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Sunnah

Prophet Muhammad’s speeches

Sir George Bernard Shaw said: “If any religion had the chance of ruling over England, nay Europe within the next hundred years, it could be Islam. I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion, from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Savior of Humanity.

I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.” (‘The Genuine Islam’. Vol. 1, No. 8, 1936)

Here are some of Muhammad’s speeches:

“Acquire knowledge, it enables its professor to distinguish right from wrong; it lights the way to heaven. It is our friend in the desert, our company in solitude and companion when friendless. It guides us to happiness, it sustains us in misery, it is an ornament amongst friends and an armor against enemies.”

“A Muslim who plants a tree or sows a field, from which man, birds, and animals can eat, is committing an act of charity.”

“There is a polish for everything that takes away rust, and the polish for the heart is the remembrance of Allah.”

“What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of human beings, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured.”

“The most excellent Jihad is that for the conquest of self.”

“If you put your whole trust in Allah, as you ought, He most certainly will satisfy your needs, as He satisfies those of the birds. They come out hungry in the morning, but return full to their nests.”

“When Allah created his creatures He wrote above His throne: ‘Verily, my Compassion overcomes my wrath.”

“Allah will not give mercy to anyone, except those who give mercy to other creatures.”

“Son, if you are able, keep your heart from morning till night and from night till morning free from malice towards anyone.’ Then the Prophet said: ‘O my son! This is one of my laws, and he, who loves my laws verily loves me.’”

“Say what is true, although it may be bitter and displeasing to people.”

“Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever is not kind has no faith.”

“When you see a person who has been given more than you in money and beauty, look to those, who have been given less.”

“If you do not feel ashamed of anything, then you can do whatever you like.”

“O Lord, grant me your love, grant me that I love those who love you; grant me, that I might do the deeds that win your love. Make your love dearer to me than the love of myself, my family and wealth.”

“It is better to sit alone than in company with the bad; and it is better still to sit with the good than alone. It is better to speak to a seeker of knowledge than to remain silent, but silence is better than idle words.”

“Verily, a man teaching his child manners is better than giving one bushel of grain in alms.”

“Whoever is kind, Allah will be kind to him; therefore be kind to man on the earth. He Who is in heaven will show mercy on you.”

“It is difficult for a man laden with riches to climb the steep path, that leads to bliss.”

“Once a man, who was passing through a road, found a branch of a tree with torns obstructing it. The man removed the thorns from the way. Allah thanked him and forgave his sins.”

“Who are the learned? Those who practice what they know.”

“Allah has revealed to me, that you must be humble. No one should boast over one another, and no one should oppress another.”

“Who is the most favored of Allah? He, from whom the greatest good comes to His creatures.”

“A true Muslim is thankful to Allah in prosperity, and resigned to His will in adversity.”

“A Muslim who meets with others and shares their burdens is better than one who lives a life of seclusion and contemplation.”

“Serve Allah, as you would if you could see Him; although you cannot see Him, He can see you.”

“Allah does not look at your appearance or your possessions, but He looks at your heart and your deeds.”

“The best richness is the richness of the soul.”

“Keep yourselves far from envy; because it eats up and takes away good actions, like a fire eats up and burns wood.”

“Much silence and a good disposition, there are no two things better than these.”

“Verily, Allah is mild and is fond of mildness, and He gives to the mild what He does not give to the harsh.”

“Whoever loves to meet Allah, Allah loves to meet him.”

“Once the Prophet was asked: ‘Tell us, which action is dearest to Allah?’ He answered: ‘To do your prayer at its proper time.’ Again he was asked: ‘What comes next?’ Mohammed said: ‘To show kindness to parents.’ ‘Then what?’ he was asked, ‘To strive for the cause of Allah!’”

“When two persons are together, two of them must no whisper to each other, without letting the third hear; because it would hurt him.”

“Verily, it is one of the respects to Allah to honor an old man.”

“All Muslims are like a foundation, each strengthening the other; in such a way they do support each other.”

“Strive always to excel in virtue and truth.”

“You will not enter paradise until you have faith, and you will not complete your faith till you love one another.”

“He, who wishes to enter paradise at the best gate, must please his father and mother.”

“I am leaving two things among you, and if you cling to them firmly you will never go astray; one is the Book of Allah and the other is my way of life.”

“Allah is One and likes Unity.”

“The best of alms is that, which the right hand gives and the left-hand knows not of.”

“The perfect Muslim is not a perfect Muslim, who eats till he is full and leaves his neighbors hungry.”

“He is not of us who is not affectionate to the little ones, and does not respect the old; and he is not of us, who does not order which is lawful, and prohibits that which is unlawful.”

“No man is a true believer unless he desires for his brother that, what he desires for himself.”

“To strive for the cause of Allah from daybreak to noon and sunset is better than the goods and enjoyment of the whole worldly life.”

“Be not like the hypocrite who, when he talks, tells lies; when he gives a promise, he breaks it; and when he is trusted, he proves dishonest.”

“The proof of a Muslim’s sincerity is, that he pays no heed to that, which is not his business.”

“Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer? It is keeping peace and good relations between people, as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.”

“Conduct yourself in this world, as if you are here to stay forever; prepare for eternity as if you have to die tomorrow.”

Our Lord declared, “I have never endowed My servants with a favor, without a group among them disbelieving in it and saying, ‘Stars, it was due to the stars.’”

“The worldly comforts are not for me. I am like a traveler, who takes a rest under a tree in the shade and then goes on his way.”

“Acquire Knowledge. It enables its possessor to distinguish right from wrong. It lights the way to heaven. It is our friend in the desert, our society in solitude, our compassion when friendless. It guides us to happiness. It sustains us in misery. It is an ornament among friends and an armor against enemies.”

“Your Lord delights at a shepherd who, on the peak of a mountain crag, gives the call to prayer and prays. Then Allah says, ‘Look at this servant of Mine. He gives the call to prayer and performs the prayers; he is in awe of Me. I will forgive My servant all his sins and admit him to Paradise.’”

When the Prophet Muhammad uttered the salutation at the end of the prayer, he would say: “O Allah, forgive me my former and latter sins, what I have kept secret and what I have done openly, and what I have done extravagantly; and what You know better than I do. You are the Advancer and the Delayer. There is no god but You.”

Muhammad said the following to some soldiers after they had left the battlefield victorious one day: “You have left the lesser jihad, now you are coming to the greater jihad. The struggle against yourself.”

Muhammad’s hadith and Sunnah

Sunnah is all the sayings and actions of prophet Muhammad. A Hadeeth is one saying of the Prophet Muhammad. In plural Ahadeeth. Basically, a Hadeeth tells us what the prophet said or did at a certain time regarding a certain issue.

Usually, a Hadeeth is composed of two parts: the body text and the chain of reporters. A text of a Hadeeth may seem to be logical and reasonable but it needs authentic and reliable reporters to be acceptable.

Many reform proposals have been advanced during the last decades, and many spiritual doctors have tried to devise a patent medicine for the sick body of Islam. But, until now, all have been in vain, because all those clever doctors – at least those who get a hearing today – have invariably forgotten to prescribe, along with their medicines, tonics and elixirs, the natural diet on which the early development of the patient had been based. This diet, the only one which the body of Islam, sound or sick, can positively accept and assimilate, is the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad.

The Sunnah is the key to the understanding of the Islamic rise more than fourteen centuries ago; and why should it not be a key to the understanding of our present degeneration? Observance of the Sunnah is synonymous with Islamic existence and progress. Neglect of the Sunnah is synonymous with a decomposition and decay of Islam. The Sunnah is the iron framework of the House of Islam; and if you remove the framework of a building, can you be surprised if it breaks down like a house of cards?

This simple truth, almost unanimously accepted by all learned men throughout Islamic history, is – we know well – most unpopular today for reasons connected with the ever-growing influence of Western civilization. But it is a truth, none the less, and, in fact, the only truth which can save us from the chaos and the shame of our present decay.

The term Sunnah is used here in its widest meaning, namely, the example which the Prophet has set before us in his attitudes, actions and sayings. His wonderful life was a living illustration and explanation of the Quran, and we can do no greater justice to the Holy Book than by following him who was the means of its revelation.

We have seen that one of the main achievements of Islam, the one which distinguishes it from all other transcendental systems, is the complete harmony between the moral and the material aspects of human life. This was one of the reasons why Islam in its prime had such a triumphant success wherever it appeared. It brought to mankind the new message that the earth need not be despised in order that heaven be gained.

This prominent feature of Islam explains why our Prophet, in his mission as an apostolic guide to. I should like to stress here that the concept of the Prophet’s Sunnah has been unwarrantably enlarged by scholars of the post-classical period of Islam. In its only valid, fundamental connotation this term signifies “the way of life” of the Apostle of God.

In the first instance, it comprises the moral and ethical attitudes which he adopted towards various human problems – both individual and social of a permanent nature.

Secondly, the Sunnah embraces much of the Prophet’s injunctions – both commands and prohibitions – as relate to unchanging circumstances of social life and human behavior:

That is to say, it does not, by itself, embrace injunctions which the Apostle of God issued with a view to a particular historical occasion or a time-bound situation. Thirdly, the Sunnah comprises such of the Prophet’s outspoken moral valuations – “this is good” or “this is bad” – as are anchored in the human situation as such, and are therefore immune to the changes of time or circumstance. Unless we keep strictly to this threefold definition of the Prophet’s Sunnah, we will always be in danger of obscuring the principle that it is valid for all times and thus of losing sight of its God-willed character as the second source, next to the Quran, of Islamic Law.

Humanity was so deeply concerned with human life in its polarity both as a spiritual and a material phenomenon. It does not, therefore, show a very deep understanding of Islam if one discriminates between such injunctions of the Prophet as deal with purely devotional and spiritual matters and others which have to do with questions of society and daily life. The contention that we are obliged to follow the commands belonging to the first group, but not obliged to follow those of the second, is as superficial and, in its spirit, as anti-Islamic as the idea that certain general injunctions of the Quran were meant only for the ignorant Arabs at the time of the revelation, and not for the refined gentlemen of the twentieth century. At its root lies a strange under­ estimation of the true role of the Arabian Prophet.

Just as the life of a Muslim must be directed towards a full and unreserved’ cooperation between his spiritual and his bodily Self, so the leadership of out Prophet embraces life as a compound entity, a sum-total of moral and practical, individual and social manifestations. This is the deepest meaning of the Sunnah. The Quran says:

“But no, by the Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against Thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction.” (Quran 4:65).

And: “Say: ‘If ye do love Allah, Follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’ Say: ‘Obey Allah and His Messenger’. But if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith.”(Quran 3:31-32).

The Sunnah of the Prophet is, therefore, next to the Quran, the second source of Islamic Law. In fact, we must regard the Sunnah as the only binding explanation of the Quranic teachings, the only means of avoiding permanent dissensions concerning their interpretation and adaptation to practical use. Many verses of the Quran have an allegorical meaning and can be understood in different ways. And there are, furthermore, many questions of practical importance not explicitly dealt with in the Quran. The spirit prevailing in the Holy Book is, to be sure, uniform throughout; but to deduce from it the practical attitude which we have to adopt is not in every case an easy matter.

So long as we believe that this Book is the Word of God, perfect in form and purpose, the only logical conclusion is that it was never intended to be used independently of the personal guidance of the Prophet which is embodied in the system of his Sunnah; and our reason tells us that there could not possibly be a better interpreter of the Quranic teachings than he through whom they were revealed to humanity. And so we come to the very important question as to the authenticity of the sources which reveal the life and the sayings of the Prophet to us. These sources are the sayings and actions of the Prophet reported and transmitted by his Companions and critically collected in the first few centuries of Islam. It has become a matter of fashion in our days to deny, in principle, the authenticity of most of the ahadeeth and, therefore, of the whole structure of the Sunnah.

Is there any scientific warrant for this attitude? Is there any scientific justification for the rejection of ahaadeeth as a dependable source of Islamic Law?

We should think that the opponents of orthodox thought would be able to bring forward really convincing arguments which would establish, once and for all, the unreliability of the Traditions ascribed to the Prophet. But this is not the case. In spite of all the efforts which have been employed to challenge the authenticity of a Hadeeth as a body, those modern critics, both Eastern and Western, have not been able to back their purely subjective criticism with results of truly scientific research. It would be rather difficult to do so, inasmuch as the compilers of the early Hadeeth­ collections, and particularly Bukhari and Muslim, have done whatever was humanly possible to put the authenticity of every Tradition to a very rigorous test – a ‘far .more rigorous test than Western historians usually apply to any historical document.

It would go far beyond the limits of this book to dwell in detail on the scrupulous method by which the reliability of Traditions was investigated by the early Muhadditheen (learned men devoted to the study of Hadeeth), For our purpose it should suffice to say that a complete science has been evolved, the sole object of which is the research into the meaning, the form and the way of transmission of the Prophet’s Hadeeth:

An historical branch of this science succeeded in establishing an unbroken chain of detailed biographies of all those personalities who have ever been mentioned as narrators of Traditions. The lives of those men and women have been thoroughly investigated from every point of view, and only those have been accepted as reliable whose way of life as well as of receiving and transmitting Hadeeth perfectly responds to the standards stipulated by the great Muhadditheen and believed to be the most exacting that could possibly be conceived. If, therefore, anyone wishes to contest today the authenticity of a particular Hadeeth or of the system as a whole, the burden of proving its inaccuracy falls upon him alone.

It is scientifically not in the least justifiable to contest the veracity of a historical source unless one is prepared to prove that this source is defective. If no reasonable, that is, a scientific argument can be found against the veracity of the source itself or against one or more of its later transmitters, and if, on the other hand, no other contradictory report about the same matter exists, then we are bound to accept the Tradition as true.

Suppose, for example, someone speaks about the Indian wars of Mahmud of Ghazni and you suddenly get up and say, “I don’t believe that Mahmud ever came to India. It is a legend without any historical foundation.” What would happen in such a case?

At once some person well-versed in history would try to correct your mistake and would quote chronicles and histories based on reports of contemporaries of that famous Sultan as a definite proof of the fact that Mahmud had been in India. In that case, you would have to accept the proof – or you would be regarded as a crank who for no obvious reason denies solid historical facts. If this is so, one must ask oneself why our modern critics do not extend the same logical fair mindedness to the problem of Hadeeth as well.

The primary ground for a Hadeeth being false would be a wilful lie on the part of the first source, the Companion concerned, or one or another of the later transmitters. As to the Companions, such a possibility can be ruled out a priori. It requires only some insight into the psychological side of the problem in order to relegate such assumptions to the sphere of pure fantasy. The tremendous impression which the personality of the Prophet made on these men and women is an outstanding fact of human history; and, moreover, it is extremely well documented by history. Is it conceivable that people who were ready to sacrifice themselves and all they possessed at the bidding of the Apostle of God would play tricks with his words? Did not the Prophet say:

“Whoever intentionally lies about me will take his place in the Fire”?

This the Companions knew; they believed implicitly in the words of the Prophet, whom they regarded as a spokesman of God; and is it probable, from the psychological point of view, that they disregarded this very definite injunction?

In criminal court proceedings, the first question facing the judge is cui bono – for whose benefit – the crime could have been committed. This judicial principle can be applied to the problem of Hadeeth as well. With the exception of Traditions which directly concern the status of certain individuals or groups, as well as the decidedly spurious ~ and by most of the Muhadditheen rejected – Traditions connected with the political claims of the different parties in the first century after the Prophet’s death, there could be no “profitable” reason for any individual to falsify sayings of the Prophet. It was in a just appreciation of the possibility of ahadeeth being invented for some personal ends that the two foremost authorities among the Traditionists, Bukhari and Muslim, rigorously excluded all Traditions relating to party politics from their compilations. What remained was beyond the suspicion of giving personal advantages to anyone.

There is one argument more on which the authenticity of a Hadeeth could be challenged. It is conceivable that either the Companion who heard it from the lips of the Prophet or one or another of the later narrators committed while being subjectively truthful, a mistake due to a misunderstanding of the Prophet’s words, or a lapse of memory, or some other psychological reason.

But the internal, that is, psychological, evidence speaks against any great possibility of such mistakes, at least on the part of the Companions. To the people who lived with the Prophet, each’ one of his sayings and actions was of the utmost significance, due not only to the fascination which his personality exerted on them, but also to their firm belief that it was God’s will that they should regulate their lives according to the Prophet’s direction and example.

Therefore, they could not take the question of his sayings offhand but tried to preserve them in their memory even at the cost of great personal discomfort. It is related that the Companions who were immediately associated with the Prophet formed among themselves groups of two men each, one of whom was to be alternately in the vicinity of the Prophet while the other was busy with the pursuit of his livelihood or other matters; and whatever they heard or saw of their Master they communicated to one another: so anxious were they lest some saying or doing of the Prophet should escape their notice. It is not very probable that, with such an attitude, they could have been negligent as to the exact wording of a Hadeeth, And if it was possible for hundreds of Companions to preserve in their memory the wording of the whole Quran, down to the smallest details of spelling, then it was no doubt equally possible for them and for those who immediately followed them to keep single sayings of the Prophet in their memory without adding to them or omitting anything from them.

Moreover, the Traditionists ascribe perfect authenticity only to those ahaadeeth which are reported in the same form through’ different, independent chains of narrators. Nor is this all. In order to be sound true, a Hadeeth must be corroborated at every stage of transmission by the independent evidence of at least two, and possibly more, transmitters – so that at no stage the report should hinge on the authority of one person only. This demand for corroboration is so exacting that in a Hadeeth reported through, say, three “generations” of transmitters between the Companion concerned and the final compiler, actually, a score or more of such transmitters, distributed over those three “generations”, are involved.

With all this, no Muslim has ever believed that the Traditions of the Prophet could have the undisputed authenticity of the Quran. At no time has the critical investigation of ahaadeeth stopped. The fact that there exist numerous spurious ahaadeeth did not in the least escape the attention of the Muhadditheen, as non­ Muslim and even some Muslim critics naively suppose. On the contrary, the critical science of Hadeeth was initiated because of the necessity of discerning between the authentic and the spurious, and the very imams Bukhari and Muslim, not to mention the lesser Traditionists, are direct products of this critical attitude. The existence, therefore, of false Hadeeth does not prove anything against the system of Hadeeth as a whole – no more than a fanciful tale from the Arabian Nights could be regarded as an argument against the authenticity of any historical report of the corresponding period.

Until now, no critic has been able to prove in a systematic way that the body of Hadeeth regarded as authentic according to the test-standard of the foremost Traditionists is inaccurate. The rejection of authentic Traditions, either as a whole or in part, is a purely emotional matter and has failed to establish itself as the result of unprejudiced, scientific investigation. But the motive behind such an oppositional attitude among many Muslims of our time can easily be traced. This motive lies in the impossibility of bringing our present, degenerate ways of living and thinking into line with the true spirit of Islam as reflected in the Sunnah of our Prophet. In order to justify their own shortcomings and the shortcomings of their environment, these pseudo-critics of Hadeeth try to obviate the necessity of following the Sunnah:

Because it this were done, they would be able to interpret all Quranic teachings just as they please – that is, everyone according to his own inclinations and turn of mind. And in this way, the exceptional position of Islam as a moral and practical, individual and social code would be utterly destroyed.

In these days, when the influence of Western civilization makes itself more and more felt in Muslim countries, still another motive is added to the negative attitude of the so-called “Muslim intelligentsia” in this matter. It is impossible to live according to the Sunnah of our Prophet and to follow the Western mode of life at one and the same time. But many among the present generation of Muslims are ready to adore everything that is Western, to worship the foreign civilization simply because it is foreign, powerful and materially imposing.

This “Westernization” is the strongest reason why the Traditions of our Prophet and, along with them, the whole structure of the Sunnah have become so unpopular today. The Sunnah is so obviously opposed to the fundamental ideas underlying Western civilization that those who are fascinated by the latter see no way out of the tangle but to describe the Sunnah as an irrelevant, and therefore not compulsory, the aspect of Islam – because it is “based on unreliable Traditions”. After that, it becomes easier to twist the teachings of the Quran in such a way that they might appear to suit the spirit of Western civilization. Almost as important as the formal, so to say
“legal”, justification of the Sunnah through the establishment of the historical dependability of Hadeeth is the question as to its inner, spiritual justification.

Why should an observance of the Sunnah be regarded as indispensable for a life in the true Islamic sense?

Is there no other way to the reality of Islam than through an observance of that large system of actions and customs, of orders and prohibitions derived from the life-example of the Prophet?

No doubt, he was the greatest of men; but is not the necessity to imitate his life in all its aspects an infringement on the individual freedom of the human personality?

It is an old objection which unfriendly critics of Islam put forward that the necessity of strictly following the Sunnah was one of the main causes of the subsequent decay of the Islamic world, for such an attitude is supposed to encroach, in the long run, on the liberty of human action and the natural development of society. It is of the greatest importance for the future of Islam whether we are able to meet this objection or not. Our attitude towards the problem of the Sunnah will determine our future attitude towards Islam.
We are proud, and justly so, of the fact that Islam, as a religion, is not based on mystic dogmatism but is always open to the critical inquiry of reason.

We have, therefore, the right not only to know that the observance of the Sunnah has been imposed upon us but also to understand the inherent reason for its imposition.

Islam leads man to a unification of all aspects of his life. Being a means to that goal, this religion represents in itself a totality of conceptions to which nothing can be added and from which nothing can be subtracted. There is no room for eclecticism in Islam. Wherever its teachings are recognized as having been really pronounced by the Quran or the Prophet, we must accept them in their completeness; otherwise, they lose their value.

It is a fundamental misunderstanding to think that Islam, being a religion of reason, leaves its teachings open to individual selection – a claim made possible by a popular misconception of “rationalism”. There is a wide – and by the philosophies of all ages sufficiently recognized – gulf between reason and “rationalism” as it is commonly understood today.

The function of reason in regard to religious teaching is of a controlling character; its duty is to see to it that nothing is imposed on the human mind which it cannot easily bear, that is, without the aid of mental jugglery. So far as Islam is concerned, unprejudiced reason has, time and again, given it its unreserved vote of confidence. That does not mean that everyone who comes into contact with the Quran will necessarily accept its teachings; this is a matter of temperament, environment, and – last but not least – of spiritual illumination. But surely no unbiased person would contend that there is anything in the Quran contrary to reason. No doubt, there are concepts in it beyond the present limits of our understanding; but nothing which offends against man’s intelligence as such.

The role of reason in religious matters is, as we have seen, in the nature of a control – a registration apparatus saying “yes” or “no”, as the case may be. But this is not quite true of so-called “rationalism”. It does not content itself with registration and control, but jumps into the field of speculation; it is not receptive and detached like pure reason, but extremely subjective and temperamental. Reason. knows its own limits, but superficial “rationalism” is preposterous in its claim to encompass the world and all mysteries within its own individual circle. In religious matters it hardly even concedes the possibility of certain things being, temporarily or permanently, beyond human understanding; but it is, at the same time, illogical enough to concede this possibility to science – and so to itself.

An over-estimation of this kind of unimaginative rationalism is one of the causes why so many modern Muslims refuse to surrender themselves to the guidance Of the Prophet. But it does not need a Kant today to prove that human understanding is strictly limited in its possibilities. Our mind is unable, by virtue of its nature, to understand the idea of totality: we can grasp, of all things, their details only. We do not know what infinity or eternity mean; we do not even know what life is. If problems of a religion resting on transcendental foundations we, therefore, need a guide whose mind possesses something more than the normal reasoning qualities and the subjective rationalism common to all of us; we need someone who is inspired – in a word, a Prophet.

If we believe that the Quran is the Word of God and that Muhammad was God’s Apostle, we are not only morally but also intellectually bound to follow his guidance implicitly. This does not mean that we should exclude our powers of reasoning. On the contrary, we have to make use of those powers to the best of our ability and knowledge; we have to discover the inherent meaning and purpose of the commands transmitted to us by the Prophet. But in any case – whether we are able to understand its ultimate purpose or not – we must obey the order. I should like to illustrate this by the example of a soldier who has been ordered by his general to occupy a certain strategic position.

The good soldier will follow and execute the order immediately. If, while doing so, he is able to explain to himself the ultimate strategic purpose which the general has in view, the better for him and for his career; but if the deeper aim which underlies the general’s command does not reveal itself to him at once, he is nevertheless not entitled to give up or even to postpone its execution. We Muslims rely upon our Prophet’s being the best commander mankind could ever have.

We naturally believe that he knew the domain of religion both in its spiritual and its social aspects far better than we ever could. In enjoining us to do this or to avoid that, he always had some “strategic” objectives in view which he thought to be indispensable for the spiritual or social welfare of man.

Sometimes this object is clearly discernible, and sometimes it is more or less hidden from the untrained eyes of the average person; sometimes we can understand the deepest aim of the Prophet’s injunction, and sometimes only its immediate purpose. Whatever the case may be, we are bound to follow the Prophet’s commands, provided that their authenticity and their context are fully established.’? Nothing else matters. Of course.

In addition to what has been said one should always remember that many individual ahaadeeth, even some of the most authentic ones, have been transmitted to us as fragments, without a clear reference to the context. In such cases, only the most meticulous scholarship can reconstruct the circumstances to which the Hadeeth in question refers, and thus establish the permanent character, if any, envisaged by the Apostle of God in the relevant injunction.

there are commands of the Prophet which are obviously of paramount importance and others which are less important, and we have to give the more important precedence over the others. But never have we the right to disregard anyone of them because they appear to us “unessential” – for it is said in the Quran of the Prophet “Nor does he say aught)of his own desire.” (Quran 53:3).

That is, he speaks only when an objective necessity arises, and he does it because God has inspired him to do so. And for this reason, we are obliged to follow the Prophet’s Sunnah in spirit and in form if we wish to be true to Islam. We do not regard its ideology as one way among others, but as the way; and the man who conveyed this ideology to us is not just one guide among others, but the guide. To follow him in all that he commanded is to follow Islam; to discard his Sunnah is to discard the reality of Islam.

“You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern of conduct for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.” (Quran 33:21).

I love Muhammad, Sunnah, Quran, Arabic, Makkah and Madiinah

I love Muhammad. I love the Sunnah of Muhammad. I love the Quran revealed to Muhammad. I love Arabic – the Language of Muhammad. I love Makkah and Madiinah – the cities of Muhammad. I fervently love to meet Muhammad in the Jannah. May Allah’s peace and blessing be on Muhammad.

Praise be to Allah.

Imam ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “Zamzam water is the best and noblest of all waters, the highest in status, the dearest to people, the most precious and valuable to them. It was dug by Jibril and is the water with which Allah quenched the thirst of Isma’il.”

It was reported in Sahih Muslim that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said to Abu Dharr, who had stayed near the Ka’bah and its coverings for forty days and nights with no food or drink other than (Zamzam), “How long have you been here?” Abu Dharr said, “I have been here for thirty days and nights.” The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “Who has been feeding you?” He said, “I have had nothing but Zamzam water, and I have gotten so fat that I have folds of fat on my stomach. I do not feel any of the tiredness or weakness of hunger and I have not become thin.” The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “Verily, it is blessed, it is food that nourishes.” [Narrated by Imam Muslim, 2473]Other scholars added, with their own chain, ” … and a healing for sickness.” This was narrated by al-Bazzar (1171, 1172) and at-Tabarani in as-Saghir (295). In Sunan ibn Majah (al-Manasik, 3062) it was reported from Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, “The water of Zamzam is for whatever it is drunk for.” The salaf and ‘ulama acted upon this hadith. When ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak went for Hajj, he came to Zamzam and said, “O Allah, Ibn Abi’l-Mawali told us from Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir from Jabir, may Allah be pleased with him, that Your Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, ‘The water of Zamzam is for whatever it is drunk for.’ I am drinking it to ward off thirst on the Day of Resurrection.” Ibn Abi’l-Mawali is thiqah (trustworthy) so the hadith is hasan (good).zamzam well waterIbn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “Myself and others tried seeking healing with Zamzam water and saw wondrous things. I sought healing with it from a number of illnesses, and I was healed by the permission of Allah. I saw someone who nourished himself with it for a number of days, half a month or more, and he did not feel hunger; he performed tawaf along with the other people just as they did. And he told me that he consumed nothing but Zamzam water for forty days and he had the strength to have intercourse with his wife, to fast and to perform tawaf numerous times.” [Zad al-Ma’ad, 4/319, 320]Shaykh ibn al-‘Uthaymin, may Allah have mercy upon him, said, “So you should have the intention of what you want to gain by drinking this water. He should drink his fill, i.e., fill his stomach with it until it is filled to the ribs, because this water is good. A hadith has been narrated concerning this: the difference between the believers and the hypocrites is drinking one’s fill of Zamzam water.” [Narrated by Ibn Majah in al-Manasik, 1017; al-Hakim, 1/472]Al-Busayri said, “This is a sahih isnad; its men are mawthuqun [trustworthy]. This is because Zamzam water is not sweet; it is somewhat salty, and the believer only drinks this somewhat salty water out of faith, believing that there is barakah (blessing) in it. So when he drinks his fill of it, this is a sign of faith.” [Sharh al-Mumti’, 7/377, 378, 379]

Perhaps Allah did not make it sweet so that people would not forget that the meaning of drinking it is an act of worship. Whatever the case, its taste is fine and there is nothing wrong with it. We ask Allah to quench our thirst from the Cistern (al-Hawd) of His Prophet on the Day of the greatest thirst.

May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad, Amin.

Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar hijrah calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months about which the Holy Qur’an says:

“The number of the months with Allah has been twelve, in the Book of Allah, since the time He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred.”

[Al-Qur’an 9:36]

These four months, according to the authentic traditions, are Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. All the commentators of the Holy Qur’an are unanimous on this point because the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj, declared:

“One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab.”

The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadhan is admittedly the most sanctified month in the year. But these four months were specifically termed as sanctified months for the simple reason that their sanctity was accepted even by the pagans of Makkah.

In fact, every month, out of the twelve, is originally equal to the other, and there is no inherent sanctity that may be attributed to one of them in comparison to the other months. When Allah Almighty chooses a particular time for His special blessings, the same acquires sanctity out of His grace.

Thus, the sanctity of these four months was recognized right from the days of Sayyidina Ibrahim, peace be upon him. Since the Pagans of Makkah attributed themselves to Sayyidina Ibrahim, they observed the sanctity of these four months and despite their frequent tribal battles, they held it unlawful to fight in these months.

In the shari’ah of our Noble Prophet, upon whom be peace, the sanctity of these months was upheld and the Holy Qur’an referred to them as the “sanctified months”.

Muharram has certain other characteristics special to it, which are specified below.

Fasting During the Month

muharram prayerThe Noble Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

“The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadhan are those of the month of Muharram.”

Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet one who fasts in these days out of his own will is entitled to a great reward by Allah Almighty. The hadith cited above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are most rewarding ones among the nafl or voluntary fasts.

The hadith does not mean that the award promised for fasts of Muharram can be achieved only by fasting for the whole month. On the contrary, each fast during this month has merit. Therefore, one should avail of this opportunity as much as he can.

The Day of Ashurah

Although Muharram is a sanctified month as a whole, yet, the 10th day of Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named Ashurah. According to the Holy Companion Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, when he had migrated to Madinah, found that the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram. They said that it was the day on which the Holy Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and the Pharaoh was drowned in its waters. On hearing this from the Jews the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “We are more closely related to Musa than you,” and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of Ashurah. [Recorded by Abu Dawud]

It is also reported in a number of authentic traditions that in the beginning, fasting on the day of Ashurah was obligatory for the Muslims. It was later that the fasts of Ramadhan were made obligatory and the fast on the day of Ashurah was made optional. Sayyidina ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “When the Holy Prophet, upon whom be peace, came to Madinah, he fasted on the day of Ashurah and directed the people to fast. But when the fasts of Ramadhan were made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was confined to Ramadhan and the obligatory nature of the fast of Ashurah was abandoned. Whoever so desires should fast on it and any other who so likes can avoid fasting on it.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]

However the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, used to fast on the day of Ashurah even after the fasting in Ramadhan was made obligatory. ‘Abdullah ibn Musa, may Allah be pleased with him, reports that the Holy Prophet preferred the fast of Ashurah on the fasts of other days and preferred the fasts of Ramadhan on the fast of Ashurah.

In short, it is established through a number of authentic ahadith that fasting on the day of Ashurah is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, and makes one entitled to a great reward.

According to another hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of Ashurah should either be preceded or followed by another fast. It means that one should fast two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th. The reason of this additional fast as mentioned by the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, is that the Jews used to fast on the day of Ashurah alone, and the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, wanted to distinguish the Muslim way of fasting from that of Jews. Therefore, he advised the Muslims to add another fast to that of Ashurah.

Some traditions signify another feature of the day of Ashurah. According to these traditions, one should be more generous to his family by providing more food to them on this day as compared to other days. These traditions are not very authentic according to the science of hadith. Yet, some scholars like Bayhaqi andIbn Hibban have accepted them as reliable.

What is mentioned above is all that is supported through authentic sources about Ashurah.

Misconceptions and Baseless Traditions

However, there are some legends and misconceptions with regard to Ashurah that have managed to find their way into the minds of the ignorant, but have no support of authentic Islamic sources, some very common of them are these:

  • This is the day on which Adam, upon him be peace, was created;
  • This is the day when Ibrahim, upon him be peace, was born;
  • This is the day when Allah accepted the repentance of Sayyidina Adam;
  • This is the day when Doomsday will take place; and (amongst others)
  • Whoever takes bath on the day of Ashurah will never get ill.

All these and other similar whims and fancies are totally baseless and the traditions referred to in this respect are not worthy of any credit. Some people take it as sunnah to prepare a particular type of meal on the day of Ashurah. This practice, too, has no basis in the authentic Islamic sources.

Some other people attribute the sanctity of Ashurah to the martyrdom of Sayyidina Hussayn, may Allah be pleased with him, during his battle with the Syrian army. No doubt, the martyrdom of Sayyidina Hussayn is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of Ashurah cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of Ashurah was established during the days of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, much earlier than the birth of Sayyidina Hussayn.

On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyidina Hussayn, that his martyrdom took place on the day of Ashurah.

Another misconception about the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or unlucky month, for Sayyidina Hussayn was killed in it. It is for this misconception that people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram. This is again a baseless concept, which is contrary to the express teachings of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah. If the death of an eminent person on a particular day renders that day unlucky for all times to come, one can hardly find a day of the year free from this bad luck because every day is associated with the demise of some eminent person. The Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, upon whom be peace, have liberated us from such superstitious beliefs.

Lamentations and Mourning

Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and mourning ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Sayyidina Hussayn, may Allah be pleased with him. As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbala is one of the most tragic events of our history but the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, has forbidden us from holding the mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The people of jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance) used to mourn over their deceased through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and by beating their cheeks and chests. The Holy Prophet, upon whom be peace, stopped the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un” (from Allah we come, and to him we return).

A number of authentic ahadith are available on the subject. To quote only one of them:

“He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah.”

[Sahih Al-Bukhari]

All the authentic jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type is impermissible. Even Sayyidina Hussayn shortly before his demise had advised his beloved sister Sayyidinah Zaynab, may Allah be pleased with her, at not to mourn over his death in this manner. He said:

“My dear sister! I swear upon you that in case I die you shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death.” [Al-Kamil, Ibn Kathir, vol. 4, p. 24]

It is evident from this advice of Sayyidina Hussayn that this type of mourning is condemned even by the blessed person for the memory of whom these mourning ceremonies are held. Every Muslim should avoid this practice and abide by the teachings of the Holy Prophet, upon whom be peace, and his beloved grandchild Sayyidina Hussayn.

Author’s Introduction

All praise and thanks are due to Allah. We praise and give thanks to Him. We seek His aid and ask for His forgiveness, and we seek Allah’s refuge from the evil of ourselves and from our evil actions. Whomsoever Allah guides then none can misguide him, and whomsoever He misguides then none can guide him. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, alone, having no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger. To proceed:

This is a concise book which contains forty authentic ahadith[1] from the fine sayings of the Chosen Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) which I gathered as a reminder for myself and my brothers. They contain guidance for cultivation of souls, purification of the hearts and refinement of character. I myself have added nothing except a few words to explain and clarify anything unclear, to provide chapter headings showing the connection between the ahadith, and further brief notes.

It will not be unknown to any of the people that the noble Religion of Islam has given great importance, and directed full attention in many of the texts of the Book and the Sunnah, to building the personality of the Muslim and directing it in accordance with the essential teachings of Islam and its fundamentals and requirements.

The major incentive which led me to compile and compose this work was that I saw that many of those who attach themselves to Islam, and call to Allah, are actually far removed from the Islamic personality in both essence and outward manner and appearance. We ask Allah to protect and grant us safety. This being the case I thought it was essential to compile this treatise so that it could be a firm and strong nucleus for the Muslim to initiate his Islamic life, to know the true way, follow it and call to it. Particularly since the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) has indicated this reality with his saying:

“For every action there is a period of enthusiasm / activity, and for every period of enthusiasm / activity there is a period of rest / inactivity. So he whose period of rest / inactivity is in accordance with my Sunnah then he is rightly guided, but he whose period of rest / inactivity accords with other than this, then he is destroyed.”

See footnote 2

So I write this book for the enthusiastic Muslim youth who does not find, whilst swimming in the ocean of enthusiasm and excitement, the helping hand of one who knows the poison and is aware of the cure, one who can guide him to the correct way and correct thinking so that these youths can be with their minds and thoughts like the Companions of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) since they were also youths, but:

“They were youths, yet mature youths, their eyes fresh and free of evil, their feet refrained from approaching falsehood and futility. They sacrificed and expended themselves in worship and in withholding themselves from sleep. They sold their souls which were to pass away for souls which would never die. Allah saw them in the latter part of the night, bending their backs, reciting the Qur’an. Whenever one of them came to an Ayah mentioning Paradise, he would weep, longing for it. Whenever he came upon an Ayah mentioning the fire he would groan out of fear, as if the Hellfire were directly in front of him. The earth devoured their knees their hands and their foreheads. They joined exhaustion in the night with exhaustion in the day. Their colour becoming yellowed and their bodies emaciated through standing long in prayer and frequent fasting – whilst they regarded their own actions to be negligible before Allah. They fulfilled their covenant with Allah and attained Allah’s promise.”

Jamarah Khutab al-‘Arab (2/475) of Ahmad Zakiy Safwat

So let us all hasten to be like them, and to resemble them since the affair is as it was said:

“We are not in comparison to those who came before except like small herbs growing beside the trunks of tall palm trees.”

Al-Muwaddih li Awhamil-Jam’ wa’t-Tafriq (1/5) of Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi

And as Ibn Al-Mubarak said:

“Do not mention us whilst mentioning them, the fit and healthy when he walks is not like the crippled.”

Ibn Rajab quotes it from him in Fadl ‘Ilm as-Salaf ‘alal-Khalaf (page 59 of the edition with my checking)

I have sought in choosing these ahadith to gather those which are the most comprehensive, but the Islamic Personality will not be completed until the person follows and implements the Religion (Din) of Allah the One free of all imperfections, and the Most High says:

“O you who believe! Enter into Islam perfectly (completely).”

Al-Qur’an 2:208

I have strived to mention the source references for each hadith along with a statement about its authenticity, as demanded by the science of hadith whilst avoiding unnecessarily going into great length or falling short of what is necessary. So I tried to be as brief as is fitting for a book of this size, and only rarely speaking at more length when it was essential.

So if Allah guides me to and grants me that which is correct in what I intended then that is from the completeness of His blessings, but if the result is otherwise and I hope it is not the case, then I ask Allah for His forgiveness and His Mercy. Indeed He is the One who hears and responds, and our final call is that all praise and thanks are for Allah, Lord of all the Worlds.

‘Ali Hasan ‘Ali-Hamid al-Halabi al-Athari
11th Rajab 1408H, Az-Zarqa (Jordan)
28 February 1988

Purity and Sincerity of Intention

From ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Actions are but by intentions and there is for every person only that which he intended. So he whose migration was for Allah and His Messenger, then his migration was for Allah and His Messenger, and he whose migration was to attain some worldly goal or to take a woman in marriage, then his migration was for that which he migrated.”

Reported by Al-Bukhari (English Translation Volume 1 Page 1 No. 1) and Muslim (Eng. Trans. Vol. 3, page 1056, no. 4692)

So the pillar of actions is pure and sincere intention, and through purity of intention the hearts become upright and at rest, and through it the person comes to know the right way in his Religion, thus he does everything in the proper manner. Through purity of intention alone will he come to know of the obligations upon him and the rights due to him. Through it he will behave justly in all affairs and will give everything its due right, not going beyond bounds or falling short of the mark.

So this hadith is one of the ahadith which are the pillars of correct understanding of our upright and true religion.[3]

So when the Muslim servant clearly realises what he has preceded then it becomes obligatory upon him that he should, without any hesitation, surround his sincere intention with the protective barrier for the Islamic Personality which is …

Distinctness

From Ibn ‘Umar (radhiallahu ‘anhuma) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“I have been sent before the Hour so that Allah alone should be worshipped without any partner for Him, and my provision has been placed beneath the shade of my spear, and subservience and humiliation have been placed upon those who disobey my orders, and whoever imitates a people then he is one of them.”

Reported by Ahmad (no. 5114) and others with hasan (good) isnad (chain of narration). I have spoken about it in more detail in my footnotes to Al-Hikam al-Jadirah bil-Idha’ah (pg. 1-3) of Ibn Rajab

The Muslim has a distinct personality with it’s own special nature and particular outlook and manner. It is distinct in its appearance, its nature, its creed (‘aqidah), its orientation and direction faced in Prayer, and in all its affairs.

By being distinct as Muslims we preserve our Islam and our call in a clear and pure form, free from any adulteration and mistakes. However the Muslim whilst being distinct does not depart from …

Justice and Being Justly Balanced

From Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Love the one whom you love to a certain degree (moderately), perhaps one day he will be someone for whom you have hatred, and hate the one for whom you have hatred to a certain degree (moderately), perhaps one day he will be one whom you love.”

Reported by At-Tirmidhi (no. 1997) and others by way of Suwayd ibn ‘Amr al-Kalbi: Hammad ibn Salamah narrated to us from Ayyub as-Sakhtiyani from Muhammad ibn Sirin from him. This isnad is Sahih (authentic) if Allah wills, it does not contain anyone needing examination except for Suwayd and he is declared reliable by a group of the scholars and this is the preferred view of Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar. The hadith is also declared authentic by a group of scholars such as Al-Hafidh Al-Iraqi in Takhrij al-Ihya (2/186), Al-Munawi in Al-Fayd (1/177), Az-Zubaydi in Al-Ittihaf (6/233) and others, and is further clarified in Ghayat al-Maram (no. 472) of Shaykh Al-Albani

The Muslim is justly balanced in his loving and his hating. He is just both when giving and when taking and is moderate in all of that. His being justly balanced is one of the signs of his Religion and the Shari’ah. So he is not one who goes beyond the limits, nor one who falls short of what is required. Furthermore the Muslim does not derive this quality of being justly balanced from his intellect and desires, nor from his own opinion or other than this, rather he takes it from the Book of Allah, the One free of all imperfections.

“Thus we have made you a justly balanced nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger be a witness over you.”

Al-Qur’an 2:143

Being justly balanced is not an easy matter, indeed many of those who call out and declare it, desire only to water matters down and compromise. So for a person to be truly justly balanced as ordered by Allah is not, as I have said, easy, rather it requires …

Striving Against One’s Desires

From Al-‘Ala ibn Ziyad who said:

A man asked ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, saying: Which of the Believers is best in his Islam? He replied: “He from whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe.” He asked: Then what is the best Jihad? He replied: “He who strives against his own self and desires for Allah.” He asked: Then which of those who migrates (performs hijrah) is best? He replied: “He who strives against his own self and desires for Allah.” He asked: Is it something you have said O ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, or Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)? He said: “Rather Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said it.”

Reported by Ibn Nasr al-Marwazi in Ta’zim Qadris Salat (no. 639)

So striving against ones own self is one of the highest and most valuable means of increasing ones eeman and causing the servant to draw closer to his Lord, the One free of all imperfections. Concerning this He the Blessed and Most High says:

“As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e. Allah’s Religion).”

Al-Qur’an 29:69

So a Muslim’s striving against his own self and his desires causes his spirit to rise higher, his iman to increase and his soul to become purified. Furthermore this striving crowns the Muslim with a very great crown worn in his life, which is …

Gentleness

From Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Indeed Allah is gentle and loves gentleness, and gives due to gentleness that which He does not give to harshness.”

Reported by Ibn Majah (no. 3688) and Ibn Hibban (no. 549)

So through gentleness hearts become united in friendship and love, and good becomes widespread. Whereas through its opposite ill feelings and distrust prevails and people forsake one another. But gentleness facilitates …

Returning to the Truth

From Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiallahu ‘anhuma) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“There is no believing servant except that he has a sin which he commits from time to time, or a sin in which he persists in and does not abandon until he leaves this world. Indeed the Believer was created as one who is frequently tried and tested, who often repents (then) forgets. When he is admonished he accepts the admonition.”

Reported by At-Tabarani in Al-Mu’jamul Kabir (no. 11,810) its chain of narration is hasan

So it is as is said: Returning to the truth is a virtue whereas continuing in falsehood is despicable. Returning to the truth elevates a person and raises his rank, both with Allah and the people. Indeed it is only Satan who makes it appear to the people that returning to the truth is a defect and a slight to one’s honour. This is one of the deceptions and tricks employed by Iblis. A person returning to the truth and not being too proud to accept it places him in an ideal position to appreciate …

Responsibility

From ‘Umar (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Each of you is a guardian and is responsible for those whom he is in charge of. So the ruler is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects; a man is the guardian of his family and is responsible for those under his care; a woman is a guardian of her husband’s home and is responsible for those under her care; a servant is the guardian of his master’s wealth and is responsible for that which he is entrusted with; and a man is the guardian of his father’s wealth and is responsible fore what is under his care. So each one of you is a guardian and is responsible for what he is entrusted with.”

}Reported by Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 9/189/no. 252) and Muslim (Eng. Trans. 3/1017/no. 4496)

So if everyone from this Ummah knew his own position and worth, and realised the responsibility upon him and did not seek to overstep it and take on the responsibilities of others and he carried out the obligations which this placed upon him, then that would be a comprehensive and universal good and a very great treasure through which safety and security would become widespread. Along with this something that is a feature of the Islamic Personality is …

The Muslim Seeks to Make Excuses for Other Muslims

From Sa’ad ibn ‘Ubadah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

” … and there is no one who loves to accept an excuse more than Allah, and because of this he sent the bringers of good news and the warners … “

Reported by Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 9/378/no. 512) and Muslim (Eng. Trans. 2/782/no. 3572)

So a Muslim seeking to make an excuse for his brother and those whom he loves will cause good will to spread instead of antagonism, and will bring about ties of relationship instead of estrangement. Since if Allah, He who is free of all imperfections, grants excuse, and He is the Creator and the Most Great, then how can you O servant of Allah, a weak creation of his, not seek to make excuse for others? Rather as is said: Seek an excuse for your brother (some people quote this as being a hadith but it has no basis as such). Likewise there is the saying: the believers seek to make excuses for others, whereas the hypocrites hope for the downfall of others. So the fact that the Muslim seeks to excuse his brothers emphasises that …

The Muslim does not Harbour Envy

From Ibn Mas’ood (radhiallahu ‘anhuma) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“There is to be no envy except with regard to two [See Fath al-Bari (1/167)]: A man whom Allah has given wealth which he strives to spend righteously, and a man to whom Allah has given the Wisdom (i.e. the Qur’an) and he acts according to it and teaches it to others.”

Reported by Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 1/62/no. 73)

If he were to have envy of the people he would hope for their downfall in order to satisfy the pride that he has in himself, his vanity and the conceitedness of his mind. So he (the Muslim) knows that envy is a dangerous disease and a harmful evil and therefore keeps away from it.

As for the envy which is accepted from that which is sinful, then it is envy which does not cause the person to be afflicted by the sickness of wishing for that blessing to leave the other person. Rather he supplicates to his Lord, the One free of all imperfections, for his brother; that Allah should protect him, and for himself; that Allah should make him like him. As for that which is at variance with this, then it is blameworthy and to be condemned [Refer to the treatise Dhamm al-Hasad wa Ahlihi of Ibn al-Qayyim with my footnotes and checking]. So this emphasises that fact that the Muslim is one who is …

Following and Applying Divine Guidance

From Umm ad-Darda (radhiallahu ‘anha) who said: I said to Abu Darda (radhiallahu ‘anhu): Will you not seek for things to entertain your guests just as others seek for things for their guests? So he replied: I heard Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) say:

“Ahead of you is a steep mountain which will not be surmounted by those who are overburdened.” So I wish to lighten my load for that ascent!

It is reported by Al-Hakim (4/574), Al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman and others and its chain of narration is sahih

So the Muslim follows and applies divine guidance in all his affairs. This world to him is merely a passage to the hereafter and he has no attachment to it except for that which is essential in order to meet his needs and preserve himself.

But as for this world diverting most of his attention and being the goal which he seeks after, thinking that what he is doing is good, then this is not from the character or characteristics of the Muslim. So how strange is the case of the people who waste the prime of their lives and expend their youth submerged in worldly actions, thinking they are doing good. This is indeed something from Satan, made alluring by him. So how are there people able to do this when it is the case that …

The Muslim Has No Free Time

From Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiallahu ‘anhuma) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“There are two blessings which many people lose: health and free time.”

Reported by Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 8/282/no. 421)

So how can one who has no free time preoccupy himself with this world? How can one whose time is filled experience free time? So consider, may Allah have Mercy upon you, what one of the scholars said about one an Imam: “I was a neighbour of his at the school in Cairo, my house was above his house. For twelve years, I did not awake on any night, at any hour of the night except that I noticed candle light in his house and he was occupied with knowledge. Even when he was eating, his books would be with him and he was occupied with them.” [Bustan al-‘Arifin (p. 79) of An-Nawawi]

From those things upon which the Muslim personality is built is …

The Muslim’s Piety and Self Restraint

From An-Nu’man ibn Bashir (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that I heard Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) say:

“That which is lawful is clear, and that which is forbidden is clear, and between them are doubtful matters about which many of the people have no knowledge. So whoever avoids doubtful matters saves his Religion and his honour, and whoever falls into doubtful matters falls into what is forbidden. Just like a shepherd who grazes (his sheep) near to a private pasture (of another), he will soon stray on to it. Indeed for every king there is a private preserve. Indeed the preserve of Allah are those things which He has forbidden. Indeed there is a piece of flesh in the body which if it is good, then the whole body is good, but if it is corrupt then the whole body is corrupt. Indeed it is the heart.”

Reported by Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 1/44/no. 49) and Muslim (Eng. Trans. 3/840/no. 3882)

So the Muslim with regard to whatever situation arises in his life will have to face each of them with one of the following three stances:

  1. Completely refraining from it: That is with regards to that which is doubtful
  2. Accepting without constraint: That is with regard to which is clearly permissible
  3. To abstain from it: This is with regards to things which are not clearly permissible nor clearly forbidden.

If the last stance indicates something it is an indication of a Muslim’s piety and fear of falling into that which is forbidden and of entering into something evil.

The Muslim therefore abstains from it, and distances himself from it in order to please Allah and to ensure that His commands are followed. It is not to be said, as some people say: ‘That is not forbidden, so do it.’ No, since it is not permissible to do everything other than which has been forbidden. So those things which are doubtful matters are closer to that which is forbidden, as occurs in the hadith itself: ‘Whoever falls into the doubtful matters falls into what is forbidden … ‘ So this fear and piety confirms that …

The Muslim is Honest and Truthful in All His Affairs

From Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Three things are the sign of the hypocrite: when he speaks he tells lies, when he promises he breaks it and when he is trusted he proves to be dishonest.”

Reported by Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 1/31/no. 32) and Muslim (Eng. Trans. 1/40/no. 112)

So he is truthful and honest in his speech, faithful to his promise, trustworthy in carrying out that which he has been entrusted with. He does not deceive or defraud, he does not tell lies and is not guilty of hypocrisy. So truthfulness and honesty is one of the chief good qualities, whereas falsehood is the head of corruption and evil. So his honesty keeps him far away from evil and foul deeds and sickness of the heart. Therefore whatever action he does, he does it for Allah, the One free and far removed from all defects, not to attain some worldly position, fame or repute. So his motto is …

Knowledge for Knowledge

From Jabir (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Do not acquire knowledge in order to compete with the scholars, nor to argue with the ignorant, nor to gain mastery over the gatherings. Since whoever does that, then: The Fire! The Fire!”

Consider, may Allah have mercy on you, the admonition and the lesson contained in what Ibn Abi Haatim ar-Razi narrates, he said: I entered into Damascus upon the students of hadith and I passed by the circle of Qasim al-Ju’i. I found a group sitting around him and he was speaking. Their appearance amazed me and I heard him saying: “Seize the benefit of five things from the people of your time: when you are present you are not known; when you are absent you are not missed; when you are seen your advice is not sought; when you say something your saying is not accepted; and when you have some knowledge you are not given anything for it. I also advise you with five things: when you are treated unjustly then do not behave unjustly; when you are praised then do not become happy; when you are criticised do not be upset; when you are not believed then do not become angry; and if they act deceitfully towards you do not act deceitfully towards them.” Ibn Abi Hatim said: So I took that as my benefit from Damascus.

So consider, may Allah protect us and you from the evils of the soul, how sincere desire for knowledge and benefit led him to listen to one who certainly possessed less knowledge than himself in order to benefit his understanding and to acquire some knowledge. Another matter that must be mentioned here is that …

The Believer is a Mirror for His Brother

From Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“The believer is a mirror for the believer, and the believer is the brother of the believer. He safeguards his property for him and defends him from behind.”

Reported by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab al-Mufrad (no. 239), Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 3/1370/no. 4900) and others. Its chain of narration is hasan.

So the description of his being a ‘mirror’ is very precise and profound showing the culmination of brotherhood and solidarity. So your brother, O servant of Allah, is an image of you yourself. So if he behaves badly it is as if you are the one who has behaved badly, and if he makes a mistake, it is as if you have made a mistake. So he is a mirror for you and then an image of you yourself! So do not treat him except with mildness and gentleness. If you do not behave with your brother in this manner, then this will be something which weakens …

The Muslim’s Struggle and his Devil

From Iyad ibn Himar al Mujashi’i (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Indeed my Lord ordered me to teach you that which you do not know, from that which He taught me this day, (instructing me): ‘The wealth which I confer upon a servant is all lawful for him, and I created all My servants having natural inclination to the true way but the devils came to them and turned them away from their (true) Religion, and they forbade for them that which I made lawful for them, and they ordered them to associate in worship with Me that for which I sent down no authority.’ Allah looked upon the people of the earth and hated them, the Arabs and the non-Arabs, except for some remnants of the People of the Book, and He said: ‘I sent you only to put you to the test and to tests others through you, and I sent down to you a Book which cannot be washed away by water, which you will retain and recite whilst asleep and whilst awake.’ Allah ordered me to destroy the Quraysh so I said: ‘O my Lord they would break my head just as bread is broken.’ So He said: ‘Turn them out just as they turned you out, and fight them and We shall aid you, and spend and We shall provide for you. Send an army and We will send five more like it. Fight along with those who disobey you. The people of paradise are three: The ruler who is just, who spends in charity and is guided to do good; and a man who is merciful and kind hearted towards every relative and Muslim; and the chaste one who does not beg despite having a family to support. The people of the fire are five: The weak who does not have the will to avoid evil, those amongst you who are merely followers (of others), they do not seek after family or wealth; and the dishonest whose greed cannot be concealed even in the case of minor things; and a man who will betray you morning and evening with regard to your family and your wealth (He also mentioned miserliness or telling lies) and the person of evil manners and foul speech.’ “

Reported by Muslim (Eng. Trans. 4/1488/no. 6853)

So this is very ancient conflict, continuing since the time when Allah, the One free and far removed from all defects, created Adam, ‘alayhis-salam, and what occurred between him and Satan is well known. This conflict will be intensified or diminished depending on the servant’s closeness to or distance away from his Lord. Consider also his (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saying:

“Satan has despaired that those who pray should worship him, but he seeks to provoke animosity between them.”

See hadith number 39 – Being Cautious to Avoid Animosity and Dissention.

So let this be a warning for us, and its opposite be glad tidings. We must not leave any way for Satan to enter upon our hearts through our actions, granting him neither full nor partial access. Indeed his deceptions are many and his traps abundant.[4]

So beware of this, O servant of Allah, and do not let Satan trap you with his snares and his tricks, and your impregnable fortress against him is …

Remembrance of Allah

From Nu’man ibn Bashir (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger said:

“Supplication (ad-Du’a) is worship, your Lord the Mighty and Majestic said: ‘Call upon Me – I will respond to your invocation.’

The ayah is Al-Qur’an 40:60. The hadith is Sahih – reported by Ahmad (4/267, 271, 276) and others

Supplication is the head of remembrance of Allah. Indeed he (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ” … and I order you to make mention to Allah much, and the like of that is a man being chased by the enemy who are hastening after him until he comes to a protected fortress and so he protects himself in it. Likewise is the servant, for he does not protect himself from Satan except through remembrance of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic.”[5]

So a Muslim remembering his Lord, the One free and far removed from all defects, places him in a position of safety and protection which Satan is unable to overcome. So this prevents him from many sins and numerous negative traits pertaining to the tongue, the limbs and the heart. Therefore …

The Muslim Does Not Fall Into Backbiting

From Ibn ‘Umar (radhiallahu ‘anhuma) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Whoever intercedes and prevents one of the punishments prescribed by Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, then he has opposed Allah regarding His orders. Whoever dies with a debt due on him then it will not be repaid by dinar and dirham but rather by good and bad deeds. Whoever disputes for something which he knows is false then he remains in Allah’s anger until he desists. Whoever accuses a believer of something that is untrue then Allah will make him dwell in the pus flowing from the inhabitants of the Fire and he will not leaver until he retracts from what he said.”

Reported by Ahmad (no. 5385) and others

So the lethal plague of backbiting destroys one’s good deeds, destroys brotherhood and destroys one’s reward. So the true Muslim does not backbite, nor does he allow backbiting to take place in his presence. So let those people fear Allah, those whose bodies do not develop and those whose spirit is not fed except upon spreading rumours and inventing lies against the servants of Allah claiming that ‘this is for the benefit of da’wah!’

How strange! What benefit to the da’wah will be achieved through slandering, backbiting and mentioning bad manners to others? Do you think, O you who backbites the people, that you are far removed form defect? O you who can only see the deficiencies of others, do you think that you are free from any mistakes? ‘ … rather you are full of deficiencies and the people have tongues!’ Also from those things which must be known is that …

The Muslim Does Not Pry into the Matters that do not Concern Him

From Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger said:

“From the perfection of a person’s Islam is that he leaves alone that which does not concern him.”

Reported by At-Tirmidhi (no. 2318) and others

So he halts at his limits and does not exceed and pass beyond them. He knows that prying into that which does not concern him and asking about it is not fitting for him. Rather it is forbidden for him and something he has to avoid. So he complies with Allah’s orders and keeps away from what he has forbidden, since …

All of His Actions are for Allah

From Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger said:

“Whoever loves for Allah and hates for Allah, gives for Allah and withholds for Allah, then he has completed iman.”

Reported by Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. Vol. 3/p. 1312/no. 3664) and others, with chain of narration being hasan

So this hadith clearly shows the manner in which the believer conducts all his affairs and behaves in all his dealings, all of them are for Allah and he does not give a share in any of them to other than Him, the One free and far removed from all imperfections. In all his affairs he distances himself from seeking after personal gain and enjoyment. In his loving and hating, giving and withholding he seeks only Allah’s pleasure and His Paradise. He does not seek after the worldly positions, wealth or reputation! Then if he falls into the like of this he repents and turns back (to his Lord), so …

The Muslim Repents and Turns Back to Allah

From Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger said:

“The example of the believer with regards to eeman is like the example of a horse with regards to its tethering stake; it roams around and then returns to its tethering stake, and the believer is negligent and then he turns to his eeman. So feed the pious with your food and treat the believers well.”

Reported by Ahmad (3/38,55)

So he does not persist upon sin, or treat it lightly. Rather like the rest of the children of Adam he commits many sins. However he is frequent in turning back in repentance to his Lord.

So what has preceded will clearly show us …

The Essential Characteristics of His Personality

From Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger said:

“Two characteristics are not found together in a hypocrite: good manners and understanding of the Religion.”

Reported by At-Tirmidhi (no. 2685)

So his manners are the manners of the righteous people, and his behaviour that of the servants of the Lord of the worlds. He emulates the pious and follows in the footsteps of the sincere. His heart and his behaviour agree, he is not like the weak who take pains to put on a good appearance whereas their hearts are empty! His knowledge and understanding of the Religion is deep and springs from a good and sensitive heart, and precise memory. However his good manners and knowledge and understanding of the Religion do not prevent him from …

Honest Jesting

From Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said: We said: O Messenger of Allah! You jest with us? He said (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):

“Yes except that I do not say except what is true.”

Reported by At-Tirmidhi in As-Sunan (no. 1991)

So falsehood has no share of this, and lies cannot approach it. So his jesting is with words that are true. Nor does this mean that he is to expend all his time in lightheartedness and jesting. Rather in this and in all matters he follows the footsteps of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all, and their way in this regard was …

A Time for This and a Time for That

From Hanzalah al-Usayyidi who said:

“Abu Bakr met me and asked: How are you O Hanzalah? I Replied: Hanzalah is guilty of hypocrisy! He said: Free is Allah and far removed from all defects! What are you saying? I said: When we are with Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and he reminds us of the Fire and Paradise it is as if we were seeing it with our own eyes. Then when we depart from Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and attend our wives, our children and our business, then much of this slips from our mind. Abu Bakr said: By Allah we also experience the same. So I went with Abu Bakr until we entered upon Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). I said: Hanzalah is guilty of hypocrisy O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). So Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: And how is that? I said When we are with you, you remind us of the Fire and of Paradise and it is as if we are seeing it with our own eyes. Then when we depart from you and attend our wives, our children and our business then much of this slips from our minds. So Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘By Him in whose hand is my soul if you remained continually as you are when you are with me and in remembering (Allah) then the angels would shake hands with you upon your beds and upon your roads. But O Hanzalah, (there is) a time for this and a time for that, (there is) a time for this and a time for that, (there is) a time for this and a time for that.’

Reported by Muslim (Eng. Trans. Vol. 4, p. 1436, no. 6223)

So both of these times are regulated by the orders of Allah, as has preceded. His time for serious matters is regulated according to the Book and the Sunnah, and his jesting is kept free of anything forbidden and accompanied only by that which Allah has prescribed.

So he does not, through negligence, allow his jesting to become a way in which he falls into sin. Indeed how could he do this when …

He Does Not Take Sins Lightly

From Sahl ibn Sa’d (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Beware of sins which are treated as being minor, just like a people who encamp in the centre of a valley, so someone brings a stick of firewood and someone else brings a stick until they are therefore able to bake their bread. Likewise sins which are treated as being minor and for which the person is taken to account will destroy him.”

Reported by Ahmad (5/331) and others

So it is just as the noble companion ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said: “The believer sees his sins as if he were sitting beneath a mountain which he feared was about to fall upon him, whereas the wicked sees his sins like a man who finds a fly settle upon his nose, so he does this (one of the narrators said: He brushes it away from his nose).”[6]

The Muslim should realise the greatness of hid Lord, the One free and far from all imperfections, and His tremendous Power and Might, and he should not think of the sin as being great or small! Rather he should think of it with regard to the One he is disobeying.

Those sins which are ignored by the weak hearted cause their destruction by removing eeman and fear of Allah from their hearts.

When a person regards sins and acts of disobedience as something slight the he is one who is oppressing his own soul, and that should never occur, since …

The Muslim Does not Commit Oppression

From Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Beware of committing oppression for on the Day of Resurrection oppression will be darkness, and beware of avarice for avarice destroyed those who came before you, it led them into shedding blood and into making lawful that which was forbidden for them.”

Reported by Muslim (Eng. Trans. 4/1366/no. 6248)

Oppression is of two types: (i) A person oppressing his own soul and (ii) his oppressing others. Both of these have been forbidden by Allah, the One free and far from all imperfections. So a person oppressing his own soul causes him to feel at home with his sins and to commit them, and causes him to abandon acts of obedience to Allah.

The true Muslim is far removed from all of this and furthermore …

He is not a Carrier of Malicious Reports

From Anas ibn Malik (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Do you know what calumny (Al-‘Adh) is?” They said: Allah and his Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) know best. He said:

“Conveying the words of some people to others in order to create mischief between them.”

Reported by Al-Bukhari, Al-Bayhaqi and others

Tale-carrying is a foul disease; when it enters the heart it corrupts it, and when the heart is corrupt the rest of the body becomes corrupt and ones actions are destroyed.

The sickness of tale-carrying only finds a place in hearts which are filled with love of this world, the hearts of those who use the Religion for lowly and despicable ends, and we seek Allah’s refuge from that! However, as for the sincere Muslim who strives to follow and apply the guidance sent by his Lord, then …

He is Not Attached to this World

From Sahl ibn A’d (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Jibril came to me and said: O Muhammad! Live as you will for you must certainly die; love whom you will since you must certainly leave him; act as you will since you shall certainly be given due reward for it; know that the believers eminence is his standing in prayer during the night, and his honour is having sufficiency without dependency upon the people.”

Reported by Al-Hakim (4/324) and others.

The person who lives attached to this world is poor with regard to his Religion and intellect, he does not realise that this worlds, for the one having no Religion is the road to degradation, the path to corruption and the key to evil and foul deeds. Whereas the Muslim who is sincere to his Lord and his own soul and with his brothers should be an excellent example to those who thirst after this world and the few dirham and dinar.

He should be a lesson for them that there is no good in that, and that good lies only in taking this world as a means of increasing one’s rank with regard to the Religion and seeking to purify one’s heart. However these two will not be achieved except through …

Disassociation from this World

From Abu Umamah Iyas ibn Tha’labah who said:

The Companions of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) mentioned this world one day in his presence, so Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Will you not listen, will you not listen! Wearing old clothes is part if iman, wearing old clothes is part of iman!”[7]

Zuhd (abstemiousness) is to have little regard for this world, to manifest ones poverty and need before Allah, to treat the servants of Allah kindly and gently, to avoid spending lavishly upon clothing, food and drink, and to avoid fame.

Zuhd is not the rejection of the favours of Allah, the One free and far removed from all defects, bestows upon some of His servants, rather it is as Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, rahimahullah, said:

“Keep away from that which does not bring benefit, either because it contains no benefit at all, or because something other than it is more beneficial, so that by doing the first he would be missing greater benefit, or because it will produce something whose harm will grow to outweigh its benefit. But as regards things which are purely beneficial or predominantly, then avoidance of them is stupidity.”

Majmu’ al-Fatawa (10/615)

Therefore there is to be no abstemiousness with regard to …

Good Actions

From Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Charity (sadaqah) is due upon every joint of a person on every day that the sun rises. Administering justice between two people is an act of charity; and to help a man concerning his riding beast by helping him on to it or lifting his luggage on to it is an act of charity; a good word is charity; and every step which you take to prayer is charity; and removing that which is harmful from the road is charity.”

Reported by Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 4/146/no. 232)

So if the servant is able to spend all his days and nights in obedience to Allah, and in doing actions pleasing to Him, then let him do so!

[Author’s text abridged hereafter]

Even though abstemiousness is to be given special attention by the rich due to their ability to spend and their wealth, as opposed to the poor, then this will not prevent the Muslim, rich or poor, from having a contented and rich soul, since …

The Muslim is Contented and Satisfied

From Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Richness is not having many belongings, but richness is the richness of the soul (contentment).”

Reported by Muslim (Eng. Trans. 2/501/no. 2287)

So the greatest of riches you can attain, O servant of Allah, is contentment of ones soul, and having a contented heart and this will not be achieved except through humbling oneself before Allah, the One free from and far removed from all defects, and calling upon Him in supplication and in placing reliance upon Him. So he whose soul is contented and rich will increase in his …

Devotion to the Religion of Islam

From Ka’ab ibn Malik al-Ansari (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Two hungry wolves let loose amongst sheep will not cause more harm to them than a persons craving after wealth and status will do to his Religion.”

Reported by Ahmad and others

So flee, May Allah have mercy upon you, from this mad craving after this world and its finery, and there is no salvation from that which has been destined for a person.

[Author’s text abridged hereafter]

So he who wishes for salvation then let it be the case that his desire for his Religion is his foundation and guiding principle, if this is so then Allah will protect him and protect his religion. Then from the comprehensive matters that should be known is …

How the Muslim Deals With People

From ‘A’ishah (radhiallahu ‘anha) who said that a man sought permission to enter upon the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), so he said:

“Give permission to him and what a bad son of his people (or: what a bad man of his people).” Then when he entered he spoke politely to him. ‘A’ishah said: So I said: O Messenger of Allah, you said about him what you said and then you spoke politely to him? He said: “O ‘A’ishah the worst people in station before Allah on the Day of Resurrection are those whom the people desert, or abandon, in order to save themselves from their evil speech.”

From Ibn Rajab’s explanation (sharh) of this hadith

[Author’s text abridged hereafter]

It will also not be hidden that one of the best ways of cementing ties and improving relations is …

Visiting Brothers

From Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“A man went out to visit a brother of his in a different village, so Allah, the Most High, put an angel in wait for him in the road. So when the angel came to him he said: Where are you going? He said: I am going to visit a brother in this village. He said: Is it that you have done something for him for which you seek repayment? He said: No, it is just that I love him for Allah’s sake. He said: Then I am one sent by Allah to you (to inform you) that Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, loves you, just as you have loved for His sake.”

Reported by Al-Bukhari (8/50/80)

[Author’s text abridged hereafter]

(Paradise) cannot be attained unless the incentive for it is …

The Muslim’s Character

From Abu Darda (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“There is nothing which is heavier upon the balance than the good character.”

Reported by Muslim (4/1362/no. 6226)

So by his character the Muslim turns enemies into friends, opponents into companions, and harsh people into those who are mild. Character is a commodity which is almost something rare amongst the people today, except amongst those who sincerely worship Allah alone, Who are honest and true in the worship of the Lord of the Worlds. So good character refines the soul and enables that …

The Muslim Knows His Own Worth

From Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“There will come upon the people years of deceit in which the liar will be believed, the truthful disbelieved, the treacherous will be trusted and the trustworthy held to be treacherous, and the despicable (Ar-Ruwaybidah) will speak out.” It was said: Who are the despicable ones (Ar-Ruwaybidah)? He said: “The lowly, ignoble man who speaks out about the public affairs.”

Reported by Ahmad, Ibn Majah and others, with weak chain of narration.

[Author’s text abridged hereafter]

So it is binding upon the obedient servant that he should …

He Hopes for Good for Himself and His Brothers

From Jundub (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) narrated:

“That a man said: By Allah, Allah will not forgive so and so. Whereas Allah, the Most High said: Who is it who swears by Me that I will not forgive so and so, for I have forgiven so and so, and have rendered your actions futile.”

Reported by Muslim (4/1381/no. 6350)

[Author’s text abridged hereafter]

The fear and hope that a Muslim has for his brothers does not prevent him from carrying out what Allah has established with regard to …

Ordering Good and Forbidding Evil

From Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said:

Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stood amongst us to deliver an address, and from his address was that he said: “Indeed it is about to occur that I will be called and will respond. Then after me will follow rulers over you who say what they have knowledge of, and act upon what they know. Obedience to them is obedience to me, and you remain like that for a time. Then there will follow rulers over you after them who say what they do not have knowledge of and act according to what they do not have knowledge of. So whoever is sincere to them and assists them, or strengthens them then they are destroyed and have caused destruction. Accompany them with your bodies and differ with them by your actions, and bear witness for the doer of good from them that he is a doer of good, and for the doer of evil that he is a doer of evil.”

Reported by Al-Bayhaqi in Az-Zuhd al-Kabir (no. 191)

[Author’s text abridged hereafter]

In ordering good and forbidding evil, the Muslim is careful of …

Being Cautious to Avoid Animosity and Dissention

From Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger said:

“Indeed Satan has despaired that those who pray should worship (him) in the Arabian peninsular, however (he seeks) to provoke animosity between them.”

Muslim (Eng. Trans. 4/1471/no. 6752)

So perhaps a word which one does not realise allows to escape from his tongue and it falls upon one of the servants of Allah, or a mistake he makes, perhaps this will cause a great fire to blaze in the hearts of the brothers.

This is the most Satan desires and it causes him to be joyful and happy. So what we have indicated certainly occurs and is bound to occur and it leads to widespread evil and great danger, so since this is the case, then what is …

The Means To Escape the Trial which Befalls the People

From ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiallahu ‘anhuma) who said:

“How will you be when you are covered by a trial in which the young grow up and the old become infirm. If anything of it is abandoned it is said: The Sunnah has been abandoned.” It was said: When will that occur, O Abu Abdur Rahman? He said: “When your scholars pass away, and those ignorant amongst you become many; when those who recite amongst you are many, but those who have understanding of the religion are few; when your leaders are many, but those who are trustworthy are few; when this world is sought with actions of the Hereafter; and when knowledge is sought for other than the Religion.”

Reported by Ad-Darimi (1/64), Al-Lalika’i (no. 123), Al-Hakim (4/514) and others, with sahih chain of narration

So the means of escape is to follow the example provided for us! Indeed obeying and following Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is the greatest escape from the trials which envelop us.

So for Allah, for Allah, O servants of Allah, learn, and act, and fear Allah and obey Him that you may be shown mercy.

Epilogue

The Islamic Personality is a clear and distinct personality. Its fabric is the Book of Allah, and its thread is the Sunnah and these two are inseparable from it.

It is a sincere and determined personality educated and refined upon precise methodology which does not contain even the slightest deficiency, and how could it since it is the Religion of Allah, Lord of all the worlds?!

So what I have written is knowledge which is the path to action, a reminder which leads one to obey and follow, and advice which is essential for the attainment of benefit.

So I ask Allah to grant success to myself and all of the Muslims, and that He establishes us upon the way and methodology of His Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He is the best One to ask and the greatest One who responds, and our final call is all praise is for Allah, Lord of all the Worlds.

18th Ramadan 1408H
Az-Zarqa (Jordan)

Footnotes

  1. There are some ahadith reported about the excellence of gathering forty ahadith, however all of them are unauthentic as I briefly explained in my introduction to Forty Hadith on the Call To Islam and the Caller (Published by Al-Hidaayah, 1994) ^back
  2. It is the twentieth hadith of Forty Hadith on the Call to Islam and the Caller, its source and explanation are quoted there ^back
  3. At-Taqyid (2/6-7) of Ibn Nuqtah ^back
  4. Refer to my book Al-Muntaqan Nafis min Talbis Iblis and Mawrid al-Aman min Masayidish Shaytan and may Allah through His grace and favour make easy its completion ^back
  5. Hadith 40 in Forty Hadith on the Call to Islam and the Caller ^back
  6. Reported by Al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 8/214/no. 320) ^back
  7. Reported by Abu Dawud (Eng. Trans. 3/1158/no. 4149) and its chain of narration is hasan ^back

 This Internet edition has been prepared without any of the Arabic quotes. Further, the footnotes of the authentication and source references of each hadith have been abridged and edited to allow accessibility to all readers. You are therefore strongly recommended to buy the actual copy in Arabic or in English. The English copy is available from Al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution, PO Box 3332, Birmingham, UK, B10 9AW – Telephone: 0121 753 1889

For the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah on him, and later generations of Muslims, the words and actions of the last and final Messenger of Allah to mankind served as an ideal, and hence a precedent (sunnah); every word he uttered was a law to them, while his moral choices, so different from those of their age, yet so immediate in their impartial wisdom, provided them with a system of personal and social virtue which they tried to follow faithfully. Given this intense devotion to the Prophet, inspired by his charisma and integrity, the Companions made a point of observing his life and recording for posterity everything they could.

The Prophet Muhammad himself attached the utmost importance to knowledge of his hadith (prophetic statements) and encouraged his followers to be attentive. Often he would repeat his words to ensure they had been correctly retained. The Companion, Anas ibn Malik, declared, “Whenever the Prophet spoke a sentence, he used to repeat it thrice so that the people could understand it properly from him.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 1/95] He also asked his Companions to make his hadith widely known, instructing them, “It is incumbent upon those who are present to inform those who are absent … “ [ibid, 1/67] and he would also say, “May God make joyful a person who heard my saying and preserved it, then transmitted it from me … “ (Sunan Ibn Majah 1/236). In this regard, the various letter that the Prophet dictated and had delivered to the leaders of neighbouring countries are no different from his hadith. They represent a true record of his words, advice and instructions. One could also mention the famous Constitution of Madinah, drawn up soon after the Muslim migration from Makkah to Madinah. It too contains the instructions of the Prophet. In describing the Constitution, R. S. Humphreys writes, ” … a document of almost unchallenged authenticity … The Constitution of Medina … As we shall see, this text is a very remarkable one both in content and language. Even more remarkable, no doubt, is that both Western and Muslim scholars agree unanimously that the piece is authentic … ” [Humphreys, Islamic History – Revised Edition, Princeton Univ Press, 1995, pp.91-95]

The Companions did not simply commit hadith to memory. They also collected them in books known as sahifas, which were later preserved by their families and the following generation of Muslims – the Successors. The Companion Abu Hurayrah himself describes that a book was kept by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr al-As [al-Bukhari 1/113] and about which Nabia Abbott concluded, “The sources are unanimously emphatic that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr al-Âs from the start recorded hadith and sunnah.” [Abbott, Studies in Arabic Literary Papyri, vol.II, p.37] M. M. Azami details fifty Companions who at one time or another preserved hadith in writing. [Azami, Studies in Early Hadith Literature, pp.34-60]

The writings compiled by the Companions and preserved by their families led to numerous family chains of transmission. Nabia Abbott writes, “Family isnads of several generations of literate traditionists imply continuous written transmission – an implication that is reinforced by the large number of traditions accredited to the members of such families and by the appearance of clusters of such traditions in the standard collections.” [Abbott, Studies in Arabic Literary Papyri, vol.II, p.37] She also concludes that, “The development of the family isnad and continuous written transmission lead to the third inescapable conclusion, namely that the bulk of the hadith and sunnah as they had developed by about the end of the first century was already written down by someone somewhere … ” [ibid, p.39]

The death of the Prophet signalled the end of Revelation. With this the importance of hadith inevitably increased. The Companions settled themselves in the various towns and provinces of the Islamic empire where they were surrounded by large numbers of Muslims who had not met the Prophet and were eager to hear reports from those who had associated with him. James Robson writes, “It may safely be assumed that from the very beginning Muslims were interested in what the Prophet said and did, and that after his death, when Islam spread widely, new converts would be anxious to hear about him. Those who associated with him would be listened to eagerly as they told about him. While this was largely conveyed by word of mouth, there is reason to believe that some men made small collections for their own use. These can hardly be called books, but nevertheless the material they contained was incorporated in later works.” [Robson, Mishkat al-Masabih, Vol.1, p.iii, Lahore, 1991]

The Companions themselves were no less anxious in seeking out and acquiring those hadith which they might have missed during the Messenger’s lifetime. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (himself a Companion) relates, “When the Messenger of Allah died, I said to one Ansari, ‘Let us ask the Companions of the Prophet as there are still a lot of them.’ He replied, ‘Quite curious, don’t you think, O Ibn Abbas, that people will be in need of you while a great number of the Companions of the Prophet are still surviving?’ So I left him and started asking the Companions. Sometimes when a hadith was reported to me by anyone of them, I used to approach their houses and found them taking rest at noon. So I would rest my head on my cloak at their door while the wind blew dust on my face till the man came out and said: ‘O cousin of the Prophet, what brought you here? Why did you not call for me so that I could come to you myself?’ I would say: ‘No, you deserve to be visited by me.’ Then I asked him concerning hadith.” [Mustadrak al-Hakim, 1/107]

Abu Ayyub al-Ansari travelled to Uqba ibn Amir to enquire about a single hadith that no one that remained alive had heard direct from the Prophet other than them. He said to the Governor of Egypt, “A hadith which I heard from the Prophet and now from those left alive no one except for me and Uqba heard it from the Prophet direct. So please provide me with anyone who can guide me to his house.” The Governor sent for someone who directed him to Uqba’s house who, on hearing the news of Abu Ayyub’s arrival, came out hurriedly, saying, “What brings you here, O Abu Ayyub?” He replied, “A hadith about protecting a believer that I heard from the Prophet and no one else except me and you are left who heard it from him.” Uqba said, “Yes, I heard the Prophet saying, ‘Whoever protects a believer from being disgraced, Allah will protect him on the Day of Resurrection.’ Abu Ayyub said, “You have told the truth.” [Al-Hakim, Marifat, pp.7-8]

The earlier dispersion of the Companions throughout the Muslim lands and their imparting the narrations known to them over such a wide area soon resulted in an extensive proliferation of the hadith. Abbott says, ” … using geometric progression, we find that one to two thousand Companions and senior Successors transmitting two to five traditions each would bring us well within the range of the total number of traditions credited to the exhaustive collections of the third century. Once it is realised that the isnad did, indeed, initiate a chain reaction that resulted in an explosive increase in the number of traditions, the huge numbers that are credited to Ibn Hanbal, Muslim and Bukhari seem not so fantastic after all.” [Nabia Abbott, Studies, Vol.II, p.72] She also finds that, ” … the traditions of Muhammad as transmitted by his Companions and their Successors were, as a rule, scrupulously scrutinised at each step of the transmission, and that the so called phenomenal growth of Tradition in the second and third centuries of Islam was not primarily growth of content, so far as the hadith of Muhammad and the hadith of the Companions are concerned, but represents largely the progressive increase in parallel and multiple chains of transmission.” [Abbott, Studies, Vol.II, p.2]

In the period of the Successors, extensive journeys to gather the Prophetic narrations was commonplace. The Caliph ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-‘Aziz (d. 101H) took steps to bring about their collection. He wrote to the great Traditionist of Madinah, Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Hazm (d. 120H) asking him to write down the hadith for him. (al-Bukhari, Vol.1, p.79) He also asked Ibn Shihab az-Zuhri (d. 124H) to collect ahadith in writing so as to have these circulated throughout his dominions. According to Abu Nu’aym’s History of Isfahan, ‘Umar also wrote a circular letter asking the hadith scholars living in the various parts of his country to collect in the form of books as many hadith as were available. At the same time individual scholars were themselves travelling to gather hadith for their own collections.

Makhul (d. 112H) travelled through Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Hijaz, gathering the hadith that he could obtain from the Companions who lived there. He used to boast that for the sake of knowledge he had “travelled around the world” (Dhahabi, Tadhkira, 1/71). When asked how he had gathered the knowledge of such a voluminous quantity of ahadith, ash-Sha’bi (d. 104H) replied, “By hard work, long travels, and great patience.” (Ibn Abdul-Barr, Jami, 1/95). Masruq (d. 63H) travelled so widely for the sake of learning that he was known as ‘the father of travelling’.

One author wrote, “The migration of the Companions, the scholars’ open sessions in Makkah and Madinah, especially during the annual pilgrimage season, and the journeys in search of knowledge speeded the transmission of Tradition. Evidence of continuous written transmission of Tradition from the second quarter of the first century onward is available in early and late Islamic sources.” [The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature, p.297]

Azami (pp.60-106) names over a hundred Successors who wrote hadith. The Successors, with the disappearance of eyewitnesses, realised the need to preserve and ensure the authenticity of the statements attributed to the Prophet. An isnad (chain of transmission) was therefore indispensable to them, though signs of its use had appeared during the time of the Companions themselves. Abbott writes, “There was no call for emphasis on source until the first Civil War, which occurred in the fourth decade, and until the Successors were brought into the chain of transmission.” [Abbott, Studies, Vol.II, p.1]

We therefore have the famous statement of Ibn Sirin (d. 110H), “They did not ask about the isnad until the fitnah (Civil War) arose, then they said, ‘Name to us your men.’ Those who belonged to the people of the sunnah, their traditions were accepted, and those who were innovators, their traditions were rejected.” [Sahih Muslim, Introduction]

This statement implies the use of isnad even before the Civil War, though it was not routinely considered. After the Civil War, however, asking about the isnad became a consistent policy. James Robson writes, “There is therefore reason to believe that Ibn Sirin is to be credited with the words attributed to him. If that is granted, it would support Horovitz’s theory that the isnad entered the literature of tradition in the last third of the first century, as its use so early would be bound to be represented soon in writing.” [Robson, Isnad in Muslim Tradition, pp.21-22]

Montgomery Watt writes, “The chains of transmitters were therefore carefully scrutinised to make sure that the persons named could in fact have met one another, that they could be trusted to repeat the story accurately, and that they did not hold any heretical views. This implied extensive biographical studies; and many biographical dictionaries have been preserved giving the basic information about a man’s teachers and pupils, the views of later scholars (on his reliability as a transmitter) and the date of his death. This biography-based critique of Traditions helped considerably to form a more or less common mind among many men throughout the caliphate about what was to be accepted and what rejected.” (Watt, What is Islam?, Longman Group Ltd, 1979, pp. 124-125]

An occasional use of isnad can be found in ancient Hindu, Buddhist and Jain literature. In the Mahabharata, we read, ‘Vysda composed it, Ganesa served as a scribe, and the work was handed down by Vaisampayana, who communicated it to the king Janamejaya; Sautim who was present at the time, heard it and narrated it to the assembly of sages.’ [Mahabharata, Book 1, canto 1] The Puranas also contain some short isnads of this type. The Sutras (exegetical works of Vedic literature) contain brief chains mentioning some of the transmitters through whom they were handed down. It appears that isnad was used casually in some literature in the pre-Islamic Arabia in a vague manner. The system was also used to some extent in transmitting pre-Islamic poetry. [Asad, Masadir Shi’r al-Jahili, 2nd Edition. Cairo:1962, pp.255-267]

Western non-Muslim scholars differ as to the exact date for the commencement of the use of an isnad in transmitting Prophetic hadith. Horovitz concluded that the first appearance of isnads was not later than the last third of the first Muslim century. After adducing a series of facts to demonstrate this, he says, “Isnad in its primitive form was then – somewhere about the year 75H – already established, and one has no right, merely because it appears only incidentally in the letters, to deny to Urwa (d. 92H) without further consideration, those hadith supplied with statements of authorities for which he stands as sponsor … isnad was, indeed, already customary in his (Urwa’s) time, but it was not yet an absolute necessity.” [Horovitz, The Earliest Biographies of the Prophet and their Authors, 1927, pp.550-51]

R. S. Humphreys writes, “A number of very capable modern scholars have defended the general authenticity of isnads. An important early contribution was Josef Horovitz, ‘Alter Und Ursprung des Isnad’, Islam, viii (1918), 39-47, 299; xi (1921), 264-65, who connected the earliest use of isnads to the turmoil of the second civil war of the 60s/680s when it became an urgent matter to be able to identify the provenance of doctrinally loaded statements concerning Muhammad and the Companions.” [Humphreys, Islamic History, p.82]

Goldziher, an Orientalist who studied under the Ottamanist scholar and revert to Islam, Arminius Vambery, wrote, “Many a Companion of the Prophet is likely to have carried his sahifa with him and used it to dispense instruction and edification to his circle. The contents of these Sahifas were called matn al-hadith (lit. text of the hadith); those who disseminated these texts named in succession their immediate authorities, and thus the isnad came into being.” [Goldziher, Muslim Studies, II. London, 1967, p.22]

During this period, written and oral transmission went hand in hand. In ancient times, when writing was not used at all or scarcely used, memory and oral transmission was exercised and strengthened to a degree now almost unknown. Whether sacred or secular, the works that have given rise to a textual tradition seem invariably to have existed in some sort of oral form prior to being set down. This oral form of the work was, to a certain extent, preserved by memory and passed on by word of mouth. Such a process has long been accepted by scholars who spoke of a period of ‘oral transmission’ or ‘oral tradition’; scholars could call in to their help the ‘fantastic memories’ so ‘well attested’ of illiterate people. They felt that a text could remain from one generation to another unaltered. The very educational systems that brought about relatively high rates of literacy amongst segments of some pre-modern societies and fostered a proliferation of the written word – Arab, Islamic civilisation for instance, the Greco-Roman world, and India – all relied heavily upon memorisation and recitation as a chief means of ensuring the acquisition and retention of knowledge. The poetry of the Arabs, in the ages which preceded the rise of Islam, was perpetuated by oral tradition, being a remarkably reliable method for the retention of information. The use of isnads for the transmission of hadith does not, however, imply that no books were present for the purpose of consultation and verification. There is a misconception that isnads imply solely oral transmission, whereas in many instances a chain of transmission actually comprised a series of books which were referred to by the author’s name rather than the title of the book itself. In some instances a documents were referred to directly in the isnad. Consider the following four examples:

  1. In the Musnad of Ahmad (1/418) there is the isnad, “Yahya bin Adam informed us that ‘Abdullah ibn Idris dictated to him from his book.” Here a book is employed yet the words “informed us” are used for this purpose.
  2. Abu Dawud transmits a portion of the booklet of Samurah in various chapters of his Sunan collection without mentioning the document, referring instead to the author and employing the term “he narrated/informed to us.”
  3. In the Sunan of an-Nasa’i (1/45) the isnad, “Muhammad bin al-Muthni narrated to us, saying, Ibn Abi Adi narrated to us from his book and then from his memory.”
  4. The Muwatta of Malik is a well known work. Yet authors from later generations, utilising the material of the Muwatta, referred only to Malik without mentioning the book.

Abbott writes, “Analysis of the content and the chains of transmission of the traditions of the documents and of their available parallels in the standard collections, supplemented by the results of an extensive study of the sources on the sciences of Tradition – ulum al-hadith – lead me to conclude that oral and written transmission went hand in hand almost from the start … ” [Abbott, Studies, Vol. II, p.1]

The meticulous care with which the hadith of the Prophet were treated helped to preserve for posterity the statements of God’s final Messenger. Abbott concludes, “Deliberate tampering with either the content or the isnads of the Prophet’s Traditions, as distinct from the sayings of and deeds of the Companions and Successors, may have passed undetected by ordinary transmitters, but not by the aggregate of the ever watchful, basically honest, and aggressively outspoken master traditionists and hadith critics.” [Abbott, Studies, Vol.II, p.132]

Bernard Lewis writes, “But their careful scrutiny of the chains of transmission and their meticulous collection and preservation of variants in the transmitted narratives give to medieval Arabic historiography a professionalism and sophistication without precedent in antiquity and without parallel in the contemporary medieval West. By comparison, the historiography of Latin Christendom seems poor and meagre, and even the more advanced and complex historiography of Greek Christendom still falls short of the historical literature of Islam in volume, variety and analytical depth.” [Lewis, Islam in History, Open Court Publishing, 1993, p.105]

Professor D. S. Margoliouth says, ” … its value in making for accuracy cannot be questioned, and the Muslims are justified in taking pride in their science of tradition.” [Lectures on Arabic Historians, Calcutta University, 1920, p.20]

Ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (SALA-L-LAHU ALAYHIM WA SALAM) said, “Salat in congregation is twenty-seven times more meritorious than a Salat performed individually” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (SALA-L-LAHU ALAYHIM WA SALAM) said, “A man’s Salat in congregation is twenty-five times more rewarding than his Salat at home or in his shop, and that is because when he performs his Wudu’ properly and proceeds towards the mosque with the purpose of performing Salat in congregation, he does not take a step without being raised a degree (in rank) for it and having a sin remitted for it, till he enters the mosque. When he is performing Salat, the angels continue to invoke Blessings of Allah on him as long as he is in his place of worship in a state of Wudu’. They say: O Allah! Have mercy on him! O Allah! Forgive him.’ He is deemed to be engaged in Salat as long as he waits for it.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Commentary: This Hadith tells us that Salat in congregation is far more in reward than Salat offered alone. In the preceding Hadith it has been held 27 times and in the present, 25 times more rewarding. The reason for this variation offered by some Ulama’ is that at first it was told to the Prophet (SALA-L-LAHU ALAYHIM WA SALAM) 25 times and then it was increased to 27 and he communicated to his Companions what was revealed to him. Some other scholars have linked it with the form, spirit and concentration of the Salat. The more meticulous one is about its details, the greater will be the reward for it. Another difference of opinion in this respect is regarding the nature of Salat in congregation. How does one become eligible for higher reward? Does he become eligible for it by performing Salat in congregation anywhere, i.e., at home, in business premises, at an open place, in the desert etc., or in that congregation which gathers in a mosque? Some Ulama’ go with the first opinion while others agree with the second. Hafiz Ibn Hajar preferred the second view on the grounds that the words occurring in the text of this Hadith support this view.

Riyaadu-s-Saliheen
Hadith no: 1064 & 1065

عن حميد بن عبدالرحمن أنه سمع معاوية رضي اللَّه عنه يقول: سمعت رسول اللَّه صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: ” هذا يوم عاشوراء، ولم يكتب اللَّه عليكم صيامه، وأنا صائم، فمن شاء فليصم، ومن شاء فليفطر” .

Mu`awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan (Radiyallahu `anh) relates: I heard the Messenger of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) say: “It is the day of `Ashura. Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) has not made fasting obligatory for you. But I am fasting. He who likes to observe fast among you should do so, and he who likes not to observe it (does not have to) observe it.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

عن أبي قتادة رضي اللَّه عنه ، أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: ” صيام يوم عاشوراء، أحتسب على اللَّه أن يكفر السنة التي قبله أخرجه مسلم

Abu Qatada (Radiyallahu `anh) relates that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) said that the fast on the 10th of Muharram atones for the sins of the preceding year. [Sahih Muslim]

Abu Huraira (Radiyallahu `anh) reports that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) said that after Ramadan, the fasts of Muharram have the greatest excellence. [Sahih Muslim]

Alhamdulillah, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) has blessed us to see another year. The first month of this year is Muharram. In this month is an excellent day—the day of `Ashura—which falls on the 10th of Muharram. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) recommended that we fast on this day, by his Sunnah. He also indicated how we should observe the fast of `Ashura.

عن الحكم بن الأعرج قال: انتهيت إلى ابن عباس رضي اللَّه عنهما، وهو متوسِّد رداءه عند زمزم، فقلت له: أخبرني عن صوم عاشوراء، فقال: “إذا رأيت هلال المحرم فاعدد، وأصبح يوم التاسع صائماً، قلت: هكذا كان رسول اللَّه صلى الله عليه وسلم يصومه؟ قال: نعم” .

Hakam ibn Al-`Araj (Radiyallahu `anh) relates: I went to Ibn `Abbas (Radiyallahu `anh)… I said to him: Tell me about fasting on `Ashura. He said, “When you seen the new moon of Muharram count the (days) and (begin to) observe fast on the 9th.” I said to him: “Is it how the Holy Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) observed the fast?” He said, “Yes.” [Sahih Muslim]

عن ابن عباس رضي اللَّه عنهما قال: قال رسول اللَّه صلى الله عليه وسلم : “لئن بقيت إلى قابل لأصومن التاسع

Hazrat Ibn `Abbas (Radiyallahu `anh) relates that when the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) said: “If I survive till next year, I will definitely observe fast on the 9th of Muharram (as well).” [Sahih Muslim]

(Note: What the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) meant was that he would also fast on the 9th as well as the 10th to which he was accustomed. We also should try fasting on the 9th and the 10th of Muharram.)

في رواية لمسلم عن ابن عباس – رضي الله عنهما  – أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قدم المدينة . فوجد اليهود صياماً يوم عاشوراء . فقال لهم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ما هذا اليوم الذي تصومونه ؟ فقالوا : هذا يوم عظيم . أنجى الله فيه موسى وقومه . وغرق فرعون وقومه . فصامه موسى شكراً . فنحن نصومه . فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ” فنحن أحق وأولى بموسى منكم ” فصامه رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم . وأمر بصيامه

Hazrat Ibn `Abbas (Radiyallahu `anh) reports that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) arrived in Madinah and found the Jews observing fast on the day of `Ashura… They said: “It is the day of great (significance) when Allah delivered Hazrat Musa (`alayhi ‘s-salam) and his people and drowned Pharoah and his people, and Sayyidina Musa (`alayhi ‘s-salam) observed fast out of gratitude. And we also observe it.” The Holy Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) responded: “We have more right, and we have closer connection with Sayyidina Musa (`alayhi ‘s-salam) than you have”; so Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) observed fast (on the day of `Ashura) and gave us orders to observe it. [Sahih Bukhari and Muslim]

`Ashura is a day of great historical significance. On this day: Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) accepted the repentance of Sayyidina Adam (`alayhi ‘s-salam) after his exile from Paradise; Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) saved Sayyidina Nuh (`alayhi ‘s-salam) and his companions in the Ark; Allah extinguished the fire in which Sayyidina Ibrahim (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was thrown by Nimrod; And Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) spoke directly to Sayyidina Musa (`alayhi ‘s-salam) and gave him the Commandments. On this same 10th of Muharram, Sayyidina Ayyub (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was restored to health (from leprosy); Sayyidina Yusuf (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was reunited with his father Ya’qub (`alayhi ‘s-salam); Sayyidina Yunus (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was taken out from the belly of the fish; and the sea was divided as the nation of israel was delivered from captivity and Pharoah’s army was destroyed. `Ashura is also the day when Sayyidina Dawud (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was forgiven; the kingdom of Sulaiman (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was restored; Sayyidina Isa (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was raised to Jannah and Sayyidina al-Husayn (Radiyallahu `anh) (the Holy Prophet’s, Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam, grandson) achieved the honor of Martyrdom.1

Worship Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) as much as you can on `Ashura. Whoever fasts on this day is like one who fasts all his life. Whoever clothes a naked person Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) will release him from a painful punishment. He who visits a sick person, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) will grant him a reward that will not be decreased. Whoever places his hand on an orphan’s head, or feeds a hungry person or gives water to a thirsty man, Allah will feed him a feast from Paradise and will quench his thirst with Salsabil (a spring of wine in Paradise that does not intoxicate). And who ever makes a Ghusl on this day will enjoy excellent health and freedom from sickness and indolence. Whoever provides generously for his family on this day, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) will be generous to him throughout this year. And whoever applies Kuhl to his eyes will never suffer from eye-sore again, inSha’Allah al-Aziz.2

O’ Allah! Bless us to perform good deeds and gain their reward on `Ashura. Make the new year one of unity, cooperation and success for Muslims in this city and around the world. Ameen.

NOTES

1. These are mentioned as what scholars have determined as the specialties of that day in Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq, Sayyidina Abdul Qadir al-Jilani.

2. These specialties are mentioned in Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq, Sayyidina Abdul Qadir al-Jilani.

Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions