Allah is in Our Intellect
Some time ago, we were listening to a lecture by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and we heard him say the statement: “Allah is in our intellect.” Of course, when we first heard this, we were puzzled by what this statement really meant. After finishing that lecture, much discussion amongst the family and finally understanding the core meaning of these words, I decided to tell you what I have concluded, Insha’Allah.
First, we have to see what we mean when we say “intellect”. According to the dictionary, the meaning of Intellect is: “The faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, especially with regard to abstract or academic matters.” Intellect is taking knowledge and pondering about it deeply. The understanding that one develops through this process is intellect. Although, in the statement “Allah is in our intellect”, we are not speaking in regards to ‘worldly’ intellect. Therefore, we are not referring to scientific theories, medical research, classical literature or such. We are specifically talking about the intellect we develop through the Quran and Sunnah. When we have this filtered intellect we are able to make proper decisions and judgment that will please Allah SWA.
To really understand this, we can go back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) or the rightly guided scholars of Islam. They had the intellect of the Quran and Sunnah and any inventions they created or embraced were beneficial to the people, environment and Islam. For example, the Muslims invented the compass in the early stages of Islam. This was beneficial for the Muslims who traveled, for finding the Qiblah for Salah and there was no harm in it environmentally or otherwise. This is not the same of the inventions of today. We see many things in this time that have caused so much harm and destruction. We have things like guns that take lives, cars that pollute, bombs that kill in masses and electronics that are making us lazy and intellectually weak. Arguably, some of these things may have some benefits, but their harms are much greater in the long run. When people have the intellect from the Quran and Sunnah, then laws, studies and inventions will be of benefit, protection and wisdom, as opposed to just for making money and having more power.
To understand the statement “Allah is in our intellect,” we need to look at the following Qudsi Hadith (A Hadith said by Allah as narrated by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), but is not a part of The Quran.):
“Allah Most High says: “He who is hostile to a friend of Mine I declare war against. My slave approaches Me with nothing more beloved to Me than what I have made obligatory upon him, and My slave keeps drawing nearer to Me with voluntary works until I love him. And when I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he seizes, and his foot with which he walks. If he asks me, I will surely give to him, and if he seeks refuge in Me, I will surely protect him” (Fath al-Bari, 11.34041, Hadith 6502)
At first when we look at this Hadith, we may wonder how it is related to Allah being in our intellect. It seems confusing, but at it’s core, it is actually very simple (see the italicized words, specifically). When we gain knowledge (from the Quran and Sunnah), gain understanding from them, and we act on this understanding, then Allah will love us and that is when Allah will be in our intellect. How? Well, for example: if we are offered a glass of alcohol or a glass of milk, we would analyze both choices based on the Quran and Sunnah. We would know that alcohol is Haram (prohibited and harmful) and that milk, which comes from Allah through nature is Halal (allowed and good for us). Not only that, but when we look at the world today, we can clearly see the negative effect that alcohol has had on society. The amount of deaths and problems that alcohol has caused is great. It is even known that alcohol destroys cells in the brain that we can never recover. So, using this intellect, we would refuse the alcohol and pick up the milk to drink that. Now, if we put this scenario through the perspective of the Qudsi Hadith I quoted above, Allah then becomes the hand that takes the milk! Beautiful, right? Anything that is a ruling of Allah that you do, Allah becomes part of that. This is not physical, obviously, but rather that it is under His guidelines, meaning that the action becomes from Him.
So what happens when our hand picks the alcohol? Does that mean that shaitan is in our intellect, because he goes against the laws of Allah? I think we know where I am going with this…Subhan’Allah.
So taking this knowledge, let’s put it to the test! When we eat, how can Allah be in our intellect? What does the Quran and Sunnah say about eating? Well, we have to eat Halal, we have to say Bismillah (In the name of Allah) before we start eating, we have to use our right hands, we should only eat enough to fill a third of our stomach, we have to eat with three fingers, we have to sit on the ground when we eat, we have to chew with our mouths closed, We have to say Alhamdulillah (Thanks to Allah) when we are finished, we have to be aware of table manners and so on. So, when we follow these rules from the Quran and Sunnah then Allah becomes the hand we eat with, Allah becomes the mouth we chew with and so on so forth. Allah is in our intellect, Alhamdulillah.
When we dress, how can Allah be in our intellect? According to the Quran and Sunnah, if we say the proper du’a for putting on clothes, wear clothes that cover us properly, not wear see-through clothing, wear loose clothing, not wear flashy boastful brand name clothing, not wear clothes that resemble the non-Muslims and so on, Allah will become the hands with which we put on our clothes and cover ourselves. Allah will be in our intellect, Insha’Allah.
If we have to get a job, how can Allah be in our intellect? If we get a job that does not involve having to do haram things, spreading evil, taking off Hijab or with an immodest dress-code, giving and taking interest, being unjust to people and is generally permissible in Islam with a Halal income, then Allah will become the body and mind with with which we perform our work, because we followed His guidelines according to the Quran and Sunnah. He will be in the intellect, Masha’Allah.
If we need to get married, how can Allah be in our intellect in this case? If the person is pious, righteous and is good in the Deen, we can marry them. After that we can also look at their wealth, lineage and beauty. To delevop our intellect on this, we can look at this Hadith:
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (4802) and Muslim (1466) from Abu Hurayrah (RA) from the Prophet (SAW) who said: “A woman may be married for four things: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her religious commitment. Seek the one who is religiously-committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e., may you prosper).”
When having the ceremonies and everything that comes with marriage, we have to see that we are adhering to the guidelines of Islam. It is very common for people to do things that are not part of our religion. People do extravagant things and have many functions and parties that are not allowed. When mentioning extravagance, are we spending ridiculous amounts of money and resources? Are we free mixing between men and women? Are we showing off how much wealth we have? Are we making it hard for others to get married, because of the standards we are helping to set? I don’t think so…So, how will Allah be in your intellect in this time?
Well, by being simple and following the guidelines that Allah has set strictly and showing others that this is the right way for a Muslim to behave and perform these duties. Allah will become the mind that chooses a spouse wisely, Allah will become the hand that feeds the people at the Walimah (celebration that the groom throws to announce the Nikkah), Allah will become the will that holds the desires back to refrain from doing haram things or doing extra things that are not part of His guidelines. Allah will be a part of the happy couple’s intellect and He will help them to prosper, Insha’Allah.
If someone passes away, how can the people left behind have Allah in their intellect? If they follow the proper steps for the burial according to the Quran and Sunnah, by shrouding the deceased in plain white clothes and not make fancy funeral processions, if they mourn for the time allowed and do what is allowed to bless the person who has died, then they show that they know Islam and follow it properly. So, Allah becomes the hands with which they perform the rights of the deceased. Allah will be in the intellect of the mourners and He will not only bless them for their submission, but the deceased will be blessed as well, Insha’Allah.
Sometimes, in our lives we will have to make a big business transaction and at that time we will definitely need to keep Allah in our intellect. For example, if we want to get a house we have to follow Allah’s guidelines. The house cannot be purchased with a mortgage, interest loan and so on. We have to make sure that we will do everything possible to stay away from the things Allah has prohibited, Insha’Allah. The people with Allah in their intellect will make sure that they know ALL this information about such decisions, take advice from others who are knowledgable and perform Istikhara (when you pray to Allah for guidance). Allah will then become this person’s hands with which he accepts this venture, Insha’Allah.
If Allah is in our intellect then our actions will be upright and superior. All that we do, will sync with the Quran and Sunnah. Even our intentions for these actions will be good and rewarding. In the world we live in today, all the tools we have sometimes drive us to lose our connection with Allah SWA. They are built to take Him out of our intellect. We are being deluded and shut down. Through television, our phones, games and all these innovations we are being lead astray, far far away from Allah’s path. They are all made for us to stop thinking and distracting us from Allah and His Message. When we do see people thinking it is only for worldly things, like making more dangerous weapons and drugs, thinking of how to go to Mars when people across the world are starving, or mostly just for writing a review on the latest game, their feedback on a book or movie, their advice on different matters (like, how to make money fast) or whatever else we find “intelligent” people doing. Where is Allah? Who is thinking about Him, how we can embrace Islam and spread it?
I believe another big factor that plays the role in this is the company we keep. If we are going to keep company with people who are brainwashed and indoctrinated with worldly knowledge without any care for Islam, then we will likely put unnecessary stress on our relationship with Allah SWA and putting our Iman (belief) in danger. We will have those people and their thoughts in our intellect. We should keep friends with people who have the intellect of the Quran and Sunnah (which we will differentiate through Islam), which will help us to stay on the right path and keep our thinking in the correct direction, Insha’Allah. Allah will be the hand that reaches out to shake the hand of the person we will call “friend” and Allah would not shake the hand of someone who is astray until they turn to Him. Remember: “birds of a feather flock together”, so you will keep the company of the people that you really want to be with, the ones who are just like you. Analyze the company you keep, use the intellect Allah has given you…
The Prophet Muhammad SAW said when asked about the Day of Judgement: “You will be with those whom you love.” [Bukhari]
We will be with those whom we love and those that hold our same thought process. Allah wants to free us from these toxic relationships and bad influences, He wants us to follow Him, because it is what is best. We should want to impress Him and not the people. We want Him in our lives more than anyone else.
There are so many occasions when we need to use our intellects. It is extremely crucial to think as a Muslim, always. In fourteen different places Allah says, “Will you not reason?” Allah stresses the fact that we have to think, analyze and use our intellects. To go along with that we must also gain knowledge and deep understanding. Otherwise, where else will our intellect come from then? The dunya? Schools? “Educational Books or TV shows”? That is all manmade knowledge and is imperfect. So, no! Allah has given us all the tools to gain the knowledge that He speaks about. This should always come first and foremost in developing an intellect. The Quran is where we will get true beneficial knowledge and deep thoughtful intellect. It will help us to recognize Truth from falsehood, Right from wrong, Good deeds from bad deeds and Benefit from harm, Insha’Allah. The Quran is not a decoration or book we drag out on special occasions to perform rights and rituals, but rather it is a complete way of life. The word ‘Ilm’ or knowledge appears in the Quran eight-hundred and fifty-four times! Allah really wants us to gain knowledge from His Words and to act on them, so that He can be a part of our lives as a Guide, a Teacher and as a True Friend Who will never disappoint us. He wants to stay in our intellects so that He can guide us to Jannah to be with Him!
The Prophet (SAW) said: “When Allah wishes good for a person, He makes him understand the religion.” (Agreed upon. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 69)
To show how Allah dislikes the person who does not think, please see Surah 8, Ayah 22 of The Noble Quran, where Allah says:
Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason. (Quran 8:22)
May Allah guide us and help us to gain the knowledge from the Quran and Sunnah properly, protect us from Shaytan who leads us astray, help us to use our Guidance the correct way, keep good company and be people who always put Allah first by using our Allah-given intellect, Ameen.
So, if Islam is the ultimate way of life and we have to perform every action through the Quran and Sunnah, then is Allah in our intellect?