In the week we had a question from Sidi Hasan after Isha, about what it means when we say that wherever you turn there is the Face of Allah. This is a very important matter. So I want to repeat what we said to remind ourselves and to develop that idea a little bit more so that we understand more about what it means.
We said that the face of a human being or the face of something is that part of the thing that speaks. The face of a person is that which you see, that speaks to you. In other words, this statement that: wherever you turn, you see the Face of Allah – it is a symbol. It is a metaphor. It allows us to understand something about Allah’s Nature. It is like if I said Sidi Ahmed is brave like a lion or he is a lion. He has the characteristics of a lion. So, in the same way, when we say wherever you turn there is the Face of Allah is an expression. It’s an idiom. It doesn’t mean to say that Allah has eyes and ears and a nose like you and me.
When you look at the world around you whatever you are looking at is Allah speaking to you.
But, what does it mean if wherever you turn you are looking at His Face? It means that when you look at the world around you whatever you are looking at is Allah speaking to you. It’s that part of Allah that speaks to you. Behind the veil of events, of things that happen, behind the situation in front of you there is a Looker. There’s a Being who is looking at you and the events of your day-to-day life, those things that you face, are like His Face, looking at you, speaking to you. Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala – His words are events. His language is time. His grammar is time. His Face is the moment that is in front of you, that you are looking at. This is what it means to say “Ma’sha’Allah!” It means that whatever is in front of you comes from Allah. It is His expression to you. It is His communication with you, His talking to you.
So what is it that Allah is saying to you? What is the message that His Face that you are looking at is speaking to you? Well, when we were born we came from Allah. We are told that we came from Allah and we go back to Allah which means that when we were born we were with Him and then we got thrown into this world like a child being born out of the womb of the mother. It’s cold! It’s wet and it’s horrible! It’s frightening and it’s very big and threatening! So we came from the place where we were enclosed with spirits like in the womb of the mother and then we were thrown out into this cold world of suffering.
We were chased out of our home and we would always want to go back home.
Around us we have death and around us we have violence and drunkenness. Terrible things happen. So we experience this world as a place of exile. It is like if suddenly an army came and burned down our houses and we all had to run away to Botswana. We would be in exile. We were chased out of our home and we would always want to go back home. So all of us are like this in this world. We are strangers here. We know there’s something wrong. Some of us try to get away from this feeling that there’s something wrong, that we’re lost, by drinking. Another person smokes. A third person beats his wife. A fourth person shoots the Indian in his car. We all do these things because we are trying to escape our suffering. We are trying to escape this feeling that we have that there’s something missing. We are lost here. We want to go home. We know in our heart of hearts that this world is not our home. It’s a very short period. It can’t be our home.
If you think about all the time that happened before you were born and all the time that will happen after you die, how long is your life? It’s very short. So this place is a very small place. It’s a very short period. Quickly it is over! You were with Him a long time. You came into this world. Then you go back to Him for a long time, which means this is not home. This is a place of being strangers. We are all strangers here. We are all people who have lost their homes, all of us. That’s what it means to be human. That’s why most human beings, if you scratch them, you find there’s a sad person. People are unhappy. Most people are unhappy because they want to go home.
The Deen is our tool that we use to work out whether we have to go left or right.
How do you go home? How do you find the map? If we’ve been thrown out of our homes because the Russians came and burned our houses and we ran away and we were in Botswana and we wanted to go home, how would we go home? We need a map. We need to know: how do I get back to my home? Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala gives us a map. He gives us the Deen. The Deen is our tool that we use to work out whether we have to go left or right. So, every situation that you’re in Allah puts that situation in front of you and He gives you the Deen as the tool. He says, “Now what are you going to do? Are you going to go left? Are you going to do what you want? Or are you going to go right? Are you going to do what I want?”
What is the right thing to do? When you do what Allah wants then you take a further step in the direction of going home, of finding your happiness, finding your Lord. So every moment that faces you, you can take either a wrong turn or a right turn. Just like that! There’s not an in-between term. The wrong thing or the right thing – there are only the two. And every time you do the right thing you take a step closer to Him. The amazing thing is that He is the road. The Deen is the map. Allah is the road. He wants you.
Every moment that faces you is Allah speaking to you and what Allah is giving you.
So here we sit with our sense of being lost. And what is our sense of being lost? It’s all our weakness, all our smallness, all our sense of being under threat in this world. And how do we escape it? We do what He wants us to do. We act on the basis of what is the right thing and all the time go higher and higher and higher. Every moment that faces you is Allah speaking to you and what Allah is giving you – He’s giving you another secret, another step on the way and when you do the right thing you take a step closer to Him.
Every moment has that nature. He is speaking to you. He’s asking you a question. He’s saying – what are you going to do? Are you going to do the right thing? Are you going to do the wrong thing? Are you going to do what you want or are you going to do what I want? And when Sidi Hasan says: “Ya Allah! I’m going to do what you want. I like You enough to do what You want,” then Allah pulls you a little bit closer and He gives you a little bit more. You start smelling it and feeling close to home then. This smell! This is not Botswana!
This discourse was given by Shaykh Ebrahim after a dhikr session on 4th April 2004.