Sheikh Sahl bin Abdullah al-Tustari رحمه الله was a saint of the highest order. In abstinence and righteous deeds, he was without equal. He grew up in the company of his uncle Sheikh Muhammad bin Sawwār رحمه الله who planted the seeds of Tawheed in his heart from a very young age. Sheikh Sahl رحمه الله narrates that one day his uncle said to him; “Why don’t you remember Allah Ta’ala who created you?”
Sheikh Sahl: “How should I remember him?”
Sheikh Muhammad answered: “Before you sleep every night, say the following three times in your heart, without moving your tongue; ‘Allah is with me, Allah is watching me, Allah is present with me.'”
Sheikh Sahl رحمه الله said that he followed the advice of his uncle and after a while reported to him. He was then advised to repeat the phrases seven times every night. Sheikh Muhammad رحمه الله thereafter asked that the phrases be increased to eleven times before sleeping. Amazingly, Sheikh Sahl رحمه الله said that he continued with the practice of reciting the phrases eleven times until the sweetness of Īmān entered his heart.
After a year had passed, Sheikh Muhammad bin Sawwār رحمه الله advised his nephew (Sheikh Sahl رحمه الله): “Remember what I taught you and continue with it as long as you live. It will benefit you in this world and the Aakhirah.” Sheikh Sahl رحمه الله mentioned that he continued with this practice until he felt the sweetness of it (the phrases) within. One day Sheikh Muhammad bin Sawwār رحمه الله addressed his nephew Sheikh Sahl رحمه الله again; “Sahl, a person who realises that Allah Ta’ala is watching him all the time, would find it difficult to disobey Him. Beware of disobeying Allah!”
This is a simple but potent prescription to create the awareness of Allah Ta’ala جل جلاله in our lives. Amazingly, the simple things are the most effective!