1 – May Allâhu ta’âlâ honour us all with the great fortune of following Muhammad Mustafâ ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’, who is the spiritual Master of this world and the next and who is the highest of all people in every respect. Because Allâhu ta’âlâ likes those who obey and follow him, a tiny act of following him is more exalted than all the worldly advantages and all the blessings of the next world. Real superiority consists of adapting oneself to his Sunnat, and the honour and virtue of humanity entails following his Sharî’at. [The word Sunnat has three different meanings. In this context, it means the Ahkâm-i-islâmiyya (Islam’s commandments and prohibitions).]

[Adapting oneself to him, or following him, is following the way along which he has guided us. His way is the way shown by the Qur’ân al-kerîm. This way is called Dîn-i Islâm.In order to adapt ourselves to him, we should first have îmân (belief); then learn Islam well; then perform the fards and abstain from the harâms; and then observe (the behaviour, the acts and thoughts that are called) the sunnats and abstain from (those which are termed) the makrûh. After all these, we should also try to follow him in what is mubâh (permitted).]

It is essential for everyone to have îmân; îmân is necessary for everybody. Those who have îmân should perform the fards and avoid the harâms. Every Mu’min (Believer) has to perform the fards and avoid the harâms, i.e., to be a Muslim. Every Mu’min loves our Prophet ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ more than his own life and property. A symptom of this love is to perform the sunnats and abstain from the makrûhs. After observing all these, the more a Muslim adapts himself to him in what is mubâh, the more perfect and the more mature will he become. He will become closer and more beloved to Allâhu ta’âlâ.

It is called Îmân to like and to admit sincerely, i.e., to believe, all of what Rasûlullah ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ said. Those who believe so are called Mu’min. It is called Kufr not to believe even one piece of what he said, and to doubt whether it is good and correct. People who hold such disbelief so are called Kâfir. Things which Allâhu ta’âlâ clearly commands in the Qur’ân al-kerîm are called Fard. Things which He clearly forbids and prohibits by saying “don’t” are called Harâm. Things which Allâhu ta’âlâ doesn’t clearly command but which are acts our Prophet praised or which he habitually did or which he did not prohibit when he saw them being done, are called Sunnat. It is kufr (disbelief) to dislike the sunnat. It is not a sin not to do them, as long as you like them. Those things which are not liked by him, and which also eradicate the blessings in worships are called Makrûh. The things which are neither commanded nor prohibited are called Mubâh. All these commandments and prohibitions are called Ahkâm-i-ilâhiyya or Af’âl-i mukallafîn or Ahkâm-i Islâmiyya.

Af’âl-i mukallafîn consists of eight components: Fard, wâjib, sunnat, mustahab, mubâh, harâm, makrûh, mufsid. Things that are not prohibited, or though prohibited, their prohibition has been abolished through one of the reasons which Islam accepts as an excuse, a hindrance or a necessity, are called Halâl. All mubâhs are halâl. For example, it is halâl to lie in order to reconcile two Muslims. Everything that is halâl may not be mubâh. For example, it is not mubâh, but it is makrûh to go shopping while the adhân is being called. Nevertheless, it is halâl. A Muslim calls Muslims to pray when it is prayer time; this public announcement is called the adhân (or azân).

It is fard to learn and know the tenets of îmân, and the various fards and harâms. Thirty-three fards are well-known. Four of them are basic: to perform namâz, to fast, to pay zakât, and to perform hajj (pilgrimage). These four fards together with îmân make up the basis of Islam. He who has îmân and who performs the acts of worship, that is, he who performs these four fards is called a Muslim or Muslimân. He who performs all four of them and avoids the harâm, is a perfect Muslim. If one of these is defective or nonexistent, his state of being a Muslim will also be defective. He who does not perform any of them may be a Mu’min (Believer), but he is not a true Muslim. Although such îmân protects one in this world only, it is difficult to transmigrate to the Hereafter in possession of this kind of îmân. Îmân is like a candle. Ahkâm-i ‹slâmiyya is like the lantern, the glass globe around the burning candle. The candle and the lantern which contains it represent Islam and Dîn-i Islâm. The candle without the lantern will go out quickly. Islam cannot exist without îmân. Therefore, if there is no Islam, there is no îmân, either.

Dîn (religion) means the way prescribed by Allâhu ta’âlâ in order to guide people to endless bliss. The unwholesome ways which people make up under the name of religion are not called religion; they are called irreligiousness and disbelief. Since the time of Hadrat Âdam, Allâhu ta’âlâ has sent mankind a religion by means of a Prophet every thousand years. These Prophets ‘salawâtullâhi ta’âlâ ’alaihim ajma’în’ are called Rasûl. On the other hand, in every century, by making the purest person the Prophet, He has strengthened the religion through him. These Prophets who followed the Rasûls are called Nabî. All the Prophets have taught the same îmân; they have asked their ummat to believe in the same tenets. Yet, since their Sharî’ats, i.e., the things that are to be done and avoided through the heart and body, were different, they were different in being Muslims.

He who has îmân and adapts himself to the Ahkâm-i-islâmiyya is a Muslim. Those who want to adapt the Ahkâm-i-islâmiyya to their desires and pleasures are disbelievers. They don’t understand that Allâhu ta’âlâ has sent the Ahkâm-i-islâmiyya in order to break the desires and pleasures of the nafs and to prevent their excessive indulgence.

Every subsequent religion (dispensation) has abolished or changed the religion previous to itself. The latest religion that has changed all the religions prior to it, which has assimilated all the previous Sharî’ats within itself, and which will never change until the end of the world is Hadrat Muhammad’s religion. Today, the religion which Allâhu ta’âlâ likes and loves is the Islamic religion, which is based on these rules and essentials. To those who perform the fards and abstain from the harâms, which this Sharî’at communicates, Allâhu ta’âlâ will bestow blessings and favors in the Hereafter. That is, they will receive thawâb (rewards). For those who do not perform the fards and do not abstain from the harâms, there are punishments and suffering in the next world. That is, such people become sinful. The fard performed by those who have no îmân will not be accepted. That is, they will not be given rewards. The sunnats performed by the Muslims who don’t perform the fards, that is, who owe a debt to Allâhu ta’âlâ, will not be accepted, and they will not be given rewards. They are not looked upon as having adapted themselves to our Prophet ‘sall- Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’. If a person does all the fards and omits one fard without an excuse, none of his nâfila (supererogatory) worships and sunnats of this kind will be given rewards, until he pays this debt of his. Hadîth-i-sherîfs declare this clearly as quoted in the book Miftâh-un-Najât: “O ’Ali! When the people are busy with the fadâil (supererogatory) try to complete the fards.” Also, it states at the end of the third fasl (part) of the book Durrat-ul- Fâkhira by Imâm-i Ghazâlî: “Allâhu ta’âlâ will not accept the nâfila salât of the person who has a debt of qadâ salât.” The book Miftâh-un-Najât has been published by Hakîkat Kitâbevi in ‹stanbul. When the mubâhs are done with good intentions and with beautiful thoughts, one will receive rewards. When they are done for evil purposes, or if doing them prevents one from performing a fard or causes the delaying of a fard, they will be sins. While the fards and sunnats are being done, if evil thoughts are involved, the debt will be paid and punishment will be averted, but no reward will be obtained. It may be a sin instead. The fards and sunnats of those who commit harâms will be acceptable. That is, they have paid their debt, yet they won’t receive rewards. The book al-Hadîqa in explaining the hadîth, “The worships of people of bid’at will not be accepted,” says: “The worships of those Muslims who do not abstain from sinning are not accepted, even if they are sahîh.” A harâm cannot be mubâh (permitted), even if it is done with goodwill. In other words, a harâm will never be rewarded, and he who commits a harâm without an excuse is certainly sinful. He who abstains from the harâm and gives it up with goodwill, fearing Allah, will receive rewards. If he doesn’t commit a harâm for other reasons, he won’t receive rewards. He will only escape its sin. It is out of place for those who commit harâms to say, “You should look at my heart, it is pure. Allâhu ta’âlâ looks at the heart only.” It is nonsensical. It is said only to deceive Muslims. It is written in the thirty-ninth letter [of Hadrat Imâm-i Rabbânî] that the symptom of a heart’s purity lies in adhering to the Ahkam-i-islâmiyya, that is, obeying its commandments and prohibitions. The book Hadîqa and Shir’at ul- Islâm, in its 246th page, while explaining taqwâ says: “Committing the harâms with good intentions does not deliver them from being harâms. A good intention does not affect either the harâms or the makrûhs. It does not change them into tâ’at.”

It is written in the seventy-third page of the book Mir’ât-ulmaqâsid concerning an intention for an abdast (ritual ablution, wudû) in Ibni ’Âbiddîn ‘rahmatullâhi ’alaih’ and in the fifty-fourth page in the translation of Milal-Nihal that there are three kinds of actions: The first is ma’siyyat, that is, sinful actions. These are the actions which Allâhu ta’âlâ dislikes. It is ma’siyyat not to do what Allâhu ta’âlâ has commanded to be done, or to do what He has prohibited. The second one is tâ’at, those actions which Allâhu ta’âlâ likes. They are also called Hasana. He has promised that He will give Ajr, i.e., Thawâb (blessings) to a Muslim who performs tâ’at. The third group of actions are called Mubâh, which have not been declared to be sinful or tâ’at. They are tâ’at or sinful depending on the intention of the person who does them.

Sins are not exempted from being sins if they are committed with or without a good intention. The hadîth, “Actions are good or bad depending on the intention,” declares that the tâ’at and mubâh actions will be given rewards in accordance with the intention. If a person, in order to please someone, offends another person, or if he gives alms from someone else’s property, or if he builds mosques or schools with harâm money, he will not be given rewards. It will be ignorance to expect rewards for these efforts. Cruelty and sins are still sins even if they are committed with goodwill. What is blessed about such actions lies in not doing them. If one does them knowing that they are sins, it will become a grave sin. If one does them without knowing, it will be a sin also not to know or not to learn the things that are known by most Muslims. Even in Dâr-ul-harb it is not an excuse, but a sin, not to know the Islamic rules which are widely known.

When the tâ’ats are done without an intention or intended for  Allah’s sake, blessings are given. When one does a tâ’at, it will be accepted whether one knows or not that one is doing it for Allah’s sake. If a person does a tâ’at knowing that he does it for Allah’s sake, it is called Qurbet. While doing an action which is qurbet, one does not have to intend so that rewards will be given. The tâ’at in which it is necessary to intend for Allah’s sake so that rewards are given is called ’Ibâdat (worshipping). The abdast (ritual ablution) that is performed without an intention is not an act of worshipping, but it is qurbet. However, one has cleaned oneself and can perform namâz. It is understood that every act of worship is qurbet and tâ’at. Reading the Qur’ân al-kerîm, donating property as a waqf, emancipating a slave, giving alms, making a wudu’, and the like, since an intention is not necessary in order to receive blessings, are tâ’at and qurbet. Yet they are not acts of worship. While doing an action which is tâ’at or qurbet, if one intends for Allah’s sake, one has done an act of worship. However, they are not commanded as acts of worship. It is not qurbet, but it is tâ’at to learn such branches of knowledge as physics, chemistry, biology and astronomy, which help men to know Allah. Unbelievers comprehend Allah’s existence, not while learning them, but after learning them. It is a sin to perform any tâ’at with a bad intention. Beautiful thoughts increase the reward of a tâ’at. For example, it is a tâ’at to be in a mosque. It will be more rewarding if one intends to visit the House of Allah, thinking that the mosque is the House of Allah. Also, if one intends to wait for the next prayer or stays inside the mosque to prevent one’s eyes and ears from committing sins or goes into seclusion to think about the next world or to mention Allah’s Name in a mosque or perform amr-i ma’ruf and nahy-i munkar by teaching people about Allah’s commandments and prohibitions or to listen to preachers or to strive to feel embarrassment before Allah, one will receive different rewards for each act, depending on one’s intention. Every tâ’at has various intentions and rewards. Ibni ’Âbidîn ‘rahmatullâhi ’alaih’ explains these while explaining how to send a proxy to Mecca for pilgrimage.

Every mubâh is a tâ’at when done with goodwill. It is a sin when done with ill will. If a person uses perfumes, dresses well and smartly in order to enjoy worldly benefits, to make a show, to boast, to cherish himself or to hunt girls and women, he will be sinful. He won’t be tormented for his intention to enjoy worldly advantages, yet it will cause the blessings of the next world to decrease. He will be tormented for his other intentions. If this person dresses smartly and uses perfumes because it is a sunnat, if he intends to pay reverence to a mosque and not to hurt the Muslims who sit by him in the mosque, to be clean, to be healthy, to protect Islam’s dignity and honour, he receives different rewards for each of these intentions of his. Some scholars say that one shouldn’t forget to make an intention for every mubâh action, even before eating, drinking, sleeping and going to the watercloset. One should be careful about one’s intention when beginning a mubâh action. If one’s intention is good, one should do that act. If the intention is not only for Allâhu ta’âlâ, one shouldn’t do it. It is declared in a hadîth-i-sherîf: “Allâhu ta’âlâ does not look at your beautiful faces or possessions; He looks at your hearts and deeds.” That is, Allâhu ta’âlâ doesn’t give anybody rewards or gifts in consideration of his new, clean clothes, good deeds, possessions and rank. He gives him rewards or torments because of his thoughts, or the intention behind his actions.

Then, the thing which is of the highest necessity, which is the most important fard for every Muslim, is to learn îmân, the fards and the harâms. There is no Islam unless these are learned. Îmân cannot be maintained, the debts to Allah and to human beings cannot be paid, intentions and morals cannot be corrected and purified unless the basic principles of Islam are learned. Unless correctly intended, no fard will be accepted. It was declared in a hadîth in ad-Durr-ul-Mukhtâr: “Learning or teaching knowledge for one hour is more blessed than worshipping until morning.” The author of the book Hadarât-ul-quds states on the ninety-ninth page: “I studied the books Bukhârî, Mishkât, Hidâya and Sherh-imawâqif under Imâm-i-Rabbânî’s supervision. He would encourage young people to acquire knowledge. ‘Knowledge first, and tasawwuf next,’ he would say. Noticing my shirking from knowledge and taking pleasure from tarîqat, he pitied me and advised me, ‘Read books! Acquire knowledge! An ignorant man of tasawwuf will be a plaything in the hands of the devil,’ [that is, he will fall into disesteem.]”

It is called ’Ibâdat (worship) to do the fards and sunnats and to avoid the harâms and makrûhs, that is, to observe the rules of Islam in order to attain Allâhu ta’âlâ’s love and receive thawâb (rewards). There is no worship without an intention. In other words, it is necessary first to have îmân and then to learn and observe the rules of Islam in order to follow Rasûlullah (Hadrat Muhammad).

To have îmân means to begin following him (Rasûlullah) and to enter through the door of happiness. Allâhu ta’âlâ sent him to invite all the people of the world to happiness and declared in the twenty-eighth âyat of Sûrat-us-Saba’: “O my beloved Prophet! ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ I send you to humanity so that you should give the good news of the endless bliss to all the people in the world and to guide them along this way to happiness.”

For example, a short midday sleep of a person who adapts himself to him is much more valuable than spending many nights worshipping without following him. It was his honourable habit to perform Qaylûla, that is to sleep for a while before noon. Also, not fasting on the feast day, but eating and drinking because his Sharî’at commands it, is more valuable than years of fasting that doesn’t exist in his Sharî’at. A small amount given to the poor according to his Sharî’at, which is called zakât, is better than giving a pile of gold coins as big as a mountain with one’s own wish. After performing a morning prayer in jamâ’at, Hadrat ’Umar, the Amîrul- mu’minîn, looked at the jamâ’at and, seeing that one of the regulars was absent, he asked where he was. His companions said, “He prays until morning at nights. Maybe he fell asleep.” The Amîr-ul-mu’minîn said, “I wish he had slept all the night and performed the morning prayer in congregation; it would have been better.” Those who have deviated from the Ahkâm-i-islâmiyya blunt their nafs by subjecting themselves to inconveniences and by striving hard. Yet, this is worthless and low because they don’t do it compatibly with the Ahkâm-i-islâmiyya. The benefit for these efforts of theirs, if there is any, consists in a few worldly advantages. Then, in fact, this world is worthless; therefore, what could be the value of a part of it? These people are like dustmen; dustmen work harder and become more tired than anybody else, but their wages are lower than anybody else’s. As for those who adapt themselves to the Ahkâm-i-islâmiyya, they are like jewellers, who deal with fine jewels and precious diamonds. They do a little work, but their earnings are great. Sometimes an hour’s work provides them a hundred thousand years’ earning. The reason for this is that an action compatible with the Ahkâm-iislâmiyya is accepted and liked by Allâhu ta’âlâ; He loves it.

[He declares in many places of the Qur’ân al-kerîm that this is so. For example, He declares in the thirty-first âyat of Sûrat-u Âli ’Imrân: “O my beloved Prophet ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’! Tell them, ‘If you love Allâhu ta’âlâ and if you want Allâhu ta’âlâ to love you in turn, adapt yourselves to me! Allâhu ta’âlâ loves those who adapt themselves to me’.”]

 Allâhu ta’âlâ does not like any of the things that are incompatible with the Ahkâm-i-islâmiyya. Is it possible that rewards will be given for the things that are disliked? Maybe they will bring about punishment.