Being a True Slave of Allah
O you, who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy. Noble Qur’an (2:208)
Al-Ubudiyyah comprises the servitude and slavery of the heart, tongue, and limbs to Allah (SWT). The slavery of the heart includes both the Qawl (saying of the heart) and Amal (actions of the heart). So, Al-Ubudiyyah is a comprehensive term that asserts the meaning of the ayah:
“You Alone do we worship and You Alone do we seek for Help.” Noble Qur’an (1:5)
Every person must have an ultimate aim in life which is the focus of his love and will. If a person does not have Allah (SWT) as the focus of his love and will, he will inevitably be enslaved by something else, whether it be his own pride, arrogance, wealth, power, or something that he takes as a god instead of Allah (SWT). The heart cannot be sound or succeed or find joy or be happy or feel pleasure or be good or be at peace or find tranquility, except by worshipping its lord, loving Him, and returning to Him.
Following Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi and slave, Ayaz Stories illustrate the true meaning of Ubudiyah: Being a True Slave of Allah (SWT).
There was once a very clever slave called Ayaz. He had an owner, who was a wealthy merchant. But due to some mistake in business, this wealthy merchant becomes bankrupt. He has to sell all his belongings until he had nothing left except his slave Ayaz. Still, he is in huge debt. Slave Ayaz suggested a solution to the problem of finance faced by his master. That is, take me to the slave market and sell me for a very high price. His master said this is not the real solution to the problem of finance, because nobody will buy you for a very high price. I know for sure my debt is more huge than your own value.
So Ayaz suggested his master sell him for a price of one million dirhams, but his master refused by saying nobody will going to buy him for one million dirhams. Again Ayaz insisted his master to sell him for a price of one million dirhams because he has some special quality in him that other slaves in the market don’t have. His master says I know that you are not young, strong, or handsome. So what is that special quality you are talking about? Ayaz says, tell your buyers that Ayaz knows how to be a slave. That is Ayaz knows what the meaning of Ubudiyah is.
The owner of Ayaz thinks for a while and says, it is worth a try. Then he took Ayaz to the slave market and announces that he is selling Ayaz for one million dirhams. Everyone started laughing at him because in those days a slave was not worth more than 200-300 dirhams. It was something new so everyone start talking about it and the news reached the palace of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni.
Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi and slave Ayaz Stories: Ubudiyah
Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni or Mahmood Ghaznawi was the most prominent Persian ruler at that time, who turned the former provincial city of Ghazni into the wealthy capital of an extensive empire which extended from most of today’s Iran, Afghanistan as well as Pakistan, and regions of North-West India.
The curiosity of Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi grows strong, so he asks Ayaz and his owner to be presented before of him. Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi asks the owner of Ayaz, why are you selling this slave for such a staggering higher price? He replies because Ayaz knows how to be a slave and the meaning of Ubudiyah. Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi was impressed with his answer and buys this slave Ayaz by paying one million dirhams.
Once the owner of the slave Ayaz left the palace with his money, Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi, ordered his guards to whip the slave Ayaz with 100 lashes. While these lashes are going on, Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi suggests one of his Vizier go to slave Ayaz and whisper in his ear to plead with Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi for stopping the whip. Ask Sultan, O Sultan, why are you whipping me because I have not done anything wrong?
Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi and slave Ayaz StoriesSlave Ayaz reply to this Vizier that, he can not do that because Sultan is his master and he is happy with whatever his master does with him.
When Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi heard the answer of his slave Ayaz from his Vizier, he says, if that is his answer then I really brought him at a very cheap price. Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi was pleased with his slave Ayaz’s answer and immediately Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi ask Ayaz, Oh, Ayaz what type of food would you like to eat and what type of clothes would like to wear? Ayaz replies whatever my master gives me as the food I will eat it and whatever my master gives me the clothes I will wear it.
Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi starts loving the qualities of his slave Ayaz so much that he makes this slave Ayaz to be the chief Vizier or chief Minister of his court.
Man should remain the same in all circumstances, whether richer or poor
It is written in the book “Adad ussin” that when Ayaz became a close confidante of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, the powerful Muslim ruler, his detractors began to try to pull him down from this position.
One day two of the ministers came to Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi and said, “Ayaz has stolen a lot of ornaments and treasure and he has kept all of them in a room which he has locked. Every morning he visits that room and does not allow anyone else.”
Thereupon hearing this, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi fell into doubt and said when Ayaz comes to me tomorrow you people go there, open the door and bring here whatever he has stored in that room.
The next morning these people took tools and broke the lock of the door and stepped into the room of Ayaz. They, however, did not find anything except a cotton sheet and a pair of old leather slippers. They thought that the treasure must be buried underground otherwise what was the need for him to visit this room every day if it contained only a torn sheet and old leather slippers.
They dug the floor of the room but did not find anything. They informed the ruler and he asked Ayaz that except for a cotton sheet and a pair of leather slippers there was nothing else in the room. So, why did he keep the room locked and pay a private visit every day?
Ayaz said, “Before I became your slave I had worn that particular garb. But after joining your service I got everything. Since man is prone to disobedience and pride, I frequently visit the room and see my old dress so that I may not fall into vanity. I should always remember that whatever I have today is due to the favor of the Sultan and it is all given to me as a loan. After that, I begin my job of the day.”
Ayaz was also heard saying his prayer with all sincerity, “O Lord! This ministry is – Yours and not mine. These ministerial robes are yours and not mine. The strength in the body, light in the eye, and what is not are all due to you”. He was all this time shedding tears of love in complete abnegation to Allah (SWT).
After hearing the above words of Ayaz, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi was impressed very much by his dedication. By embracing Ayaz, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi says, ‘What a lesson you have given me, Ayaz! It is this lesson that we all must learn, whatever be our position. Because before Allah (SWT) and in whose presence we all are but slaves, nothing should make us forget that helplessness through which we were reared and raised, and brought to life, to understand and to live a life of joy.’
Dr. Allama Mohammed IqbalDr. Allama Mohammed Iqbal praises Islam and its teaching of equality between the different class of people in the following Urdu couplet by looking at the example of Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi and slave Ayaz:
Ek Hi Saf Mein Khade Ho Gaye Mahmood-O-Ayaz,
Na Koi Banda Raha Aur Na Koi Banda Nawaz.
Banda-O-Saheb-O-Muhtaaj-O-Ghani Ek Huwe,
Teri Sarkar Mein Pahunche Toh Sabhi Ek Huwe.
So the first condition of success is to fill our hearts with Divine Light. Filling our hearts with Divine Light means dedication or surrender – renouncing everything to Allah (SWT).
Indeed, there are countless weaknesses of man that do not allow him to reach his desires. Just as man desires to have knowledge about a lot of things, it is not possible for him. He wants to remember something but he forgets it. He prefers to forget a particular sin but he could not do so. He tries to concentrate on something and to get rid of worries and doubts, but he does not succeed. And he is attracted to those things in which there is destruction for him and dislikes those things which are beneficial to him.
Apart from this, he is in constant dread of losing something which is dear and precious to him, like wealth or children or his physical powers.
Almighty Allah (SWT) says in Noble Qur’an: “And they control not for themselves any harm or profit, and they control not death nor life, nor raising (the dead) to life.” (Surah al-Furqan 25:3)
In brief, man is a mortal who has no control over his capabilities or susceptibilities. It is a fact that he is always in fear of death and there is none that can save him from death.
Total and complete surrender to the command of Allah (SWT)
On another occasion, all the ministers approached Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi and complain that he appointed Ayaz as the chief minister because he has no qualification or required experience to perform the Job of the chief minister. As a matter of fact, we are with you for a long time and have all the required qualifications and experience to perform the job of chief minister very well.
Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi said do you want me to prove that Ayaz is more worthy for the post of a chief minister than all of you combined. They said yes please; prove that Ayaz is best suitable for the post of the chief minister so that we should not have any complaints in future against him.
So tomorrow all of you come to my court and I will be going to prove that this Ayaz is the most deserving person for the position of the chief minister. The next day all the ministers come together and Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi was seated on his throne and a very expensive huge Gem was kept infront of him. Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi calls the first minister and asks him to take a very closer look of the Gem and ask him to give the value of the Gem. Minister after examining the Gem very carefully tells Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi that, it is a very expensive Gem cost one million dirhams. Then Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi asks, what will be the value of this Gem if it broke? Minister replied that this Gem has no value if it breaks! To test this minister Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi ask him to break the Gemstone, minister was hesitant to break the Gemstone because it is a very expensive Gemstone. This minister left the place without breaking the Gemstone.
Then Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi calls the second minister and asks him to take a very closer look of the Gem and ask him to give the price for the Gem. The second minister after examining the Gem very carefully tells Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi that, it is a very expensive Gem that cost two million dirhams. Then Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi asks, what will be the value of this Gem if it broke? Minister replied that this Gem has no value if it breaks! To test this second minister Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi ask him to break the Gemstone, minister was hesitant to break the Gemstone, because it is a very expensive Gemstone. This second minister also left the place without breaking the Gemstone.
Sultan GhaznawiFinally Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi calls Ayaz and asks him to take a very closer look of the Gem and ask him to give the price for the Gem. Ayaz after examining the Gem very carefully tells Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi that, it is a very expensive Gem and given the highest value of all the ministers. Then Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi asks, what will be the value of this Gem if it broke? Ayaz replies that this Gem has no value if it breaks! To test Ayaz, Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi asks him to break the Gemstone, Ayaz breaks it very easily without any hesitation. So Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi says, Ayaz you broke such an expensive Gemstone. For that Ayaz reply, your command to break is more valuable than the Gemstone itself.
This is called total and complete surrender and obedience or Al-Ubudiyah, nothing is more valuable than pleasing and pleasure of Allah (SWT).
Ustad Zauq Says,