Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COSAN

AKRA FM Friday Discourse

October 27, 2000

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HOW NICE IT IS!

As-salâmu alaikum wa rahmetullàhi wa barakâtuhû!..

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May Allah's peace, mercy and bounty with you at all times. May He grant you, your family and your loved ones happiness in this world and in the hereafter.

We are visiting a brother here as a group. The brother opened a page of the hadith collection book Ramuz al-Ahadith. We will read some ahadith from this page for this Friday's discourse.

a. Preferring a Brother over Oneself

The first hadith was narrated by Abdullah Ibn-i Omar RA. Prophet Muhammad SAS said:

RA 183/1 (Ayyumemru-un ishtehâ shahwatan wa âthera 'alâ nafsihî ghafarallàhu lahû.)

In this brief hadith, our beloved Prophet said: (Ayyumemru-un) "Consider a person (ishtehâ shahwatan) desired something." It could be something to eat, a fruit, a pear, an apple, or a plum; it could be something to drink. It could also be a plate of food. He received or picked what he desired, but he saw a brother, a friend, or a loved-one or just any servant of Allah. (Wa âthera 'alâ nafsihî) "He preferred that person over himself." Instead of eating or drinking what he wanted by himself, he gives it to the other person.

"If a person offers something that he wants to eat or drink to another person, (ghafarallàhu lahû) Allah forgives him his wrongdoings."

Dear Brothers and Sister. Here the word âthera-yu'thiru-îthâr means to prefer, to see it fit better. In the friendship and brotherhood, there are several levels of preference. For instance, Imam Ghazâlî explains in his Ihyâ Ulum-id-Dîn that there are three levels of preference:

1. Considering the friend as somebody you have a responsibility to meet the needs. In other words, you treat him just like you treat your family members. You earnings are spent on your wife, your children, your parents, and your relatives that live with you. You may also meet the needs of a servant in the house. You consider your friend as somebody you have to meet his needs. This is the lowest level of friendship and brotherhood.

2. The medium level of the friendship is based on equal share. You give your friend half of what you have.

3. The highest degree of the friendship is îthâr i.e., preference as stated in the hadith above. It is preferring the needs of your friend over your own needs. You offer it to your friend before you take it.

This was the practice of Ansar of Madina al-Munawwara. They received their Muslim brothers from Makka al-Mukarrama, the Muhajirûn, and they preferred the Muhajirûn over themselves. Hence, they received the consent and praise of Allah as indicated in the Qur'an:

(Wa yu'thirûna 'alâ anfusihim walaw kâna bihim khasàsah) "They prefer others above themselves even though poverty be their portion." They do not complain in any way. This is the highest degree of friendship and brotherhood in Islam. There are many examples of such brotherhood in the history. May Allah give this kind of brotherhood and friendship to living Muslims.

b. Return the Improper Income!

The second hadith is from the same page. It was narrated by Al-Fadl ibn-i Abbas RA and included in the collection of Tabarânî. The Prophet said:

RA. 183/6 (Ayyuhan-nâs! Man kâna indahû shay'un falyarudda walâ yaql fudhad-dunyâ, elâ wa inna fudhad-dunyâ eyseru min fudhil-âkhirah.)

(Ayyuhan-nâs!) "O mankind! (Man kâna indahû shay'un) If you posses something that is obtained improperly or wrongfully, (falyarudda) you must return it to the rightful owner."

How could such a thing happen? It is likely that a person takes something from the spoils of the war before it was distributed. It will be wrong to do something like that. It is stated in the Qur'an:

(Wa'lamû ennemâ ghanimtum min shay'in fa-enna lillâhi khumusahû wa lir-rasûl) [Be aware that one-fifth of all the spoils of war belong to Allah and His Prophet.] 20 percent of the spoils goes to the treasury to be spent on the nation. The ruler of the country uses this in service of Muslims. The remaining 80 percent is distributed among the veterans. This is the order of Allah. If a person takes something from the battle ground and keeps it before the distribution and fails to give it to the commander for distribution, it will be an unlawful possession.

It is also possible that a person may borrow something from a neighbor and then claim ownership. Still, somebody may find something belonging to a specific person and keep it. No matter what it is, if something is possessed wrongfully, it must be returned to the rightful owner. This is the order of the Prophet.

The prophet continued: (walâ yaql fudhad-dunyâ) "Do not consider returning it as a shame or an embarrassment in this world; (elâ) beware, (wa inna fudhad-dunyâ eyseru min fudhil-âkhirah) the embarrassment and disgrace in this world is much lighter than the disgrace and embarrassment in the hereafter."

I remember another hadith that the Prophet requested people return what they took. Some did not hear the announcement or hesitated to return what they got. Later on, one person came to the Prophet and showed him a piece of leather shoe-strap. "This was from the spoils," he said. Perhaps, he thought that that was so insignificant to return. The Prophet asked, "Didn't you hear my announcement?"

"I heard it, yet I did not return then."

The Prophet said, "It is a strap from the hellfire."

No matter how small or insignificant they may appear, any illegal possessions will cause the possessor to be punished in Hell in the hereafter. That is why we need to be aware of the Divine Court and trial in the hereafter and act accordingly. We must return the goods to the rightful owners. We must admit our wrong doings and stop committing offences. We must not leave things unresolved, for it will be much harder in the hereafter.

c. Take Warning from Death!

The third hadith is also from the same page. It is longer than the other ones. This should be read or listened again and again. It was narrated by Anas RA and included in the Hakîm-i Tirmidhî. The Prophet said:

RE. 183/5 (Ayyuhan-nâs! Ke-ennal-mawta fîhâ alâ ghayrinâ kutib, wa ke-ennal-haqqa fîhâ alâ ghayrinâ wajab, wa ke-ennemâ tusheyyi'u minal-mawtâ an qalîlin ileynâ râjin, buyûtuhum ajdâsuhum, wa na'kulu turâthahum ke-ennâ mukhalledûna min ba'dihim, fatbâ limen shaghalahû 'aybuhû an aybi ghayrihî, tbâ limen dhel-la fî nafsihî min ghayri manqasatin, wa tewâdaa lillâhi min ghayri meskeneh, wa anfaqa mâlan jama-'ahû min ghayri ma'siyah, wa rahima ahledh-dhlli wal-maskanah, wa khàleta ahlal-fiqhi wal-hikmah, tbâ limen dhel-la nafsuhû wa tàba kasbuh, wa saluhat serîretuhû wa karumat alâniyatuh, wa 'azala anin-nâsi sher-rehû, tbâ limen 'amila bi'ilmihî, wa anfaqal-fadla min mâlihî, wa amsakal-fadla min qawlih.)

This hadith is full of literary arts; each sentence is a gem. The hadith is like the chest of gems. It is almost almost a combination of ahadith. The Prophet said: (Ayyuhan-nâs!) "O mankind! (Ke-ennal-mawta fîhâ alâ ghayrinâ kutib) In this world we act as though the death is not for us but for other." That is, we act like we will never die. We have no worry about the hereafter. We have no worries and lead a comfortable life. (Wa ke-ennal-haqqa fîhâ alâ ghayrinâ wajab) "We act as though in this world doing the right thing is a must for others." We seem to be indifferent about violation of rights as though we were not instructed to uphold what is right.

The Prophet continued: (Wa ke-ennemâ tusheyyi'u minal-mawtâ an qalîlin ileynâ râjin) "We say goodbye to those who die as though they would come back sometime in future." In fact, it is not so. People who die do not come back to this world.

Each one who leaves must be happy with where he is
Years have passed yet no one has returned from his trip.

We send the deceased to the cemetery as if we send a person to a different city to take care of some business and come back. People do not think about what will happen to the person who dies, nor do they think of their end. They continue enjoying the life as though nothing had happened.

The prophet added: (Buyûtuhum ajdâsuhum) "Their graves are their homes, (wa na'kulu turâthahum ke-ennâ mukhalledûna min ba'dihim) and we enjoy the belongings they leave behind as though we would live forever after them." As we inherit their belongings, those who come after us will inherit our belongings. While we enjoy the inherited goods, we do not remember death.

We need to abandon such an indifference. We need to remember that we will die, too. We have to worry about our future in the hereafter and be a good servant in this life. We have to observe the rights of others and our responsibilities. We have to follow the straight path.

d. How Fortunate it is!

The Prophet continued: (Fatbâ limen shaghalahû 'aybuhû an aybi ghayrihî) "How fortunate is a person who thinks about his shortcomings and tries to rectify them instead of investigating other people's shortcomings." Sometimes we notice the mistakes that other people commit. Instead of blaming the person, we must think about our mistakes first. When we talk about other people's shortcomings, it will be a gossip and a sin. If a person does not correct his mistakes, who is going to correct them for him? "One who is busy with correcting his own mistakes will have no time to look at other people's mistakes."

We also have the responsibility of ordering the good and forbidding the evil. We have start it with our own nafs before we practice on others.

The Prophet added: (Tbâ limen dhel-la fî nafsihî min ghayri manqasatin) "How nice is a person who consider himself humble while he has no shortcomings." A person may have some virtues; still, he should look up to those who are better. He should be humble even if he has no obvious shortcomings. (Wa tewâdaa lillâhi min ghayri meskeneh) "How nice is he who humbles himself, for the sake of Allah, without being lazy." A person may have a high position, a degree, or a rank, yet he is humble. (Wa anfaqa mâlan jama-'ahû min ghayri ma'siyah) "How nice is a person who spends on causes which are not sinful." Money is spent on two causes: a good cause, such as giving as charity, spending on one's family and other lawful causes, or on an ill cause, such as gambling, drinking, sinful entertainment and alike. One will earn rewards for the person; the other, sins. "How nice it is to abstain from spending on ill causes."

The Prophet continued: (Wa rahima ahledh-dhlli wal-maskanah) "How nice it is to be merciful on the poor and destitute." We must look around and have mercy on the destitute. We never know the past of these people. We hear amazing stories about such people. For instance, when we were in the junior high school, we used to plant bulbs of some flowers in pots and keep them in the classroom until they bloom. There used to be a strange gardener at school; he used to take the pots away. Once we complained to our teacher about him. He said, "This man used to be a teacher in this school. He was a good teacher and a respectable person. May Allah keep us from such a state." He was later hired as a gardener in school.

Why would a person become destitute? He loses his sanity, his health, his youth, his wealth, or his family. There may be other reasons. We must sympathize with them.

(Wa khàleta ahlal-fiqhi wal-hikmah) "How nice it is to be with the people of fiqh and wisdom." This is a good advice for us about our companions and friends. We need to be with those who have a good knowledge of Islam and who have a good intuition, vision, and understanding. We must avoid those who constantly indulge in idle talk, and those who have a tendency to commit sin. Since the behaviors are somehow contagious, a bad friend can take a person into deep trouble spiritually and physically ruining his world and his hereafter.

In this 21st Century, everybody seems to admire his own life style despite the fact that it does not comply with Islam. You hear some people making comments on how the religion should be practiced. Everything they say contradicts a rule of Islam. The religion is not left to individuals' wishes and desires; it is prescribed by Allah. The rules and rituals are stated by Allah and explained by the Prophet. If a Muslim makes friendship with such people, soon he will be thinking just like them.

Allah does not need the worship of the servants. He does not need anything; He is Ghaniyyun anil àlemîn. On the other hand, the servants need their Creator. They need to worship Him. They need to earn His pleasure and consent. Establishing friendship with those who have the knowledge will be good for them.

The hadith continues: (Tbâ limen dhel-la nafsuhû) How nice is he who is humble (wa tàba kasbuh) and has clean, lawful earning." If a person earns through unlawful means, the hellfire becomes a must for each of his cells in his body. He suffers in Hellfire in the hereafter. (Wa saluhat serîretuhû) "How nice it is to have cleanliness and purity in soul and intentions, (wa karumat alâniyatuh) and cleanliness on the outside."

A good Muslim has a pure heart and good intentions. He also has pleasant code of conduct. Everybody likes such a good and clean person.

(Wa 'azala anin-nâsi sher-rehû) "How nice it is to keep people away from any possible harm a person may inflict." That means "how nice it is not to inflict any harm on people."

The prophet added: (Tbâ limen 'amila bi'ilmihî) "How nice is he who practices what he knows." Imagine a person who attends hadith and Qur'an lectures and acquires knowledge. It would be great to practice all of this knowledge. In Islam, it is a great virtue to practice the knowledge. As a matter of fact, this must be the purpose of seeking knowledge. (Wa anfaqal-fadla min mâlihî) "How nice it is to spend much of his property for charity (wa amsakal-fadla min qawlih) and to withhold much of his words." A person should spend the excess of his belongings and property for charitable causes. He should not speak more than necessary. We should read the related topics in books such as Ihya-i Ulumid-Dîn and Majma'ul-Àdab.

Each word we utter can have a responsibility on our shoulders. The one with the least responsibility would be idle talk. Hence, the silence will be a safe heaven for everybody.

If a person posts each sentence of this hadith on a wall, decorate his house with its words, remembers it often, reads it as he travels, memorizes and adjusts his life to this hadith, he would be good Muslim. May Almighty Allah grant us the opportunities to practice what we learn. May He grant us His consent and pleasure. We would like to be good servants deserving the love of His Prophet, too. May Allah give us a good life full of service to mankind. May He take us from this world while we have a perfect faith.

As-salâmu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakâtuhû!

October 27, 2000 -- SWEDEN