An Islamic treasury of virtues
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An Islamic treasury of virtues Document Transcript

  • 1. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsTABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents................................................................2Foreword...........................................................................341. god’s people ..................................................................36 Those who show mercy will be dealt with mercifully ........................................................................................36 Whatever happens is the will of God .........................36 Remaining steadfast in the face of persecution .........36 The most worthwhile work is preaching the word of God.................................................................................37 The preacher of God’s word wishes people well, no matter how they treat him ...........................................37 A good deed is of no value if it makes one proud.....38 Of all actions, the most sublime is remembrance of God.................................................................................38 An able and righteous man – the most treasured asset ........................................................................................39 Qualities of leadership .................................................40 ~2~
  • 2. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsWhat those who sit with leaders should be like ........41Sycophantic subordinates portend disaster ...............42Lip service is not proof of real attachment .................42Even self-sacrifice is of no value without totalsincerity .........................................................................43It is wrong even to hint a partnership with God .......43Have trust in God right up till the end.......................44Thinking of God in moments of crisis ........................44On hearing the Hereafter mentioned, he waived hisclaim...............................................................................46Fear of God made the stick fall from his hand...........47Fearing God’s punishment, even when one is dealingwith the lowly ...............................................................48The greatest favour to seek from God is forgiveness 48Avoiding anger .............................................................49Knowing the world, but not the Hereafter.................50They will be of good cheer on meeting God ..............50What really matters is the man within .......................51 ~3~
  • 3. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents Extending unstinted support.......................................52 In between two possibilities ........................................52 The heart and the tongue: of all things the best and the worst ........................................................................53 Obedience to the Prophet, come what may ...............54 Sincerity and piety the essence of Islam .....................54 True faith brings visions of unseen realities ..............55 The Qur’an is for admonition, not just for recital ......56 Bear hardship with patience, and one’s sins will be forgiven in the next world ...........................................57 The eminent should grieve for the lowly ...................572. What is Faith? ...............................................................59 Lose all, gain all ............................................................59 Knowledge is more than just information..................59 Affluence is the greatest trial .......................................59 All man’s sins, except pride, may be forgiven ...........60 The Prophet’s way of giving advice............................60 When evil lives on ........................................................61 ~4~
  • 4. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsRemaining on speaking terms .....................................61Follow in the footsteps of the early Muslims: that isthe only way to reform ...............................................61Hoping for something is not enough. It must beworked for .....................................................................61Not hating even the direst of enemies ........................62A true believer shows no hesitation in answering thecall of the Almighty ......................................................62The God-fearing treats others best ..............................63Bowing at the very name of God.................................63Salvation is for those who tread the path of theProphet and his Companions ......................................64Conversing with God more and with men less .........65Remembrance of God the greatest act of worship.....65God’s own are those who accept the Qur’an .............65Liking criticism .............................................................66Rising above love and hate ..........................................67Patience and forbearance in the face of ignorance ....68Swallowing one’s anger increases one’s faith ............71 ~5~
  • 5. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents Immune to flattery........................................................71 To praise someone to his face is to destroy oneself ...72 Not letting praise go to one’s head .............................72 Blessed are those who tolerate the severity of the righteous........................................................................73 Receiving praise, not with conceit, but with humility ........................................................................................74 Reject reproof and you reject what is good ................75 Working in one’s own sphere, and avoiding conflict with the government of the day ..................................75 Fearing no one in giving admonishment ...................76 Reckon with oneself before being reckoned with......76 Learning from everything that happens.....................77 Meditation the greatest of activities............................77 The Companions worshipped by thinking of God and the Hereafter .................................................................78 In everything there is a lesson to be learned..............78 The nature of a true believer........................................783. Worship .........................................................................80 ~6~
  • 6. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsWorshipping God and not harming others................80Knowing God is the greatest worship ........................80Good Character-the very essence of religion .............81It is the spirit of worship that is important ................81Lodge God in one’s heart: that is the best of states ...82Remembering God is a constant state of prayer ........82God looks after one who prays to Him ......................83To help a Muslim in need is a great act of worship...83Truly destitute are those bereft of God’s grace in theHereafter........................................................................85Hastening to pray in times of difficulty .....................85Letting one’s heart be moved by the Qur’an..............87Prayer places one under divine protection ................87Congregational prayer brings one closer to God.......87Self-seeking places one far from God .........................88A show of piety is not reverence .................................88Keeping within the bounds of propriety when fasting........................................................................................89 ~7~
  • 7. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsThe state induced by prayer should be abiding ........89God can hear even the smallest whisper ....................90Religion is worthless if its end is material gain .........91True worship entails meekness and humility beforeGod.................................................................................91God loves the humble cry of His servant ...................92How to be prudent .......................................................92Mention what is good: pass over what is evil............93Three all-embracing duties ..........................................93True knowledge is that which induces fear of God ..94No one is exempt from danger of going astray .........95How saint-worship gradually turns into idol-worship........................................................................................95The law of God is applicable to everyone ..................96When those bound for Paradise find their way barred........................................................................................97Only disinterested action is of moral value................99Between hope and fear.................................................99 ~8~
  • 8. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents There is charity in forgiveness...................................100 The corrupting influence of power ...........................101 Those who do not fear God cannot understand the state of mind of those who do ...................................101 Sometimes the obscure are more amply rewarded than the famous ..........................................................103 Preferring to be unostentatious .................................103 Living in fear of Doomsday .......................................104 Setting no special value upon one sown actions .....105 The worth of honest earnings....................................1064. Sincerity.......................................................................107 Being sincere means abstaining from what is forbidden .....................................................................107 Weighing up one’s actions before they are weighed up on the divine scales of justice...............................107 Do not regard knowledge as a means to personal prestige ........................................................................107 Lust for fame the worst single danger-for man .......108 Acting ‘to be seen by men’.........................................108 ~9~
  • 9. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsFearing God in one’s dealings with men..................109Putting oneself in others’ shoes and not entertainingsuspicions ....................................................................109Rejoicing in the Muslims’ prosperity........................110Avoiding retaliation for the sake of God..................110One who will be saved from Doom on the Day ofJudgement ...................................................................112Hardness of heart comes from using religion forworldly ends ...............................................................112The Day of death will be the great awakening ........112Worldly attachment bars the gate to eternity ..........113Standing on the brink of Hell-fire .............................113Thinking nought of one’s actions..............................114The greatest deeds are the most difficult of all ........114Only the Muslim who is true to his faith can enterParadise .......................................................................115Regarding one’s deeds as of no special value..........116It is hypocrisy to join a movement because of itsworldly success ...........................................................116 ~ 10 ~
  • 10. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsBy performing small tasks a man does not demeanhimself .........................................................................117Having bad relations with anyone is no reason todeny him his rights.....................................................117Being satisfied with God’s bounty and alwaysthirsting for knowledge..............................................118By making no efforts, man loses what he hopes togain...............................................................................118Leave justice to God ...................................................118Being conscious of one’s own faults, not of others..119Bowing to the will of God and to His Messenger....119He whose heart is free of hate will enter Heaven....120Reforming others and being ready to be reformedoneself ..........................................................................120The least one can do is not harm anyone .................121Worship is more than a set of rituals ........................121Why try to make a god of oneself?............................121While worshipping God, respect the convenience ofothers ...........................................................................122 ~ 11 ~
  • 11. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents The simpler the ceremony, the greater the blessing 122 Choose the simpler, not the more difficult way ......123 Making things unnecessarily difficult for oneself does not constitute piety .....................................................123 Religious leaders should have consideration for their congregations ..............................................................124 Rather than from outward actions, greatness comes from inward grace ......................................................124 No rigidity in religion ................................................125 God looks not just at actions but at their motives ...1255. Piety .............................................................................127 Piety leads one to press onwards in spite of all obstacles.......................................................................127 Giving oneself up to God and wishing others well.127 The self-destructiveness of worldly greed ...............128 The true intellectual is a man of great piety.............129 Showing no favouritism.............................................129 Self-appraisal first and foremost ...............................130 Taking no advantage of one’s position.....................131 ~ 12 ~
  • 12. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsJustice, even towards enemies...................................131The feelings inspired by faith are misinterpreted bythe profane...................................................................132Self-Reliance ................................................................133Preferring God to riches.............................................133No affliction is worse than hardness of heart ..........133Unwillingness to make sacrifices leads to self-destruction...................................................................134Do not become unbalanced by love or hate .............135No Paradise without the sacrifice of life and property......................................................................................135Things asked for and things given freely are in twoseparate categories......................................................136Keeping out of the limelight ......................................137True knowledge is fear of God..................................138Lost to the world.........................................................138Conceit: the most evil trait .........................................138Fearing God in matters that concern the weak ........139Remaining detached from the material side of life .140 ~ 13 ~
  • 13. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsWhen pleasures seem empty .....................................140Man proposes, God disposes.....................................141Retribution here and now ..........................................141When death is nigh.....................................................142Salvation is all .............................................................142The joys of a pious household ...................................143The call of paradise.....................................................143Take what is gladly given; do not ask for more.......144Preoccupation with prestige can lead straight toperdition ......................................................................145Giving up this world for the next..............................146Selflessness in worldly matters .................................146No Islamic revolution without Islamic individuals 147There are times to remain silent and times to speakfreely ............................................................................147Two eyes that shall be saved from the Fire ..............148One has to lose in order to gain.................................148 ~ 14 ~
  • 14. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents Worldly attachment hinders acknowledgement of the truth..............................................................................149 Beyond the call of duty ..............................................150 To live, one must come to terms with dying............151 True religion brings about radical changes in one’s life.................................................................................152 Repentance is to be ashamed of what one has done152 Have dealings with men as if they were dealings with God...............................................................................1526. Humility ......................................................................154 Respect means something more than the making of gestures........................................................................154 Refraining from acquiring unnecessary tastes.........154 Conceit takes one far from God.................................154 The bravest is the most in control of himself ...........155 Giving one’s best, but without conceit .....................156 Never considering oneself above serving God ........157 Having regard for necessities rather than formalities ......................................................................................158 ~ 15 ~
  • 15. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsKindness to animals ...................................................159Accepting all food without demur............................159God does not like pride in His servants ...................160Avoid functions whose sole purpose is ostentation160To humble oneself is to raise oneself ........................161The Prophet did not allow his hand to be kissed ....161Heaping scorn on truth is an act of pride.................161Sitting among people with no thought for position 162Having due regard for people who are of no specialimportance...................................................................162The self-belittler is great in the eyes of God.............163Simplicity of Dress......................................................163Good manners at meal times .....................................164What it pleased the Lord to give to His Prophet .....164The secret of contentment is being happy with whatone has .........................................................................165The parting of the ways .............................................165The servants of God must live in humility...............166 ~ 16 ~
  • 16. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents7. Trust In God................................................................167 The Countless Blessings of God ................................167 Devotion to God: food for the soul ...........................167 Constant fear of God ..................................................167 No limit to God’s mercy.............................................168 All power is in the hands of God ..............................168 Everything happens through the instrumentality of God...............................................................................169 Even the most ordinary things are great blessings..169 Islam: a practical guide to daily living .....................170 Meet your Lord with a clean record .........................170 It is only under stress that a man appears in his true colours..........................................................................171 Being content with what God ordains......................1718. Manners In Speech .....................................................172 There is virtue in refusing to retaliate.......................172 Not being offended when criticized .........................172 Discord and the truth .................................................173 ~ 17 ~
  • 17. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsAn oath is an oath .......................................................174Halting in one’s steps on hearing the Qur’an ..........175Truth should be unclouded by prejudice .................176Appreciating criticism ................................................178Delivering justice regardless of rank ........................178Public speaking and public silence ...........................179Answer, but do not rebuke ........................................180No response to vain words ........................................182Refraining from derision............................................182Holding one’s tongue: the key to righteousness......183Never expressing disdain for food............................184Answering criticism calmly .......................................184Deferring to the better-informed...............................185Speaking with caution................................................186Criticise freely, but avoid wrangling ........................187Criticise constructively. Avoid unjust accusation ...187A sign of true learning: the ability to take criticism 188 ~ 18 ~
  • 18. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsRefrain from untruths ................................................188In shielding others one shields oneself .....................189A liar is a hypocrite.....................................................190Viewing statements from a particular standpoint...190Think before you speak..............................................191Speaking much is not a sign of great knowledge ....191Wrongful accusation is the worst of crimes .............192One who does not control his tongue is evil ............192Being sparing of words is a sign of sincerity ...........192In the tongues of men are both Heaven and Hell....193Remaining silent is, in itself, a good deed................193One who fears God holds his tongue .......................194Most sins are committed by the tongue....................194Knowing when to speak and when to remain silent......................................................................................194Avoid looking askance at others ...............................195The cautious tone of one who fears God ..................195 ~ 19 ~
  • 19. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents Openness to admonition: a sign of Islamic character ......................................................................................196 One who craves God’s mercy shows compassion to others ...........................................................................197 Both good and evil in what we say ...........................197 Thankfully accepting one’s lot ..................................197 Gauging one’s own strength before testing it on others ...........................................................................198 What a believer’s speech should be like ...................198 A good Muslim is one of good character .................199 Vain talk in itself is a sin ............................................1999. Manners In Society .....................................................200 God will do unto you as you have done unto others ......................................................................................200 Returning good for evil ..............................................200 Patience the best armour............................................200 To wish others harm is to harm oneself ...................201 To collaborate in injustice is sinful............................201 Justice for the weak and strong alike ........................202 ~ 20 ~
  • 20. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsGranting forgiveness to one who seeks it.................202Three types of vilification mentioned in the Qur’an202How a believer should treat others...........................203Being sparing of words and not thinking ill of anyone......................................................................................203Being kind to adversaries...........................................204Suppression of anger leads to a strengthening of faith......................................................................................204Worshipping God and living in harmony with others......................................................................................205Not acting on suspicion..............................................205Confirming the truth of statements at their source .205The evils of society stem from the evils in individuals......................................................................................206If the door is not opened for you, leave without takingoffence..........................................................................206Putting one’s parents before oneself .........................207How Muslims bring calamity upon themselves......207Being unperturbed by directness ..............................208 ~ 21 ~
  • 21. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsNo man is self-sufficient ............................................209Not allowing disagreement to sour a relationship ..209Remaining united and never being the first to attack......................................................................................209Hate whittles away a man’s religion ........................210Arguments over religious matters nullify piety ......211Dispute is the mark of decline...................................211A believer is satisfied, not by giving vent to his anger,but by controlling it ....................................................211Thriving on criticism ..................................................212Remaining calm in the face of criticism ....................212It is not for a Muslim to fight another Muslim ........214It is for God to judge...................................................214Not permitting disagreement to undermine mutualrespect ..........................................................................214Moderation in both friendship and enmity..............215Wisdom should go hand in hand with bravery.......215An oath of secrecy.......................................................216 ~ 22 ~
  • 22. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents When it is prudent to make no reply ........................217 Learning the facts by asking the right questions .....218 In dealings with others, good intentions by themselves are not enough ........................................219 A believer should not involve himself in matters, which he is unable to deal with effectively ..............22010. Giving For The Cause of God..................................221 Wealth can be of use in this world and the next......221 One’s next of kin have the greatest right to one’s charity ..........................................................................221 A believer had best earn his own living ...................222 Extravagance is committed at the cost of worthwhile expenditure .................................................................223 Trusting in God, not wealth.......................................224 Building more for the Hereafter than for this world ......................................................................................224 Not even martyrdom cancels out an unpaid debt ...225 Spending what one has in order to escape the Fire.225 ~ 23 ~
  • 23. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents Muslims should be dearer to each other than money ......................................................................................226 Spending for the cause of Islam in times of distress226 Thrift, even in the midst of plenty ............................227 Being punctilious in paying people their dues ........227 A piece of good advice is more precious than a material gift .................................................................227 Considering a man inferior on account of his calling is a mark of ignorance ....................................................228 Wealth and power breed hatred and enmity...........228 Prosperity the greatest trial........................................229 Three things, which must remain inviolate .............230 One does not lose by giving.......................................230 One who gives receives..............................................23011. Islamic Values ...........................................................231 Look before you leap..................................................231 Bearing with minor afflictions...................................231 Peace at any price .......................................................232 ~ 24 ~
  • 24. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsThe laws of cause and effect applied to the Prophet’soffspring just as they did to others............................233Tactful answers in delicate situations.......................234Making straight for the hereafter and leaving theworld by the wayside.................................................235Retreat and fight another day....................................236The importance of learning in Islam .........................237The cure for anger is silence ......................................237Dealing with matters in a tactful manner.................238Rigidity is not the sign of religion.............................239Keeping one’s demands within the bounds of reason......................................................................................239Showing tolerance and understanding.....................240Being methodical ........................................................240Speech is silver: Silence is golden .............................241The price of preaching what is good.........................242Refusing power to avoid dissension.........................242Killing Muslims to gain power is to be abhorred ....243 ~ 25 ~
  • 25. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents Man’s greatest struggle is with his own desires ......244 The devil in man .........................................................244 The actions most pleasing to God are those, which are persevered in...............................................................245 God stays with one who is failed by his fellow men ......................................................................................246 Grievances arising from misunderstanding.............247 Speak no ill of the dead ..............................................247 Allowing for others’ self-respect ...............................248 Satan arouses suspicion .............................................249 Charity is for everyone to give ..................................250 God’s favourite servants are those of the finest character ......................................................................250 Paying others what is due to them............................251 Justice for all ................................................................251 It is a wise man who fears God .................................25212. Islamic Character......................................................253 Suppressing one’s anger is a sign of good character ......................................................................................253 ~ 26 ~
  • 26. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of ContentsThe actions, which will take us to heaven................254Compassion for all creatures .....................................254How a preacher of the word of God should act ......254Four important pieces of advice................................256Being a humanitarian .................................................256Cheats are not true Muslims......................................257The deeds dearest to the companions.......................257Not indulging in vain talk or wishing anyone ill ....258The fine sensitivity taught by Islam..........................258Pardoning a servant....................................................259Barbaric behaviour is to be abhorred at all times ....259Never delay the payment of wages ..........................259Praying for wrong-doers............................................260To curse a Muslim is a great sin ................................260To look down on another Muslim is to place Islam injeopardy .......................................................................261A man’s greatest weakness is his offspring .............261 ~ 27 ~
  • 27. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents The role of the head of a household..........................262 No Muslim should ever consider another Muslim inferior .........................................................................262 Alarming a Muslim brother is a serious fault ..........263 A marriage without invitations.................................263 Caring for one’s household is no less important than the holy struggle .........................................................264 Refraining from subjecting people to inconvenience ......................................................................................265 The polite way of seeking permission to enter a house ......................................................................................266 Who should be invited to share food........................266 Doing one’s family bidding is no mark of faith.......267 A Muslim must suppress his desires ........................268 For one Muslim to sever relations with another Muslim is as bad as killing him .................................26813. Justice.........................................................................270 Parity before the law ..................................................270 Never sacrifice the truth to arrogance and jealousy271 ~ 28 ~
  • 28. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents Great and small weigh alike in the scales of justice 271 A good leader must ensure that his orders are effectively carried out.................................................273 Impartial decision-making.........................................274 Making the Qur’an one’s greatest preoccupation ...274 No adverse reaction to rude behaviour....................275 When the elite prove trustworthy, others follow suit ......................................................................................276 Putting allegiance before controversy ......................276 What pleases and displeases God .............................27714. Unity ..........................................................................279 In latter days fraternal strife will be the greatest destructive force..........................................................279 A spiritual bond should remain untarnished by personal differences....................................................280 Restraining one’s hand and one’s tongue from attacking one’s brethren.............................................280 Remaining neutral in a fratricidal war .....................281 ~ 29 ~
  • 29. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents It is a ruler’s duty to reform others, but those others are responsible only for themselves..........................281 Bearing personal affronts with good grace ..............282 Unfailing obedience to one’s commander................283 Offer a ruler advice in private–not in public............283 Communal sentiment belongs to the days of ignorance .....................................................................284 Never stoop to controversy .......................................285 A grievance at home should not mean desertion to the enemy...........................................................................287 Fighting one’s own people deprives one of God’s succour.........................................................................288 Declining power in the interests of unity .................289 Worship, unity and good intentions.........................290 Keeping contention out of religious affairs..............290 Good deeds are nullified by disputes over religious matter...........................................................................291 Remaining with the flock...........................................29215. Divine Succour..........................................................293 ~ 30 ~
  • 30. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents God cares for those who do their duty to Him ........293 Wisdom: God’s greatest gift ......................................294 The danger of action without knowledge ................294 Seeing the positive aspect of misfortune ..................294 Correcting a false impression even at the expense of one’s own prestige ......................................................296 God helps those who help others..............................297 Insight comes with true faith.....................................299 God’s mercy for the merciful.....................................300 With God’s help a handful can conquer a multitude ......................................................................................300 Their greatest strength was Islam .............................301 Those who serve God alone shall be raised above other men.....................................................................302 Secrecy is of the essence in launching an attack ......30416. Earning A Living ......................................................305 It is best to work for one’s living ...............................305 The breadwinner should not consider himself superior to others........................................................305 ~ 31 ~
  • 31. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents Running to another’s assistance is a great religious duty ..............................................................................305 One’s trust in God is one’s greatest strength ...........306 Honest partners have a third partner in God...........307 Acting as spokesman for the humble in position ....307 God’s generosity to the generous..............................307 The value of right action ............................................308 The greatest charity is that bestowed upon the most ill-provided for............................................................309 The greatest in intelligence is the least attached to the world............................................................................309 The best provision is that which has been earned...309 Avoiding condescension ............................................31017. Calling Mankind To The Truth ...............................311 The message revealed to the Prophet .......................311 Admonishing in general terms..................................311 The power of the Qur’an to inspire faith..................312 The Hereafter: all-important to the Prophet, but not so to his opponents..........................................................312 ~ 32 ~
  • 32. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Table of Contents Bringing Islam without condescension, to everyone ......................................................................................313 Unadulterated truth is pure anathema to many......314 Speaking the language of one’s hearers ...................315 Failure to reform should never elicit curses.............315An Islamic Treasury of Virtues .....................................318 ~ 33 ~
  • 33. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues ForewordFOREWORDOne way of presenting Islam is by means ofinterpretation, that is, by scholarly additions andexplanations which make Islamic teachings moreunderstandable and, in consequence, moreeffective. This has always been, and always will be,a part of Islamic daw’ah.But another way of presenting Islam is to translateit into another language without any alterations,additions or explanations. This is the methodadopted in this book, in which the sayings anddeeds of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom bepeace, and his Companions have been collected andpresented in a simple, straightforward style. Theonly additions are the separate headings underwhich the different sayings and incidents appear.For centuries the lives of the Prophet and hisCompanions have served as models of a truly Godfearing existence for all mankind, and will continueto do so until Doomsday. Hence God’s preservationof this page of history with such exactitude thatanyone who is sincere about learning from their ~ 34 ~
  • 34. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues Forewordexample can know, even today, every detail of howthey lived and died.The present book, being a judicious selection from thedeeds and saying which make up this model, gives anauthentic picture of the Islamic way of life. With thisbook to throw light on the traditions of the Prophetand his Companions, one can pattern one’s life in sucha way as to be certain of receiving God’s succour andblessings during one’s life time, and His rewards inthe Hereafter for the good deeds done in this life.Besides being an aid to personal study andindividual training, this book will be of greatbenefit when read out at gatherings and inmosques, providing, as it does, valuable materialfor congregational recitations. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan February 14, 1985The Islamic Centre1, Nizamuddin West MarketNew Delhi-110013 ~ 35 ~
  • 35. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s people1. GOD’S PEOPLETHOSE WHO SHOW MERCY WILL BE DEALTWITH MERCIFULLY“The Merciful One shows mercy to the merciful,”said the Prophet. “Be merciful with those on earth.The One in Heaven will be merciful with you.” (AHMAD, ABU DAWUD, AL TIRMIDHI)WHATEVER HAPPENS IS THE WILL OF GODWhen certain people offered to guard Ali (Thefourth Caliph), the son of Abu Talib, the latterreplied, “Destiny is man’s guardian.” According toanother tradition, he said, “No man will taste thejoy of faith until he realizes that he could neverhave escaped what has befallen him, nor enjoyedwhat escaped him.” (ABU DAWUD, SUNAN)REMAINING STEADFAST IN THE FACE OFPERSECUTIONDuring the Abbasid Caliphate the emergence of the ~ 36 ~
  • 36. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleMutazilite creed 1 stirred up controversy amongMuslims, as a result of which Imam Ahmad ibnHambal had severe punishments inflicted uponhim. Yet he refused to alter the position he hadadopted. Hafiz ibn Hajar tells us that he was beatenso severely as to make “even an elephant flee.”Note:1. Its adherents believe the word of God to have been created in subjecto, and to consist of letters and sound; copies thereof being written in books, to express or imitate the original.THE MOST WORTHWHILE WORK ISPREACHING THE WORD OF GODThe Prophet said: “That God should grantguidance, through you, to just one person is betterfor you than everything on which the sun rises.”THE PREACHER OF GOD’S WORD WISHESPEOPLE WELL, NO MATTER HOW THEYTREAT HIMThe Prophet besieged Taif for more than twentydays. When it became difficult for the Muslims to ~ 37 ~
  • 37. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peoplecontinue with the siege, he ordered them towithdraw. It was then suggested that the Prophetbring down a curse upon the heads of theThaqeef tribe, but the Prophet merely raised bothhands and prayed: “Lord, guide the Thaqeef, andbring them into the fold of Islam.” The Prophetwas likewise told of the contumacy and disbeliefof the Daus tribe, and again it was suggested thathe should invoke a curse upon them, but theProphet’s response was again to pray. “Lord,guide the Daus,” he begged, “and bring them intothe fold of the faithful.”A GOOD DEED IS OF NO VALUE IF IT MAKESONE PROUDIbn Ataullah As-Sikandari wrote in his book, Al-Hikam: “A sin which makes one meek and humbleis better than a good deed which makes one proudand arrogant.”OF ALL ACTIONS, THE MOST SUBLIME ISREMEMBRANCE OF GODAbu Darda reports the Prophet as asking hiscompanions: “Should I not tell you of the action ~ 38 ~
  • 38. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peoplethat is best and most pure in the presence ofyour Lord; the action which will raise you up inthe sight of God, and is better for you than greatexpenditure of gold and silver; better too thanthat you should meet your enemies in battle,striking their necks and they striking yours?”“Do tell us,” the Companions replied, “It isremembrance of God,” said the Prophet. (AL-TIRMIDHI, SHAMA’IL)AN ABLE AND RIGHTEOUS MAN – THE MOSTTREASURED ASSETZayd ibn Aslam reports, on the authority of hisfather, that Umar ibn Khattab asked some of hiscompanions to tell him about their ambitions. “Iwould like to have this house full of money, sothat I could spend it in the path of God,”volunteered one. Another said that he wouldlike gold-yet another mentioned pearls-so thattheir wealth could be spent in the furtherance ofGod’s cause. “What I would like more thananything,” said Umar, “would be to have thishouse full of men like Abu Ubaidah ibn alJarrah, Muadh ibn Jabal and Hudhaifah ibn al ~ 39 ~
  • 39. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleYaman, so that I could use them for God’swork.” (AL TARIKH AL-SAGHIR)QUALITIES OF LEADERSHIPIn the context of his relationship with the CaliphUmar, Abdullah ibn Abbas says that he servedhim better even than the members of his ownhousehold, and that “he used to seat me next tohim and showed me great respect.” He relateshow one day when he was alone with him in hishome, he suddenly heaved such a deep sigh thatit was as if he was about to surrender his soul.Abdullah enquired. “Is it because of someapprehension that you heave this sigh?” “It is,indeed,” he replied, and asking Abdullah tocome nearer, he told him that he did not know ofanyone capable of taking on ‘this work’ bywhich he meant the caliphate. Abdullah ibnAbbas then mentioned six names, and asked theCaliph if he did not know them. Umarcommented on each one of them in turn and thensaid: “One who is firm but not overbearing, softbut not weak, generous but not extravagant, ~ 40 ~
  • 40. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peoplethrifty but not miserly – only such a person is fitfor this task.” According to Abdullah ibn Abbas,only Umar ibn al Khattab himself possessed allthese qualities. (KANZ AL-UMMAL)WHAT THOSE WHO SIT WITH LEADERSSHOULD BE LIKEAbdullah ibn Abbas tells of how his father oncesaid to him: “My boy, I see how the Commanderof the Faithful, Umar ibn al Khattab, invites youto his meetings and takes you into his confidence.He also turns to you as well as to the otherCompanions for advice. I am going to give youthree pieces of advice which are worthremembering: firstly, fear God, and never let it besaid of you by Umar that you told a lie; secondly,keep his secrets well, and thirdly, never speak illof anyone in his presence.” Amir says that eachone of those pieces of advice was better than athousand. “Better than ten thousand,” rejoinedAbbas. (AI-TABARANI) ~ 41 ~
  • 41. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleSYCOPHANTIC SUBORDINATES PORTENDDISASTERAishah reports the Prophet as saying: “When Goddesires the good of someone in a position of power,he assigns to him an honest counsellor, one whoreminds him of God’s word when he forgets it, andwho assists him when he remembers it. And whenhe desires the opposite for anyone, He gives him anevil counsellor, one who does not remind him whenhe forgets and does not assist him when heremembers.” (ABU DAWUD, SUNAN)LIP SERVICE IS NOT PROOF OF REALATTACHMENTJubair ibn Nufair relates how, as his father wassitting with Miqdad ibn Aswad one day, a passerby,on seeing a Companion of the Prophet said: “Howfortunate are those two eyes that have seen theProphet! By God, if only we could have seen whatyou saw and shared in your experiences!” Nufairsaid that he was impressed by the man’s words; heseemed to have spoken well. But Miqdad – may ~ 42 ~
  • 42. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleGod be pleased with him looked towards the manand said: “No one whom God has saved from beingpresent at those hours should desire to have beenthere. Who knows how they would have acted inthose circumstances? By God, many of whom Godcast into Hell came to see the Prophet, such as didnot accept what he said, or believe in his mission.”EVEN SELF-SACRIFICE IS OF NO VALUEWITHOUT TOTAL SINCERITYA certain Muslim participated in the Battle of Uhud(3 A.H.) and died fighting. When his mother learntof the death, she cried out for her “martyred” son.“Hold your peace,” the Prophet told her “How doyou know that he has been martyred? He used toindulge in vain talk and was miserly with things thatit would have done him no harm to give away.” (At-TlRMIDHI, SHAMA’IL)IT IS WRONG EVEN TO HINT A PARTNERSHIPWITH GOD“That which God wishes, and you wish, will cometo pass,” said a certain individual to the Prophet. ~ 43 ~
  • 43. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleThe latter showed his intense displeasure at thisremark. “Have you set me up as a compeer withGod?” he asked. “Say, rather, that which God alonewishes will come to pass.”HAVE TRUST IN GOD RIGHT UP TILL THEENDWhen the Prophet left Makkah on his emigration toMadinah, he spent the first three days in the Cave ofThur. The Quraysh, who were searching for him,eventually arrived at this cave. Abu Bakr, who wasin hiding with the Prophet, said, “Prophet of God,look how close the enemy has come. If they werejust to look at their feet, they would see us beneaththem.” “Abu Bakr,” the Prophet replied, “What doyou think of those two who have God as a third?” (AL-BIDAYAH WA AL-NIHAYAH)THINKING OF GOD IN MOMENTS OF CRISIS‘Ali, the son of Abu Talib, related how Fatima, hiswife and also daughter of the Prophet had to doall the housework herself. Her hands used tobecome blistered from working a millstone, her ~ 44 ~
  • 44. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleclothes became dirty from sweeping the floor, andhaving to bring water from outside in a largeleather bag had left a mark on her neck. On oneoccasion when the Prophet had had an influx ofservants, ‘Ali suggested to Fatima that she go andrequest her father to give her one of them to helpher in her work. She duly went to see him, butthere were many people gathered at his house,and she returned home, without having been ableto meet him. The next day the Prophet came to thehouse of Ali and Fatima and asked what it wasshe had wanted to discuss with him, but Fatimaremained silent. Then ‘Ali told the Prophet thewhole story. The Prophet did not, however,accede to their request for a servant. “Fear God,”he said, “and fulfill your duty to the Lord.Continue to do your housework and, when you goto bed at night, glorify God 33 times, praise himthe same number of times and exalt him 34 times.That makes 100 times altogether. That will do youmore good than a servant will.” (AL-TARGHEEB WA AL-TARHEEB) ~ 45 ~
  • 45. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleON HEARING THE HEREAFTER MENTIONED,HE WAIVED HIS CLAIMUmm Salamah tells of how two of the Ansarbrought a dispute before the Prophet about along-standing issue of inheritance for whichneither party could produce a witness. “You bringme your disputes,” the Prophet said to them,“and, when no proper evidence is broughtforward, I judge them according to my own wayof thinking. I might, on the basis of partialevidence, make a settlement in favour of one ofthe parties, but in so doing, it may be that I takeaway from the other what is his rightful due. Inthat case, the one in whose favour I passjudgement should not accept what has beenapportioned to him, for that would be like hisaccepting a firebrand which, on the Day ofResurrection, would stick on his neck.” At thesewords, both the Ansar broke down and wept.“Prophet of God!” they both cried out, “he canhave my rightful share!” “The Prophet then toldthem that in view of their changed attitude theyshould go and, seeking to do what was just andright, should divide the inheritance into two parts. ~ 46 ~
  • 46. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleThen they should draw lots as to who should havewhich part. In this way, each would have theother’s approval of the share he received. (KANZ AL-UMMAL)FEAR OF GOD MADE THE STICK FALL FROMHIS HANDAbu Masud Ansari says that one day he becameangry with his slave and began beating him with astick. Just then he heard a voice from behind him“Abu Masud, realise ... ,” but, in his fury, he wasunable to recognize the voice. When the speakercame nearer, he realized that it was the Prophet ofGod. “You should realize,” said the Prophet, “thatGod has more power over you than you have overthis slave.” On hearing this, Abu Masud let thestick fall from his hand. “Never again will I beat aslave,” he vowed, “and seeking God’s goodpleasure, I hereby give this slave his freedom.” “Ifyou had not done this, you would have beentouched by the flames of Hell,” said the Prophet. (MUSLIM, SAHIH) ~ 47 ~
  • 47. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleFEARING GOD’S PUNISHMENT, EVEN WHENONE IS DEALING WITH THE LOWLYOnce when the Prophet was at home with his wife,Umm Salamah, he summoned the maidservant forsome errand, but she seemed to take a long time incoming. Seeing signs of anger on the Prophet’s face,Umm Salamah got up to see what had happened tothe girl. She opened the curtain and saw her playingoutside with the goat’s kids. She called to her onceagain, and this time she came. The Prophet washolding a tooth-stick at the time, “If I had not fearedthe retribution of Judgement Day,” he said to thegirl, “I would have hit you with this tooth-stick”. (AL-ADAB AL-MUFRAD)THE GREATEST FAVOUR TO SEEK FROM GODIS FORGIVENESSAccording to Anas ibn Malik, the Helpers (MadinanMuslims) suffered from not having enough camelsto irrigate their land. They came, therefore, to theProphet, hoping that he would be able to providethem with camels, or arrange for a canal to be dug,which would bring them an abundant supply of ~ 48 ~
  • 48. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peoplewater. The Prophet looked towards the Helpers andgreeted them thrice. “Whatever you ask of metoday, I shall certainly give you,” he said. “Andwhatever I ask of God on your behalf, He willsurely grant.” At these words, the Helpersexperienced a change of heart. “The greatest thingwe can ask for is the Hereafter,” they thought.“Why waste such a precious opportunity by askingfor the world?” Then they said to one another, “Letus take advantage of this opportunity and ask forforgiveness.” Addressing the Prophet they said,“Ask the Lord to forgive us.” “Lord, forgive theHelpers,” was the Prophet’s immediate response.“Forgive their children: forgive their wives.” (AHMAD, MUSNAD)AVOIDING ANGERAbu Hurayrah tells of how a man came before theProphet and asked him for some advice. “Do not beangry,” said the Prophet. He asked for furtheradvice, a second and a third time, and each time theProphet repeated the words, “Do not be angry.” (AL-BUKHARI SAHIH) ~ 49 ~
  • 49. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleKNOWING THE WORLD, BUT NOT THEHEREAFTERAbu Darda asked certain individuals, “How is itthat I behold you full of food, but starved ofknowledge?” (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-ILM)THEY WILL BE OF GOOD CHEER ONMEETING GODWhile still a young man, Talhah ibn Bara’ came tothe Prophet to swear allegiance to him and toaccept Islam. “I am at your behest,” he vowed tothe Prophet. “I will do exactly as you command.”“Even if I tell you to sever your relations withyour parents?” the Prophet asked. (Talha used tolook after his mother with great affection.) Talhaibn Bara’ at once prepared himself to carry outthe Prophet’s command. “Talha,” the Prophetsaid to him, “Our religion does not teach one tosever ties. I just wanted you to be absolutelycertain of your faith.”Talha ibn Bara’ came within the fold of Islam and ~ 50 ~
  • 50. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleremained a fine Muslim till the day he died.When he was suffering his final illness, theProphet came to visit him and found him in astate of unconsciousness. “I think that Talha’ ssoul will be taken up tonight,” he said. Hedeparted then, asking to be informed when Talharegained consciousness.It was midnight before he did so, and he said thatthe Prophet should not be disturbed at that latehour. “He might be bitten by some harmfulcreature, or some enemy might do him an injuryif he comes out at night,” he protested. Talhapassed away that very night and the Prophet wasnot informed until after the morning prayer. TheProphet prayed, “Lord, meet him in such a waythat both he and You are of good cheer onmeeting each other.” (AL-TABARANI)WHAT REALLY MATTERS IS THE MAN WITHINA complaint was made to the Prophet about thebehaviour of Abdullah ibn Hudhaifah. It wassaid that he joked and played the fool too much. ~ 51 ~
  • 51. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s people“Let him be,” said the Prophet, “for, deep down,he has great love for God and His Prophet.” (IBN ‘ASAKIR)EXTENDING UNSTINTED SUPPORTAbu Bakr called together the Companions and toldthem of his intention to send an expedition to Syria.“God will surely grant the Muslims His succour,”he told them, “and exalt His word.” In theconsultations that followed, some of theCompanions opposed certain of Abu Bakr’s ideas.Even so, after brief discussions, all of them-withouta single voice of dissent-urged Abu Bakr to do as hethought fit. “We shall neither oppose nor blameyou,” they assured him. (IBN ‘ASAKIR)IN BETWEEN TWO POSSIBILITIESThe Prophet often used to pray: “O turner of hearts,keep our hearts firm in faith.” Having heard himrepeat this prayer on many occasions, Prophet’swife, Aishah once asked him, “Prophet of God, whyis it that you offer this prayer so often?” The ~ 52 ~
  • 52. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleProphet then explained to her, “Everyone’s heart isin between two of God’s fingers. When He wishesto set a man’s heart straight, He does so, and whenhe wishes to set it awry, He does so.”THE HEART AND THE TONGUE: OF ALLTHINGS THE BEST AND THE WORSTLuqman the Wise, an Abyssynian slave, wasonce asked by his master to slaughter a goatand bring him two pieces of its best meat.Luqman did as he was bid, then cooked the goatand brought his master its tongue and heart. Afew days later, his master asked him toslaughter another goat and, this time, bring himtwo pieces of its worst meat. Luqman again didas he was bid, but presented his master with thesame two parts of the animal-its tongue and itsheart. His master then inquired as to why it wasthat he had brought him the same parts on bothoccasions. “If both these parts are sound,”replied Luqman, “then there is nothing tocompare with them. But if they are bothdefective, there is nothing worse.” ~ 53 ~
  • 53. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleOBEDIENCE TO THE PROPHET, COME WHATMAYWhen Mughirah ibn Shu’ba told the Prophet that heintended to marry the daughter of a certain person,the Prophet told him to go and see her first. He didas he was bade by the Prophet, informing the girl’sparents of his intentions and the Prophet’sinjunction. The girl’s parents were neverthelessreluctant to let their daughter appear before astranger. The girl, however, who was in the nextroom overheard the conversation and said, “If theProphet has given this order, then come and see me.If he has not, I implore you in God’s name not to doso.” (IBN MAJAH, SUNAN)SINCERITY AND PIETY THE ESSENCE OFISLAMUthman ibn Affan tells of how the Prophet said thathe knew which testimony would save one from theFire, provided it was uttered from the depths ofone’s heart. Umar offered to explain the nature ofsuch an affirmation to the Companions. He said ~ 54 ~
  • 54. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peoplethat it was the testimony of sincerity, which Godhad prescribed for the Prophet and his companions,and the testimony of piety, which the Prophet hadpressed upon his uncle, Abu Talib, as the latter laydying: it was, ultimately, the testimony that there isnone worthy of being worshipped save God.TRUE FAITH BRINGS VISIONS OF UNSEENREALITIESMalik ibn Anas tells of how Muadh ibn Jabal camebefore the Prophet and was asked by him, “How isyour morning?” “Full of faith in God,” repliedMuadh. “Every statement applies to something inparticular, just as every statement has an innermeaning. To what does your present statementapply?” asked the Prophet. Muadh then told theProphet that he had never woken up in the morningthinking that he would live till the evening, andnever gone to rest in the evening thinking that hewould live till morning; nor did he even take onestep without the thought crossing his mind that hemight not be able to take another. “It is as though Isee all those communities, down on their knees,being called to account for their actions. Along with ~ 55 ~
  • 55. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peoplethem are their prophets, and their idols, too, – thoseto which they used to appeal, as well as to God. It isas if I see, with my very own eyes, how the peoplein Hell are being punished and the people inParadise are being rewarded.” “You have attainedtrue realization,” the Prophet told him. “Now letthere be no falling away from it.” (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)THE QUR’AN IS FOR ADMONITION, NOTJUST FOR RECITALAishah, hearing of certain individuals who read theQur’an all night, reading it right through once, oreven twice in a night, remarked, “what is there inmere recitation?” I used to stay up all night with theProphet and, in his recitations of the chaptersentitled ‘Cow’, ‘Family of Imran’, and ‘Women’,whenever he came to a verse which contained awarning, he would pray to God and seek refugewith Him, and whenever he came to a verse bearinggood tidings, he would pray to God and express hislonging for what was mentioned in the verse. (AHMAD, MUSNAD) ~ 56 ~
  • 56. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peopleBEAR HARDSHIP WITH PATIENCE, ANDONE’S SINS WILL BE FORGIVEN IN THE NEXTWORLDAbu Bakr once recited this verse of the Qur’anbefore the Prophet: “He that does evil shall berequited with it. There shall be none to protect orhelp him.” (4:123) “How,” he asked, “can thingsnow turn out well for us, since we shall have to payfor the evil that we do?” “May God forgive you,Abu Bakr,” the Prophet said, “don’t you everbecome ill, or feel fatigue or distress? Aren’t yousometimes afflicted with hardship? Don’t you fallinto error now and then?” Abu Bakr said that hedid indeed. “This then is the requital of your sins inthis world,” said the Prophet. (KANZ AL- UMMAL)THE EMINENT SHOULD GRIEVE FOR THELOWLYIt happened that a woman of Madinah, who used toclean the mosque, passed away. She was black-skinned and mentally deranged and there were fewto perform her funeral. Those who came to it did ~ 57 ~
  • 57. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 1. god’s peoplenot think it proper to inform the Prophet. When hefinally heard about it, he asked to be informed ofthe death of any Muslim in future, irrespective ofhis or her status. ~ 58 ~
  • 58. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?2. WHAT IS FAITH?LOSE ALL, GAIN ALLThe first Caliph, Abu Bakr, sent out Khalid ibnWalid on a military campaign. One of the pieces ofadvice he gave him was: “Desire of death you willbe granted life.”KNOWLEDGE IS MORE THAN JUSTINFORMATIONMalik, ibn Anas said: “Knowledge is enlightenment.It comes only to a humble, fearing, pious heart.”AFFLUENCE IS THE GREATEST TRIALSaad ibn Abu Waqqas tells of the Prophetsaying; “I fear for you in the trial of worldlydeprivation. But I fear for you even more in thetrial of affluence. You have remained patient inthe face of worldly oppression, but will you notbe carried away by the sweetness and luxurianceof this world?” ~ 59 ~
  • 59. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?ALL MAN’S SINS, EXCEPT PRIDE, MAY BEFORGIVEN“There is hope of forgiveness for every sin thatarises from carnal desire,” said Sufyan ath-Thauri,“but not for those that stem from pride. Satansinned out of pride, while Adam erred due to carnaldesire. Adam repented and was forgiven, but thesin of Satan excluded him forever from God’sgracious mercy.”THE PROPHET’S WAY OF GIVING ADVICEThe Prophet once said of Khuzaim, one of theCompanions, “What a fine fellow Khuzaim wouldbe, if only his locks were not so long and his shawldid not drag on the ground (Abu Dawud, Sunan).”When Khuzaim heard what the Prophet had said ofhim, he took a knife and cut off his locks. In likemanner, the Prophet said of another companion,Abdullah by name, what a fine fellow he would be“if only he prayed at night.” When Abdullah heardthis, he immediately started praying at night,sleeping for only a very short time. (AL-BUKHARI, SAHIH) ~ 60 ~
  • 60. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?WHEN EVIL LIVES ONA wise man once said: “Blessed are those whosesins die with them. Damned are those whose sinslive on after them.”REMAINING ON SPEAKING TERMSAta Ibn Hasid reports the Prophet as having said:“It is not right for anyone to break off ties with hisbrother for more than three days, with the twomeeting and ignoring each other. He who greets theother first is the better of the two.” (AL-BUKHARI, SAHIH)FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE EARLYMUSLIMS: THAT IS THE ONLY WAY TO REFORMImam Malik once observed, “Latter-day Muslimscan reform only by means of that which enabledearly Muslims to reform.”HOPING FOR SOMETHING IS NOT ENOUGH.IT MUST BE WORKED FORAli, the son of Abu Talib, once exhorted the people: ~ 61 ~
  • 61. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?“People, I urge you-and myself-to be pious andobedient. Send good works before you and cherishno false hopes. For hopes will not compensate for it.NOT HATING EVEN THE DIREST OF ENEMIESAt the Battle of Uhud, the Prophet had his teethbroken by a stone thrown at him by one of theenemy, and blood streamed from his mouth. Someof the Companions urged the Prophet to curse theseenemies who wrought such havoc. (Among themany Companions who died in the battle was theProphet’s own uncle, Hamzah.) The Prophet’sresponse to this was: “I have not been sent as acurser. I have been sent as a preacher and the bearerof God’s mercy.”A TRUE BELIEVER SHOWS NO HESITATION INANSWERING THE CALL OF THE ALMIGHTYThe chapter entitled ‘The Table’ in the Qur’ancontains this divine injunction:“Believers, wine and games of chance, idols anddivining arrows, are abominations devised by thedevil. Avoid them, so that you may prosper. The ~ 62 ~
  • 62. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?devil seeks to stir up enmity and hatred among youby means of wine and gambling, and to keep youfrom the remembrance of God, and from yourprayers. Will you not abstain from them?” (5:90,91)When this verse of the Qur’an was revealed, theProphet, as was customary on such occasions,recited it to the Companions. When he reached theend of the verse – “Will you not abstain fromthem?” – every one of the Companions shouted out:“We have abstained from them, Lord. We haveabstained from them.”THE GOD-FEARING TREATS OTHERS BESTMaamar, who belonged to the next generation afterthe Companions, tells us that the latter used often tosay: “Your greatest well-wisher is he who fears Godwith regard to you.”BOWING AT THE VERY NAME OF GODThe Prophet was in Aishah’s chamber when heheard two men quarrelling at the tops of theirvoices outside. One of them had lent money tothe other, who now wanted to pay back less thanhe had borrowed. But his creditor was adamant. ~ 63 ~
  • 63. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?“Never will I relent, by God!” he exclaimed. TheProphet then went out to see the quarrellingpair. “Who is this, swearing in God’s name thathe will not do good?” he asked. At the Prophet’swords, the man mellowed immediately. “It wasI, Prophet of God,” he owned up. Then headded, “He can have whatever arrangement hepleases.” (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM)SALVATION IS FOR THOSE WHO TREAD THEPATH OF THE PROPHET AND HISCOMPANIONSThe Prophet said: “The Jews broke up intoseventy-one sects and the Christians into seventy-two. This community will break up into seventythree, all of which will be in the Fire, except ofone.” “Which one is that, Prophet of God?” theCompanions asked him. “Those who follow mypath and that of my Companions,” the Prophetreplied. (IBN KATHIR, TAFSIR) ~ 64 ~
  • 64. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?CONVERSING WITH GOD MORE AND WITHMEN LESSThaur ibn Yazid tells of how in the course of hisreading, he came across an interesting dialoguebetween Jesus and his disciples. “Converse withGod more and with people less,” admonishedJesus. “How can we converse with God more?”his disciples asked him, “By prayer andsupplication to Him in private,” answeredJesus. (ABU NU‘AYM)REMEMBRANCE OF GOD THE GREATEST ACTOF WORSHIPAbdullah ibn Abbas once said that he preferreddiscussing religious knowledge for a part of thenight to staying up all night in worship of God. (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-ILM)GOD’S OWN ARE THOSE WHO ACCEPT THEQUR’ANAnas ibn Malik reports the Prophet as saying: ~ 65 ~
  • 65. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?“Some people belong to God.” Asked who theywere, he said, “Those who adhere to the Qur’an.” (AL-DARMI, SUNAN)LIKING CRITICISMThe Caliph Umar once came to the drinkingplace of the Bani Harithah where he came uponMuhammad ibn Maslamah. “How do you findme?” he asked Muhammad. “By God, I find youjust as I would like you to be and just as itwould please any well-wisher to see you. Youare good at accumulating wealth, I see, but youkeep your hands clean of it yourself,distributing it equitably.“But,” went on Muhammad ibn Maslamah, “Ifyou adopt a crooked course, we will straightenyou, just as we straighten swords by placingthem in a vice.” At these words, Umar, thesecond Muslim Caliph, exclaimed: “Praise be toGod, who has put me among a people who willstraighten me when I become crooked.” (KANZ AL-UMMAL) ~ 66 ~
  • 66. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?RISING ABOVE LOVE AND HATEWhen the Prophet emigrated from Makkah toMadinah, the keys of the House of God in Makkahwere in the custody of one Uthman ibn Abu Talhah,they having remained in the keeping of his familyfor several generations. One day, the Prophet askedUthman for the keys, but the latter refused to handthem over, and spoke rudely to him. The Prophetheard him out but all he said finally was: “Uthman,perhaps you will live to see the day when I shallhave these keys in my hands. I shall then be in aposition to give them unto whom I will.” “It will bea day of disgrace and woe for the Quraysh whenthe keys of the Ka’bah are in the hands of one suchas you” replied Uthman.After the conquest of Makkah, God’s Messengerreigned supreme there, and asked for the keys ofthe Ka’bah to be handed over to him. When thekeys were actually in his hands, his own cousin andson-in-law, Ali ibn Abu Talib, arose and asked forthem to be given to him. The Prophet, however, didnot respond, Instead, he summoned Uthman ibnTalhah, when he stood before him, the Prophet ~ 67 ~
  • 67. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?handed him the keys, saying, “Here are your keys,Uthman. This is a day of righteousness andfulfillment of promises.” (IBN QAYYIM, ZAD AL-MA‘AD)PATIENCE AND FORBEARANCE IN THE FACEOF IGNORANCEZayd ibn Sa’ana, a Jewish scholar, who lateraccepted Islam, recounts how, when he saw theProphet, he recognized the signs of Prophethood inhis face. There were two things at that time whichhe had yet to see – his patience and his forbearance.He was soon to learn from his personal experiencethat the ignorance of another actually intensifiedthis latter quality of the Prophet.One day Zayd ibn Sa’ana saw the Prophet and hiscousin Ali approaching and, from another directiona man, apparently a bedouin, riding up to them ona camel. The man explained to the Prophet that hewas one of a group of people in a certain town whohad accepted Islam, having been told by him that ifthey became Muslims, they would be abundantlyprovided for by God. Now a drought had set in ~ 68 ~
  • 68. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?there, and he was afraid that his people mightforsake Islam out of greed, for it was greed, whichhad made them become Muslims in the first place.“If you think fit,” he suggested to the Prophet, “Youcould send them some assistance.” The Prophetlooked enquiringly at Ali who, realizing what theProphet’s glance meant, pointed out that such fundswere all exhausted. Zayd ibn Sa’ana thenapproached the Prophet and offered to give himsome money in return for dates. The Prophetagreed, and Zayd ibn Sa’ana handed over eightymithqals2 of gold, all of which the Prophet gave tothe bedouin, saying, “Help them and distribute thisjustly amongst them.”A day had been fixed for Zayd ibn Sa’ana to begiven the dates owed to him, but two or three daysbeforehand, he went to the Prophet who happenedto be sitting in the shade of a wall along withseveral of his Companions, and, catching hold ofhim by the clothes, he said to him in a mostperemptory fashion, “Why don’t you pay me whatyou owe me? By God, from what I know of theBanu Muttalib, they are always putting off repayingtheir debts!” Umar, who was sitting with the ~ 69 ~
  • 69. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?Prophet at the time, was inflamed at the Jew’swords and burst out, “Enemy of God, don’t thinkthat I can’t hear what you are saying to God’smessenger. By the One who holds sway over mysoul, it is only out of deference to him that I do notcut off your head with my sword!” The Prophet,however, continued to gaze tranquilly at Zayd ibnSa’ana. Then, turning to Umar he said, “Umar, thisman and I both deserved different treatment fromyou. You might have told me to be quicker atpaying my debts and him to be less exacting indemanding them. Go and pay him whatever is dueto him, Umar, and give him twenty sa’as3 extra forhaving alarmed him.” (AL-TABARANI, IBN MAJAH)Note:2. An Arabic weight. Richardson gives it at a dram and three-sevenths.3. The Qamus explains suwa as a certain vessel from which one drinks, and Sai, a measure of capacity. Its invariable measure being, according to ancient authorities, four times the ~ 70 ~
  • 70. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith? quantity of corn that fills the hands of a man of moderate size.SWALLOWING ONE’S ANGER INCREASESONE’S FAITHAbdullah ibn Abbas records the Prophet as saying:“The draught of one who swallows his anger isdearer to God than any other. God fills with faithone who swallows his anger for God’s sake.” (AHMAD, MUSNAD)IMMUNE TO FLATTERYA group of individuals, addressing themselves toUmar ibn Khattab as Caliph, swore that they hadnot seen anyone more just, more truthful or moresevere on hypocrites than he was. “Next to theProphet, you are the greatest of men.” Auf ibnMalik happened to be present at the time. He sworean oath that these people had lied: “We have seenbetter than Umar since the time of the Prophet.”“Who was that?” they asked him. “Abu Bakr,” Aufreplied. Umar’s response to this was to say that Aufwas right and that they were wrong. “By God,” said ~ 71 ~
  • 71. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?Umar, “Abu Bakr was purer than pure musk, whileI am more wayward even than my householdcamels.” (ABU NU‘AYM)TO PRAISE SOMEONE TO HIS FACE IS TODESTROY ONESELFA certain individual came before Umar and beganextolling the latter’s virtues. “You are destroyingme and destroying yourself,” was Umar’s reply.NOT LETTING PRAISE GO TO ONE’S HEADDhiba ibn Mohsin recounts how he once told Umarthat h was a better man than Abu Bakr. On hearingsuch praise Umar broke down, and said, “Just oneday and one night in the life of Abu Bakr are worthmore than the whole of my life!’ Then he asked,“Shall I tell you which day and which night I amreferring to?” “Please do, Commander of theFaithful,’ replied Dhiba. “The night I am referring towas when the Prophet fled from his adversaries inMakkah. Abu Bakr was the only man to go withhim. The day I am referring to was the day of the ~ 72 ~
  • 72. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?Prophet’s death. That day, many Arabs went backon their pledge to Islam, saying that they wouldpray but would not pay the poor-due went to AbuBakr and advised him to be lenient with thesepeople. He said to me, “Umar, in the old days ofignorance, (that is, prior to Islam) you were a braveman. Now, in Islamic times, you have become acoward. As for myself, I will wage war on them, byGod, so long as I am strong enough to hold a swordin my hand, even if they withhold so much as apiece of string!” (KANZ AL-UMMAL)BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO TOLERATE THESEVERITY OF THE RIGHTEOUSAbu Saeed relates how an Arab desert-dwellercame to the Prophet to demand the repayment ofa debt. “I will make life difficult for you if you donot repay what you owe,”· he said. TheCompanions reprimanded him. “Shame on you,”they said to him, “do you not realize to whomyou are speaking?” He replied that he was onlydemanding what was rightfully his. Then theProphet spoke up. “Why do you not take the side ~ 73 ~
  • 73. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?of the lender?” He then sent a man to Khaulahbint Qays, to ask her to lend him some dates ifshe had any. “We shall repay you when wereceive some,” he told her. Khaulah bint Qaysthen sent some dates to the Prophet, who notonly handed them over to the Arab, but also gavehim a meal. “You have been faithful and true,”said the Arab to the Prophet. “May God befaithful and true to you.” “The best people arethose who carefully pay others their rightfuldue,” said the Prophet. “God does not bless acommunity in which the weak cannot take fromthe strong what is rightfully theirs without fearor repraisal.” (IBN MAJAH, SUNAN)RECEIVING PRAISE, NOT WITH CONCEIT,BUT WITH HUMILITYAccording to Naafi someone launching intoextravagant eulogies to Abdullah ibn Umar,addressed him as “most noble of men, son of themost noble, “Neither am I the most noble of men,nor am I the son of the most noble,” replied IbnUmar. “I am just one of God’s servants; in Him do I ~ 74 ~
  • 74. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?have hope, and Him do I fear. By God, you are benton destroying a man with such praise.” (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)REJECT REPROOF AND YOU REJECT WHAT ISGOODAdi ibn Hatim once said: “What is acceptable to youtoday, was abhorrent to us yesterday; and what isabhorrent to you now will become acceptable tofuture generations. You will be following the truepath so long as you continue to recognize what isabhorrent and refrain from rejecting what is accept-able; and so long as a learned man can stand upamongst you to admonish you without havingscorn heaped on his head.” (lBN ‘ASAKIR)WORKING IN ONE’S OWN SPHERE, ANDAVOIDING CONFLICT WITH THEGOVERNMENT OF THE DAYThe Prophet asked Abu Dhar Ghefari what hewould do when the leaders, or rulers started takingmore than their fair share. “I will take to the sword, ~ 75 ~
  • 75. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?Prophet of God,” ventured Abu Dhar. “Rather thantake to the sword, it would be better to be patientuntil you meet me in the hereafter,” said theProphet. Abu Dhar never ceased to proclaim thetruth, but never-right till the moment he left thisworld-did he take up the sword against thegovernment of the day.FEARING NO ONE IN GIVINGADMONISHMENTOne who finds himself in a situation in which heis morally bound to proclaim the truth should notrefrain from doing so because he feels his ownposition to be weak. One who hesitates in thisway will be in a sorry state on the day ofJudgement. God will ask him why he did notspeak the truth. He will reply, “For fear of men.”But God will say to him, “Was not God beforeyou to be feared?”RECKON WITH ONESELF BEFORE BEINGRECKONED WITHAccording to Thabit ibn Hajjaj, Umar ibn Khattabonce said: “Weigh up your actions before they are ~ 76 ~
  • 76. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?weighed, and reckon with yourselves before youare reckoned with; for today’s reckoning will beeasier than tomorrow’s. And prepare yourselves forthe great appearance (of Judgement Day).” (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)LEARNING FROM EVERYTHING THATHAPPENSA cart pulled by two oxen, drove past Abu Darda.He watched as one of the oxen carried on pullingwhile the other stopped. “There is a lesson even inthis,” said Abu Darda. “The one that stopped waswhipped, while the other was left alone.” (SAFAWAT AL-SAFAWAH)MEDITATION THE GREATEST OF ACTIVITIESAbdullah ibn Utbah once asked Darda’s motherhow her husband had spent most of his time. “Inmeditation, and learning a lesson from everythingthat happened,” she replied. (HILYAT AL-AULIYA) ~ 77 ~
  • 77. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?THE COMPANIONS WORSHIPPED BYTHINKING OF GOD AND THE HEREAFTERWhen Abu Dhar died, a certain man rode fromBasra to Madinah just to find out from his wifewhat the nature of her late husband’s worship hadbeen. “He used to spend the whole day alone,engrossed in thought,” she told him. (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)IN EVERYTHING THERE IS A LESSON TO BELEARNEDDarani used to say that whenever he went out of hishouse, whatever he saw would give him a glimpseof some divine blessing and instruct him in somemanner. (IBN KATHlR, TAFSIR)THE NATURE OF A TRUE BELIEVERThe scripture, which was revealed to Abraham,contained the following passage:“A person of discernment should have certain ~ 78 ~
  • 78. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 2. What is Faith?special moments: of communion with God; of self-examination; of reflection upon the mysteries ofcreation. There should also be times, which he setsaside for food and drink. And this person ofdiscernment should engage in activity for only oneof three purposes: to accumulate (good actions) forthe next world; to make a living for himself; toenjoy whatever pleasures are not prohibited. Heshould also be an observer of his times, a minder ofhis own affairs and the custodian of his tongue. Hisactions should be accompanied by a minimum ofwords and he should speak at length only onweighty matters of proper importance.” This isrelated as a tradition of the Prophet on the authorityof Abu Dharr. (IBN HIBBAN) ~ 79 ~
  • 79. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worship3. WORSHIPWORSHIPPING GOD AND NOT HARMINGOTHERSAbdullah ibn Masud says that when he asked theProphet what the best of all actions was, the latterreplied: “Prayer at the proper time.” “And whatis the next best,” asked Ibn Masud, “Sparingpeople the harm your tongue can do,” was theProphet’s reply. (AL TABARANI)KNOWING GOD IS THE GREATEST WORSHIPA man came to the Prophet one day and askedhim what the best of all actions was. “Therealization of God,” replied the Prophet. Theman repeated his question, but the Prophet gavehim the same answer. “Prophet of God,” theman said, “I am asking you about actions,whereas you speak of knowledge.” “Withknowledge, the smallest action brings greaterbenefit,” the Prophet told him, “while thegreatest of actions brings no benefit, if it is ~ 80 ~
  • 80. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipcarried out in ignorance.” (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)GOOD CHARACTER-THE VERY ESSENCE OFRELIGIONAbdur Rehman ibn Harith ibn Abi Mirdas AsSulami recounts what happened one day when hewas in the presence of the Prophet, along with agroup of people. The Prophet asked for some waterto be brought, then dipping his hands into it, heperformed his ablutions. Whatever water was leftwas drunk by the people present. “What made youdo this?” enquired the Prophet. “Love of God andthe Prophet,” they replied. “If you wish to be lovedby God and His Prophet,” God’s messenger toldthem, “be faithful when trusted and honest in yourspeech; and be a good neighbour to others.” (AL-TABARANI)IT IS THE SPIRIT OF WORSHIP THAT ISIMPORTANTAccording to Ibn Umar, the Prophet once saidthat a man might pray, pay the poor due and go ~ 81 ~
  • 81. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipon pilgrimage – and he went on to mention allthe virtuous actions-but that he would berewarded only according to the degree of hisintellectual awareness of what he did. (AHMAD, MUSNAD)LODGE GOD IN ONE’S HEART: THAT IS THEBEST OF STATESWhen Abu Darda was told that Abu Saad ibnMunabbih had freed a hundred slaves, hiscomment was: “Certainly, this is a great act. Butlet me tell you one that is even greater: faithwhich encompasses night and day, and, onone’s tongue, the constant remembrance ofGod.” (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)REMEMBERING GOD IS A CONSTANT STATEOF PRAYERAbdullah ibn Maud once observed that a man ofknowledge was always at his prayers. Hislisteners asked him to explain this. “Thoughts ofGod are always in his heart and on his tongue,” ~ 82 ~
  • 82. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipsaid lbn Masud. (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)GOD LOOKS AFTER ONE WHO PRAYS TOHIMSalman Farsi once went to Abu Bakr to ask foradvice. The latter’s advice to him was to fear God.“You know, Salman, there will soon be conquests,and your share will be whatever you need for yourfood and clothing. You should also know that if youpray five times a day, you will be under God’sprotection night and day. Kill not any of God’sservants, for, to do so would be to cut oneself offfrom the protection of God, thus causing oneself tobe cast into hell.” (IBN SA‘D, TABAQAT)TO HELP A MUSLIM IN NEED IS A GREAT ACTOF WORSHIPAbdullah ibn Abbas was in retreat (i’tikaf) 4 in theProphet’s mosque in Madinah, when a man cameand greeted him and sat down beside him. “Youappear sad and downcast,” remarked Ibn Abbas. ~ 83 ~
  • 83. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worship“True,” replied the man, explaining that he owed asum of money to someone. “By the one who liesburied here, I do not have the means to repay it.”“Shall I speak to them on your behalf?” enquiredIbn Abbas. “If you would please,” replied the other.Abdullah ibn Abbas put on his shoes and was onthe point of setting off when his companion said,“Perhaps you have forgotten that you are inretreat.” “No, I have not forgotten,” replied IbnAbbas,” but I heard the words of the Prophet-thatone who goes out to do his brother a good turn, andaccomplishes it, is better than one who sits in retreatfor ten years.” (AL-TARGHEEB WA AL-TAHEEEB)Note:4. I’tikaf: Seeking retirement in a mosque during the last ten days of the Fast of Ramadan; during which time the worshipper does not leave the place, except for emergencies. The time is spent in reciting the Qur’an, in prayer and in remembrance of God. ~ 84 ~
  • 84. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. WorshipTRULY DESTITUTE ARE THOSE BEREFT OFGOD’S GRACE IN THE HEREAFTERAbu Hurayrah relates how one day he and someCompanions were sitting in the presence of theProphet when he asked them if they knew who thedestitute ones were. “Those who have neither cashnor capital to their credit,” suggested theCompanions. But the Prophet corrected them: “Thedestitute one among my followers is he who comeson the Day of Judgement with prayer, fasting andcharity to his credit, but having at the same timeabused others, taken possession of their property,shed their blood and inflicted cruelty upon them.His good deeds will be measured up against hiswrong-doing until, finally, there is nothing goodleft to his credit, and many debts still to be repaid.The bad deeds of others will then be heaped upupon him and he will be cast into fire.” (MUSLIM, SAHIH)HASTENING TO PRAY IN TIMES OFDIFFICULTYIt was the time of the Battle of Trench, and, ~ 85 ~
  • 85. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipaccording to Hudhayfah, there were three hundredMuslims under siege. Recalling what a hard night itwas, he recounts how they were surrounded byAbu Sufyan’s army on one side and the BanuQurayzah on the other, both posing a threat to thesafety of the Muslim families. “The cold wasalready quite intense and, when a storm blew up,there was thunder and lightning everywhere andstones hurtling and crashing in the wind. It wasalmost impossible to see anything. Just then theProphet came and asked me to cross the trench andpenetrate the enemy camp to collect information. Itwas essential to know if they were planning toprolong the siege or return to Makkah. I was themost timid of men and was extremely sensitive tothe cold. Still, on receiving the Prophet’s command,I immediately arose, he prayed for my safety, and Iset off. I went hither and thither in Abu Sufyan’scamp and was able to bring back the news that theywere discussing plans to leave. On my return, Ifound the Prophet covered in his sheet, praying.Whenever the Prophet was confronted with somearduous task, he would begin to pray.” (AL-BIDAYAH WA AL-NIHAYAH) ~ 86 ~
  • 86. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. WorshipLETTING ONE’S HEART BE MOVED BY THEQUR’ANAbu Hamzah once told Abdullah ibn Abbas that hewas quick at recitation. “I have sometimes completedthe whole Qur’an once or twice in a single night.” “Iprefer to read just one chapter,” said Ibn Abbas.“Would you recite, you should do so in such a waythat your ear hears and your heart assimilates whatyou are reciting. You should pause at its places andwonderment to let your heart be moved by it. Youraim should not be just to reach the final chapter.PRAYER PLACES ONE UNDER DIVINEPROTECTIONPart of a long tradition by Muadh ibn Jabal goes likethis: “Do not omit to offer an obligatory (farz)prayer, for one who makes this omission rendershimself unfit for God’s protection.” (AL-TABARANI)CONGREGATIONAL PRAYER BRINGS ONECLOSER TO GODBefore the emigration to Madinah, the Prophet sent ~ 87 ~
  • 87. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipwritten instructions to Musab ibn Umair concerningcongregational acts of worship. One of the clausesran as follows: “When, on Fridays, the midday sunbegins to decline, seek proximity to God by prayingtwo rakahs.” (AL-DARAQUTNI)SELF-SEEKING PLACES ONE FAR FROM GODSelf-seeking religious scholars are the subject of onetradition in which the Prophet records these wordsof God: “The least I will do to them is extinguish thejoy of prayer in their hearts.” (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL ‘ILM)A SHOW OF PIETY IS NOT REVERENCEOne day Aishah noticed a man walking along in amanner that very obviously suggested he wasbowed down in submission to God. “Why is hewalking in that feeble manner?” she enquired. Shewas told that he read extensively from the Qur’anand was constantly worshipping and impartingknowledge. On hearing this, Aishah said: “Umarused to read the Qur’an more than anyone, but he ~ 88 ~
  • 88. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshiphad a strong gait, talked in a forceful tone andwould beat forcefully too.”KEEPING WITHIN THE BOUNDS OFPROPRIETY WHEN FASTINGAnas ibn Malik relates how two women sattogether, ostensibly on a fast, but indulging inslander and giving vent to their grudges. When theProphet heard of this, he said: “They cannot be saidto have fasted. How can they have fasted when theyhave been eating the flesh of their fellows?” (ABU DAWUD, SUNAN)Another account records the Prophet as saying:“They have abstained from that which God has madelawful. What broke their fast was indulgence in thatwhich God has prohibited. One sat with the other andthey started biting into the skins of others.” (AL-TARGHEEB WA AL-TARHEEB)THE STATE INDUCED BY PRAYER SHOULD BEABIDINGAbu Ramtha recounts how, when he was praying ~ 89 ~
  • 89. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipalong with the Prophet, and the latter had justpronounced the salutations marking the end of theprayer, a man who had participated in the prayer fromthe start, arose, and began offering voluntary prayers.Umar sprang to his feet and seizing the man by theshoulders, said, “Don’t you know that the People ofthe Book did not have a gap between their prayersand that was their undoing?” The Prophet looked up,and addressing Umar, said: “Ibn Khattab, throughyou God has communicated what is true an correct. (ABU DAWUD, SUNAN)GOD CAN HEAR EVEN THE SMALLESTWHISPERCertain individuals once asked the Prophet whetherGod was close enough for them to make whisperedsupplications to Him, or whether he was so faraway that they should call His name out loud. Thisverse of the Qur’an was revealed in reply to theirquestion: “When my servants question youconcerning Me, tell them that I am near. I answerthe prayer of the suppliant when he calls Me ...”(Quran, 2:186) ~ 90 ~
  • 90. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. WorshipAbu Musa Al-Ashari relates how on certainjourneys there were a few people who raised theirvoices in prayer. “Do not strain yourselves,” theProphet told them. You are not calling upon a Beingwho is deaf or absent. You are calling upon Onewho hears and is close to you, closer to anyone ofyou than the neck of his mount.” (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM)RELIGION IS WORTHLESS IF ITS END ISMATERIAL GAINAbu Hurayrah records the Prophet as saying: “Aperson who, for the sake of worldlyaggrandizement, seeks that knowledge whichshould be sought with the sole aim of seekingGod’s good pleasure, will not savour thefragrance of Paradise on the day of Judgement.” (ABU DAWUD, SUNAN)TRUE WORSHIP ENTAILS MEEKNESS ANDHUMILITY BEFORE GODDuring the days of ignorance that preceded Islam,there was an extremely generous and hospitable ~ 91 ~
  • 91. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipman called Abdullah ibn Judaan. A cousin of theProphet’s wife Aishah, he died before thecommencement of the Prophet’s mission. Aishahonce mentioned to the Prophet that Abdullah ibnJudaan had rendered immense services to humanityand had always been a generous host. Shewondered whether these acts would benefit him onthe Day of Judgement. The Prophet replied in thenegative: “For never once did he pray: Lord, forgivemy sins on the day of Retribution.” (MUSLIM, SAHIH)GOD LOVES THE HUMBLE CRY OF HISSERVANTWhen a servant of God calls upon his Lord, and hiscall is pleasing to God, He orders Gabriel not tohasten the fulfillment of His servant’s prayer, forHe likes to hear the voice of one makingsupplication to Him.” (JAMI‘ AL-ULUM WA AL-HIKAM)HOW TO BE PRUDENTCaliph Umar ibn Abdul Aziz maintained that in ~ 92 ~
  • 92. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipmatters where the path of right guidance is clear,one should follow it. Where it was clear thatadvancing along a certain path would be to one’sdetriment, one should avoid doing so. “As formatters about which one is in two minds, theyshould be left to God.”MENTION WHAT IS GOOD: PASS OVER WHATIS EVILAbu Harun tells of how he once went to AbuHazim, and after invoking God’s mercy upon him,asked him how one could offer thanks for one’s twoeyes. “When you behold good, make mention of itand when you behold evil, pass over it,” repliedAbu Hazim. Then Abu Harun asked him how onecould offer thanks for one’s ears. “When you hearsomething good, pass it on,” said Abu Hazim, “andwhen you hear something evil, make no mention ofit.”THREE ALL-EMBRACING DUTIESThe mother of Anas once asked the Prophet to giveher good counsel. “Forsake sin, for that is the bestemigration; and observe your obligatory duties, for ~ 93 ~
  • 93. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipthat is the best crusade; and remember Godfrequently, for there is nothing more pleasing toGod than that one should remember Him much,”said the Prophet. (AL-TABARANI)TRUE KNOWLEDGE IS THAT WHICH INDUCESFEAR OF GODOnce, when some of the Prophet’s companionswere sitting with him, he looked up to the heavensand said: “The time is coming when knowledge willbe taken away.” One of the Ansar, who went by thename of Ziyad ibn Labeed, asked the Prophet howknowledge would be taken away from them, whenthey were in possession of the Book of God, andtaught it to their wives and children. “I alwaysthought of you as the most intelligent man inMadinah,” the Prophet told him, “don’t you seehow the Jews went astray, even though they werein possession of the Book of God?” The narrator ofthis tradition, one Jubayr ibn Nufayr, went toShaddad ibn Aus and went into the details of thetradition with him. “Do you know how knowledgewill be taken away?” Shaddad asked him. Jubair ~ 94 ~
  • 94. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipreplied that he did not. “By its vessel taken away,”said Shaddad, and he went on to ask; “Do youknow which knowledge will be taken away?” WhenJubayr once again replied in the negative, Shaddadexplained that it was the fear of God that would betaken away. “There will not be a God-fearing manto be seen.” (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)NO ONE IS EXEMPT FROM DANGER OFGOING ASTRAYAbu Hurayrah records the Prophet as saying: “For atime this community will practice the teachings ofthe Book of God. Then for some time they willadhere to the path of the Prophet. Then they willstart acting on the strength of their own opinions.And when they do this, they will go astray.” (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)HOW SAINT-WORSHIP GRADUALLY TURNSINTO IDOL-WORSHIPSeveral idols which were worshipped by Noah’speople – Wud, Suwa, Yaghuth, Yauq and Nasr – are ~ 95 ~
  • 95. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipmentioned in the Qur’an. Ibn Jareer al Tabari hasrelated a tradition on the authority of MuhammadIbn Qays to the effect that these idols were namedafter certain saints of ancient times. These werepious men who had lived in the period betweenAdam and Noah. They had many followers in theirlifetime, and when they died these followers said ifthey were to construct images of their heroes, itwould inspire them in their worship of God. Theythen proceeded to do so. When the next generationmade its appearance, Satan introduced anotheridea: that their forefathers had not just been usingthese statues as a focus of worship-they hadactually been worshipping them as idols. It wasthese idols who made the rain fall and, in fact,accomplished everything. That was how idolworship started. (IBN KATHIR, TAFSIR)THE LAW OF GOD IS APPLICABLE TOEVERYONEIt is written in the chapter of the Qur’an entitled,“The Table Spread,” that those who do not judgein accordance with God’s revelations are ~ 96 ~
  • 96. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipunbelievers, transgressors and evil, doers, thereference being to the Children of Israel. Someonesuggested to Hudhaifah, a companion of theProphet, that as these verses had been revealedwith regard to the Children of Israel, they did notapply to Muslims, and that what they meant wasthat those of the Jews who did not judge inaccordance with God’s revelations wereunbelievers, transgressors and evildoers. “Whatgood brothers you have in the Children of Israelthat they should accept all that is sour, leaving allthat is sweet for you in life,” replied Hudhaifah.“It cannot be as you say, “God knows, you arebound to follow in their footsteps.”WHEN THOSE BOUND FOR PARADISE FINDTHEIR WAY BARREDJabir ibn Abdullah tells of how, when he learnt ofa companion of the Prophet who had actuallyheard the Prophet’s words of wisdom, he boughta camel, saddled it, and set off for Damascus. Ittook him a whole month to reach this city, wherehe betook himself to the house of Abdullah IbnUnays. There he told the gate-keeper to inform ~ 97 ~
  • 97. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipthe master of the house that Jabir was at the door.“Is that Jabir the son of Abdullah?” enquired thegate-keeper. On hearing that this was so, hesummoned his master, who appeared at thedoorway and embraced him. “It came to myknowledge,” said Jabir “that you had heard oneof the sayings of the Prophet, and I was afraidthat I might die before hearing it.” Abdullah ibnUnays then told him that what he had heard theProphet say was that, on the Day of Judgement,people would make their appearance naked,uncircumcised and destitute. God wouldproclaim in a voice audible to the far and nearalike that He was the Sovereign Lord; that it wasHe who would mete out justice on this day. “Noone bound for Paradise will be able to take up hisabode there if he has wronged one in Hell whoseeks redress for the wrong done to him. Even if,in any case, one is bound for the Fire, one shallfirst have to make amends for any wrong one hasinflicted on another of its inmates who seeksredress for the wrong done to him.” “How will itcome to pass”, asked Jabir, “as God will raise usup in a naked and destitute state?” “The redressalwill be made on the basis of our good and evil ~ 98 ~
  • 98. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipdeeds,” replied Abdullah ibn Unays. (AL-BUKHARI, SAHIH)ONLY DISINTERESTED ACTION IS OF MORALVALUEAbu Umamah relates how a man came to theProphet to ask him about one who did battle withmaterial rewards and fame as his objectives. Hewanted to know what his reward would be.“Nothing,” replied the Prophet. The man repeatedhis question three times and each time the Prophetgave him the same reply. “The only actionsacceptable to God are those carried out in absolutesincerity and solely for the sake of God,” added theProphet. (ABU DAWUD, NASAI)BETWEEN HOPE AND FEARUmar once said that if a voice from heavenannounced that everyone would enter heavenexcept for one single person, he would be afraid ofbeing that person, “And if a voice from heavenwere to announce that everyone, except for one ~ 99 ~
  • 99. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipsingle person, would enter hell, I would be hopefulof being that person. (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)THERE IS CHARITY IN FORGIVENESSAbu Abbas ibn Hibr relates that one day theProphet exhorted people to donate somethingtowards the struggle for God’s cause, and peoplegave according to their means. One of the Prophet’sCompanions Ulbah ibn Zayd ibn Haritha, did not,however, have anything to give. He arose that nightand, weeping before God, prayed to Him: “Lord Ihave nothing to give to charity. Instead Lord, Iforgive whoever has brought me dishonour.” In themorning when the Companions had gathered, theProphet asked them, “where is the one who gavesomething to charity last night?” When no onearose, the Prophet repeated his question. Still noone answered. Then, when the Prophet hadrepeated his question for the third time, Ulbah ibnZayd Haritha arose. “Rejoice,” said the Prophet,“for your gift to charity has been accepted.” (AL-BIDAYAH WA AL-NIHAYAH) ~ 100 ~
  • 100. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. WorshipTHE CORRUPTING INFLUENCE OF POWERThe Prophet once sent Miqdad ibn Aswad off on amission. When he returned a few days later, theProphet asked him how things had gone. “Peoplekept on putting me on a pedestal, to the pointwhere I began to think of myself as superior tothem,” replied Miqdad. “That is the way withleadership. You can either take it or leave it.” saidthe Prophet. “By the one who has sent you with thetruth,” replied Miqdad, “I will never again acceptleadership – not even of two people.” (AL-BAZZAR)THOSE WHO DO NOT FEAR GOD CANNOTUNDERSTAND THE STATE OF MIND OFTHOSE WHO DOThe expedition of Tabuk was conducted underextremely difficult conditions. Abdullah ibn Abbastells of how the Prophet exhorted the Muslims tomake contributions towards it, and people startedgiving what they could. It was Abdul Rahman ibnAuf, with his donation of 200 ounces of silver, whomade the largest contribution. When the Prophet ~ 101 ~
  • 101. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipasked him if he had left anything for his family, hesaid that he had. The Prophet then asked him whathe had left for them and he said, “Something ofgreater value and more excellent than what I havedonated.” The Prophet then enquired as to the exactvalue. “Whatever provision and good fortune Godand His Prophet have promised” was AbdulRahman ibn Auf’s reply. Abu Aqeel Ansari,however, had brought only one sa ‘as of dates. Hetold of how he had spent the whole night haulingwater for a Jew, for which he earned two sa’as ofdates. One sa ‘a he had left for his household. Theother he had brought with him. He felt ashamed ofhis paltry contribution and excused himself on thegrounds that he had nothing else to give. Such wasthe open-hearted sincerity of the true Muslims.There were hypocrites of Madinah, however, whoused to decry the contributors of substantial sumsas being ostentatious. They scoffed likewise at thosewho donated small amounts: “They are more inneed of their sa ‘as than anybody.” (KANZ AL-UMMAL) ~ 102 ~
  • 102. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. WorshipSOMETIMES THE OBSCURE ARE MORE AMPLYREWARDED THAN THE FAMOUSOne day when Umar was sitting with a group ofpeople, he asked them, “Who will gain the greatestreward?” Some said it would be those who fasted,while others thought it would be those who prayed.Some said that the reward of the Commander of theFaithful would be the greatest. Everyone madedifferent suggestions, but Umar dismissed them all.“Shall I tell you who will have the greater even thanthat of the Commander of the Faithful?” They allasked him to explain who he meant. “It is one who,clinging on to the reins of his horse, and watchingover the Muslim army in the far off land of Syria,has no idea whether he will be devoured by somewild beast, bitten by some poisonous insect orattacked by some foe. Such a man will receive agreater reward than any of those you mentioned,greater even than the Commander of the Faithful. (IBN ‘ASAKIR)PREFERRING TO BE UNOSTENTATIOUSAt the end of a long journey on camel back, ~ 103 ~
  • 103. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. WorshipUmar arrived in Palestine along with a group ofemigrants and helpers. The long garment, whichhe had been wearing for so many days, had tornat the back, and he gave it to the Bishop to bewashed and mended. The Bishop did as he wastold and when he brought the garment backmended, he brought along another one made outof fine cloth. Umar looked at it and asked himwhat this was that he had brought. “Yourgarment,” replied the Bishop. “I have washedand patched it. The other one is a gift from me.”Umar examined it, running his hand over it.Then he put on his own garment and gave theother one back to the Bishop. He explained thatthe old one absorbed sweat better. (AL-TABARI)LIVING IN FEAR OF DOOMSDAYAbu Bakr, seeing a bird sitting on a tree, exclaimed,“Oh bird, how fortunate you are. If only I could belike you-sitting on trees eating their fruit, thenflying away. No reckoning or doom awaits you. ByGod, I would like to be a tree by the wayside, andhave a passing camel take in its mouth, chew me, ~ 104 ~
  • 104. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshipswallow me and then dispose me as dung.” (AL-BAIHAQI, AL-SUNAN AL-KUBRA)SETTING NO SPECIAL VALUE UPON ONESOWN ACTIONSUmar once asked Abu Musa al-Ashari if hewould like to have only those actions attributedto him which he had performed in the presenceof the Prophet, with everything else that he haddone to be completely nullified, so that neitherhis good nor his bad deeds were of any accountand he would be neither punished nor rewarded.Abu Musa said that he would not. “When I cameto Basra,” he explained, “oppression was rifeamong the people. I taught them the Qur’an andacquainted them with the teachings of theProphet. I undertook campaigns for the cause ofGod along with them. This being so, I hope forthe grace of God.” “For my part,” said Umar, “Ishould like my actions to be disassociated fromme in such a way that neither good nor evildeeds were of any importance. Neither sin norgood deed would then stand to my account. Allthat would stand to my credit would be what I ~ 105 ~
  • 105. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 3. Worshiphad done in the presence of the Prophet.” (IBN ‘ASAKIR)THE WORTH OF HONEST EARNINGSAccording to Hasan, a certain individual once saidto Uthman: You rich people far surpass others inrighteousness. You are able to give charity, go onpilgrimages and spend for God’s cause.” “Are youenvious of us?” enquired Uthman. “Indeed, weare,” said the man. “By God,” Uthman told him,“One dirham spent from money made throughhonest endeavour is better than ten thousanddirhams spent out of a great mass of wealth.” (AL-BAIKHAQI, AL-SUNAN AL-KUBRA) ~ 106 ~
  • 106. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. Sincerity4. SINCERITYBEING SINCERE MEANS ABSTAINING FROMWHAT IS FORBIDDENZayd ibn Arqam records the Prophet as saying:“Whoever says with sincerity that there is no godsave God shall enter Paradise.” When asked whatthis sincerity was, he replied, “Let his very oath barhim from what God has forbidden.” (AL-TARGHEEB WA AL-TARHEEB)WEIGHING UP ONE’S ACTIONS BEFORE THEYARE WEIGHED UP ON THE DIVINE SCALES OFJUSTICE“Reckon with yourselves,” said Umar, “before youare reckoned with in the next world; and weighyour own actions before they are weighed on thedivine scales of justice; and prepare yourselves forthe great appearance before God.DO NOT REGARD KNOWLEDGE AS A MEANSTO PERSONAL PRESTIGEUbayy ibn Kaab said: “Acquire knowledge and use ~ 107 ~
  • 107. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. Sincerityit. Do not acquire it in order thereby to enhanceyourselves. Otherwise a time will come whenlearning will be used as an adornment in themanner of clothes.LUST FOR FAME THE WORST SINGLEDANGER-FOR MANOn his deathbed Shaddad ibn Aus said to thosearound him: “What I fear most for this communityis ostentation and the harbouring of secret desires.”The meaning of” secret desires” was explained bySufyan Thauri: “It is the fondness of praise for one’sgood deeds.” When the Prophet himself wasquestioned on this subject, he said that” secretdesires” were harboured, for example, by thosewho sought knowledge because the idea thatpeople would then come and sit at their feet waspleasing to them. (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)ACTING ‘TO BE SEEN BY MEN’Abu Hurayrah records the Prophet as havingexhorted his followers to seek refuge from the Pit of ~ 108 ~
  • 108. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. SincerityGrief. When asked what this Pit of Grief was, hesaid it was a gorge in Hell from which Hell itselfsought refuge four hundred times a day. TheProphet was then asked who would enter that Pit.“Those scholars who act to be seen by men,” hereplied. (AT-TIRMIDHI, IBN MAJAH)FEARING GOD IN ONE’S DEALINGS WITHMENThe Prophet once came across Abu Masud Ansaribeating his slave. “You should know, Abu Masud,”he said, “that God has more power over you thanyou have over this slave.” Abu Masud trembled onhearing these words of the Prophet. “Messenger ofGod,” he said, “I am freeing this slave for God’ssake.” “If you had not acted thus, the flames of Hellwould have engulfed you,” the Prophet told him. (ABU DAWUD, SUNAN)PUTTING ONESELF IN OTHERS’ SHOES ANDNOT ENTERTAINING SUSPICIONSThe Prophet’s wife Aishah was once slanderously ~ 109 ~
  • 109. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. Sincerityaccused of misconduct. While the rumours were attheir height, Abu Ayub Ansari’s wife mentioned toher husband what people were saying aboutAishah. Abu Ayub refused on principle to believe itand replied that those who said such things areliars. “Can you imagine yourself doing such athing?” he asked his wife. “Certainly not,” sheanswered. “Well, how much more chaste and pureAishah is than you. Why should such actions beattributed to her?” asked Abu Ayub of his wife.REJOICING IN THE MUSLIMS’ PROSPERITYAbdullah ibn Abbas once said: “Whenever I hearthat rain has fallen on a Muslim town I am happy;even though I myself have no cattle grazing there.” (AT-TIRMIDHI, SHAMA‘IL)AVOIDING RETALIATION FOR THE SAKE OFGODWhile the Muslims were returning from the BaniMustaliq campaign, Aishah was detained by theloss of a necklace. She eventually found thenecklace, but having lost trace of the Muslim party, ~ 110 ~
  • 110. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. Sincerityshe went to sleep at the place where they had set uptheir camp the night before. There she was spottedby a Companion, who seating her on his camel andhimself holding the reins, brought her back toMadinah. When they reached home, there werecertain hypocrites who used this episode to spreadfalse scandals about Aishah. One of thescandalmongers was Mistah, a relative of Abu Bakrwho received a monthly stipend from his wealthykinsman. When Abu Bakr discovered Mistah’s rolein the slandering of his daughter, Aishah, he sworean oath that he would stop giving any money toMistah. Then this verse of the Qur’an was revealed:“Let not the honourable and the rich among youswear not to give to their kindred, the poor, andthose who have emigrated for the cause of God.Rather let them pardon and forgive, Do you notwish God to forgive you? He is Forgiving,Merciful.” (24:22) On hearing the revelation of thisverse, Abu Bakr said, “I would certainly like God toforgive me.” (IBN HISHAM, AL-SIRAH AL-NABAWIYYAH) ~ 111 ~
  • 111. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. SincerityONE WHO WILL BE SAVED FROM DOOM ONTHE DAY OF JUDGEMENT“On the Day of Resurrection, God will save fromHell-fire one who has saved his brother fromhumiliation in this world.” These words werespoken by the Prophet Muhammad.HARDNESS OF HEART COMES FROM USINGRELIGION FOR WORLDLY ENDS“A learned man is punished by having his heartto die,” said Hasan al-Basri. Asked what wasmeant by the dying of the heart, he replied thatit came from seeking the world through actionswhose sole direction should be towardseternity. (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)THE DAY OF DEATH WILL BE THE GREATAWAKENING“People are asleep; when they die, they willawaken.” Thus spoke the Prophet. ~ 112 ~
  • 112. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. SincerityWORLDLY ATTACHMENT BARS THE GATE TOETERNITY“There will come a day when you will be asinsignificant as the flotsam carried away by aflood,” the Prophet once said to his Companions.They asked him why that would be. He then toldthem that something he termed wahan woulddevelop within them, and when they asked whatthat meant, he explained that it is to love worldlythings, and be reluctant to face death.”STANDING ON THE BRINK OF HELL-FIREIn the first sermon the Prophet gave on his arrival inMadinah, after his emigration from Makkah, he saidto the people, “Send good deeds before you; youwill surely realize their worth. Truly, there willcome a time when each one of you will bethunderstruck, and shepherds, in dismay, will leavetheir flocks unguarded. And the Lord will addressyou-and there will be no interpreter or obstacle tobar the way-’ Did not My prophets visit you? Didthey not communicate My message unto you?bestowed wealth upon you and showered you withgreat bounty. Now, what have you sent before you, ~ 113 ~
  • 113. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. Sincerityfor the good of your own selves?’ You will look toyour right and your left and you will see nothing.You will look ahead and you will see only the Fireof Hell. So save yourself from the Fire, be it with buta morsel of a date. Whoever does not possess eventhat trifling thing should set himself to utter sweetwords, for they too have their rewards. Good deedsare rewarded from ten to seven hundred fold. Peacebe upon you, and God’s mercy and His blessing.” (IBN HISHAM, AL-SIRAH AL-NABA WIYYAH)THINKING NOUGHT OF ONE’S ACTIONSSaeed ibn Jubayr, a companion of the Companionsof the Prophet, was asked who was the greatestworshipper. “One who has sinned then repents,”came the reply. “Then when he recalls his sins, hesets no great value upon his good deeds either.” (SAFAWAT AL-SAFAWAH)THE GREATEST DEEDS ARE THE MOSTDIFFICULT OF ALL“Three actions are the most difficult,” the Prophetonce remarked: “Being fair with others on matters ~ 114 ~
  • 114. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. Sincerityconcerning oneself; helping others by giving fromone’s own possessions; and remembering God at alltimes.”ONLY THE MUSLIM WHO IS TRUE TO HISFAITH CAN ENTER PARADISEAbu Hurayrah tells the story of a man who foughtwith all his strength in the Battle of Khaybar. Thenews spread that he had died on the field of battleand people began to extol his bravery. They wereagreed that he must surely have attained the statusof martyrdom. When the Prophet heard what thepeople were saying, he said, “He is destined for theFire.” But the daredevil valour of this man causedpeople to cast doubt upon the words of the Prophet,so the latter bade them go and find out how he haddied. It turned out that he had fallen downwounded and lay in that state until nightfall, whenunable to bear the pain of his wounds, he killedhimself. Far from being a case of martyrdom, hishad been a case of suicide. When the Prophet wasinformed of the outcome of their investigations, hesaid, “I bear witness that I am God’s servant andHis Messenger.” He then bade Bilal go and tell the ~ 115 ~
  • 115. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. Sinceritypeople that only a Muslim who was true to his faithwould enter Paradise; but that God also aided thecause of His religion through sinners. (AL-BUKHARI, SAHIH)REGARDING ONE’S DEEDS AS OF NOSPECIAL VALUE“You have rendered great services to the Islamiccause,” someone once told Umar. “You must havegreat rank in the eyes of the Lord.” “Suffice it thatthere should be nothing for me or against me,” wasUmar’s reply.IT IS HYPOCRISY TO JOIN A MOVEMENTBECAUSE OF ITS WORLDLY SUCCESSWhen the Prophet emigrated to Madinah, Abdullahibn Ubayy and his followers put all kinds ofobstacles in the Prophet’s path, doing all they couldto sabotage his mission. Then came the Battle ofBadr, when the great leaders of the Quraysh wereslain. “There is no stopping Islam now,” agreedAbdullah ibn Ubayy and his companions. Theythen put up a facade of entering Islam, but, ~ 116 ~
  • 116. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. Sincerityinsincere in their path, they soon took to plottingagainst Islam. (IBN KATHIR, TAFSIR)BY PERFORMING SMALL TASKS A MAN DOESNOT DEMEAN HIMSELFThe Caliph of Islam, Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, wastalking to someone late one night when the lampstarted flickering. “I will wake up the servant,”ventured his companion. “He can put some oil inthe lamp.” Umar told him not to do so. Then he gotup and put the oil in the lamp himself. “I was Umaribn Abdul Aziz before I put oil in the lamp, and Iam still Umar ibn Abdul Aziz,” said the Caliph. (SIRAT UMAR IBN ABDUL AZIZ)HAVING BAD RELATIONS WITH ANYONE ISNO REASON TO DENY HIM HIS RIGHTSUmar ibn Khattab once told a certain person that hehad no love for him. “But will you deprive me ofmy rights?” asked the man. Umar said that hewould not. “That is enough for me, it is onlywomen who need to be loved,” replied the man. ~ 117 ~
  • 117. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. SincerityBEING SATISFIED WITH GOD’S BOUNTY ANDALWAYS THIRSTING FOR KNOWLEDGEAbu Qilabah was once asked who the richest manwas. “He who is satisfied with what God has givenhim,” was Abu Qilabah’s reply. And the mostknowledgeable? “He who increases his knowledgethrough that of others.”BY MAKING NO EFFORTS, MAN LOSES WHATHE HOPES TO GAIN“I have seen nothing the equal of Paradise that thevery people who seek it should have gone to sleep.Nor I have seen anything like Hell that the peoplewho would flee from it are slumbering.” So said theProphet Muhammad.LEAVE JUSTICE TO GODImam Zayn ul-Abidin (38-94 AH), the son of ImamHusain, was the only member of the latter’s familyto survive the slaughter of Karbala. Informed thatsome individual had slandered him and madeaccusations against him, the Imam asked to betaken to see him. On entering, he greeted him and ~ 118 ~
  • 118. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. Sinceritysaid: “If what you say about me be true, I pray forGod’s forgiveness; and if it be false, may He forgiveyou.”BEING CONSCIOUS OF ONE’S OWN FAULTS,NOT OF OTHERSAlthough Rabi’ ibn Khaythama never used to speakill of anybody, he once remarked upon people’sextraordinary habit of fearing God with regard toother people’s sins, but not with regard to theirown. (IBN SA’D TABAQAT)BOWING TO THE WILL OF GOD AND TO HISMESSENGERAbu Huzayfah was a man who liked good food.One day having eaten his fill, he entered into thepresence of God’s Messenger, where he feltconstrained to belch. The Prophet heard him andsaid: “The most satiated in this world will be themost starved on the Day of Resurrection.” Thesewords made such an impression on Abu Huzayfahthat he never ate his fill again. ~ 119 ~
  • 119. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. SincerityHE WHOSE HEART IS FREE OF HATE WILLENTER HEAVENSitting with his companions one day, the Prophetsaid: “There is a man coming from the hills just nowwho will be the one of the Companions of theGarden.” Just then, this Muslim appeared, and theygreeted him and asked him what superior virtue hisactions had that the Prophet had promised himParadise. “Nothing in particular,” replied the man.“The only point, I can think of is that I bear nogrudge against any Muslim.”REFORMING OTHERS AND BEING READY TOBE REFORMED ONESELFThe following is part of the address delivered by AbuBakr on being elected Caliph: “My people, youraffairs have been entrusted to me, although I am nobetter than you. The weak among you to me, will bethe strongest until I have ensured that they receivewhat is rightfully theirs. The strong among you I willlook upon as the weakest, until I have made sure thatthey pay their due. I am just like anyone of you.When you see that I am proceeding correctly, followme; and when you see me waver, set me straight. ~ 120 ~
  • 120. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. SincerityTHE LEAST ONE CAN DO IS NOT HARMANYONEYahya ibn Muadh Al-Razi once observed that if onecannot do anything to benefit one’s Muslim brother,at least one should do him no harm.WORSHIP IS MORE THAN A SET OF RITUALSThe Prophet was addressing his followers oneday when he saw a man standing in the sun,praying. He asked about this man and was toldthat he was Abu Israel Ansari. He was fastingand had made a vow that neither would he gointo the shade nor would he sit down; he wouldremain standing in the scorching sun.Furthermore, he would not talk to anyone, butwould maintain a strict silence. The Prophet’sresponse to this was to send him word that heshould talk, go into the shade, be seated andcomplete his fast in usual way. (AL-QURTUBI, TAFSIR)WHY TRY TO MAKE A GOD OF ONESELF?Hamdun Nishapuri, who lived in the third century ~ 121 ~
  • 121. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. SincerityHijri, when asked who God’s true servant was,answered: “One who worships and has no desirefor people to worship him”.WHILE WORSHIPPING GOD, RESPECT THECONVENIENCE OF OTHERSThe Prophet was once in retreat in the mosquewhen he was disturbed by the sound of loudrecitation. Raising the curtain, he said to theworshippers, “Look, you are all intent onbeseeching God, but in so doing you must nottrouble others. Don’t raise your voices to outdoeach other while reciting the Qur’an. (ABU DAWUD, SUNAN)THE SIMPLER THE CEREMONY, THE GREATERTHE BLESSINGAishah reports the Prophet as saying: “Themarriage which is most blest is that which has beenleast burdensome.” (AL-BAIHAQI AL-SUNAN AL-KUBRA) ~ 122 ~
  • 122. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. SincerityCHOOSE THE SIMPLER, NOT THE MOREDIFFICULT WAYIt happened once that a Companion of theProphet found himself in a wide open areawhen the time for prayer came round. Stillclutching the reins of his horse, he duly said hisprayers. A watching Kharijite expressed hisdoubts about the propriety of this action, butother companions told him that the Prophethabitually favoured the simpler way in allmatters. The Companion whose behaviour hadbeen called in question then pointed out that ifhe had let go of the horse, it would have runaway” and I was in no position to walk; I wouldhave been creating difficulties for myself for nogood reason.”MAKING THINGS UNNECESSARILY DIFFICULTFOR ONESELF DOES NOT CONSTITUTE PIETYWhile on a journey, the Prophet caught sight ofa cluster of people crowding around a man toshade him from the sun. When the Prophetasked what was the matter with him, it wasexplained to him that he was fasting. “There is ~ 123 ~
  • 123. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. Sinceritynothing pious about fasting on a journey,” saidthe Prophet. (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM)RELIGIOUS LEADERS SHOULD HAVECONSIDERATION FOR THEIRCONGREGATIONSMu’adh, leading the congregation for the eveningprayer one day, recited two chapters of the Qur’an,Al-Baqarah and An-Nisa which were very lengthy.When the Prophet heard about this, he said:“Mu’adh, are you one to put people to the proof?Are not short chapters like At-Tariq and Ash-Shamssufficient for you?” (NASA’I, SUNAN)RATHER THAN FROM OUTWARD ACTIONS,GREATNESS COMES FROM INWARD GRACECommenting on the Caliph Abu Bakr’s outstandinggreatness, Abu Bakr Muzani observed that it wasnot because he fasted or prayed more than others; itwas because of something in his heart. Ibn Aliyya,explaining this statement of Abu Bakr Muzani, said ~ 124 ~
  • 124. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. Sinceritythat what he had in mind was love of God andkindness of his creatures. (JAMI‘ AL-ULUM WA AL-HIKAM)NO RIGIDITY IN RELIGIONWhen Aishah was questioned by Udhayf ibnHarith as to whether the Prophet used to batheat nightfall or at daybreak, she replied, “He usedto bathe at any time of night, sometimes as nightfell and sometimes as day broke.” “Praise be toGod who has made His religion flexible,” saidUdhayf. (NASA’I, SUNAN)GOD LOOKS NOT JUST AT ACTIONS BUT ATTHEIR MOTIVESUmar ibn Khattab once heard the Prophet say:“Actions are judged by the doer’s intentions.Whatever a man has set his heart on, he shallhave it. So he who emigrates for God and HisMessenger will be led by his emigration to justthat destination. And he who emigrates forworldly reasons-to enrich himself or to marry- ~ 125 ~
  • 125. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 4. Sinceritywill be led to just those objectives.” (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM) ~ 126 ~
  • 126. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Piety5. PIETYPIETY LEADS ONE TO PRESS ONWARDS INSPITE OF ALL OBSTACLES“What is piety (taqwa)?” Abu Hurayrah was onceasked. “Have you ever passed along a thornypath?” was his rejoinder. “Why, yes,” replied thequestioner. “And what did you do?” “I watched outfor the thorns, kept clear of them and went on myway.” “Well then,” said Abu Hurayrah, “That iswhat is meant by piety.”GIVING ONESELF UP TO GOD AND WISHINGOTHERS WELLWhen Jarir came to accept Islam, the Prophet said,“Jarir, give me your hand,” and he bade him swearhis allegiance. “To what am I swearing allegiance?”asked Jarir. “That you will surrender yourself toGod, and show goodwill towards all Muslims,”replied the Prophet. Then as Jarir was actuallyswearing allegiance, he added, “In so far as I amable, Messenger of God.” Afterwards everyone wasgranted this concession. ~ 127 ~
  • 127. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Piety (AL-TABARANI)THE SELF-DESTRUCTIVENESS OF WORLDLYGREEDThe Prophet sent Abu Ubaydah ibn Jarrah to Yemenfor the purpose of collecting taxes. When he haddone so, he returned to Madinah with a large sumof money. Hearing of his arrival, the Ansar joinedthe Prophet for morning prayer in his mosque, andwhen he had completed the prayer, they camebefore him. Seeing them there, the Prophet smiled,“I think you must have heard that Abu Ubaydahhas brought some-thing from Bahrain,” he said tothem. “Yes, we have,” replied the Ansar. “Rejoice,and look forward to good tidings,” was theProphet’s rejoinder. “By God, it is not poverty that Ifear for you. I fear for you abundance in worldlythings and that you should strive enviouslytowards their attainment, as those who went beforeyou did. Then you will be destroyed just as theywere. (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM) ~ 128 ~
  • 128. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. PietyTHE TRUE INTELLECTUAL IS A MAN OFGREAT PIETYWhen Hasan ibn Ali relinquished the Caliphate infavour of Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan, he spoke inthe mosque of Kufa explaining his reasons forabdicating. On this occasion, he said, amongst otherthings, “The wisest of the wise is he who is mostpious, the most vulnerable of all is the sinner.” (IBN ABDIL BARR)SHOWING NO FAVOURITISMAccording to Aslam, Abdullah ibn Arqam camebefore Umar ibn Khattab one day and said to him:“Commander of the Faithful, there are someornaments and silver dishes among the articles thathave come into the treasure from Jalula. Please lookat them and tell us what to do with them.” “Remindme of this when you see that I am free,” repliedUmar. A few days later, Abdullah ibn Arqam did sowhen the Commander of the Faithful appeared tohave nothing to occupy his attention. Umar ibnKhattab then went to the Treasury and had theornaments and dishes brought before him. The ~ 129 ~
  • 129. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Pietymoment he saw them, he recited the fourteenthverse of the Chapter AI-Imran: “Men are temptedby the love of women and offspring, of hoardedtreasures of gold and silver, of splendid horses,cattle and plantations. These are the comforts of thislife, but far better is the return to God.” “We cannothelp but rejoice in something that has been madetempting to us. Lord, may we spend it aright;protect us from its evil.” Just then, one of Umar’sown sons, Abdul Rahman, came along and askedhis father for a ring. “Go to your mother. She willfeed you barley soup.” It was thus that Umar gavehim nothing. (AHMAD, MUSNAD)SELF-APPRAISAL FIRST AND FOREMOSTA certain individual asked Abdullah ibn Masud forsome advice. “You should stay at home, hold yourtongue and remember your faults,” was the advicehe gave him. (HILYAT AL-AULIYA) ~ 130 ~
  • 130. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. PietyTAKING NO ADVANTAGE OF ONE’SPOSITIONOnce, when a messenger of Caesar’s came beforeUmar, the latter’s wife borrowed a dinar and boughtsome perfume which she poured into phials and sentas a gift to Caesar’s wife. When the Roman Empressreceived the gift, she emptied the phials and filledthem with jewels, telling the messenger to take themto the wife of Umar ibn Khattab. The latter receivedthe jewels, and extracting them from the phials, placedthem on her bedding. When Umar came home, heasked where they had come from. His wife told himthe whole story, whereupon Umar took the jewelsaway and sold them. From the proceeds he gave onedinar to his wife and the rest he put in the Treasury. (AL-DAINA WARI)JUSTICE, EVEN TOWARDS ENEMIES“If someone disobeys God in matters that concernyou, the best thing to do in return is to obey God inmatters that concern him.” So said Umar ibn Khattab. (IBN KATHIR, TAFSIR) ~ 131 ~
  • 131. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. PietyTHE FEELINGS INSPIRED BY FAITH AREMISINTERPRETED BY THE PROFANEAbu Salma and Abu Hurayrah tell of oneoccasion when the Prophet, intending todespatch a force, urged the people to offer theircontributions. A merchant, Abdur Rahman ibnAuf, who was among them, spoke up:“Messenger of God, I have four thousand. Twothousand are for my household. The other two Ilend to God.” “God bless you in what you havegiven and in what you have kept,” said theProphet. Abu Aqeel Ansari, on the other hand,was a poor man, who had spent his whole nightworking in an orchard, for which he was paidjust two sa’a of dates. One sa’a he kept for hishousehold, the other he presented to theProphet. The Messenger of God prayed forblessings upon these two. As far as AbdurRahman ibn Auf was concerned, they said hewas just being ostentatious. And as for AbuAqeel, they said, “Couldn’t God and the Prophethave done without his one sa‘a?” (AL-BAZZAR) ~ 132 ~
  • 132. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. PietySELF-RELIANCEThe Prophet once asked: “Who will pledge to methat he will never ask anything of anyone?”Thauban said that he would; and from then on, hetruly never asked anything of anyone. (AHMAD, MUSNAD)PREFERRING GOD TO RICHESAn angel of God once visited the Prophet and broughthim greetings from God. “If you wish the rocky tractsof Makkah to be converted into gold, it will be done,”said the angel. The Prophet raised his face to heavenand said, “No, Lord, I prefer to eat my fill one day andgo hungry the next. When I go hungry, I humblemyself before You and remember You. When I havemy fill I offer thanks and praise you.” (AL- TIRMIDHl, SHAMA’IL)NO AFFLICTION IS WORSE THAN HARDNESSOF HEART“There is no affliction worse than hardness ofheart,” observed Malik Ibn Deenar. ~ 133 ~
  • 133. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. PietyUNWILLINGNESS TO MAKE SACRIFICESLEADS TO SELF-DESTRUCTIONAbu Imran, who went on an expeditioncommanded by Abdur Rahman ibn Khalid ibnWalid, tells of how an individual Muslim soldiersingle-handedly broke the ranks of a largeByzantine army, which was advancing upon theMuslims. Some of the Muslims commented that hehad put himself in danger of his own volition,referring to the verse of the chapter Al-Baqarah inwhich Muslims are warned not to cast themselves,of their own volition, into destruction. Abu AyyubAnsari, however, said: “We Ansaries can betterappreciate the meaning of that verse, because it wasrevealed with reference to us.” He went on toexplain that when God had helped the Prophet andmade Islam dominant, some of the Ansar had saidto one another: “Come let us remain with ourproperties now, and consolidate our wealth,” thatwas when this verse was revealed: “Give for thecause of God and do not with your own hands castyourself into destruction.” (2:194) “What, in fact,was meant by casting ourselves with our ownhands into destruction was our sitting on our ~ 134 ~
  • 134. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Pietyproperties, consolidating them and forsaking thestruggle for God’s cause.” (IBN KATHIR, TAFSIR)DO NOT BECOME UNBALANCED BY LOVEOR HATEUmar once cautioned: “Do not become mad withlove for anyone, nor seek to destroy with yourdislike.” Aslam asked Umar that what this meant.“It means that when you love anyone, there is thedanger of falling head over heels, like a child, andwhen you dislike someone, you become bent upondestroying him.” (AL-ADAB AL-MUFRAD)NO PARADISE WITHOUT THE SACRIFICE OFLIFE AND PROPERTYWhen Bashir ibn Khasasiyah went to the Prophet toswear his allegiance, he asked him on whatconditions it must be given. The Prophet stretchedout his arm and said, “Bear witness that there is noGod save God, and that Muhammad is His servantand Messenger, pray five times a day at the ~ 135 ~
  • 135. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Pietyappointed times, pay zakat, fast during Ramadan,make a pilgrimage to the House of God and carryon the holy struggle.” Bashir replied, “I shall doeverything. But there are two things, which arebeyond my capacity. One is zakat. The truth is, Ihave just ten she camels. Their milk provides foodfor my household and they are our only means oftravel and transportation. Secondly, there is theholy struggle. I am a faint-hearted man. It is saidthat those who turn away from the field of battlebring down upon themselves the wrath of God. Iam afraid that if I have to do battle, I shall beovercome with fear and run away, thus incurringthe wrath of God.” The Prophet withdrew his hand,saying: “Bashir, without giving alms or taking partin the holy struggle how will you enter heaven?” (KANZ AL-UMMAL)THINGS ASKED FOR AND THINGS GIVENFREELY ARE IN TWO SEPARATE CATEGORIESThe Prophet sent a gift to Umar, which he returned.Asked by the Prophet why he had done so, Umarreplied: “Messenger of God, did you not tell us thatwe had best not take anything from anyone?” The ~ 136 ~
  • 136. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. PietyProphet then explained, “That is when you ask forsomething. When you have not asked for anything,what you receive is God’s bounty.” Umar thenswore an oath: “By the one who has control overmy soul, never will I ask anyone for a single thing.But if something is given to me without my asking,I shall not refuse it.” (MALIK MUWATTA)KEEPING OUT OF THE LIMELIGHTIn his later days, Saad ibn abi Waqqas took tograzing goats. One day he was far from Madinahwith his goats, when his son Amr ibn Saad cameriding up. “Does it make you happy that youhave turned yourself into a Bedouin with yourgoats while affairs of State and government arebeing discussed in Madinah?” his son asked him.Saad smote his son on the chest: “Be quiet! I haveheard the words of the Prophet: God loves suchof His servants as are God-fearing, detached andretiring.” (MUSLIM SAHIH) ~ 137 ~
  • 137. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. PietyTRUE KNOWLEDGE IS FEAR OF GODAccording to Abdullah ibn Masud “Knowledgedoes not consist of the memorizing of largenumbers of traditions: Knowledge is to fear God.”LOST TO THE WORLD“I have seen people among the Prophet’scompanion to whom the world meant less than thedust under their feet.” Thus spoke Hasan Basri tohis awed contemporaries. He was well qualified tojudge, for he had met a large number of them,seventy of whom had fought at Badr. He told themof how they wore simple, homespun camel hairgarments, and were so preoccupied with righteousliving that they seemed lost to the world. “Werethey to see the best among you, they would think:“These people do not believe in the Day ofJudgement.”CONCEIT: THE MOST EVIL TRAITSpeaking of three saving graces and threedestructive traits, the Prophet observed that theformer were “fear of God both in public and in ~ 138 ~
  • 138. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Pietyprivate; speaking the truth whether calm or angry;and moderation whether one is rich or poor.” Thethree destructive traits he mentioned as being thesatisfaction of one’s own desires, miserliness andconceit. “And the last one, that is the worst of all,”he said. (AL-BAIHAQI, AL-SUNAN AL-KUBRA)FEARING GOD IN MATTERS THAT CONCERNTHE WEAKAfter the Battle of Badr (624 AD) seventy idolaterswere taken prisoners and brought to Madinah, oneof them being Suhayl ibn Amr. The Prophet wastold that Suhayl indulged in fiery oratory in whichhe used to give vent to his antagonism for theProphet, and it was suggested that his teeth bebroken. “My own teeth would be broken by God if Iwere to do such a thing, even though I am HisProphet,” was the rejoinder of God’s Messenger.The captives were looked after in the homes of theCompanions and the Prophet issued instructions tocare for them well.” One of them, Abu Aziz byname, said that the Ansar in whose house he stayedused to serve him bread morning and evening, ~ 139 ~
  • 139. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Pietywhile he himself made do with dates. WhenThumamah ibn Uthal, chieftain of the Yamamahtribe was taken prisoner, he was given fine foodand milk on the orders of the Prophet. (IBN HISHAM, SIRAH)REMAINING DETACHED FROM THEMATERIAL SIDE OF LIFEOne day, when Umar came to see Abu Ubaydah, hefound him lying on a piece of the sacking used tosaddle camels, with a bundle for a pillow. “So youhave not done as your companions did?” Umarremarked, and Abu Ubaydah replied: “Commanderof the Faithful, this is enough to take me to my finalresting place.” (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)WHEN PLEASURES SEEM EMPTYAbu Darda was a trader by profession, but, afteraccepting Islam, his commercial activities came toan end “By the One who has control over AbuDarda’s soul,” he once said, “I would not even liketo have a shop at the door of the mosque, where I ~ 140 ~
  • 140. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Pietywould not miss a single congregational prayer. No,not even if I made a profit of forty dinars a day andgave it all away in charity.” Abu Darda was askedwhat had made him feel this way. “The rigours ofthe Day of Reckoning,” was his reply. (IBN ‘ASAKIR)MAN PROPOSES, GOD DISPOSESWhen Abdullah ibn Masud had built himself ahouse, he asked Ammar ibn Yasir to come and havea look at what he had built. So Ammar went andsaw the house. “You are planning a long way ahead,but soon you will die,” was his only comment. (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)RETRIBUTION HERE AND NOWUthman ibn Affan, the third Caliph, said one day tohis slave, “Once I twisted your ear. Now take yourrevenge.” The slave caught hold of Uthman’s earand the latter told him to twist it as hard as hecould. “How good that retribution should be metedout in this world and not left to the next world,”said the Caliph. ~ 141 ~
  • 141. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. PietyWHEN DEATH IS NIGHBilal ibn Rubah’s household gathered to lamenthis imminent death. “There is no cause for grief,”Bilal told them. “How good to think thattomorrow I will meet my friends Muhammad andhis Companions.”When death drew near Umar ibn Khattab, thesecond Caliph of Islam, he exclaimed, “I shallconsider myself successful if everything balancesout and I receive neither punishment nor reward.”SALVATION IS ALLOne day the Prophet heard his wife, Umm Habibah,utter the following prayer: “Lord, long may I beblessed by the shadow of my husband, the Prophetof God, my father, Abu Sufyan, and my brother,Muawiyah.” “Umm Habibah,” said the Prophet,“life-spans are all decided by God. When you prayto God, you had best ask for salvation from Hell-fire.” (MUSLIM, SAHIH) ~ 142 ~
  • 142. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. PietyTHE JOYS OF A PIOUS HOUSEHOLDMiqdad, explaining the state of affairs in theProphet’s time, told of how, in a single household,there would be some who accepted Islam and somewho did not. A believer would see his father, hisson or his brother in a state of faithlessness and thiswould cause him great distress. With his own hearthaving been opened to faith by God, he felt certainthat were his kith and kin to remain in a state ofunbelief, they would be doomed to Hell-fire. It,therefore, gave no joy to believers to see certain oftheir relatives remain unbelievers. It was withreference to this predicament that the followingverse of the Qur’an was revealed: “Lord give us joyin our wives and children, and make us an exampleto those who fear you.” (25:74) (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)THE CALL OF PARADISEBashir relates that when the Muslims of Makkahfirst emigrated to Madinah, the water of their newdwelling place did not agree with them. There wasa well, however, known as Beir Rumah, owned by ~ 143 ~
  • 143. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Pietyone of the Bani Ghefar tribe, the water of which wasto the liking of the emigrants. The owner used tosell them a flask-full in exchange for one mudd (halfbushel) of grain. The Prophet suggested to theowner that he should sell it to him “in exchange fora spring in Paradise.” “I and my household have noother source of livelihood,” the man explained. “Ican’t just give it away to you like that.” Hearing ofthis incident Uthman ibn Affan bought the Well ofRumah from its owner for 35,000 dirhams, thencame to the Prophet. “Shall I also have a spring inparadise in exchange for this well”, he asked. “Youwill indeed!” said the Prophet. Uthman thendonated the well to the Muslims. (AL-TABARANI)TAKE WHAT IS GLADLY GIVEN; DO NOT ASKFOR MOREAfter the Battle of Hunayn, the Prophet gave Hakimibn Hizam part of the spoils. But Hakim was notsatisfied with his share, so the Prophet gave himstill more. “Which of your gifts was better?” askedHakim. “The first,” replied the Prophet and then headded, “O Hakim, the material things of this world ~ 144 ~
  • 144. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Pietyare very attractive, but he who takes such things outof greed and uses them badly will not be blessedtherein. He will be like a man who eats, but is neverfilled. It is only he who takes a thing with a pureheart and uses it well who will be blessed. Andremember that the hand that gives is better than thehand that receives. “Even in your case, Prophet ofGod?” asked Hakim. “Yes, even in my case,” wasthe Prophet’s reply. (KANZ AL-UMMAL)PREOCCUPATION WITH PRESTIGE CAN LEADSTRAIGHT TO PERDITIONMuawiyah, the first Umayyad Caliph went over towhere Abdullah ibn Amir and Abdullah ibn Zubayrwere seated. Abdullah ibn Amir got to his feet onseeing Muawiyah approach, but Abdullah ibnZubayr remained seated. ‘I recall these words of theProphet,’ remarked Muawiyah: “One who likespeople to stand up for him might as well build forhimself a home in the Fire.” (AL-ADAB AL-MUFRAD) ~ 145 ~
  • 145. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. PietyGIVING UP THIS WORLD FOR THE NEXTWhen it was time to give a meal to some visitorsfrom Iraq, Umar, the second Caliph brought them abowl of food-some coarse bread and olive oil-andrequested them to eat. Slowly reluctantly-theycomplied. Seeing what tiny morsels they weretaking, Umar said to them, “You know, if I wished,I could also prepare for myself fine, rich food of thekind to which you are accustomed. But it is ourpractice here to be sparing of things in this world sothat we may receive them in the next. Have you notseen how Almighty God has chastised a people forhaving received good things in their worldly life?”By another account, Umar asked them what theywanted: “Things which are sweet and spicy, hotand cold? Whatever you eat will go to waste in yourstomachs.” (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)SELFLESSNESS IN WORLDLY MATTERSYounus ibn Maysirah once observed: “Denyingoneself lawful things is not the essence ofabstinence. Neither is it ridding oneself of wealth. ~ 146 ~
  • 146. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. PietyWhat is meant by abstinence is relying less on whatone has oneself and more on what God has; itmeans preserving the same attitude whether besetby adversity or not; it is to be impartial in allmatters of justice, making no distinction betweenthose who praise and those who blame. (JAMI‘ AL-ULUM WA AL-HIKAM)NO ISLAMIC REVOLUTION WITHOUTISLAMIC INDIVIDUALSThere was once a brave warrior-albeit an idolater-who asked the Prophet Muhammad for permissionto join in the Battle of Badr along with the Muslims.Before giving his assent, the Prophet asked him ifhe believed in God and His Prophet. The man saidthat he did not. “I cannot accept the assistance of anidolater,” said the Prophet. The man then swore hisallegiance as a Muslim and joined in the battlealong with the rest of the Muslims.THERE ARE TIMES TO REMAIN SILENT ANDTIMES TO SPEAK FREELYThe Prophet Muhammad once observed: “Blessed is ~ 147 ~
  • 147. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Pietyhe who keeps superfluous words to himself, butexpends whatever superfluous wealth he has.”TWO EYES THAT SHALL BE SAVED FROM THEFIRE“There are two eyes that the Fire shall not touch,”said the Prophet Muhammad. “One is an eye thathas wept in fear of God, and other is an eye that hasspent the night keeping a vigil in the path of God.”ONE HAS TO LOSE IN ORDER TO GAINKaab ibn Ujrah relates how one day he came beforethe Prophet and, noticing the marks of strain on hisface, he asked him what was troubling him. TheProphet replied that for three days his stomach hadhad nothing to fill it. Kaab then went out and foundemployment with a local Jew. He had to give waterto the Jew’s camel and in return for each bucketful,he received one date. When he had a collection ofdates he came before the Prophet, who asked himwhere he had found them. After he had explainedhow he came by them, the Prophet said, “Kaab, tellme, have you any love for me?” Kaab’s answer wasthat he would sacrifice his own dear father and ~ 148 ~
  • 148. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Pietymother for the sake of the Prophet. “Do you knowthe fate of one who loves God and His Prophet?”asked the Prophet. “Poverty, which will overtakehim even more swiftly than flood waters streamingdown a hillside.” (AL-TABARANI)WORLDLY ATTACHMENT HINDERSACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE TRUTHA party of Christians from the Yemen visitedMadinah ten years after the Muslim emigration tothat town. Their group was led by one AbuHarithah ibn Alqamah, a priest. On the way back toYemen, he was riding on a mule, when the animalstumbled, throwing him to the ground. His brother,Karz ibn Alqamah, who happened to be present atthe time, exclaimed, “Damn that wayward one!”(meaning the Prophet Muhammad.) “Damn yourmother!” retorted Abu Harithah. “Why do you saythat?” asked his brother in astonishment. “By God,well, do we know that this is the Prophet we havebeen waiting for, the one prophesied in ourScriptures,” replied Abu Harithah. “If that is so,”said Karz, “Why do you not proclaim your belief in ~ 149 ~
  • 149. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Pietythe Prophethood of Muhammad.” Abu Haritha,attempting to explain himself, said, “These kingshave showered upon us much wealth and honour.If we were to believe in Muhammad, they wouldtake everything away from us.” (AL-TABARANI)BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTYAlong with his Companions, the Prophet set forthfor the field of Badr. Reaching a place calledRauha, he addressed the Muslims and asked themfor their views. Abu Bakr spoke up, but theProphet did not give him his attention. Again heasked them what they thought. And when Umarspoke his mind, the Prophet paid him no attentioneither. Once again he put the question. This timeSaad ibn Muadh Ansari arose. “Perhaps yourquestion is directed at us,” he said, to which theProphet replied in the affirmative. The reason forthe Prophet’s concern was that the Ansar hadsworn what was known as the Protection Oath,according to which it was incumbent upon them toprotect the Prophet within the walls of Madinah.Their oath did not, however, oblige them to travel ~ 150 ~
  • 150. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Pietyto far-off places in order to fight the Prophet’senemies. Miqdad ibn Amr then reassured theProphet by saying: “Messenger of God, do as Godhas shown you. We will not say unto you as thechildren of Israel said unto Moses: ‘Go, you andyour Lord, and fight; we will stay here’.” (5:24) Tothis Saad ibn Muadh added, “We have sworn oathsto you, which bind us to hear and obey. Therefore,do as you will, Messenger of God, and we are withyou. By Him who has sent you with the truth, ifyou bade us cross the sea and plunge into it, wewould do just that. Not one man of us would staybehind.” The Prophet was extremely pleased athearing this from the Ansar. “Onward!” he said.“God has decreed that victory and succour shall beyours!”TO LIVE, ONE MUST COME TO TERMS WITHDYINGAbu Bakr, the first Caliph of Islam, once offered thispiece of advice to a Muslim commander, by thename of Khalid ibn Walid: “Khalid, be desirous ofdeath. That way, you will find life.” ~ 151 ~
  • 151. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. PietyTRUE RELIGION BRINGS ABOUT RADICALCHANGES IN ONE’S LIFEAbu Hurayrah tells of how the Prophet addressedthese words of wisdom to him: “Abu Hurayrah, beabstemious, and you will be the most devout ofmen. Be content with what you have and you willbe the one most thankful to God. Desire for otherswhat you desire for yourself, and you will be a manof faith. Be good to your neighbour and you will bea true Muslim. Laugh less, for too much laughterdeadens the heart.” (IBN MAJAH SUNAN)REPENTANCE IS TO BE ASHAMED OF WHATONE HAS DONE“Shame is the stuff of repentance,” said the Prophet.HAVE DEALINGS WITH MEN AS IF THEY WEREDEALINGS WITH GODOne day when Abu Masud Badari was beating hisslave with a stick, he suddenly heard a voice behindhim, calling him by name. According to AbuMasud, he was so furious that he failed to recognize ~ 152 ~
  • 152. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 5. Pietythe voice. But when the man came closer, he sawthat it was none other than the Prophet. “AbuMasud,” he said, “You should know that God hasmore power over you than you have over thisslave.” Hearing this, Abu Masud was gripped withfear, and the stick fell from his hand. “Prophet ofGod,” he said, “from today, this slave is free.” “IfAbu Masud had not done this he would have beenengulfed by the fire,” said the Messenger of God. (MUSLIM, SAHIH) ~ 153 ~
  • 153. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 6. Humility6. HUMILITYRESPECT MEANS SOMETHING MORE THANTHE MAKING OF GESTURESAnas ibn Malik says: “No one was dearer to us thanthe Prophet Muhammad. But when he came intoour presence, we never used to stand up, for weknew that he did not like us to do so.” (MUSLIM, SAHIH)REFRAINING FROM ACQUIRINGUNNECESSARY TASTESHaving heard this story from his grandfather,Abdullah ibn Shurayk tells of what happened whensome faluda was brought before Ali ibn Abi Talib. “Itcertainly smells good, looks good and tastes good,”remarked Ali. “But I prefer not to acquire new habitsby indulging in things to which I am not accustomed.” (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)CONCEIT TAKES ONE FAR FROM GODAishah tells of how one day she put on a new ~ 154 ~
  • 154. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 6. Humilitygarment and, as she looked at it in delight, herfather Abu Bakr said, “What are you looking at?God is not looking at you.” At this reminder,Aishah asked her father why he rebuked her. “Why,don’t you know that when one of God’s servantsbecomes conceited over some worldly adornment,he brings down upon himself the displeasure of theLord; he has then to cast off that adornment if he isto regain the Lord’s good pleasure.” explained AbuBakr. Aishah says that she took off the garment andgave it away to charity. “Perchance this charity willcount as your penance,” said Abu Bakr. (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)THE BRAVEST IS THE MOST IN CONTROL OFHIMSELFAbdullah ibn Masud records the Prophet as askinghis companions: “Whom do you consider brave?”“One who triumphs in a wrestling match,”suggested some of the companions. “Not so,” theProphet corrected them. “It is rather one whocontrols himself when he is angry.” ~ 155 ~
  • 155. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 6. HumilityGIVING ONE’S BEST, BUT WITHOUTCONCEITStruck down by the dagger of Abu Lulu, a Magianslave of Mughirah ibn Abi Shuaba, Umar ibnKhattab, the second Caliph lay mortally wounded.So quickly was he losing blood that when he dranksome milk, its whiteness flowed from his wounds. Itwas then that these words came to his lips: “Lord,did I but have a world full of gold, I would use it toescape the Lord’s punishment before it descendedupon me.” Abdullah ibn Abbas then spoke up,reminding Umar of the time in Makkah, when “theProphet prayed to the lord that he might strengthenIslam through you. The Muslims at the time were inan abject state. Then you became a Muslim and asource of strength for Islam. Through you, Islamachieved great glory. You emigrated with theProphet and were by his side in every battle. Whenthe Prophet died, he was well pleased with you.And so was Abu Bakr, the first Caliph of Islamwhom you served so faithfully as assistant andadvisor. Then, after him, you became Commanderof the Faithful. It was through you that Godbrought great cities within the Islamic Empire, and ~ 156 ~
  • 156. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 6. Humilitywith them came great wealth. The enemies of Islamwere put to flight at your hand, and you weredestined to die a martyr. Blessed are you.” “Youlead one astray with your misleading talk,” saidUmar, then added, “But Abdullah! Will you testifyon my behalf on the Day of Resurrection?”Abdullah ibn Abbas said that he would. At thispoint Umar’s head lay in the lap of his son, whowas also called Abdullah. Umar said he would likehis head to be on the ground. Abdullah ibn Umarraised his father’s head from where it rested andlaid it on his ankle. “Let my cheek touch theground,” insisted Umar. Abdullah did as his fathertold him. Then Umar said to himself, “Woe betideyou, and woe betide your mother, if God does notforgive you.” Whereupon he breathed his last. (AL-TABARANI)NEVER CONSIDERING ONESELF ABOVESERVING GODAbdullah ibn Masud relates that in the Battle ofBadr there was one camel to every three Muslims,and that they used to take it in turn to ride. TheProphet of God fared no better than the rest. He too ~ 157 ~
  • 157. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 6. Humilityhad to share a camel with Abu Lubabah and Ali ibnAbu Talib. Both of them had asked the Prophet toride on the camel while they walked alongside, butthe Prophet had replied, “Neither of you is strongerthan I am, and I am no less in need of God’s rewardthan you.” (AHMAD, MUSNAD)HAVING REGARD FOR NECESSITIES RATHERTHAN FORMALITIESWhen the Prophet Muhammad first emigrated fromMakkah to Madinah, he stayed in the house of AbuAyyub Ansari, occupying the ground floor, whileAbu Ayyub and his family moved upstairs to aroom at the top of the house. Abu Ayyub feltuneasy about being on top while the Prophetremained below him, so he requested the Prophet totake the upper portion while he and his familywould move downstairs. The Prophet told him thathe need not worry about that. “It is better for me tostay downstairs. It makes things easier for visitors. (IBN KATHIR, TAFSIR) ~ 158 ~
  • 158. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 6. HumilityKINDNESS TO ANIMALSAbdullah ibn Masud related how once, when heaccompanied the Prophet on a journey, they setup camp in a place where there was a bird withtwo nestlings. “We seized the nestlings,”recounts Ibn Masud, “and the mother birdstarted crying and fluttering her wings.” Whenthe Prophet heard about this, he asked who hadtroubled the mother in this way and said that thenestlings should be returned. The Prophet alsonoticed that an ant’s nest had been burnt. Heasked who had burnt it, and when we told himthat we had done so, he said: “Only the Lord ofFire is entitled to punish by fire.” (MUSLIM, SAHIH)ACCEPTING ALL FOOD WITHOUT DEMURAccording to Ayman, when Jabir had someguests one day, he gave them bread and vinegarto eat, telling them of how he had heard theProphet say what a good condiment vinegarwas. The Prophet also said: “Woe betide thosewho pour scorn on a dish that has been brought ~ 159 ~
  • 159. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 6. Humilitybefore them.” (AL-BAIHAQI, AL-SUNAN AL-KUBRA)GOD DOES NOT LIKE PRIDE IN HISSERVANTSAishah recounts how a poor woman who came tosee her one day wanted to give her some gift, buthow, out of pity for her circumstances, shepreferred not to accept it. The Prophet later toldAishah that she should have accepted it, and thengiven her something in return. “I think you werelooking down on her. Be humble, Aishah, for Godlikes those who are humble, and has the greatestaversion for those who are proud.” (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)AVOID FUNCTIONS WHOSE SOLE PURPOSEIS OSTENTATIONInvited to a feast, Umar ibn Khattab and Uthmanibn Affan were on their way there, when Umar saidto Uthman: “We have accepted this invitation, but Iwould prefer not to be going.” “Why is that?” askedUthman. “I am afraid it is all just for show,” said ~ 160 ~
  • 160. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 6. HumilityUmar-meaning the invitation they had been given. (AHMAD, MUSNAD)TO HUMBLE ONESELF IS TO RAISE ONESELFAbu Hurayrah records the Prophet as saying: “Nopossession is too lowly to be given as charity; Godgives greater honour to one who forgives, and Heraises one who humbles himself.” (MUSLIM, SAHIH)THE PROPHET DID NOT ALLOW HIS HANDTO BE KISSEDAbu Hurayrah tells of how, when the Prophet hadbought some clothes from a shopkeeper, and wasabout to rise, the latter made to kiss his hand. TheProphet withdrew his hand, saying: “That is howthe Persians behave towards their kings. I am not aking. I am just one of you.”HEAPING SCORN ON TRUTH IS AN ACT OFPRIDEThe subject of pride came up for discussion with the ~ 161 ~
  • 161. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 6. HumilityProphet and he had some harsh words to say aboutit. He recited the verse of the Qur’an, which endswith the words: “God does not love arrogant andboastful men” (4:36). One of the companions toldhim of the pleasure he took in the whiteness of hisnewly washed clothes, the thonging of his sandalsand the way his horsewhip hung by his side. “Thatis not pride,” said the Prophet. “Pride means havingno regard for the truth and despising other people.” (IBN KATHIR, TAFSIR)SITTING AMONG PEOPLE WITH NOTHOUGHT FOR POSITIONAbdullah ibn Amr relates how, when the Prophetcame to see him one day, he offered him a bark-filled leather cushion to sit upon. The Prophet,however, sat down on the ground, leaving thecushion lying between himself and his host. (AL-ADAB AL-MUFRAD)HAVING DUE REGARD FOR PEOPLE WHO AREOF NO SPECIAL IMPORTANCEAbu Rifaah Tameem ibn Usayd made a journey ~ 162 ~
  • 162. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 6. Humilityfrom his own country to see the Prophet. When hearrived, the Prophet was delivering a sermon.“Prophet of God,” he said “I have come from afar toseek knowledge of religion, for I know nothing ofits teachings.” The Prophet left off his sermon,approached Abu Rifaah and seating himself next tohim, he began to tell him about what he had learntfrom God. When the Prophet had finished talkingto him, Abu Rifaah arose and went on his way.Only then did the Prophet continue his sermon.THE SELF-BELITTLER IS GREAT IN THE EYESOF GODTafsir ibn Kathir records the Prophet as saying:“Whosoever humbles himself before the Lord willbe raised by Him on high: he may think little ofhimself, but he will be great in the eyes of men.SIMPLICITY OF DRESSAccording to Waqdan, when Abdullah ibn Umarwas asked what sort of clothes should be worn, hetold the questioner to dress in such a manner aswould be neither ridiculed by the ignorant norfrowned upon by the serious. When asked what ~ 163 ~
  • 163. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 6. Humilitysort of clothes those were, Ibn Umar replied: “Thosecosting between five and ten dirhams.”GOOD MANNERS AT MEAL TIMESAmr ibn Abu Salamah says that one day, when hewas eating with the Prophet, he kept taking meatfrom all sides of the dish. Noticing this, the Prophetsaid: “Eat from the side closest to you. (KANZ AL-UMMAL)WHAT IT PLEASED THE LORD TO GIVE TOHIS PROPHETAccording to Ata Khurasani, the houses of theProphet’s wives were built of the branches of datepalms, with sacks made of black hair serving asdoors. A time came when the governor of Madinahreceived an ordinance from the Caliph Walid ibnAbdul Malik to the effect that he was to rebuild themosque of the Prophet. The area where thesehouses stood was included in the new plan, andthat meant that they should have to be demolished.On hearing this order, the people of Madinah wept.“These dwellings should be left as they are,” said ~ 164 ~
  • 164. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 6. HumilityAbu Umamah. They would act as a deterrent when,people wanted to build themselves grand mansions,for then people would see what it had pleased theLord to give to His Prophet; and he could havegranted the Prophet all the wealth in the world.” (IBN SA’D, TABAQAT)THE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT IS BEINGHAPPY WITH WHAT ONE HASSaad’s advice to his son was that if he desiredwealth, he should remain content once he hadacquired it, for without that feeling of contentment,no amount of wealth would ever be sufficient. (KANZ AL-UMMAL)THE PARTING OF THE WAYSMuslim ibn Bashir relates that when Abu Hurayrahwas seen weeping during his final illness, and wasasked the cause of his grief, he said: “It is not thisworld of yours for which I weep. Rather it is thelength of the journey ahead of me, and the paucityof my provisions. I have come to the top of a hill.Ahead of me are two roads, which lead down: one ~ 165 ~
  • 165. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 6. Humilityto the Garden, the other to the Fire. I do not knowwhere I shall be led.” (IBN SA’D, TABAQAT)THE SERVANTS OF GOD MUST LIVE INHUMILITYAvaadh ibn Himar records the Prophet as saying:“God has revealed it unto me that one should behumble; one should refrain from oppressingothers.” ~ 166 ~
  • 166. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 7. Trust In God7. TRUST IN GODTHE COUNTLESS BLESSINGS OF GODIbn Asakir records this saying of Abu Darda: “Hewho fails to realize that God has blessed him, notonly with regard to food and drink, but in manyother ways, has understood but little; such a manstands on the brink of eternal damnation.” (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)DEVOTION TO GOD: FOOD FOR THE SOULThe Prophet Muhammad is recorded as having said:“When I pass the night in vigil, I have a Sustainer anda Nourisher to provide me with food and drink.”CONSTANT FEAR OF GODThe second Caliph of Islam, Umar ibn Khattab oncewrote a letter to Abu Musa Ash’ari, offering him thisadvice: “Remain ever in fear of God; and learn theBook of God, for it is the source of all knowledge; forweary hearts, it is the freshness of spring. (AL-DHAHAK) ~ 167 ~
  • 167. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 7. Trust In GodNO LIMIT TO GOD’S MERCYMuhammad ibn Kaab al Qurazi records this sayingof Ali ibn Abu Talib: “Once God has opened thegates to thanksgiving, He will not close the gates toabundance. When God opens the gate to prayer, Hewill not close the gates to acceptance of it. And if Hethrows wide the gates to repentance, He will neverclose them to forgiveness. (IBN MAJAH, SUNAN)ALL POWER IS IN THE HANDS OF GODThe Prophet sent Dhamam ibn Thalabah to thelatter’s own tribe-Banu Saad ibn Bakr-withinstructions to tell them about the monotheism ofIslam. Dhamam then came before his people andurged them to renounce idol worship. “Howwicked the worship of Lat and Uzzah,” he said,Lat and Uzzah being the names of the idols ofsaints that his people worshipped. They warnedhim not to speak in this way; he would fall a preyto leprosy or madness; he should be careful.Dhamam’s answer to them was: “Woe betideyou! By God, there is nothing that Lat or Uzzah ~ 168 ~
  • 168. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 7. Trust In Godcan do to anyone by way of good or evil. (IBN HISHAM, AL-SIRAH AL-NABA WIYYAH)EVERYTHING HAPPENS THROUGH THEINSTRUMENTALITY OF GODWhen it was suggested to Ali ibn Abu Talib, thefourth Caliph, that he should have a bodyguard, hesaid, “Man’s destiny is his bodyguard.” Accordingto one account, he said, “One who does not realizethat whatever befell him was inescapable and thatwhatever escaped him was beyond his grasp, hasnot experienced true faith.” (ABU DAWUD, SUNAN)EVEN THE MOST ORDINARY THINGS AREGREAT BLESSINGSThis statement is attributed to Aishah: “Whenever aservant of God drinks plain water and then has nodifficulty in either digesting or discharging it, it ishis duty to thank God for it.” (IBN ASAKIR) ~ 169 ~
  • 169. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 7. Trust In GodISLAM: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO DAILYLIVINGHamid Ibn Abdul Rahman ibn Auf relates how aman came to the Prophet and said to him, “Pleasegive me some words of wisdom by which my dailyliving may be guided; but not too many, lest I fail toremember them.” The Prophet’s answer to him was:“Do not become angry.” (MALIK, MUWATTA)MEET YOUR LORD WITH A CLEAN RECORDA certain individual once wrote to Abdullah ibnUmar to ask him what true knowledge was. Thelatter replied that there was more to trueknowledge than could be written about in aletter, but that, very briefly, he would ask him, ifit was possible, to refrain from besmirching thehonour of Muslims, spilling their blood orseizing their property; to develop a firmattachment for the Muslim community, and onlythen to go and meet his God. ~ 170 ~
  • 170. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 7. Trust In GodIT IS ONLY UNDER STRESS THAT A MANAPPEARS IN HIS TRUE COLOURS“It is only in moments of anger that forbearance cancome to the fore.” (IBN ABDUL BARR)BEING CONTENT WITH WHAT GOD ORDAINSAnas records the Prophet as repeating these wordsof AI-mighty God: “Certain of my servants are firmin their faith either because of poverty or because ofaffluence; because of sickness or because of health.Were I to reverse the conditions of their lives, theirfaith would be shaken to its very foundations.Certain of my servants seek to serve me inparticular ways. This I prevent, lest pride taint theirworship. I know what is in the hearts of Myservants, and I ordain their affairs accordingly.” (AL-TABARANI) ~ 171 ~
  • 171. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speech8. MANNERS IN SPEECHTHERE IS VIRTUE IN REFUSING TORETALIATECertain individuals, who held Abu Bakra to be in thewrong abut something, set upon him and flung himto the ground. His son, Abdul Aziz came running,but Abu Bakr told him to hold off, swearing an oathin the name of God, that if any soul were to be takenaway from this world, it had best be his own. Whenhis son asked him why, he replied: “Because I fearthat I shall live to see a time when I am unable tocommand good and forbid evil. When that daycomes, there will be no-good in the world.” (AL-TABARANI)NOT BEING OFFENDED WHEN CRITICIZEDWhen Umar ibn Khattab became Caliph, heremoved Khalid ibn Walid from the leadership ofthe Muslim forces in Syria. According to Nashirahibn Sahmi, Umar gave a sermon in Jabiya,explaining his decision to remove Khalid from hispost. “It was my command that wealth should be ~ 172 ~
  • 172. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechkept for poor emigrants but he distributed it amongpeople who were high in status and refined inspeech. That is why I relieved him of his duties andappointed in his place Abu Ubaydah ibn Jarrah.” Arelative of Khalid, Abu Amr ibn Hafs, who waspresent at the time, promptly sprang to his feet andsaid to Umar, “By God, this is no justification forremoving one who was appointed by the Prophethimself, nor is it any reason to sheath a swordalready drawn by the Prophet, nor lay low a bannerraised by him. You have treated your own kinsmanwith vindictiveness.” Umar listened to everythingthat Abu Amr had to say. Finally, he replied in agentle tone: “You are a relative of Khalid and stillyoung; you have taken offence on behalf of thisman simply because he is your uncle’s son.” (AHMAD, MUSNAD)DISCORD AND THE TRUTHAbu Bakr used to give equal allowances toeverybody, irrespective of rank or class. It wassuggested to him that the Muhajirs and Ansar begiven more than others, but Abu Bakr dismissedthis, saying: “They have their rank with God. This is ~ 173 ~
  • 173. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speecha matter of worldly livelihood, in which it is betterto be even-handed.” Umar differed on this matterand when he became Caliph, he introduced asystem by which some received larger allowancesthan others: 5000 dirhams were allotted to theEmigrants and the Helpers; other Muslims weregiven 4000. According to this allocation, Usamahibn Zayd received 4000 dirhams, while to his ownson, Abdullah, Umar gave only 3000. Abdullah ibnUmar asked his father why he had been given lessthan Usamah. “What rank does he or his fatherhave that I do not have?” Umar told his son:Usamah’s father was dearer to the Prophet thanyour father, while he himself was dearer than you.According to one tradition, Umar came round toAbu Bakr’s point of view later in his life, admittingthat it was more practical. (AHMAD, BAZZAR)AN OATH IS AN OATHAt the outset of the Battle of Hunayn, the Muslimswere forced back, leaving the Prophet and a fewothers to hold their ground. The Prophet called forthe others to join him, but his voice was drowned ~ 174 ~
  • 174. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechby the din of battle. He turned, therefore, to Abbas,who had a voice of exceptional power and told himto shout: “O companions of the Tree1! OCompanions of the Acacia!” to remind them of theiroath of allegiance to the Prophet to fight unto death.Immediately the summons was answered from allsides-”Labbayk!” (“Here at your service!”) asEmigrants and Helpers rallied to his side. Abbaslater recalled that they ran to the Prophet as calvesrun to their mothers. (MUSLIM, SAHIH)HALTING IN ONE’S STEPS ON HEARING THEQUR’ANAbdullah ibn Abbas tells of how Uaynah ibn Hisncame to Madinah, where he stayed with hisnephew, Hur ibn Qays. His youth notwithstanding,the latter numbered among those who were close tothe Caliph Umar, for he was learned in the Qur’anand, whether young or old, those who were well-versed in the Qur’an were given a special place inUmar’s discussions and council meetings. Uaynah,therefore, asked his nephew to use his good officeswith the Caliph to obtain permission for an ~ 175 ~
  • 175. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechaudience. Umar then agreed to meet Uaynah who,addressing the Caliph as “son of Khattab,’’ said tohim, “No riches do you bestow upon us, neither doyou treat us justly.” At this, Umar became angryand was about to descend upon Uaynah, when Huribn Qays said to him:“Commander of the Faithful, God told His Prophetto ‘show forgiveness, enjoin justice and turn awayfrom the ignorant.” (7:199) Truly, this man isignorant.” Abdullah ibn Abbas relates how, uponhearing this verse, Umar did not advance by somuch as an inch. It was his way to halt in his stepswhenever he heard a recitation from the Qur’an. (AL-BUKHARI, SAHIH)TRUTH SHOULD BE UNCLOUDED BYPREJUDICEA few years before the Muslims had emigrated toMadinah, Mus’ab ibn Umayr was sent there by theProphet. On reaching Madinah, he quietly begancommunicating the teachings of Islam to itsinhabitants by reciting the Qur’an to them. Saad ibnMuadh, who was at that time chieftain of the Banu ~ 176 ~
  • 176. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In SpeechAbd al-’Ashhal tribe, became incensed over Musabibn Umayr’s activities. So one day, armed with aspear, Saad went in search of Musab. Near a well onthe outskirts of the town he found the Muslim fromMakkah talking to a crowd of people about Islam.Approaching the group, Saad ibn Muadh asked inan angry tone: “Who has brought this foreignerhere so that he may lead the weak members of oursociety astray? Do you want something we revile totake root in our households? After today, I do notwish to see you here again.” One Asad ibn Zararah,who had accepted Islam and belonged to the tribeof Sa ad ibn Muadh, then spoke up. “My cousin,”he began, “listen to what this man has to say. If it isunreasonable, you can reject it, and if it appearsreasonable, you may accept it.” Saad ibn Muadhthen mellowed somewhat and asked what it wasthat Musab taught. In reply, Musab recited the firstpart of the Quranic chapter al-Zukhruf. Saad’sanger melted away on hearing the Qur’an recited,his whole frame of mind changed and in a few dayshe was led to accept Islam. Now he himself beganto preach Islam among the Banu Abd al-Ashhal.The following is part of what he said to them: “Ifanyone, young or old, male or female, is in doubt ~ 177 ~
  • 177. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechabout his religion, let him bring us better guidanceso that we may accept it. By God, we must bow ourhead to what we have now received. (ABU NU‘AYM)APPRECIATING CRITICISM“God bless the man who makes me a gift of myown shortcomings,” said Umar.DELIVERING JUSTICE REGARDLESS OF RANKAli ibn Abu Talib lost a coat of armour in the Battleof Jamal. One day when he was walking in themarket place, he saw a Christian selling coats ofarmour, one of which he recognized as his own. Hepointed it out to the Christian, telling him that thematter would have to be brought before a Muslimjudge. Ali, who was Commander of the Faithful atthe time, asked his chief Justice, Shurayh, to settlethe dispute between himself and the Christian.Shurayh then asked Ali to put forward his case.“This coat of armour is mine,” replied Ali “Andwhat do you have to say?” asked the judge, turningto the Christian, who accused the Commander of the ~ 178 ~
  • 178. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In SpeechFaithful of falsifying the facts. “It belongs to me,” heasserted. The judge thereupon asked Ali who hiswitnesses were and Ali produced his son, Hasan,and a slave, Qambar. The judge then told him thathe would have to bring another witness in place ofHasan. “Do you reject the testimony of Hasan?”asked Ali, to which Shurayh replied, “That is besidesthe point. You yourself have taught me that a son’sevidence in support of his father is not acceptable.” (AL-SHA‘BI)PUBLIC SPEAKING AND PUBLIC SILENCEDescribing the gatherings of the Prophet, Ali ibnAbi Talib said, “While the Prophet was speaking,they all kept their heads bowed as if they had birdsperched on top of them. Only when he had finishedwhat he was saying would the others speak up, andno one ever quarrelled about anything in hispresence. While one person was speaking, theothers would listen quietly until he had finishedwhat he had to say. In this way, everyone was givenan equal opportunity to have his say. (AI-TIRMIDHI, SHAMAIL) ~ 179 ~
  • 179. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In SpeechANSWER, BUT DO NOT REBUKEAt the outset of his mission, the Prophet was able tocontinue with his work, because he had theprotection of his uncle, Abu Talib. But, in the tenthyear of his mission, his uncle died, and the People ofMakkah, now able to take action against the Prophet,cut him off from the tribal brotherhood, thus forcinghim to search for a new patron. Accompanied by hisuncle Abbas, the Prophet went to the fair of Ukaz,where he visited the tents of various tribes to askthem to extend their patronage to him, so that hecould continue his preaching work. But, for fear ofthe Quraysh, no one was willing to do this. The nextyear, the Prophet once again visited Arab fairs insearch of a patron. This time he met six men of theAus and Khazraj tribes of Yathrib (Madinah) whomhe talked to about Islam. When they asked himabout the nature of the revelation he had received,the Prophet recited some Quranic verses from thechapter of “Abraham” to them. It took only this tomelt the hearts of these men from Madinah, and theyaccepted Islam. It was nighttime and their voiceswere overheard by Abbas ibn Abd al Muttalib as hepassed nearby. Recognizing the Prophet’s voice, he ~ 180 ~
  • 180. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechcame up to the group and asked his nephew (theProphet) who it was he was talking to. The Prophettold his uncle that they were from Yathrib and thathe had given them the same message that he hadgiven to the other tribes. “They accepted it andbelieved. They are willing to take me to their owntown.” Abbas alighted from his camel and cameover to the group. He warned the men of Aus andKhazraj that there was no one dearer to him thanthis nephew of his. “You have taken his teaching toheart and believed in him, but if you wish to takehim to your own land, I must first make a covenantwith you and only then will my mind be at ease. Youmust promise not to disgrace or deceive him. Thereare Jews in your neighbourhood and the Jews are hisenemies; not for a moment do I consider himimmune from their plotting.” The leader of theYathribian party, Asad ibn Zararah, becameoffended at this, feeling that what Abbas had saidcast aspersions on the character of his people. Heasked the Prophet for permission to answer Abbas.The Prophet said that he might do so, but “withoutrebuking him.” (ABU NU‘AYM) ~ 181 ~
  • 181. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In SpeechNO RESPONSE TO VAIN WORDSAfter the conquest of Makkah, Abu Sufyan’s wife,Hind bint Utbah came to offer her allegiance tothe Prophet as a Muslim. The Prophet recited toher the words of the oath to which she repeated.When the Prophet came to the words, “You willnot kill your own offspring,” Hind retorted, “Youhave killed them all on the field of Badr; youhave left us none to kill.” The Prophet did notreact in any way to Hind’s rebuke; he simplyaccepted her allegiance. (IBN KATHIR, TAFSIR)REFRAINING FROM DERISIONIn the year 9 AH the Prophet led an expedition toTabuk. On reaching there, he noticed that Kaab ibnMalik was missing from the Muslim party. “What isKaab about?” he asked. One of the Banu Salmahsuggested that Kaab had difficulty in getting upfrom under his sheet; he was too busy admiring hisown shoulders. Muadh ibn Jabal took offence at thisremark. “That is a foul thing to say,” hecommented, then, addressing the Prophet, he said, ~ 182 ~
  • 182. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speech“Messenger of God, we know nothing of Kaab butgood.” (AL-BIDAYAH WA AL-NIHAYAH)HOLDING ONE’S TONGUE: THE KEY TORIGHTEOUSNESSWhile on a journey with the Prophet, Muadh ibnJabal asked him to show him how to behave so thathe should go straight to Heaven and be saved fromthe Fire. “What you ask is of very greatimportance,” replied the Prophet, “but it is notdifficult for one for whom God has made it easy.Simply serve God, ascribing to Him no partner; sayyour prayers, pay zakat, fast and perform thepilgrimage to the House of God.” then hecontinued, “Shall I tell you of the gate to allgoodness? It is fasting, which is like a shield, andcharity, which washes away sin in the way thatwater douses a fire; and rising and saying one’sprayer in the stillness of the night. And shall I tellyou of the foundation, pillars and roof of the edificeof religion?” Muadh showed his eagerness for theProphet to tell him. “The foundation is Islam, thepillars are prayers, and roof the struggle for God’s ~ 183 ~
  • 183. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechcause,” said the Prophet. Then he asked Muadh,“Shall I tell you what the key to all this is?” AgainMuadh expressed his desire to know. The Prophetput out his tongue and, holding it between thumband the forefinger, said, “Control this.” “Shall we betaken to task for what we say?” enquired Muadh“Your own mother should despair of you,”answered the Prophet. “What will it be if notpeople’s own tongues which will cause them to bethrown head first into the fire?”NEVER EXPRESSING DISDAIN FOR FOODWhatever the dish brought before the Prophet, hewould never say anything disparaging about it.According to Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet was neverin the habit of finding fault with food. If he likedsomething, he ate it; if not, he left it. (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM)ANSWERING CRITICISM CALMLYA woman of the Banu Asad came before Abdullahibn Masud and said to him, “I hear that you curseboth the tattooer and the tattooed. But I have read ~ 184 ~
  • 184. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechthe Qur’an from beginning to end, and nowhere doI find any reference to this. And besides, I wagerthat members of your own household havetattooing done.” Abdullah ibn Masud told her to goto his house and see for herself. She did so, butfound no trace of tattooing on anyone. When shereturned, Abdullah ibn Masud said to her:“Have you not read in the Qur’an that you mustaccept whatever the Prophet gives you, and abstainfrom whatever he forbids?” The lady said that shehad. “Well, this is something the Prophet forbade,”said Abdullah ibn Masud. (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)DEFERRING TO THE BETTER-INFORMEDAbdullah ibn Umar tells of how, after the deathof the Prophet, people in both Arabia and Persiastarted breaking their pledges to Islam. Theyclaimed that, with the Prophet dead, there wasno point in continuing to follow Islam, for it hadonly been because of him that Muslims receiveddivine succour. Using this argument, they wonover the people of Nihawand, with whom they ~ 185 ~
  • 185. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechforged an alliance. The Prophet’s successor, AbuBakr, called together the Emigrants and Helpers,and told them that the Arabs were turning awayfrom Islam and had stopped paying zakat ontheir goats and camels. As for the Persians, theyintended to attack the Muslims along with theirnew allies from Nihawand. “They say that nowthat the Prophet has gone, God will not assist theMuslims. What advice do you have to give me” Iam just an ordinary man like anyone of you. Infact, I am the least able to bear the burden of theCaliphate.”There was a long interval of silence after AbuBakr had finished speaking. This was finallybroken by Umar, who then offered the Caliph hisadvice. (KANZ AL-UMMAL)SPEAKING WITH CAUTIONIn the Battle of Siffin in 657 AD, Muslims foughtMuslims. When Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was asked ifthose who died in this battle would be among thedamned or the saved, he replied: “God has kept my ~ 186 ~
  • 186. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechhand from their blood. May my tongue never bestained by it.” (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)CRITICISE FREELY, BUT AVOID WRANGLINGWhen Taus met Wahab ibn Munabbih one day, headdressed him as Abu Abdullah and informed himthat a grave accusation was being made againsthim, namely that he had said it was God himselfwho had caused the people of Sodom andGomorrah to practice homosexuality. All thatWahab said in reply was, “God forbid,” and noargument ensued. (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)CRITICISE CONSTRUCTIVELY. AVOID UNJUSTACCUSATIONAbdullah, son of Umar ibn Khattab, completelydisassociated himself from the civil wars, whichfollowed upon the assassination of Ali. When hiscontemporaries accused him of not participating inthe jihad he explained his stance by asking, “Howcan it be permissible for one Muslim to spill the ~ 187 ~
  • 187. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechblood of another?” He also maintained that he didnot consider this war a jihad, but murder andbloodshed among Muslims. His antagonists,dissatisfied with this explanation, continued to levelaccusations at Abdullah ibn Umar, saying that hisreal motive was to let the companions of theProphet kill each other off, so that when only heremained, finally, people will swear their allegianceto him as Commander of the Faithful. All theseaccusations were made in spite of the fact thatAbdullah ibn Umar’s sincerity, piety and acumenwere well established. (ABU NUAYM)A SIGN OF TRUE LEARNING: THE ABILITY TOTAKE CRITICISMAccording to Saeed ibn Abu Aroobah, one whodoes not listen to criticism is not to be countedamong the learned. (IBN ABDIL BARR)REFRAIN FROM UNTRUTHSA Bedouin came to the Prophet and asked him to ~ 188 ~
  • 188. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechtell him of a deed, which would take him toHeaven. The Prophet replied: “Free the bonded,and give your milk-camel to others, so that theymay partake of its milk; foster ties with those whosevere them; feed the hungry; slake the throats ofthe thirsty; command good and forbid evil. And ifyou are unable to do all these things, at least tellnothing but the truth. (AHMAD, MUSNAD)IN SHIELDING OTHERS ONE SHIELDSONESELFAbu Ayyub Ansari had heard a saying of theProphet, but later felt doubtful about its actualwording. One of those who had also been presentwhen the Prophet spoke was Uqbah ibn Amir, whohad later settled in Egypt. In quest of the properwording, Abu Ayyub acquired a camel and set offfrom Madinah for Egypt. He succeeded in reachingUqbah’ s home and immediately after the two menhad greeted each other, he asked Uqbah to repeatthe words of the Prophet on the concealment of aMuslim’s faults, because, as he said, besidesthemselves, there was no one still living who had ~ 189 ~
  • 189. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechheard this saying of the Prophet. Uqbah compliedwith Ayyub’ s request, saying, “On the day ofJudgement, God will conceal the faults of one whohas himself saved a believer from humiliation inthis world.” (AL-ADAB AL-MUFRAD)A LIAR IS A HYPOCRITEWhen the Prophet was asked if it was possible for abeliever to be a coward, he replied that it was.When asked whether a believer could possibly bemiserly, he again replied in the affirmative. Butwhen he was asked whether a believer could be aliar, he said that he could not. According toHudhaifah, when anyone told a lie in the days ofthe Prophet, that was tantamount to being ahypocrite. “And now,” he remarked, “I hear all ofyou telling lies ten times a day.”VIEWING STATEMENTS FROM A PARTICULARSTANDPOINTA companion of the Prophet was once heard topray: “Lord’; have mercy on me and on ~ 190 ~
  • 190. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In SpeechMuhammad; and do not include in Your mercyanyone besides us.” Looked at in a certain light thisstatement could be interpreted to mean that thisCompanion harboured contempt for his ownbrethren. Why else would he seek to exclude themfrom God’s mercy? But one might view his prayerin another light and agree with Maulana Shah Fadhlar-Rahman Ganj Muradabadi that, the Companion’sprayer stemmed, not from hate, but from an excessof love.THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAKAccording to Abdullah Tastari, whoever addedanything new to religion would be questionedabout his addition on the Day of Judgement. “Ifit agrees with the teachings of the Prophet, hewill be saved; if not, he will be fuel for Hellfire.” (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)SPEAKING MUCH IS NOT A SIGN OF GREATKNOWLEDGEAccording to ibn Uaynah, it is those who have the ~ 191 ~
  • 191. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechleast knowledge who are the most brazen in passingverdicts on religious matters.” (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)WRONGFUL ACCUSATION IS THE WORST OFCRIMESAccording to Ali ibn Abu Talib the very worst thingone can do is make a wrongful accusation againstan innocent person.ONE WHO DOES NOT CONTROL HISTONGUE IS EVIL“Shall I tell you who the evil ones are?” asked theProphet of his Companions one day. Theyrequested him to do so, and he said, “They arethose who spread slander, who sow the seeds ofdissension among friends, and who seek to layblame upon the innocent.” (AHMAD, MUSNAD)BEING SPARING OF WORDS IS A SIGN OFSINCERITYAbdullah ibn Abbas observed that there was no ~ 192 ~
  • 192. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechone better than the Companions of the Prophet.Until the day the Prophet died, they asked himabout only thirteen matters, all of which are dealtwith in the Qur’an. “They asked about thingswhich were of genuine relevance to them,” hesaidIN THE TONGUES OF MEN ARE BOTHHEAVEN AND HELLAccording to Abu Darda, there is no part of abeliever’s body, which is dearer to God than histongue. For it is with his tongue that he upholdstruth, thereby entering Paradise. And there is nopart of a disbeliever’s body, which is morehateful to God than his tongue. For it is with histongue that he denies truth, thereby entering theFire. (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)REMAINING SILENT IS, IN ITSELF, A GOODDEED“Keep silent unless you have something good tosay,” said the Prophet. ~ 193 ~
  • 193. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In SpeechONE WHO FEARS GOD HOLDS HIS TONGUEOn being asked to give someone good advice,Abdullah said, “Be content with what you have inyour house, hold your tongue and shed some tearswhen you recall your sins.” (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)MOST SINS ARE COMMITTED BY THETONGUE“Most of man’s sins come from his own tongue,”said the Prophet.KNOWING WHEN TO SPEAK AND WHEN TOREMAIN SILENT“Learn how to remain silent, just as you learn howto speak,” observed Abu Darda, “for silencerequires great restraint. And be more eager to listenthan to speak; especially avoid speaking about thatwhich does not concern you. Do not turn into thekind of person who laughs insensitively, or whotravels where he has no objective.” (IBN ‘ASAKIR) ~ 194 ~
  • 194. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In SpeechAVOID LOOKING ASKANCE AT OTHERSWhen the Prophet’s wife Safiyyah first arrived inMadinah from Khaybar, she was lodged in one ofthe houses of Harithah ibn Numan. Wishing to seeher co-wife, Aishah, fully veiled, entered the houseof Harithah along with the throng of people whohad come to visit the bride. As she was leaving, theProphet, who had recognized her, followed her outand asked, “O Aishah, what did you think of her?”“I saw a Jewess,” replied Aishah, “Say not so” saidthe Prophet, “for she has entered Islam and hasmade good her faith.” (IBN SA’D, TABAQAT)THE CAUTIOUS TONE OF ONE WHO FEARSGODOnce when Caliph Umar ibn Khattab wasdelivering a sermon, after praising and glorifyingGod, he told the members of the congregation not tobe too extravagant in the dowries they gave on theoccasion of marriage. “If I hear of anyone exceedingthe 400 dirhams given as a dowry by the Prophet, Iwill confiscate the excess amount and deposit it in ~ 195 ~
  • 195. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechthe treasury.” While Umar was still standing on thepulpit, a woman of the Quraysh arose and said,“Commander of the Faithful, are we to do what theBook of God says, or what you say?” “What theBook of God says,” replied Umar, and asked her thepurpose of her question, “You have just forbiddendowries exceeding a certain amount. But the Qur’ansays: “Do not take from her the dowry you havegiven her, even if it be a talent of gold.” “Everyoneknows better than Umar,” said the Caliph,repeating these words a second and a third time.Then he again addressed the people: “I have justtold you not to be extravagant in your marriagedowries,” he said and then, modifying his earlierstatement, he continued, but it is for you to decidehow much you give; just think if dowries wereindicative of high rank in hereafter, surely thedaughters and wives of the Prophet would havebeen more deserving of them. (KANZ AL-UMMAL)OPENNESS TO ADMONITION: A SIGN OFISLAMIC CHARACTERAdi ibn Hatim once observed: “So long as you are ~ 196 ~
  • 196. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechable to recognize evil and do not abhor what isgood, and so long as a learned man may stand upand admonish you with impunity, you willcontinue to follow the path of righteousness. (KAANZ AL-UMMAL)ONE WHO CRAVES GOD’S MERCY SHOWSCOMPASSION TO OTHERSThe Prophet invoked God’s mercy upon those whoshowed consideration for others in their businessdealings, and in the exacting of their dues.BOTH GOOD AND EVIL IN WHAT WE SAYSaid the Prophet: “When you speak, do so in a goodcause. That will serve your interests. And refrainfrom harmful speech. In that way, you too will besaved from harm.” (AL-TABARANI)THANKFULLY ACCEPTING ONE’S LOTAbu Ayub Ansari, once questioned about the natureof the Prophet, replied that the Prophet never asked ~ 197 ~
  • 197. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In Speechfor any special type of food to be made for him: nordid he ever complain about the food he was given. (WAFA AL-WAFA)GAUGING ONE’S OWN STRENGTH BEFORETESTING IT ON OTHERSAbdullah ibn Umar relates how once, when he waslistening to a sermon preached by Hajjaj ibn Yusuf,he took objection to something Hajjaj had said, andwas just about to air his own views on this, when herecalled what the Prophet had once said that it didnot befit a believer to disgrace himself. Abdullahibn Umar had asked the Prophet what was meantby disgracing oneself, and the Prophet had replied:“It means attempting to deal with a problem whichis quite beyond one’s capacities.”WHAT A BELIEVER’S SPEECH SHOULD BELIKEThe Prophet said: “A true believer does not insult orcurse people: neither does he use foul or vulgarlanguage.” (Al-Tirmidhi, Shama’il) ~ 198 ~
  • 198. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 8. Manners In SpeechA GOOD MUSLIM IS ONE OF GOODCHARACTERThe Prophet was once asked who the best Muslimwas. “One from whose tongue and hand otherMuslims are safe,” was his reply. (ALBUKHARI, MUSLIM)VAIN TALK IN ITSELF IS A SINThe Prophet Muhammad once observed that themost sinful people are those who indulge in themost vain talk. A group of people, who once cameto visit a Companion of the Prophet who lay dying,noticed that his face was radiating light, and theyasked him how this came to be. “There are only twoaspects of my behaviour which I feel certain willexplain this, he replied. “One was that I used toavoid vain talk, and the other was that I harbouredno ill-feeling in my heart towards other Muslims.” (JAMI‘ AL-ULUM WA AL-HIKAM) ~ 199 ~
  • 199. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In Society9. MANNERS IN SOCIETYGOD WILL DO UNTO YOU AS YOU HAVEDONE UNTO OTHERSCaliph Muawiyah was reminded by Amr ibnMurrah of this saying of the Prophet: “The rulerwho closes his door to the poor and needy will findthat in his own greatest time of need, God hasclosed the gates of heaven to him.” (AL-TIRMIDHI, SHAMA’IL)RETURNING GOOD FOR EVILThe best way to have your revenge on one who hasdisobeyed God in some matter concerning you, is toobey God in whatever concerns him,” said Umar. (IBN KATHIR, TAFSIR)PATIENCE THE BEST ARMOURAhnaf ibn Qays belonged to the generation, whichcame after that of the Prophet’s companions. Heonce remarked, “One who cannot tolerate onesingle unpleasant remark will have to listen to ~ 200 ~
  • 200. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In Societymany. Frequently I have suppressed my anger forfear of something worse befalling me.”TO WISH OTHERS HARM IS TO HARMONESELFWhen Abul Ayna mentioned to Ahmed ibn AbuDawud that certain people had attacked him, thelatter quoted this verse of the Qur’an to him:“The hand of God is above their hands.” (48:10)“But they are many and I am alone,” continuedAbul Ayna. To this Ahmad replied: “Many asmall band has, by the grace of God, vanquisheda mighty army.” (2:249) “They are plottingagainst me,” added Abul Ayna. “Evil shall recoilon those that plot evil,” (35:43) was Ahmad ibnAbu Dawud’s response.TO COLLABORATE IN INJUSTICE IS SINFULWasilah ibn Asqa once asked Prophet whatconstituted bigotry. “Collaborating with yourown people in wrongdoing,” answered theProphet. (ABU DAWUD, SUNAN) ~ 201 ~
  • 201. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In SocietyJUSTICE FOR THE WEAK AND STRONG ALIKEMuawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan once asked DhararSadai to tell him about Ali. Dharar said, amongstother things, that “he lived among us like any of us.No one, however strong he might be, hoped toreceive any aid from him in his unjust cause, whilethe weak had no reason to despair of receivingjustice from him.”GRANTING FORGIVENESS TO ONE WHOSEEKS ITThe Prophet Muhammad is recorded by AbuHurayrah as having said, if one’s Muslim brothercomes to ask forgiveness for something, he shouldbe excused, whether or not he speaks the truth. Onewho does not do so will not reach me, to be givenwater by me at the pond of plenty on the Day ofJudgement.” (AL-HAKIM)THREE TYPES OF VILIFICATION MENTIONEDIN THE QUR’ANThree kinds of defamation are mentioned by Hasan ~ 202 ~
  • 202. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In SocietyBasri, all of which appear in the Qur’an: “There isthe malicious revelation of unwelcome truths,ghibat, irresponsible rumour-mongering (ifk) anddeliberate misrepresentation (buhtan).HOW A BELIEVER SHOULD TREAT OTHERSDescribing the Prophet’s qualities, Ali ibn AbuTalib said: “Three things-quarrelling, arrogance andvain pursuits-he eschewed as far as he himself wasconcerned. And three things he eschewed as far asothers were concerned. He did not find fault, layblame or seek to expose anyone’s weak points. Onlywhen there was hope of reward from God would hehold forth.” (AL-TIRMIDHI, SHAMA’IL)BEING SPARING OF WORDS AND NOTTHINKING ILL OF ANYONEWhen visitors to a Companion (Sahabi) who laydying saw that his face was shining, they askedhim the reason. He replied that he had twohabits, which had stood him in good stead: “Iused not to speak about matters that were no ~ 203 ~
  • 203. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In Societyconcern of mine, and my heart remained well-intentioned toward Muslims.” (JAMI‘ AL-ULUM WA AL-HIKAM)BEING KIND TO ADVERSARIESThe Prophet once asked his companions: “Shall 1tell you a something which will raise you up in theeyes of God?” “Yes Prophet of God,” they replied,and the Prophet said, “Be patient with those whobehave foolishly towards you; forgive those whowrong you; give unto those who deny you; andstrengthen your ties with those who break awayfrom you.” (AL-TABARANI)SUPPRESSION OF ANGER LEADS TO ASTRENGTHENING OF FAITHThe Prophet said: “He who suppresses his angerwhen he could well give vent to it, will have hisheart filled with peace and faith by theAlmighty.” ~ 204 ~
  • 204. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In SocietyWORSHIPPING GOD AND LIVING INHARMONY WITH OTHERSAbu Hurayrah records the Prophet as saying:“There are three actions which are especiallypleasing to God: worshipping Him andacknowledging none as His peer; adheringfirmly to your faith in God and letting nothingdivide you; remaining well-intentioned towardsthose who are responsible for your affairs.”NOT ACTING ON SUSPICIONThe Prophet said: “When your suspicions arearoused, do not attempt to get at their root.”CONFIRMING THE TRUTH OF STATEMENTSAT THEIR SOURCEAbu al-Aliyah, one of the generation whichsucceeded that of the Prophet’s companions,tells of how, when in Basrah (Iraq’s capital atthat time) they used to hear statements whichwere attributed to the Companions, but that inorder to be certain of their authenticity, theywould travel to Madinah to hear them from the ~ 205 ~
  • 205. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In SocietyCompanions themselves. (AL-KHATIB AL-BAGHDADI)THE EVILS OF SOCIETY STEM FROM THEEVILS IN INDIVIDUALSThere is a verse of the Qur’an, which says, “When weresolve to annihilate a people, We first warn those ofthem that live in comfort. If they persist in sin, Werightly pass Our judgement and utterly destroythem.” (17:16) Abdullah ibn Abbas’s comment on thisverse was: “This means that people elect as theirleaders such as do not follow God’s law. For this, Godpunishes them and they are destroyed.” (IBN KATHIR, TAFSIR)IF THE DOOR IS NOT OPENED FOR YOU,LEAVE WITHOUT TAKING OFFENCEAnas ibn Malik says that the Prophet used to ask forpermission to enter a house just by thrice greetingthe occupants, then, if he was asked in, he wouldenter; if not, he would go away. (AL-BAZZAR) ~ 206 ~
  • 206. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In SocietyPUTTING ONE’S PARENTS BEFORE ONESELFAbu Hurayrah, a man who used to look after hismother with great devotion, went one day, early onin the Madinan period, to the mosque of theProphet. There he found a number of other people,who asked him why he had come there. “Hunger,”he replied. They told him that they had come theretoo for that very reason. Then they all arose andwent to see the Prophet. “What has brought youhere?” asked the Prophet. When they told him, hesent for a dish full of dates, from which he gavethem two dates each. “Eat them, and drink somewater afterwards,” he told them. “That’s enough foryou for today.” When Abu Hurayrah ate one dateand put the other in his pocket, the Prophet wantedto know why he had done so. “It’s for my mother,”replied Abu Hurayrah. “Eat it,” said the Prophet.“You can have another two for your mother.”HOW MUSLIMS BRING CALAMITY UPONTHEMSELVESOne night, the Prophet went out, and, entering anAnsari settlement called Banu Muawiyah, heoffered two rakats in the mosque there and ~ 207 ~
  • 207. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In Societyfollowed this with an exceptionally long prayer.Khabbab, who was present at the time, said, “I havenever seen you utter such a prayer as you didtonight” The Prophet concurred. “It was a prayer ofhope and fear,” he explained. “I asked the Lord forthree things. Two He granted, one He denied. Iasked Him not to destroy us as He destroyed thenations of old. This He granted. Then asked Him toprevent any external enemy from gainingascendancy over us, and this too He granted. Butwhen, finally, I asked God to let us not be split up ingroups, with some suffering at the hand of others,the Almighty denied me this.” (AL-TIRMIDHI, SHAMA’IL)BEING UNPERTURBED BY DIRECTNESSThe second Caliph, Umar ibn Khattab, once askedhis congregation to rectify any of his transgressions,which came to their notice. On hearing this, amember of the congregation stood up and swore byGod that any such transgression would be set rightby their swords. Umar then thanked God for havingplaced among the followers of Muhammad-peoplewho would set Umar right with their swords. ~ 208 ~
  • 208. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In SocietyNO MAN IS SELF-SUFFICIENTAbu Darda reports the Prophet as saying: “lf in a townor a desert, there are three people who live togetherbut do not pray together, Satan takes possession ofthem. The importance of forming a congregationshould be realized. Just as the wolf eats the sheep thatwalks alone, so does Satan lie in wait for man: whenhe finds a man all alone, he devours him.” (AL-TARGHEEB WA AL-TARHEEB)NOT ALLOWING DISAGREEMENT TO SOUR ARELATIONSHIPKhalid ibn Walid and Saad ibn Waqqas once had adisagreement after which someone wished to speakill of Khalid in Saad’s presence. Saad immediatelyasked him to desist. “The disagreement between usdoes not affect the bond of our faith,” he said. (AL-TABARI)REMAINING UNITED AND NEVER BEING THEFIRST TO ATTACKIn the year 9 AH, the Prophet sent Khalid ibn ~ 209 ~
  • 209. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In SocietyWalid to Yemen with the message of Islam. Whenhe returned to Madinah, he was accompanied bycertain members of the Banu Harith ibn Kaabwho had accepted Islam. When they met theProphet, the latter asked them how it was thatthey had always emerged victorious from warswhich had been waged during the time ofignorance. We never set out to conquer anyone,”they explained. “True,” agreed the Prophet, butyou were always able to beat back those whoattacked you.” “Messenger of God,” said thesemen from the Banu Harith ibn Kaab, “We used toget the better of those who attacked us, becausewe stayed together. We never became disunitedand it was never we who wronged another first.”“What you say has the ring of truth,” remarkedthe Prophet (IBN HISHAM, SIRAH)HATE WHITTLES AWAY A MAN’S RELIGION“The razor” – that is what the Prophet called hate.“It is not the kind that shaves off hair, but the kindthat pares away one’s faith,” he said. “By the Masterof my soul, you shall not enter heaven until you ~ 210 ~
  • 210. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In Societybelieve, you shall not believe until you love oneanother.” (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-ILM)ARGUMENTS OVER RELIGIOUS MATTERSNULLIFY PIETYAwam ibn Hawshab advised people to avoidarguing over religious matters; otherwise their gooddeeds would be nullified. (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-ILM)DISPUTE IS THE MARK OF DECLINEWhen a people fall to disputing the teachings ofreligion instead of putting them into practice, it is asign of God’s displeasure. (AL-IMAM AUZA‘I)A BELIEVER IS SATISFIED, NOT BY GIVINGVENT TO HIS ANGER, BUT BY CONTROLLINGITSaid Umar: “For a servant of God, there is nothingsweeter than the swallowing of his own anger. ~ 211 ~
  • 211. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In SocietyNeither milk nor honey can be compared to it. (AHMAD, MUSNAD)THRIVING ON CRITICISMAddressing Abu Ubaidah and Muadh, the secondCaliph, Umar ibn Khattab said: “Keep a watch onme: I am ever in need of your vigilance.”REMAINING CALM IN THE FACE OFCRITICISMDuring the caliphate of Umar, Muslims began, withtheir increasing affluence, to settle huge dowries(mahr) 5 on their daughters. In his capacity asCaliph, Umar ordered, one day, in the course of asermon, that these should not exceed four hundreddirhams, and that anything in excess of this wouldbe confiscated and deposited in the Treasury. Whenhe had come down from the pulpit, on thecompletion of his address, a tall, flat-nosed oldwoman stood up and declared: “The Qur’an has setno restrictions on this matter: Umar has no right toset an upper limit to the dowers.” She also recited averse of the Qur’an to back up her contention: “If ~ 212 ~
  • 212. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In Societyyou decide to take one wife in place of another, donot take from her the dowry you have given her, evenif it be a talent of gold.” (4:20) Umar’s immediatereaction on hearing this was to say: “A woman hasquarrelled with Umar and has bested him.”According to another account, Umar said, “MayGod forgive me. Everyone knows better than Umar.Even this old woman.”Umar returned to the pulpit. Addressing thepeople, he withdrew the restriction he hadpreviously imposed on dowries. It was forindividuals to decide how much was to be given.But he tempered this permission with theadmonition that if large dowries were a sign ofhonour and eminence, the Prophet would havebeen the first to give his approval to them, whereas,in fact, he gave only up to four hundred dirhams. (AHMAD, AL-TIRMIDHI)Note:5. The dowry or settlement of money or property on the wife, without which marraige is not legal. ~ 213 ~
  • 213. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In SocietyIT IS NOT FOR A MUSLIM TO FIGHTANOTHER MUSLIM“Whoever takes up arms against us is not one ofus,” observed the Prophet.IT IS FOR GOD TO JUDGEAbdullah ibn Umar was one of those who sworeallegiance to Yazid after the death of Muawiyah. “Ifgood comes of it, (i.e., the Caliphate of Yazid) weshall be well pleased,” said he, on swearing hisallegiance, “and if not, we shall be patient.”NOT PERMITTING DISAGREEMENT TOUNDERMINE MUTUAL RESPECTThe civil wars, which took place after the death ofUthman, were unfortunate episodes in Islamichistory. Yet they were waged, not by base, ignobleindividuals, but by people of the highest character.Many incidents, which took place in the heat ofbattle, testify to the chivalry of the combatants.During the war between Ali and Muawiyah, forinstance, it was common for the two armies to fightone another during the day, then help in burying ~ 214 ~
  • 214. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In Societyeach other’s dead by night. Similarly, while ImamHusayn’s army was engaged in hostilities againstthe forces of Yazid, the two armies would join oneanother for prayer at the appointed time. Usually,Imam Husayn would lead the prayer and befollowed both by his own men and those of theopposing army. (AL-BIDAYAH WA AL-NIHAYAH)MODERATION IN BOTH FRIENDSHIP ANDENMITYThe Prophet said: “Exercise moderation in yourfriendship, for one day your friend may becomeyour enemy. And be moderate also in your enmity,for one day your enemy may turn into a friend.WISDOM SHOULD GO HAND IN HAND WITHBRAVERYKhalid ibn Walid was one of the greatest warriorsand leaders of the Muslim army in its early days.Yet, in the year 17 AH, while he was still ridinghigh after his mighty conquests, he was removedfrom his post by the second Caliph Umar. Khalid ~ 215 ~
  • 215. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In Societywas a brave and extremely daring commander. Butthere were times when his bravery would lead himinto hasty decisions. A case in point was siege ofHims, (16 AH) when the Roman EmperorHeraclius, alongwith his North African troops,attacked the forces of Khalid and besieged themwithin the town. Contrary to orders from theCaliphate, Khalid immediately sallied forth to dobattle with the attacking forces, without waiting forthe arrival of reinforcements. On this particularoccasion, the Muslims, by the sheer grace of God,were victorious. But Umar considered that Khalidhad been hasty and imprudent in this action. ShahWaliullah comments: “Courage is not everything inthe field of battle. Patience to await the necessaryassistance is also a virtue, otherwise courage, on itsown, can lead one straight to defeat. (SHAH WALIULLAH, IZALA AL-KHAFA)AN OATH OF SECRECYAbu Bakr accompanied the Prophet when heemigrated from Makkah to Madinah. An idolater ofthe Banu Al-Dayl tribe – Abdullah ibn Urayqit byname – who was well acquainted with the Hijaz ~ 216 ~
  • 216. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In Societycountryside, was engaged by them as a guide. Aswas usual according to Arab custom, Abdullah ibnUrayqit dipped his fingers into a glass of water andpleaded himself to secrecy. Then avoiding thefrequented thoroughfares, he guided the Prophetand Abu Bakr by a coastal route to Madinah. (Al-Bukhari, Sahih)WHEN IT IS PRUDENT TO MAKE NO REPLYAishah relates that when the Muslim armyscattered after the Battle of Uhud, Abu Sufyan, thethen leader of the Quraysh, came close to a group ofMuslims and shouted: “Is Muhammad there amongyou?” “Do not answer,” the Prophet ordered hisfollowers. Once again Abu Sufyan called out: “IsIbn abu Qahafah there among you?” Again theProphet told his Companions to remain silent. “Andwhat about Ibn Khattab? Is he there?” Shouted AbuSufyan a third time, while the Prophet still urgedreticence on those around him. When Abu Sufyanreceived no reply to all three of his questions, hesaid, “They must all be dead. If not, they wouldsurely have answered.” Umar could no longercontain himself. “Enemy of God!” he cried out, “We ~ 217 ~
  • 217. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In Societyare not dead! And may God keep you alive so thatyou may have the taste of humiliation. “ (AL-BUKHARI, SAHIH)LEARNING THE FACTS BY ASKING THE RIGHTQUESTIONSWhen the Muslims were on their way fromMadinah to the field of Badr, they came across twomen, one a Qurayshite and the other a slave. Theygave chase to them but were only able to capturethe slave, whom they interrogated. But when askedthe strength of the Quraysh army that wasadvancing upon Madinah, the slave-even underpressure-would only say:“They are many, and their strength is great.” Whenthe Prophet put the same question to him, hisanswer was the same. Efforts were made to makehim be more explicit about numbers, but to no avail.So the Prophet rephrased the question, “How manycamels do they slaughter in one day?” he asked, andwas told, “Ten camels,” “So the enemy must numberone thousand,” concluded the Prophet, “One camelbeing sufficient for one hundred men.” ~ 218 ~
  • 218. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In SocietyIN DEALINGS WITH OTHERS, GOODINTENTIONS BY THEMSELVES ARE NOTENOUGHThe battle of Jamal (36 AH) was raging with fullforce and, on both sides, Muslims were being slain.The Prophet’s widow, Aishah, who was present onthe scene, but at some distance from the battle, wasdistressed at the amount of Muslim blood that wasbeing spilled. It was then that Kaab ibn Thaur camebefore her and suggested that it might have abeneficial effect if the Mother of the Faithful were toride on her camel on to the field of battle. Perhaps,on seeing her mount, the combatants would laydown their arms and peace would become apossibility. Aishah, in her distress at the slaughter,which was taking place, agreed to this proposal.Coats of armour were placed around her, howdah 6to protect her, and she was led to a place where shecould be seen by both armies. This gesture,however, had the reverse effect. Instead of stoppingthe battle, it redoubled its fury. The combatantsthought that the Mother of the Faithful had herselfbeen encouraged to take part in the fighting andthat that was why she had been brought into the ~ 219 ~
  • 219. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 9. Manners In Societythick of it. They were so encouraged by this thatAishah’ s camel became the focal point aroundwhich further slaughter took place. Eventually, Aligave orders for the camel to be cut down, for thatwas the only way the fighting would cease.Note:6. A litter used on an elephant or camel, in which the ladies travel.A BELIEVER SHOULD NOT INVOLVE HIMSELFIN MATTERS, WHICH HE IS UNABLE TO DEALWITH EFFECTIVELYThe Prophet once said: “It is not for a believer tohumiliate himself,” “How does one humiliateoneself?” The Prophet was asked and to this hereplied, “By falling foul of a situation from whichone cannot extricate oneself.” ~ 220 ~
  • 220. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 10. Giving For The Cause of God10. GIVING FOR THE CAUSE OF GODWEALTH CAN BE OF USE IN THIS WORLDAND THE NEXTUmar entrusted some official duty to Abu Ubaydahibn Jarrah, for which he gave him one thousanddinars. The latter returned this sum, saying: “lbnKhattab, I did this work, not for you, but for thesake of God; I will not, therefore, accept anypayment.” Umar then said to Abu Ubaydah: “Whenthe Prophet used to send us on errands, he wouldrecompense us, and if we showed reluctance toaccept what he gave, he told us we ought not todemur as it would be of assistance to us in matterspertaining both to our worldly affairs and to ourreligion.” On hearing this, Abu Ubaydah acceptedwhat Umar offered him. (AL-BAYHAQI, AL SUNAN AL-KUBRA)ONE’S NEXT OF KIN HAVE THE GREATESTRIGHT TO ONE’S CHARITYAbu Hurayrah records the Prophet as saying: “Bythe one who sent me with the Truth, God will not ~ 221 ~
  • 221. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 10. Giving For The Cause of Godaccept charity from one whose kinsfolk go in wantbecause he spends on others instead of on them.”According to another account, the Prophet said thatGod would not look with favour upon such aperson on the Day of Resurrection. (AL-TABARANI)A BELIEVER HAD BEST EARN HIS OWNLIVINGAnas ibn Malik recounts how a Muslim from theHelpers once came begging to the Prophet. Thelatter asked him what possessions he had athome. “Just a simple sheet in which I wrapmyself and a cup out of which I drink,” repliedthe Helper. The Prophet told him to bring the cupand, when he had done so, the Prophet askedthose present to put a price on it. One personoffered one dirham, then another, raising theprice to two dirhams, bought the cup. TheProphet gave the Helper the two dirhams, tellinghim to spend one on his household, and to buyan axe blade with the other and to bring it to him.When he did so, the Prophet himself fitted ahandle to the blade, telling the Helper to go and ~ 222 ~
  • 222. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 10. Giving For The Cause of Godfetch wood from the forest, and not to come backfor another fifteen days. The Helper started work,hewing wood from the forest and then carrying itto the town to sell it. Two weeks later hereappeared before the Prophet, and in theaccount he gave him of what he had spent andwhat he had earned, it turned out that he hadsaved ten dirhams after meeting all his expenses.The Prophet was well pleased and said: “This ismore fitting than that on the Day of Resurrection,you should have the mark of the beggar uponyou. (ABU DAWUD, IBN MAJAH)EXTRAVAGANCE IS COMMITTED AT THECOST OF WORTHWHILE EXPENDITUREThe Prophet is reported to have said: “For every actof extravagance, a righteous cause is left by thewayside.” This means that when anyone isextravagant, he is at one and the same timeneglecting to spend on a worthy cause. For everyopportunity that there is to be extravagant, there isa parallel opportunity to give where it is reallyneeded. ~ 223 ~
  • 223. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 10. Giving For The Cause of GodTRUSTING IN GOD, NOT WEALTHDuring the Caliphate of Umar, some revenuearrived from Iraq. Umar began to distribute it,and appeared to be on the point of exhausting itcompletely when Abd ar Rahman ibn Aufsuggested to Umar that he should keep some ofit back in order to deal with any enemy attackor calamity that might befall them. At this,Umar was indignant. “Be done with you; youplay the devil’s advocate. No, by God, for thesake of tomorrow, I will not disobey Godtoday.”BUILDING MORE FOR THE HEREAFTER THANFOR THIS WORLDA Muslim of Madinah had just built himself ahouse, and was spreading mud on the roofwhen the Prophet passed by. “What are youdoing?” the Prophet asked him. “Applyingsome mud,” came the reply, to which theProphet said: “The Hour is nigh; closer thanthat which you apply.” ~ 224 ~
  • 224. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 10. Giving For The Cause of GodNOT EVEN MARTYRDOM CANCELS OUT ANUNPAID DEBTThe Prophet, admonishing his followers, told themthat the struggle for God’s cause, and faith in Himwere the greatest of all actions. A man arose andasked, “If I am slain while I am about God’sbusiness, will all my sins be forgiven?” The Prophetreplied, “If, in the patient pursuance of yourpurpose, pressing ever onwards, but at the sametime seeking God’s pleasure, you are slain in Hispath, your sins will indeed be forgiven.” After apause the man, at the Prophet’s request, repeatedhis question. “Does this mean that if I am slainwhile I am about God’s business, all my sins will beforgiven?” The Prophet gave the same answer tothis but added: “But not if you are in debt. That iswhat I have been told by Gabriel.” (MUSLIM, SAHIH)SPENDING WHAT ONE HAS IN ORDER TOESCAPE THE FIREAdi ibn Hatim heard the Prophet say: “Saveyourselves from the Fire, be it with a piece of a date, ~ 225 ~
  • 225. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 10. Giving For The Cause of Godand if you do not have that, then with a kindword.” (AL BUKHARI, MUSLIM)MUSLIMS SHOULD BE DEARER TO EACHOTHER THAN MONEYAbdullah ibn Umar is reported to have said: “Therewas a time when not one of us would have set hisdirhams and dinars above his Muslim brothers.Now, a time has come when we put our dirhamsand dinars first and our Muslim brothers second.” (AL TABARANI)SPENDING FOR THE CAUSE OF ISLAM INTIMES OF DISTRESSWhen Abu Bakr first became a Muslim, hepossessed forty thousand dirhams, all of whichwealth he devoted to the cause of Islam. At thattime Islam was going through a difficult period. Forthis reason the Prophet said: “No one’s wealth hasbenefited me so much as Abu Bakr’s.” (As relatedby Hisham ibn Urwah who heard this from hisfather.) ~ 226 ~
  • 226. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 10. Giving For The Cause of GodTHRIFT, EVEN IN THE MIDST OF PLENTYThe Prophet once passed by Saad while the latterwas pouring water over himself from a large vesselto perform his ablution. “What is this extravagance,O Saad?” said the Prophet. “Prophet of God,” saidSaad, “Can there be extravagance even if you arestanding on the banks of a river?” “Yes, “ repliedthe Prophet. (AHMAD, MUSNAD)BEING PUNCTILIOUS IN PAYING PEOPLETHEIR DUESAbdullah ibn Umar records the Prophet as saying:“Pay a labourer his wages before his sweat hasdried.” (IBN MAJAH, SUNAN)A PIECE OF GOOD ADVICE IS MOREPRECIOUS THAN A MATERIAL GIFTAccording to lban ibn Salim, it is better if yourbrother gives you some advice rather than amaterial gift. “While wealth might corrupt you, ~ 227 ~
  • 227. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 10. Giving For The Cause of Godadvice will set your feet on the right path.” (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)CONSIDERING A MAN INFERIOR ONACCOUNT OF HIS CALLING IS A MARK OFIGNORANCEAbu Jahal was in command of the Qurayshite forcesthat faced: the Muslims on the field of Badr, when,two young brothers, Muawidh and Muadh resolvedto slay him. Throwing themselves in the enemyranks, at the immense danger to themselves, theyfound Abu Jahal and killed him. As he lay dying,(according to Abdullah ibn Masud) he learned that itwas men from Madinah who had struck him down.With his dying breath, he gasped out these words: “Ifonly it had been some other who had slain me!” Thepeople of Madinah were mostly farmers and it wason this account that Abu Jahal felt scornful of them.WEALTH AND POWER BREED HATRED ANDENMITYWhen spoils of war arrived from Qadsiyah (Iran)Umar was seen to weep as he examined them.Abdar, Rahman, enquiring as to what had caused ~ 228 ~
  • 228. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 10. Giving For The Cause of Godthe Commander of the Faithful such grief, observed,“God has granted you victory over your enemies,giving you possession of their riches so that you maybe joyful.” To this Umar replied that he had heardthe Prophet say: “Whenever worldly riches areshowered upon a people, God stirs up enmity andhatred among them until the Day of Resurrection.”“That is what I fear,” explained Umar. (AHMAD, MUSNAD)PROSPERITY THE GREATEST TRIALSaad ibn abi Waqqas records the Prophet as saying:“More than the affliction of hardship, it is theaffliction of prosperity that I fear on your account.When you were afflicted by hardship, you showedgreat forbearance; but as for the world, it is overlysweet and luscious.”According to Auf ibn Malik, the Prophet also said:“You will be showered with worldly riches, somuch so that if you stray, it will be preciselybecause of them.” (AL TABARANI) ~ 229 ~
  • 229. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 10. Giving For The Cause of GodTHREE THINGS, WHICH MUST REMAININVIOLATE“A Muslim’s honour, property and blood: noMuslim should violate these things.” (HADITH)ONE DOES NOT LOSE BY GIVINGAbu Hurayrah reports this saying of the Prophet:“Charity does not decrease anyone’s wealth whileforgiveness only increases a man’s honour; Godraises up one who abases himself before his Lord.” (MUSLIM, SAHIH)ONE WHO GIVES RECEIVES“Everyday, two angels visit the servants of God onearth. One of them prays: “Lord, reward those whospend,” while the other prays, “Lord, destroy thewealth of those who withhold.’ (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM) ~ 230 ~
  • 230. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Values11. ISLAMIC VALUESLOOK BEFORE YOU LEAPAbdullah ibn Umar found that he disapproved ofcertain aspects of an address delivered by Hajjaj ibnYusuf, and resolved to refute what Hajjaj had said.But then, recalling a saying of the ProphetMuhammad, he remained silent. What the Prophethad said was: “It does not befit a believer to disgracehimself.” When Abdullah ibn Umar had asked inwhat way a believer could disgrace himself, theProphet had replied: “By taking upon himself such atask as he has not the strength to face.” (AL-BAZZAR)BEARING WITH MINOR AFFLICTIONSUmayr ibn Hubayb admonished his son: “Avoidthe company of fools and bear with them when theystrew your path with difficulties; for one whocannot bear their trifling misdeeds, will soon findthat he has to bear far greater, affliction. “ (AL-TABARANI) ~ 231 ~
  • 231. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic ValuesPEACE AT ANY PRICEWhen the treaty of Hudaybiyah was being drawnup, the Prophet told Ali, to whom he was dictatingthe terms of the treaty, to write: “In the Name ofGod, the Beneficent, the Merciful.” Therepresentative of the Quraysh, Suhayl ibn Amr saidthat he had no idea what the word “Rahman” – theBeneficent-meant. “Write, ‘In Your Name, O God’as we are accustomed to.” The Muslims were loathto accede to Suhayl’s demand, but the Prophetcommanded Ali to write as Suhayl wished, thencontinued to dictate the terms of the treaty to him.“This is the accord entered into by Muhammad, theMessenger of God.” Again Suhayl objected. “If wehad considered you to be the Messenger of God, wewould not have barred you from the House of God,neither would we have fought against you; writeinstead ‘Muhammad, son of Abdullah’.” Ali hadalready written ‘The Messenger of God.’ TheProphet told him to strike out these words, but hesaid he could not. So the Prophet himself struckthem out, then he told Ali to write in their place,‘the son of Abdullah,’ which he did. The Prophetcontinued: “The Quraysh will not prevent us from ~ 232 ~
  • 232. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Valuesvisiting the House of God.” Again Suhayl objected:“No, this year you must return; next year, you maycome and visit God’s House.” The Prophet acceptedthis demand of the Quraysh also. Next, Suhayl laiddown that the Muslims would return any of theQuraysh who had joined them in Madinah, but thatthe Quraysh would not have to return any of theMuslims who happened to have come to them.Much as it infuriated the Muslims, the Prophetacceded to this demand too. He accepted all thedemands of the Quraysh, thus securing a ten-yeartruce with them. (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM)THE LAWS OF CAUSE AND EFFECT APPLIEDTO THE PROPHET’S OFFSPRING JUST ASTHEY DID TO OTHERSThe Prophet’s daughter Zaynab was left behind inMakkah when her father emigrated to Madinah,from which place he sent Zayd ibn Harithah to fetchher. On the latter’s arrival in Makkah, he obtained acamel for Zaynab and they set out for Madinah.Two men of the Quraysh, who had been pursuingZayd and Zaynab, caught up with them a short way ~ 233 ~
  • 233. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Valuesout of Makkah, overcame Zayd and frightenedZaynab’s camel so that she fell to the ground.Zaynab, with child at that time, had a haemorrhageas a result of the fall, and miscarried. She was takento the house of Abu Sufyan, where she was visitedby some women of the Banu Hashim, Zaynab’s ownkinsfolk, into whose care Abu Sufyan confided her.After a few days, she set forth once again on thejourney of emigration. She did succeed in reachingMadinah, but her misadventure had had such agrievous effect upon her health that in the year7 AH, she finally succumbed to the injuries she hadsustained on that day. (AL-TABARANI)TACTFUL ANSWERS IN DELICATESITUATIONSDuring the journey of emigration, the Prophet andAbu Bakr stayed in the Cave of Thur for three days,then both riding on camels proceeded to Madinahby a little-known coastal route.Sometimes Abu Bakr would go on ahead of theProphet and sometimes he would drop behind. ~ 234 ~
  • 234. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Values“Why is it,” asked the Prophet, “that you sometimesride ahead of me and sometimes behind?” “When Ithink of pursuers,” replied Abu Bakr, “I ride behindyou, but when my thoughts turn to those who maybe lying in ambush, I go on ahead.”Abu Bakr was a well-known, widely traveledmerchant, and when he met any of hisacquaintances on the way, they would ask him whohis companion was. Then Abu Bakr would reply:“A guide to show me the way.” (AL-TABARANI)MAKING STRAIGHT FOR THE HEREAFTERAND LEAVING THE WORLD BY THE WAYSIDEAn ironsmith of Makkah, Suhayb Rumi by name,having accepted Islam, emigrated to Madinah sometime after the Prophet had gone there. On leavingMakkah, he was pursued and detained by a numberof the Quraysh. “You had nothing when you cameto us, Suhayb,” they reminded him, “and, by God,we will not let you take away all your earnings withyou!” “Will you let me go if I hand over myearnings to you?” asked Suhayb. They agreed to ~ 235 ~
  • 235. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Valuesthis and upon his handing over the small amount ofgold he had with him, he was allowed to continueon his way to Madinah. When the Prophet heard ofwhat had befallen Suhayb, he said, several times,“Suhayb has made a good profit!” (IBN KATHIR, TAFSIR)RETREAT AND FIGHT ANOTHER DAYIt was at Mutah, a village situated in present-dayJordan, that” a battle took place in 8 AH betweenthe 3,000-strong Muslim and Byzantine forces,numbering 100,000. Three commanders of theMuslim army were slain one after another,whereupon the standard of the Muslims washanded over to Khalid ibn Walid, who took acommand and knit the ranks together. The enemyadvance was so firmly checked that they drew backenough for the Muslims to beat an orderly retreat.Considering it unwise to advance again, Khalidthen returned to Madinah with the one thousandtroops who had survived. As they enteredMadinah, crowds of men and women lined theroute, jeering and throwing dust in their faces asthey passed. ~ 236 ~
  • 236. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Values“Runaways!” they shouted. “No” said the Prophet;“they are not runaways but soldiers who will returnto the fight if God wills it so.”THE IMPORTANCE OF LEARNING IN ISLAMSeventy idolaters were taken captive by theMuslims at the Battle of Badr, some of whomwere unable to pay ransom. It was decided,therefore, that they should earn their freedom byteaching ten of the Helpers to write. That washow Zayd ibn Thabit learned to write, afterwhich he became the Prophet’s amanuensis. Inlater life he learned many other languagesbesides Arabic, and it is said that he knew sixlanguages altogether.THE CURE FOR ANGER IS SILENCEAbdullah ibn Abbas records the Prophet as saying:“When anyone of you becomes angry, he shouldremain silent.” This the Prophet repeated threetimes. (AHMAD, MUSNAD) ~ 237 ~
  • 237. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic ValuesDEALING WITH MATTERS IN A TACTFULMANNERAbu Sufyan, who had not yet accepted Islam wasstanding by the roadside with the Prophet’s uncleAbbas, when Sa’d ibn Ubadah, the Commander ofthe Helpers’ squadron at the conquest of Makkahapproached the city. As Sa’d ibn Ubadah camecloser to the two men, he called out: “O AbuSufyan, today is the day of the slaughter! The daywhen the inviolable shall be violated. The day of theabasement of the Quraysh by God Almighty!” AbuSufyan protested to the Prophet about Saad’sremarks, whereupon the Prophet said: “No, this isthe day of mercy, the day on which God will exaltthe Quraysh and glorify the Ka’bah.” (IBN HAJAR AL-‘ASQATANI, FATH AL-BARI)The Prophet then took the standard from Saad andhanded it to the latter’s son, Qays, Sad did not feeldiscountenanced, for, after all, it was his own sonwho now bore the standard aloft. (IBN QAYYIM, AL-MA‘AD) ~ 238 ~
  • 238. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic ValuesRIGIDITY IS NOT THE SIGN OF RELIGIONAishah says of the Prophet: “Whenever he had tochose between two paths, he would always take theeasier of the two, so long as this entailed nothingsinful; he, more than anyone, would stay away fromsin. (MUSLIM, SAHIH)KEEPING ONE’S DEMANDS WITHIN THEBOUNDS OF REASONWhen the Prophet sent a letter to the people ofNajran, inviting them to accept Islam, theyconferred amongst themselves and decided to sendthree envoys, Shurahbil ibn Wadaah, Abdullah ibnShurahbil and Jabbar ibn Faydh, to assess thesituation in Madinah. When they had done so, theydiscussed the seriousness of their predicament: “Ifhe is really a Prophet, and we reject him, we shall,of all the Arabs, become his worst enemies; he andhis companions will not then forgive us.” Abdullahand Jabbar asked Shurahbil for his opinion. “Ibelieve we should discuss peace terms withMuhammad,” he replied, “for I see him to be a man ~ 239 ~
  • 239. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Valueswho never makes unreasonable demands ofanyone.” (AL-BIDAYAH WA AL-NIHAYAH)SHOWING TOLERANCE ANDUNDERSTANDINGAbu Hurayrah recounts how a villager, on enteringthe Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, startedurinating. People came running to give him abeating, but the Prophet told them to desist, andsaid that the place, which had been defiled, shouldbe cleaned by pouring water over it from a vessel.“You have been sent, not to make things difficultfor people, but to make things easy.” (AL-BUKHARI, SAHIH)BEING METHODICALDuring the caliphate of Umar, Abu Hurayrahbrought 800,000 dirhams from Abu Musa Ashari toMadinah. After the morning prayer, Umarinformed the Muslims about this new intake ofrevenue. “In all of Islamic history, we have not, tillnow, received such a sum of money. In my opinion, ~ 240 ~
  • 240. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Valuesit should be divided into equal portions anddistributed among the people.” When he asked thegathering what they thought, Uthman offered hisopinion: “In order to give to everyone, aconsiderable amount of money will be needed. Ifpeople are not counted, it will be impossible to tellwho have received their share and who have not.This will result in confusion.” Hearing this, Walidibn Hisham said, “Commander of the Faithful,when I was in Syria, I saw that the rulers there hadcompiled registers for this purpose, and hadappointed people to maintain them. You might dolikewise.” Umar accepted this advice and delegatedthe task of compiling registers to Aqil ibn AbuTalib, Makhramah ibn Nawfal and Jubayr ibnMutim. (IBN SA‘D, TABAQAT)SPEECH IS SILVER: SILENCE IS GOLDEN“Learn how to remain silent, just as you learn howto speak,” said Abu Darda, “for silence is an act ofgreat forbearance. And be more eager to listen thanto speak; particularly avoid speaking about thatwhich does not concern you. Do not allow yourself ~ 241 ~
  • 241. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Valuesto turn into the kind of person who laughsinsensitively, or who travels without any objective. (IBN ASAKIR)THE PRICE OF PREACHING WHAT IS GOODAdmonishing his son, Umayr ibn Hubayb ibnHamashah said: “Anyone who wishes to commandwhat is good and forbid what is evil should havetrust in God’s reward, for he shall have to remainpatient in the face of persecution; persecution willnot harm one who trusts in God’s reward.” (AL-TABARANI)REFUSING POWER TO AVOID DISSENSIONIt was suggested to Abdullah ibn Umar, the son ofCaliph Umar, that everyone would be pleased if hewere to stand for the Caliphate. “Will you tell me ifeven one person opposes me in the east?” AskedIbn Umar, “Anyone who opposes you will bekilled,” he was told, “and what is one death whenthe betterment of the entire Muslim community is atstake?” “By God,” replied Ibn Umar, “even if youwere to give me all the world, I should not like a ~ 242 ~
  • 242. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Valuessingle Muslim to be killed by a spear whose shaftwas wielded by the followers of Muhammad andthe tip held by me.”A man came to Ibn Umar and accused him of beingthe worst of all Muslims. “God knows,” said IbnUmar, “that I have not shed the blood of Muslims,nor have I divided or weakened them. So why doyou accuse me in this way?” The others explainedto him that if he wished, no two Muslims woulddisagree over him, meaning thereby that they wishhim to stand for the Caliphate. But Ibn Umar saidthat he would not like to be Caliph without havingeveryone’s wholehearted support. (IBN SA‘D TABAQAT)KILLING MUSLIMS TO GAIN POWER IS TO BEABHORREDAbu Areef was one of the vanguard of the ImamHasan’s 12,000-strong army, which, led by AbuUmar Taha, faced Muawiyah on the battlefield. Herecalls how, with their swords still dripping withthe blood of the Syrians, they were overcome byfury when Hasan made peace with Muawiyah. ~ 243 ~
  • 243. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Values“When Hasan came to Kufa, one of our number-aman by the name of Abu Amir Sufyan ibn Layl-went up to him and greeted him as the humiliatorof the Muslims. “Do not say that, Abu Amir,” saidHasan. “I have not humiliated the Muslims. I wouldhate to kill Muslims in order to gain power, and Ihave simply lived up to that principle.” (AL-BIDAYAH WA AL-NIHAYAH)MAN’S GREATEST STRUGGLE IS WITH HISOWN DESIRESAccording to Jabir, when the Muslims returnedfrom an expedition, the Prophet said to them: “Youhave returned from a minor struggle (Jihad) to amajor one.” They asked him what that majorstruggle was. “The struggle engaged in by a servantof God to control his own desires,” replied theProphet. (JAMI‘ AL-ULUM WA AL-HIKAM)THE DEVIL IN MANSulaym ibn Hanzalah once went to hear somewords of advice from Ubayy ibn Kaab. Ubayy arose ~ 244 ~
  • 244. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Valuesand walked away, leaving Hanzalah and hiscompanions to follow him. On their way, they metUmar ibn Khattab, who said to them, “Do you notsee how trying it is for one who is followed, andhow humiliating it is for one who follows?” (IBN ABI SHAYBAH)THE ACTIONS MOST PLEASING TO GOD ARETHOSE, WHICH ARE PERSEVERED INAccording to Aishah, the Prophet possessed a mat,which he used to sit on during the day and pray onby night. The number of people who came to sit andpray with him increased considerably. To them theProphet said, “You can do only as much as you areable to. God does not tire so long as you do not tire.The actions most pleasing to God are those, whichare persevered in, no matter how inconsiderablethey are. Another tradition has it that when theProphet’s household did anything, they did it withthe utmost regularity. (AL BUKHARI, MUSLIM) ~ 245 ~
  • 245. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic ValuesGOD STAYS WITH ONE WHO IS FAILED BYHIS FELLOW MENThe Prophet said that on the Day of Judgement, Godwould thus address mankind: “I was sick and you didnot visit Me.” God’s servant would say: “Lord God ofall creation, how could I have visited You?” The Lordwould answer: “Did you not see that My servant wassick and yet you failed to visit him?” Had you visitedhim, you would have found Me there with him.” Onceagain the Lord would address mankind: “I asked youfor bread and you did not give it to Me.” “Lord, howwas I to give You bread?” God’s servant would ask.“Did not My servant ask you for bread, and yet youfailed to give it to him? Had you granted his request,you would have found Me there with him.” Again theLord would address mankind: “I asked you for waterand you did not give Me any.” “Lord, how was I togive you water?” God’s servant would ask, adding“You are Lord of all creation.” “My servant asked youfor water,” the Lord would reply, “and you did notgive it to him. If you had done so, you would havefound Me there with him.” (MUSLIM, SAHIH) ~ 246 ~
  • 246. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic ValuesGRIEVANCES ARISING FROMMISUNDERSTANDINGDuring the reign of Muawiyah, a man came beforeSuhayl ibn Saad and told him that the Amir(Governor) of Madinah, Marwan ibn Hakam, wasabusing Ali “What does he say?” asked Suhayl. “Hecalls Ali ‘Abu Turab’ (father of the earth),” repliedthe man. Suhayl laughed and said: “The Prophethimself gave Ali that name; it was the Prophet’sfavourite name. (AL-BUKHARI, SAHIH)SPEAK NO ILL OF THE DEADAfter the conquest of Makkah, Umm Hakim bint alHarith ibn Hisham, wife of Ikremah ibn Abu Jahal,became a Muslim. She told the Prophet that herhusband had fled to the Yemen in fear of his life,and she begged the Prophet to grant him immunity.He agreed to do so, although Ikremah was still atwar with him. Taking her Byzantine slave with her,Umm Hakim went in search of her husband. Hehad just reached the shores of Tahamah and wasabout to cross the Red Sea when she caught up with ~ 247 ~
  • 247. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Valueshim. She told him that she had just come fromseeing the greatest of all men, the ProphetMuhammad. It was not easy to persuade him toreturn with her, instead of risking his life at sea, butwhen he heard that the Prophet had guaranteed hissafety in Makkah, he fell in with her wishes. Whenthe two were approaching Makkah, the Prophettold his companions that Ikremah was coming tothem as an emigrant and a believer: “Do not speakill of his father, for, although speaking ill of thedead cannot hurt the dead, it hurts those who arealive.” (IBN HISHAM, SIRAH)ALLOWING FOR OTHERS’ SELF-RESPECTWhen the Prophet neared Madinah, at the end ofhis journey of emigration from Makkah, peoplehurried out of their houses to welcome him.Crowds of men, women and children could beseen on the roads and rooftops of Madinah,praising God for his arrival. The helpers, fortheir part, vied with each other as to who shouldhave the honour of accommodating him, butbecause the Prophet had some relatives of his ~ 248 ~
  • 248. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Valuesmaternal grandmother staying in Madinah, hechose to spend his first few days with them, thuspublicly honouring them. He said, “At present, Iam going to stay with the Banu Najjar, thefamily of Abd al Muttalib’s maternal uncle, sothat they should be shown due respect.” Thefirst few months were spent with a member ofthe same family, Abu Ayub Ansari, whose fullname was Khalid ibn Zayd Najjari Khazraji.When rooms were built around the Prophet’smosque, the Prophet moved into them.” (AL-BIDAYAH WA AL-NIHAYAH)SATAN AROUSES SUSPICIONSafiyyah bint Huyy, one of the Prophet’s wives,went to see the Prophet one night while he was inretreat in the mosque. She talked to him for a whilethen arose to leave. The Prophet also arose to seeher off. Just then, two of the helpers passed by.Seeing the Prophet with a lady, they made to passby quickly, but the Prophet called to them: “Do nothurry, this is my wife Safiyyah.” “Glory be to God,Messenger of God!” the two men exclaimed. “Satanruns in man’s veins like blood,” said the Prophet. “I ~ 249 ~
  • 249. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Valueswas afraid that he might put some wicked thoughtsabout me into your hearts.” (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM)CHARITY IS FOR EVERYONE TO GIVEThe Prophet said: “Everyday, when the sun rises,every joint of the human body has its act of charityto perform. To make a just settlement between twomen is an act of charity. So is the helping of a manon to his mount, or the unloading of his baggage, orjust saying a kind word. Every obstacle removedfrom another’s path is an act of charity.”GOD’S FAVOURITE SERVANTS ARE THOSE OFTHE FINEST CHARACTERUsamah ibn Shurayk tells of how the companionswere sitting so silently in the presence of theProphet that it was as if they had birds perchedupon their heads. Just then, certain people cameand asked the Prophet which of God’s servants wasdearest to him. “The one who has the finestcharacter,” replied the Prophet. (AL-TARGHEEB WA AL-TARHEEB) ~ 250 ~
  • 250. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic ValuesPAYING OTHERS WHAT IS DUE TO THEMA few days before his death, the Prophetdelivering an unusually lengthy sermon, at theend of which he said: “I wish to be able to give aperfect account of myself to God. If I haveforgotten to repay a debt or if I have hurt anyonein body or in mind, he should either claim hisdues or forgive me.” On completing his sermon,the Prophet waited for some time, but no onespoke up. Then the hour came for the earlyafternoon prayer, which the Prophet offered incongregation. When it was over, he repeated hisearlier question. This time, a man stood up andsaid: “Messenger of God! You owe me fivedirhams.” The Prophet immediately gaveinstructions for the man to be repaid, and thiswas promptly done.JUSTICE FOR ALLMuawiyah asked Dharar Sadai to tell him about Ali.Amongst other things, Dharar told him that he livedamong them just like anyone of them. “If apowerful man were in the wrong, he could not hope ~ 251 ~
  • 251. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 11. Islamic Valuesto sway Ali, but if a weak person sought justice, hecould certainly hope to have it.”IT IS A WISE MAN WHO FEARS GOD“Wisdom comes from fear of God,” said Abdullahibn Masud. Commenting on the verse of the Qur’an,“He grants wisdom unto whom He will,” AbulAliyah said that here wisdom meant fear of God, fortrue wisdom could come only from fear of God.” (IBN KATHIR, TAFSIR) ~ 252 ~
  • 252. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic Character12. ISLAMIC CHARACTERSUPPRESSING ONE’S ANGER IS A SIGN OFGOOD CHARACTERWhen the Prophet was once asked which actionwas best, he said that there was nothing betterthan good character. The questioner thenapproached him from the right and put thesame question to him. Again the Prophetanswered: “Good character.” Then, approachingfrom the left, the man once again addressed theProphet and asked him which virtue was best.The Prophet told him for the third time thatgood character excelled all other actions. Whenthe man came from behind and asked theProphet once again which virtue was best, theProphet replied: “How is it that you do notunderstand what is meant by good character?As far as you are able, you should not becomeangry: that is what is meant by having a goodcharacter.” (MUHAMMAD IBN NASR AL-MARWAZI) ~ 253 ~
  • 253. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic CharacterTHE ACTIONS, WHICH WILL TAKE US TOHEAVENWhen Anas ibn Malik lay sick, he had some visitors.“Bring something for our companions, even if it bejust a piece of bread,” said Anas to his maid-servant, “for I have heard the Prophet say that agood deed is something which will take one toheaven. (AL-TABRANI)COMPASSION FOR ALL CREATURESThe Prophet once passed by a camel that was soemaciated that there was nothing in between itsbelly and its back. “Fear God in your treatment ofthese dumb animals,” he said. “Ride them properlyand feed them properly.” (ABU DAWUD, SUNAN)HOW A PREACHER OF THE WORD OF GODSHOULD ACTHearing that a prophet had made his appearance inMakkah, Amr ibn al-Murrah al-Juhani set out for ~ 254 ~
  • 254. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic Characterthat city on his camel. On reaching Makkah he metthe Prophet, who addressed him thus: “O Amr ibnal-Murrah, I am God’s messenger to all mankind. Icall on all men to submit to God, I teach them torefrain from shedding one another’s blood, to givekinsfolk their due, to worship One God, to forsakeidols, to perform a pilgrimage to the House of Godand to fast during the month of Ramadan. Paradiseawaits those who accept these things, while forthose who reject them, there will be the punishmentof Hell. Believe, O Amr, and God will save youfrom the torments of Hell.”Amr ibn al Murrah was won over by the Prophet atthis first meeting. “I bear witness that there is nogod besides God and that you are His messenger,”he said. “I believe in all the commandments thatyou have brought concerning that which is lawful,or unlawful, even if they are not to the liking of themajority.” He then asked God’s Messenger to sendhim among his own people. “It may be that,through me, God will show them His Mercy, as Hehas shown me His mercy through you,” he said.The Prophet then said to him “Always be gentleand to the point in what you say. Never be severe, ~ 255 ~
  • 255. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic Characterproud, or envious of others.” And having given himthis advice, he sent him on his way to preach Islamamong his people. (KANZ AL-UMMAL)FOUR IMPORTANT PIECES OF ADVICEAbu Dharr Gheffari recounts how, on six successivedays, the Prophet informed him that he was aboutto be told something of the utmost importance. Onthe seventh day, the Prophet said: “I admonish youto fear God, both in your private and in your publiclife; when you sin, atone for it by doing good; donot ask anyone for anything; even if your whip hasfallen to the ground, do not ask another to pick it upfor you; and do not appropriate things, which havebeen entrusted to your safekeeping. “ (AL-TARGHEEB WA AL-TARHEEB)BEING A HUMANITARIANAccording to Abu Hurayrah, a desert Arab cameand urinated in the Prophet’s mosque. People thencame running to beat him. The Prophet, restrainingthem from doing so, said, “Pour a vessel of water ~ 256 ~
  • 256. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic Characterover the place where he has urinated. You havebeen sent to make things easy for people, not tomake things difficult.” (ALBUKHARI, SAHIH)CHEATS ARE NOT TRUE MUSLIMSPassing through the marketplace, the Prophetnoticed a man selling from a heap of grain. TheProphet ran his fingers through the grainwhereupon his fingers became wet. “How is it thatyour grain is wet?” he asked the owner, who saidthat it was because of the rain. “Then why not putthe wet portion on top, so that people can see it,”said the Prophet, adding: “Those who deceiveothers do not belong with us.” (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM)THE DEEDS DEAREST TO THE COMPANIONSAbdullah ibn Abbas said that he would prefer toprovide sustenance for a Muslim for one month, orone week, or as long as God pleased, rather thanperform pilgrimage after pilgrimage; also, he wouldprefer to give his brother before God a present of ~ 257 ~
  • 257. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic Characterone penny than spend a large amount in the causeof God. (HILYAT AL-AULIYA)NOT INDULGING IN VAIN TALK OR WISHINGANYONE ILLWhen people came to visit Abu Dujanah as he layon his deathbed, and saw that despite his sickness,his face was shining, they asked him how it wasthat his face was so radiant. Abu Dujanah replied:“I place reliance on two things more than on anyothers. For one, I did not indulge in vain talk; foranother my heart was free from ill feeling towardsMuslims.”THE FINE SENSITIVITY TAUGHT BY ISLAMAbdullah ibn Abbas relates how a man laid a goaton its side preparatory to slaughtering it, thenstarted sharpening his knife. Noticing this, theProphet asked, “Are you bent on prolonging itsagony? You should have sharpened your knife first,before you laid it down on its side.” (AL-TABARANI) ~ 258 ~
  • 258. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic CharacterPARDONING A SERVANTA desert Arab once came before the Prophet andasked how many times a day he should pardon hisservant. “Seventy times,” replied the Prophet. (AL-TIRMIDHI, ABU DAWUD)BARBARIC BEHAVIOUR IS TO BE ABHORREDAT ALL TIMESSuhayl ibn Amr was one of those taken captiveby the Muslims at the Battle of Badr. A famousorator of the Quraysh he had been wont to makevehement attacks on the Prophet. Umar askedthe Prophet for permission to break Suhayl’sfront teeth so that in future he would be deterredfrom making such speeches. This the Prophetrefused, saying: “I will not disfigure him; if Iwere to do so, God would disfigure me, eventhough I am His messenger.” (AKHLAQ AN-NABI)NEVER DELAY THE PAYMENT OF WAGESAbdullah ibn Umar records the Prophet as saying, ~ 259 ~
  • 259. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic Character“Pay a labourer his wages before his sweat isdried.” (IBN MAJAH, SUNAN)PRAYING FOR WRONG-DOERSA drunkard was once brought before the Prophet,who gave orders that he should be whipped. Whenthe man had left,” some of those present fell tocursing him and praying that God should lay himlow. “Do not give voice to such sentiments,” saidthe Prophet. “Do not join forces with Satan againstyour brother. You should rather say: ‘Lord, forgivehim; Lord guide, him.’ ” (IBN JARIR)TO CURSE A MUSLIM IS A GREAT SINSalmah ibn Akwah says that in the days of theProphet, if anyone was heard cursing his Muslimbrethren, he would be considered to have enteredone of the gates of mortal sin. (AL-TABARANI) ~ 260 ~
  • 260. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic CharacterTO LOOK DOWN ON ANOTHER MUSLIM ISTO PLACE ISLAM IN JEOPARDYUrwah recounts how, while on a pilgrimage, theProphet was waiting for one Usamah ibn Zayd,who happened to be black and flat-nosed. When hearrived, some Yemenese who were with the Prophetat the time, remarked scoffingly, “Just look at whatsort of person we were detained for!” According toUrwah, the mass apostasy that took place in Yemenduring the caliphate of Abu Bakr could be traced tothis comment. (IBN SA‘D, TABAQAT)A MAN’S GREATEST WEAKNESS IS HISOFFSPRINGThe Prophet once picked up his grandson, Hasan ibnAli, held him in his arms and kissed him. Lookingtowards his companions, he said: “It is children whomake misers, fools and cowards of us.” (AL-HAYTHAMI)In Tabarani’ s account these words are added: ~ 261 ~
  • 261. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic Character“May God destroy the devil,” said Abdullah ibnUmar. “Children are a sore trial for man.”THE ROLE OF THE HEAD OF A HOUSEHOLDUmar ibn Khattab having asked for the hand ofAli’s daughter, Umm Kulthum, who wasconsiderably his junior, Ali instructed his sons,Hasan and Husayn, to make arrangements for theirsister’s marriage to their uncle Umar. “She is awoman no different from others,” they replied, “Shecan look after her own affairs.” At this, Ali becameangry and was about to walk out, but Hasan caughthold of his cloak. “Father,” he said, “we could notbear it if you left us.” Hasan and Husayn then madethe arrangements for their sister’s marriage toUmar. (KANZ AL-UMMAL)NO MUSLIM SHOULD EVER CONSIDERANOTHER MUSLIM INFERIORHasan, the son of Ali ibn Abi Talib, tells of how,once, when a group of Muslims came to Abu MusaAsh’ari, who was governor during caliphate of ~ 262 ~
  • 262. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic CharacterUmar, he distributed largesse to those who wereArabs, but gave nothing to those who were not. Onlearning of this, Caliph Umar wrote to Abu MusaAsh’ari, “Why did you not make an equaldistribution between Arabs and non-Arabs? When aman considers certain of his Muslim brethren to beinferior, that is proof enough of his being evil.”ALARMING A MUSLIM BROTHER IS ASERIOUS FAULTA desert Arab, who once came and prayed alongwith the Prophet, had his horn taken away fromhim while he was at prayer. The prayer over, hewas alarmed to discover that his horn haddisappeared. When he asked what had happened toit, the Prophet spoke warningly to his companions:“One who believes in God and Last Day shouldnever give another Muslim cause for alarm.” (AL-HAYTHAMI)A MARRIAGE WITHOUT INVITATIONSWhen Abd ar-Rahman ibn Auf emigrated toMadinah, the Prophet made him the brother of Saad ~ 263 ~
  • 263. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic Characteribn Rabi Ansari. Saad confided to Abd ar-Rahmanthat he was the richest man in Madinah: “You cansee what I have and take half of it for yourself. Ihave two wives; whichever of the two you like, Iwill divorce and you can marry her.” Abd ar-Rahman replied by praying for God’s blessings onSaad ibn Rabi’s family and property, and thenasked to be shown the way to the market place.‘There he began trading and made a considerablesum of money. A few days later, Abd ar-Rahmanibn Auf came to see the Prophet. Noticing a trace ofsaffron on his clothes, the Prophet asked him inYemenese dialect how it came to be there. “I havemarried,” replied Abd ar-Rahman ibn Auf. “Whatdowry did you settle?” asked the Prophet, to whichAbd ar-Rahman replied, “The weight of a date’skernel in gold.” The Prophet then told him to hold amarriage feast, even if it were with just one goat. (AHMAD, MUSNAD)CARING FOR ONE’S HOUSEHOLD IS NO LESSIMPORTANT THAN THE HOLY STRUGGLEA woman once came before the Prophet, saying thatshe had come on behalf of certain other women. ~ 264 ~
  • 264. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic Character“Each one of us, whether known to you or notwishes to ask you this selfsame question. Both menand women have the same God, and you are God’sProphet to both men and women. For men, God hasordained the holy struggle, and if they aresuccessful in it, they will have their reward; if theyare slain, they will be raised up in God’s presence,where they will be abundantly provided for. Butwhat has been ordained for us women?” TheProphet replied: “For you, obedience to yourhusbands and acknowledgement of their rights areequal to the holy struggle. But those of you who dothis are few in number.” (AL-TARGHEEB WA AL-TARHEEB)REFRAINING FROM SUBJECTING PEOPLE TOINCONVENIENCEDuring a pilgrimage, Umar ibn Khattab saw aleprous woman going round the Ka’bah. “Maidenof God,” he said, “it would be better if you were tosit at home; people would not be troubled by yourpresence” (Malik). The woman did as she was bade,and sat at home. After some time, a passerby toldher of the death of Umar, who had been the one to ~ 265 ~
  • 265. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic Characteradvice her to stay at home. “Now,” said the man,“You can go out.” The woman replied, “I did notobey him while he was alive only to disobey himnow that he is dead.” (KANZ AL-UMMAL)THE POLITE WAY OF SEEKING PERMISSIONTO ENTER A HOUSESafinah relates how he was with the Prophet one daywhen Ali came and asked if he might enter. Heknocked very quietly at the door and the Prophetasked for the door to be opened to him. On anotheroccasion Saad ibn Ubadah came to see the Prophet,and, after asking permission to enter, he stood infront of the door so that he could see right inside. TheProphet signed to him to stand to one side, then, aftera suitable interval, invited him to come in. “Theactual reason for asking permission to enter is toavoid seeing inside the house,” said the Prophet. (AL-TABARANI)WHO SHOULD BE INVITED TO SHARE FOODAbdullah ibn Umar was never in the habit of ~ 266 ~
  • 266. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic Characterinviting any man of status who happened to bepassing to join him in eating the food he hadprepared but his son and nephew did exactly that.Abdullah ibn Umar, on the contrary, would inviteany poor man who passed by while his son andnephew would not. “They invite those who are inno need of the food,” commented Abdullah ibnUmar, “but not those who are.” (IBN SA‘D, TABAQAT)DOING ONE’S FAMILY BIDDING IS NO MARKOF FAITHJabir ibn Abdullah had just bought one dirham’sworth of meat and was taking it home, when hemet Umar ibn Khattab. The latter asked himwhat he was carrying and Jabir told him,“Something that my family want very badly; Ihave bought them a dirham’s worth of meat.”Umar went on repeating the words. “Somethingthat my family want very badly,” so often thatJabir wished he had lost the dirham beforebuying the meat, or else that he had not metUmar. According to another tradition, Umarsaid: “What, whenever they want something, do ~ 267 ~
  • 267. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic Characteryou buy it for them? Have you forgotten thisverse: ‘You squandered away your preciousthings in your earthly life and took your fill ofpleasure.’” (46:20) (AL-BAYHAQI, ALSUNAN AL-KUBRA)A MUSLIM MUST SUPPRESS HIS DESIRESHasan ibn Ali recounts how, once, when Umarentered his son’s house, he found some meat thereand asked how it came to be there. His son,Abdullah said that he had felt an urge to eat somemeat that day. “So, everything that you have anurge for, you eat, do you?” asked Umar. Thenadmonishing his son, he said, “A man has to do nomore than partake of everything he desires to becounted among the extravagant.” (KANZ AL-UMMAL)FOR ONE MUSLIM TO SEVER RELATIONSWITH ANOTHER MUSLIM IS AS BAD ASKILLING HIMAbu Kharash Al-Sulami heard this saying of theProphet: “To severe relations with one’s Muslim ~ 268 ~
  • 268. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 12. Islamic Characterbrother for a whole year is as bad as spilling hisblood.” (ABU DAWUD, SUNAN) ~ 269 ~
  • 269. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 13. Justice13. JUSTICEPARITY BEFORE THE LAWA woman by the name of Fatimah, belonging to theBanu Makhzum tribe, once committed a theft. Herkinsfolk, fearing that her hand would beamputated, sent Usamah ibn Zayd to intercede withthe Prophet on her behalf. When the Prophet hadheard their case, signs of anger appeared on hisface. “Are you trying to sway me as to the limitslaid down by God?” he asked. Usama ibn Zaydimmediately admitted his mistake and begged theProphet to pray on his behalf for forgiveness. TheProphet then preached a sermon to those assembledthere, in which he said: “Communities of old cameto grief because of the leniency shown to those inhigh positions when they committed a theft, whichwas in contrast to the punishment meted out to anythief of humble origin. By the one who has controlover my soul, if my own daughter Fatimah were tosteal, I would have her hand cut off!” (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM) ~ 270 ~
  • 270. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 13. JusticeNEVER SACRIFICE THE TRUTH TOARROGANCE AND JEALOUSYPrior to the Battle of the Trench, certain MadinanJews, amongst whom were Hayy ibn Akhtab andKaab ibn Ashraf, betook themselves to Makkahwhere they succeeded in inciting the Quraysh toattack Madinah, assuring them of the local supportof the Jewish community. The chieftains of theQuraysh pointed out to the Jews that they were thecustodians of the Ka’bah and served those whomade the pilgrimage to Makkah. They wanted toknow if their religion was better, or that ofMuhammad. The Jewish scholars said that thereligion of the Quraysh was the better; that theyfollowed a truer path. (IBN HISHAM, SIRAH)GREAT AND SMALL WEIGH ALIKE IN THESCALES OF JUSTICEAn Egyptian came before Umar ibn Khattab,seeking refuge from oppression. Umar granted hisrequest, and then the Egyptian explained what hadbefallen him. “The son of the governor of Egypt, ~ 271 ~
  • 271. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 13. JusticeMuhammad ibn Amr ibn al-Aas, ran a race with meand I won it. He became so incensed at this that hestarted lashing me with a whip and shouting, ‘I ama nobleman’s son! Take that!’ On hearing this, Umarimmediately wrote to Amr ibn al-Aas to bring hisson to Madinah. When they arrived, Umarsummoned the Egyptian, handed him a whip andtold him to start lashing Muhammad, the son ofAmr ibn al-Aas. When the Egyptian had given theson a good whipping, Umar told him to startwhipping the father, because, in the first place, itwas the father’s power that had made it possible forMuhammad ibn Amr ibn al-Aas to subject theEgyptian to a beating. “I have beaten the one whobeat me,” said the Egyptian. “Now I need not beatanyone else.” If you had beaten him, we would nothave stopped you,” said Umar. “But if you yourselflet him go, that is your choice.” Then turning toAmr ibn al-Aas, he asked: “Since when have youbeen enslaving people who were free when theirmothers bore them?” (IBN ABDIL HAKAM) ~ 272 ~
  • 272. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 13. JusticeA GOOD LEADER MUST ENSURE THAT HISORDERS ARE EFFECTIVELY CARRIED OUT“Suppose I appoint someone who appear to be agood leader and command him to make justice hisideal,” said Umar, “tell me – will I have dischargedmy responsibilities?” Those assembled replied thathe would have done all that could be expected ofhim. “Not so,” replied Umar. “I should also have tosee to it that he does as I command.” (AL-BAYHAQI, IBN ASAKIR)Whenever Umar appointed a new governor, hewould make enquires about him from envoys fromthe land he ruled over. Was he a ruler who caredabout his subjects, did he visit slaves and walk infuneral processions? Was he accessible to his peopleand sympathetic towards those who came to hisdoor? If the answers were that he heard casessympathetically and looked after slaves well, Umarwould permit his rule to continue, but otherwise hewould promptly appoint another governor torelieve him of his post. (KANZ AL-UMMAL) ~ 273 ~
  • 273. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 13. JusticeIMPARTIAL DECISION-MAKINGJuadah ibn Hurayrah once came to Ali, theCommander of the Faithful, and asked him what hewould do if two men were ever to come before him,one of whom was so fond of him that he would puthim before his own self, while the other hated himso much that, given the chance, he would cut histhroat. Would Ali decide in favour of the first andagainst the second? “If the decision were truly inmy hands, I should please myself. But it is not. It isin the hands of God.” (KANZ AL-UMMAL)MAKING THE QUR’AN ONE’S GREATESTPREOCCUPATIONWhenever officials were to be despatched onmissions, Umar would make them promise not toride on Turkish horses, eat fine flour or wear silkenclothes, and not to close their doors to the needy.He warned them that if they fell into any of theseerrors, they would be punished. Then, havingextracted this promise from them, he would sendthem off. If Umar had to relieve some official of his ~ 274 ~
  • 274. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 13. Justiceduties, he would say to him:“I did not appoint you to lord over the Muslims sothat you could indulge in carnage and despoil themof their honour and their property. I appointed youto establish prayer, to distribute the spoils of warand to make just decisions concerning them.” (AL-BAYHAQI, AL-SUNAN AL-KUBRA)Abu Hasin relates how Umar used to tell newlyappointed officials to make the Qur’an their greatestpre-occupation and to place less emphasis onrelating the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad:“And I am with you,” he would add. (AL-TABARANI)NO ADVERSE REACTION TO RUDEBEHAVIOURAnas ibn Malik tells of how, once, when he and theProphet, who was garbed in a thick-borderedAbyssinian shawl, were walking along together,they came across a man of rustic appearance, whocame up to them and caught hold of the Prophet’sshawl. He pulled at it with such force that marks ~ 275 ~
  • 275. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 13. Justiceappeared on the Prophet’s neck. “O Muhammad,give me some of God’s wealth which is in yourkeeping,” said the man. Quite unaffected by theman’s rudeness, the Prophet smiled and gaveorders for him to be provided for from the Treasureaccording to his needs. (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM)WHEN THE ELITE PROVE TRUSTWORTHY,OTHERS FOLLOW SUITOn receiving the Persian emperor’s precious sword,his belt, jewels and ornaments, Umar said: “Themen who have handed over these things haveproved themselves truly trustworthy.” “Your ownhonesty has had its effect upon your subjects,”remarked Ali (IBN JARIR)PUTTING ALLEGIANCE BEFORECONTROVERSYWhile on their pilgrimage, the Prophet Muhammadand his successors, Abu Bakr and Umar, used toshorten their prayers to two rakats during their stay ~ 276 ~
  • 276. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 13. Justicein Mina. Uthman did likewise in the early days ofhis Caliphate, but later returned to the normal fourrakats. When Abdullah ibn Masud heard of thischange, he registered his disapproval by saying,“We belong to God and unto Him will we return.”He then arose and prayed four rakats himself.When questioned about having expressed hisdisapproval, only to do the very thing of which hedisapproved, Ibn Masud explained, “It would bewicked to go against the Caliph.” Abu Dharr wasequally indignant at Uthman’s action, but he, too,prayed the full four rakats. When asked why heemulated the very action for which he condemnedUthman, Abu Dharr said: “It would be much worseto go against him.” (QATADAH)WHAT PLEASES AND DISPLEASES GODAbu Hurayrah records the Prophet as saying:“There are three things which please God and threethings which displease Him. It pleases Him whenyou worship Him and do not ascribe to Him anypartners, and it pleases him when you cling to his ~ 277 ~
  • 277. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 13. Justicerope with one accord, always in perfect harmony. Italso pleases Him when you feel well-intentionedtowards one whom he has entrusted with thecontrol of your affairs. The three things whichdisplease Him are wrangling, being over-inquisitiveand squandering one’s wealth.” (MUSLIM, SAHIH) ~ 278 ~
  • 278. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. Unity14. UNITYIN LATTER DAYS FRATERNAL STRIFE WILL BETHE GREATEST DESTRUCTIVE FORCEEight years after the Battle of Uhud, the Prophetvisited the site of the battle and prayed for themartyrs. His prayer was as one about to leave theland of the living. Then he ascended the pulpit andsaid: “I shall be the first to reach the hauz 7 I bearwitness before you that we shall meet at the hauz,which I can see from this very place. By God, I donot fear that when I am gone you will set up othersbeside God. What I do fear is that greed for worldlythings will make you fight among yourselves: thatis what will destroy you as it destroyed those 8before you. (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM)Note:7. A reservoir of water in the Heaven for the believers.8. People of the Book. ~ 279 ~
  • 279. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. UnityA SPIRITUAL BOND SHOULD REMAINUNTARNISHED BY PERSONAL DIFFERENCESTwo of the Prophet’s companions, Khalid and Saad,had a disagreement over something. At that time,someone came to Saad and started to talk againstKhalid. “Stop!” exclaimed Saad. “Our personaldifferences do not encroach upon our religion.” (AL-TABARANI)RESTRAINING ONE’S HAND AND ONE’STONGUE FROM ATTACKING ONE’SBRETHRENMuhammad ibn Maslamah says that the Prophetgave him a sword and said, “Use this sword inthe path of God, O Muhammad ibn Maslamah.But when you behold two groups of Muslimsfighting among themselves, strike your swordupon a rock until it breaks; then stay your handand hold your tongue until you die, or are doneto death.” (IBN SA‘D, TABAQAT) ~ 280 ~
  • 280. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. UnityREMAINING NEUTRAL IN A FRATRICIDALWARWhen hostilities broke between Ali and Muawiyahover the murder of the third Caliph, Uthman,Muawiyah summoned Wayel ibn Hajar whobelonged to the royal family of Hadhramaut. “Whydo you not take my side in this affair?” he asked.Begging to be excused, Wayel said that he hadheard these words from the Prophet: “Evil has comeupon you like the murkiest hours of the night!” Atsuch a time, what should be done?” Wayel hadasked the Prophet. “O Wayel,” the Prophet hadreplied, “when two swords clash and they bothbelong to Muslims, keep away from both of them.” (AL-TABARANI)IT IS A RULER’S DUTY TO REFORM OTHERS,BUT THOSE OTHERS ARE RESPONSIBLE ONLYFOR THEMSELVESA man once came before Umar and asked what wasthe better course of action: to be unmindful ofreproach in doing his duty to God, or to concentrateon improving himself rather than others. “Whoever ~ 281 ~
  • 281. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. Unityis appointed to manage the affairs of the Muslimcommunity,” replied Umar, “should not neglect hisduty towards others, that is to say that he mustcarry out his duty even in the face of criticism. Butthose not in authority should concentrate uponthemselves. They may nevertheless offer goodadvice at the same time to those in a position ofauthority.” (AL-BAYHAQI, AL-SUNAN AL-KUBRA)BEARING PERSONAL AFFRONTS WITH GOODGRACEHaving decided to accept Islam, Wathilah ibn Asqaleft his home and set out for Madinah, reaching therewhile the Prophet was at prayer. He joined the rearrank of the congregation and, when the prayer wasover, he swore allegiance at the hand of the Prophet.Besides the usual testimony to the oneness of God,certain clauses were added; obedience would beincumbent upon him whether he were rich or poor,whether this pleased him or not, and even if it meantothers being given preference over him. (KANZ AL-UMMAL) ~ 282 ~
  • 282. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. UnityUNFAILING OBEDIENCE TO ONE’SCOMMANDERThe Prophet once sent a military unit led by Amribn al-Aas, to Dhat as-Salasil, Abu Bakr and Umarbeing of its number. When they had advanced as faras the site of the battle, they pitched camp,whereupon Amr ibn al-Aas gave orders that no firesshould be lit. Angered at what struck him as anunnecessary inconvenience, Umar got up to go andsee Amr ibn al-Aas about it, but Abu Bakr stoppedhim, saying: “The Prophet appointed himcommander over you for the simple reason that hisknowledge of military tactics is greater than yours. (AL-BAYHAQI, AL-SUNAN AL-KUBRA)OFFER A RULER ADVICE IN PRIVATE–NOT INPUBLICWhen Ayadh ibn Ghanam al-Ashari conquered thecity of Dara (Persia), he inflicted severe punishmenton its ruler. He was then reminded by Hisham ibnHakim of the Prophet’s words: “He who was mostsevere in his punishment of others in this world isthe one who shall be punished most severely on the ~ 283 ~
  • 283. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. UnityDay of Judgement.” Then, keeping up his diatribeagainst Ayadh, Hisham went on his way.A few days later the two men met again. “OHisham,” said Ayadh ibn Ghanam, “we too haveheard the words that you have heard, and haveseen what you have seen and have had thecompany of the Prophet just as you did. Did younot hear the Prophet say, ‘O Hisham, that he whohas advice to give to a ruler should not offer it inpublic, but should take him by the hand andcommunicate it to him in private. If the ruleraccepts his advice, well and good; and if not, thegiver of the advice will at least have discharged hisresponsibility and have done all that he was entitledto do. (AL-HAKIM)COMMUNAL SENTIMENT BELONGS TO THEDAYS OF IGNORANCEJabir ibn Abdullah recalls being on an expeditionalong with some other Muslims when one of theMakkan Emigrants struck a Madinan Helper on theback. Enraged, the Helper shouted to his own ~ 284 ~
  • 284. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. Unitykinsmen for help, while the Emigrant did likewise.The two groups confronted one another, thenstarted a skirmish, but were soon separated bysome people who came between them. When theProphet heard about this incident, he asked how itwas that people were reverting to the call ofignorance 9. People began narrating how one of theEmigrants had struck one of the Helpers, but theProphet told them to refrain from talking about it,because such talk was so unsavoury. (MUSUM, AHMAD AL-BAYHAQI)Note:9. The pre-Islamic times were known as the period of ignorance.NEVER STOOP TO CONTROVERSYCertain individuals, who had brought gifts forAbu Dharr Ghefari, were told on reachingRabdhah, the latter’s home town, that he hadgone on pilgrimage, so they followed him towhere the pilgrims were gathered at Mina. Theywere sitting with Abu Dharr, when he received ~ 285 ~
  • 285. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. Unitythe news that Caliph Uthman, along with thepilgrims in Mina had prayed the full four rakats.He was greatly upset by this news, andexpressed his strong opposition to the Caliph’saction. “I prayed along with the Prophet here inMina,” he said, “and he prayed only two rakats.And I prayed the same two rakats along withAbu Bakr and Umar.” Having said this, AbuDharr arose and prayed the full four rakats. “Butit was for just this that you criticized theCommander of the Faithful” exclaimed thosearound him. “Why do you do the same thingyourself?” “It would be worse to go againsthim,” explained Abu Dharr. (AHMAD, MUSNAD)Abdullah ibn Masud likewise criticized theCaliph for praying four rakats, but thenproceeded to do the same thing himself” Whenasked about this, he said: “It would be wicked tocontradict the Caliph.” (QATADAH) ~ 286 ~
  • 286. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. UnityA GRIEVANCE AT HOME SHOULD NOT MEANDESERTION TO THE ENEMYKaab ibn Malik, having failed to join in theexpedition to Tabuk, explains that the Prophetannounced the expedition just when the dateswere ripening and it was a great pleasure to sitin the shade. “I was lethargic in mypreparations, but it occurred to me that havingall the necessary means at my command I couldset out whenever I pleased. The time came forthe army to set out, but I was still not ready togo. I met the Prophet on his return from Tabukand he asked me why I had failed to join thecampaign. Unable to tell a lie, I admitted that Ihad no excuse; I had been quite capable ofmaking the journey. The Prophet then gaveorders that no one was to speak to me, nor toHilal ibn Umayyah and Murarah ibn Rabie. Thisstate of affairs went on and on for fifty days. TheQur’an described the agony of those days: “...when the earth, vast as it is, was straitened forthem and their own souls were straitened forthem till they knew there was no refuge fromGod except in Him.” (9:118) Kaab recalls how, at ~ 287 ~
  • 287. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. Unitythat time a Nabataeian, who had come fromSyria to Madinah on business, met him in thestreets and gave him a letter from Ghassanidchieftain. The letter, enveloped in a silken cloth,read: “I have learned how you are beingoppressed by your master. May God release youfrom a place where you are in disgrace and yourtalents are wasted. Come to us and we will giveyou a place of honour. Kaab ibn Malik promptlythrew this letter into the fire without replying toit. After fifty days, Almighty God accepted hisrepentance and forgave him. (AL-BUKHARl, SAHIH)FIGHTING ONE’S OWN PEOPLE DEPRIVESONE OF GOD’S SUCCOURThere was one occasion, reports Khabbab ibn al-Arat, when the Prophet prayed an unusually longprayer. When asked about it, he said it was a prayerof hope and fear. “I asked my Lord for three things,two of which he granted and one of which herefused. I prayed that my entire community shouldnot be destroyed by drought; this request wasgranted. Then I prayed that they should not be ~ 288 ~
  • 288. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. Unitytotally annihilated by any enemy; this too wasgranted. But when I prayed that they should notfight among themselves, this was denied me.”DECLINING POWER IN THE INTERESTS OFUNITYThe Caliph Muawiyah sent Amr ibn al-Aas toAbdullah ibn Umar to find out whether heintended to fight for the caliphate or not. “Whatprevents you, O father of Abd ar-Rahman,” askedAmr ibn al-Aas from declaring this publicly sothat we may swear allegiance to you? You are acompanion of the Prophet and son of theCommander of the Faithful; you have a greaterright than anyone to be caliph,” Abdullah ibnUmar asked whether all, without exception, werein agreement with what amr ibn al-Aas had said.“They are,” replied Amr ibn al, Aas “except for atiny minority. “ To this Abdullah ibn Umarreplied that even if just three fat Persians fromHajar demurred, he would no longer feel the urgeto be Caliph. (IBN SA‘D, TABAQAT) ~ 289 ~
  • 289. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. UnityWORSHIP, UNITY AND GOOD INTENTIONSAccording to Abu Hurayrah, the Prophetenumerated three things required of man by God;that he should give Him his undivided worship;that he should hold fast to His rope withoutbecoming divided from his fellowmen; that heshould be well-intentioned towards one whom Godhas entrusted with control of his affairs. (Muslim, Sahih)A similar tradition has been recorded by Jubayr ibnMatam. While on a pilgrimage, the Prophetdelivered a sermon in Mina in which he mentionedthree virtues, which the believer would unerringlytranslate into action: sincerity for the sake of Godalone; good intentions towards rulers; firmadhesion to the Muslim community.KEEPING CONTENTION OUT OF RELIGIOUSAFFAIRSAfter the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, peace wasestablished and people were able to travel freelyon the highroads of Arabia. In the month of Dhu ~ 290 ~
  • 290. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. Unityal-Hijjah, shortly after the signing of the treaty,in the year 6 AH, the Prophet gathered hiscompanions around him and drew theirattention to the task of propagating the messageof Islam. “God has sent me to bring mercy to thewhole world,” he said. “It is for you to spreadthe message you have heard from me to allnations of the world on my behalf. Do not becontentious, as the Children of Israel were withJesus, son of Mary.” The companions assured theProphet that they would not dispute with him inanything.“Just tell us what to do,” they said, “and send uswhere you will.” (HADITH)GOOD DEEDS ARE NULLIFIED BY DISPUTESOVER RELIGIOUS MATTERAwam ibn Hawshab records the Prophet as saying:“Beware of disputes in matters of religion, for theyare liable to undo your good deeds.” (IBN ABDIL BARR) ~ 291 ~
  • 291. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 14. UnityREMAINING WITH THE FLOCKAbu Darda records the Prophet as saying that anythree people – whether in a village or in the desert –who lived together but did not regularly praytogether, would be overcome by Satan. “Stay,therefore, with the community, said the Prophet.“You know the sheep that strays from the flock iseaten by the wolf. Just as wolf is to sheep, so Satanis to man. ~ 292 ~
  • 292. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 15. Divine Succour15. DIVINE SUCCOURGOD CARES FOR THOSE WHO DO THEIRDUTY TO HIMAishah tells of how the Prophet remained awakeone night while he was staying in her chamber.When she asked him why he was so restless, hesighed, “If only one of my righteous companionskeep watch for me at night!” Just then the clankof weapons could be heard from outside. “Whois it?” exclaimed the Prophet. “It is Saad ibnMalik,” came the reply. “What has brought youhere?” enquired the Prophet. “I came to keepwatch over you, O Messenger of God,” explainedSaad. Soon after this, says Aishah, she heard thesound of the Prophet’s deep breathing. He hadfallen asleep.In another tradition, Aishah says that afteremigration to Madinah a regular watch used to bekept over the Prophet, but that when the versecontaining the words, “God will protect you frommen,” (5:67) was revealed, the Prophet lookedthrough an aperture and told his watchmen to go ~ 293 ~
  • 293. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 15. Divine Succouron their way, “for God has given me Hisprotection.” (Ibn Kathir, Tafsir)WISDOM: GOD’S GREATEST GIFTWisdom and learning are lights by which Godguides whom he wills,” said Imam Malik. “They donot stem from an understanding of manytheological issues.” (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)THE DANGER OF ACTION WITHOUTKNOWLEDGE“One who acts in ignorance will cause more harmthan good,” said Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz. (JAMI‘ BAYAN AL-‘ILM)SEEING THE POSITIVE ASPECT OFMISFORTUNEDuring the wars in Persia, a band of Muslimsvisited the Court of the Iranian King, Yazdagird,only to have scorn heaped upon them by the King. ~ 294 ~
  • 294. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 15. Divine Succour“I cannot think of a people who are scantier innumber, or more ill fated or disunited than you are.Even our villagers would be a match for you if Ihanded you over to them.” Mughira ibn Shuabahreplied on behalf of the Muslims: “What you say istrue. We used to live in a wretched state having nohome but the face of the earth. The clothes we worewere fashioned from goat and camel hair. Ourreligion led us to hate and kill one another. We evenused to bury our daughters alive for fear that theymight eat away our stocks of food. But then Godsent to us one who was well known to us, and whowas, indeed, the best of us all. He invited us tofollow him, but, at first, only one of us-Abu Bakr-went with him. As for the rest of us we denied him.But, as everything he said came to pass, faithentered our hearts and we followed him. ThroughHis Prophet, God has promised us thatwhomsoever of our number is slain shall enterheaven, while those who survive shall be grantedsuccour in the face of the enemy.” Incensed,Yazdagird gave orders for a basket full of earth tobe perched on the head of the noblest of theMuslims and for them all to be chased away beyondthe land of Madain. The Muslim so singled out for ~ 295 ~
  • 295. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 15. Divine Succourhumiliation, Asim by name, left the court in thiscondition and rode on on his camel until he met hisCommander, Saad ibn Abi Waqqas. When Saadlearned of the degrading treatment to which Asimhad been subjected, he said; “Do not be unhappy!Surely God has given us the keys to their land.” * (AL-BIDAYAH WA AL-NIHAYAH)Note:* He meant that the ‘gift’ of earth was a token that the entire land of Iran would yield to the Muslims.CORRECTING A FALSE IMPRESSION EVEN ATTHE EXPENSE OF ONE’S OWN PRESTIGEDuring the Battle of Yarmuk, an Iranian chieftain,by the name of Jurjah, left the ranks of his ownarmy and expressed a desire to meet Khalid ibnWalid. The latter also left his ranks and rode up soclose to Jurjah that the necks of their horses weretouching. “O Khalid,” said Jurjah, “Tell me-and afree man does not lie, so tell me the truth-did Godtruly send a sword down from Heaven for His ~ 296 ~
  • 296. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 15. Divine SuccourProphet? And did the Prophet hand that swordover to you, with the result that you defeatwhomsoever you fight against?” When Khalid saidthat this was not so, Jurjah asked why Khalid wascalled the “Sword of God.” “God sent His Prophetamong us,” replied Khalid. “Some of us believed,while others disbelieved. I was among thedisbelievers. Then God captured our hearts andgranted us His guidance. As I was swearingallegiance to the Prophet, he said to me, ‘You areone of God’s swords that he has unleashed againstthe idolaters.’ He prayed that I should have God’ssuccour. Since then I have been called the ‘Sword ofGod’.” (AL-BIDAYAH WA AL-NIHAYAH)GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP OTHERSOne night, in 610 AD, Muhammad ibn Abdullahwas in retreat in the cave of Hira, when he wasvisited by an angel of God. “Read!” said the angel.“I do not know how to read,” Muhammad replied.The angel then clasped him in tight embrace untilthe pressure became too much for him. Releasinghim, the angel again said, “Read!” Again ~ 297 ~
  • 297. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 15. Divine SuccourMuhammad begged to be excused, saying that hedid not know how to read. Then the angel took holdof him and exerted such pressure upon him thatMuhammad could bear it no more. Releasing him,the angel said, “Read!” “I cannot read,” pleadedMuhammad. And the angel said: “Read in the nameof your Lord, who created you from a clot of blood.Read: your Lord is most bounteous.” This was thefirst verse of revelation to the Prophet Muhammad.After this experience, the Prophet came home to hiswife Khadijah in Makkah. Trembling, he cried out toher, “Cover me up, put a blanket over me!” Khadijahthen made the Prophet lie down. When he hadrecovered from his shock, he explained the entireepisode to his wife who, being older, was moreexperienced. “I feared for my life,” said the Prophet.“That could never be,” said Khadijah, “For you areone who cultivates the bonds of kinship. You help theneedy and enable the destitute to earn their living;you are hospitable to guests; you offer assistance tothose in distress. Is it possible that God would putyou to shame? By God, that could never happen!” (AL-BUKHARI, SAHIH) ~ 298 ~
  • 298. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 15. Divine SuccourINSIGHT COMES WITH TRUE FAITHWhen Umar emigrated from Makkah to Madinah,one Ayash ibn abi-Rabiyah accompanied him, andon reaching Madinah, they went to stay with thefamily of Amr ibn Auf. In the meantime, Abu Jahaland Harith, who were close relatives of Ayash, setout from Makkah in search of their kinsman.(During this period, the Prophet was still inMakkah.) On reaching Madinah, Abu Jahal andHarith met Ayash and had a talk with him. “Yourmother has sworn that, until she sets an eye on you,she will not comb her hair or take shelter from thesun,” they said, in an attempt to persuade Ayash toreturn with them to Makkah. Seeing that pity for hismother was beginning to soften him, Umar warnedhim: “These two men want to turn you away fromyour faith. Beware of them! You can rest assuredthat when lice start biting your mother, she willsurely comb her hair, and when the heat becomestoo intense, she will betake herself into the shade.”But Ayash insisted on freeing his mother from heroath; he had also to collect some possessions he hadleft in Makkah. He assured Umar that he wouldreturn, but, on reaching Makkah, Ayash was tied up ~ 299 ~
  • 299. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 15. Divine Succourby his relatives and subjected to all kinds oftorment. Finally, he rejected Islam and reverted tohis ancestral religion. (AL-BIDAYAH WA AL-NIHAYAH)GOD’S MERCY FOR THE MERCIFULThe Prophet said: “God will not show mercy to onewho does not show mercy to his fellow-men.”WITH GOD’S HELP A HANDFUL CANCONQUER A MULTITUDEAmong the Quraysh, there was a rumour mongerby the name of Jamil ibn Maamar al-Jamhi who,when he heard of Umar’s acceptance of Islam,positioned himself at the gate of the Ka’bah andsaid in a loud voice: “I will have you know thatUmar, son of Khattab, has become an infidel!” TheQuraysh were sitting grouped around the Ka’bah atthat time, and Umar was also present, “The man islying,” said Umar. “The truth is, I have acceptedIslam, bearing witness that there is no god besidesGod, and Muhammad is His messenger.” Onhearing this, people closed in on Umar and he ~ 300 ~
  • 300. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 15. Divine Succourfought with them until the sun was high in the sky.When the combatants became too exhausted to fightany longer, Umar said to them, ‘Do as you will. Ifwe Muslims could be as many as just threehundred, as God is my witness, we would eitherleave this land to you, or you should have to leave itto us.” (AL-BIDAYAH WA AL-NIHAYAH)THEIR GREATEST STRENGTH WAS ISLAMIn the face of unrelenting oppression by theQuraysh, a group of some eighty Muslimsemigrated, under the leadership of Jaafar ibn abi-Talib, from Makkah to Abyssinia in the fifth year ofthe Prophet’s mission. The Quraysh sent theirenvoys to the Christian king of Abyssinia to seekthe Muslims’ return, but the King had been soimpressed by the Muslims’ way of speaking andbehaving that he refused the Quraysh’s request, andpromised the Muslims a safe refuge in his land. “Ifanyone insults you, he shall be punished,” heassured them. “I will not wrong anyone of you,even in return for a mountain of gold. “You canremain here as long as you please.” He gave orders ~ 301 ~
  • 301. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 15. Divine Succourfor the Muslims to be provided with food andclothing, and asked them whether they were havingto suffer any ill-treatment. When they said that theywere, he issued a proclamation to the effect thatanyone ill-treating a Muslim would have to pay him(the Muslim) a fine of four dirhams. “Is thatsufficient?” he asked the Muslims. When they saidthat it was not, he doubled the sum.When the Muslims emigrated from Makkah toMadinah, the Muslims who had settled in Abyssiniaalso moved there; they were given mounts andprovisions for their journey by the King.THOSE WHO SERVE GOD ALONE SHALL BERAISED ABOVE OTHER MENIn the beginning, Abu Talib had provided hisnephew, the Prophet Muhammad, with thepatronage necessary to the continuance of his publicmission. But as Abu Talib lay on his death-bed, agroup of Qurayshite chieftains gathered aroundhim with a request. “You well know the positionyou hold among us,” they began, “but now, as allmen must, you have reached the end of your days.You know the matter still at issue between your ~ 302 ~
  • 302. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 15. Divine Succournephew and ourselves. We wish you to take acovenant both from him and from us, that he willnot interfere with us and we will not interfere withhim. If he leaves us to our religion, we shall leavehim to his own religion.” Abu Talib called theProphet and told him that these chieftains had cometo offer him a pledge for a pledge. “What is it thatyou want of them?” asked Abu Talib. “Just onething,” replied the Prophet, then, turning to theassembled chieftains, he said: “If you accept thisone thing, you will become lords over Arabia; allAsia shall yield to you.” Abu Jahal then swore anoath by the Prophet’s father that they would acceptmore by far than just one demand on the part ofMuhammad, but, when he heard that the Prophetdemanded that they bear witness to there being nogod besides God, and forsake all that theyworshipped besides Him, he wrung his hands indismay and left, saying as he went: “Should weforsake our gods for one God? What anextraordinary demand to make! This man is notgoing to give anything away, so come, let us adhereto our religion until God settles this between himand us.” ~ 303 ~
  • 303. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 15. Divine SuccourSECRECY IS OF THE ESSENCE IN LAUNCHINGAN ATTACKWhen the Quraysh broke the terms of the Treaty ofHudaybiyah, the Prophet issued instructions to hispeople to make ready for departure; the Prophet’sown household were also to make theirpreparations. At that time Abu Bakr visited Aishah,his daughter and wife of the Prophet, while she waspacking the latter’s belongings. “Has the Prophettold you to prepare for a journey?” asked Abu Bakr.When Aishah said that he had, Abu Bakr asked herwhere she thought the Prophet intended to go.” “Ido not honestly know,” replied his daughter. (IBN HISHAM, AL-SIRAH AN-NABA WIYYAH) ~ 304 ~
  • 304. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 16. Earning A Living16. EARNING A LIVINGIT IS BEST TO WORK FOR ONE’S LIVINGThe Prophet, once questioned on the best way toearn a living replied, “By manual labour.”THE BREADWINNER SHOULD NOT CONSIDERHIMSELF SUPERIOR TO OTHERSOf two brothers who lived in the time of theProphet, one used to sit with the Prophet, while theother used to busy himself earning a living for hisfamily. The latter complained of his brother to theProphet: “He does nothing, leaving me to do all thework.” “Perhaps it is because of him that you findsustenance,” replied the Prophet. (RIYADH AS-SALIHIN)RUNNING TO ANOTHER’S ASSISTANCE IS AGREAT RELIGIOUS DUTYAbdullah ibn Abbas was once in retreat (i’tikaf) inthe Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, when a man,who was clearly in trouble, came and sat besidehim. When Abdullah ibn Abbas asked him what ~ 305 ~
  • 305. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 16. Earning A Livingwas the matter, he said, “I owe a man some money,and by him who lies in this grave, I am unable topay him back.” “Shall I speak to your creditor onyour behalf?” asked Abdullah ibn Abbas. The manapproved of this suggestion, and Abdullah ibnAbbas at once set off. “Perhaps you have forgottenyou are in retreat,” the man called after him. “No, Ihave not forgotten,” replied ibn Abbas, “but I haveheard the words of the one who lies buried here-and it seems just like yesterday that he utteredthem. I heard the Prophet say that running to theassistance of one’s brother and doing one’s utmostto help him is better than remaining twenty years inretreat. (AL-BAYHAQI, AL-SUNAN AL-KUBRA)ONE’S TRUST IN GOD IS ONE’S GREATESTSTRENGTH“He who would be strongest of men should put histrust in God.” (SAYINGS OF SAINTS) ~ 306 ~
  • 306. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 16. Earning A LivingHONEST PARTNERS HAVE A THIRD PARTNERIN GODThe Prophet said: “So long as two partners workingtogether do not deceive each other, they have a thirdpartner in God, but when one deceives the other, Goddeparts from them and the devil comes between them.”ACTING AS SPOKESMAN FOR THE HUMBLEIN POSITIONAbdullah ibn Umar spoke in praise of anyone whokept rulers informed of humble men’s needs, whenthe latter had no access to those in power. God willmake him sure of foot on the bridge,” said he,meaning the bridge over hell, “Where many feetwill slip, and many will fall into the abyss.” (RAZIN, AL-BAZZAR)GOD’S GENEROSITY TO THE GENEROUSThese words are attributed to Almighty God inone of the Prophet’s sayings: Mankind, spend inGod’s cause; it shall be you who shall receive.” (AL-BUKHARI, MUSLIM) ~ 307 ~
  • 307. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 16. Earning A LivingTHE VALUE OF RIGHT ACTIONUmar once said that at night he had read a certain versefrom the Qur’an and had been unable to sleep for therest of the night. From the chapter, ‘The Cow,’ the verseread: “Would anyone of you like to have a garden ofpalm trees and vines. ... (2:266)” Umar asked thosearound him the meaning of this verse, and while somesuggested that it was a parable relating only to palm-trees and vines, others said that its meaning was amystery known only to God. Abdullah ibn Masud, oneof those present at the time, was heard to say something,but shyness prevented him from raising his voice.“Speak up, nephew,” said Umar, to encourage him, andurged him to have the courage of his convictions.Abdullah ibn Masud then said that the verse was aboutactions. “In what way?” asked Umar. “It was justsomething which came to mind,” said Abdullah ibnMasud, “and I said it.” “Nephew, you have spoken thetruth.” replied Umar, “for the verse is about actions. Aman has greatest need of his orchard when he hasgrown old; man will have the greatest need of his gooddeeds when he is raised from the dead.” (IBN KATHIR TAFSIR) ~ 308 ~
  • 308. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 16. Earning A LivingTHE GREATEST CHARITY IS THAT BESTOWEDUPON THE MOST ILL-PROVIDED FORSuraqah ibn Malik recalls the Prophet asking him ifhe wished to know the greatest act of charity.Suraqah said that he did. “It is to be kind to adaughter of yours who (having been widowed ordivorced) returns to your home with no one to lookafter her but yourself.” (IBN MAJAH, SUNAN)THE GREATEST IN INTELLIGENCE IS THELEAST ATTACHED TO THE WORLD“If one were to leave a will for his property to begiven to the most intelligent of men, it should behanded over to the one who is least attached toworldly things.” (IMAM SHAFI‘I)THE BEST PROVISION IS THAT WHICH HASBEEN EARNED“Man has not partaken of any provision moreblessed than that for which he has worked with his ~ 309 ~
  • 309. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 16. Earning A Livingown hands. That is what the Prophet David used todo. He lived on what he had earned.” (AL-BUKHARI, SAHIH)AVOIDING CONDESCENSION“Craftsmen are not to be looked down on,” said theProphet Muhammad. “for Zakariyah-himself aProphet-was a carpenter.” (MUSLIM, SAHIH) ~ 310 ~
  • 310. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 17. Calling Mankind To The Truth17. CALLING MANKIND TO THETRUTHTHE MESSAGE REVEALED TO THE PROPHETAbu Nujaih Amr ibn Absah recounts how, even inthe pre-Islamic period, he felt that the idolatrousreligion practised in Arabia was misguided and farfrom the True Path. “Then I heard of theappearance in Makkah of a man who utteredinspired words. I mounted my camel and travelledto Makkah, where I found the Prophet quietlygiving his message to the people, while they, fortheir part, went to extremes in taking liberties withhim. I asked him who he was. ‘I am God’s Prophet,’he replied. When I asked him what a Prophet was,he said, ‘One sent by God,’ ‘for what reason?’ Iasked, and the Prophet replied: ‘He has sent me tounite kinspeople, to break idols and to make peopleregard God as One, and without any partners.’” (MUSLIM, SAHIH)ADMONISHING IN GENERAL TERMSAccording to Aishah, when the Prophet was ~ 311 ~
  • 311. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 17. Calling Mankind To The Truthdispleased with the way someone had acted orspoken, he would express his disapproval of peoplewho act or speak in such a manner, withoutindicating which particular individual he meant. (KITAB ASH-SHIFA)THE POWER OF THE QUR’AN TO INSPIREFAITHAbdullah ibn Abbas, a great Quranic scholar, waspossessed of an uncanny ability to fathom theprofundities of the Qur’an. One day, he gave anexplanation of the chapter al-Baqarah, whichprompted one of his hearers to exclaim: “If thepagans of Daylam were to hear this, even theywould believe.”THE HEREAFTER: ALL-IMPORTANT TO THEPROPHET, BUT NOT SO TO HIS OPPONENTSWhen the Prophet was commanded by God tocommence his public mission he ascended the hillof Safa and called the people together. “I have beensent,” said the Prophet, “to warn you of a dreadfuldoom.” “May misfortune dog your footsteps the ~ 312 ~
  • 312. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 17. Calling Mankind To The Truthwhole day!” burst out Abu Lahab. “Have you calledus together to hear only this?” (IBN KATHIR, SIRAH)BRINGING ISLAM WITHOUTCONDESCENSION, TO EVERYONESeverely wounded, the Prophet was returning fromTaif, and, on the way, took refuge in a vineyardbelonging to Utbah and Shaybah, sons of a Makkanchieftain. Both Utbah and Shaybah, being in thevineyard at the time, saw the state the Prophet wasin and sent their Christian slave, Addas, to himwith some grapes. As the Prophet began to eatthem, he recited the words: “In God’s name.”Addas expressed his surprise at the Prophet havingmade such a dedication, and the Prophet asked himwhere he came from. “From Nainevah,” repliedAddas. “Oh, from the town of the good Jonah, sonof Matthew,” said the Prophet. And Addas waseven more surprised to hear that the Prophet knewabout Jonah, whereupon the Prophet recited to himthat portion of the Qur’an which had been revealedto him concerning Jonah. “The Prophet,” writesAbu Nuaim, “did not behave with condescension ~ 313 ~
  • 313. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 17. Calling Mankind To The Truthtowards anyone to whom his message was to becommunicated.” (DALA’IL AN-NUBUWWAH)UNADULTERATED TRUTH IS PUREANATHEMA TO MANYWhen the Prophet received his first revelation, hecame back home in a state of fright to his wife,Khadijah. “I feared for my life,” he told her.Khadijah then took the Prophet to see a relative ofhers, Waraqah ibn Nawfal, who being a convert toChristianity, had studied prophetic and biblicalhistory. After hearing the Prophet’s story in detail,he said, “By the Master of my soul, you are theProphet of this nation. The angel who visited you isthe one who appeared to Moses. Your people willdeny you; they will persecute you and expel youfrom the land; they will fight against you.” “Willthey truly expel me?” asked the Prophet. Waraqahsaid this was certain. “People have turned againstwhomsoever has taught the message now broughtby you.” ~ 314 ~
  • 314. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 17. Calling Mankind To The TruthSPEAKING THE LANGUAGE OF ONE’SHEARERSSalman Farsi, commander of a Muslim army thatfought in the Persian wars, was asked by hissoldiers why he did not give them the order toattack the fort to which they had laid siege. Hereplied that he first wanted an opportunity to invitehis opponents to accept Islam, for that was as theProphet had done. Addressing the occupants of thefort, Salman Farsi said, “I am a Persian likeyourselves, yet you can see how I am obeyed bythese Arabs. Accept Islam and you shall have thesame rights and responsibilities as we have. Youmay adhere to your religion if you agree to pay thetax. If not, we will fight against you.” According toAbul Buhtari, Salman said all this in Persian, thelanguage of those he was addressing.FAILURE TO REFORM SHOULD NEVER ELICITCURSESTufayl ibn Amr Ad-Dawsi, who had come toMakkah on the pilgrimage to the Holy Ka’bah, wasaddressed by some members of the Quraysh, whosaid, “You, who have come to our town, must be ~ 315 ~
  • 315. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 17. Calling Mankind To The Truthtold that there is a man here” – by whom theymeant the Prophet – “who has left our religion anddivided our community. His words have a spell-binding effect, separating father from son, andbrother from brother. We do not wish him to dowith you as he has done with us. Do not speak tohim or listen to what he says.” Tufayl says that hewent to the Ka’bah with cotton in his ears, so thathe would be unable to hear anything Muhammadsaid. Then he thought: I have a mind of my own; Iam able to judge what is said, whether it is good orbad, why should I not listen to him? If what he saysseems sound, I will accept it; if not, I will havenothing to do with it. He went, therefore, to see theProphet, who recited to him some verses from theQur’an. “Truly,” said Tufayl, “I have never heardanything so beautiful or so balanced.” He thenaccepted Islam and went back to his people in orderto communicate to them the message of Islam: butonly one of them, Abu Hurayrah, became abeliever. Tufayl went back once again to Madinah,where he told the Prophet of the obstinacy of hispeople. He asked the Prophet to curse them, but theProphet just prayed for their guidance: ~ 316 ~
  • 316. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues 17. Calling Mankind To The Truth“Lord, guide the people of Daws.” “That was notthe prayer I meant,” cried Tufayl. “Go back to yourpeople,” the Prophet told Tufayl. “Communicate tothem the message of Islam and be gentle with them.You will find many amongst them like yourself.” (IBN ABDIL BARR) ~ 317 ~
  • 317. An Islamic Treasury of Virtues An Islamic Treasury of VirtuesAN ISLAMIC TREASURY OF VIRTUESThe traditions—sunnah—of the ProphetMuhammad, may peace be upon him, and the livesof his companions and those closely associated withthem, serve as a major source of religiousenlightenment in theory and in practice. This bookendeavours to present these ideas in the simplestand most direct way. In that it culls from authenticsources the sayings and deeds of the Prophet andthose inspired by him, it brings to us a completeand, above all, human picture of true Islamicbehaviour. ~ 318 ~