or wonder in him. He becomes supremely indifferent to them and the display of their wealth or power fails to make any impression on him.
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Three Examples from our History:
Innumerable instances of the glorious unconcern and contemptuous disregard shown in the holy Companions at the display of wealth, power and position are available in history.
We have it, for example, on the authority of the well‐known historian, Ibn Kathir that Rabee bin Aamir (RA) was once sent by Hazrat Saad (RA) as his envoy to the court of Rustam, the commander‐in‐chief of Iran. Rustam received him in a grand durbar hall which was decorated with magnificent carpets. The Commander in‐Chief, wearing a crown and robes which sparkled with gems, sat on a throne. Rabee, in contrast, was very poorly attired. He was almost in rags and carried a shield that was too small for him. His horse, too, was of a common breed, on which he rode straight towards Rustam, the pony trampling the costly carpets under its hoofs. On getting closer to the throne, he dismounted, tied the reins of the horse to a bolster and started walk up to Rustam, still wearing his helmet and arms. The officers of the court remonstrated against it, saying that he should, at least, take off the helmet before going in the presence of the Commander‐in‐Chief. But Rabee retorted, “I have come not of my own accord but at your request. If you do not want me, I will go back”.
Rustam, thereupon, intervened and told his officers to let him come as he liked. Rabee proceeded, leaning upon his lance and piercing the carpets with it at each step.
People enquired about the object of his visit and he said, “we have been sent by Allah to deliver whom He pleases from the over lordship of His slaves (i.e. men) to His own over lordship, and from the narrow confines of this world to the boundlessness of the next and from the oppression of other religions to the fairness and justice of Islam” [Al-Bidaya Wan-Nihaya, Vol III, p.9]
The strength of faith and courage of conviction flowing out of the confessional formula had endued these blessed Muslims with almost superhuman qualities. Extraordinary deeds of bravery and resoluteness have, indeed, been performed because of it throughout the annals of Islam. The Muslims had begun to conduct themselves at such a high level of dignity and self‐respect in the presence of kings and potentates that it is not easy for many a people to maintain it even in their dealings with the weak and the poor. The bubble of their imperial pomp and splendour was pricked.
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A friend of Sheikhul Islam Izzuddin bin Abdus Salam (RA) has related an incident of the same kind in these words:
“Our mentor, Sheikh Izzuddin, once went to the Sultan AI-Malik-us-Saleh Najmuddin Ayub of Egypt in the fort. It was the day of Eid. He saw that the royal durbar was being held and the troops were arrayed before the sovereign. The Sultan was present in his full magnificence and the grandees
and noblemen were kneeling on the ground out of awe and deference. The Sheikh turned towards the Sultan, and addressing him by name, said, ‘O Ayub! What answer would you give to God if He were to ask you: We gave thee the kingdom of Egypt and thou permitted wine?’ The Sultan enquired, ‘Is it so?’ ‘Yes’, replied the Sheikh, ‘On such‐and‐such a shop wine is being sold and other forbidden things are also taking place while you are lost in luxury and self‐indulgence’. He spoke in a loud voice and the soldiers looked on respectfully. The Sultan, thereupon, remarked. ‘It is not of my doing. Things have been like that since the time of my father’. ‘Are you’, interjected the Sheikh ‘among those who say: “We found our forefathers on the same path?”’
The Sultan ordered the shop to be closed at once.
When the Sheikh returned and the news of the incident spread I enquired from him about it. He said, ‘My friend! When I saw his splendour I felt that it was for his own good that he should be humiliated a little otherwise his ego would swell and become uncontrollable. I asked ‘Were you not afraid’? The Sheikh replied, ‘As surely as I believe in God! When I reflected upon the Power and Glory of the Lord in his presence it appeared to me that a cat was sitting on the throne’.”
[Tabaqat-ul-Shafiyatul-Kubra, Vol. V p. 82]
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The history of the power of faith and earnestness of religious endeavour has continuously been repeating itself. We will reproduce another event belonging to the same category.
It is narrated by Sheikh Mahmud bin Mubarak Kirmani that:
“Once Sultan Mohammad bin Tughlaq summoned Sheikh Qutubuddin Munawwar to Delhi. The saint had not paid homage to the king on a certain occasion and he wanted to take him to task for it.
When the Sheikh came to the royal palace, the court nobles, ministers, heralds and attendants were standing in a double row in front of the throne. On seeing the glittering spectacle, the Sheikh’s son, Nuruddin, who was with him and had never been in a king’s court before, was struck with fear. The Sheikh admonished him sternly. ‘Glory is for God, Baba Nuruddin,’ he said to him in a loud voice. The son related later that as soon as he had heard these words, he felt a new strength within him and all the fear disappeared and it began to look to him that the court grandees were not men but sheep and goats.” [Siyar-ul-Aulia, pp. 353-55]
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