Home Faqihul Ummah Mawa`iz (Discourses) Discourse 20 - Consideration for people’s positions

Discourse 20 - Consideration for people’s positions

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نحمده ونصلي على رسوله الكريم

It is stated in a hadeeth:

أمرنا أن ننزل الناس منازلهم

and in another hadeeth the following has been recorded commanding us to comply,

نزل الناس منازلهم

and yet in a third hadeeth, it is stated:

لينزل الناس منازلهم.

The approximate meaning of all these ahaadeeth is,

“Treat people according to their status and rank.”

The status of the imam

It is incumbent to give due consideration to the position that Allah Ta‘ala has bestowed upon certain individuals. For example, a person has been appointed as the imam and he leads the congregational salaah in the musjid. It is obligatory upon the congregation to respect the imam to such an extent that even if he errs in salaah, it is still binding on the muqtadees (congregation) to follow him. For example, if in a four rakaat fardh salaah, the imam forgetfully returns to the standing posture after two rakaats, instead of sitting for tashahhud, the muqtadees will have to follow him in this blunder, even if they endeavour to correct him by saying, ‘Subhanallah’, ‘Alhamdulillah’, etc. It is essential for them to follow the imam even though they are aware of the mistake.

Conversely, the imam as well has been instructed to take cognisance of the status of the muqtadees. If there are feeble, elderly and weak muqtadees following him, then he should shorten the duration of the salaah. He should not recite lengthy qiraat. There is a special link between the muqtadees and the imam. Hence, those muqtadees who are acquainted with the masaa’il of salaah, tahaarat, qiraat etc. should stand close to the imam so that they can correct him if he errs. Similarly, the imam will also be able to easily appoint someone to lead the salaah if his wudhu breaks. However, if an uneducated person (in masaa’il) stands close to the imam, how can he be appointed to lead the salaah? In fact, sometimes the imam errs in his salaah because of the incorrect actions of the muqtadees, for example, they did not perform their wudhu correctly. This is the special link between the imam and the muqtadee.

The muazzin also enjoys a status in Islam. الإمام ضامن و المؤذن مؤتمن – The imam has been entrusted with the responsibility of leading the congregation while the muazzin has been appointed to call out the azaan  so that the believers perform their salaah timeously.

An ex-student of Deoband, who resided in a certain locality for a lengthy period of time during his studies, was appointed as the imam in the local musjid. After graduating from the madrasah, he left the locality and took up residence in another town. Shortly thereafter, the community received a letter from him.

“I was not a Muslim,” he shockingly revealed. “Hence, whatever salaah was performed behind me will have to be repeated.”

Naturally, the people became perturbed and came to the madrasah to clarify the situation. We informed them that there was no need to repeat their salaah because the statement of a kaafir confessing that he is not a Muslim is not taken into consideration.

Abu Bakr’s (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) firm stance and his consideration for the position of Usaamah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu)

Towards the end of Nabi’s (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) life, an army had been dispatched with Usaamah bin Zaid (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) as the ameer (commander). Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) accompanied the army for a short distance and then returned to Madinah. Soon thereafter, Nabi’s (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) health deteriorated drastically and he passed on. Upon receiving the news of Nabi’s (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) ill health, the army returned to Madinah and temporarily halted their expedition.

Hadhrat Abu Bakr (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was then appointed the khaleefah after the demise of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), and the khaleefah also has a high status among the masses. Some Sahaabah y began suggesting that the army should not proceed on their expedition, but Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) blankly refused to accept this suggestion.

They argued: “Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has just passed on and there is a fear of some fitnah arising. People like Musailamah Kazzaab are even claiming prophethood. Therefore, the army of Usaamah should be kept back to crush any fitnah that may arise.”

“Never,” replied Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), firmly. “My first duty is to dispatch the army, irrespective of what will happen. Revelation has terminated and the deen has been completed. أ ينقص الدين وأنا حي – How can I now tolerate a deficiency to enter the deen while I am still alive?”

Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) ignored everyone and ensured that the army was dispatched in accordance with the command of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).

Some even suggested that a senior sahaabi replace Usaamah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), who was very young at that time. Among those who made this suggestion was Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), but Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) remained firm and said: “I am appointing such a person as the commander of the army, whom Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) himself had appointed.”

Hence, Usaamah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was instructed to proceed with his army. He complied with the decree and announced that the army should prepare itself to depart. In that era, to prepare the army was not the same as preparing people to go out in the path of Allah Ta‘ala as the tableegh jamaats are prepared nowadays, where generally a talk is delivered, tashkeel is made and names are taken. In that era, the commander in chief called out names and it was incumbent upon every individual to adhere to the command.

One of Hadhrat Abu Bakr’s (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) desires was to keep Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) in Madinah to assist him in the affairs of the khilaafat. With this in mind, he respectfully approached Hadhrat Usaamah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and said: “You have made the announcement to the people to prepare themselves to go out in the path of Allah Ta‘ala, and among them is Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). I humbly request you to release Hadhrat Umar so that he may assist me in the matters of the khilaafat.” Hence, Hadhrat Usaamah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) permitted Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) to remain behind.

At this juncture, let us reflect upon this incident. It is mentioned in a hadeeth that if the sum total of everyone’s imaan was placed on one pan of the scale and Hadhrat Abu Bakr’s (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) imaan was placed on the other, the imaan of Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) will outweigh the imaan of the entire ummah. The highest-ranking person after the Ambiyaa ('alaihimus salaam) is Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was senior to Hadhrat Usaamah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) in every possible manner; in age, knowledge, experience, intelligence, and Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was also the designated khaleefah.

If he desired, he could have instructed Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) to remain behind or he could have summoned Hadhrat Usaamah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) to his presence and informed him of his decree, but HadhratAbu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) did not do so. He respectfully approached Hadhrat Usaamah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), taking cognisance of his position, and personally requested him to release Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). Allah Ta‘ala thereafter bestowed such blessings on Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) that the munaafiqeen, the mushrikeen and all those who opposed him were thrown into a state of bewilderment. They had assumed that, with the demise of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), Islam will be weakened and the power of Islam will be terminated.

However, they were now left in no doubt regarding the fact that the power and might of Islam was still alive and was a force to be reckoned with.

When Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was asked as to how to deal with those people who refused to pay the zakaat, he replied: “I shall wage war against them.”

Everyone disagreed with him on this issue (because they felt that they should not be dealt with harshly). However, Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was adamant and said: “No! I shall wage war on them even if I have to do it alone.”

He then mounted his horse and set off on his own. Hadhrat Ali (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) caught hold of the reins of his horse and pleaded with him saying: “Sheath your sword and do not grieve us with your separation. We shall not be able to tolerate your departure. You asked us for our opinion and we, according to our understanding, gave it. We are prepared to abide by whatever decisions you make. Do not set off on your own.”

These were exactly the same words that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had uttered on the occasion of the Battle of Uhud. During the battle, Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) searched for Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in the confusion that reigned and when he eventually found Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), he was overcome with grief at witnessing the fact that Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was injured while he was left unharmed and unscathed. He immediately unsheathed his sword and desired to fling himself into the thick of the battle, when Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said:

شم سيفك ولا تفجعنا بنفسك

Sheath your sword and do not grieve us with your separation.

Hosts honouring their guests and guests appreciating the host’s services

This gathering that has taken place (in Dabhel Madrasah) is for the sole purpose of observing i'tikaaf for the month of Ramadhaan. Hence, I wish to mention a few points for us to ponder over. We have one party of individuals who are the hosts. Among them are some individuals who are spending their personal wealth while others are rendering physical services. This group should be grateful to Allah Ta‘ala that He has used them for the khidmat of His deen. Their wealth and efforts are being utilised upon individuals who are engrossed in salaah, fasting, recitation of the Holy Quraan and making zikr. They have sacrificed the comforts of their homes to spend their time in the musjid. Allah Ta‘ala alone knows through whose zikr or du‘aa we may gain salvation.

Yahya Barmaky رحمة الله عليه spent his wealth on Sufyaan Thauri رحمة الله عليه and in return, Sufyaan Thauri رحمة الله عليه used to make du‘aa for him while in sajdah. After Yahya’s رحمة الله عليه demise, someone had seen him in his dream and enquired, “How did it fare with you?”

“Through the blessings of Sufyaan’s du‘aas, Allah Ta‘ala forgave all my sins and showered me with His mercy.”

Sufyaan رحمة الله عليه use to make the following du‘aa: “O Allah Ta‘ala! Yahya has looked after me in this world. You look after him in the aakhirah.”

Thus, those who are spending their wealth on the guests by feeding them, serving them, washing their utensils, etc., are providing a very great service to people who are perpetually engaged in ibaadat. What an excellent avenue they have chosen to spend their wealth! Allah Ta‘ala forbid, if this wealth was spent on sinful actions like consuming alcohol, frequenting the cinemas and gambling, what a great misfortune that would have been indeed! Allah Ta‘ala has bestowed upon them the taufeeq to utilise their wealth and efforts in the right avenue. They must show concern for the comfort of their guests. One of the greatest desires of the friends of Allah Ta‘ala was that their guests should experience no difficulties or hardships at all. They strived untiringly to please their guests and fulfil whatever needs they had.

Salman Farsi (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and his guest

Once, while Hadhrat Salman Farsi (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was having his meals, a very dear and close friend came to visit him. Having an informal relationship with Hadhrat Salman Farsi (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), he sat down to eat with him. Hadhrat Salman (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was eating dry bread with salt and the visitor commented: “Had there only been some sa`tar (a spicy vegetable leaf) to eat with this food, this meal would have then been more enjoyable.”

Hadhrat Salman (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) immediately excused himself and went to the bazaar to purchase it and thereafter returned to join his guest. They completed their meals, relishing it, and the friend said: “All praise be to Allah Ta‘ala Who has satiated us with whatever was present.”

“Had you been satisfied with whatever was present before you,” pointed out Hadhrat Salman (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), “then I would not have had to pawn my jug that I use to make wudhu.”

The friend desired to eat sa'tar, but Hadhrat Salman (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) did not possess sufficient wealth to buy it. Hence, he pawned his jug to buy the sa'tar. This was the level of consideration that they had for their guests.

Thus, those who are sacrificing their wealth and services should not become grieved or disheartened in any way, but they should express their gratitude to Allah Ta‘ala that He has given them the taufeeq to render this great service. Preparing the meals for sehri and iftaar is not an insignificant action. The hosts will also share in the good deeds performed by the guests who partake of these meals and acquire the strength to make ibaadat.

The second point relates to the guests. They should have this mindset that: “We have left our homes and have come here to engage in the ibaadat of Allah Ta‘ala. We ought to be grateful to Allah Ta‘ala because He has ensured that our desires and needs are being fulfilled. We do not have to light any fires, bake bread, cook food or purchase any items from the market to prepare our meals. Allah Ta‘ala has made the necessary arrangements for our meals. The hosts are spending of their own wealth for our well-being. This is indeed a great favour on their behalf upon us. Our hosts are complete strangers to us, but Allah Ta‘ala has imbued their hearts with this desire to entertain us. Hence, if we undergo some difficulty or things go against our desires, we must exercise patience and bear in mind that our hosts are entertaining a large and not a small gathering. They are, however, striving to make sure that we enjoy the freedom to engross ourselves in the ibaadat of Allah Ta‘ala.”

Therefore, this should be our primary objective and concern, to be engrossed in ibaadat.

In Saharanpur, a guest came to visit Moulana Talha Sahib. When Moulana presented some food to him, he said: “This food does not agree with my temperament. It causes my nose to run.”

“I have presented before you whatever is in the house,” revealed Moulana. “Besides this, I have nothing else to offer you.”

Shaikh-ul-Hadeeth رحمة الله عليه and the villager

On one occasion, Shaikh-ul-Hadeeth رحمة الله عليه completed the teaching of a certain kitaab and a large gathering had attended the programme. When the meals were served, a villager, who also attended the function, remarked: “The proper arrangements have not been made for this meal.”

Shaikh-ul-Hadeeth Moulana Muhammad Zakariyya رحمة الله عليه called for him and summarily rebuked him. “Did you get a written invitation to partake of this meal? Did a messenger come to invite you? Do you make elaborate arrangements for meals in your own house?”

Anyhow, Shaikh-ul-Hadeeth رحمة الله عليه saw to it that the villager was properly fed before he departed. Guests should not find faults with the arrangements made by the host.

Once, Qari Tayyib Sahib رحمة الله عليه was invited to the Darul-Iftaa in Deoband. Upon his arrival, I remained sitting, as I was unaware of his presence. Qari Sahib, who was the principal at that time, sat beside the desk in front of me in tashahhud position. When I became aware of his presence, I immediately stood up to greet him.

“Remain sitting as you were,” Qari Sahib said softly.

“Hadhrat!” I exclaimed. “You are a guest. You have not come here to seek a fatwa. Hence, you are obligated to sit wherever the host seats you. Therefore, please be seated on the padded mat near the cushion, and if Hadhrat ever comes seeking a fatwa, then you may sit by the desk.” Qari Sahib dutifully went and sat on the padded mat.

Complying to the arrangements of the host

The guest should always be mindful of the arrangements made by the host. He must not point out the faults or take any objection to the arrangements made by the host. This is an extremely inappropriate action. If the food is not prepared according to one’s desire, then we should not point this out to the host and insist that it be prepared in a certain way. Once, Hadhrat Shaikh رحمة الله عليه reproached me when the meals were being served. I had sat down to eat at the ‘public’ dastarkhaan. Hadhrat Shaikh رحمة الله عليه summoned me and said: “When we have made special arrangements for you, why are you sitting with the general public?”

It is recorded in Mirqaat, the commentary of Mishkaat, that Abdullah bin Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) entertained guests; various people were seated at different dastarkhaans and they were served with different meals as well.

Thus, no guest has any right to question the host regarding the arrangements that he has made. We cannot say: “Why did you feed those guests with special delicacies and feed us with the inferior quality food?”

Also, the guests do not have the right to offer the special food prepared for them to anyone else. They should either eat it or have it returned.

Once, in Saharanpur, a guest offered his tea to someone else. Hadhrat Shaikh rebuked him saying: “You have not prepared the tea. You are not the owner of it. What gives you the right to offer the tea to someone else? If you desire, drink it! Otherwise, return it.”

In any case, it is incorrect for the guest to assume control of the affairs of the host.

Returning to our discussion, we should abstain from indulging in futile talks. Numerous complaints are received that people are disturbed while engaged in ibaadat by those babbling away; or a person’s sleep being disturbed through loud recitation of the Quraan.

Moulana Ilyaas رحمة الله عليه used to say: “The greatest actions become worthless in the sight of Allah Ta‘ala by causing a small inconvenience to others.”

And brothers! Please remember! If anyone is undergoing severe inconveniences, please come and report it to us. We shall assist you to the best of our ability and, if this is insufficient for you, then do accept our apology.

Therefore, let our stay here be one with harmony, kindness and friendship; and let us try sincerely not to inconvenience anyone during our stay. May Allah Ta‘ala grant us taufeeq. Aameen.

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