Islam has defined the purpose of creation of humankind as to get to know and believe in Allah (SWT) and to worship him. The duty of humankind, in accordance with this purpose, is to try to get to know him well in return for his introducing himself to humankind and to make himself loved by Him by appreciating and considering best His artistry and works in exchange for His making Himself loved through decorations and to love Him by obeying His rules in return for His showing His love for humankind by displaying His beneficence, and to show his respect with thanks in return for His showing compassion and mercy with bounties and blessings.1 And, it is also to fulfil this duty properly to reach his good pleasure.
What makes us gain the pleasure of Allah (SWT) is to obey what is enjoined and shun away from what is prohibited. One of the most important of those which have been enjoined is worship to Allah (SWT) which means to obey Him. The sincerity in our prayers makes them more appropriate to be acceptable by Allah (SWT). Sincerity (Ikhlas) is the spirit of worship and it means seeking the pleasure of Allah whatever you are doing. One of the most important ways which may lead us into the sincerity is the state of ihsan as a human way of behaving.
Our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) responded to the question of Jabrail (alayhissalam) in the following way in the particular narration called as Jabrail(alayhissalam) hadith: “Ihsan means to worshipping Allah (SWT) as if you saw Him with your own eyes. Even if you do not see Him, He sees you.” It is very valuable to be in the state of Ihsan; however it is not easy to reach that level. One who obtains that level hardly ever commits a sin or engages in an immoral action and he or she performs his/her prayers sincerely.
The state of Ihsan which is indicated as neceesary to be reached is attain through the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH).
The Sunnah of the Prophet makes you feel that you are constantly in the presence of Allah (SWT)
To follow the Sunnah directly reminds us of the personality of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
That remembrance leads into the feeling that you are always seen by Allah (SWT).When one follows the Prophet even in dealings of the least significance and in the practices of daily life such as eating, drinking or sleeping, such ordinary transactions and natural acts become meritorious acts of worship and actions of the Shari’a. This is because a person who follows the Prophet even in such everyday actions thinks about following the noblest Prophet, upon whom be peace and blessings, and considers these to be among the good manners of conduct commended by the Shari’a. Through this recollection, their hearts turn to Almighty Allah (SWT), the Legislator of the Sharia. This gives some sort of spiritual satisfaction and sense of worship.2
As Bediuzzaman pointed out above, to follow the Sunnah even in the least significance transactions proves our love for Allah in accordance with the verse قُلْ اِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِى يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللّهُ “Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Al Imran, 31)” and it makes us gain the state of Ihsan. For example, when a merchant observes the principles of the Sunnah while doing his commercial transactions he will remember the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as the doer and instructor of these actions because he is the owner of the Sahari’a. And from that point he will reach Allah (SWT) because it is Allah (SWT) who controls and sometimes corrects each act and behaviour of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and who is the real owner of the Shari’a. Namely, he will realize who sees and follows him always thinking that it is Allah (SWT) who demands that business to be done in this way while doing shopping. And the one who considers himself under the constant surveillance of Allah(SWT) will abstain from deceiving in trade.
When you visit an administrator or a governor you try to be careful not to make a mistake and be respectful to the authority. So in the same way when you consider yourself in the presence of Almighty, All-creating, All-seeing, All-hearing Allah (SWT) you abstain from making mistakes which are against His pleasure. In that way, you will lead a proper life caring about your actions. If a Muslim applies that principle to all his life he will reach immediately to Allah (SWT) thanks to that connection and he will understand that Allah (SWT) sees him even if he does not see Him.
Contemplation leads one to feel his being at Allah (SWT)’s presence and that leads to sincerity
He gains the sincerity and gets rid of hypocrisy by thinking that Allah (SWT) is present everywhere, every time and not seeking the pleasure of anyone other than Him considering that it is insolence to do so, gaining the feeling of constantly being a the presence of Allah (SWT) through the strength of verified belief and the gleams of thought based on observing creatures faithfully.3
Verified belief and the prayer that is performed through contemplation as indicated in the hadith “its one hour is equal to one year” gains the person the degree of Ihsan.
If a person who tries to earn his children’s livelihood looks at the universe with intention of learning a lesson, he sees that all poor, weak and helpless creatures are given their daily livelihood perfectly. Especially, it is really remarkable that livelihood of those plants which cannot move is provided without bothering them. Of course it is not possible that Allah (SWT) forgets feeding the humankind, which is the most honourable of the creatures, while He does not neglect feeding the plants which are inferior to humankind. Of course, Allah (SWT) who hears and accepts the prayers that the plants do with their tongue of disposition will hear the prayers that humankind do verbally and with their tongue of disposition. Considering these contemplative processes, that person who is seeking for his livelihood will conclude that the All-Provider and All-Munificent Allah (SWT), who guarantees the food of all creatures, will not forget him and leave him without food and He will provide him with his livelihood. Thus; “I should recognize that He always observes me and I should not seek attention and help of anybody other than Him.” That kind of an attitude will result in sincerity which means gaining the pleasure of Allah (SWT).
A sample case for state of Ihsan
Sultan Selim the Grim, the Ottoman sultan and caliph of Muslims who served Islam in an unprecedented way, during his reign asked Hasan Jan, one of his friends, in his death bed:
Hasan, what do you think about me?
You are about to reach to Allah, Your highness. Pay your attention to Him!
The Sultan said:
Oh Hasan, Who do you think I have been together so far? Do I have a mistake about Allah?
Your Highness, I have never thought such kind of a thing about you, and I will never never think at all. However, we cannot compare your present situation with the former ones… I just wanted to remind you for this reason.
When he said this, the sultan was reciting the kalimat ul tawheed for the last time. He passed away with bearing witness to the oneness of Allah (SWT).
Sultan Selim the Grim who lived in the state of ihsan and was aware that he was always in the presence of Allah (SWT), moved to his eternal resting place having done many good deeds. As Muslims of Today, if we live in the state of ihsan and realize who sees and follows us constantly, we perform a lot of good deeds in our short life, and we can make many spiritual and material conquests. Especially, living up by Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) we can turn our ordinary actions into worship, and we can make all our life span very fruitful.
May Allah grant us being in the state of ihsan. Amin…
Said Nursî, Tilsimlar, 14
Said Nursî, Lem’alar (the Gleams), 51
Aforementioned book, 171