OF THE CONCISE SAYINGS OF GOD’S MESSENGER
Imam Tirmidhi relates from Ibn ‘Abbas, the Scholar of the Ummah, that God’s
Messenger said to him:
young man! Let me teach you a few principles: Observe the rights of God so
that God will protect you. Observe His rights in order to find Him always
with you. When you ask something, ask it from God. When you seek help, seek
it from God. Know that if all people gathered together to benefit you, they
would not be able to do so other than by that which God already preordained
for you. If, by contrast, they came together to do you harm, they would not
be able to do so other than by that which God already preordained against
you. The Pen of Destiny was lifted and everything was already ordained.1
hadith encourages submission to God and belief in His Unity and the truth of
Destiny. We should not misunderstand this hadith to exclude human free will.
Rather, it stresses, on the part of man, action, prayer and the need to strive
to obtain desired results. It balances this with a warning that since
everything is ultimately in the hands of God, man should strive in accordance
with His Commandments and seek the results only from Him.
Again, Imam Tirmidhi relates from Ibn ‘Umar:
Messenger said: ‘Live in the world as if you were a stranger or
traveller. Regard yourself as one of the dead!’2
succinct hadith is unequalled in encouraging us to lead an austere,
disciplined life based on fear of God. It reminds us of our final destination.
It stresses the transience of the world, and establishes the balance between
the two lives, this one and the next.
always a foreigner in this world. He is, in the words of Mawlana Jalal al-Din
al-Rumi, a thirteenth-century Turkish sufi, like a flute made of a reed
separated from its group. He continually groans with the pangs of separation
from his real Owner and ‘native land’. Man is, therefore, a traveller in
this world, setting out from the World of the Spirits and travelling through
the stations of the mother's womb, childhood, youth, old age, the grave and
the Resurrection, finally ending his journey either in Paradise or Hell. In
order to have a pleasant journey and arrive safely in Paradise, he should be
aware of the transience of the worldly life and prepare for the eternal life.
Although he is allowed to taste the pleasures of life to a certain extent,
provided they are not specifically forbidden, he should not overindulge or
forget his true destination.
Authentic books of Tradition such as Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Muslim and
Sunan Abu Dawud relate from ‘Adbullah ibn Mas‘ud that God’s Messenger,
upon him be peace and blessings, said:
is incumbent upon you to be always truthful, for truthfulness guides to
absolute piety and piety leads to Paradise. A man who always tells the
truth and pursues the truth is written by God as a truthful one. Refrain
from lying, for lying guides to sinfulness and sinfulness leads to
Hellfire. A man continues to tell lies and pursues lies until he is
written by God as a liar.3
is an indispensable attribute of Prophethood while lying is a loathsome sign
of hypocrisy. Truthfulness opens the door of happiness in both worlds. No one
has tasted true bliss while living in the darkness of lies and lying.
is a pillar of unbelief and the most manifest sign of hypocrisy. It means ‘an
assertion contrary to God’s knowledge’. How unfortunate it is that today
lying is so widespread. It is destroying security and morality, and we witness
it contaminating the whole community, especially the political circles, like a
‘contagious disease’. It should, however, be noted that any ‘structure’
based on lying cannot last long. It will perish by its very nature.
hadith states that truthfulness leads to ‘absolute piety’, while lying
leads to sinfulness. The Arabic word we have here translated as ‘piety’ is
birr. It encompasses every kind of virtue, from sound thinking and telling the
truth to purity of intention, honesty, decency and good conduct. The word,
fujur - sinfulness - denotes every kind of deviation and evil, including
debauchery, indecency and perversion.
lying causes one to be classed as a liar, while he who always tells the truth
will be identified with truthfulness. Lying and truthfulness are roads leading
to Hell and Paradise respectively. This means that, as emphasized by the
hadith, a single act of lying may lead one who lies to perdition. It may be
the first step to an unfortunate end.
reported by Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn Mas‘ud, God’s Messenger, upon him
be peace and blessings, said:
is with him whom he loves.4
hadith would need volumes to explain fully. It is a source of hope and
consolation for those who are unable to lead their life in a strict obedience
to the Divine Commandments. One who has been endowed with love for Prophets
and saints will be in their company in the Hereafter. Therefore, whoever
desires their company in Paradise should love them sincerely and follow them
as much as possible. Those who, on the other hand, love the enemies of God,
will be with them in Hell in the Hereafter.
was one of the Companions of God's Messenger. He could not stop drinking
alcohol, and was punished a few times. When once another Companion reproached
him, God’s Messenger warned that Companion, saying: Do not help Satan
against your brother! I swear by God that he loves God and His Messenger.5
believer who loves God and His Messenger sincerely will be in the company of
God's Messenger in Paradise, he should not be reproached for an individual sin
as long as he continues to perform his obligatory duties and tries to refrain
from major sins. This is a prerequisite of his love of God and His Messenger,
upon him be peace and blessings.
related by ibn Hanbal from Mu‘adh ibn Jabal, God’s Messenger said:
God wherever you are. Do good immediately after a sinful act to erase it,
and always be well-mannered in your relationship with people.6
hadith concisely establishes the principles of a happy life in the world and
describes the way to eternal bliss. Fear of God is the basis of every virtue
and good conduct, and leads to Paradise. A man can, through fear of God, erase
his sins with his good deeds, and being well-mannered elevates one to the rank
another saying of his, God’s Messenger declares:
are governed how you are (that is, according to your beliefs and your
hadith expresses a principle of public and political administration. The
political structure of a country is shaped according to the tendencies of the
people whether directly through democracy or indirectly through other ways.
sciences like physics, chemistry, and biology have laws of their own, which we
call ‘God’s creational and operational laws of the universe’, and so do
the social sciences. If, according to these laws, a people do not refrain from
sinful acts and live in the swamp of evils, they will inevitably be ruled by
evil people. If, by contrast, they prefer a virtuous life, then the government
formed by them will be a good one.
hadith stresses that laws do not have sanction on their own. Their authority
depends on the people who will apply them. Therefore, the character of the
people who hold the reins of government is of vital importance. If the people
are righteous, their rules will be the same; if they are not, they will have
no right and justification to expect a righteous administration. The ruling
elite are like the cream rising to the surface of a liquid: milk has cream of
its kind as do lime and alum.
a despotic commander during the time of ‘Abd al-Malik, when reminded of the
justice of ‘Umar, answered: ‘If you were like the people of ‘Umar, I
would be like ‘Umar’.
hadith also warns us that everybody should develop the sense of self-control
and discern his own faults. In a society where people tend to put the blame on
others, it is impossible to create social harmony. As emphasized in the Qur’an,
God will not change the condition of a people unless they change themselves
(al-Ra’d, 13.11). It is man himself who determines his fate and makes
brief hadith contains many principles relating to social sciences, but the
scope of this book does not allow us to go into greater detail.
Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawud relate from the second Caliph, ‘Umar that God’s
Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, said:
are judged according to intentions; whatever someone intends to do, he
gets its reward. So, whoever emigrates for God and His Messenger, has
emigrated for God and His Messenger; and whoever emigrates to acquire
something worldly or to marry a woman, his emigration is to what he
hadith concerns a Companion who emigrated to marry a woman called Umm Qays,
and is a cornerstone of the Islamic law and the foremost standard in
evaluation of a believer’s actions.
is the spirit of a man’s actions, without which any action will not be
rewarded. If a man performs the five daily prayers without intention, or fasts
during Ramadan without intention of performing the prescribed fast, or if he
gives all his money to the poor without intention of paying the prescribed
alms, he will not be counted as having fulfilled the obligatory duties of
prayer, fasting and alms-giving. If he does not do all such duties for the
sake of God and to obtain His good pleasure, he will not receive any reward
and they will not be acceptable in the sight of God.
the sacred emigration in the way of God, is, in one respect, the twin brother
of jihad, the holy struggle for the sake of God. Although there is no Hijra
from Makka to Madina after the conquest of Makka, it will elsewhere continue
along with jihad until the Last Day. Believers may emigrate to another land to
continue their mission of preaching Islam, as God’s Messenger and his
Companions did in the early period of Islam. When it became impossible for
them to do this in their native land, they emigrated to Madina. Such
emigrations are accepted as hijra when they are purely for the sake of God.
can sometimes be rewarded without action. For example, if a believer sincerely
intends to do something good, but cannot do it due to some justifiable
reasons, he will be rewarded for the action he has intended to do.
multiplies the rewards of actions. It transforms every action of a believer
into a kind of worship. It is impossible to rightfully earn eternal happiness
in this short worldly life. But, by intending to worship God if he were to
live until eternity, a believer deserves the eternal life of Paradise. Also,
an obstinate unbeliever whose heart becomes absolutely closed to belief,
deserves the eternal punishment of Hellfire for the same reason. Again, a
believer who goes to bed after the night prayer with the intention of getting
up before dawnbreak to perform the prayer of tahajjud, is counted to have
worshipped God during the whole night. It is for the reasons mentioned that
God’s Messenger declared: The intention of a believer is more rewarding
than his action.9
Bukhari records that God’s Messenger said:
Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand Muslims are in security; as for
the Emigrant, he is one who emigrates from what God forbids.10
hadith, like others, is one that expresses many truths in a few words. First
of all, it describes the ideal, or norm of a Muslim by beginning with the
words ‘the Muslim’, not ‘a Muslim’. In this way, our Prophet draws
attention to the qualities of perfect Muslims, not to those who are nominally
Muslims but not really Muslims in their practices.
Arabic word Muslim, derived from the infinitive silm, meaning security, peace
and salvation, comes to mean one who desires and gives peace, security and
salvation. So, when we identify a Muslim with the normative definite article
or ‘the Muslim’, we mean a believer who has become the embodiment of
peace, causing no sedition and anxiety, and one from whom everyone is in
utmost security. He is the most reliable representative of peace and security
in the world. He strives to bring peace, security and salvation to the world.
He has dedicated himself to disseminating his inner peace and happiness to the
outer world around him.
our Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, mentions the tongue before the
hand. As everybody knows, the ‘wounds’ caused by the tongue are deeper and
more hurtful than those caused by the hand. Besides, one is often prepared to
strike more readily, easily and more frequently with one’s tongue than with
the hand. Slandering, backbiting, reproaching and other similar ways of
hurting people are commoner and more difficult to avoid than hurt done by the
hand. Further, if a person can refrain from hurting with the tongue, he can
more easily refrain from the assaults by the hand. Again, defending oneself
against physical assaults is, in most cases, easier than against verbal
assaults of, in particular, backbiting and slandering. So, a true Muslim
always restrains his tongue as well as his hand from hurting others.
same hadith, Emigration is conceived in a more general sense than the bodily
emigration of leaving one’s family, house, possessions and native land for
the sake of God. Indeed, to be capable of the latter, one must first be
capable of emigrating from the material dimension of his being to the
spiritual one, from worldly pleasures to an altruistic life and from selfish
aims to living for a Divine cause. Therefore, refraining from Divine
prohibitions is directly related to being a good Muslim and sacrificing one’s
life in the service of people purely for the sake of God.
another hadith, God’s Messenger says:
is because of one’s being a good Muslim that one abandons whatever is of
no use to him.11
good Muslim means to practise ihsan, which means worshipping God as
if you were seeing Him, in full awareness that even if you cannot see God, He
oversees you all the time.12 When one attains this rank, one can say: ‘I
was searching for Him in the outer world, but now I have come to understand
that He is the Soul within my soul’; or again he can say: ‘I was in
expectation of some news from beyond the world. However, the veil has been
removed from my soul and I have seen myself.’
order to attain this degree of excellence, the worshipper should abandon
everything that is vain and useless to him. He should know that he is being
supervised by God, and also that God’s Messenger and discerning believers
are aware of the real worth of his deeds. God says:
‘Work, and (know that) God will behold your work, and so will His
Messenger and the believers; then you shall be brought back to the Knower
of what is hidden and what is open, and He will declare to you all that
you have done. (al-Tawba, 9.105)
cannot be a good Muslim unless one gives up heedlessness and indifference.
Rather, a person should give proper care to his work and try his utmost to do
his best at whatever he does. He should also be serious and reliable in all
his dealings and transactions. Flippancy and frivolity both defame one’s
reliability and reduce one’s dignity.
related by both Bukhari and Muslim, God’s Messenger said:
is shown just at the moment of misfortune.13
early days of his mission, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings,
had forbidden people to visit graves as some un-Islamic practices had not yet
been wiped out. When no traces of such practices remained, he not only allowed
but also encouraged his Companions to visit graves, as he himself did, as
visiting the dead encourages one to strive to improve one’s own moral
conduct and work hard for the next life.
during one of his visits to the graveyard in Madina that God’s Messenger saw
a woman weeping bitterly and complaining about Destiny. When he attempted to
console her, the woman, who did not recognize God’s Messenger, said to him
angrily: ‘Go away! You don’t know what misfortune has befallen me!’ When
later told that the man to whom she had spoken reproachfully was God’s
Messenger, the woman hurried after him and, finding him in his house, begged
his pardon. God’s Messenger told her then: Patience is shown just at the
moment of misfortune.
is a key to success and triumph. It means the ability to accept pain, trouble,
misfortune or anything that causes annoyance, without complaining, losing one’s
self-control or trust and belief in God and Destiny. It is necessary at the
point when misfortune strikes. One can achieve this, sometimes, by a change of
attitude, place or preoccupation, by changing the immediate conditions around
one. To do wudu’ (ritual ablution) or stand in prayer may also help one
overcome an assault of sorrow.
are three or four kinds of patience. The first is being determined and
steadfast in not committing sins, which elevates one to the rank of the
God-fearing, whom God takes into His care. The second kind of patience is
being persistent in worshipping God regularly, which causes one to acquire the
rank of being a beloved of God. The third is accepting every misfortune
without complaining, which causes one to be included among the people of
patience and those who put their trust in God. There is another, fourth, kind
of patience which is shown in the face of exasperation. That is, one should
know how to observe the deliberation, decreed by God’s Wisdom, that is
appropriate to obtain a particular result. In order to produce a loaf of
bread, for example, one must cultivate the field, harvest the crop, take the
grain to a mill and bake the loaf in an oven. If, due to impatience one does
not act in compliance with this deliberation and neglects to follow all the
steps in sequence, in the arrangement determined for all things, one will
either overleap or omit some step, and so fail to achieve the desired result.
Bukhari, Muslim and Ahmad ibn Hanbal record that God’s Messenger, upon him
be peace and blessings, said:
upper hand is better than the lower one.14
another hadith, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, explains
that ‘the upper hand’ is the hand which gives to the poor and needy, while
‘the lower hand’ is the one which takes. So, besides expressing the merits
of charity, this hadith encourages people to work and earn their living
without recourse to begging.
is, however, a point in the hadith worth mentioning that, although the giving
hand is, in general terms, better than the receiving hand, God’s Messenger
did not use the expressions, ‘the one who gives’ and ‘the one who
receives’; instead, he used the terms ‘the upper hand’ and ‘the lower
hand’, which make the act, not the person, generally preferable so that, in
some cases, the one who receives may be ‘better’ than the one who gives.
Also, as stated in another hadith, God has some servants who, although
despicable in appearance, are so beloved in the sight of God that when they
predict something by swearing by God, God makes their predictions come true.
Bara’ ibn Malik was among them. In addition, they ask nothing of people and
are extraordinarily independent. For example, God’s Messenger had advised
Thawban not to beg from people; therefore, Thawban would not even ask someone
to pick up the whip he dropped while riding his camel; he dismounted and
picked it up himself. So, when poor believers of this quality have to receive
from people, it cannot be said of them that they are inferior to those who
give to them.
be sure, Islam does not approve of begging. As it is not becoming for a Muslim
to beg, a Muslim country should also not fall into the condition of having to
beg from other countries. It should never be forgotten that honour, dignity
and superiority always belong to God, His Messenger and the believers.
Therefore, Muslims should not, either individually or collectively, come under
the control of unbelievers, and should always preserve their dignity and
Muslim relates from God’s Messenger, who said:
are three sorts of people whom God will not, on the Last Day, talk to, pay
attention to, and purify; and for them is a painful torment: those who ‘trail
their robes’, those who remind those they have favoured of their favours,
and those who try to sell their goods by false oaths.15
hadith begins with thalathatun (three), meaning any three, unnamed, unworthy
of being named. In this way, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and
blessings, signifies that such people may be met with anywhere, and that
themselves and what they do are so despicable that Muslims should refrain from
what they do.
as their punishment, God will not address Himself to them in the next world.
This is a most severe punishment, because ‘speech’ is, as stated in surah
al-Rahman, one of the foremost and greatest favours of God to man. Besides,
man will be in dire need of speaking on the Day of Judgement, when he will
hurry to and fro trying to escape God’s chastisement. Those three sorts of
people will, however, be told that day: Be you driven into it (the Fire)!
And speak you not to Me! (al-Mu’minun, 23. 108)
of Judgement is a day when everyone will be completely occupied with his own
troubles, and there will be no refuge except God. Everyone will hope that God
may give some attention to him, to look with mercy upon him and purify him of
all his sins. But those three sorts of people will have no hope of being
purified and forgiven, since God Almighty will not acknowledge them.
hadith, the account of the punishment for those three sorts of people precedes
the account of their sins. In this way, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace
and blessings, emphasizes the gravity of their sins and warns everybody to
refrain from them. The first and most grievous of these sins is ‘trailing
one’s robe’, which signifies in the idiom of Arabic, arrogance.
means to contest with God for the rule of the earth. Man, though a weak and
poor creature - so vulnerable as to be destroyed by a micro-organism, so
powerless as to be incapable of giving life even to a blade of grass - is
usually charmed by his own abilities and skills or position or wealth or
apparent accomplishments and, is, in consequence, overcome by feelings of
conceit and pride. Though created from a drop of contemptible ‘water’ and
having no choice in the time and place of his birth, family, colour or race,
and no power over the operative needs of his body - he is unable to, for
example, overcome the commands of hunger, thirst and sleep - though man is, on
account of his weakness, endowed by God with various talents and faculties, he
attributes his accomplishments to himself and begins to contest with God for
the ownership of the creation. His arrogance eventually blinds him to
innumerable signs pointing to God’s Existence, Unity and Absolute
Sovereignty. Concerning this, the Qur’an says:
who behave arrogantly on the earth in defiance of truth - I will turn them
away from My signs: even if they see all the signs, they will not believe
in them; even if they see the way of guidance and right conduct, they will
not choose it for their way. For they rejected Our signs, and gave no heed
to them. (al-A‘raf, 7.146)
arrogance, to remind someone of the favour one has done to him is mentioned as
a grave sin. It is no doubt closely related to arrogance, for the one who
appropriates as his own the things - wealth, ability and the like - that God
has bestowed on him, tends to commit it. If, by contrast, one sincerely
regards all that he has as a gift from God, one becomes grateful to God, who
enables him to do someone a favour, and, what is more, he comes to feel
indebted to the one he has done a favour to, because he has gained spiritual
reward due to him. The hadith thus encourages people to disinterested
generosity and altruism, concerning which God’s Messenger also declares:
generous are near to God, near to Paradise, and near to people, and
distant from Hell. The miserly, however, are distant from God, distant
from Paradise, and distant from human beings, but near to Hell.16
decisively prohibits deception in trade. According to the laws of Islam, the
seller is obliged to disclose any defect in his goods for sale. Swearing by
God is also prohibited, especially in transactions. If a seller tries to sell
his goods by telling lies or making false oaths, or to stir up demand for them
by swearing by God, this is also a great sin deserving severe punishment. This
sin is, again, closely linked to the two mentioned before it, for it usually
originates in miserliness and one’s lack of recognition of God. Also, these
three sins are, besides being interconnected with unbelief in, and distrust
of, God, poisonous for social life, and indicative of weak character. Hence,
the severity of their punishment.
Bukhari records in his Sahih that God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and
guarantees to me what is between his lips and what is between his legs, I
will guarantee him Paradise.17
everybody knows, speech is one of the greatest favours of God. So, a man
should use his tongue in good and useful acts. He should recite the Qur’an;
he should pray; he should always tell the truth and enjoin the good and forbid
the evil. He should always be modest and well-mannered in the words he uses.
Also, he should restrain his tongue from uttering bad things - telling lies,
bad language, slander, and backbiting, etc. One should be very careful about
the tongue, for, as ‘Ali said: ‘Your word is dependent on you until you
utter it, but once you utter it, you will be dependent on it.’
holding one’s tongue, controlling one’s lust is also very important in
attaining human perfection and deserving Paradise. God Almighty has endowed
man with many faculties and impulses so that he might evolve spiritually by
restraining them and channelling them into good deeds and virtues, and thereby
rising to ‘the highest of the high’. By struggling against carnal desires
and striving to satisfy them in lawful ways, a man may attain the rank of
sainthood and gain superiority over angels, since angels have no carnal
desires and therefore no struggle against temptations, they do not evolve
spiritually. However, because of his essential duality, man travels between
‘the lowest of the low’ - to become even more wretched than Satan - and
‘the highest of the high’, to surpass even angels.
Islam bans or blocks up the ways leading to forbidden acts, one should refrain
from such acts as displaying one’s beauties and staring at the opposite sex,
and also being alone with someone of the opposite sex in a private place such
as may encourage illicit relationships. Like holding one’s tongue, this also
requires strong will-power, self-discipline and continuous struggle against
the carnal self. Even though it seems, at first sight, too difficult, it will
give one great spiritual pleasure as the pleasure of labour and struggle lies
in labour and struggle themselves, and consequently make one deserving of
Muslim records God’s Messenger to have said:
Shall I guide you to the things through which God blots out sins and
elevates you to higher ranks? ‘Please, do so, God’s Messenger’, the
Companions said. The Prophet continued: Doing wudu as correctly as
possible even in the most adverse conditions, walking to the mosque for
each prayer, and expecting the next one after performing the one before.
This is the ribat, this is the ribat.18
hadith begins with ‘Listen!’ to draw attention to the importance of what
is going to be said. What the Prophet attaches so much importance to in this
hadith is the five daily prayers.
prescribed prayer is the pillar of the religion, without which religion cannot
be maintained. When it is performed correctly, it prevents a believer from all
kinds of immoralities and indecencies. It is also a sacred ladder, through
which a Muslim can rise high to the Presence of God. So, in order to begin to
climb this ladder, a believer should do wudu, ritual ablution, in the best way
possible. From the first step towards wudu, a believer begins to gain reward.
While washing the parts of his body that he must wash in wudu, he is relieved
of the stress of daily life and cleansed of his sins. The wudu performed in
difficult circumstances, for example, in severe cold, gives greater
call to prayer, adhan, is, in essence, the call for believers to enter the
Presence or Court of God, and a call to prosperity in both worlds. Wudu is the
preparation which a believer must make before entering this Presence. By
performing the supererogatory prayer before the prescribed one, the believer
completes his preparations and through it gets the permission from the
aide-de-camp of the Owner of the Court, that is, the Prophet Muhammad, upon
him be peace and blessings. When the muazzin (caller to prayer) announces the
beginning of the prayer with almost the same words as adhan, he enters the
Presence with utmost respect and reverence and converses with the Unique Owner
of the whole universe and petitions Him for his needs and desires. This is the
prayer which a believer performs five times a day. Through the prayer, his
sins are blotted out and his potential to commit sins is changed into the ‘seeds’
of ‘blessed trees of good and virtues’. There is, however, a condition for
obtaining this result. The prayer must be performed with utmost sincerity,
with pure intention of gaining God’s good pleasure, and in awareness of
being in the Presence of the Creator and Owner of the whole universe, who is
the All-Powerful, the All-Knowing, the All-Seeing, the All-Hearing, and the
Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, describes the prescribed prayer as
ribat. Ribat means one’s dedication to something, as well as watching guards
at the frontier. It is mentioned in the holy Qur’an as, for example, in the
you who believe! Persevere in patience and vie in such perseverance; and
be alert and prepared for jihad; and fear God, so that you may prosper. (Al
them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including
horses dedicated to war. (al-Anfal, 8.60)
first of the verses, ribat is used in the meaning of being alert and prepared;
in the second, dedicated. By describing the prayer as ribat, God’s
Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, draws attention to the value and
importance of struggling in the way of God and also to the place the
prescribed prayer holds in the religion and in the life of a believer. In
another hadith, he calls the latter ‘the greater jihad’, and the former
‘the lesser jihad’. In order to be successful in the former, a believer
must be very attentive in performing the latter. Besides, God’s Messenger,
upon him be peace and blessings, also emphasizes, by describing the prescribed
prayer as ribat, that one should dedicate one’s life to Divine worship and
organize it according to the prayer; he should arrange his schedule around the
five daily prayers. He should always be alert to perform his prayers without
any neglect and with full attention; after he prays, he should be in the
expectation of the next one. When performed in this way, the prescribed
prayers will purify him of all his sins and, more than that, prevent him from
committing any sins. They will then be, as another hadith says, like a miraj,
the ascension to the Presence of God.
related by Bukhari, God’s Messenger said:
says: ‘I have prepared for my righteous servants such things that
neither eyes have seen, nor ears have heard, nor minds have imagined,
is the place of surprises. The Qur’an tells us of the bounties of Paradise
using names familiar to us, so as to make them comprehensible to us. Whereas,
as Ibn ‘Abbas pointed out to interpret the Qur’anic verse, They are given
things in similitude (al-Baqara, 2.25), the bounties of Paradise are
particular to Paradise in nature and taste, although they are, in appearance,
like their counterparts in the world. The believers will be rewarded in
Paradise with ever-renewed bounties and, above all, they will observe God free
from any qualitative and quantitative dimensions. An instant of this
observation will surpass, in delight and blessing, thousands of years of life
in Paradise. And, being the greatest of the bounties of Paradise, God will be
pleased with believers for ever and never be angry with them.
order to deserve Paradise, one should be righteous. Righteousness means being
upright in all one’s deeds and doing everything intact, without any defect
or fault. A righteous believer never tells lies, never deceives anybody, and
is completely reliable. God is confident that he performs his religious duties
as carefully as possible, and refrains from all His prohibitions. All the
creatures, including human beings, animals and plants, are also confident that
he never does them any harm; whatever he does, he does it in full awareness
that God Almighty is overseeing him. Since he has gained the good pleasure of
his Lord, he is included in those for whom God says in the hadith in question,
‘My righteous servants’. That is, he is among those servants whom God
loves and, because He loves them, ‘He is their eyes with which they see,
their ears with which they hear, their hands with which they hold, and their
feet on which they walk’.
multiplies the good deeds of His servants and gives, in certain circumstances,
as many as millions of rewards for each one of them. So, they will meet in
Paradise such bounties as they never imagined while in the world.
¨ In a
hadith related by Bukhari and Muslim, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and
is surrounded by troubles and tribulations, and Hell is folded in
and Hell are, in essence, each a blessing for man, for man refrains from the
prohibitions of God for fear of Hell, and performs His commands in the hope of
Paradise. However, it requires self-discipline and a strict intellectual and
spiritual training to be saved from the punishment of Hell and to deserve the
bounties of Paradise.
says that human beings are tempted by love of the opposite sex, of children,
of hoarded treasures of gold and silver, of splendid mounts, cattle and
plantations (Al ‘Imran, 3.14). Man has a natural attachment to life
and all its pleasures. Hell is an abode of torments in the attractive setting
of all those enticing lures and pleasures. If man is captivated by these
pleasures and lives to satisfy them in any way possible, he is lured towards
Hell. Man easily reaches Hell as its path goes through worldly attractions of
Paradise, it is surrounded by, or the route to it goes through, troubles and
tribulations. In order to reach it, man, first of all, must struggle with his
carnal self so that he won’t be distracted by worldly attractions. It should
be known that the way to Hell is part of the way to Paradise. Man must travel
all the way to Hell without allowing any of its attractions to seduce him.
This requires self-discipline and continuous struggle against the temptations
of the world combined with the desires of his carnal self. Whenever he is
invited by the enjoyments and luxuries of the world like fame, wealth and
positions and posts, he must struggle to restrict himself to the boundaries
set by Divine Commandments. He must continue to carry out his duties like
praying, fasting, alms-giving, and (if possible) pilgrimage to the Ka‘ba,
and fair-dealing, honesty, truthfulness, kindness to the poor, the needy and
orphans, and enjoining the good and forbidding the evil. He must also refrain
from deception, usury, gambling, drinking alcohol, backbiting, hypocrisy and
every form of injustice. He should not think that he will be left without
being tested. God will test him with afflictions and something of fear and
hunger, and loss in goods or lives or in the fruits of his toil and earnings
(the Qur’an, 2.155). In order to reach Paradise, he should equip himself
with both perseverance in bearing the afflictions, performing the obligations,
and refraining from sins, and thanking God for all His bounties and blessings.
All of these virtuous acts are detestable to man’s carnal self. In sum, all
the arguments summarized above are expressed in this concise saying of God’s
Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings:
is surrounded by troubles and tribulations, and Hell is folded in
Tirmidhi relates that God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings,
counsel you to fear God and to give obedience even if a black slave
becomes your leader. Verily he among you who lives long enough will see
great controversy, so you must keep to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the
rightly-guided Caliphs - cling to them stubbornly. Beware of newly
invented matters in religion, for every invented matter is an innovation
and every innovation is going astray and every going astray is in
Arabic word translated here as ‘fear of God’ is taqwa. Derived from
wiqaya, meaning protection, taqwa means to be in the
safe-keeping or protection of God. This has two aspects. The first is that a
man fears God and obeys Him by performing His commands and refraining from His
prohibitions. The second aspect of taqwa is that, by studying nature and life
and discovering God’s laws controlling them, people find scientific
knowledge and order their lives. The establishment of sciences depends upon
the discovery of these laws. In order to be under the safe-keeping of God, the
true religion and sciences should be combined, for they are two faces or two
expressions of a single truth. According to Muslim sages and scholars, the
universe where God’s laws issuing from His Attributes of Will, Destiny and
Power are operative, is ‘the created Qur’an’, and the Qur’an, which is
the collection of the Divine laws issuing from God’s Attribute of Speech, is
‘the composed universe’ or ‘the universe in words’.
second point which the hadith emphasizes is that believers should refrain from
disobedience to their government unless it is absolutely necessary. Without a
leader, a community is like the beads of a rosary scattered everywhere, and
social and political conflicts usually result in anarchy and destruction. In
addition to this, the hadith points to a truth which even modern democracies
cannot grasp. Islam does not permit racial discrimination, and therefore an
emancipated black slave could be the leader of the Muslim ummah. Islamic
history is filled with examples of this: many great saints, administrators and
scholars have appeared among black people and been respected and obeyed by
Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, draws attention, as a third point,
to his Sunnah. He is the most excellent example to be followed in all aspects
of life, until the Last Day. Following his example guarantees that Islam
retains its original purity. Any deviation from the Prophet’s way will
certainly result in social and doctrinal splits and new importations to Islam,
which God declared He had perfected (the Qur’an, 5.3). Adherence to the way
of the first four Caliphs, may God be pleased with them, is another guarantee
of the unity of Muslims and the maintenance of Islam. This hadith also
contains a prediction, that the first four of his successors would be ‘rightly-guided’;
that disobedience to them would cause internal splits, as later proved to be
true by the uprisings during the caliphate of ‘Uthman and ‘Ali.
Bukhari and Muslim relate God’s Messenger to have said:
believer is not bitten twice from the same hole.22
believer has insight, perceptiveness and intelligence. He is a man of sound
reasoning as well as a man of spiritual insight. The community of believers
have, and should have, the same perceptiveness and they should always be aware
of the dangers which might befall them. They may be deceived once, but through
insight and awareness which belief provides, they cannot, and should not, be
deceived twice. This hadith contains a significant warning for the Muslims of
today, who have been deceived for centuries by the unbelievers of the West and
the hypocrites (Communists) of the East. It is time for them to take control
of their own affairs and to review the quality of their belief once more.
following hadith, which is recorded by Bukhari and Muslim, calls
educationalists to re-evaluate their methods:
beings are like the ore of silver or gold. Those who are promising and in
leading positions in unbelief are better than the others (excel the others
in virtue) when they accept Islam and acquire a good understanding of it.23
hadith is very significant, especially, with respect to education. A good
education demands, on the part of educators, insight and perceptiveness, as
the Qur’an quotes God’s Messenger to have said:
is my way: I call unto God with insight and sure knowledge -- I and those
who follow me.’ (Yusuf, 12.108)
implies knowing the character, potential and shortcomings of each individual.
Human beings are not all alike in character, capacity, ambitions and tastes.
Among them are those who contain, so to speak, coal or copper or silver, or
gold or diamond. So, the first step in providing good education is to
recognize individual potentialities, and then comes the stage of developing
them. Just as you cannot obtain gold from a coal-mine, neither can you develop
a man with the potentiality of ‘copper’, to become ‘gold’. Conversely,
if you apply to ‘gold ore’ the process for extracting ‘copper’, you
will waste a talent.
should also note that a man with great potentialities distinguishes himself
wherever he is. Because of this, those who are, as ‘Umar was, in the
forefront of unbelief, usually come into leading positions after they convert
to Islam, provided their potential for virtue is refined and developed fully
in the ‘crucible’ of Islam.
another hadith, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, said:
God grants the wrongdoer a reprieve, but once He seizes him, He utterly
destroys him.” Then, he recited this verse: Such is the chastisement
of your Lord when He chastises communities in the midst of their wrong:
grievous, indeed, and severe is His chastisement (Hud, 11.102).24
gives some respite to wrongdoers, a chance to repent and amend. If they
persist in wrongdoing and do not improve themselves, then God’s punishment
are sometimes a ‘sword of God’, with which God punishes the sinful. Often
Muslims become the target of wrongdoing powers, when they deviate from the
truth and fail to perform Divine Commandments. In order not to defer the trial
of Muslims for their sins to the Day of Judgement, God usually punishes them
in this world. For example, when they were split into many factions struggling
with each other, nine centuries ago, they were exposed to the Mongol invasion
and massacre. Likewise, they tasted the bitterness of an overall defeat and
subjugation during and after the First World War as a result of their failure
to practice Islam in their lives and of their surrender, intellectual,
spiritual and material, to the West. However, every misfortune befalling
Muslims is, on account of being a result of sinfulness, an occasion and means
for self-purification and Divine forgiveness, and the beginning of a new, more
splendid revival. So, the near future will witness, by God’s Will, the
collapse of wrongdoing powers and a magnificent revival of Islam and the
an authentic Tradition, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings,
(groups) of people: God will shade them under His shade on the Day when
there will be no shade except His: the just ruler; the young man who has
grown up in worship of God, may He be glorified; the man greatly attached
to mosques; the two persons who love each other for God's sake, and meet
and then leave each other because of this love; the man who refuses the
invitation of a beautiful woman of rank, saying, ‘I fear God’; the man
who spends in the way of God so secretly that when he gives in charity to
the one on his left, the one on the right does not see it; and the man
whose eyes fill with tears when he mentions God in seclusion.25
will be drowned in sweat up to their necks under the heat of the Day of
Judgement. Those who wish for His shade, must strive and this hadith explains
is the foundation of social life and a just ruler is a rare occurrence. Holy
and blessed indeed is a young man who restrains his carnal desires and devotes
himself to the worship of God. Designing one’s life to fit the times of the
daily prayers is a laudable virtue pleasing to God Almighty. Another important
quality is that, especially in a world of individualism and selfishness,
people love each other for God’s sake and regard the earth as a ‘cradle of
brotherhood’. Chastity, refraining from illicit intercourse, needs
self-discipline and is so meritorious as to elevate one to ‘the highest of
the high’. Alms-giving purely for God’s sake and without showing off is a
good deed to which Islam gives almost as much encouragement as belief and the
prescribed prayer. Meditation and continuous supervision of one’s deeds,
accompanied by tears shed for the fear of God, prevent one from committing
sins and make him worthy of Paradise.
is kind to, and has favours for, everyone; whatever people have, it is from
God. Nevertheless, He bestowed some special favours on each Prophet and
community according to the dictates of the time. For example, Adam was
favoured with knowledge of the ‘names’, that is, the keys to all branches
of knowledge. Noah was endowed with steadfastness and perseverance. Abraham
was honoured with intimate friendship with God and being the father of
numerous Prophets. Moses was given the capability of administration and
exalted through being the direct addressee of God, and Jesus was distinguished
with patience, tolerance and compassion. All the Prophets have, however, some
share in the praiseworthy qualities mentioned, but each of them surpasses, on
account of his mission, the others in one or more than one of those qualities.
the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, he has all the
qualities mentioned above, except being the father of Prophets, and in
addition, he has, because of the universality of his mission, a distinction in
the following five ways.
related by Bukhari, he says:
have been given five things which were not given to anybody before me: God
helps me by implanting fear in the heart of my enemies at a distance of
one month’s walk; earth has been made a place of worship and means of
cleaning for me, so whenever the time of a prescribed prayer comes, any
member of my community may perform it wherever he is (indoors or
outdoors); spoils of war have been made lawful for me, although they were
not lawful for anyone before me; I have been given the right to intercede
(with God on behalf of believing people), and, while every Prophet (before
me) was sent to his people exclusively, I have been sent to the whole of
possible to deduce the following things from this hadith:
Prophethood is absolutely a Divine favour, which God bestows on whomever
The five things mentioned in the hadith are particular to the Muslim
To implant fear in the hearts of enemies at a great distance depends on
the maintenance of the utmost sincerity and strict devotion to the cause
of God, as was witnessed in the Happy Time of the Prophet, upon him be
peace and blessings, and his true successors in later times.
Islam does not recognize any intermediaries in worship between God and
the servant, and therefore there has not been in Islam a church, an
organized, professional clergy. However, besides saintly persons who may
be given the right of intercession for certain Muslims by God on the Day
of Judgement, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, will
enjoy the right of all-inclusive intercession for believing members of
The spoils of war, forbidden to the previous communities as a means of
trial, are lawful for the Muslims, because they are charged with
struggling in the way of God until the Last Day, and conveying the
Message to the remotest corners of the world.
While the mission of the previous Prophets had been restricted to a
certain people and time, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and
blessings, was sent as a mercy for all the worlds.
Tirmidhi, “Qiyamah,” 59.
Tirmidhi, “Zuhd,” 25.
3. Bukhari, “Adab,”
69; Muslim, “Birr,” 105; Abu Dawud, “Adab,” 80.
4. Bukhari, “Adab,” 96; Muslim, “Birr,” 165.
5. Bukhari, “Hudud,” 4,5.
Tirmidhi, “Birr,” 55; I. Hanbal, 5.153.
7. Hindi, Kanz
8. Bukhari, “Bad‘u
l-Wahy,” 1; Muslim, “‘Imara,” 155; Abu Dawud, “Talaq,” 11.
Dahabi, Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, 1.61, 109.
Bukhari, “Iman,” 4.
11. Tirmidhi, “Zuhd,” 11; I. Maja, “Fitan,” 12.
Bukhari, “Iman,” 37; Muslim, “Iman,” 1.
13. Bukhari, “Jana’iz,” 43; Muslim, “Jana’iz,” 14, 15.
14. Bukhari, “Wasa’ya’,”
9, “Zakat,” 18; Muslim, “Zakat,” 94; I. Hanbal, 2.4.
15. Muslim, “Iman,”
171-4; Suyuti, al-Fath al-Kabir, 2.57.
16. Tirmidhi, “Birr,”
Bukhari, “Riqaq,” 23.
18. Muslim, “Tahara,”
41; Tirmidhi, “Tahara,” 39.
Bukhari, “Tawhid,” 35.
20. Bukhari, “Riqaq,”
28; Muslim, “Janna,” 1.
“‘Ilm,” 16; for different versions, see, I. Maja, “Muqaddima,”
22. Bukhari, “Adab,”
83; Muslim, “Zuhd,” 63.
23. Bukhari, “Manaqib,” 1; Muslim, “Birr,” 160; I. Hanbal, 2.539.
24. Bukhari, “Tafsir,”
5; Muslim, “Birr,” 61.
25. Bukhari, “Adhan,” 36; Muslim, “Zakat,” 91; Tirmidhi, “Zuhd,”
26. Bukhari, “Tayammum,”
1, “Salat,” 56.