[ALLAH’S Quran – 40:55] “Patiently, then, persevere: for the Promise of Allah is true: and ask forgiveness for thy fault, and celebrate the Praises of thy Lord in the evening and in the morning.”
The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) has said:
[Sunan Abudawud, Book #8, Hadith #1513] “Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: If anyone continually asks pardon, Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress, and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide for him from where he did not reckon.”
We have all heard stories from the lives of the early Muslims with regard to their patience in poverty, their Zuhd (abstinence) and their general disdain for the trappings of this worldly life.
Yet in this age of plenty, our problem is dealing with excess, not figuring out how to make do with less, and this is why most of us fail to identify with the stories of want and deprivation. An alternative way to relate to the lives of early Muslims and inculcate some of the values they lived by, is to examine the lives of the rich among them.
• Khadijah Bint Khuwailid: Humility and service
She was the Mother of the Believers upon whom Allah Himself sent salutations through the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel), who told the Prophet (peace be upon him): “ Khadijah is coming to you with a dish (of seasoned food or drink). When she comes to you, offer her greetings from her Lord, the Exalted and Glorious, and on my behalf, and give her glad tidings of a palace of jewels in Paradise wherein there is no noise and no toil. (Sahih Muslim)
Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) was among the wealthiest women of her time, who spent her considerable fortune in providing succor and support to the emerging community of Muslims. During the three years of boycott suffered by the Muslims in Shi’b Abi Talib (a ravine near Makkah where the Muslims were isolated), she almost single-handedly got her agents to procure food and other essentials.
Certainly, she must not have lacked for household help or servants, yet the fact that she carried the Prophet’s meal to him herself, speaks volumes about her humility and the esteem and love she had for her husband, the Prophet (peace be upon him).
• Uthman Bin Affan: Transactions with Allah
He was the Companion about whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “From this day on, nothing will harm Uthman (regardless of what he does).” What prompted the Prophet (peace be upon him) was that Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) outfitted a woefully under-equipped army (called the Jaysh Al-Usrah, Army of Hardship) that was setting out to confront the Romans who were amassing near Tabuk in the year 9 AH, with around 300 camels, a hundred horses and weapons (besides contributing thousands of dinars in money and gold).
In another instance, Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) came to the rescue of the community when there was a severe shortage of water in Madina and the Muslims were obliged to purchase water at very high prices. He purchased a well of sweet water, called Ar-Rumah, and placed it at the disposal of the Muslims.
Later, during the caliphate of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) a severe famine struck Madina, and the city’s merchants gathered at his house when he received a large caravan from Damascus, laden with food and goods.
He asked them what was the best price they would offer, and when they stopped after offering him four or five times the cost of the goods, he answered that he would sell his goods to the highest bidder: Who had promised to redeem his goods at ten times the price. Saying this, he made them witness that he had given away the entire caravan to the people of Madina for the sake of Allah.
The most outstanding trait of Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) is his complete trust in the promise of Allah the Exalted, which stemmed from his strong Iman (belief). Unlike most of us, he was sure that what is with Allah the Almighty is undoubtedly better, and this faith was reflected in his unparalleled generosity and eagerness to please Allah by serving the Muslims.
• Abdur Rahman Bin Awf: Between Fear and Hope
When he migrated to Madina, he was penniless, prompting Sa’d bin Rab’i Al-Ansari (with whom he had established a bond of brotherhood) to offer him half of his property and one of his two wives. However, Abdur Rahman Bin Awf had graciously declined his offer owing to his strong sense of self-respect, and instead asked him to show him the way to the marketplace. Within a short while he was so blessed in his business, that he said, “I feel if I merely pick up a stone, I would find gold or silver underneath it.”
After the demise of the Prophet (peace be upon him), he took care of the Mothers of the Believers in such a superlative manner, that Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) supplicated for him, saying, “May Allah grant him the water of Salsabil (a spring in Paradise).”
He was among one of the 10 Companions who were promised paradise. Once Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) recounted the Prophet’s saying that Abdur Rahman would “enter Paradise crawling”.
When he heard of this, he went up to Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) to confirm this narration. When she confirmed that she did indeed hear the Prophet (peace be upon him) say this, he gave away the proceeds of a caravan he had received from Syria, in gratitude for the glad tidings of Paradise and in the hope of receiving a greater reward.
And once, when he sat down to a meal upon breaking his fast, he wept upon seeing the riches he enjoyed, remembering those of his Companions who had passed away in penury.
No doubt, he was among those who remembered the verse of the Qur’an :
“So, when they forgot (the warning) with which they had been reminded, We opened to them the gates of every (pleasant) thing, until in the midst of their enjoyment in that which they were given, all of a sudden, We took them to punishment, and lo! They were plunged into destruction with deep regrets and sorrows.” (Qur’an, 6:44)
Explaining this verse, Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “Whoever is given provision by Allah and he thinks that Allah is not testing him, has no wisdom. Whoever has little provision and thinks that Allah will not look at (provide for) him, has no wisdom.’’
Truly, in these words and in the lives of these Companions are signs for the people who understand.
ISLAM calls for equality between people. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “An Arab has no superiority to a non-Arab and a white man has no superiority to a black one except through piety and good deeds.”
The following examples prove this Islamic concept.
Abu Dharr of the Ghifar tribe somehow got angry with the freed slave of Abu Bakr, Bilal of Abyssinia. Both of them were the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
The altercation became prolonged and Abu Dharr in his fury called Bilal, the son of a black-skinned mother.
Bilal complained to the Prophet, who addressed Abu Dharr saying, “Did you call him a name reviling his mother? It appears you still retain vestiges of Jahiliyyah (Period of Ignorance before Islam).” The Prophet also said in reply, “You are his brother (and should be considerate and kind to him).”
Abu Dharr was ashamed and repentant and out of extreme repentance and humility requested Bilal to trample his face with his feet.
Another example is when, during the lifetime of the Prophet, a woman of the Bani Makhzoom tribe, Fatimah, was found guilty of theft. She was brought to the Prophet so that she might receive her punishment according to the Shari ‘ah (Islamic Law).
The Quraish tribe very much resented it since it involved their tribal prestige and dignity. So they thought of intercession by somebody for the remission of her punishment.
It was therefore decided after deliberation to send Osamah Bin Zaid for such intercession since he was very much in favor with the Prophet. So he was approached, prompted to intercede and he talked to the Prophet on this issue.
The Prophet was very angry and said to Osamah, “You intercede in the matter of the limits prescribed by God?”
Then he called a big gathering of the believers and, in a touching manner, said, “The people before you who met their doom, discriminated between the austocrats and the common people in the dispensation of justice for crimes like theft. The high-placed were spared while the weaker sections of society were readily punished. By God, if Fatimah Bint Muhammad had committed theft, I would have amputated her hand also. A third example involves Adi Bin Hatim(one of the elite of his time) who came to Madinah before embracing Islam and found the companions sitting around the Prophet.
They had just returned from some battle and some of them still had the armory and helmets on. ‘Adi, witnessing the awe of the Prophet and their reverence for him, himself fell in awe.
Meanwhile, a humble woman of Madinah came to the Prophet and requested to see him in private.
The Prophet readily agreed to talk to her. He got up and at some distance from the gathering talked to her for a sufficiently long time, and having finished with her came back to the gathering.
When ‘Adi witnessed this state of affairs, he was very much touched by this inconceivable concept of generosity in action and embraced Islam.
A fourth example was offered when, after 21 years of hard struggle, the Prophet conquered Makkah. Those who had rejected him, had driven him out of his home and had been waging wars with him, were brought before him vanquished. But even then, he called them to the Faith and kept in view those lofty principles that he had preached in the vales of Makkah or had enforced in Madinah as a ruler when he was laying the foundations of a new civilization in the Islamic history.
That day he proclaimed those principles that he had been preaching while he had not yet gained his final victory.
Standing at the gate of the Ka’aba he said, “O you people of Quraish! Allah has, this day, put an end to your pride of the Jahiliyyah (Days of Ignorance) and also the pride of your ancestry. Keep in mind! All men are the offspring of Adam, and Adam was fashioned out of clay”. The Quraish who held an exalted position in the Arab society, and had a high opinion of themselves, listened to him in silence with bowed heads. On this occasion he recited the following Qur’anic verse which he had been reciting off and on: “O Mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you.”
The fifth example came in the period of the caliphate of Abu Bakr. He set the example of a ruler whose heart was full of sympathy for his subjects without distinction of rank or class. Notwithstanding his position as the head of the Muslim state, he would visit the girls of the locality whose fathers had fallen martyrs in wars.
He milked their goats for them and assured them that his new responsibilities would not stand between him and his routine of benevolent acts such as that.
It can be said with certainty that there is not a single incident as glorious, outstanding and based on the noble sentiments of fraternity as the ones cited above, anywhere in the lives of the greatest men in the history of mankind.
There is an incident connected with George Washington, the savior of America, that he was once going along the road when he saw some soldiers trying to lift a stone but were unable to do so. Their supervisor was standing close by but not lending a helping hand. Washington asked him to come to their help, but he refused saying that it was below his dignity.
Washington , kept his sheet on one side of the road and helped them lift the boulder, and said to them when departing that whenever they needed help in a difficulty of that type they could enlist his help at such and such address.
Certainly this is a unique incident and is an example of a high standard of morality, but cannot be compared with the incidents mentioned above.
Mercy for Animals
Prophet Muhammad (peace be on Him) was kind to every living creature and this kindness knew no limits. He was very kind to animals as well. Arabs, like all ignorant and illiterate people, were very unkind to their animals. It was very common in Arabia to put a collar round the neck of a camel, but this practice was stopped on the Prophet’s orders. People used to cut pieces of flesh from living animals and cook and eat them. This common practice was forbidden.
It was also forbidden to shear their hair or tails. Prophet Muhammad said that the tail was the brush and fan (of these animals and their hair was their quilt. He also forbade people to keep animals tied to their working equipment for long time and said, ” Don’t make the backs of animals your chairs.” Animals fights were also made unlawful. Another custom was to tie up an animal and practice arrow shooting on it. This was also prohibited.
Once prophet Muhammad (peace be on Him) saw a donkey on the road with a brand on its face, and said, ” Allah’s curse is on him who branded it.” As people had to brand their camels and sheep in order to identify them, they were told to brand them on parts which were not so tender. Anas reported that he went into a herd of sheep and saw Allah’s Messenger branding them on the ears.
Once the Prophet was on a journey with his companions and they stopped for rest at a certain place. A bird had laid an egg there. A man took away the egg and the bird began beating her wings in a state of great distress. The Prophet inquired who had hurt her by taking her egg. When the man admitted that he had done that, the Prophet asked him to return the egg to the nest.
A companion who had some baby birds wrapped in a piece of cloth came to the Prophet. On inquiry, he told Prophet Muhammad, ” I heard a noise from a bush, went there, saw these chicks, and took them out. When their mother saw what had happened, she began to hover over my head.” The Prophet told him to go back and return the chicks.
Once he saw a camel on the road, whose belly had shrunk so much because of extreme hunger that it had become one with its back. He said, ” Fear Allah in your treatment to these animals who cannot speak. ” Muhammad himself fed animals, tied carriers and milked goats.
Prophet Muhammad ( peace be on him) once told a story to his companions. There was a man who went on a journey and on his way felt very thirsty. He found a well and went down into it and drank water. When he came out of the well he saw a dog who was also very thirsty and was licking the salty ground with his tongue. Thinking that the animal was thirsty like him, he again went down into the well, filled his leather socks with water and gave it to the dog. Allah was so pleased with this action of the man that he granted him Paradise. There is another story about a woman going to Hell who starved her cat to death.
Prophet Muhammad ( peace be on him) was so kind and gentle that he advised his companions to be nice and considerate even while slaughtering animals for food. He asked them to slaughter them with the sharpest weapon, thus causing the minimum pain and suffering to the animal. He also forbade them to sharpen the weapon in front of the animal or when the animal was ready for slaughter, but told them to do these preliminaries before the animal was brought for slaughter.
Prophet Muhammad ( peace be on him ) taught people by word and deed to be kind and polite to everyone. Abu Hurairah reported the Prophet as saying, ” A believer is friendly ( and kind). ” Ayeshah reported Allah’s Messenger as saying, ” Allah is gentle and likes gentleness. He gives for gentleness what he does not give for harshness and what He does not give for anything else.”
Ayeshah also reported Allah’s Messenger as saying, ” He who is given his share of gentleness is given from his share of good of this world and the next, but he who is deprived of his share of gentleness is deprived of his share of the good of this world and the next.” Abdullah Ibn Masud reported Allah’s Messenger as saying, ” Shall I not tell you about the man who is kept away, from Hell and from whom Hell is kept away? From the person who is gentle and kind, accessible and of an easy disposition.
Prophet Muhammad, by his own example, had instilled this kind of behaviors in his companions, who, after him, set an example for other people. This is shown by the following incident. It is reported by Abdullah Ibn Jafar that he passed by a grazing field and saw an Abyssinian slave guarding a herd of goats. A dog came and sat in front of him. He took out a loaf of bread and gave it to the dog, who ate it. Then he gave the second and third loaves of bread to the dog who ate them all. He inquired of the slave how many loaves of bread he got daily from his master. He replied that he got as many as he saw.
At this, he asked why he gave all his bread to the dog. The slave replied that the dog did not belong to that place and must have come hoping for food from a long distance, hence he did not like his effort to be wasted. Abdullah said that he liked his action so much that he bought the slave along with the goats and the grazing field from his master, set him free and give him all the goats and the grazing field. The slave thanked him and prayed for him and gave all the goats and the grazing field in charity and went away.
After Allah (swt) admits the people of Paradise to Paradise, they will call out to their opponents among the kuffaar in Hell, rebuking and scolding them:
“And the dwellers of Paradise will call out to the dwellers of the Fire [saying]: “We have indeed found true what our Rabb promised us; have you also found true, what your Rabb promised [warnings, etc]? They will say “Yes”. Then a crier will proclaim between them: “The Curse of Allah is on the Dhaalimoon [wrongdoers]” [7:44]
The kuffaar used to dispute with the believers in this world, making fun of them and insulting them, but on that Day the believers will be victorious: they will be in a state of everlasting joy, looking at the wrongdoers and making fun of them:
“Verily, al-Abraar will be in delight, on thrones, looking [at all things]. You will recognize in their faces the brightness of delight. They will be given to drink pure sealed wine, the last thereof will be the smell of musk, and for this let [all] those strive who want to strive. It [that wine] will be mixed with Tasneem, a spring whereof drink those nearest to Allah. Verily [during the earthly life] those who committed crimes used to laugh at those who believed, and whenever they passed by them, used to wink to one another [in mockery]; and when they returned to their own people, they would return jesting; and when they saw them, they say, “Verily! These have indeed gone astray!” But the [disbelievers] had not been sent as watchers over them [the believers]. But this Day those who believe will laugh at the disbelievers on [high] thrones, looking [at all things]. Are not the disbelievers paid [fully] for what they used to do?” [83:22-36]
By Allah, the kuffaar will finally get the punishment that they deserve, a punishment that fits their crimes. The believer who is now in the luxury of Paradise will remember that colleague or friend who used to encourage him to follow kufr in this world and called him to embrace those misguided principles that would have placed him in the ranks of the kuffaar and enemies of Allah (swt). He will tell his companions about that former colleague, and tell them to look at him and his punishment. When he sees how he is being punished, he will realise the extent of the blessing that Allah (swt) has bestowed upon him, and how Allah (swt) has saved him from a similar fate. Then he will address his former companion and rebuke him:
“Then they will turn to one another, mutually questioning. A speaker of them will say, “Verily I had a companion [in the world] who used to say, “Are you among those who believe [in resurrection after death], [that] when we die and become dust and bones, shall we indeed [be raised up] to receive reward or punishment [according to our deeds]?” The Man said, “Will you look down?” So he looked down and saw him in the midst of the Fire. He said, “By Allah! You have nearly ruined me. Had it not been for the Grace of my Rabb, I would certainly have been among those brought forth [to Hell].” [Allah (swt) informs about the true believer that he said], “Are we not then to die [any more]? Except our first death and we shall not be punished? [after we have entered Paradise] Truly this is the supreme success! For the like of this let the workers work.” [37:50-61]