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Islamic topics- Miscellenous topics- Lesson (98): Set up your plans before plans are set up for you
In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Most Merciful  

Decisions we make determine the life we live

 Dear brother, I would like to start this meeting with a momentous statement: “Either you set up your own plans, or plans will be set up for you”.
 Either you set up a plan for your life, checking on it from time to time so that you can modify it, and set up a goal and seek all the means to fulfill it, putting yourself, if such is the case, in a superior situation, or else plans will be set up for you (against your will).
 When you plan your life and set up a goal seeking every means to fulfill it, you will be protected (from attack); yet if plans are set up for you, then you will be vulnerable.
 Upon observing this world's nations one can come up with three types of them. Those which live the future and plan for it (these being the rational ones); those which live the present and whose acts are merely reflexes (and they are the less foolish ones); and finally those that live the past (the inept ones).
 The result of a survey run on a thousand young men was very disappointing as it shows that only 3 percent of our young generation are planning for their lives, with the rest just letting their lives slide, with no goal to achieve, living the moment, paying no attention to our enemy who is taking advantage of them. Is that possible? It is! Our enemy is despoiling us of our natural resources, an example of which has occurred lately when an oil-producing country (Iraq), with a multi-billion national income, was invaded and exposed to destructive aggression. Every single inhabitant of that country could have lived a luxurious life, yet, plans had been plotted against it, its resources were destroyed, its land was plundered, and its inhabitants were evicted. This act of violence resulted in five million homeless, one million dead, and one million handicapped, and this is an extremely painful thing to talk about.
 Hence, I address our young generation by saying: Set up plans for the future and try to figure out your goal in this life. There is a statement which has had a great influence on me: “The decisions you make determine the life you live.”

""As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e. Allah's Religion - Islamic Monotheism)"

[Al-Ankabut, 69]

The rational person seeks the truth and reaches it:

 By Allah dear brother, it is impossible, and thousands of times impossible, that you should seek the truth and not reach it, or aim for a purpose and not fulfill it; so, set up your plans.
 Don’t lead a life led by most people, the life which is all about daily issues such as eating, drinking, working, getting tired, staying up all night, sleeping, waking up, getting married and bringing up children; and then waiting for death to come.
 You should bear in mind that billions of people have passed away unnoticed and only a few, of those who set up plans for their future, have become this nation's guiding light.
 With respect to the above I usually put forth the following example: When I asked my students to come up with a name of a successful merchant who lived in Damascus in the year, say 1697, no one could provide a name. I assured them that neither could I. Yet, sayyidina Salah Al Deen, who had set up his own plans, was able to defeat twenty seven western countries. What about other people, such as sayyidina Umar, sayyidina Uthman, sayyidina Ali, Imam Al Shaf’ee or Abu Hanifah? They were the pivots of knowledge and leadership, the models to follow and this nation's beacons; they were those who set up their plans. Are you going to be satisfied with what you have, saying: This is as far as my abilities go? No! By Allah, each of us has abilities, which, if stretched to their limits, are capable of yielding a great human being. Hence, set up your own plans, as this life is short and passes fast, and at a certain point we are all bound to ask the same question: How come forty years have passed so quickly?
 By Allah, they will have passed like the blink of an eye, and so will the rest of our lives.
 You used to be a man, and suddenly you are a mere death notice.
 One hundred and fifty deaths we have here in Damascus every day, and all these people were men, brigadier generals, or merchants who turn into death notices hung on walls.
What has each of us prepared for this moment –for the journey from his house to his grave? Does any one of us know of an event that is more realistic than leaving this life? Will any one of us dare to say: I am not going to die? Never!
 There was this famous singer in Egypt whom I read about once. He never ate food at night for the sake of his health, he never ate white meat, he used to work out on a daily basis, and he never traveled by plane, but eventually he died. After all what I read about him, I almost thought he would never die, as he was following this strict regime and was so health-conscious. Don’t get me wrong, as I am not against this kind of life style, but don’t ever think that there is anyone on this earth who is death-proof.

Every creature will die and only the Glorified and the Mighty One remains
No matter how long the night might be, the dawn will surely break
No matter how long one might live, the descent to the grave is a must for him.

The reasonable person gets ready for the meeting with Allah:

 Again, what have you prepared for the moment of meeting Allah the Almighty? What good deed have you sent forth to the Day of Judgment or to accompany you in your grave?
Let me tell you the following two stories: Once I met a person who was happy about a religious lecture that I had given, so he asked me to do that every Thursday, and it happened thirty years ago. So we would meet every Thursday, together with some other people who attended as well, and what caught my attention at those meetings, which took place at his house, was that his taste in choosing furniture and cars was incredibly classy. After a while, his son called and informed me that his father kept forgetting things, he once left his factory and forgot his way home. Some time later he called again saying that his father had passed away, so I asked him in what mosque they were performing salah for him. I went to the mosque to attend his funeral, and one of the Damascus’ scholars delivered the eulogy. He said: Say duah and ask mercy for this man as he was a muezzin; he had a nice voice and I used to ask him to perform the adhan (the call to prayer). You can go for hours talking about someone’s worldly life, yet this man was mentioned there as a muezzin. I learnt a valuable lesson at that time which is: Do something for which to be remembered, even if it is only for a minute, and ask yourself: If any of us died right now, what would people say about him standing around his coffin? Would they say: He bought a house? He set up a successful business? These are just actions.
 Actions such as eating, drinking, sleeping, waking up, traveling, and having picnics are not mentioned after someone’s death, so what is mentioned after one's decease? It is one's great deeds.
 Sayyidina as-Siddiq was the second to contribute to the firm implantation of this Deen due to his intervention in the apostasy incident and the same goes for sayyidina Umar, sayyidina Uthman, sayyidina Ali, the great companions, Salah Al Deen Al Ayyubi, Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Al Shaf’i… So who are you? You are no less of a person than any one of those as Allah is Justice. What then prevents you from being noticeable in this life? What stops you from being a great person in the Sight of Allah? Set up plans, study, and get a degree in science.
 I once met a man who told me: I am seventy years old and I obtained the degree in the Arabic Philology. Well, his is a great determination indeed, being seventy years of age and determined to study the Arabic language in depth.
 A man sent his son to study at the University of Al Azhar, and five years later he returned home with his diploma and was appointed imam khateeb. When he gave his first khutbah in the presence of his father and mother, his illiterate father burst into tears. People thought that he cried out of joy (at his son being a khateeb), but the truth was different. He cried because he felt sorry for himself, for having wasted his life and for being illiterate. So, he headed for Cairo and asked where Al As’ar was (he wasn’t able to pronounce the name correctly). People would correct him, saying that it was Al Azhar, and directed him to the place he was looking for. This man managed to learn how to read and write, continued to seek knowledge, and eventually, before his death, was appointed a scholar at Al Azhar.
 The decisions you make determine the life you live.

The closest to Allah are those who are most obedient to Him

 By Allah, there is a clear path for anyone who intends to be the greatest caller to Allah's Deen in the world.
 I am so touched by what the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to his uncle Sa’d who was one of the closest and most beloved companions to Him, as He used to say to him jokingly:

((Here is my uncle Sa'd. If anyone has an uncle like him, then he should show me his uncle.))

[Al Hakim in Mustadrak, on the authority of Jabir]

 And in times of war the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to say:

((O Sa’d, throw (arrows), let my father and mother be sacrificed for you.))

[Ibn Majah and Ahmad, on the authority of Ali]

 It is worth mentioning that Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, never said to any of his companions: “let my father and mother be sacrificed for you” with the exception of Sa'd. And when the Prophet died, Umar –the Giant of Islam- said to Sa'd: "Don’t be carried away by being the uncle of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, as all people are equal in the Sight of Allah, and the only kinship that counts is their obedience to Him."
 Any person, regardless of their family, kindred, background, or race, is able to fulfill all their goals and the proof is in the following ayah:

"To each these as well as those We bestow from the Bounties of your Lord. And the Bounties of your Lord can never be forbidden"

[Al-Isra’, 20]

 Decisions we make determine the life we live, but under one condition –that they are grounded on strong will and sincere faith.
 Thus, no matter who you are, whether rich or poor, employee or merchant, city or suburb resident, you are all the same in the Sight of Allah.
 A person came once to see the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the Prophet said to him: “I welcome the one whom I was told about by Jibril,” at which the man asked: “Who am I to be mentioned by Jibril?” The Prophet said to him: “Yes, brother, unnoticed on earth, noteworthy in heaven.”
 Your professional position might be insignificant, yet, your nail trimmer might be more valuable than other people's rank (because of your piousness).
 Once I attended an Islamic conference in Morocco which was held in one of the most luxurious hotels and at the same time an international conference hall. At dawn, I heard a particularly appealing recitation of the Qur'an, so I looked through my window and saw that the gardener was praying the fajr prayer, reciting the Qur'an in a way which brought tears to my eyes. So I said to myself: All these major Islamic conferences and luxurious summits might be nothing compared to this simple employee who might be closer to Allah than anyone in this hotel, this is a possibility, and this is faith.

The believer’s happiness wells out from within:

 Dear brother, money, time and health are important elements enabling to enjoy pleasures, and it is out of a profound wisdom that one of these elements is always missing. Namely, when you are very young, just starting your life, you have health and time, but you don’t have money. When you are well-established in your business, you will be in possession of money and health, yet you won’t have time. A factory owner told me that he had been turning up at five a.m. in his factory every day for twenty nine years, being the last one to leave it after the salah of maghrib, and he had no time to enjoy his money given that successful businesses need to be supervised by their owners, who might own millions yet not have time to enjoy them.
 I paid a visit once to the owner of a textile factory who said to me: “By Allah, I have been to Latakia at the seaside but only once, and that was when I had to pick up my car (from the port). I have spent thirty years buried in this factory, doing a full time job.” This is the second phase of one’s life, when you possess money and health, yet you have no time to enjoy them. The third phase is when you possess money and time, yet your health is not good enough. This takes place at the age of retirement, when the wealthy man's sons take over his business. Though he may be possessed of huge wealth, he doesn’t have the health to enjoy it. At that age, people usually suffer from diseases such like high uric acid, high blood lipids, rheumatoid arthritis, or peptic ulcer, and that's life. By contrast, the happiness of the believer wells up from within.

 What can my enemies do to me? My Paradise and Garden are in my chest, and they are with me wherever I go. My expulsion from my homeland is my tourism, my imprisonment is my privacy with Allah, and my killing is martyrdom.

 He who hasn't tasted the Paradise of the worldly life (closeness to Allah) will never step into the Paradise of the Hereafter.

Whoever has a hard start will have a brilliant end:

 Think and set up your plans.
 A messenger from Azerbaijan –a country in the north which used to be a Soviet republic and at the time we are talking about was under Umar’s rule –came to see him and he happened to arrive late at night. He wanted to avoid calling on the Caliph so late and thus headed for the mosque, where he found a man praying and crying while he was supplicating: “O Lord! Have you accepted my repentance so that I can congratulate myself, or have you rejected it so that I should feel sorry about it?” The messenger asked: “Who are you, may Allah have mercy on you?” The man introduced himself saying that he was Umar, may Allah be pleased with him. Taken by surprise, the man said: "Glory be to Allah, you are the Emir of the Believers, praying here right now and I didn't feel like knocking at your door because of the lateness of the hour. O Emir of the Believers! Don’t you go to sleep?" To which Umar said: "If I slept all night, I would be lost in the Sight of my Lord; and if I slept all day, I would be abandoning my subjects." Sayyidina Umar became the Giant of Islam and one of the rightly guided Caliphs by setting up his plans.
Once he was delivering a khutbah when a thought crossed his mind that he was the most powerful person on earth, so he said, shifting from the topic he was talking about: “You are but a shepherd who worked for the Makhzoom tribe for money.” When the khutbah was over, one of the companions asked him: “Why did you say that? And what did this phrase have to do with the khutbah?" Umar answered: “A thought crossed my mind while I was speaking that I am the most powerful man, so I wanted to bring myself back to my real size, and I used to work as a shepherd for the Makhzoom tribe for money."
 Therefore, set up your own plans. Think, ask Allah to make a great believer of you, perform the acts of worship, reauthor the Qur'an, and seek knowledge, and know that whoever has a dynamic start will have a radiant end.

Whoever is with Allah, Allah will be with him:

 I am in the habit of repeating the following saying: If you are by Allah’s Side, Allah will be by your side; if you draw closer to Him, he will get closer to you; if you show love for Him, He will love you; and if you walk towards Him, He will come to you running, and this meaning is supported by the following hadith:

((He who comes closer to Me one p, I come closer to him a cubit; and he who comes closer to Me a cubit, I come closer to him a fathom; and if he comes to Me walking, I come to him running."))

[Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Abu Huraira]

 As if Allah were saying here: If only those who turn away from Me knew how much I long and wait for their turning back to Me and their abandonment of wrongdoing, they would melt with love for Me and would long to meet Me. And if such is My Will for those who turn their backs at Me, so how about those who are drawing closer to me?
Just think!
 I heard once a story of a certain family which I repeat occasionally, and it is about a family consisting of a father, mother, and several children who wake up one hour before salah al fajr to pray night prayers, to reauthor the Qur'an; they then pray al fajr together after the adhan. Then the children study, the mother prepares food, and they all have breakfast at seven. Then everybody goes to school or work. By Allah, this kind of house is Paradise on earth. The size is of no importance here; a two room-house can be Paradise on earth and a limited income can be Paradise on earth; it is all about loving Allah and connecting to Him.

The Paradise of the Hereafter and the one on Earth

 Where did the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, find tranquility? He found it in Al Ghar (small cave) where he and Abu Bakr took refuge when they were persecuted by the pagan Quraish. He said to Abu Bakr, who feared that they would be discovered: “What do you think of two when Allah is the third?” Ibrahim, peace upon him, found this tranquility in the fire (he had been thrown into). Allah Most High informs us in the Qur'an:

"We (Allah) said: "O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Ibrahim (Abraham)!""

[Al Anbiya, 69]

 Yunus, peace upon him, found this tranquility in the belly of the whale:

"But he cried through the darkness (saying): La ilaha illa Anta [none has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allah)], Glorified (and Exalted) are You [above all that (evil) they associate with You]. Truly, I have been of the wrong-doers." So We answered his call, and delivered him from the distress. And thus We do deliver the believers (who believe in the Oneness of Allah, abstain from evil and work righteousness)."

[Al Anbiya’, 87-88]

 The People of the Cave found this tranquility in a cave though they used to live in palaces:

"Then seek refuge in the Cave, your Lord will open a way for you from His Mercy and will make easy for you your affair (i.e. will give you what you will need of provision, dwelling, etc.).""

[Al-Kahf, 16]

 You can find this tranquility in a small humble rented basement, with a mediocre wife, but because you are connected to Allah and you know Him, you will make a paradise out of this house. There is a paradise in the worldly life that you should know before entering the Paradise in the Hereafter, and the proof of it is in the following ayah:

"And admit them to Paradise which He has made known to them (i.e. they will know their places in Paradise more than they used to know their houses in the world)."

[Muhammad, 6]

 They got to know it in the worldly life.

Preparing for death is a means to reach Paradise:

 It is all up to you, as tasting paradise on earth doesn’t need money, reputation, high position, kindred, or any middle man –all you have to do (to achieve it) is just draw closer to the Oneness (Allah), the Dayyan (Judge).
 Hence, either you set up your own plans, or plans will be set up for you (against your will).
 I attended once a funeral of one of our honorable brother, and I thought to myself when his body was removed from the coffin and placed in the grave: The most reasonable person on earth is the one who prepares for this hour. So, what have you prepared for it? You should know that there is a companion that will be buried with you when you die, and whom you are buried with when you are alive, so if this companion was bountiful, then you will be saved, and if this companion was mean, you will be doomed. This companion is your deeds.
 I know a building in the classiest neighborhood in Damascus which costs more than 180 million. It consists of twelve apartments, only one of which was occupied by its owner, who died in it. All the rest had died before they could occupy their apartments.
 That's life, no matter how rich or powerful you are, you will die. The triumph lies in preparing for this hour, performing good deeds, obeying Allah, seeking knowledge, comprehending the Qur'an, spending on the needy, honoring your parents, and rearing your kids, these are the means to reach Paradise.

Faith is graded according to conduct and knowledge:

 Dear brother, set up your plans before plans are set up for you (against your will). Be a significant person; don’t be an ordinary one. If you were a doctor and you were to examine somebody who had been poisoned, and your death certificate said that he had died of natural causes, you would be setting free his killers with a view to cashing five million out of the one hundred million of the victim’s wealth which would be given to you by his heirs who had killed him. So let me tell you, whether you take five million or all the money the deceased had for forging your certificate, you will be doomed in the Sight of Allah.
 The believer is a firm person who never goes against his principles, not even under the stinging whips of the prison guard, and not even under the temptation of glittering gold, as the believer is not for sale, and this is where the greatness of this faith lies:

(("O my uncle! By Allah, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left one on condition that I abandon this cause, I would never abandon it until Allah Most high has made me victorious, or I have perished therein."))

[The Biography of the Prophet]

 This is how faith should be, as the believer is nothing but conduct, and there is no way that you could find a believer who lies, cheats, deceives, plots or beguiles. It is impossible:

((The believer is molded of all characteristics except those of lying and betraying.))

[Ahmad, on the authority of Abi Umama]

 Believing is conduct and knowledge. The believer is the person who knows Allah and who comprehends the absolute truth.
 One might acquire a doctor's degree in Geology or Physics, but he who knows Allah is the source of perfection, gracefulness, and beauty, therefore:

O Illiterate (Muhammad)! You have such a high degree of knowledge that all the 'ulamah look up to you.

 A scholar might acquire his doctor's degree by memorizing and interpreting 10 ahadith, so how about the one who was the source of these ahadith? What was the level reached by the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace? It is Knowledge.

O Illiterate (Muhammad)! You have such a high degree of knowledge that all the 'ulamah look up to you.

Whoever knows Allah knows everything

 When you know Allah, you know everything else; and if you fail to know Him, you miss everything else; and Allah should be more beloved to you than everything else.

 O son of Adam! Seek Me and you will find Me, and when you do, you will find everything else; and if you miss Me, you will miss everything else and I am more beloved to you than anything else.

 Again, set up plans before plans are set up for you (against your will), and it is only you and Allah, and know that circumstances don’t count. It is unacceptable for someone to say: I had difficulties at work, as this doesn’t count in the Divine Perspective, and you should be certain that Allah will grant you higher income, or better wife, for when Allah is with you, who will be against you? And if Allah is against you, who will be with you?

 O Lord! What is missed by the one who finds You? And what is found by the one who misses You?

A stimulating dose of faith to Muslims:

 Dear brother, somebody who recoils from resorting to Allah is foolish, as Allah says: Seek Me and you will find Me:

((Our Lord descends – glorified and blessed be He – every night to the lowest heaven in the last third of the night. He says, “Who is there supplicating Me so I can answer his supplication? Who is there asking Me so I can give him [what he wants]? Who is there seeking forgiveness from Me so I can forgive him? -until dawn breaks.))

[Muslim, on the authority of Abu Huraira]

 You say in your salah "Allah will hear the one who praises Him," thus, Allah is listening to you so don’t be driven away from Him.
 All the adversities of the Islamic nation are the outcome of the culture of despair, depression, and dead end road.
 Gaza was bombed with 800 missiles in one day, and the enemy used F16 fighter planes, helicopters, phosphoric bombs, cluster bombs, burning bombs, although the inhabitants of Gaza were unarmed. They tried to finish the war in one day but they couldn’t; two days, and they couldn’t; three, four, five, ten, and the war lasted for twenty two days, and Israel –the most powerful force in the region- was unable to put an end to it.
 This was a refreshing sip –so to speak- we had from Allah the Almighty, as if He were saying: O my servants! I exist, and all the matters are under My control, so don’t despair or be depressed. The balance of power is under My control; all equations are in My Hands and they can be altered any time I want.
 The breakdown of the international capital system is another refreshing sip; the finance system that was established one hundred and fifty five years ago, declares bankruptcy and that is because Allah the Almighty says:

"Allah will destroy Riba (usury) and will give increase for Sadaqat (deeds of charity, alms, etc.) "

[Al-Baqarah, 276]

 We have all witnessed the destruction of riba and this has been another refreshing sip for us.
 Also, our brother in Turkey are well-established with the help of Allah the Almighty and this is the third refreshing sip. Three refreshing sips for believers which indicate Allah’s Existence.
The curve of all unjust and oppressive powers is clearly declining. Seventy five percent of the countries in East Asia are under control of resistance forces and the thirty NATO countries cannot do anything against them.
 Hence, there have been refreshing sips for believers in recent times which point to Allah’s Existence. Therefore, I will say the following: There is only Allah to support you, so stay by His side and He will stay by yours:

""I am with you if you perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) and give Zakat and believe in My Messengers; honour and assist them, and lend to Allah a good loan."

[Al-Ma’idah’, 12]

The Deen of Islam is collective as well as individual:

 Allah is with you, as Islam is a collective Deen, and pay attention to the second word: Islam is also an individual Deen, namely, if there were only you to apply this Deen, do it, and you will reap the fruits alone, as there is only One Allah there for you.
 I'm sure all the good young men in this meeting long for a good wife, for a nice house, for a reasonable income… Well, this is the least that Allah Most High will grant you, as He grants you Paradise as well, the Paradise the width of heavens and earth.
 I hope that each one of you will set up his plans before plans are set up for him. Be punctual in performing your prayers, reflect on the creation of heavens and earth, don't waste your time on watching movies, stay away from the TV screen; and remember, the wider the satellite dishes, the smaller the dishes on your tables; the cheaper women's flesh, the more expensive lamb; and the less shyness (there is), the less rain water we get.
 Dear brother, there is only One Allah, and you have been created for Paradise, and the closer you draw to Him, the more exuberant life you will get.
 When I paid a brother of ours (who died later) a visit to congratulate him on his hajj he said: By Allah, I am the happiest person on earth unless there is someone who is more pious than I am.

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