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Targheeb and Tarheeb
  The Rank of Ishfaaq
Author: Ibn al-Qayyim
Source: Al-Madarij us-Saailkeen (Eng. Trans. Abu Iyaad as-Salafi)
Article ID : TZK050006  [13788]  

Among the ranks of {You alone do we worship and You alone do we seek for help} [Surah Faatiha 1:4] is the rank of Al-Ishfaaq (Fear of the consequences on the Day of Judgement, or the fear that one's actions will not be accepted, or a feeling of fear for somebody out of compassion.)

Allah the Exalted said

{Those who fear their Lord unseen and they hold the Hour in awe.} [Surah Anbiyaa 21:49]

and He said

{They will advance to each other, engaging in mutual enquiry. They will say "Aforetime, we were not without fear for the sake of our people. But Allah has been good to us, and has delivered us from the chastisement of a scorching wind.} [Surah Toor 52:25-27]

Al-Ishfaaq is the mercy or compassion behind Khawf (Fear). It is Khawf out of sincerity, compassion and sympathy on behalf of the one who fears for the being or thing to whom his fear is directed. Its relation to Khawf is as the relation between pity and sympathy towards Rahmah (mercy).

Its beginning :

The feeling of Ishfaaq for one's soul that it inclines towards disobedience and deviance or that it rushes towards the paths of desire, disobedience and deviation from its enslavement ('Uboodiyah) to Allah. Then this develops and is nurtured into Ishfaaq for one's actions (fear that they will be lost).

So one fears for his actions lest they become as those actions about which Allah has said

{And We shall turn to whatever deeds they did (in this life) and We shall make such deeds as dust, scattered about.} [Surah Furqaan 25:23]

And these are those actions which are done for other than Allah, or those which are done without the command of Allah or those which are not done in accordance with the Sunnah of the Messenger . He also fears that those actions which he will do in the future will be in vain as well, whether by abandoning them or by committing sins, so they will be scattered, nullified and ruined. The condition of one who feels in such a way is as the condition which Allah the Exalted has mentioned in the ayah:

{Does one of you wish that he should have a garden with date-palms and vines and streams flowing underneath, and all kinds of fruit, while he is stricken with old age, and his children are not strong (enough to look after themselves) - that it should be caught in a whirlwind, with fire therein and be burnt up? Thus does Allah make clear to you (His) Signs, that you may engage in thought.} [Surah Baqarah 2:266]

'Umar ibn al-Khattaab (radiallahu-anhu) said to the Sahaabas (radiallahu-anhum): "About whom do you think that this ayah was revealed?" The Sahaabas said "Allah knows best." So 'Umar got angry and said "Either say 'We know' or 'We don't know'." Ibn 'Abbaas then said "I know something about it Oh Ameerul-Mu'mineen." 'Umar said "Speak Oh son of my brother, and do not look down upon yourself." So Ibn 'Abbaas said "A similitude of action has been set forth." 'Umar said "Which action?" Ibn 'Abbaas said "Action." 'Umar then said "It is about a rich man who did actions with obedience to Allah then Allah sent Shaytaan to him so he did actions in (Allah's) disobedience until all of his actions vanished."

Its middle:

The feeling of Ishfaaq for one's time lest it becomes mixed with what will take away the blessing from it. This means that one is cautious about how he spends his time so that it does not become mixed with what diverts him from being aware of the presence of Allah.

He also has Ishfaaq for the heart, that the fear of Allah and the purity within it will be pushed out by those things that can remove these qualities from the heart, whether it is weakness (of 'Eemaan and the ability to perform good actions), doubt/uncertainty or sexual desire; and every such cause impedes the traveller (on his way).

Its end:

Ishfaaq guards ones striving/efforts from vanity and pride as well as averting him from argumentation with the people. It also carries the one with an intention (to do good) towards preservation of its firmness and determination.

Vanity and pride corrupt the actions just as Riyaa' (showing off) corrupts the actions; so ones Ishfaaq for his striving/action (that it may be corrupted) protects him from its corruption.

Argumentation with people is a cause of corruption of the character, so ones Ishfaaq for his good character (that it may be corrupted) guards him from that.

Lack of firmnness and determination in intention (to do righteous deeds) corrupt it (i.e. the intention). This absence of rigidity in intention is manifested by indulging in amusement, idleness and playing about. One has Ishfaaq for ones intention (that it may be corrupted if it is not followed up by action).

So if his actions, character and intention are corrected and purified, his behaviour, heart and condition will become upright and steadfast...

... and Allah is the One from whom all help is sought


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