The Object of 'Ibadah is not Pleasure

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from Haqiqat ath-Tariqa’ min as-Sunnah al-Aniqah of Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (r.a.), as translated by Shaykh Yusuf Talal Delorenzo.

It is related on the authority of ‘Aishah (r.a.) that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “One who has mastered the Qur’an shares the rank of the noble, pious scribes.  While one who recites the Qur’an falteringly, who finds it difficult to recite, for such a one there is a two-fold reward.’  This hadits is recorded by Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.), Imam Muslim (r.a.), Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.) and Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.).

It sometimes happens, when people find that they are not deriving any pleasure from the act of remembrance, dzikr, or the performing of other acts of worship, that they become discouraged and stop doing those things altogether.  Sometimes they become so disheartened that they begin thinking that what they were doing was in vain and essentially futile.

Such misgivings are anathema to inner, spiritual development because it is confidence that is the key to all such development.  The masters have written that the object is dzikr, not pleasure.  In fact, they say, to maintain one’s level of involvement in dzikr, even when it is not enjoyable to do so, is of more benefit to the Sufi than when it actually gives him great pleasure.

Therefore, a lack of pleasure is not necessarily indicative of a corresponding lack of benefit.  Rather, the opposite is true.  In the hadits above, this truth is clearly set forth in the promise of a double reward for the person who struggles in reciting the Qur’an; for the reason that there is a proportional relationship between the degree of difficulty and the amount of reward.  This is what spiritual disciplines are all about.


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