Spring clean your life – Part II
How to simplify your life and prioritise it – Part II
Don’t make your concern dunya
There are many hadith warning us about dunya. Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:
The world is sweet and green. Verily, Allah will make you successors in it to see how you will behave. Beware of the world and beware of women. Verily, the first trial of the children of Israel was with women. (Muslim)
Dunya is beautiful and green, (green is used by Arabs to describe beauty. And the beauty and the world is a test.
Don’t misunderstand, I am not saying don’t work hard and earn your rizq in a halal way. But don’t let dunya dictate your entire life and how you structure your day, your future and your relationship with Allah. Our relationship with Allah dictates how we structure our day and our business. Both deal with dunya, but either you deal with dunya with limits or you let dunya control you and your actions.
Resisting the allure of dunya
The Prophet (peace be on him) had sent Abu `Ubaida to collect jizia (tax) from Bahrain before they had accepted Islam. And when he returned with money the news went viral on their social media, and everyone turned up to Fajr prayer in excitement. After Prophet (peace be on him) finished his prayer turned his face towards them and was smiling, knowing exactly why the mosque was packed. The Prophet (peace be on him) asked them how they were as he always did and he said; you might have heard that Abu ‘Ubaidah came back from from Bahrain with something? fa abshiru wa ammilu which means ‘be happy and be hopeful’. Abshiru is what you say in Arabic when you receive news and if someone asks you do him a favour, you reply abshir, which means you will give him good news by fulfilling his request. So he said, that he would give them money, but then went on to say, that he did not fear that they would have poverty, but that the dunya would hit them. And they would get sucked in and compete.
عن عَمْرَو بْن عَوْفٍ رضي الله تعالى عنه وَهُوَ حَلِيفُ بَنِي عَامِرِ بْنِ لُؤَىٍّ وَكَانَ شَهِدَ بَدْرًا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بَعَثَ أَبَا عُبَيْدَةَ بْنَ الْجَرَّاحِ إِلَى الْبَحْرَيْنِ يَأْتِي بِجِزْيَتِهَا وَكَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم هُوَ صَالَحَ أَهْلَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ وَأَمَّرَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْعَلاَءَ بْنَ الْحَضْرَمِيِّ فَقَدِمَ أَبُو عُبَيْدَةَ بِمَالٍ مِنَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ فَسَمِعَتِ الأَنْصَارُ بِقُدُومِ أَبِي عُبَيْدَةَ فَوَافَوْا صَلاَةَ الْفَجْرِ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَلَمَّا صَلَّى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم انْصَرَفَ فَتَعَرَّضُوا لَهُ فَتَبَسَّمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حِينَ رَآهُمْ ثُمَّ قَالَ ” أَظُنُّكُمْ سَمِعْتُمْ أَنَّ أَبَا عُبَيْدَةَ قَدِمَ بِشَىْءٍ مِنَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ ” . فَقَالُوا أَجَلْ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ ” ” فَأَبْشِرُوا وَأَمِّلُوا مَا يَسُرُّكُمْ فَوَاللَّهِ مَا الْفَقْرَ أَخْشَى عَلَيْكُمْ . وَلَكِنِّي أَخْشَى عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْ تُبْسَطَ الدُّنْيَا عَلَيْكُمْ كَمَا بُسِطَتْ عَلَى مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ فَتَنَافَسُوهَا كَمَا تَنَافَسُوهَا وَتُهْلِكَكُمْ كَمَا أَهْلَكَتْهُمْ ” .
`Amr bin `Auf (may Allah be pleased with him), who was an ally of Banu `Amir bin Luwayy (and he was one amongst them) who participated in Badr along with Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him) reported that, Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him) sent Abu `Ubaida b. Al-Jarrah to Bahrain for collecting Jizya and Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him) had made a truce with the people of Bahrain and had appointed `Ala’ bin Hadrami and Abu `Ubaida (for this purpose). They came with wealth from Bahrain and the Ansar heard about the arrival of Abu `Ubaida and they had observed the dawn prayer along with Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him). When Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him) had finished the prayer, they (the Ansar) came before him and Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him) smiled as he saw them and then said:
I think you have heard about the arrival of Abu `Ubaida with goods from Bahrain. They said: Allah’s Messenger, yes, it is so. Thereupon he said: Be happy and be hopeful of that which gives you delight. By Allah, it is not the poverty about which I fear in regard to you but I am afraid in your case that (the worldly) riches way be given to you as were given to those who had gone before you and you begin to vie with one another for them as they vied for them, and these may destroy you as these destroyed them. (Muslim)
When dunya embraces you, it’s hard to release yourself from its clutch
If the dunya opens its arms to embrace you, then you will be the son of the dunya, and she will be your mother. And he feared we would not be able to extricate our self from that embrace. Most of us can’t do this. When the dunya opens it arms, we are swallowed up whole, and do not know how to put on the brakes in our interaction with it.
Look at the previous nations who were competing in dunya and they were destroyed by that competition. Fa ahlakat hum – the dunya destroyed them and brought an end to their life. So don’t compete in dunya at the expense of akhirah.
I am not saying don’t compete in dunya with dignity and good guidance, but don’t let the dunya into your hearts. If people are only eat, drinking, talking dunya, this is what the Prophet (peace be on him) was afraid of. We are just consuming and waiting for the next upgrade and always chasing the next release. We forget all the good things we have.
Now with this isolation and with this global challenge we have been brought back to basics. To survival. No one is concerned with booking a seven star holiday now, they are concerned if they are going to be a live for tomorrow and how they will meet Allah Almighty tomorrow.
We have had no satisfaction which means we have had greed. Greed without moderation kills us.
Resist competing with each other
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ
إِذَا نَظَرَ أَحَدُكُمْ إِلَى مَنْ فُضِّلَ عَلَيْهِ فِي الْمَالِ وَالْخَلْقِ فَلْيَنْظُرْ إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ أَسْفَلَ مِنْهُ مِمَّنْ فُضِّلَ عَلَيْهِ
Abu Hurairah May Allah be pleased with him reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him) said:
When one of you looks at one who stands at a higher level than you in regard to wealth and physical structure he should also see one who stands at a lower level than you in regard to these things (in which he stands) at a higher level (as compared to him).
This means that when someone looks at someone better than him in any regard, he should not keep moaning about what he does not have. It makes him feel depressed. Allah Almighty has created us with differing abilities and qualities.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the wealth and beauty and intelligence of those better than you. Some can run faster, memorise more, are stronger or smarter. Don’t look down on yourself. Allah Almighty has bestowed different gifts on each one of us. Look at the one who has no house or car like yours or education likes yours or has no parents if you have parents. Appreciate the ni’aim (blessings) of Allah. Bear in mind that you shouldn’t look down at anyone who has less than you. They might be less well off, but they might be higher than you in the eyes of Allah.
Be satisfied deep down with what you have. Don’t say, ‘He has a mansion.’ Say ‘May Allah put barakah in his rizq’. Work harder but never at the expense of your akhirah.
Don’t have greed unless it is positive not negative. Positive greed drives us to be better and improve our self. If you want to learn more and be closer to Allah, that is good. Negative greed is when you have no satisfaction.
The Prophet (peace be on him) is teaching us how to look at the full half of the cup. Many people only see the empty half. I say to them sometimes, can’t you see all these good things? Can you only see the typos and mistakes? This is a mentality. Be careful if you are that negative person who only sees the shortcomings. Train yourself to see the goodness. There is goodness in everyone. It is our eyes which cannot always see it. Don’t only see the ugliness in others. We all have this trait but we need to have moderation.
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), narrated that he heard Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him) as saying:
There were three persons in Bani Isra’il, one suffering from leprosy, the other bald-headed and the third one blind. Allah decided to test them. So He sent an angel who came to the one who was suffering from leprosy and said: Which thing do you like most? He said: Beautiful colour and fine skin and removal of that which makes me detestable in the eye of people. He wiped him and his illness was no more and he was conferred upon beautiful colour and beautiful skin.
He (the angel) again said: Which property do you like most? He said: Camels, or he said: The cow the narrator is, however, doubtful about it, but (out of the persons) suffering from leprosy or baldness one of them definitely said: The camel. And the other one said: Cow. And he (one who demanded camel) was bestowed upon a she-camel, in an advanced stage of pregnancy, and while giving he said: May Allah bless you in this.
Then he came to the bald-headed person and said: Which thing do you like most? He said: Beautiful hair and that (this baldness) may be removed from me because of which people hate me. He wiped his body and his illness was removed and he was bestowed upon beautiful hair, and the angel said: Which wealth do you like most? He said: The cow. And he was given a pregnant cow and while handing it over to him he (the angel) said: May Allah bless you in this.
Then he came to the blind man and he said: Which thing do you like most? He said: Allah should restore my eyesight so that I should be able to see people with the help of that. He wiped his body and Allah restored to him his eyesight, and he (the angel) also said: Which wealth do you like most? He said: The flock of sheep. And he was given a pregnant goat and that gave birth to young ones and it so happened that one valley abounded in camels and the other one in cows and the third one in sheep.
He then came to the one who had suffered from leprosy in his (old) form and shape and he said: I am a poor person and my provision has run short in my journey and there is none to take me to my destination except with the help of Allah and your favour. I beg of you in His name Who gave you fine colour and fine skin, and the camel in the shape of wealth (to confer upon me) a camel which should carry me in my journey.
He said: I have many responsibilities to discharge. Thereupon he said: I perceive as if I recognise you. Were you not suffering from leprosy whom people hated and you were a destitute and Allah conferred upon you (wealth)? He said: I have inherited this property from my forefathers.
Thereupon he said: If you are a liar may Allah change you to that very position in which you had been. He then came to the one who was bald-headed in his (old) form and said to him the same what he had said to him (one suffering from leprosy) and he gave him the same reply as he had given him and he said: If you are a liar, may Allah turn you to your previous position in which you had been.
And then he came to the blind man in his (old) form and shape and he said: I am a destitute person and a wayfarer. My provision have ran short and today there is no way to reach the destination but with the help of Allah and then with your help and I beg of you in the (name) of One Who restored your eyesight and gave you the flock of sheep to give me a sheep by which I should be able to make my provisions for the journey.
He said: I was blind and Allah restored to me my eyesight; you take whatever you like and leave whatever you like. By Allah, I shall not stand in your way today for what you take in the name of God. Thereupon, he said: You keep with you what you have (in your possession). The fact is that you three were put to test and Allah is well pleased with you and He is annoyed with your companions. (Muslim)
In this story, we see that although Allah showered these three people with favours, physical and material, it was only the blind man who confessed that he had been blind, and acknowledged Allah’s favours. The first two were greedy and ungrateful. They denied the blessings they had been given. And they did not want to help anyone who was in the position they were once in.
Today, by isolating us, and taking away our freedom and our choices, Allah Almighty has drawn our attention to many of the favours we never noticed before, such as going to the mosque and praying in jammah or being able to shop without long queues, without wearing gloves or masks or keeping two metres apart, being able to visit our family and friends safely and hug them or shake their hands and be close to them. Alhamdulilah that we can still see them virtually.
Remember that all you have was not yours to begin with
This story is also reminding us not to forget be puffed up with our ni’mah blessings). If you are well educated don’t look down at those who are less educated. Ask Allah to increase your favours and make you closer to Him and give you humility and increase your awareness that you can leave dunya at any time. Gratitude is a station. Only those who are sincere can reach that station.
The blind person who was given sight was grateful from the core of his heart. Only those who are sincere can reach that station. Allah increased that person in his health and wealth because of his gratitude.
And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favour]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ (14:7)
Being grateful means sharing what you have and using what you have in Allah’s way. So if you have a position or status that can benefit or support others, then use it to help them. The Prophet (peace be on him) used this simple story to pass on a deep message in a very lovely, entertaining manner. He showed us that teaching does not have to be a stern lecture, or strict and harsh.
Enduring hardship the prophetic way
خَالِدِ بْنِ عُمَيْرٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ عُتْبَةَ بْنَ غَزْوَانَ، يَقُولُ لَقَدْ رَأَيْتُنِي سَابِعَ سَبْعَةٍ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم مَا طَعَامُنَا إِلاَّ وَرَقُ الْحُبْلَةِ حَتَّى قَرِحَتْ أَشْدَاقُنَا .
Khalid b. Umair reported:
I heard Utba bin Ghazwan saying: I found myself as the seventh amongst the seven who had been along with Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him). We had nothing to eat but the leaves of hubla (a wild tree) until the corners of our mouths were injured.
Utba (may Allah be pleased with him) was the seventh person to accept Islam and went in the first migration to Abyssinia, and was a very good warrior, who fought in all the battles and a very special person. He said they were with the Prophet (peace be on him) and they had nothing to eat except the leaves of the tree of hubla.
Imagine that the Prophet (peace be on him) had to eat these leaves which were not made for humans to eat. When they ate them, they injured their mouths. We have not been made to eat these leaves, or for that matter, to eat bats, (which is where the coronavirus started). Yet that’s all they had to survive.
When Quraysh put the prophet (peace be upon him ) and his companions under siege for three years, the believers were stuck between two mountain and no one was allowed to give them any food or marry them or help them. Some people came occasionally tried to sneak some food to them, but it was not enough for them. Yet they did not give up.
We too are under siege from coronavirus. Although we have panic buying and piling up, the message is no matter how difficult the challenge, do not give up. We can over come this inshallah. Remember the Prophet (peace be on him) lost his wife Khadija (May Allah be pleased with her) and his uncle Abu Talib while he was under siege. It was the aam al huzn, the Year of Sorrow. And he endured all this even though he was Rasul Allah supported by Jibril, the most beloved person to Allah forced to eat the leaves from the trees. So, Allah Almighty sent difficulties, as these reveal our resilience, our patience and what we are made of. We don’t discover these qualities unless we are under pressure. Once it was over, Allah Almighty bestowed on him, the miraculous and blessed journey of Isra’ wal Mi’raj. We can discover many things in our life if we think about it, the good as well as the shortcomings.
One of my friends commented to me that he had wished he could have time to reflect on life and pose his life. But he felt that if he did that then other people would get ahead. Now Allah Almighty has paused time for everyone. We are all in the same boat. And we have all been given this chance to pause and reflect.
How can we check ourselves and face the tough reality we have. Allah Almighty chose this test for us to see who is best in conduct. With Allah’s support we can overcome hurdles and pass with an A grade inshallah.
Delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim online on 28th March 2020 – Zuhd and Riqaq from Sahih Muslim.
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