Do not Despise the Poor

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Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani

All praise is for Allah. We praise Him and seek His help nd His forgiveness and we believe in Him and rely on Him. We seek refuge with Allah from the evils of ourselves and the vices of our deeds. There is no one to misguide whom Allah guides and there is no one to guide whom Allah lets go astray. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah Alone. He has no partner. I also bear witness that our authority, our Prophet and our Master, Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger. May Allah have mercy on him, his household and on his Companions and bless them and send peace on them in great abundance.

‘Restrain yourself along with those who call their Lord in the morning and the evening seeking His countenance and let not your eyes overlook them.

Allamah Nawawi has framed another chapter. The subject of this chapter deals with the virtues of such Muslims as are financially and socially weak.

These People are Weak

The intention of touching this topic is to invite attention to a sad state of affairs, that people whom Almighty Allah has granted some status in worldly life, e.g. wealth, rank and fame, etc. generally look down upon the people in the lower class of the society and treat them with contempt. They are being told, as a warning, that they should not despise those who appear to be weak financially or bodily or in status. May be that such less privileged people are more respectable in the sight of Allah than those in the upper grade of the society. Allamah Nawawi [ra] has, therefore, opened this chapter with a relevant verse of the holy Qur’aan.

This verse has been addressed to the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] saying,

‘Restrain yourself along with those who call their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance and let not your eyes overlook them.’

The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] is asked not to refrain from paying attention to those who are poor, low in status and who belong to the depressed classes of the society.

Who are the beloved of Allah ?

There is no Muslim who is not aware of the intimate relations existing between Almighty Allah and the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. He is the most beloved in the sight of Allah of all that is in the universe, so much so that the entire Quraan abounds in his praise. Allah has said, ‘O (Prophet)! We have indeed sent you as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner; and a summoner to Allah by His permission and as an illuminating lamp.’ (33:45-46)

Whenever Almighty Allah decides to praise His beloved Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam], He is very generous in using beautiful words of praise.

A Loving Indifference

There are two or three places in the holy Qur’aan where Almighty Allah has expressed towards the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] a little, mild reproof in a lover’s style, showing His disapproval of some action of the Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. On of these is the incident mentioned in the 80th Surah of the unbelievers were on a visit to the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. Considering that preaching Islam to them would be more profitable for the cause of Islam, he [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] became more attentive to them. In the meantime, Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Umm Maktoom also came to the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. He was a blind companion whom the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] had also appointed as a Muazzin of his mosque. He began to ask the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] some questions about some religious points. As he was the Prophet’s follower, he [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] ignored him for the momemtn and continued talking to the leaders of the unbelievers. The prophet’s [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] idea was that if these leaders embraced Islam their entire clans would become Muslims. Almighty Allah did not appreciate this conduct of the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] and revealed this verse.

In this verse, the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has been addressed in the third person as, ‘He frowned and turned away, because the blind man came to him.’ (80:1-2)

This shows that Allah did not appreciate this act of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam].

Allah further said, ‘What could make you (O Prophet) know that he might perhaps become reformed or take head, so the reminder might benefit him.’ (80:3-4)

‘As for him who thinks that he is independent, you pay attention to him.’ (80:5-6)

‘Yet, it is not the responsibility of yours if they (the leaders) do not reform themselves.’ (80:7)

‘As for him who hurries up to you in right earnest and feel afraid, you are unmindful of him.’ (80:8-10)

The Seeker (of guidance) has a preference

All this was a very mild reproof to the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam], as if from a lover to his beloved. It was never the intention of the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] to ignore the weak and the poor blind man in preference ot the rich and powerful leaders of the unbelievers. The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] considered it better to attend to the leaders first to convey the truth. His own blind, poor companion could be attended later on. Yet Allah did not appreciate even this inattention and explained that the man who had come seeking guidance had a preference over the one who had come without no crave for knowledge.

Although these verses have been addressed to the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam], yet through them the entire Ummah has been taught that they should not despise anyone who looks to be poor and weak, because no one knows that this poor man may enjoy a respectable place and position in the sight of Allah.

Who are the People of Paradise?

The first Hadith which Allamah Nawawi [ra] has cited under this chapter is as follows:

Addressing the noble companions, the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] is reported to have said, ‘Should I not tell you who are the people of Paradise?’ Then he [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] himself said in reply, ‘Every one who is weak, financially or bodily or wak in rank and status and the people of the world also look down upon such a person yet that weak person may be so beloved in the sight of Allah that if he takes an oath for anything, Allah fulfils his oath. In other words, if he swears that this and this shall happen, Allah, by His mercy, shall cause that to happen as desired by the weak and low person, because he is Allah’s beloved. Allah rewards His love in this way.

Almighty Allah fulfils their oath

It occurs in a Hadith that once two women fought with each other and one of them broke a took of the other. According to the Islamic Shari’ah, judgment was passed that a tooth of the criminal should also be broken. On hearign this punishment, the guardian of the criminal uttered these words in the presence of the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam], ‘I swar by Him who has sent you with the truth that her tooth shall not be broken.’

The guardian of the criminal did not mean to object to the holy Prophet’s judgment, nor was he malicious in any way. He uttered these words, depending on Allah’s Omnipotence that circumstances might arise suddenly in which the judgment might not be executed. As the man did not utter those words by way of an objection to the Prophet’s [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] judgment, the Prophet did not feel offended at his words.

Retaliation has been prescribed in Islam: tooth for tooth, eye for eye subjection to the condition that if the person wronged or his guardians forgive the wrongdoer, then retaliation will be waived. It so happened in this case that the woman whose tooth was broken agreed to forgive the offender so it was not executed. On that occasion, the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] said, Some men are dearly loved by Allah, yet outwardly they are in bad condition; with dishevelled hair, are so weak and repulsive that if they call at anyone’s door, they shall be driven out by force. They are, however, so honourable in the sight of Allah that if they take an oath, Allah will fulfil for them their oath. This is also one such favoured person that he swore that the tooth of the criminal would not be broken and Allah fulfilled the oath by inducing the woman wronged to forgive the criminal and give up retaliation. (Sahih Bukhari, book of compromise Hadith2703)

The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has referred in the Hadith to the same point, viz. there is a man apparently weak and depressed, but he is pious and righteous, closely attached to Allah and deeply devoted to Him. Such a man is so dear to Allah that if he takes an oath for anything Allah fulfils his oath, such persons are the inhabitants of Paradise.

Who are the People of Hell ?

Thereafter, the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] said, ‘Should I note tell you who are the people of Hell?’ Then he said, ‘utull, jawwadh, mustakbir’

A person who is ill-tempered, ill-mannered and talks very rudely and is never polite in speech is generally seen in angry mood, and despises others, and has other vices is called utull. The other word is Jawwaadh which means a person who is fussy highly irritable and has a frowning face, too haughty to talk to ordinary people. He regards it an insult to talk to those who are weak, poor and depressed and low in rank and position. He always remains in a proud mood. The third word is Mustakbir which means a person who is arrogant and thinks that he is far superior to others. The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] said that people having these evil traits are inmates of Hell.

The People who Possess Great Excellence

In this Hadith, it has been pointed out that people should never look down upon those who are poor and in lower grades of the society, because they have great excellence and value in the sight of Allah. The community of the noble companions [radhiallaahu anhum] who embraced Islam at the hand of the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] consisted of person of different economic and social status. Their majority came from the poor classes, yet they attended the Prophet’s assemblies without any discrimination shown to them. On one side sat highly affluent companions like Hadhrat Abdur-rahmaan ibn Awf and Hadhrat Uthmaan ibn Affaan [radhiallaahu anhum] and on the other side sat poor companions like Hadhrat Bilaal, Hadhrat Salmaan the Persian and Hadhrat Suhayb Rumi [radhiallaahu anhum] who frequently suffered from hunger.

These Starving People !

Once the unbelievers of Makkah told the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] that they were prepared to call upon him and listen to him but they were prevent from doing this because he was always surrounded by poor and starving persons. They said that to sit along with such degraded persons was below their dignity and status. They proposed that they should be invited to see him [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] in separate meetings. There was apparently no hamr in accepting their request in the interest of Islam. As it involved a point of principle, Allah did not approve of such a proposal and revealed the following verse:

‘Do not repel those who invoke their Lord morning and evening, seeking His countenance.’ (6:52)

The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam], therefore, announced that if they (unbelievers) were desirous to seek and find the truth, they would have to sit with the general public for the purpose. If they did not like to sit with poor classes, they should know that Allah and His Messenger [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] are in no need of them. Separate meetings would not be held for them. (Sahih Muslim)

The Followers of the Prophets [alayhimus salaam]

The other Messengers in the past also faced the same situation and the unbelievers of their days made similar remarks:

‘We see that it is only the most degraded ones among us who follow you, without reflection.’ (11:27)

It means, ‘How can we follow you, as we are wise and highly dignified and noble persons?’ Almighty Allah told them that whom they regarded mean, weak, poor and helpless had great respect and status with Allah, so they should not be despised and looked down upon. A question of principle is involved here. It was not possible that the unbelievers should be accorded preference on account of their wealth, leadership and worldly possessions. This is a principle on which no compromise was to be made. Those believing servants of Allah enjoyed great status in the sight of Allah, in spite of their apparent conditions of weakness, poverty and disgrace.

Hadhrat Zahir [radhiallaahu anhu]

Sometimes a villager called upon the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. His name was Zahir [radhiallaahu anhu]. He was a rustic fellow, black-complexioned and very much depressed financially. He had no respect and regard among the people. The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] had great affection for him. Once while passing through the market, the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] saw Hadhrat Zahir [radhiallaahu anhu] standing there. Who will take notice of a black, poor and unimportant villager, standing in a market in tattered clothes. When the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] passed through the market, ignoring everything he approached Hadhrat Zahir [radhiallaahu anhu] from the back and closing his arms round Hadhrat Zahir [radhiallaahu anhu], he blind folded his eyes with his hands – a kind of joke which intimate friends oftem make with one another. Finding himself in this grip, Hadhrat Zahir [radhiallaahu anhu] tried to liberate himself from this, not knowing who was behind him. The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam], then pronounced these words loudly as the hawkers generally do, ‘Who will purchase this slave?’

As Hadhrat Zahir [radhiallaahu anhu] did not know who had held him from behind he was trying to liberate himself from the grip. When he came to know that the person holding him was the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] then, instead of liberating him from the grip, he began to press his waist closer and closer to the sacred body of the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] and the following words spontaneously escaped from his mouth.

‘O Messenger of Allah! If you sell me as a slave, a very scanty price will be offered for me, because I am a very ordinary and poor man, having no value.’

What a wondeful sentence the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] spoke in reply, ‘O Zahir, whatever value the people may place on you. Your value in the sight of Allah is not little, it is great.’

Now consider there are many rich and successful businessmen in the market rolling in millions but ignoring them all, the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] met Zahir [radhiallaahu anhu] to please him. He [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] gave him glad tidings and behaved with him freely and informally as two intimate friends behave with each other. (Musnad Ahmad vol.3 pg.161)

The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] used to make the following Supplication (Du’aa)

‘O Allah, let me live as a poor man and let me die as a poor man and raise me to life (in the Hereafter) among the poor.’ (Tirmidhi Hadith2352)

The Position of a Servant in the Prophet’s Sight

Today, values and conceptions have totally changed. Today, the respected, honoured is one who occupies a high position and is wealthy. On the other hand, he who lacks in worldly resources, is weak and depressed, is disgraced and despised. Remember than a man who behaves with the poor and the weak in this way has no share in Deen (faith).

Sometimes, we do recite with our tongues this verse, ‘Indeed, the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah is the best in conduct.’ (49:13)

It is regrettable that in actual practise we do not follow the principle laid down in this verse. How do you talk to your own servants and beggars who knowck at your doors for alms? Do you try to solace them and please them or do you despise them? Do you act upon the Ahaadith on this subject? It is very dangerous to misbehave and despise the weak and the poor. May Allah protect us from this sin.

A Debate Between Paradise and Hell

The above Hadith said, ‘Hadhrat Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri [radhiallaahu anhu] has narrated that the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] said, ‘A debate once took place between Paradise and Hell (as to which of the two is superior). Hell said, ‘I am higher in dignity because I shall accommodate great tyrants and proud people, including the rich and the high placed dignitaries. In reply paradise said, I shall accommodate the weak and poor. Both were proud of their inmates. Allah judged between them. He addressed Paradise saying, ‘You are paradise, then token and target of my mercy. Through you shall I send down my mercy on who I please.’ Addressing Hell, Allah said, ‘You are Hell, the token and target of my wrath and punishment. Through you shall I send down my punishment on who I displease. I promise that I shall fill both of you. I shall fill Paradise with those on whom I send down My mercy and shall fill Hell with those on whom I send down my punishment.’

May Allah protect us from Hell and qualify us for Paradise, Aameen.

How could Paradise and Hell Talk?

The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has described the details of a debate between Paradise and Hell. A question arises who two inanimates can debate and argue with each other. It is quite possible that a dialogue actually took place between the two. Paradise and Hell both are Allah’s creation and Allah has the power to grant each of them power to speak. People are surprised to know that even such things, as have no tongues, can speak. They should consider how man is able to speak; who has given him the power of speech? It is Allah who has bestowed upon man speaking power. Even stone, a tree or the earth, can speak, if Allah allows them the same speaking power.

The Limbs Will Speak on the day of Judgment?

Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi [ra] was once on a journeywhen a gentleman with modern education met him. He expressed doubt about the truth of the Qur’aanic verse or some Hadith which states that human limbs will speak on the day of judgment. The Qur’aan says that the hand, the leg, etc. will bear witness that they were used in committing such and such sin. How will they be able to speak? Hadhrat Thanwi [ra] told him that they will speak by Allah’s power; Allah has absolute power to do whatever He likes. The gentleman asked if any example was available? Did this ever happen? He was told by the saint that it is not necessary that there should be an example of every phenomenon. The gentlman insisted on being given some example of this possibility. Hadhrat Thanwi [ra] explained to him, by way of an example, that the tongue is only a piece of flesh, yet it speaks though it has no tongue of itself. It speaks only with the power of speech bestowed upon it by Allah. In the same way any limb, or for that matter, any thing, can speak if Allah grants it the power of speech.

Anyway, the debate between Paradise and Hell related by the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] may be a total truth that the two will actually speak to each other or it may have been related by him [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] only as an allegory – both are permissible.

[Translator’s note: If we look closely into Allah’s creation and keep our mind’s eyes and ears open we can easily discern the truth of many things stated in the Qur’aan and the Prophet’s Ahaadith which appear to be impossible. Take, for example, the faculty of speech. We have seen people born quite sound with their tongues but devoid the power of speech. Similarly, some malady inflicts a man and his power of spech is taken away and he remains dumb for the rest of his life. These phenomena demonstrate Allah’s absolute ability to do anything, as the Qur’aan has said at many places, ‘Allah has indeed power to do everything.’

Hell Will be Filled with the proud people

Anyway, Hell will be filled with the proud men who used to display their superiority and behaved with their fellow-men with arrogance, despised them and talked proudly about themselves.

Paradise will be filled with the Weak and the Poor

Paradise will be filled with the weak and the poor who were in their worldly life to be weak, modest and poor. Paradise will have for its inmates those who behaved with others with leniency, modesty and humility.

Allah does not like Arrogance

Allah shall fill Hell with the arrogants, because arrogants are those who display their superiority over others, consider themselves to be great and others to be inferior and low in status. Allah does not appreciate this pride and arrogance even for a single moment. It is narrated that Allah has said, ‘Greatness is my cloak. I shall throw him into the fire who disputes with Me about this.’

This pride is indeed an evil which drives the sinner into Hell. May Allah protect us from this sin. This is so grievous a sin that it may be called the mother of sins and the root of evils. Many sins emanate from this single sin of pride. Once this sin takes root in a man, it involves him in all sorts of sins.

The Example of a Proud Man

There is a wonderful and wise proverb in the Arabic language in which a proud man has been compared to a man who is standig on the peak of a mountain and sees those at the foot who look to him smaller than he and at the same time those at the foot see the man at the peak smaller than they. When a proud man casts his glance at others, he will feel in his heart contentment for them. It is a major sin to look down upon a believer, even upon a non-believer. May Allah save us from this, Aameen. Thus, a proud man despises others and the greater the number of the persons he despises, the larger will be the number of the major sins recorded in his character roll.

Whenever a proud man talks to others, he talks in such a harsh tone as hurts the heart. It is a sin to hurt the heart of a Muslim.

Do not Despise even an unbeliever

It is also a sin to despise even an unbeliever, because who knows that Allah may, by His mercy, help the unbeliever to embrace Islam, and he may become a better believer than you. So even an unbeliever should not be despised. It is only the sin of disbelief that should be despised. You may have in your heart contempt for sin and disobedience, but not the hater and the sinner. Sometime a man may not be able to realise whether he is despising the sin or he is despising the sinner and the disbeliever. One learns this fine difference by adopting the company of saintly persons.

Modesty of Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi [ra]

What to say of ourselves, even the Moulana [ra] has said about himself:

‘I consider myself to be inferior to every Muslim in his present state of belief and to an ubeliever with regard to his final fate. In other words, I regard myself inferior to a Muslim in his present condition of being a believer and inferior to an unbeliever, because, it is just possible that the unbeliever may turn a Muslim in the future and become a better Muslim than me.’

Pride and Faith cannot go together

Pride and belief cannot go together, when pride enters the heart of a man – God forbid, sometime it becomes difficult for him to protect his Imaan (faith). Was it not pride that drove Iblis (satan) into ruin and destruction? He thought that he was created out of fire and Adam out of earth, thereby he fell a victim to the grievous sin of pride and despised Adam. He was, therefore, condemned for enmity. How dangerous is the sin of pride!

Pride is an Inner Disease

The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam], kind as he was to his Ummah, has taught them a very important lesson in a Hadith, saying that they should never go near pride. It is such a dangerous disease that the patient himself sometime does not realise that he is suffering from it. It is difficult for anyone to diagnose this inner disease. It is, therefore, necessary to attach oneself to some highly qualified spiritual guide for the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

Spiritual Training by a Sheikh is Imperative

Under this institution a man attaches himself to some peer (spiritual Guide) and takes a pledge at his hand to lead a pious life. The disciple wrongly thinks that this action will prove to be blessed and the rehearsal of a few sacred words taught by the guide will be sufficient for salvation. The intention of going to a Pir or a Reformer is to obtain cure from the inner diseases at the top of which is the grievous disease of Pride. Exactly as we consult a physician or visit a hospital for the treatment of our bodily diseases. In the same way the Sheikh (spiritual doctor) provides treatment for our inner or spiritual diseases. It is only a formality to place the hand on the hand of the Shaikh in token of having become his disciple, otherwise the objective is to get the inner disease diagnosed and treated by the Sheikh.

The Treatment of Spiritual Diseases

Another harmful feature of the society is the increasing use of amules (Ta’weez) charms which has been given the false name of spiritual treatment. Just go to some Aamil (dealer in Talisman and charms), purchase from him a Talisman and let him blow upon you after chanting some charm and you have received the spiritual treatment. This is not spiritual treatment. The real spiritual treatment is to consult some righteous Sheikh for the treatment of your spiritual diseases, like pride, malice, feeling of enmity, etc. It is the Sheikh who will correctly diagnose your spiritual disease and will, on the basis of his knowledge and experience, prescribe for you some easy treatment. To submit yourself to the Sheikh’s treatment is called Bay’at (pledge)

Hadhrat Thanwi’s method of Treatment

Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi [ra] laid great emphasis in treating the spiritual diseases of persons who visited him for such treatment. His method of treatment was based on sincere work and not on prescribing for them some doses of medicine in the form of some talisman or charm. For example, a man suffering from pride came to him the treatment prescribed for him was that he should arrange in the proper position the shoes of the Namazis. The Sheikh did not prescribe for him any charm, rehearsal or counting something on beads.

Pride Leads to Hell

May Allah save us from the disease of pride. This disease creeps into the heart of man so secretly that most often he does not feel its presence. He thinks that he is quite sound in heart and soul, yet he is a patient of the disease of pride. True faith and pride cannot go together. Pride leads to Hell. It is, therefore, imperative that the patient of this disease should do his best to seek a speedy cure. The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has issued a warning against this disease in the above Hadith.

Majority of the Weak and the Poor will be in Paradise

In the second part of this Hadith, the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has said, ‘Paradise is filled with the weak and the poor.’

In other words, among those who are near Allahare mostly the poor and the needy, the downgrade people wearing very ordinary and cheap garments who attract nobody’s attention. They harbour in their hearts feeling of Allah’s greatness and love and His mercy descends on them. Such people form the majority of the habitants of Paradise.

The Followers of the Prophet [alayhimus salaam] were mostly the Poor

Any one going through the Qur’aan finds out that the followers of all the Prophets [alayhimus salaam] sent to this world were the poor and weak people. That is why the idolators refused to sit with this depressed class of people, consisting of fishermen, carpenters and other labour classes who were always surrounding the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. The unbelievers claimed that, being highly dignified persons, they were not prepared to sit with these low class people.

These apparently depressed classes are the recipients of Allah’s mercy and honour, not granted to others. Such people should never be looked down upon and treated as mean and depressed.

Who are the Weak and the Poor

Another point deserving attention in this Hadith is that the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has used two words, ‘dhu’afaa’ (weak) and ‘masaakeen’ (poor).

The word Dhu’afaa signify those who are weak physically, financially and socially. As for the word, Masaakeen (poor), it has two shades of meaning, viz. i) the Poor men who have no money, and are nedy, and ii) Those who may or may not have money, but they are meek and mild in temeprament and have no trace of pride in their hearts. This group lives among the poor people and has humility in their nature. A person who is assuming, simple and humble comes within the definition of the word ‘Masaakeen’ (the poor).

Poverty (in the second sense) and Affluence can go together

It should not be misconceived that a man who is well-to-do and has wealth is ordained to enter Hell. What is meant to say is that if Almighty Allah has conferred on any one the blessing of wealth, yet he is humble and mild in his temperament and not proud, behaves with others nicely and discharges fully the rights of Allah and those of His servants, then he too will be counted among the class of the Masaakeen (in the second sense)

Poverty and Maskanat (humbleness) are two different things

In another Hadith, the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has prayed to Allah as follows: ‘O Allah, let me live as a poor man and die as a poor man, and raise me to life (in the hereafter) in the group of the poor.’ (Tirmidhi Hadith3352)

In another Hadith, the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has prayed to Allah in the following words, ‘O Allah, I seek refuge with you from poverty and want.’ (Abu Dawud Hadith1544)

The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] sought refuge with Allah from poverty but prayed for Maskanah (humbleness). This shows that this Maskanah is something other than want, poverty and starvation. As mentioned earlier, Maskanah means modesty in temperament and natural disposition and nice behaviour with the poor. If this humbleness and leniency of character and conduct are born in anyone’s heart he will be entitled to the reward mentioned in this Hadith.

Allah’s Judgment between Paradise and Hell

At the end of the Hadith, Allah has given His judgment between Paradise and Hell thus,. He said to Paradise, ‘You are the token of my mercy, through you I shall bestow my mercy on whom I please.’ He said to Hell, ‘You are the token of my punishment. Through you I shall punish him whom I please. I shall fill Paradise and Hell both with men because both types of men are found in the world those who deserve Paradise through their good deeds and also those who deserve Hell by dint of their bad deeds.’ May Allah include us among the men of Paradise.

A Pious Man did not Laugh During His Entire Lifetime

There was a pious man who was known to have never laughed during his entire lifetime, nor was even a smile ever appear on his face. He was always seen pining with some anxiety. When asked about the reason for this condition of his life, his reply was:

I have read in a Hadith that some of Allah’s creatures are such whom He has created for Paradise and some others whom He has created for Hell. I do not know to which group I belong. How can I laugh, unless I know that I belong to the group of Paradise? This is the anxiety that is always pressing upon me.

How can a Believer Sleep ?

Some saint has composed this couplet:

‘How can a believer’s eye sleep with coolness and comfort, unless it knows which of the two places (Paradise or Hell) is its final resort?’

He Smiled at the Time of Death

Thus, the pious man mentioned above did not laugh during the whole of his life. Observers say that while dying, as soon as his soul was taken out of his body there was smile on his face because it was on that day that he came to know the group for which Allah had created him: it was certainly the group destined for Paradise.

A Life of Negligence

How one who cares for the Hereafter can sleep peacefully when he does not know if he belongs to the people of Paradise or the Ones of Hell. It is also Allah’s kindness to us that He does not allow such an anxiety to dominate everyone, otherwise the entire work and administration of the world would be disturbed and upset. So Allah does not make such extreme cases of anxiety a regular feature.

The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has warned his Ummah at many places against negligence which prevents them from thinking which course – right or wrong – they are taking. They are advised to consider from time to time whether the path they are following leads to Paradise or to Hell. They should also keep a vigilant eye on their acts and deeds. May Almighty Allah include us all in the group which He has created for Paradise, Aameen.

Do not be proud of physical health, strength and beauty

Hadhrat Abu Hurayra [radhiallaahu anhu] has narrated that the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] said, On the day of Qiyaamat, a great man will be brought fat and bulky in body, yet he will not be equal in weight even to the wings of a mosquito.’ (Bukhari Hadith4829)

This entire worldly pomp and power, this physical strength and health and beauty will be of no avail in the Hereafter. This is because the man, inspite of all his greatness, power and beauty, did not work during his worldly life to please Almighty Allah; so he has not the least value in the sight of Allah. The intention of this Hadith is also to emphasise that man should not feel proud of his apparent beauty, health and strength, his wealth and status, as these worldly gifts may not be of any value in the sight of Allah. The real value lies in assuring that a man’s deeds are righteous and he is following the path shown by Allah and His Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam].

The Woman Who Used to Sweep the Prophet’s [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] Mosque

Hadhrat Abu Hurayra [radhiallaahu anhu] has related an incident which occured during the days of the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. He has narrated that there was a black woman who used to sweep the Prophet’s mosque from time to time. The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] did not see that woman for sometime and asked his noble Companions [radhiallaahu anhum] about her. Look! How the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] remembered that black woman and felt for her! The noble Companions [radhiallaahu anhum] replied that she has passed away. The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] complained to them that they did not inform him of her death. The Companions did not say anything in reply but it appeared from their attitude that they regarded that woman too ordinary to tell the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] about her death. The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] then asked the Companions [radhiallaahu anhum] the way to her grave which he visited along with the Companions and offered there her funeral prayer.

The Injunction about Offering Funeral (Janaaza) Prayer on Graves

The general condition about funeral prayers is that if anyone’s funeral prayer has been offered, then it is not lawful to offer the funeral prayer again at the grave of the dead. If a dead body has been buried without funeral prayer, the order of the Shari’ah prescribes that funeral prayer may be offered at the grave before the body has not become decomposed. It is not lawful to offer the funeral prayer at the grave when as much time has passed as the body take to decompose.

Graves are Cells of Darkness

The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] offered funeral prayer at the grave of that women as a special tribute to her and to show this to the noble Companions [radhiallaahu anhum]. After having offered the funeral prayer, he [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] is reported to have said, ‘The graves are filled with darkness, but by the blessings of my prayer Allah illuminates these graves, by His mercy.’

Do not Despise Anyone

The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] did all this to warn the people that it was not good to despise any man or woman and to consider him or her worthless, simply because he or she had no status and standing from the worldly point of view. This was because none knows what rank he or she occupies in the sight of Allah.

This Persian couplet means:

Do not think about every forest that it is empty
It may be that a tiger is sleeping there

If a man is in a depressed and downtrodden state, do not think that he is of no worth because he may possibly have a great value in the sight of Allah.

The People with their Dishevelled Hair

The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] is reported to have said, ‘There are many people with dishevelled and uncombed hair on their heads. Their bodies and faces are dusty, as they earn their livelihood by hard labour. They command no respect anywhere in the world and are likely to be turned out by force if they visit any house. They are worthless from the worldly point of view, but if they swear by Allah about anything, Allah shall fulfil their oaths. That is, if they say an oath, that such and such thing shall be done, Allah by His grace and power, does that thing. If they swear by Allah that such and such thing will not happen, Allah stops the execution of that thing.

Our Behaviour with the Poor

All these Ahaadith show that we should not judge the value of anyone by his outer appearance and condition.

We admit and declare verbally that all Muslims are brothers, high and low, poor and rich, are equal before Allah and that the poor and the deprived have great value in the sight of Allah. Do we keep these principles in view when we actually deal with them? Do we follow these golden rules in dealing with our servants, our subordinates, and the poor and depressed persons whom we happen to come across during our daily lives? What actually happens is that we preach and listen to the golden principles of behaviour but we forget them in our actual practices and dealings.

Hadhrat Thanwi’s [ra] Behaviour with his Servant

Take mindful notice of the stories of those favoured saints Allah grants the ability to comply with these rules.

Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Sahib [ra] had a servant named Niaz, who was called Brother Niaz by all who visited the saint’s convent. He was very intimate and informal servant of the Moulana. While serving the saind and being too close to him all the time, he had developed in him an informal attitude. Sometime he became harsh with the visitors. A visitor one day complained to the saint that Brother Niaz was rude with him. Such complaints against him had reached the saint earlier also. The saint called and scolded him for his rude behaviour with his guests. The servant at once retorted very arrogantly. ‘Hadhrat do not tell a lie and fear Allah.’ See how a servant is uttering such words to his own master who was the renowed saint! It is believed that the servant wanted to tell the saint that the complaint was false nd the complainants had told lies. They should fear Allah. However, in a fit of confusion he used wrong words. See, how the great saint reacted to the servant’s reply. The saint bent down his said and uttered these words, ‘I seek Allah’s forgiveness.’

He observed the limits laid down by Allah. The saint then said later on that he was mistaken as he began to scold the servant on hearing only one side of the story, whereas according to the rules of the Shari’ah a judge should pass judgment on hearing both parties, which the saint forgot to follow and passed his judgment against the servant without hearing his explanation. The saint said that he was mistaken and when he was advised by the servant to fear Allah he had no alternative but to beg Allah’s forgiveness by uttering ‘Astaghfirullaah’.

These are people about whom it has been said, ‘He observes the limits laid down by Allah.’ Thus, the lesson we learn from these incidents is that we should all behave properly with our servants, and subordinates and neverdespise them. May Allah protect us from this sin, Aameen.

Those who Shall Enter Paradise and Hell

Hadhrat Usaamah [radhiallaahu anhu] was a favourite companion of the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. He was the son of Hadhrat Zayd ibn Haarith [radhiallaahu anhu] an adopted son of the Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. In other words, he was an adopted grandson of the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. He has narrated that the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] said, ‘I was standing at the gate of Paradise..’ (This might have been during Me’raaj (ascension), because on that occasion the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] was taken to see Paradise and Hell. Or it might have been on some other occasion during a vision Allah knows better. I saw that the people of Paradise belonged mostly to the humble and the poor classes. I also saw that those who were regarded in the world as fortunate, prosperous, wealthy and high placed in their worldly lives were detained at the gate of Paradise and could not enter it. It may mean two things; either they were entitled to enter Paradise, but were subject to stern reckoning of their deeds after clearing which they could enter Paradise. Therefore, they were detained at the door. Some of them had been ordained to enter Hell. The Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] wnt on saying, ‘Standing at the gate of Hell! I saw that the majority of inmates of Hell were women…’

The Poor Will be in Paradise

This Hadith has two parts. It said in the first part that most people in Paradise appeared to be from among the poor classes as has already been mentioned. The poor class does not necessarily include only the needy but it also includes those who are humble by their nature and temperament.

Why Will Women be in Hell more in Number ?

The other part of the Hadith tells that the majority of the inmates of Hell appeared to be women.

Addressing women, the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] is reported to have said, in another Hadith, ‘I was shown that you form the major part of the inmates of Hell.’

It appears from this that the number of the female will be greater than that of its male dwellers in the Hell. This, however, never means that a woman shall enter Hell only for being a woman. That is not so. In another Hadith, the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has mentioned the reason for this. While addressing women, he [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] is reported to have said, ‘Women form a greater part of the population of Hell.’ When the women asked the reason for this. The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] mentioned two reasons for this, he [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] said, ‘You frequently indulge in cursing and defaming one another on small and trivial issues.’ Women are more involved to these vices than men.

Ingratitude to Husbands

The other reason for this is. You are very ungrateful to your husband. Your husband try their best to please you with their hard-earned money, yet instead of thanking them you generally utter words of ingratitude. These are the two main reasons which will drive most of you to Hell. May Allah protect us from this, Aameen.

The sin of Ingratitude amounts to disbelief

Ingratitude is a contemptible act in all circumstances. It is highly disliked by Allah. In the Arabic language and in the terminology of the Shari’ah, ingratitude is called Kufr (disbelief), because an infidel (disbeliever) actually shows ingratitude to Allah, for the countless blessings granted by Him and thus he attributes a partner to Allah, or denies the unity of All-Compassionate Allah by his ingratitude.

Prostration before Husbands

The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has said in a Hadith, ‘If I were to command anyone in this world to bow down before anyone other than Allah, I would command a wife to bow down before anyone other than Allah.’

The intention is to tell that it is among the obligatory duties of a woman to obey her husband and not to be ungrateful to him, because this will be showing ingratitude to Allah. Allah is displeased with a woman’s ungratefulness to her husband. That is why he [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] told women that they will be sent to Hell for this sin. How dangerous it is!

Two Formulas for Safety from Hell

Allah has clearly prescribed the rights of a husband and his wife against each other. Our sisters must remember that he [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] took special care to address an assembly of women and tell them that these two sins are the causes for their entering Hell in larger numbers. Who knows better the secrets of Allah’s Deen and the natural tendencies of the members of his Ummah more than the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]? There is none other than he [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] who can correctly diagnose the disease and prescribe the right remedy for its cure. Thus, the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has prescribed two formulas for women to save themselves from the torment of Hell. These are: to refrain from the sins of, a) Cursing and taunting one another, and b) Being ungrateful to their husbands.

The Angels Curse such a Woman

The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has gone to the extent of saying that if a wife disobeys her husband’s call to go to his bed or if he passes a night in which she does not fulfil her husband’s desire and he is displeased with his wife, the angels curse that woman the whole night. How terrible a warning of punishment the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has given.

Control your Tongue

It has been said that the number of women entering Hell will be larger than that of men. This saying is being used by some ill-diposed persons as an argument to accuse that women have been degraded to such an extent that even Hell will receive a larger number of women than men. It should be borne in mind that women will not be thrust into Hell for being women; they will enter Hell because of their sins and misconduct, the sins of the tongue, in particular. The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has said that of all his limbs the tongue is the most notorious in pushing man into Hell. The tongue is instrumental to many grievous sins if it is not kept under strict control. You can experience yourself that women are generally weaker than men in controlling their tongues. They are advised to use their tongues with due care so as not to utter words to hurt the hearts of others particularly of their husbands. Allah has commanded the wives to keep their husbands pleased and satisfied in all conditions. They can save themselves from the torment of Hell by correcting themselves and following strictly the laws of the Shari’ah. This responsibility lies equally on men and women both. You know that Allah appointed head of the women of Paradise and that leader is Hadhrat Faatima [radhiallaahu anha]. Allah has not debarred women from Paradise, but has declared them to be entitled to Paradise. The whole matter depends on the good deeds they do and the straight path they follows.

The Importance of the Rights of the People

There is another important point emanating from this Hadith which demands attention. The holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] did not say that a larger number of women would enter Hell because they are more deficient in worship, offer less optional prayers or are slack in reciting the holy Qur’aan or in remembering the sacred names of Allah. The reasons mentioned by the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] for women entering Hell is their indulgence in the sin of cursing and taunting one another and being ungrateful to their husbands. Both these sins are related to the rights of Allah’s servants which they violate. This brings out the importance of discharging fully the rights of Allah’s servants. This is indeed more important than the offering of optional prayers and doing other optional items of worship.

May Almighty Allah grant us by His mercy, the correct understanding of the importance of discharging the rights of Allah’s servants and help us in discharging this responsibility and liability to the best of our ability, Aameen.

May Allah have mercy on Muhammad [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] who is the best of His creation, and on his household and his noble Companions. All of them with your mercy who are the Most Merciful, O Allah.