[O Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)], except as a mercy to the worlds.” (al-Ambiyaa: 107)
The prophethood of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was a mercy to the entire creation; to mankind, the animals, the angels, the skies and the earth. The favours of Allah Ta‘ala are innumerable and immeasurable. Allah Ta‘ala Himself has declared in the Quraan Shareef:
وَإِن تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّـهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا
“And if you try to enumerate the favours of Allah Ta‘ala, you will never be able to do so.” (Ebrahim: 34)
The greatest favour that Allah Ta‘ala has bestowed upon us was the advent of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Mankind, however, does not reflect over the favours of Allah Ta‘ala. In fact, man does not even consider the boons of Allah Ta‘ala as favours. The sky, the moon, the sun, the stars, the rain, the water obtained from the earth, the crops harvested, the various species of plants, the multitude of fruits and the diverse number of animals, insects, ect.; all of these are the favours and bounties of Allah Ta‘ala. It is obligatory upon us to express our gratitude for these favours.
Alas! Even dogs comprehend the meaning of gratitude. If you rear a dog, it will become a sentinel for you and your family for the entire night. If thieves confront you, it will charge to your assistance and, whenever it sees you, it will express its delight and pleasure by wagging its tail. This very same dog will always submit and humble itself to your demands and instructions because it has the realisation that you are its benefactor.
Subsequently, man, who is the best of creation and imbued with superior intellect, should express greater gratitude to Allah Ta‘ala. He is the only True Benefactor.
There was once a buzurg whose urine flow abruptly stopped, resulting in great pain and distress. Eventually a tube was inserted, via his private part, allowing the free passage of urine which flowed into a bag.
“How did this condition arise?” someone enquired from him.
“It is the result of my sins,” he replied, sadly. “I used to relieve myself three to four times daily without any difficulty, but my ungrateful tongue did not express the necessary gratitude for this favour. It is only now that I understand what a great favour this was. Hence, I am being deprived of this great blessing.”
The king whose urine ceased to flow
Once, the urine of a king had also ceased to flow. He tried various types of remedies but to no avail. His advisors then suggested to him that he enlist the help of a buzurg who spent his day sitting at the fortress’s wall. The king sent a servant requesting the buzurg to meet him. After the predicament was explained to him, the buzurg insisted that the king come in search of the remedy in person.
This statement angered the king’s advisors who decided that the buzurg be forcefully brought to the palace. However, the king rejected their advice and humbled himself. He presented himself before the buzurg and explained his problem.
“This medication is very expensive. It will cost you half of your kingdom,” the buzurg explained to the king.
The king agreed and the documents were drawn up transferring half of the kingdom to the buzurg.
The buzurg then asked the king: “What do you wish for?”
“For my urine to flow,” pleaded the king.
The buzurg administered the medication and the urine began flowing uncontrollably. The king returned to the buzurg in great consternation explaining his present condition.
“But that is what you had asked for!” the buzurg said, calmly.
“Please,” pleaded the king, “I want it to return to its normal state.”
“The price for that medication will cost you the remaining half of your kingdom,” the buzurg pointed out.
The king relented and the kingdom was handed over to the buzurg. After the king was cured, the buzurg reminded him: “You have bequeathed your entire kingdom to me. Nothing belongs to you. I even decline to give you the permission to touch anything.”
Tears flowed from the king’s eyes and in utter despair he asked,
“What should I do now?”
“I don’t know,” replied the buzurg sternly. “Go and cut grass or do some other form of work.”
The dismay that overcame the king at that time was unimaginable. When the buzurg sensed this, he said: “I do not wish to own your kingdom. I merely desired to point out to you that this kingdom which you have aspired and sacrificed for, was actually worth only a few drops of urine. In exchange for Allah Ta‘ala’s single bounty of urinating with ease, you were compelled to part with your entire kingdom.”
Therefore, it is crucial that we express our gratitude for the favours of Allah Ta‘ala lest we should be taken to task for it.
Recognising the favours of Allah
Allah Ta‘ala states in the Holy Quraan,
لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ
“If you are grateful, I shall give you more but if you are ungrateful, then (remember) indeed My punishment is very severe.” (Ebrahim: 7)
Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) recognised and appreciated the favours of Allah Ta‘ala and he commanded the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) to also recognise and appreciate them. Their appreciation was of such a level that we cannot even begin to comprehend it.
Days would pass in hunger and the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) would tie stones to their bellies to suppress their hunger. And whatever provisions they obtained were only the bare necessities. Yet they were warned that they would be held accountable for these basic provisions as well!
When the sun is at its zenith, we seek shelter from its burning rays under a tree. Who created this tree? We may have planted the seed, which was created by Allah Ta‘ala. Whose earth is it? Whose water was used to irrigate the land? From where did we get the water? We obtained this water from the rain. Who had sent down rain? It came from springs? Ah, but He caused the springs to gush forth! It came from streams? He again created these by melting the snow from the mountains! Allah Ta‘ala had initially caused the snow to fall and then He brought out the sun to melt the snow in order to irrigate that seed so that it will germinate into a tree.
Allah Ta‘ala then adorned that tree with branches and leaves and thereafter commanded it to bear lush and delicious fruit. Everything is acquired from Him. Therefore, it is obligatory upon us to express our gratitude to Allah Ta‘ala for His multitude of favours.
The various faculties
Allah Ta‘ala has given us a tongue to use for speaking and communicating with others. But beware! We are not the owners of this tongue. We have been entrusted with this tongue so that we may engage in the ibaadat of Allah Ta‘ala, reciting the Quraan, making zikr, reading Durood Shareef, disseminating deen, etc.
Allah Ta‘ala, in His infinite mercy, has allowed us to use this tongue for our personal work as well, provided we do not become oblivious of His remembrance. The primary objective of the tongue is to be engrossed in the zikr of Allah Ta‘ala.
It is narrated in a hadeeth that once a Sahaabi (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) requested some advice. Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said:
لا يزال لسانك رطبا من ذكر الله
Let your tongue be continuously moist and fresh with the zikr of Allah Ta‘ala.
This is the true purpose of the tongue. Allah Ta‘ala has placed only one restriction on its usage that it must not be used incorrectly. We must refrain from speaking lies, backbiting, slandering, using vulgar language, mocking or disgracing any human being. If we indulge in any of the aforementioned vices, we will be displaying gross ingratitude for the favours of Allah Ta‘ala.
If a child rips apart the pages of the noble Quraan and uses them as wrapping paper, he will be guilty of dishonouring the Quraan. If a person uses his topee, to clean his dirty shoes, he will be discrediting the topee and displaying an unappreciative attitude to the topee. In a similar vein, the tongue, which is a great favour of Allah Ta‘ala, must be used in permissible ways only; never in impermissible ways.
Allah Ta‘ala has blessed us with sight. What is the fundamental purpose of sight? To recite the Quraan, study books of fiqh and hadeeth, the biographies of our elders and pious predecessors, to examine the creation of Allah Ta‘ala and recognise His power and grandeur. But if an individual uses his sight to ogle na-mahram women or to pry into other people’s affairs, he will certainly be taken to task.
Strength and youth
Allah Ta‘ala has blessed us with strength, and the purpose of it is to do the work of deen.
Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Amr ibnul Aas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) used to fast every day and spend the entire night engaged in salaah. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was informed of this practice and enquired from him: “Do you fast every day?”
He replied in the affirmative.
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) then advised him: “Do not fast every day. Instead, fast three days a month, the 13th, 14th and 15th.”
“O Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)!” he pleaded. “I am still young and I possess the strength to fast. Do allow me to take advantage of my youth and strength.” Eventually, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) permitted him to fast every alternate day.
The glaring lesson gained is that our pious predecessors understood the importance of spending their youth in gaining the proximity and pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala. They did not wile away their time indulging in frivolous pursuits and futile amusement. Our pious predecessors utilised their youth in acquiring and serving deen.
Regrettably, if we use our youth and strength in pursuing other pleasures, we will be taken to task for this.
It is recorded in the hadeeth that on the Day of Qiyaamah, the sun will be positioned very close to the people and their brains will be boiling like how food boils in a pot. Some will be drowning in their sweat, others will be standing ankle-deep in their sweat, some knee-deep and others shoulder-deep. No one will be able to take a single step until four questions are asked, and one of those questions will be: “How did you spend your youth?”
Fortunate are those youngsters who spend their youth sacrificing their lives for the service of deen and seeking the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala.
Some participate in jihad, enduring trying and difficult circumstances while passing their days in hunger. Notwithstanding this, they enter the cauldron of the battlefield to engage with and defeat the enemies of Allah Ta‘ala. Others spend their time engrossed in the ibaadat of Allah Ta‘ala and yet others spend their time aiding the aged and the infirm, by attending to their daily chores and assisting them wherever possible. Some have even formed a neighbourhood-watch group designed to protect and safeguard the locality from theft and robbery.
Favour of wealth
The other question posed will be: “How did you earn your wealth and where did you spend it?”
Let us contemplate over this issue! How did we earn our wealth? Was it via a permissible or impermissible means? How did we spend it: in permissible or impermissible avenues? We should never consider that the wealth earned has been achieved through our capabilities or efforts, thus allowing us to spend it in whichever avenue we desire!
Who has given us the ability to earn wealth? Who has blessed us with the intelligence and strength to earn that wealth? Allah Ta‘ala has bestowed us with these qualities. Subsequently, it is incumbent for us to spend this wealth in permissible avenues only.
Destroying our good deeds
It is recorded in the hadeeth that if an individual borrows a few cents and does not repay that debt despite having the ability to settle it, then seven hundred accepted salaah of his will be given in compensation on the Day of Qiyaamah. Let us ponder over the condition of our salaah and ask how many of these will fall under the ambit of ‘accepted salaah’?
Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) once asked the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum): “Do you know who is a bankrupt person?”
The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) replied: “One who has lost all his wealth”
Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied: “A bankrupt person is one who has performed a great number of salaah, kept roza, given an abundance of charity etc., but together with this, he had oppressed people, usurped their wealth and even abused them. On the Day of Qiyaamah, these people will seek retribution from him. His good deeds will be given over to them in accordance to the injustice he had committed and, when these deeds have become exhausted and there are people still seeking retribution, their evil actions will be taken and transferred into his account.”
Thus, a bankrupt person is he who possesses the wealth of righteous deeds, but eventually has it snatched away from him.
Unfortunately, today, we have developed this abhorrent action of backbiting and picking out the faults of others, especially those with whom we are not on good terms. The final result will only be to our detriment because our good actions will be handed over to them and their evil deeds will be deposited into our account. If we are angered with someone, do we hand our wealth over to him as a punishment? If a person does so, we will consider him to be an absolute fool!
In reality, we are being more foolish when engaging in backbiting because we are ultimately presenting our good deeds to that person. These will be more valuable than wealth, and, simultaneously we are accepting their evil actions. For this reason, we must endeavour to safeguard our tongues from indulging in backbiting. Safeguarding the tongue can be a means for our salvation from Jahannum, otherwise it will be the primary cause of our ruin.
The avenues of seeking the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala through correct usage of the tongue are: teaching deen, reciting the Quraan, making zikr, reading Durood Shareef, talking about deen, initiating salaam and replying to salaam. All these are actions that will take us to Jannat.
Imam Abu Dawood earns his Jannat
After the demise of Imam Abu Dawood رحمة الله عليه, a renowned muhaddith of his time, someone had seen him in a dream and enquired from him: “How did it fare with you?”
“I was forgiven on account of a single dirham,” was his reply.
“How did this happen?”
He replied: “Once a person had sneezed and said, ‘Alhamdulillah.’ It is recorded in the hadeeth that when a person sneezes and says ‘Alhamdulillah’, then we should reply by saying ‘Yarhamukallah’. I had forgotten to reply to this person, but I remembered about it a little while later. Thus, I went in search of him. I was informed that he had boarded a boat and crossed the river. I boarded another boat for one dirham, and also crossed the river. After searching a little while for him, I eventually found him and I replied, ‘Yarhamukallah.’ Allah Ta‘ala greatly loved this action of mine and made it a means of my entry into Jannat.”
Correct usage of the tongue
Therefore, our tongues can be a means of our entry into the gardens of Jannat or the pits of Jahannum. What are the actions that will result in us being flung headlong into Jahannum?
Speaking lies! It is recorded in the hadeeth that when an individual lies, a stench emanates from his mouth, which causes the angels of mercy to flee from him. We cannot perceive that foul stench, but the angels can. Speaking lies is classified as a major sin.
Similarly, mocking an individual is also a major sin. Allah Ta‘ala states in the noble Quraan:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَى أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ
“O believers! Let not a people ridicule another people, perhaps the other is better [in the sight of Allah Ta‘ala].” (al-Hujuraat: 11)
Allah Ta‘ala is the Supreme Being who can change the conditions of people. Subsequently, it is not a far-fetched concept to accept that Allah Ta‘ala can replace our condition with that of the person we are mocking. Mocking another human being is a disgusting and sinful action.
It is mentioned that sometimes a person utters such a vile and despicable statement that, if it was placed in a sweet ocean, the water will turn bitter. The consequences of such an action will be that this person will be thrown into Jahannum.
Conversely, a person may utter such a statement that, if it was mixed with the salty waters of the ocean, they will turn sweet and the reward for this statement will be Jannat. An intelligent person will use his tongue to earn himself the eternal bliss of Jannat. In fact, every favour of Allah Ta‘ala can be used as a means of our entry into Jannat.
The gift of wealth, if acquired through lawful means and spent in lawful avenues, can be a source of our salvation; otherwise it will become a source of our destruction.
We need to appreciate the favours of Allah Ta‘ala and express our gratitude for these favours by using them in the correct manner and avenues as shown to us by Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). If we use them in any other manner, we will then be guilty of being ungrateful and will earn the anger of Allah Ta‘ala. We should always place this concern at the forefront of our lives so that it will spur us to do righteous actions.
Our objective in this world is not to cultivate orchards, erect a financial empire, amass huge sums of wealth, build sprawling mansions, buy luxury vehicles, wear extravagant clothing, etc. Indeed not!
We should strive to live our lives in pursuit of the real purpose for our creation. May Allah Ta‘ala grant us all the taufeeq.