Actions and Consequences

قال الله عز وجل: { أَفَمَنْ كَانَ مُؤْمِنًا كَمَنْ كَانَ فَاسِقًا لَا يَسْتَوُونَ * أَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ الْمَأْوَى نُزُلًا بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ * وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فَسَقُوا فَمَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ كُلَّمَا أَرَادُوا أَنْ يَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا أُعِيدُوا فِيهَا وَقِيلَ لَهُمْ ذُوقُوا عَذَابَ النَّارِ الَّذِي كُنْتُمْ بِهِ تُكَذِّبُونَ * وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُمْ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَدْنَى دُونَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَكْبَرِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ  } سورة السجدة 18-21.

Allah the Exalted says: {Then is one who was a believer like one who was defiantly disobedient? They are not equal. As for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, for them are Gardens of Abode as an accommodation for what they used to do. But as for those who defiantly disobeyed, their abode will be Hell-Fire. Every time they wish to emerge from it, they will be returned to it, and it will be said to them: “Taste the torment of the Fire which you used to deny.” And verily, We will make them taste of the near (worldly) lighter torment prior to the greater torment, in order that they may return} (Surah 32, verses 18-21).

وعن عبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه عن النبيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « إنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ قَدْ يَئِسَ أَنْ تُعْبَدُ الأَصْنَامُ فِي أَرْضِ العَرَبِ، ولكِنَّهُ سَيَرْضَى مِنْكُمْ بِدُونِ ذلِكَ، بِالمُحَقَّرَاتِ، وهِيَ المُوبِقَاتُ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ» الحديث.  رواه أبو يعلى والطبراني والبيهقي.

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Satan despaired of idols being worshipped in the Arabian Peninsula, but he will pleased with less than that from you: with the belittled sins (muhaqirat), and they are the destructive sins (mubiqat) on the Day of Judgment. ”  Related by Al-Tabarani, Abu-Ya’la and Al-Bayhaqi.

When we consider peace and order in worldly communities and societies, we find that order cannot be achieved except through laws and regulations.  Thus, a minor offense is prevented by imposing monetary fines on such a transgression, while more serious offenses receive greater sentences as a preventive measure. Those who commit these crimes are then handed prison sentences as a punishment for the offender and as a deterrent for others. Most often these offenses and transgressions entail harming oneself and/or others. These laws and regulations are implemented to protect the individual and the community as a whole. Those who try to harm themselves or other individuals in the community are punished. Those who disrupt the harmony of the community and try to bring disorder and violence to the community by breaking these rules and regulations are disciplined.  Thus, every member of the community has responsibilities and rights that must be observed, and when any member of the community violates these rights, there are consequences. Those who keep the law and order are lauded as good community members who are eligible to take leading roles, while those who violate these rules are considered disruptive members who must face the consequence of their actions so that they may then reform and act righteously.

The same analogy applies to religion.  Allah (God) in His Most Wise and Divine Knowledge and Authority prescribed certain rules and regulations to be followed. Most of these regulations are in the form of sacred texts revealed to prophets and messengers; many of these center on worshipping Allah alone and obeying His commands. Just like laws and regulations are important to keep the community safe, religious rules and regulations are essential to keep humanity harmonious.

Among the rules that Allah revealed to all prophets are the Ten Commandments.  The Ten Commandments were revealed in the Torah, the Bible, and the Qur’an.

Narrated Ka’b Al-Ahbar: “The first thing that was revealed of the Torah are ten verses, and they are same ten verses mentioned in Surah Al-An’am (Qur’an): {Say (O Muhammad): “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you:

  • Do not join anything in worship with Him;
  • Be good and dutiful to your parents;
  • Do not kill your children out of poverty – We provide sustenance for you and for them;
  • Do not come near to shameful deeds (adultery), whether committed openly or secretly;
  • Do not kill anyone whom Allah has forbidden (to be killed), except for a just cause: thus does He command you, that you may use wisdom.
  • And do not come near the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he attains the age of full maturity;
  • Give full measure and full weight with justice – We do not burden any person but that which he can bear;
  • Whenever you speak (testify), speak justly even if a near relative is concerned;
  • And fulfill the Covenant of Allah: thus does He command you that you may remember} (Surah 6, verses 151-153).”

The Ten Commandments ensure justice and peace on earth, but when they are violated injustice and mischief spread through the land. And like the violation of worldly laws results in consequences, violation of the rules of Allah also results in consequences. Allah the Exalted says:

{And verily, We will make them taste of the near (worldly) lighter torment prior to the greater torment, in order that they may return} (Surah 32, verse 21).

Ubayy Ibn Ka’b said: “The near worldly torment are problems and troubles in the worldly life.”  Therefore, when the commandments of Allah are violated, and His rules and regulations are broken, torment in this life is sent in the form of troubles and problems that strike the son of Adam and leave him in pain and agony.  And if the son of Adam continues as before and insists on violating the rules of Allah, then there is punishment after death in the grave and in Hell–we seek refuge in Allah from that.

Nowadays, there is a general trend of dissociating the consequences from their actions. Some Muslims may violate more than one rule of Allah, and may be given a reprieve and a chance to repent at first. But when they insist on committing the sin, they may be punished for it and afflicted with a calamity. Instead of reflecting on their previous actions, they wonder why they were affected in particular and why that problem afflicted them. But the true believer understands that problems and troubles are a test and an expiation. Problems remind the Muslim of the need to return to Allah and to repent of all sins. Troubles urge the Muslim to seek the help of Allah and get closer to Him, and they remind the Muslim of the life to come and the need to prepare for that eternal life.

Thus, Allah is the Most Merciful and Most Kind and always gives His slaves a chance after chance before punishment.  Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, screens the sinning slave at first and gives him a chance to repent and return to religion. Allah the Exalted with his vast mercy forgives and continues to forgive, but when the son of Adam insists on turning away and committing sins then the slave is punished. And even then, Allah’s mercy surrounds the slave and He in His Most Glory awaits the slave’s repentance patiently and expectantly.  Allah the Exalted says:

{And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much} (Surah 42, verse 30).

The scholar Ibn Kathir said: “The verse means: ‘Whatever disasters happen to you, O mankind, are because of sins that you have committed in the past.’ (And He pardons much) means: ‘He does not punish you for all of your sins, rather He forgives much.’

Narrated Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘If a person commits many sins and has nothing that will expiate for them, Allah will test him with some grief that will expiate for them.’ Related by Imam Ahmad.”

As the first verse states, the obedient believer and the sinful are never equal, just like the law abiding person is not equal to the criminal. The Mu’min is characterized by having fear of Allah that makes him loathe sins and stay away from them. And in case he slips, he soon repents.  Allah the Exalted says:

 {And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins. And none can forgive sins but Allah, and they do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know}

(Surah 3, verse 135).

Al-Baghawi said: ‘They remember the punishment of Allah and that He will ask them about their actions (so they stop themselves).”  Thus, the Mu’min is the person who doesn’t insist on a sin. It is true that humans are weak and prone to slips and falls, but the Muslim remembers the consequences of disobeying Allah both in this life and the Hereafter, and thus repents of the sin as soon as possible. The Muslim shows regret and remorse and promises Allah never to commit that sin again. And in case he commits another sin (whether the same or different), then he repents a second time, and a third time, until he repents of all sins. When the Muslim reaches this state, then Allah with His Great Mercy and Infinite Forgiveness will erase the sin from his record and grants him purity and sweetness of faith.

The Prophet ﷺ instructs us in the hadith above never to belittle sins, no matter how minor they are. SubhanaAllah, in our age some have started to belittle even the major sins! Some started considering major sins as minor sins and do not think much of committing them. We need to consider the severe consequences that may follow such behavior.

Narrated Ubada Ibn As-Samit, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, a group of my nation will spend the night in merriment, wantonness, play, and forbidden entertainment, and so they will get up in the morning transformed into monkeys and pigs for considering lawful (and violating) the things Allah has forbidden, for taking on female singers, for drinking wine, eating usury, and wearing silk (for men).” Related by Ahmad and Al-Tabarani.

We see the direct cause-effect relationship between actions and their consequences in this hadith. The righteous people among the first Muslim generation (Sahaba) showed great concern over even minor sins and took great pains to avoid them. But now we show even less concern for major sins, and do not consider the enormity of disobeying the Mighty One.  The remedy of this affliction lies in frequent pondering and reflection.  Every day the Muslim should think of the sins he committed during the day and night, and should then make istighfar (ask Allah’s forgiveness) for them.  Only then will the Muslim realize his negligence and shortcomings.  Once he realizes that, then the Muslim should strive to please Allah by obeying His commands and staying away from things He has forbidden.  The Muslim should always keep in mind the good consequences of following Allah’s commands (both in this life and the Hereafter), and the dire consequences of disobeying Allah’s commands (both in this life and the Hereafter).  We pray Allah to guide us to the Right Path and grant us Paradise, and Allah knows best.

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The Highest Level: Ihsan

قال الله عز وجل: { هَلْ جَزَاء الْإِحْسَانِ إِلَّا الْإِحْسَانُ} سورة الرحمن 60.

Allah the Exalted says: {Is the reward for good (Ihsan) anything other than good?} (Surah 55, verse 60).

Narrated Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him: “Once while we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, a man appeared before us, dressed in pure white clothes, with dark black hair, without any sign of travel. None of us recognized him. He sat with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, resting his knees against the knees of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and placed his palms on the thighs of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and said: ‘O Muhammad, inform me about Islam.’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘Islam is to testify that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah and that Muhammad ﷺ is the messenger of Allah, and to establish prayer, to pay Zakah (the obligatory charity), to fast the month of Ramadan, and to perform pilgrimage to Makkah if you are capable of it.’ The man said: ‘You have said the truth.’  Umar said: We wondered at him, first asking and then confirming it as the truth!

Then the man said: ‘Inform me about faith (Iman).’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘It is to truly believe in Allah, in His angels, in His Books, in His messengers, in the Hereafter, and in the Divine Decree, the good of it and the bad of it.’

The man said: ‘You have said the truth. [Now] inform me about Ihsan.’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

‘It is to worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, for though you do not see Him, He, verily, sees you.’

The man said: ‘Inform me about the Hour (of the Day of Judgment).’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘The one asked about it knows no more than the inquirer.’ The man said: ‘Tell me some of its indications and signs.’  The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘That the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress and master, and that you will find barefooted, destitute goat-herders vying with one another in the construction of magnificent buildings.’  Umar said: Then the man went on his way and I stayed with the Messenger of Allah for a long while.

The Messenger of Allah then said to me: ‘O Umar, do you know who the inquirer was?’ I replied: Allah and His Messenger know best.’  He said: ‘That was Angel Gabriel who came to you in order to instruct you in matters of your religion.’ ”

(Related by Muslim, Abu Dawud, and Ahmad).

———–

In this beautiful and eloquent hadith, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ summarizes the main tenets of Islam and its major foundation.  The scholars said this incident occurred towards the end of the Prophet’s life, to clarify and summarize the important pillars of this deen.  Angel Gabriel and the Prophet ﷺ divided the tenets of Islam into three levels: Islam, Iman (faith), and Ihsan.  If we think of them as levels, then the basic level is Islam, the middle higher level is Iman, and the highest level is Ihsan.  Like any other structure, the highest level can be reached only after perfecting the levels before it.

The three concepts of Islam, Iman, and Ihsan are not limited to the spiritual heart; rather, they are firm beliefs of the heart but also actions by the limbs.  In other words, the belief in the heart must translate into good deeds and acts.  For example, one of the pillars of Islam is the Prayer. So the Muslim must believe in the importance and obligation of the Five Daily Prayers, but his Islam would not be perfect until he physically perfects his prayer.  Likewise, one of the pillars of Iman is the belief in Qadr (Divine Decree or pre-destiny), but Iman would not be perfect until the Muslim learns not to complain in the face of adversaries and calamities but instead to bear them patiently and seek Allah’s help. Finally, the Muslim has firm belief in the concept of Ihsan, and that Allah the Exalted is always watching him and his actions, but the Muslim’s Ihsan would not be complete until he translates that belief into action and starts fulfilling Allah’s commands by performing obligations (wajibat) and avoiding actions Allah has forbidden (sins).

 

One of the ninety-nine Honorable Names of Allah is: الرقيب (the Ever-Watchful). Allah is also: البصير (the All-Seeing), السميع (the All-Hearing), العليم (the All-Knower), and الخبير (the All-Aware).  That is, every creature is under the constant watch and continuous surveillance of Allah, the Exalted.  This watch never ceases and is never interrupted, as Allah is the Perfect God and neither sleep nor slumber affects Him.  Furthermore, Allah the Almighty has assigned two angels for every human, who write his good and bad deeds in a special record that will be presented to the slave on the Day of Judgment.  Thus, nothing of the slave’s actions is ever missed by Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.  Allah the Exalted says in Qur’an:

{Truly, nothing is hidden from Allah, in the earth or in the heavens} (Surah 3, verse 5).

This sense of being under the constant watch of Allah the Most High, and the resulting attention to one’s actions, is called Ihsan.  Ihsan has two parts: First is the belief that we are being watched by Allah the Exalted all the time. And second is the sense of shyness and the effort to follow Allah’s commands and avoid sins that results from realizing Allah is watching at all times.

 

Once the Muslim realizes he or she is under the constant watch of Allah, the Muslim tries his best to show respect and reverence to the One Who is watching. The Muslim feels shy of disobeying the Mighty One who is watching. Moreover, the Muslim tries her best to be in the best form and shape before the Only Lord and true God. So the Muslim tries to do as many good deeds as possible and do them only to please Allah Who is watching him during the day and night, during the morning and evening, in public and in private and on all occasions. This then develops into him a deep and heightened sense of Divine awareness that brings with it a higher level of piety (taqwa), righteousness (salah), and Iman (faith) such that he feels close to Allah all the time and spends most of his time trying to please his Lord by doing good deeds and avoiding sins. This condition then is called Ihsan, and it is as mentioned above the highest level of the religion.

This elevated level of Ihsan requires struggle and fending off the desires of the Evil tempting Self and the temptations of Satan and the devils.  Ihsan requires perfecting the stages of Islam and Iman (faith) first, then gradually building one’s Ihsan. Ihsan requires constant reminder of this continued watch by making Dhikr and glorifying Allah all the time, as well as daily repentance and frequent istighfar (seeking forgiveness from Allah) and asking Allah for the favor of this special state.

It is not an easy task, but Allah’s rewards are not cheap, either. In return for this struggle, Allah provides blessings both in this world, represented by a peaceful contented life, and in the Hereafter through the highest levels in Jannah or Paradise.  We pray Allah to guide us to the Right Path and grant us from His Favor.  And Allah knows best.

Reward and Punishment

قال الله عز وجل: { وَمَا أَصَابَكُمْ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَيَعْفُو عَنْ كَثِيرٍ} سورة الشورى 30.

Allah the Exalted says: { And whatever misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned, but Allah pardons much} (Surah 42, verse 30).

وعن بريدة الأسلمي رضي الله عنه قال: سمعتُ رسولَ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم يقولُ: « ما أصابَ رجلًا من المسلمين نكبةٌ فما فوقها- حتى ذكر الشوكة- إلا لإحدى خصلتين: إلا ليغفرَ الله من الذنوبِ ذنبًا لم يكن ليغفرَ الله له إلا بمثل ذلك، أو يبلغَ به من الكرامة كرامةً لم يكن يبلغها إلا بمثل ذلك».  رواه ابن أبي الدنيا والبيهقي.

Narrated Burayda Al-Aslami, may Allah be pleased with him: “I heard the Prophet ﷺ say: ‘Whatsoever small misfortune or greater than it–he even mentioned a thorn–befalls a Muslim for two reasons: Either so that Allah forgives a sin that He would have not forgiven except for that, or to make him attain honor that he would not have attained except for that.’ ”  Related by Ibn Abi Ad-Dunya and Al-Bayhaqi.

———–

In the Qur’an, Allah the Exalted states that He created this life as a test for belief and disbelief, for obedience and disobedience, for righteousness and evil. Part of the test is that this worldly (dunya) life is never perfect: beside its happiness there is sadness; beside its richness there is poverty; beside its fortunes there are misfortunes, and beside its pleasures there is adversity. Then the human is tested in how he acts in every situation–the levels of her faith, piety, patience, and devotion to God are measured and recorded.  Based on the actions of the human and the Perfect Judgment of God, humanity is then either rewarded with Paradise or punished with Hell on the Day of Judgment.

This worldly life is not a lawless place where man can rule free; rather, in every era, Allah the Exalted sent messengers with Divine instructions to lead mankind to guidance and to the path of eternal bliss in the Hereafter.  The Qur’an mentions many prophets and their Divine messages.  We read about the story of Adam, whom Allah created with His Own Exalted Hand from mud and blew the soul into him to bring life to him. We read about the first instruction to humans in the form of staying away from the forbidden tree.

Due to human nature being prone to slips and falls, Prophet Adam was tempted by Satan and ate from the tree, and was then moved from Paradise to the earth. But just as human nature is prone to slips and falls, it is also inclined to righteousness and repentance. Indeed, just as there is a dark side to the soul, there is a countering good side as well. Thus, Prophet Adam spent forty days on earth in prostration, crying in repentance to God. Allah the Most Merciful bestowed His mercy and forgiveness upon Adam and Eve and instructed them to act righteously on earth. Ever since, every nation and generation has received a Messenger and an accompanying Divine book with the instructions and commandments of God. There were many prophets who came as warners to their people, including Prophet Noah, Prophet Moses, Prophet Isa (Jesus), Prophet Abraham, Prophet David, Prophet Solomon, and many others. The last Prophet and Messenger of Allah is Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the seal of prophets who has been sent to humankind at large until the end of time.

If we read about previous nations, we see that some nations followed the guidance their prophets brought them from God and gained eternal bliss, while others refused to obey and were punished both in this life and the Hereafter. In the Qur’an we read some of the stories of the people who were punished, like the story of people of Noah who were destroyed with the Great Flood, the story of the people of Thamud who were annihilated with the Piercing Cry, the story of the people of Aad who were destroyed with the Violent Wind, the story of Pharaoh who was drowned, and many others.

Allah the Exalted mentioned the stories of the nations before us in Qur’an so that we take heed and act righteously. These true stories are great lessons for us, and forewarn us of the consequences of our actions. Indeed, we see the effects of our actions in this life before the Hereafter.  In the above verse, Allah the Exalted states that a lot of corruption and evil we see on earth is a direct consequence of disobedience to God.  These consequences can appear in the form of misfortunes and adversity (though we should realize that misfortunes can also be a test for the righteous).  Therefore, we are instructed to repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness frequently during the day and night, but more so during times of difficulty and adversity.  Allah the Exalted says:

}وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَى أُمَمٍ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ فَأَخَذْنَاهُمْ بِالْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَضَرَّعُونَ * فَلَوْلَا إِذْ جَاءَهُمْ بَأْسُنَا تَضَرَّعُوا وَلَكِنْ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ{

{Verily, We sent (Messengers) to many nations before you (O Prophet Muhammad). And We seized them with poverty and hardship so that they may believe with humility.

Then why, when Our Torment reached them, did they not believe with humility? Instead, their hearts became hardened, and Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing} (Surah 6, verse 42-43).

Thus, Allah the Exalted instructs us to turn back to Him during time of difficulty and adversity, and to seek His forgiveness and mercy with greater degree of humility and pleading.  But that must be accompanied by repentance, true repentance that dictates leaving the sin or sins that may have led to these consequences. When struck with a calamity or difficulty, the Muslim is instructed to seek forgiveness and mercy from Allah, to repent of sins, and then to seek His help and aid.

The time of difficulty is a time of reflection, a time of looking back at our actions, a time of carefully considering which rules of Allah we aren’t following.

As the verse above states, sometimes adversity and difficulty are just a reminder for the Muslim to abandon sins and repent to Allah. But when the human continues to act as before and tries to ignore the consequences of bad actions and finds no link between the two, then the situation may worsen–we seek refuge with Allah.  On the other hand, when the Muslim takes heed and starts by purifying his own self and then seeks Allah’s help, Allah will find him a way out of every difficulty and provides him from whence he doesn’t expect, a promise by Allah:

{And whoever fears Allah (by following His Commands and staying away from sins), He will make for him a way out (of difficulty).  And He will provide for him from where he does not expect} (Surah 65, verses 2-3).

In conclusion, we see a common habit of dissociating actions from their consequences. The Prophet ﷺ  mentioned in the hadith above that adversity and difficulty could be a direct result of some sin the Muslim is committing or it could be an elevating test for the pious person. And the above verses make it abundantly clear that happiness and calamity in both worlds have a direct link to human action. Therefore, in all difficulties, the Muslim is instructed to reflect upon his actions, repent of his sins, seek the forgiveness and mercy of Allah, and then seek help and aid from Allah, the Most Merciful and Most Forgiving.  And Allah knows best.

Feeling Superiority

قال الله عز وجل: { إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ مَنْ كَانَ مُخْتَالًا فَخُورًا} النساء 36.

Allah the Exalted says: { Verily, Allah does not like those who are proud and boastful} (Surah 4, verse 36).

وعن جندب بن عبد الله رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسولُ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « قالَ رَجُلٌ: واللَّهِ لا يَغْفِرُ اللَّه لفُلانٍ، فَقَالَ اللَّه عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: مَنْ ذا الَّذِي يَتَأَلَّى عليَّ أنْ لا أغفِرَ لفُلانٍ إنِّي قَد غَفَرْتُ لَهُ، وَأَحْبَطْتُ عمَلَكَ» .  رواه مسلم.

قال الْإِمَامُ مَالِكٌ: إذَا قَالَ ذَلِكَ مُعْجَبًا بِنَفْسِهِ مُزْدَرِيًا بِغَيْرِهِ فَهُوَ أَشَدُّ هَلَاكًا مِنْهُمْ،‏ لِأَنَّهُ لَا يَدْرِي سَرَائِرَ اللَّهِ فِي خَلْقِهِ‏.‏

Narrated Jundub Ibn Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “A man swore: ‘By God, Allah will not forgive such and such person.’  Thereupon, Allah the Almighty said: ‘Who is he who swears about Me that I will not forgive so and so; indeed I have forgiven him and abolished your deeds.’ ” Related by Imam Muslim.

Imam Malik said: “If he said so out of self-conceit and contempt of others, then he is the one who is ruined because he has no knowledge of people’s inner side and future intention.”

عن عبدِ اللَّهِ بن مسعُودٍ رضيَ اللَّهُ عنه عن النبيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « لا يَدْخُلُ الجَنَّةَ مَنْ كَانَ فِي قَلْبِهِ مِثْقَالُ ذَرَّةٍ مِنْ كِبْرٍ»، فقال رَجُلٌ: إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ يُحِبُّ أَنْ يَكُونَ ثَوْبُه حَسَناً ونَعْلُهُ حَسَناً، قال: « إِنَّ اللَّهَ جَمِيلٌ يُحِبُّ الجَمَالَ، الكِبْرُ بَطَرُ الحَقِّ وغَمْطُ النَّاسِ» . رواه مسلم والترمذي.

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Whosoever has a grain of mustard worth of pride in his heart shall not enter Paradise.’  A man asked: “Indeed, a person loves that his dress should be fine and his shoes should be fine.”  The Prophet ﷺ replied: “Verily, Allah is Graceful and He loves Grace. Pride is disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and having contempt for people.”  Related by Muslim and Al-Tirmidhi.

As the above hadith specifies, feeling superior to people is part of kibr (pride), which is a major sin. Indeed, pride is the greatest sin because through it Satan was banished from the Heavens and cursed.  When Allah the Exalted created Adam, He asked the angels to prostrate to him. The angels obeyed while Satan (who used to worship among the angels, and was even known for his great worship to Allah) stood aside and did not prostrate. When asked why he did not prostrate to Adam, Satan replied: ‘I am better than him; I was created from fire while he was created from clay.’  So Allah banished and cursed Satan for his disobedience.

The same concept applies when someone feels superior to other people because of his wealth, social status, intelligence, or any other trait.  We must understand that any blessing is granted by Allah alone, and He bestows it to whomever He wishes. Thus, there is no justification for feeling superior when the distinction is a blessing granted by Allah, and can instantly be taken away if Allah so wishes. Rather the Muslim is instructed to show humbleness and humility, and express his gratitude and thanks to Allah for His special favors. In Surat Al-Kahf, we read the story of a rich man who owned two orchards full with fruits and with a running river. He was once in his green and lush orchard, and looked around with pride and said I don’t think all of this will ever end, and when I die I will get better than this. His companion admonished him not to feel pride and superiority, but to instead thank Allah for His Blessings; but he persisted in his arrogance. That night, lightning struck his orchards and he lost everything because of his pride.

The same is true for religious status. When someone appears more adherent to the rules of Allah and thinks highly of himself or looks down upon others, then he might end up worse than them because he harbors the greatest sin of pride. Indeed, it is only Allah who granted him this gift, but when he attributes his worship to his own effort and looks down on others, then he has fallen in the same trap as Satan. We should abhor and prohibit the sin, but should have goodwill and compassion for the human.  When the Muslim sees a sin being committed, he should advise the wrong doer but should never look down upon the sinner or belittle him, but instead should maintain a positive opinion of him while wishing him guidance and goodness.

Indeed, the Muslim does not reach the full level of Faith (Iman) until he purifies his heart from vices like jealousy, worldly rivalry, hatred, pride, feeling superior to others, belittling others, and the like. In the following hadith, the Prophet  describes the best of people:

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Amr, maybe Allah be pleased with them: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was asked: ‘Who among the people is best?’  He replied: ‘Every person with a makhmum heart and  a truthful tongue.’  The companions asked: ‘We know the truthful person, but who is the one with a makhmum heart?’  The Prophet ﷺ  replied:

‘He is the one who is pious and pure, (in whose heart) there is neither sin, nor transgression, nor malice, nor envy.’ ”

(Related by Ibn Majah and Al-Bayhaqi with a good narration).

Pride led to Satan’s downfall, and it is this same pride that leads to problems in this world and destruction in the next. Arrogance and pride are among the most difficult of traits to remove, but our lives must be permanent, persisting efforts to do just that. By realizing our fragile position and by glimpsing at Allah’s majestic grandeur, we can achieve a level of humility that allows us to fix our relationships with the people and with Allah. We ask Allah for tawfiq.

Accounting for Deeds in Both Worlds

 

     عن أبي بَرْزَةَ رضي الله عنه أن رسولَ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « لا تَزُولُ قَدمَا عبْدٍ يَومَ القِيامَةِ حَتَّى يُسْأَلَ عَنْ أَرْبعٍ: عَنْ عُمْرِهِ فِيمَ أَفْنَاهُ، وَعَنْ عِلْمِهِ مَا عَمِلَ بِهِ، وعَنْ مالِهِ منْ أَيْنَ اكْتَسبهُ وَفِيمَ أَنْفَقَهُ، وَعَن جِسْمِهِ فِيمَ أَبْلاه» .  رواه الترمذي وقال: هذا حديث حسن صحيح.

Narrated Abu Barza, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The two feet of any slave on the Day of Judgment shall not move on until he is asked about four things: About his age, how he spent it; about his knowledge, how he acted upon it; about his money, from where he earned it and how he spent it; and about his body, how he wore it away.”   Related by Al-Tirmidhi with an authentic narration.

In our daily struggle with the worldly life, we tend to forget or postpone thinking about and preparing for the Hereafter.  Man often considers only what is in front of him, while ignoring that which comes later. Man considers his immediate future yet postpones plans for the distant future. But the wise person is he who considers both the immediate and distant future. The wise person sees what is in front of him, but also what is lying ahead behind the curve. The wise Muslim prepares not only for this life, but also struggles as hard for the other world soon to come.

Indeed, as soon as one dies, the veil is lifted from his eyes and he starts seeing and experiencing the real truth for the first time.  After death, man starts seeing the world as never before. He starts seeing the recompense of his actions, he starts seeing and experiencing the bliss of Paradise or the punishment of Hell-Fire, he starts seeing the angels of mercy or the angels of punishment, and he starts seeing the end results of the righteous people and the evil unjust people. He is truly seeing the world for the first time.

Narrated Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:

When someone of you dies, then his day of judgment begins.

Related by Ibn Abi al-Dunya and Al-Daylami.

Indeed, when man dies, the angels take his soul, and either ascend with it to heavens or descend with it to the pits. Before that, the Angel of Death appears in either of two forms: a beautiful and inviting shape with which he captures the soul of the believers, and an ugly and terrifying form with which he captures the soul of the disbelievers. Soon after, the angels of mercy or punishment take over according to one’s deeds. And once the dead person is lain in his grave, the two angels, Munkar and Nakir, come to him and question him, asking him to account for every single deed and action he performed in the world.

Thus, our daily actions do not go without notice; rather, every action or deed is recorded and we will be asked about it. The major guideline and rule is: is this action in accordance with God’s rules?  Does it violate any of God’s commands?  This then sets the path to the Hereafter.  Obedience to God is rewarded with bliss and happiness in the Hereafter, while disobedience and sin may be punished in the grave and Hell. In the above hadith, the Prophet gives us a glimpse of the accounting that man would undergo after death.  After death, man will be asked about his age, his knowledge, his wealth, and his body. When man dies, he will be asked how he gained and used those four matters, and whether he follow Allah’s rules and commands regarding each. Then his reward or punishment will be served based on his actions–but Allah’s mercy is great.

If we ponder upon the things mentioned in the hadith, we will find that they encompass every deed of the son of Adam in this life:

First, the son of Adam will be asked about how he spent his age i.e. his time. Did he spend his time doing something permissible, did he spend his time doing something useful, or did he just waste his time? Did he take advantage of his time to do good deeds or was he too preoccupied with enjoyment and desires?

Second, the son of Adam will be asked about his knowledge i.e. the knowledge of Islam.  Did he learn about his deen (religion), did he learn about the commands of Allah or His obligations and forbidden things, did he act upon that knowledge, and did he teach it to others?

Third, the son of Adam will be asked about his wealth i.e. money. How did he earn his money? Did he steal, did he cheat, did he rob others, or did he earn from a permissible source? And how did he spend that money? Did he spend it on sins, did he waste it away, or did he give to the poor and the needy?

And fourth, the son of Adam will be asked about his body i.e. his limbs. Did he use his body to worship Allah or to instead commit sins? Did he guard his body from bad substances like drugs and alcohol or did harm himself? Did he fast for the sake of Allah? And how did he use his eyes, his ears, his mouth, his mind, his hands and his feet?  Indeed, he will be asked about every limb.

The sensible person should consider these four questions and should prepare answers for the accounting to come. The Muslim is forewarned; Allah the Exalted says: { And let every soul consider what it has presented for tomorrow, and fear Allah, verily Allah is well aware of all that you do} (surah 59, verse 18). The Muslim should take heed, as the following hadith prompts:

وعَنْ أبي يَعْلَى شَدَّادِ بْن أَوْسٍ رضي اللَّه عنه عن النبيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « الكَيِّسُ مَنْ دَانَ نَفْسَهُ وَعَمِلَ لِمَا بَعْدَ المَوْتِ، وَالعَاجِزُ مَنْ أَتْبَعَ نَفْسَهُ هَوَاهَا وَتَمَنَّى عَلَى اللَّهِ» .  رواه التِّرْمِذيُّ وابن ماجه وأحمد والحاكم .

Narrated Abu Ya’la Shaddad Ibn Aws, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet ﷺ ﷺ said: “The sensible person is he who takes account of himself and works for what comes after death. And the foolish person is he who lets his self follow its desires, and then indulges in wishful thinking about Allah.”  Related by At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ahmad and Al-Hakim.

The golden rule to follow to pass this accounting is to follow the rules of Allah in everything and to stay away from all sins.  In case the Muslim slips and commits a sin, he should return to Allah in repentance and ask His forgiveness as soon as possible. Thus, when he dies, he will be able to answer faithfully and with sincerity, and pass the accounting with ease.

Finally, the Muslim should not feel overwhelmed by the accounting for deeds, but should put his trust in His God and hope the best from His only Lord, for indeed Allah is the Most Merciful and Most Forgiving. The Muslim is asked to try his best and then leave the rest to God, provided the Muslim keeps asking Allah’s forgiveness and keeps returning to Him after every slip. Indeed, the son of Adam is weak and wrongful, but the door of repentance is wide and the bounds of God’s mercy are limitless–yet the sensible is the one who exerts effort and only then expects and hopes for the best from his Lord.  And Allah knows best.

Birr al-Walidayn: Islam’s Emphasis on Parents

عن أبى هُرَيْرَةَ عنِ النَّبِي صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: « لَمْ يَتَكَلَّمْ فِى الْمَهْدِ إِلاَّ ثَلاَثَةٌ: عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ ، وَصَاحِبُ جُرَيْجٍ. وَكَانَ جُرَيْجٌ رَجُلاً عَابِدًا، فَاتَّخَذَ صَوْمَعَةً، فَكَانَ فِيهَا، فَأَتَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهُوَ يُصَلِّى. فَقَالَتْ: يَا جُرَيْجُ.  فَقَالَ: يَا رَبِّ أُمِّي وَصَلاَتِي. فَأَقْبَلَ عَلَى صَلاَتِهِ، فَانْصَرَفَتْ.
فَلَمَّا كَانَ مِنَ الْغَدِ أَتَتْهُ وَهُوَ يُصَلِّي، فَقَالَتْ: يَا جُرَيْجُ. فَقَالَ: يَا رَبِّ أمي وصلاتي، فَأَقْبَلَ عَلَى صَلاَتِهِ، فَانْصَرَفَتْ.
فَلَمَّا كَانَ مِنَ الْغَدِ أَتَتْهُ وَهُوَ يُصَلِّي، فَقَالَتْ: يَا جُرَيْجُ . فَقَالَ: أَي رَبِّ أُمِّي وصلاتي، فَأَقْبَلَ عَلَى صَلاَتِهِ.
فَقَالَتِ: اللَّهُمَّ لاَ تُمِتْهُ حَتَّى يَنْظُرَ إِلَى وُجُوهِ الْمُومِسَاتِ.
فَتَذَاكَرَ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ جُرَيْجًا وَعِبَادَتَهُ، وَكَانَتِ امْرَأَةٌ بَغِىٌّ يُتَمَثَّلُ بِحُسْنِهَا، فَقَالَتْ: إِنْ شِئْتُمْ لأَفْتِنَنَّهُ لَكُمْ. قَالَ: فَتَعَرَّضَتْ لَهُ، فَلَمْ يَلْتَفِتْ إِلَيْهَا. فَأَتَتْ رَاعِيًا كَانَ يَأْوِي إِلَى صَوْمَعَتِهِ، فَأَمْكَنَتْهُ مِنْ نَفْسِهَا، فَوَقَعَ عَلَيْهَا، فَحَمَلَتْ. فَلَمَّا وَلَدَتْ ، قَالَتْ: هُوَ مِنْ جُرَيْجٍ.
فَأَتَوْهُ فَاسْتَنْزَلُوهُ، وَهَدَمُوا صَوْمَعَتَهُ، وَجَعَلُوا يَضْرِبُونَهُ، فَقَالَ: مَا شَأْنُكُمْ؟ قَالُوا: زَنَيْتَ بِهَذِهِ الْبَغِي فَوَلَدَتْ مِنْكَ.  فَقَالَ: أَيْنَ الصبي؟  فَجَاءُوا بِهِ، فَقَالَ: دعوني حَتَّى أُصَلِّىَ، فَصَلَّى. فَلَمَّا انْصَرَفَ أَتَى الصَّبيَّ فَطَعَنَ فِى بَطْنِهِ، وَقَالَ: يَا غُلاَمُ مَنْ أَبُوكَ؟  قَالَ: فُلاَنٌ الراعي.
قَالَ: فَأَقْبَلُوا عَلَى جُرَيْجٍ يُقَبِّلُونَهُ، وَيَتَمَسَّحُونَ بِهِ، وَقَالُوا: نَبْنِي لَكَ صَوْمَعَتَكَ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ.  قَالَ: لاَ أَعِيدُوهَا مِنْ طِينٍ كَمَا كَانَتْ، فَفَعَلُوا» . رواه البخاري ومسلم.
قال النووي: وفي حديث جريج هذا فوائد كثيرة؛ منها عظم بر الوالدين، وتأكد حق الأم، وأن دعاءها مجاب.  وأنه إذا تعارضت الأمور بدئ بالأهم.  وأن الله تعالى يجعل لأوليائه مخارج عند ابتلائهم بالشدائد غالبا . قال الله تعالى: {وَمَنْ يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَلْ لَهُ مَخْرَجًا} [الطلاق 2]، وقد يجري عليهم الشدائد بعض الأوقات زيادة في أحوالهم، وتهذيبا لهم، فيكون لطفا .

——

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “None spoke in the cradle except three (persons): Jesus the son of Mary, and [the second one is] the companion of Jurayj.  Jurayj was a man [from the Children of Isra’il] who devoted himself to worshiping God.  He confined himself in a hermitage and used to worship God in it.  His mother once came to him as he was busy in prayer and called him: ‘Jurayj.’  He said: ‘My Lord, my mother [is calling me while I am engaged in] my prayer.’  Then he chose to continue with the prayer, and she left.

She returned the next day and he was busy in prayer, and she called him again: ‘Jurayj’.  He said: ‘My Lord, my mother [is calling me while I am engaged] in prayer,’ and he chose to continue with the prayer, and she left.

She came back the third day as he was busy in prayer and called him: ‘Jurayj.’  He said: ‘My Lord, my mother [is calling me while I am engaged in] my prayer,’ and he chose to continue with the prayer.  So she said: ‘My Lord, do not let him die until he sees the faces of prostitutes.’

The Children of Isra’il talked about Jurayj and his great worship. There was a prostitute who was known for her beauty who said [to the people]: ‘If you like, I can entice him.’  She presented herself to him but he paid her no heed.  So she went to a shepherd who used to live near the hermitage and offered herself to him. The shepherd shared bed with her and she became pregnant.  When she gave birth to a child she said: ‘This is from Jurayj.’

People went to Jurayj, asked him to get down, demolished his hermitage, and began to beat him.  He said: ‘What is the matter with you?’  They said: ‘You have committed fornication with this prostitute, and she has given birth to your child.’  He said: ‘Where is the baby boy?’  They brought the baby boy and he said: ‘Let me offer prayer to my Lord.’  He observed prayer and when he finished, he went to the baby boy.  Juriaj struck his stomach and said: ‘O boy, who is your father?’ The baby boy spoke and said: ‘So and so the shepherd.’  Thereupon, the people turned towards Jurayj, kissed him and touched him [seeking blessing].  They said: ‘We will construct your hermitage with gold.’ He said: ‘No, just rebuild it with mud as it had been,’ and they did that.” Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

—-

 

The above hadith indicates the great emphasis Islam has placed on the obligations and rights of parents.  In Islam the concept of gratefulness to God is stressed time and again. Thus, the Muslim should feel and express gratitude to Allah, who has granted him innumerous blessings and countless favors.  As mentioned in the hadith, each blessing requires thankfulness and gratitude.  And the more the slave thanks Allah and admits his constant need of Him, the more Allah grants the slave; meanwhile, the ungrateful slave will find his recompense both in this life and the Hereafter.

Parents have been given such high status in Islam partially due to the concept of gratitude.  It is logically explained in the Qur’an that as the mother bears her child for nine months, and endures the hardships through her pregnancy, and then both parents take care of the baby while he or she is growing up, the parents deserve a similar attitude of care and respect from the child. In the Qur’an, Allah the Exalted states: { And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and good to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years.  Be grateful to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination} (Surah 31, verse 14).

Thus, Allah the Exalted ties giving thanks and being grateful to Him, to giving thanks and being grateful to one’s parents. The scholars said that this verse indicates that the opposite is true, too. So the person who does not thank his parents and does not express gratitude by taking care of them, and does not show respect and reverence to them–that person has not expressed real gratitude to God. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ called undutifulness to one’s parents a major sin, and one of the seven deadly sins in Islam. The following hadith in fact tells us that the greatest major sin after disbelief is bad treatment of parents (‘uquq):

 

عن عبد اللَّهِ بنِ عمرو بن العاص رضي اللَّه عنهما عن النبيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « الكَبَائرُ: الإِشْرَاكُ بِاللَّهِ، وعُقُوقِ الوَالِديْنِ، وقَتْلُ النَّفْسِ، واليَمِينُ الغَمُوسُ» .  رواه البخاري.

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn Al-‘Aas, may Allah be pleased with them, that the Prophet ﷺ said: “The major sins are: Associating any partner in worship with Allah (shirk), undutifulness to one’s parents (uqooq), killing the soul, and taking a false oath that will take him deep into Hell (Al-Yameen Al-Ghamoos).”  Related by Al-Bukhari.

Despite this emphasis in the religion on parents’ rights, we see some abandoning this Divine command and preferring self-interest and personal family needs over their parents’ needs.

It is as if they have forgotten the extra care their parents took and the years they spent to raise them.

Thus, not only do they neglect an honorable duty and a moral obligation, but they also end up committing a major sin whose consequences are felt both in this life and the Hereafter–may Allah keep us safe.  The following hadith conveys some of the gravity of the matter:

عن جابِرِ بنِ سَمُرَةَ رضي اللَّهُ عنه قالَ: ( صَعِدَ النَّبِيُّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم الْمِنْبَرَ فَقَالَ: « آمِينَ، آمِينَ، آمِينَ». فَلَمَّا نَزَلَ سُئِلَ عَنْ ذَلِكَ ؟ فَقَالَ: « أَتَانِي جِبْرِيلُ، فَقَالَ: رَغِمَ أَنْفُ مَنْ أَدْرَكَ رَمَضَانَ فَلَمْ يُغْفَرْ لَهُ، قُلْ: آمِينَ، قُلْتُ: آمِينَ.  وَرَغِمَ أَنْفُ رَجُلٍ ذُكِرْتَ عِنْدَهُ فَلَمْ يُصَلِّ عَلَيْكَ، قُلْ: آمِينَ، فَقُلْتُ: آمِينَ.  وَرَغِمَ أَنْفُ رَجُلٍ أَدْرَكَ وَالِدَيْهِ أَوْ أَحَدَهُمَا فَلَمْ يُغْفَرْ لَهُ، أَوْ لا يُدْخِلانِهِ الْجَنَّةَ، قُلْ: آمِينَ. قُلْتُ: آمِينَ»). رواه البزار واللفظ له، ورواه الترمذي وابن حبان والطبراني وأحمد.

Narrated Jabir Ibn Samurah, may Allah be pleased with him: “The Prophet ﷺ climbed the pulpit once and then said: ‘Amen. Amen. Amen.’  When he climbed down, he was asked about that, so he replied: ‘Gabriel came to me and said: ‘Humiliated is he who attained the month of Ramadan, but was not forgiven, say Amen.’  I said Amen.  He said: ‘Humiliated is he in whose presence you are mentioned, but he does not send prayer upon you, say Amen.’  I said Amen.  He said: ‘And humiliated is he who is with his parents or one of them, but was not forgiven, or they did not make him enter Paradise, say Amen.’  I said Amen.’ ”  Related by Al-Bazzar (his narration), as well as Al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Hibban, Al-Tabarani, and Ahmad with good narration.

Respect for parents extends to the degree that Allah has prohibited us from even expressing annoyance to them.  Rather, the Muslim should be patient with his parents and swallow any anger or frustration he may feel and remember their great rights and obligation. Allah the Exalted says: {And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be dutiful to your parents.  If one of them or both of them attain old age while with you, say not to them a word of disrespect (uff), nor reprimand them but address them in terms of honor.  And lower to them the wing of humility and mercy, and say: “My Lord, bestow upon them Your mercy as they brought me up when I was young.”} (Surah 17, verses 23-24).

Ibn Kathir said: “The meaning of the verse is: Do not let your parents hear any bad speech from you, not even to say ‘Uff’, which is the mildest level of disrespect and bad speech.

On the other hand, a great reward and good recompense is promised to the one who treats her parents with good manners, obeys them, and tries to fulfill their needs.  Such a dutiful child is promised goodness in this life and great reward in the Hereafter, as the following hadith shows:

عن أنس بن مالك رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسولُ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « مَنْ سَرَّهُ أَنْ يُمَدَّ لَهُ فِي عُمُرِهِ ويُزَادَ فِي رِزْقِهِ فَلْيَبِرَّ وَالِدَيْهِ وَلْيَصِلْ رَحِمَهُ» .  رواه أحمد.

Narrated Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Whoever wishes for his age to be extended, and for his livelihood to be increased, then let him be dutiful to his parents and maintain relationship with his kin.”  Related by Imam Ahmad.

This goes to the extent that some scholars said that being dutiful to parents erases major sins.  It is related that Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal said: “Dutifulness to parents is an expatiation of major sins.”   And great stories have been narrated of the Companions of the Prophet and how they used to respect their parents and do everything they could to serve their parents and fulfill their needs.  Indeed, the righteous people realized the great reward in treating parents with good manners and being dutiful to them, and learned of its benefits both in this life and the Hereafter, so they took every effort to fulfill their parents’ needs and spent what they had to serve their parents.

Finally, we see the keenness of Companions to be dutiful to their parents even after death, as the following hadith shows:

‏عن أبي أُسَيْدٍ مالكِ بنِ ربيعةَ السَّاعِدِيِّ ‏قال: بَيْنَا نَحْنُ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم إِذْ جَاءَهُ رَجُلٌ مِنْ ‏بَنِي سَلَمَةَ فَقَالَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ هَلْ بَقِيَ مِنْ بِرِّ أَبَوَيَّ شَيْءٌ أَبَرُّهُمَا بِهِ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهِمَا؟ قَالَ: « ‏نَعَمْ الصَّلَاةُ عَلَيْهِمَا، وَالِاسْتِغْفَارُ لَهُمَا، وَإِنْفَاذُ عَهْدِهِمَا مِنْ بَعْدِهِمَا، وَصِلَةُ الرَّحِمِ الَّتِي لَا تُوصَلُ إِلَّا بِهِمَا، وَإِكْرَامُ صَدِيقِهِمَا».  رواه أبو داود وابن ماجه.

Narrated Abu Usaid Malik Ibn Rabi’a Al-Sa’idi : “While we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, a man from the tribe of Bani Salama came to him and asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah, is there anything of filial devotion left with which I can be dutiful to my parents after their death?’  He replied: ‘Yes, praying for them, asking Allah to forgive them, fulfilling their pledge after them, maintaining relationship with the kinfolk not maintained except by them, and honoring their friends.’ ”  Related by Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah.

Islam has thus placed enormous emphasis on respect for and obedience to parents, with great rewards promised to righteous children, and severe punishment in both lives warned of those who mistreat their parents. We ask Allah to forgive us in our shortcomings to our parents, and we ask Him to reward them and raise their ranks for all their services on our behalf.

Eternal Bliss and Transient Pleasure: Insights on Fasting

قال الله عز وجل: { وَيَوْمَ يَحْشُرُهُمْ كَأَن لَّمْ يَلْبَثُواْ إِلاَّ سَاعَةً مِّنَ النَّهَارِ يَتَعَارَفُونَ بَيْنَهُمْ قَدْ خَسِرَ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُواْ بِلِقَآءِ اللَّهِ وَمَا كَانُواْ مُهْتَدِينَ} سورة يونس 45 .

Allah the Exalted says: { And on the Day when He shall gather them together, (it will be) as if they had not stayed (in the life of this world and graves) but an hour of a day. They will recognize each other. Ruined indeed will be those who denied the meeting with Allah and were not guided} (Surah 10, verse 45).

عن أنس بن مالك رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « يُؤْتَى بِأَنْعَمِ أَهْلِ الدُّنْيَا مِنْ أَهْلِ النَّارِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَيُصْبَغُ فِي النَّارِ صَبْغَةً، ثُمَّ يُقَالُ: يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ هَلْ رَأَيْتَ خَيْرًا قَطُّ؟ هَلْ مَرَّ بِكَ نَعِيمٌ قَطُّ؟ فَيَقُولُ: لَا وَاللَّهِ يَا رَبِّ، وَيُؤْتَى بِأَشَدِّ النَّاسِ بُؤْسًا فِي الدُّنْيَا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ فَيُصْبَغُ صَبْغَةً فِي الْجَنَّةِ فَيُقَالُ لَهُ: يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ هَلْ رَأَيْتَ بُؤْسًا قَطُّ؟ هَلْ مَرَّ بِكَ شِدَّةٌ قَطُّ؟ فَيَقُولُ: لَا وَاللَّهِ يَا رَبِّ مَا مَرَّ بِي بُؤْسٌ قَطُّ وَلَا رَأَيْتُ شِدَّةً قَطُّ». رواه مسلم.

Narrated Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “A person among the people of Hell who had led a life of ease and plenty in the world will be brought forth on the Day of Judgment and immersed only once in Hell. Then he will be asked: ‘O son of Adam, did you ever experience any comfort in your life? Did you ever get any material blessing in the world?’  He will reply: ‘By Allah, no, my Lord.’

And then a person among the people of Paradise who had led the most miserable life in the world will be brought forth and immersed only once in Paradise.  Then he will be asked: ‘O son of Adam, did you ever experience any misery in your life? Had you any hardship in the world?’  He will reply: ‘By Allah, no, my Lord, never did I experience any misery or face any hardship.’ ”  Related by Imam Muslim.

——————-

When it comes to emotions and feelings of faith, the Muslim is most conscious of them while fasting, and especially so during the blessed month of Ramadan. When the Muslim stops himself from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, he feels a special bond and closeness to his Lord since he does so only to obey his Lord and please Him. And soon enough, through this struggle, the Muslim realizes that fasting involves deeper meaningful purposes and aspects beyond merely refraining from food and drink.

Indeed, the objectives and purposes of fasting are numerous.  Fasting is a discipline and a training exercise for the Muslim, for when the Muslim stops himself from the permissible, it is even easier to avoid the forbidden.

Thus, while he starts out by avoiding food, he ends up abandoning sins.

Furthermore, when the Muslim devotes more than half of his day for this sacred worship, he realizes the importance of paying attention to his hereafter.  And when the Muslim feels the pangs of hunger or yearns to quench his parched throat, he starts tasting the sweet taste of faith as never before, and is eager to do more to please his Lord.

Everyone is familiar with hunger and thirst, but these feelings are heightened during the long fast. Yet the Muslim sacrifices his will to eat and drink to obey and please his Lord. Not only that, but when the Muslim breaks his fast at sunset, he is rewarded with the sweet taste of faith (Iman) which brings him closer to his Lord and makes him more aware of God.  This moment of happiness will be followed by another joyous moment in the Hereafter, as mentioned in the following authentic hadith:

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم  : ( كل عمل ابن آدم يضاعف: الحسنة بعشر أمثالها إلى سبعمائة ضعف. قال الله تعالى: “إلا الصوم، فإنه لي وأنا أجزي به؛ يدع شهوته وطعامه من أجلي”.  للصائم فرحتان: فرحة عند فطره، وفرحة عند لقاء ربه. ولَخَلُوف فم الصائم أطيب عند الله من ريح المسك. والصوم جُنَّة. وإذا كان يوم صوم أحدكم فلا يرفث ولا يصخب، فإن سابَّه أحد أو قاتله، فليقل: إني امرؤ صائم). متفق عليه.

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Allah said: ‘Every good deed of the son of Adam will be multiplied ten times to seven hundred times except fasting, which is for Me and I will reward for it accordingly; for he abandons his (sexual) desire, food, and drink for My sake.’

Verily, there are two moments of joy for the fasting person: one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time of meeting his Lord (in the Hereafter).

Verily, the altered smell emanating from the mouth of the fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the scent of musk.  Fasting is a shield (with which a servant protects himself from the Fire). When one of you is fasting, then he should avoid shameless and loud idle talk. And if someone calls him bad names or fights with him, then he should say: ‘I am fasting.’”  (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Thus, there are two joyous and pleasurable moments for the fasting person: one when he breaks his fast and the other one in the Hereafter when he meets his Lord.

And herein is a great lesson and reminder for us.  After fasting the whole day, after experiencing hunger and thirst the whole day, and after waiting long hours, within minutes of eating and drinking at sunset all of that hunger and thirst is gone!  We no longer remember the long hours of waiting but enjoy the food in front of us. Indeed, the long day is forgotten and we feel like our fasting lasted only a short time. The same feeling will be experienced on the Day of Judgment.  The many years of struggle on earth will be remembered as one day, one morning, and even one hour.

The Muslim should take heed of the shortness and transience of the worldly life and should give preference to the long and everlasting Hereafter, while fulfilling the necessities of the worldly life. Just like fasting the whole day is diminished at the time of breaking the fast, so this worldly life will be diminished after death and will be felt like a short time only.  But the Hereafter continues on and on forever.

The Muslim should take care to avoid sins in this world just like he prevents himself from food and drink during the day–and he should expect Allah to grant him happiness at the end of his life just like he experiences happiness at the end of the fast.

One of the scholars said, “Live your entire life as if it were Ramadan; your death will be like Eid!”

On the other hand, indulgence in sins will be greatly regretted on the Day of Judgment.  If the whole worldly life will seem like an hour on that Day, then forbidden pleasures would seem like seconds or even parts of a second, and the regret will be much greater that a person compromised on so much for the sake of seconds. But it will be too late.

Allah the Exalted gives us a contrast of the two conditions and their recompense very clearly in Qur’an, and urges us to be forewarned and act righteous.  He says:

{35.The Day when man shall remember what he strove for.

  1. And Hell-fire shall be made apparent in full view for (every) one who sees.
  2. Then, for him who transgressed (the bounds of Allah by disobeying Him),
  3. And preferred the life of this world (by following self-desires and lusts),
  4. Verily, his abode will be Hell-fire;
  5. But as for him who feared the standing before his Lord, and restrained himself from evil desires and lusts,
  6. Verily, Paradise will be his abode} (Surah 79, verses 35- 41).

 

Indeed, the temporary forbidden pleasures of this world can never be compared to the eternal real bliss of the Hereafter.  What seems like years and years now will feel like a short time on the Day of Judgment.  What seems like a long life now, will seem as an hour on that great Day.  And any comforts enjoyed and hardships suffered will be forgotten. Only devotion to the Lord will remain as the only criteria for the final Judgment.  May Allah guide us to the Right Path and grant us Paradise.  And Allah and His Messenger know best.

 

The Repentant and the Command to Repent

 

عن أبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قالَ: قالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: «‏ وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَوْ لَمْ تُذْنِبُوا لَذَهَبَ اللَّهُ بِكُمْ وَلَجَاءَ بِقَوْمٍ يُذْنِبُونَ فَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ اللَّهَ فَيَغْفِرُ لَهُمْ».  رواه مسلم وأحمد.

 

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him: the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, if you were not to commit sins, Allah would replace you with a people who would commit sins and then seek forgiveness from Allah; and He would forgive them.”  (Related by Muslim and Ahmad).

Allah, the Creator and the Most Knowledgeable, describes the son of Adam in His Holy Book as follows: {And man was created weak} (Surah 4, verse 28). The word ‘weak’ aptly describes the son of Adam, no matter how lofty he considers himself and how arrogantly he tries to elevate himself.  Not only is man weak in his body, but he is also weak in the face of temptations and self-desires.

When disease strikes the son of Adam, only then does he realize the limitation of his strength; when sickness cripples his limbs, only then he realizes the fragility of his health; and when old age overtakes him, only then he realizes the little power he possesses. Likewise, in the face of strong temptations and desires, man realizes how weak he is in controlling his inner self–except for those whom Allah gives strength.

Thus, the Muslim is urged to seek Allah’s help in all of his affairs, to present his needs before the Mighty One, and to ask for His forgiveness and pray for redemption. While Allah is Most Merciful to His creation, the son of Adam is asked to follow Allah’s commands and refrain from disobedience.

But since man is weak and will inevitably commit sins, the Prophet ﷺ instructed the Muslim in the hadith above to seek forgiveness from Allah the Exalted, as soon as one slips and commits a sin. The Muslim is urged to repent of his sin and promise His Lord to abandon that sin. The Muslim is also commanded to ask for Allah’s forgiveness and to feel regret over his slip and transgression.

There are two common misconceptions concerning the above hadith. First, this hadith is not an invitation to commit sins; indeed, Allah is displeased when His commands are violated and has created Hell for those who disobey Him. Instead, the hadith is an invitation towards repentance: Allah loves repentance so much that He would rather see weak people inevitably slip and repent, instead of seeing strong people who never slip and thus have no need to repent. Thus, this hadith should not be considered an excuse to commit sins; rather it should be looked at as encouragement to abandon sins whenever they happen, to repent, and to return to Allah and fulfill His obligations.

The second misconceptions is the notion that whoever commits sins is in Hell. The hadith dispels this notion by reminding the Muslim of the great mercy of Allah and of his vast forgiveness. Indeed, an inkling of this limitless mercy can be seen in the following authentic hadith:

عَنْ أَبِي مُوسَى، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: « إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَبْسُطُ يَدَهُ بِاللَّيْلِ لِيَتُوبَ مُسِيءُ النَّهَارِ، وَيَبْسُطُ يَدَهُ بِالنَّهَارِ لِيَتُوبَ مُسِيءُ اللَّيْلِ، حَتَّى تَطْلُعَ الشَّمْسُ مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا».  رواه مسلم.

Abu Musa reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, stretches out His Hand during the night so that the sinner of the day may repent; and He stretches out His Hand during the day so that the sinner of the night may repent. (He accepts repentance) before the sun rises from the west (i.e. before the Day of Judgment).”  (Related by Muslim).

Allah’s mercy has no bounds; it is limitless and eternal. Part of seeking Allah’s mercy is repenting to Him, as the following hadith urges:

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه عن النبي صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « لو أخطأتم حتى تبلغ خطاياكم السماء، ثم تبتم لتاب عليكم». رواه ابن ماجه.

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “If you committed sins until your sins reached the sky, then repented, Allah would accept your repentance.”  (Related by Ibn Majah).

Thus, the Muslim should never despair of the vast mercy of Allah, but should always seek it and do his best to receive it. The Muslim is urged to return to Allah and to take advantage of this great bounty before it is too late. Now there is time for repentance while we are alive. As for those who indulge in sins and ignore Allah’s commands, then they may be punished.  Allah the Exalted has given us this warning in Qur’an in the most gentle way. Allah says:

53.{Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins), do not despair of the Mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

  1. And turn in repentance to your Lord and submit to Him, before the punishment comes upon you, then you will not be helped.
  2. And follow the best of that which is revealed to you from your Lord (i.e. this Qur’an, do what it orders you to do and keep away from what it forbids), before the punishment comes upon you suddenly while you do not perceive!
  3. Lest a person should say: “Alas, my grief that I was undutiful to Allah (i.e. I have not done what Allah has ordered me to do), and I was indeed among those who mocked [at the truth]”.
  4. Or (lest) he should say: “If only Allah had guided me, I would have been among the pious and righteous (Muttaqun).”
  5. Or (lest) he should say when he sees the punishment: “If only I had another chance (to return to the world) then I should indeed be among the doers of good (Muhsinun).”} (Surah 39, verses 53-58).

Thus the sensible Muslim is the one who takes heed of the warning of His Lord and tries his best to follow His command to get His reward. The prudent Muslim is the one who is forewarned and tries to resist temptations and self-desires to attain eternal bliss, and if he slips and commits a sin then he soon repents and returns to Allah the Exalted. And the wise Muslim is the one who repents to Allah during day and night, and tries to get the greatest share of Allah’s limitless mercy by constantly asking His forgiveness and vast bounty and by trying his best to follow Allah’s commands and avoid things He has forbidden.  And Allah knows best.

“Preserve God’s Commands, He will Preserve you!”

 

عن ابنِ عبَّاسٍ رضيَ اللَّه عنهمَا قال: كُنْتُ خَلْفَ النَّبِيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم يوْماً فَقال: « يَا غُلامُ إِنِّي أُعلِّمُكَ كَلِمَاتٍ: احْفَظِ اللَّهَ يَحْفَظْكَ، احْفَظِ اللَّهَ تَجِدْهُ تُجَاهَكَ، إِذَا سَأَلْتَ فَاسْأَلِ اللَّهَ، وَإِذَا اسْتَعَنْتَ فَاسْتَعِنْ بِاللَّهِ، واعلَمْ أَنَّ الأُمَّةَ لَوِ اجْتَمَعَتْ عَلَى أَنْ يَنْفعُوكَ بِشيْءٍ، لَمْ يَنْفعُوكَ إِلاَّ بِشَيْءٍ قَد كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ لَكَ، وإِنِ اجْتَمَعُوا عَلَى أَنْ يَضُرُّوكَ بِشَيْءٍ، لَمْ يَضُرُّوكَ إِلاَّ بَشَيْءٍ قد كَتَبَهُ اللَّه عليْكَ، رُفِعَتِ الأقْلامُ، وجَفَّتِ الصُّحُفُ».  رواهُ التِّرْمذيُّ.

Narrated Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father: “I was riding behind the Prophet ﷺ once when he said: ‘O boy!  I will teach you some words (so learn them).  Be mindful of Allah; He will protect you. Safeguard His obligations; Allah will be on your side. If you ask for assistance, ask Allah, and if you seek help, seek it from Allah. Know that if all people gather their strength to benefit you, they will never benefit you with anything except that which Allah has foreordained for you.  And if all of them gather their strength to harm you, they will never be able to harm you with anything except that which Allah had pre-destined against you.  The pens had been raised, and the ink had dried up.’” (Related by Al-Tirmidhi).

The Prophet ﷺ gave his young cousin Abdullah Ibn Abbas–who went on to become the learned scholar of this nation–advice that should be written with ink of gold and engraved on stone so it can be remembered forever. This hadith is one of the Jawami’ al-Kalim: ‘Concise and Comprehensive words’ of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, full of the eloquence that indicates the true message of the Prophet ﷺ.

Indeed, every word of this hadith deserves a volume by itself, but here we briefly focus on the statement:

(احْفَظِ اللَّهَ يَحْفَظْكَ، احْفَظِ اللَّهَ تَجِدْهُ تُجَاهَكَ)

 Preserve (the Commands of) Allah, He will preserve you. And keep the rules of Allah, He will be there for you.

 

If we ponder upon this statement, we will find that it contains the path to success in both this life and the Hereafter. This worldly life has been created with troubles and tribulations as a test for the son of Adam, and he then chooses to believe and show patience and gratitude or to disbelieve and display ingratitude and impatience.  As Allah the Exalted states in Qur’an: {He (God) is the One Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft- Forgiving} (Surah 67, verse 2).  Thus, every person experiences some troubles and difficulties in his daily life, some minor and some major.

But Islam also teaches us how to deal with these problems and troubles. In the above hadith, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ explains that the first step to overcome problems is to obey the commands of Allah and observe His rules in everything. Consequently, just as we try our best to preserve the commands of Allah, Allah will preserve us and be there for us when we need Him.

Indeed, when the Muslim is afflicted with a calamity or trouble, the first thing he does is raise his hands to Allah and seek His help. And as the Prophet ﷺ explained in the above statement, the pious Muslim’s call for help is answered faster, and his need is fulfilled sooner–as a result of his safeguarding of Allah’s obligations. Despite how severe his calamity may be, sooner or later a solution or a way out of his trouble is found for him.  As Allah the Exalted states: {And whoever fears Allah, He will make for him a way out (of difficulty).  And He will provide for him from where he does not expect} (Surah 65, verses 2-3).  Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, said concerning this verse: “Allah will deliver him from every difficulty of this world and the Hereafter.”

Consider the other situation, when a man is busy with sins and following self-desires; when calamity or trouble befalls him, he is left with no support and no real help. Naturally, he too turns to his Creator and seeks His help.  But the help may or may not come, and it may come at a much later point, leaving him anxious, worried, and depressed. More significantly, this anxiety may raise self-doubts and ungrounded assumptions in the weak person’s heart. Thus, his initial lack of obedience becomes a cause of the weakening of his faith. This is in contrast to the pious person who is firm in his belief and has full trust in his deliverance and aid from his Lord.

But it is never late to return to Allah, the Most Merciful.  Indeed, troubles sometimes act as a reminder to the slave to get back to his Lord. And when the Muslim repents of his sins and observes Allah’s commands, the limitless mercy of Allah encompasses him, and it is hoped that he will find a way out of his trouble despite his sinful past. As Allah the Exalted states in Qur’an: {Say: “O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins), do not despair of the Mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” And turn in repentance to your Lord and submit to Him, before the punishment comes upon you, then you will not be helped} (Surah 39, verses 53-54).

Thus, we see the effects of the statement: “Preserve (the Commands of) Allah, He will preserve you.  And Keep the rules of Allah, He will be there for you,” both in this life and the Hereafter. In this life, the pious Muslim experiences the blessings of steadfastness and firmness in religion and full trust in Allah in the face of difficulties and troubles, as well as a forthcoming solution for his troubles that soon materializes by the Will of the Almighty (though the Muslim is asked to take every effort to consult the people of knowledge and find a solution). And in the Hereafter, the pious Muslim wins the Pleasure of Allah, along with Paradise and the Eternal Bliss. To paraphrase Ibn Abbas, through this piety a person thus gains the happiness of this world and the next. We ask Allah to grant us this gift.  And Allah knows best.

Women’s Rights in Islam

 

A general misconception today is that women do not hold the same status as men in Islam. Some people may perceive women as being suppressed in Muslim families and as members whose voices are not heard. But far from that, Islam has in fact recognized women’s rights at its inception fourteen centuries ago.  Islam recognized women as the other half of men and men as the other half of women, and gives women respect and regard as mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters. At a time when the male heir used to get the whole inheritance, Islam recognized the female’s due share, and moreover allotted her with full possession of her wealth to spend as she pleases. Furthermore, Islam recognized women as important partners in the Muslim community and urged taking care of their needs and allowing them to participate in the community’s public life.

The best way to understand and present the real status of women in Islam is to consider the way the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad ﷺ, treated women, as well as his advice to his companions regarding women.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ gave a concise and eloquent statement regarding the treatment of women in Islam.  These words act as a main tenet of Islam:

   عن أبي هُرَيْرَةَ رضي الله عنه قال: قالَ رسولُ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « أَكْمَلُ المُؤْمنينَ إِيمَاناً أَحْسنُهُمْ خُلُقاً، وَخِيارُكُمْ خيارُكُم لأهلِهِ» .  رواه أبو داود والترمذي وابن حبان، والبيهقي إلا أنه قال: « وَخِيارُكُمْ خيارُكُم لِنِسَائِهِم» .

Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The most perfect of the believers in faith are the best among them in moral character.  And the best among you are those who treat their family the best.”  Related by Abu Dawud, Al-Tirmidhi, and Al-Bayhaqi.

Al-Bayhaqi said: “And the best among you are the best to their wives.”.

Not only did the Prophet ﷺ say these words, but he also exemplified them in action. Indeed, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was the best of people in good treatment to his family.  If we consider his treatment of his wife A’isha, we notice this kind and respectful treatment. A’isha herself admitted to his superior treatment of her. And who is a better judge than a wife to attest to the kind of treatment she receives from her husband.

عن عائشة رضي الله عنها،‏ ‏قالت: ( قال رسولُ الله ‏ ‏صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « ‏إِنِّي لَأَعْرِفُ غَضَبَكِ وَرِضَاكِ»، قَالَتْ: قُلْتُ وَكَيْفَ تَعْرِفُ ذَاكَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ؟ قَالَ: « إِنَّكِ إِذَا كُنْتِ رَاضِيَةً قُلْتِ: بَلَى وَرَبِّ ‏ ‏محمَّد،‏ ‏وَإِذَا كُنْتِ سَاخِطَةً قُلْتِ: لَا وَرَبِّ ‏إِبْرَاهِيمَ»،‏ ‏قَالَتْ قُلْتُ: أَجَلْ، لَسْتُ أُهَاجِرُ إِلَّا اسْمَكَ) . رواه البخاري ومسلم.

Narrated A’isha , may Allah be pleased with her: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to me: ‘I know your anger from your pleasure.’  I asked: ‘And how do you know that, O Messenger of Allah?’  He replied: ‘When you are pleased you say: ‘No, by the Lord of Muhammad,’ but when you are angry, you say: ‘No, by the Lord of Ibrahim.’  I said: ‘You said the truth, I only leave out your name.’ ”  Related by Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim.

We find here the gentleness and kindness the Prophet ﷺ maintained in his treatment with A’isha.  The Prophet ﷺ did not express anger or displeasure when A’isha left out his name; instead, he good-naturedly informed her of his awareness of her behavior. Upon such gentleness, she professed her deep regard of him while at the same time admitting the truthfulness of his statement.

We can clearly see the same high manners of the Prophet ﷺ with his wives in many other occasions.  Many of these occasions had been described by A’isha herself as a lesson for the nation and as an example for other men. Indeed, the Prophet used to go out of his way to accommodate his wives and make them happy within his means, as shown in the following hadith, also narrated by A’isha:

وعن عُرْوَةَ بْنِ الزُّبَيْرِ، قال: ( قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ: وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُومُ عَلَى بَابِ حُجْرَتِي، وَالْحَبَشَةُ يَلْعَبُونَ بِحِرَابِهِمْ فِي مَسْجِدِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، يَسْتُرُنِي بِرِدَائِهِ لِكَيْ أَنْظُرَ إِلَى لَعِبِهِمْ، ثُمَّ يَقُومُ مِنْ أَجْلِي حَتَّى أَكُونَ أَنَا الَّتِي أَنْصَرِفُ، فَاقْدِرُوا قَدْرَ الْجَارِيَةِ الْحَدِيثَةِ السِّنِّ حَرِيصَةً عَلَى اللَّهْوِ).  رواه البخاري ومسلم.

Narrated ‘Urwa Ibn Az-Zubayr: “A’isha said: ‘By Allah, I remember the Messenger of Allah ﷺ standing at the door of my apartment screening me with his mantle to allow me to see the sport of the Abyssinians as they played with their daggers in the mosque of the Messenger of Allah. He would keep standing for my sake until I had enough and then I would return.  Thus you can well imagine how long a girl of tender age who is fond of sports (could have watched it, while the Prophet ﷺ waited patiently for me).’ ”  Related by Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim.

Again we find here the utmost degree of affection and kindness that the Prophet ﷺ showed to his wife.  He would wait for her to watch the people play until she was the one to say she had enough.  One may ask: were her rights violated and was she kept a prisoner in her home, or did she enjoy her rights as much as any free women would? Indeed, A’isha not only related the way of the Prophet ﷺ, but also the etiquette of Islam regarding women.

Islam urges on the highest code of morals and manners, and chief among them is the kind treatment of one’s family and wife.  Therefore, the Prophet ﷺ mentioned in the hadith above that the highest of people in faith are the best among them in morals and manners, and the highest among people in regard and reward are the best among them in manners and good treatment of their wives.

But at the same time, Islam also urges women to take serious their responsibilities and try to be effective members of the community.  Islam commands women to follow the orders of Allah and His Messenger ﷺ and also to show respect to the husband, as summarized in the following hadith:

عَنْ ‏عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ عَوْفٍ رضي الله عنه‏ ‏قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ‏ ‏صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « إِذا صَلَّتْ الْمَرْأَةُ خَمْسَهَا، وَصَامَتْ شَهْرَهَا، وَحَفِظَتْ فَرْجَهَا، وَأَطَاعَتْ زَوْجَهَا، قِيلَ لَهَا: ادْخُلِي الجَنَّةَ مِنْ أَيِّ أَبْوَابِ الجَنَّةِ شِئْتِ» .  رواه أحمد.

Narrated Abd ar-Rahman Ibn ‘Awf, may Allah be pleased with him, that that the Messenger of Allah said:  “If the woman prayed her five daily prayers, fasted her month (of Ramadan), guarded her private parts, and obeyed her husband, it would be said to her: Enter Paradise from whichever door of Paradise you wish.”  Related by Imam Ahmad.

Thus, we see that, contrary to what some may claim, Islam recognizes the rights of women and puts great emphasis on their kind treatment.  This is not to deny any abuse or mistreatment of women that may happen on an individual basis; instead, the point is that the religion’s teachings have always maintained a consistent, principled stance in support of the honor, dignity, and happiness of women. Islam recognizes them as members of the community and as important partners and essential members of the Muslim family.  The Muslim family in turn is seen as one unit where both husband and wife strive to be kind to each other and recognize each other’s rights in order to bring about a happy family blessed with the obedience of Allah and His Messenger ﷺ, as well with good in this life and the next.