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 moment 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 to 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 ofParadise?’ Then he [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] himself said in reply, ‘Every one who is weak, financially or bodily or weak 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 hearing 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 disheveled 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 honorable in the sight of Allah that if they take an oath, Allah will fulfill 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 ofParadise.
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 harm 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 friend’s often 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 wonderful 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)
excerpt from Discourses on Islamic Way of Life by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani