Every Muslim who has reasonable knowledge of his religion knows that being a believer in Islam represents a great blessing from God. Islam is a religion that gratifies human nature in the best way it can be gratified. It seeks to establish perfect harmony between man’s life in this world and the universe around him. Thus a Muslim does not see himself in conflict with nature, and does not feel his main task to be the conquering of nature. Indeed he looks at natural forces as friendly forces, created and set into operation by God to ensure a good balance in the universe. They serve human life, making it possible for human existence to continue and progress.
Islam also establishes a mode of human life that ensures that the best qualities of man will flourish and achieve their best results. When a Muslim compares his life under Islam and human life under other systems or religions he finds the gulf too wide to imagine. This gulf is best described by Jaafar ibn Abu Talib, the Prophet’s cousin, who explained to Negus, the king of Abyssinia, the teachings of Islam and the reasons for the opposition and persecution the new Muslims had to endure from their people, the Quraysh. Jaafar said: “In our recent past we were ignorant people: we worshipped idols, ate carrion, committed all sorts of sins, attached little value to maintaining good relations with our kinsfolk and behaved badly to our neighbors. Our overruling maxim was that might was right. This continued to be our situation until God sent us, from among ourselves, a Messenger whose good name, honesty, sincerity and integrity were well known to us. He called on us to believe in God, the one and only God, and to stop worshipping all idols, which we and our forefathers used to worship alongside Him. He commanded us always to speak the truth and be honest, to be good to our relatives and neighbors, to preserve life and shed no blood, to refrain from sin, perjury, robbing the property of orphans entrusted to our care, and making false accusations against honorable women. He also commanded us to devote our worship to God alone, ascribing to Him no partners of any sort. He further commanded us to pray regularly, to give away certain purifying alms and to fast, etc. We gave him a favorable response, believed in him and gave him our full support. We followed these Divine commandments he conveyed to us. We began to worship God alone, refraining from what He forbade us and accepting what He made lawful for us. Our people, however, assaulted us and subjected us to physical torture to compel us to revert to idolatrous worship and to indulge in the sinful practices we used to indulge in. Having been overpowered, oppressed and denied the freedom to choose our faith and practice it, we sought refuge in your country, choosing you in preference to all other rulers, hoping that in your refuge we would suffer no injustice.” Negus immediately recognized the truth of Jaafar’s statement and guaranteed that the Muslims would stay in his kingdom unmolested and unharmed.
When human life is set on the basis Jaafar outlines in his superb presentation, it represents a great blessing indeed. Yet this marked difference between Islamic life and life under other systems is not the only blessing Muslims enjoy as a result of believing in Islam. Ibn Abbas quotes the Prophet as saying: “‘Anyone of my community who suffers the death of two of his children, God will admit him into heaven.’ Lady Ayesha asked: ‘What about a person of your community who suffers the death of one child?’ He said: ‘May you be granted success! This applies to them as well.’ She asked: ‘What about the ones who do not suffer the death of any children?’ He said: ‘I am the one whose death they suffer. Indeed they will never suffer the death of anyone like me.'” (Related by Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhi and Al-Baghawi.)
The Prophet teaches us in this Hadith to accept whatever calamity may happen to us. Perhaps no one suffers more grief than loving parents when they lose a child. The Prophet tells such parents that they should not let their grief get the better of them. They should realize that God will reward them richly for their patience in such adversity. When they accept their loss as an act of God’s will, they will be forgiven their sins and are sure to be admitted into heaven.
We note how Ayesha continued to question the Prophet about the loss of children when she herself had no children of her own. The Prophet stated first that admission into heaven is certain for anyone who loses two of their children. She asked about the loss of one child and the Prophet confirmed that the same applies to such parents. They need, however, to accept their loss with resignation, knowing that it is God’s will. When she asks about those who do not suffer such a loss, the Prophet tells her that all Muslims suffer the death of the Prophet, as they lose the guide who always shows them the right way and the guardian who always takes good care of them. He says: “They will never suffer the death of anyone like me.” Who could be like him? Blessed be he in life and in death, and in the life to come.
This is further explained in an authentic Hadith in which Abu Musa Al-Ashari quotes the Prophet as saying: “When God wishes to bestow mercy on a community, he causes their prophet to die and they survive him. Thus He makes their prophet’s death a calamity they suffer with patience and for which they are rewarded. On the other hand, when God wants to destroy a community, He lets His punishment befall them with their Prophet alive, looking at them as they are destroyed. Thus, He will give him the satisfaction of seeing their punishment for denying his message and disobeying his instructions.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.)
This Hadith is highly authentic, as it is related by both Al-Bukhari and Muslim, each of whom quoting narrations by a large number of the Prophet’s companions. Thus it aspires to the highest degree of authenticity. Moreover, it is confirmed by what the Qur’an states about the punishment of earlier communities who denied their messengers and refused to accept God’s guidance. The people’s of Ad, Thamud, Lot, Madyan and Pharaoh were all destroyed during the lifetimes of their prophets. By contrast, when the children of Israel accepted Moses’ message, Moses died and they prospered under other prophets, such as David and Solomon, who guided them to implement the divine message given to them. The same applied to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Muslim community. May it long prosper under the Prophet’s guidance, and may it long implement God’s final message.