Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COSAN
AKRA FM Friday Discourse
August 11, 2000
DEEDS LEADING TO PARADISE
As-selâmu alaikum wa rahmatullàhi wa barakâtuhû!..
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
May Allah's peace, mercy, bounty, and blessing be with you. May He honor you and give you happiness in this world and in the hereafter.
a. Spread the Selâm!
Today's first hadith was narrated by Abdullah ibn-i Selâm RA and included in the collections of Ahmad ibn-i Hanbal, Hakîm, Tabaranî, Bayhakî, Ibn-i Majah and Tirmidhî. The Prophet said:
RE. 495/4 (Yâ ayyuhan-nâs! Efshus-selâm, wa at'imut-taàm, wa silul-arhàm, wa sallû bil-layli wan-nâsu niyâm; tedkhulul-jannata biselâm.)
I would like to give you the meaning of the hadith first. (Yâ ayyuhan-nâs!) "O mankind! (Efshus-selâm) Greet one another with selâm, (wa at'imut-taàm) and offer people food." Invite people for food. (Wa silul-arhàm) "Look after your relatives, help them, visit them. (Wa sallû bil-layli wan-nâsu niyâm) Offer prayers at night while everybody is asleep. If you do these, (tedkhulul-jannata biselâm) you will enter paradise in peace."
We must elaborate on these words. First of all, the narrator of this hadith is Abdullah ibn-i Selâm, an important companion of the Prophet. He was a Jew, an ahbar-i yahudi, a scholar of Judaism, respected by the Jews of Madina al-Munawwarah. When Prophet Muhammad emigrated to Madina, he went to the Prophet to see if he was the expected Prophet who was described in Torah. He joined the circle and quietly listened to the Prophet uttering these words. He says, "I went there and looked at this face:
(Fa idhâ wajhuhû laysa biwajhin kezzâb) "His face was not of a person who would lie." Of course, the Prophet was a serious, illuminated, calm, lovable person. May Allah show us his beauty.
The words of the Prophet are important. During the very first days after his emigration, he met with people. He knew some of them from the Aqaba Pledge, yet most of the faces were new. He was in a new environment. His words in such a situation are important. He said, (efshus-selâm) "Greet one another with selâm openly." This comes from the root fâsh, that is, to expose, to make it public, opposite of keeping it secret. This means Muslims must greet one another overtly.
First of all, the greeting or exchange of selâm has great importance in Islam because that is the beginning of kindness, also an introduction. Muslims must meet Muslims. People must meet people, for they all are the children of Adam AS. They are the highest of the creation. Their behavior must be of the highest level, too. Because of the brotherhood going back to Prophet Adam, Muslims must get to know and love other Muslims and other people. The first step in getting to know one another and loving one another is selâm.
Selâm is a word full of meanings: "I have good feelings for you. I want to be in peace with you. I want all the good for you. I want you to be in peace in this world and in the hereafter. I want you to enter paradise which has all kinds of peace, comfort, blessings, and joys. There is no word in other languages to have the same meaning.
As-selâmu alayka means "peace be with you," "peace be upon you," or "peace be yours." This leads to the wish: "May you enter (Dârus-selâm) the Abode of Peace, i.e., paradise."
People in Turkey has become so strange that when one greets with selâm, they look at him as though he were from another planet. When one says, "As-selâmu alaikum!" they respond, "Why do you use the greeting of Arabs?" They do not mind using European form greetings. For instance, they say, "alo" on the telephone which means "hello." A Turkish word could be used for that. Yet many people get angry when they hear, "As-selâmu alaikum." Their motive for getting angry is that they favor so-called "pure Turkish" words, they consider themselves "revolutionary," or they have a grudge against Islam. Their brain or conscience is conditioned to be against Islam through the formal schooling and by the media.
Some people are striving to have people recall a negative image when they hear the word "Islam." The Europe is doing this stealthily. On their television, they show a minaret , a muadh-dhin calling for the prayer, and Muslims slaughtering animals on the Eid al Adha. They try to instill in the minds that Islam equals bloodshed. I would like to get hold of one of the producers and ask, "Don't you slaughter animals in the slaughter houses? Don't you eat meat?
We all know who are bloodthirsty. We know who eats human flesh. Aren't there sacrifice in other religions? Why don't you show them as well?
They also talk of "Islamic terror." Terror is in the blood of Europeans. It is their custom. They condition the minds of people with terror. They do not chose the approach of tranquility and peace.
As-Selâmu alaikum means "You be free of all diseases, difficulties, disasters, and hardship in this world, and enter paradise in the hereafter."
The wealth, comfort and power in this world are temporary and has no value for the believer it the person will enter the hell-fire. Nobody aspires to be a Pharaoh, Namrood or Neron who were in power and had a comfortable life. What is more important is the endless happiness in the hereafter. With all his might, man has to work in this world to earn that happiness. He has to win hearts in this world and get rewards for the hereafter.
Yunus -- may Allah bless his soul-- said:
I am not here for the substance
I am here for the spirit
Hearts are abode for friends
I came here to win hearts.
Winning hearts is the purpose of life. Our nation consists of millions of Yunus. They may be villagers, yet they are informed like Yunus. They may live in villages, yet they are generous as Yunus. They may no have formal schooling, yet they are god-loving, hospitable, modest, well mannered just like Yunus.
Yunus Emre is a good example of our nation. He would choose the good-looking and straight branches when he brought firewood to his tekke. He would say the nice and straight words when he spoke. He was aware that a word could break the heart or cause a fight, so it had to be uttered carefully. That is how our nation was.
We must be aware of the facts about our opponents. We must know the facts behind the alluring advertisements. For instance, the Russians claim that they fight in Caucuses for the benefit of mankind. It is not so. First of all, the Caucuses do not belong to the Russians; the Russians were invaders. The reason for the invasion was the exploitation of the oil reserves in Caucuses and oil pipeline revenues. They shed blood, kill women and children, and sell the prisoners of war. These are crimes against humanity, yet they claim differently.
In summary, spreading the greeting "As-Selâmu alaikum" means getting to know one another, spreading the love and affection, and establishing peace. It is not a mere wish but action.
In Islam the acquired knowledge requires practice. One has to practice what he learns; otherwise, the knowledge has no value. For this reason, one has to wish peace for all and work towards establishing it. One has to try winning hearts.
The words of the hadith are also important from a point of view that they are uttered as very first words by the Prophet who emigrated to a neighborhood, a different city which were new to him. We must follow his footsteps and spread the greeting "As-selâmu alaikum" in all parts of the world in the neighborhoods which are new for us.
b. Feed People
The hadith continues: (wa at'imut-taàm) "Feed people," be generous, offer people food. Food is one of the basic needs of mankind. It is possible that a person could suffer hardship and lose everything he owns. He may be left with no food. He may be displaced, too. In the new neighborhood, there may be well-off people. Those who are better off should extend a generous hand to those who are not doing so well. They should greet, "As-selâmu alaikum" and invite the poor top their houses: "Would you please have the supper with us?" They get to know one another. The guest will be pleased, "Al-hamdu lillah! I had not had any food for so long. May Allah be pleased with you."
We can imagine the hardship that Muslims suffered in Makka and imagine how well such an offer of food and hospitality are received. In our time, the production of foodstuff has increased so much that it will be hard to find people with no food. Yet in a country where there is no rainfall, no vegetation, no trees, no fruits, no animals, the food has to be brought from other places. It is very important to provide mankind what is the most needed.
c. Care for the Relatives
The third recommendation of the Prophet was (wa silul-arhàm) "visit your relatives and look after them." One has to keep his ties with his relatives strong. He has to visit them and attend their needs as much as possible. This is very important.
Life is difficult for a person who lives alone [or when he is stranger in a neighborhood]. Individuals in a society take up different jobs and tasks so that the life becomes easier in the society. One bakes bread; one weaves fabric, one grows vegetables, one makes shoes. Each person contributes to the well being of the society. Then the society prospers.
For the well being of the society, the interactions among the members of the society must be good. There must be solidarity, too. Islam places a great emphasis on this. The solidarity among the relatives is especially emphasized. The expression silul-arham contains these meanings.
d. Offer Night Prayers!
The next recommendation of the Prophet for Muslims was (wa sallû bil-layli wan-nâsu niyâm) offering prayers at night while everybody is asleep. This leads to becoming a beloved servant of Allah. One must remember Allah, praise Him, glorify Him, turn to Him, tell Him his needs, offer supplications and formal prayers. This is how a person would advance in his closeness to Allah. Yet these are quite difficult while a person is in the midst of daily businesses, transactions, noise, and interference from outside. In the middle of night, while everybody is asleep, with a peace of mind in the tranquility of the night, a person could turn to Allah. Reciting Qur'an, offering salat, doing dhikr, shedding tears would be very valuable, then.
(Rak'atâni minal-layli khayrun minad-dunyâ wa mâ fîhâ) "Two units of prayer at night is better than this world and everything else in it." It is because it leads to becoming a beloved servant of Allah. That is what the Prophet recommended it. Also in the Qur'an, Allah Almighty recommended the Prophet:
(Wa minal-layli fatahejjed bihî nâfilatan lek, asâ an yab'asaka rabbuka maqàman mahmûdâ) "Get up at night to offer voluntary prayers so that Allah will elevate your stage to Maqàman Mahmûdâ, it is a stage that nobody has reached before."
I strongly recommend the night prayers on you. I also recommend greeting with selâm so that you get to know the person and get your spiritual degree elevated. The friendship increases love which leads to cooperation and success. I recommend selâm, greeting with selâm, wishing well for everybody, getting along well with everybody, and establishing good ties with everybody.
e. Love for Allah, Get Angry for Allah
When I say "getting along well with everybody," I do not mean an unlimited tolerance. We have to be honest and point what is right and what is wrong. We may not promote the wrong. We have to resist the wrong and oppose the injustice. We may not tolerate the wrong. If we did, it would be against Islam. In Islam, the best of the manners is to support the good and prevent the evil. This is known as amr bil ma'ruf, nahy anil munkar. A Muslim has to take a stand against the evil. He has to stop the oppressor and the thief. While supporting the good, he has to prevent the evil. Islam establishes such a balance.
Islam does not promote an unlimited tolerance; it promotes a tolerance with brevity. A Muslim has to be gentle yet brave enough to point what is wrong and what is right. He has to know when to speak and what to say. Tolerance in Islam does not mean indifference. A Muslim is required to love the good and dislike the evil. There is love for the sake of Allah, al-hubbu fillâh, and there is anger for the sake of Allah, al-bughzu fillâh. If a person does not get angry at an evil act and does not try to prevent it, then he will be neglecting his duties.
Especially in Ramadhan, we read in some newspapers: "Islam is the religion of love ..." They suggest an unlimited love for everything and everybody. This has to be explained well. How can one love those who destroy homes, bomb countries and kill people? How can you love the French rulers who killed one-third of the Algerian population? Is this the civilization? Where are the French Revolution and Human rights? Italians committed similar atrocities in Libya. How can one love them?
One of the characteristics of our ancestors is supporting the oppressed, and opposing the oppressor. This is one of the most rewarding deeds in Islam. The most rewarding jihad is telling the truth before an oppressive ruler. We must understand Islam correctly, and clarify the misunderstandings.
Fiqh is an important branch of Islamic knowledge. A Muslim should pray, "My Lord, give me the knowledge of fiqh." that means, "make me a person who has the proper knowledge, intuition, and judgement to differentiate the right from the wrong."
A Muslim may not support a oppressor because of his power. Being silent against the oppression is not proper in Islam. Treating the rich with respect and abhorring the poor just because one has the wealth and the other does not is tantamount to losing two-thirds of the religion.
The poor may have expectations from the rich, yet these expectations should not prevent him from telling the rich what is not right. Islam is a religion of balance. Everything has a measure and balance. It is stated in the Surah Rahman,
(Wa wada al-mîzân) [And He established the balance.]
Everything has a measure, a dose. If you take the medicine more than the proper dose, you may lose your life. If you take less than the proper does, it will have no effect. It has to be taken in the proper amount. Just like that, the love and anger has to be with a measure. The Prophet said, "Be careful with your love towards a person, for you may be enemies someday. Also be careful with your anger towards a person, for you may become friends someday. Then, you may regret what you did."
One has to stay away from extremes and follow the middle path. Islam recommends the optimum path. We hear sometimes, "There is no divorce in one religion." Well, sometimes it may be necessary to end the marriage. We also hear, "There is nothing against divorce in one other religion." Well, that is too much looseness.
RE. 8/2 (Abghadul-halâli ilallàh, at-talâq) "Among the lawful deeds the one that Allah does not like is the divorce." The divorce is allowed in Islam, yet if it is for no just reason, Allah gets angry.
A woman wants a divorce. She is told, "Look, think about it again. You have so many children. Why do you want a divorce now? Why did not you think about it before these children were born? Didn't you marry him with your heart's consent? Why do you want a divorce now? If a woman seeks divorce on her own, she may not receive the smell of the paradise which can be felt from a distance of five hundred years." That means she will be far away from the paradise. What a terrible end! A woman should not distance herself from her home.
"Well, my heart does not like him."
"There must be Satan in your heart. If you get a divorce now, your children will suffer. Don't you have any feeling of responsibility? Let the children grow up then you and your husband can discuss the matter. You both should observe your responsibilities."
Being a mother or a father means shouldering the responsibilities. Imagine a father who spends his time and money in gambling and drinking, neglecting his home and children. Allah will question him on the Day of Judgement for his behavior. Both husband and wife have responsibilities. Everybody has rights and duties in a balanced way. Islam is the religion of balance in this sense.
The prophet ended the hadith with (tedkhulul-jannata biselâm), "you will enter the Paradise in peace." That is, if you spread the selâm and establish peace in the society, if you become generous and feed people, if you keep your ties with your relatives and friends strong, and if you continue the night prayers, then you will enter the paradise in peace. This is an authentic hadith.
The words of the Prophet are very concise and loaded with meaning. He never kept his talk long. Today's Muslim preachers talk too much for the message they want to deliver. That is why Muslims have a hard time understanding the essence of Islam. They make gross mistakes in their lives. They sincerely believe that they are following Islam, yet they do things that would take them outside of Islam. They commit sins and they say, "God is so generous; He will forgive me." Sometimes they take their insolence one step further: "If He will not forgive me, whom will He forgive?"
Nobody could dictate Allah what to do. He knows whom he will forgive and who He will not. He will treat each person the way he or she deserves. If a person looks at his own mistakes, and faults, he can find so many that volumes of books could be filled if he writes them down.
The Prophet teaches us Islam with the basic principles in a way that can be understood by all. He says, "Spread selâm" which also means "love each other." If a person greets everybody with "as-selâmu alaikum," then he gets responses, "alaikum selâm." Then the introduction will follow: "My name is ... and I am from ... and you?" This will be the beginning of a friendship. This could be remembered and practiced easily.
A person could remember, "I am supposed to be a generous person." He was advised to feed people, invite friends, neighbors, or the poor to his home and offer them food. With this knowledge, he will carry out smaller offers, and share what he has with others.
This could be taught to children. For instance, you give a bar of chocolate to a child and ask him to share it with another child. By the time he becomes a grown-up, he will learn how to share things with others. He will offer things to his wife, his neighbors, his customers, and others.
There is also the advice, "maintain good ties with relatives." You must visit your parents, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, and other relatives. While you talk, you learn about their problems and you try to find solutions. This increased the love for one another.
The last advice, getting up at night and offering prayers, is very useful. "Do not sleep like a log! Think about your deeds. Develop your meditation skills. Turn to Allah when everybody else is sleeping." This will help you gain "ma'rifatullah."
The Prophet told the reward for all of these: "You enter paradise in peace." If a person listens to such a hadith and practices what is recommended, then he enters paradise.
f. Seek Knowledge!
I would like to read three ahadith for today's discourse. Here is the second hadith:
RE. 495/5 (Yâ ayyuhan-nâs! Alaykum bil-ilmi qabla an yukbeda wa qabla an yurfa'. Al-àlimu wel-muteallimu sharîkâni fil-ajr, wa lâ khayra fî sâirin-nâsi ba'd.)
This hadith was narrated by Abû Umâma RA, and included in the collections of Tabaranî and Khatîb-i Baghdadî -- May Allah shower His mercy on them. The prophet said, (Yâ ayyuhan-nâs!) "O mankind! (Alaykum bil-ilmi) I recommend you the knowledge. Seek knowledge and live by the knowledge (qabla an yukbeda) before it is taken away (wa qabla an yurfa') and before it is lifted up."
When the scholars die, the source of the knowledge disappears. When an expert dies, the secrets in his occupation, the secrets of his skills go away with him. Those who come after will never be as good.
The prophet taught many things to his companions. Those who were born after the Prophet passed away sought knowledge from the companions of the prophet. Thus the knowledge was passed from one generation to the next. If people do not seek knowledge, then the ignorance takes over after the scholars die as in our times.
In our time, the knowledge is gone, and the era of ignorance is back. Killing, stealing, bribery, opportunism, oppression, tax-evasion, cheating, and alike have dominated the transactions in the society.
The prophet continued, (Al-àlimu wel-muteallimu sharîkâni fil-ajr) "The scholar and the student who seeks the knowledge have shares in the rewards." This does not mean, of course, that the reward is divided into two and each gets one half; on the contrary, each person gets the same undivided reward. (Wa lâ khayra fî sâirin-nâsi ba'd) "There is no goodness in those who are not teachers or learners." That is if a person does not advance his religious knowledge, there is no good in him.
"Sir, my son went to the Unites States and became a computer engineer."
"My son went to Lausanne University and became a lawyer."
I would like to ask them, "Did you teach them Islam? Do they know the existence and unity of Allah? Are they believers? Are they truthful and trustworthy? Do they have good manners? Do they consider themselves a part of the Muslim ummah?"
If a person lacks the knowledge on Islam, there is no good in him. Allah does not give him rewards if he lacks belief. Once a person is a believer, then everything he does earns him rewards. The guard duty and training for a soldier will be rewarded in the hereafter. A person goes and earns a living, then it will be rewarded. With belief and good intention every act becomes a deed to be rewarded in the hereafter. When there is no belief, there will be no rewards.
"Mr. X died on duty, so he became a shaheed i.e., a martyr."
Well, the first condition to become a shaheed is to have the faith. A nonbeliever will not be come a shaheed. When a Muslim army faces an infidel army. Soldiers from both side will die. Those who have the faith will become shaheed; and the other ones will not because it is the enemy of Allah.
"Well, soldiers from both sides die for their countries."
Everybody is required to find the truth. So they have to investigate and take their positions in the proper side. If they choose the wrong side, they will not be shaheed.
If a person lives among the Muslims yet he admires the infidels, they he will be counted as an infidel. Similarly, if a person lives among the infidels yet he likes the Muslims and does things to help them will be rewarded.
RE. 441/4 (Man kath-thara sewâda qawmin fahuwa minhum) [If a person increases the number of a group by being there, he will be counted as one of them.] The supporters of a gruop are counted as the part of the same group.
g. Make Taqwa Your Business
Here is the third hadith:
RE. 495/7 (Yâ ayyuhan-nâs! Ittakhizû taqwallàhi tijâratan ya'tîkumur-rizqu bilâ bidàatun wa lâ tijârah, thumma qara'a: Wa man yattaqillàha yaj'al lahû makhrajan wa yarzuqhu min haysu lâ yahtasib.)
This hadith was narrated by Muaz RA, and included in the collections of Tabarânî, Hulwânî and Ibn-i Mardawayh--May Allah bless them all. The Prophet said: (Yâ ayyuhan-nâs!) "O mankind! (Ittakhizû taqwallàhi tijâratan) make taqwa, god-consciousness and fear of Allah, your business, your source of income. (Ya'tîkumur-rizqu bilâ bidàatun wa lâ tijârah) If you have taqwa, then your sustenance will come to you without a capital or business interactions." Hallelujah! Al hamdu lillah!
"If a person becomes a beloved servant of Allah, if he avoids the wrong deeds and obeys the orders of Allah and fears His wrath and acts accordingly, would his sustenance come to him without much effort?"
(Thumma qara'a) The prophet then reciteed a verse:
(Wa man yattaqillàha yaj'al lahû makhrajan) "If a person avoids the wrongdoings and obeys Allah's orders attentively, Allah will show him a way out of his troubles. His problems will be over. (Wa yarzuqhu min haysu lâ yahtasib) And Allah rewards him and sends sustenance from sources that he never expects."
It is true that Allah will send such a person sustenance in unimaginable ways. He will send it through the air, via the roads, straight or via other people. He knows how He will send it. It amazes everybody.
May Allah make all of us god-conscious, god-fearing, pure, good Muslims. Make he give us the strength to hold on to Islam real tight. May he save our ship of faith from the storms of the ocean of mischief.
Nowadays, everybody keeps saying something regardless of much thought, with or without the proper knowledge. I observe and question myself: "If I were an ordinary person without a running knowledge of Arabic, a doctoral degree, a knowledge of Qur'an and of the traditions of the Prophet, if I were one person in the crowd, how would I discern the truth from all of these lies?"
You may ask if there is a way out. Yes, there is. The solution is seeking knowledge and hence finding the truth. We must start with the Qur'anic studies and the ahadith of the Prophet. Actually it is better to start with the hadith so the verses of the Qur'an is understood better.
Now everybody tries to interpret the Qur'an. They point a verse as the source of a statement which is in contradiction to the statement. They state lies and attribute them to the Qur'an. They place themselves on wrong tracts and also misguide people. That is why we ask Allah, "Our Lord, Let us see the truth as truth and follow it." May Allah keep us on the straight path, save us from going astray. May He fill our hearts with faith, His love and taqwa. May He protect us from all kinds of dangers. May He keep us in this world as good servants and accepts us as beloved servants in the hereafter.
As-selâmu Alaikum wa rahmatullàhi wa barakâtuh!
August 11, 2000 -- AUSTRALIA