Enslavement of the Hearts

Shaykh Sulaymaan as-Sulaymee [1]

True Freedom

Without doubt, we all hate the slavery and subjugation that we see on the earth today. That being the subjugation of men over men, where some subjugate others, humiliating them and trampling over them. This is indeed hated. However, what we will talk about is different to this. It is as Rib’ee ibn “Aamir said: “Allaah has sent us to deliver, whomsoever chooses, from the worship of men to the ‘uboodiyyah (worship and servitude) of Allaah. And from the narrowness of this world, to the vastness of this world and the Hereafter. And from the oppression of the (false) religions, to the justice of Islaam.[2]

The Noble Ones

The ‘uboodiyyah (submission and worship) mentioned here is the ‘uboodiyyah to Allaah, which makes a person the noblest of all creation upon the earth. One of the Salaf said in a couplet: “What has made me noble and precious,
is that You O Allaah have made me enter into Your submission, and have made me one of the followers of Your Prophet Muhammad .”

This ‘uboodiyyah - this submission and worship – is what Allaah refers to in His Book: “I have not created Jinn and Mankind, except to worship Me.[3] In another verse Allaah says: “O mankind! Worship your Lord who has created you from a single person.[4] But how do we define this ‘uboodiyyah. This ‘uboodiyyah is all that which Allah loves and is pleased with, whether it is an action of the heart, the tongue or the limbs. [5] We, however, will specifically discuss the ‘uboodiyyah of the heart. [6]

Enslavement of the Heart

Allaah – the Most High – has placed in everyone that He has created, a heart which must be filled; either with submission and servitude to other than Allaah. Every single heart has feelings, desires and inclinations. The question is: Will those feelings, desires and inclinations be directed towards Allaah alone, or will they be directed to other than Allaah? Only the former truly being the subjugation and servitude of the heart to Allaah. The ‘uboodiyyah of the heart to things other than Allaah are many. Sometimes it is submission and servitude to money, sometimes to power and position, sometimes to women; and other such things people covet very much. However, whatever they covet can either lessen their submission and worship of Allaah, or completely nullify it!

The Slave of Wealth

Someone may ask: What is the proof that some people submit themselves to money and other such things. The proof is in the hadeeth of the Prophet where he said: “Wretched is the worshipper of the Dirham, wretched is the worshipper of the Deenar…[7] Someone may ask: How does this servitude to money manifest itself and what is its nature? It is when the heart becomes so in love with money, that it covers up, or suppressed the love for Allaah. Even to the degree that a person desires to attain that wealth by any means possible – neither caring whether the wealth comes to him through lawful means; in obedience to Allaah and His Messenger , or means that are unlawful and forbidden in the Deen.

Understand by reflection, that every single heart in all created things has feelings, desires and inclinations. It has the desire to love, to gain good and beneficial things for itself. It can feel fear, terror and also it can submit and surrender. When its feelings, desires and inclinations are all directed towards Allaah, then it is a heart that worships and serves Allaah alone. Therefore, it fears only Allaah, seeks and desires only Allaah’s mercy, it loves Allaah and whatever He loves; and it submits and surrenders itself only to Allaah. However, when these feelings, desires and inclinations are directed to other than Allaah, then it is a heart that worship and serves that object which has captured and enslaved it.

Significance of Wealth

The forbiddance of the heart submitting to other than Allaah should not be misunderstood to mean that Muslims must forsake the world and dealing with it. Rather, the true position of a Muslim is that which was the Sahaabah (Companions) . They held the wealth in their hands, yet none of this was in their hearts. [8] The point being made is that we are not trying to call the people to the opinion of some of the Soofees, who believe that it is forbidden for a Muslim to possess wealth and take part in any worldly transaction. Rather, it is obligatory for the Muslims to be the richest of people so that they may use this wealth as a means to help people and worship Allaah – the one free from all imperfections.

Another form of submitting to other than Allaah is when people submit and surrender their hearts to power and leadership. They are willing for humiliation to take hold of them and to abandon their scruples in order to gain votes during elections, or other such similar matters. They are prepared to humble themselves before other people, doing whatever is necessary for them to do, in order to win other peoples favor and thus gain that position. This is thus another form of submitting ones hear to other than Allaah.

The Sincere ‘Uboodiyyah to Allaah

As opposed to all this, the true ‘Uboodiyyah to Allaah, the true submission and surrender of ones heart to Allaah, is the same as when we say: Tawheed -–to single-out Allaah alone for worship. When the person has this ‘uboodiyyah, he worships Allaah alone, fears Allaah alone, loves Allaah and all his inclinations and desires are directed only to Allaah. For this reason Tawheed is the greatest deed a person can perform and the most beneficial deed a person can possess for himself on the Day of Judgement. This is why the Prophet said: “Whosoever witnesses: Laa ilaahaa illallah, [9] sincerely from his heart, will enter Paradise.[10] Meaning: that he actualized Tawheed in his life. Likewise, based upon this, we understand that nay act of worship, any good action or nice manner – when it is not accompanied by this Tawheed – will not be accepted by Allaah on the Day of Judgement, no matter of what value it seemingly was.

The Greatness of Tawheed

What shows to you the greatness of this submission and worship of Allaah in the heart, is the incident related in Saheehul-Bukhaaree (6/494) that the Prophet said: “A man sinned greatly against himself. So when death came he said to his sons: When I die, burn me and crush me and scatter my ashes into the sea. For by Allaah, if my Lord takes possession of me, He will punish me in a manner in which He has not punished anyone. So they did that to him. Then Allaah said to the earth: Bring forth what you have taken – and there he was! Allaah said to him: What induced you to do what you did: The man said: Due to fear of You, O my Lord. So Allaah forgave him because of this.” This shows us the greatness of khashyah (fear), since this fear he had was one of the meanings inclusive in al-‘uboodiyyah – the servitude to Allaah.

This is why all actions – even if they were to fill the heavens and the earth – will not be accepted by Allaah unless these actions have sprouted from a person having pure submission, worship and servitude to Allaah, worshipping Allaah alone and not associating any partner along with Him in this worship – not making Shirk. [11] Allaah – the One free from all imperfections – says: “Allaah does not forgive that partners should be set-up with Him, but He forgives anything lesser than that to whosoever He chooses. Whosoever set-up partners with Allaah (makes Shirk) has indeed invented the most grievous sin.[12] He – the One free from all imperfections – also says: “And We came forth to what they brought from their actions and We made it scattered dust.

That which shows us the greatness of Tawheed also, is this second incident: A Jewish boy who used to serve the Prophet had become ill. So the Prophet went to visit him and sat by his head and said: “Accept Islaam (meaning: Testify to Laa ilaahaa ilallaahu Muhammadur-Rasoolullah). “The boy looked at his father who was with him. So his father said to him: Obey Abul-Qaasim (i.e. the Prophet) . So he accepted Islaam. As the Prophet was leaving, he said: “All praise is for Allaah who saved this boy from the Fire.[13] Meaning that although this person had no good deeds, yet because of him saying this statement, purely and sincerely from his heard it was enough to save him from the Hellfire and cause him to enter Paradise.

The Fruits of Tawheed

So as this Tawheed strengthens in the heart, becoming stronger, firmer and more well rooted, then as a result, one’s deeds will likewise multiply and his worship of Allaah will become greater and more firm. Since, if a person realizes with ikhlaas (sincerity) and yaqeen (certainty) in his heart [14] that Allaah – the Most High – is the One who has created him, then he knows that he should only worship Allaah – the One free from all imperfections. As this becomes firmer in the heart, good deeds become more apparent and multiply in number.

Reflect upon Allaah’s great Wisdom in that when He created Hellfire, He created it with different levels and degrees. The highest level being the one having the least punishment and torment in it – which is for those people who had Tawheed, yet had many sins. Though they will be punished at this level until they are purified from their sins – yet due to this Tawheed and ‘uboodiyyah to Allaah alone in their hearts – they will eventually be saved from the Hellfire and admitted into Paradise. This level of Hellfire will then have no inhabitants left in it. This shows the greatness and virtue of Tawheed and the worship of Allaah alone, due to which they will eventually be rescued, from the Hellfire, not being eternally condemned in it.

The Prophetic Method

What also shows the importance of Tawheed, is the life and example of the Prophet . It can be divided into two stages: The first stage is when he, was in Makkah. The second stage was in Madeenah. In Makkah his message was only to teach one thing; the worship of Allaah alone without any partners – Tawheed or ‘uboodiyyah to Allaah alone. The Prophet did not call the people to leave any other sin nor to do any other good deed. During this period he only called them to single-out Allaah alone with worship, since this is the foundation upon which all else is built.

We must understand that once a person has truly submitted his heart to the worship of Allaah alone, he will then begin to fulfill all the obligations, which Allaah has placed upon him to the best of his ability. This is made clear by the statement of “Aaishah who said: “The first part (of the Qur’aan) to be revealed was a Soorah giving a detailed account about Paradise and Hell. Then, when the people entered into the fold of Islaam, came the revelation of what is halaal (lawful) and haraam (unlawful). Had the first revelation been: ‘Do not drink wine,’ they would have said: ‘We shall never give up wine.’ Had the first revelation been: do not commit adultery and fornication, they would have said: We shall never give up adultery and fornication.” [15] This then is the foundation for which, if a person agrees, he will then agree and desire to abandon all other sins and acts of disobedience.

It was only after Tawheed, the worship of Allaah alone; and the willingness to submit to Him, was understood by the Companions and it had settled in their hearts, that Allaah – the One free from all imperfections – began to order them with the various commands. It was then that the command was revealed to establish Salaah, pay the Zakaah, fast in Ramadhaan, then afterwards the command to make Hajj; and so on until all the commands which Allaah – the Most High – wanted to order the people with were given, one by one. In a like manner is what Allaah – the Most High – and His Messenger have forbidden. Once this worship of Allaah alone, and submission to Him have settled in the hearts, it is also upon the Muslim to leave, forsake and avoid that which Allaah and His Messenger have forbidden.

The Principle of Ease

There is a very important principle here which shows the greatness of the religion of Islaam and the Sharee’ah in terms of prohibitions; whether they came by way of the Qur’aan or from the tongue of the Messenger . It is required of the Muslim to give up all that Allaah and His Messenger s have forbidden, without compromise or distinction. As for the orders of Allaah, whether in the Qur’aan or from the Prophet , the Muslim is required to fulfill them to the best of his ability. This is because this religion is one of ease. For example, regarding the command to perform Hajj, Allaah revealed in His Book: “It is a command upon mankind to make Hajj (pilgrimage) for Allaah to the House (in Makkah), for whosoever has the means to do so.[16] Meaning, the command is to be fulfilled if one is able, to the best of his ability. Since no Muslim – man or woman – can fulfill every command of Allaah, whether it be from the obligatory duties or the recommended ones. As for those matters which Allaah and His Messenger have forbidden, then they must completely be avoided, without any weakening in the resolve. [17]

This message of “uboodiyyah to Allaah – the One free of all imperfections – and singling Him out alone for worship, is the common message of all the Prophets and Messengers ‘alayhimus-salaam. Every single Prophet and Messenger came to his people saying: “O people: Worship Allaah alone, none other than Him have the right to be worshipped.[18] This was the message of the Prophet Noah, Ibraaheem, Moosaa, “Eesaa ibn Maryam ‘alayhimus-salaam; and the seal and last of the Prophets, Mushammad . They all came with this same message.


Imaam Ahmad relates in az-Zuhd (2/30) that ‘Umar ibn al- Khattaab said:“Take account of your own souls before account is taken of you. Weigh your actions before they are weighed. Indeed, when you are brought to account tomorrow, it Will be much easier if you have brought yourselves to Account today. So do so, before their comes to you the great Judgement: “That Day will you be brought to Judgement. Not a secret of yours will be hidden.” {Soorah al-Haqqah 69:18}


[1] From a talk delivered by the honorable Shaykh – hafidhahullaah – at the Jam’iyyatul-Qur’aan was-Sunnah Conference 1994 USA.

[2] Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah (7/40) of Ibn Katheer.

[3] Soorahtudh-Dhaariyaat 51:55.

[4] Sooratun-Nisaa 4:1.

[5] Imam all-Maqreezee says in Tajreedut-Tawheedul-Mufeed (p.82): “And know that al-‘Ibaadah (worship) has four principles, and they are: (I) ascertaining that which Allaah and His Messenger love and are pleased with, establishing that with (ii) the heart, (iii) the tongue and (iv) the limbs. So al-‘Uboodiyyah is a comprehensive term for all these four stages.”

[6] As regards the importance of the heart, the Prophet said: “Indeed there is a piece of flesh in the body, if it is correct, the whole body is correct; and if it be corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Indeed that is the heart.” Related by al-Bukhaaree (1/126) and Muslim (no.1599) - from an-Nu’maan ibn Basheer .

[7] Related by all-Bukhaaree (no6435) and Ibn Maajah (no.4132) – from Abu Hurayrah .

[8] Ibn Taymiyyah says in Wasiyyatus-Sughraa (p.55).

“He should regard wealth like he regards the toilet. He has need of it, but it has no place in his heart and he resorts to it only when necessary.”

[9] Laa ilaahaa ilallaahu: None has the right to be worshipped except Allaah.

[10] Saheeh: Related by Ibn Hibbaan (no.4) and Ahmad (5/236) from Mu’aadh . It was authenticated by Saykh al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no.2355).

[11] Shirk: It is to associate partners with Allaah in those matters which are particular to Him.

[12] Sooratun-Nisaa 4:48.

[13] Related by al-Bukhaaree and Ahmad – from Anas .

[14] Ikhlaas (purity and sincerity) and yaqeen (certainty) being two of the seven conditions for the establishment and acceptability of Laa ilaahaa ilallaahu. The meaning, virtues and conditions of this kalimah will be discussed further in the next issue – if Allah wills.

[15] Related by al-Bukhaaree – from Yoosuf ibn Maalik.

[16] Soorah Aal-‘Imraan 3:97.

[17] This principle is taken from the Hadith of the Prophet : “What I have forbidden to you, then avoid; what I have ordered you to do, then do as much of it as you can.” Related by al-Bukhaaree (no.7288) and Muslim (no.1337).

[18] Soorah A’raaf 7:59.

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