In a Hadeeth-e-Qudsi Allah Ta’ala says:
“My servant continually gains closeness to Me by virtue of Nafl Acts until I reserve [special] love for him.” (Bukhari)
Why Mustahab Acts are Necessary
We all do realize that the status of Fardh is the loftiest. Then comes the stage of Waajib acts, followed by Sunnat-e-Mu-akkaddah practices and then Mustahab Acts which are also termed as Nawaafil and Sunnat-e-Ghair Mu-akkadah. We all know that Mustahab acts are not waajib or obligatory in practice. However, we propose to discuss why Mustahab Acts are necessary from another angle, albeit not the Fiqhi angle.
Our complacency in regard to Mustahab acts stems from our ignorance of the innumerable benefits and blessings of Mustahab acts. If one realizes the benefits and blessings which a minute Mustahab act carries one will confess to being at such a loss till now for being unaware of these precious pearls.
The lover is in search of everything which makes his beloved happy. When he comes to know that my beloved loves certain acts, he strives to render those acts. He does not want to leave out the slightest act which his beloved enjoys and is happy about. If we develop this nature of Love for Allah Ta’ala then we will appreciate these mustahab acts. We will understand the bayaan of these mustahab deeds to be the Rahmat of Allah Ta’ala and the compassion of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) for they have mentioned these acts which bring about the Pleasure Allah Ta’ala in much detail.
If only necessary acts were mentioned in the Shariah, those who have intense love for Allah Ta’ala would have been extremely disconcerted. The reason for this is that a lover does not make do with only compulsory duties. The lover does understand compulsory duties to be obligatory upon himself. He wishes to go further and carry out those acts which will make the beloved turn to him even more.
The Example of a Master and Two Workers
Consider the example of two workers. One is merely an employee who is working for the money. He satisfies himself with carrying out only what he is instructed to do. He has no desire to do anything over and above what is necessary for him to do. Another worker is one whom you raised from childhood and hence he has a special bond with you. He is not working just for a salary. He will not suffice with only what he is instructed to do. In fact, he strives to do whatever he knows pleases the master. His mind is not on working hours. He is not upset or reluctant to do anything after hours. In fact, he is too happy to serve his master at any time during the day and night for he has a special bond of love with his master. Is there no difference between these two workers? There is indeed a huge difference between the two.
Let us be honest with ourselves and consider our bond with Allah Ta’ala. Why do we only gratify ourselves with Fardh and Waajib? If we had intense love for Allah Ta’ala; if we considered our lives for the sake of Allah Ta’ala we would never have stopped short of the Mustahab Acts. In fact, we would have been on the lookout for Mustahab deeds to carry out. Knowing that Allah Ta’ala loves a certain act we would have hastened to carry it out and knowing that Allah Ta’ala is displeased with a certain act we would have stayed far away from it.
A Casual Relationship?
We would not be contented with having a casual relationship with Allah Ta’ala. How can we be contented with a casual relationship? If we look at our relationship with those we love, are we satisfied with just a basic relationship? No one is contented with just having a shallow bond with his dear ones. As a matter of fact, every one desires his relationship with those whom he loves to be par excellence.
Look at the relationship with the wife. Although this is a very weak bond in that it is connected with just a short statement of acceptance and just a single word of Talaaq severs this connection, yet no one satisfies himself with a superficial relationship with the wife. Every one desires his relationship with his wife to be perfect and intense. For the sake of intensifying this bond a man will go to extremes. He will purchase for his wife such garments and jewellery which are not really necessary, nor a duty upon him, for the sole purpose of strengthening this bond.
If a man just fulfils the waajib rights of his wife there will be no pleasure in such a relationship and inevitably such a relationship will break apart. Maintaining a relationship is dependent on strengthening it. Remember this well. A man will purchase for his wife as much as she desires and even more. He will have a healthy relationship with his in-laws. He will see to her happiness at all times, take her on holiday, make light her work at home. All this he does for the sake of strengthening the bond between him and his wife, whereas we have just mentioned that this bond is extremely thin and weak. Nevertheless, no one wishes to sever his relationship with his wife and if it reaches that stage, then what grief does it cause! For an enduring relationship all mustahab acts of marriage are resorted to.
We do all this for the sake of a relationship which is so flimsy, and we are so concerned with its permanency! It is then astonishing that in spite of our relationship with our Creator, Allah Ta’ala we display apathy at strengthening our bond with him. The bond with Allah Ta’ala can never be severed. We will always remain his creation and his servants. Considering this to be the strongest of all bonds, why are we not concerned with strengthening this bond? Why do we not think on the same lines here as we think in regard to our bond with our wives?
The permanence of a relationship is dependent on strengthening the relationship. Not working to strengthen a relationship endangers the relationship. Can anyone tolerate his relationship with Allah Ta’ala breaking? We cannot even tolerate our relationship with our wives and children breaking; our relationship with our friends breaking, whereas these are all weak relationships, then how can we tolerate our relationship with Allah Ta’ala even weakening? To be content with a weak relationship with Allah Ta’ala is indeed a great injustice.
Our apathy towards Mustahab acts is the result of being unaware of the innumerable benefits and blessings of these Mustahab acts. When we learn of a certain practice being Mustahab we consider laxity in its practice to be no problem. This is a dangerous condition as it translates to us only being contented with a formal relationship with Allah Ta’ala.
If people in this world are very kind and munificent to us, do we hold casual relationships with them? Sometimes out of love or desire for something we go out of our way to see to the needs of our benefactors. Why is it then that in the obedience of Allah Ta’ala we only confine ourselves to Fardh and Waajibaat? And why do we not regard the Mustahabbaat to be of great importance?
Additional Benefits of Mustahab Acts
One barkat of carrying out Mustahab acts is that a person who practices on the Mustahabbaat will be less prone to sin. One who performs his Tahajjud and Ishraaq will abstain from sin more than one who only fulfils the five times Fardh Salaat.
Sometimes a Mustahab act becomes the means for one’s salvation in the Aakhirah. Seebwaih was one of the most renowned grammarians of the Arabic language. However, in creed he was of the Mu’tazili sect who holds some corrupt beliefs punishable in the Aakhirah. After he passed away someone saw Seebwaih in a dream and enquired about his condition in that world. He replied that he had been forgiven. Upon enquiry of the cause of his forgiveness he replied: “I was forgiven over a rule in grammar. The grammarians say that the strongest and most obvious proper noun is the first person pronoun. I, however, differed and proclaimed the strongest and most obvious proper noun to be the word “Allah”. Allah Ta’ala declared: ‘You have honoured my name. Today We will honour you. Go you are forgiven.”
Look at this case of this grammarian being forgiven over a Mustahab deed. There are similar episodes narrated in the Hadeeth of sinful people being forgiven on account of Mustahab acts. We should, therefore, not misjudge the worth of Mustahab acts. Special bond and love of Allah Ta’ala hinges on carrying out the Mustahab acts of the Deen. May Allah Ta’ala grant us the courage, awareness and fervour to gain His Pleasure through Mustahab practices, Aameen.
(Modified From Thammun Nisyaan by Hazrat Moulana Thanwi Rahmatullahi Alaih)