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Saturday, January 16, 2010

What Is Ihsan?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

What is Ihsan?

That you worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you don't see Him then truly He sees you.

What is Ihsan?" Allah's Apostle salallahu ‘alayhi wa salaam replied, "To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must remember that He is seeing you."

The lexical meaning of 'Ihsan' is help, aid, support etc. But, to understand the Qur'an and Hadith, we have to see what the Prophet Muhammad salallahu ‘alayhi wa salaam has used to define the same.

In the case of ihsan our beloved Rasulullah salallahu ‘alayhi wa salaam has said, "It is to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state then you must remember that He is seeing you".

So, we can say that Ihsan consists of two parts:

1. To worship Allah as if we see Him
2. To worship with the thought and yaqeen (certainty) that He is seeing us

Ihsan is the pinnacle and highest state of Islam. It implies the deep attachment, profound love, genuine faithfulness and sacrifice which make a Muslim identify himself completely with Islam.

It is impossible to find a word in the English language which can express, to any fair degree, the real meaning and import of ihsan. It means to do a thing well, in the best possible manner, to achieve excellence, to aim at beauty and perfection and most importantly, to do it as an inner compulsion and urge and not as a consequence of external prodding and urging. In brief, ihsan is a labor of love, not merely a duty. This can result only from an inner sense of presence before Allah and love for Him.

The essence of Taqwa is fear of Allah which may enable a person to escape Allah's Anger. The essence of Ihsan is love of Allah, which motivates man to try to win Allah’s Pleasure.

The difference between the two may be illustrated by the following example:

Among the employees of a government may be some who scrupulously discharge the functions entrusted to them, doing nothing to which one can take exception, but who are not otherwise committed. Others, however, may be loyal, devoted and totally committed to the government. They do not just carry out the duties that have been assigned to them but are always zealously concerned to promote the interests of the government. They exert themselves beyond the call of duty, being prepared to sacrifice their lives, property and children in defense of their country. Any violation of the law hurts them personally, any sign of rebellion is enough to arouse them. Far from deliberately harming the government they will spare no effort to support it. More than anything, they want to see their own Government paramount in the world and their flag high in all corners of the earth.

The first kind of people are Muttaqeen (possesors of taqwa) of the government and the other its Muhsineen (possesors of ihsan).

Though the Muttaqeen are regarded as good servants, exceptional honor and reward are reserved for Muhsineen. Though Muttaqeen are valued and trustworthy people, Muhsineen make up the real strength of Islam. The task that Islam has to accomplish can only be carried out by this group.

It is therefore impossible to count these people as Muhsineen who stand passively by and see the religion of Allah dominated by the forces of Kufr, the sanctions of Allah (hudud) completely ignored and the Divine laws being at best neglected and at worst overturned; the reign of tyranny and oppression unleashed on Allah’s earth by Allah's rebels. Or who see that the ascendancy of disbelief is not only promoting moral and social ills in human society, but is also causing the Ummah itself to turn from the path of righteousness, and do nothing.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us understand in our hearts the essence of ihsan that we may achieve and taste the highest state of Islam. May He, azza wa jall, guide and keep us firm upon His Deen and Obedience and relentless against all forces, external and internal, that aim to hinder us from His Way and His Cause. Allahumma ameen!