Saturday, July 31, 2010

Freeing the Heart from Spitefulness

Freeing the Heart from Spitefulness

Ibn AbdAllāh

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam is His Messenger.

Spreads mutual love; keeping the Heart Free from the Spite

Islam commands men spreads mutual love making reconciliation between each other e in order to maintain good relations amongst the mankind, to spread love and to keep the hearts of mankind free from spite.

Allāh Subhānahu wa ta‘ala Says:

“So fear Allāh and amend that which is between you”

[Al-Anfal, 8: 1].

Additionally, Islam ordains all that which spreads mutual love and frees the hearts from spite, as in the narration of Abu Hurairah  (radiyallāhu‘anhu) who reported that the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I guide to that which would make you love one another? Spread greetings (Salam) abundantly amongst yourselves”

[This is recorded by Muslim]

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was asked:

“Who are the best type of people?” He (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) replied: “A person who is truthful in his speech and Makhmum in his heart” People asked: “We know what truthful speech is, but what is a Makhmum heart?” The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) responded saying: “It is a pure pious heart that does not have envy, evil or spite.”

[This is recorded by Ibn Majah]

Spite has greatly increased amongst people today, resulting in the severing of relations and in people holding grudges against each other. This is in spite of the fact that Allāh has made legislations, which would prevent this from happening. For example, a Muslim is allowed to request a fellow Muslim who wants to visit him to return at a later time. In normal situations, people would not appreciate someone not allowing them entry when they visit them, but since Allāh The All-Knowing, knows that people might have certain circumstances that would not allow them to receive visitors, He legislated this to protect people’s hearts from holding grudges due to this.

Allāh Says:

“And if it is said to you, “Go back (Or a similar expression showing that the occupants are not prepared to receive visitors)” then go back; it is purer for you”

[An-Nur, 24: 28]

This is a way to condole the person who was not granted permission to enter, lest he feels insulted or saddened, and a means to protect the hearts from spite. This is why some of the Salaf used to be happy when they went visiting someone and were not permitted in, because they sought the consequence of returning mentioned in the above verse --which is the promise of becoming purer (i.e. in their hearts).

Having pure hearts that are free from spite is a bounty and a blessing from Allāh which He grants to the dwellers of Paradise upon their entry into it.

Allāh Says:

 “And We will remove whatever is in their chests of resentment (i.e. ill will or ill feelings towards one another), [so they will be] brothers, on thrones facing each other.”

[Al-Hijr, 15: 47]

In addition to a pure heart being a blessing and a bounty from Allāh, it is also a source of comfort. This is why Islam puts great emphasis on purification of the heart from spite, so that people can live together in peace and harmony.

The great importance attached to this issue is because it is a difficult state to achieve all the time. A person may have a strong will which enables him to wake up in the middle of the night to offer optional night prayers, but he may not be strong enough to overcome some of his bad feelings towards his fellow Muslims.

Undoubtedly, this quality is a praiseworthy one indeed; Allāh praised the Ansar (i.e. the residents of Madinah) for possessing such a quality. Allāh Says:

“They [i.e. the Ansar] find not any [ill] feelings in their chests [i.e. hearts] of what they were given [i.e. the Muhajirin-emigrants from Makkah] but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation.”

[Al-Hasyar, 59: 9].

When Allāh favoured the Muhajirin with certain things, the Ansar did not feel any objection to this, nor did they harbor any ill feelings or envy towards their brothers in faith for being distinguished with these favours. Instead, they favoured them over their own selves with whatever they had, even if they themselves were in need of what they offered.

The following great story reflects the rank of possessing a pure heart that is free from spite, and that it is a blessing from Allāh.

Anas Ibn Malik  (radiyallāhu‘anhu) narrated: “We were sitting with the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)  once when he said: “A man from the dwellers of Paradise will walk in now” so a man from the Ansar (i.e. residents of Madinah) walked in whose beard was dripping from the effect of ablution and who held his slippers with his left hand. The next day the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said the same thing, and the same man walked in. On the third day, the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said the same thing, and the same man once again walked in. When the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) left the gathering, ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr (radhiyallāhu‘anhu) followed that man and said to him: `I had a misunderstanding with my father and swore not to stay in his house three nights, so if you permit me I would like to spend these three nights with you` The man said: `Yes, I will permit you.`”

Anas Ibn Malik (radhiyallāhu‘anhu) added: “‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr (radhiyallāhu‘anhu) told us that he spent three nights and did not notice that the man prayed the optional night prayers during any of these nights, but if he woke up during the night, he would simply mention Allāh. Nonetheless, I never heard him utter except good things, so when the three nights finished, I almost belittled his deeds (as they were insignificant) and I said to him: `O slave of Allāh! There was not dispute between me and my father or anger, but I heard the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) saying thrice: “A man from the dwellers of Paradise will walk in now” and you walked in all three times, so I wanted to sleep in your place to see what you do in order to imitate you, but I did not see that you exert extra effort in performing any extra deeds. How did you reach such status to deserve what the Prophet  (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said about you?` He replied: `My deeds are nothing more than what you saw` Then when I left, he called me back in and said: `My deeds are nothing more than what you saw, but the only thing I do is that I do not hold any grudge against any Muslim or envy anyone for what bounties Allāh has granted them`; thereupon ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr  (radhiyallāhu‘anhu) said to him: “This difficult quality to obtain is what granted you this rank”.

[This is recorded by Ahmad]

The Keenness of the Salaf to Have Pure Hearts

It is not an easy task for someone to maintain a heart free from spite and hold no grudges against anyone. On the other hand, it is not an impossible mission either, but it could be achieved with training, practice and constant striving.

The companions (radhiyallāhu‘anhu) were very keen to remove any bad feelings from the hearts of their brothers towards them. ` Ibn `Amr Al-Muzani (radiyallāhu‘anhu) reported:

“Abu Sufyan passed by Salman, Suhayb and Bilal and some other Companions (radhiyallāhu‘anhum) (after the conquest of Makkah, when he was still a disbeliever). They said to him: “Did the swords of Allāh not demand their due from the foes of Allāh?'' Abu Bakar (radhiyallāhu‘anhu) said to them: "Do you speak like that to the chief of the Quraish and their master?'' Then he went to the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and related this to him. The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: "O Abu Bakar! Perhaps you have angered them. If it was so, you have angered your Lord”. Abu Bakar (radhiyallāhu‘anhu) rushed back to them and said: "O my brothers! Did I offend you?'' They replied: "No. May Allāh forgive you, brother”?

[This is recorded by Muslim]

This proves that a person must rush to amends and apologize for their actions, if he fears that a fellow Muslim or others was offended or his feelings were hurt, and to make sure his brother’s heart remains pure towards him. The one who is being apologized to must then accept without delay and comfort his brother, and assure him that he is not holding any grudge against him and supplicate for him as the companions did with Abu Bakar  (radhiyallāhu‘anhu) all.

On another situation people went to visit Abu Dujanah (radiyallāhu‘anhu) when he was critically sick on the verge of his death, but they saw him happy with radiant face; they asked him about the reason, to which he (radiyallāhu‘anhu) replied:

“I have two things I subscribed in my life; one is that I never interfered in that which did not concern me, and the second is that I always had a pure heart, free from spite towards my fellow Muslims”.

Imam Ibn Taimiyyah, (rahimahullāh), was another great example. Some people of knowledge of his time who envied him, spoke ill of him to the Caliph who commanded him to be imprisoned; yet while he was in prison he, may Allāh mercy upon him, sent a letter to his students saying: “You know very well that I do not like to see anyone from the common Muslims getting hurt because of me, let alone the people of knowledge. People are three types: one who strives to do what is correct but fails, and such will be rewarded for striving to do what is right and will be pardoned for failing as he tried; another is one who strives to do what is correct and succeeds, and such will be rewarded twice, once for striving to do what is right and another for achieving such a goal; the third type is a person who is a sinner, and we ask Allāh to forgive him. I will not forgive any of you if you start talking about anyone who was the cause of my imprisonment”. Not only that, but Allāh Willed that Sultan An-Nasir became the Caliph and wanted to take revenge from the people who were the cause of his imprisonment, but Imam Ibn Taimiyyah, (rahimahullāh), refused and continued to talk to the Caliph and admonish him about the quality of forgiveness and tolerance, until he changed his mind and let them go unharmed.

Jabir (radiyallāhu‘anhu) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) saying: “The devil has despaired of being worshipped by those who engage in prayer in the Arabian Peninsula but (has not lost hope) in creating dissension among them.” [This is recorded by Muslim] This was a statement made by the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) while addressing the companions (radhiyallāhu‘anhum). Satan strives very hard to instill spite in the hearts of the believers towards one another; hence, we must avoid anything that could be the means or cause of enmity or spite. We must know that Satan is the source of spite and envy.

Moreover, spite, dispute and envy are the reasons for one’s good deeds being rejected.

Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu‘anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“People's deeds are presented before Allāh on Mondays and Thursdays, and then every slave (of Allāh) is granted forgiveness (of minor sins) if he does not associate anything with Allāh in worship. But the person in whose heart there is rancour against his brother, will not be pardoned. With regard to them, it is said twice: `Hold these two until they are reconciled`. `Hold these two until they are reconciled`”

[This is recorded by Muslim]

In fact, this was the reason why the exact night on which the night of Al-Qadar falls was not disclosed to the people.

The matter is even graver than this, as indicated in the following narration. Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu‘anhu) said that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“It is not lawful for a Muslim to forsake his (Muslim) brother beyond three days; and whosoever does so for more than three days, and then dies, will certainly enter the Hell.”

[This is recorded by Abu Dawud]

We ask Allāh to purify our hearts from spite and grudges.

Spiteful Hearts

One of the main things that lead to having a spiteful heart is backbiting and tale bearing. These two evil qualities often result in hatred and severing of ties amongst people. Therefore, a Muslim must control his tongue and not allow him to talk about others, backbite or slander them.

Some people refrain from eating certain types of meat before ascertaining their permissibility, yet they have no problems eating the flesh of their fellow Muslim. Allāh Says:

And do not backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would detest it”

[Al-Hujurat, 49: 12]

Another matter that results in spite is disputes and arguments, thus people must beware of this bad quality. People can hold different opinions but do not have to become enemies due to this. Yusuf As-Sadafi (rahimahullāh) said: “I never saw anyone wiser than Imam Ash-Shafi’e (rahimahullāh), I argued with him once about a matter but we could not come to an agreement, so when he saw me later, he took hold of my hand and said: `O Abu Musa! Can’t we disagree and remain brothers? `” Prejudice and partiality -- whether to one’s opinion, a group or a person -- also lead to spite creeping into the heart.

Competing over worldly matters results in spite in most cases; this is why Islam forbade a person from attempting to buy something that his Muslim brother has already started negotiating about, or proposing to a woman who a fellow Muslim has approached earlier. The reason for this is that Islam tries to prevent all the possible reasons that could engender spite and hatred.

The zeal of attaining high posts and positions makes a person envious; Al-Fudhayl Ibn ‘Iyadh said: “Striving to reach high posts and positions and leadership makes people envious and leads them to transgressing other people’s rights.”

There is another matter that people neglect, which has a direct connection to this issue: straightening the rows during prayer. Nu`man Ibn Basher (radiyallāhu‘anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

“Straighten your rows (during prayer) or Allāh would create dissension amongst you”.

[This is recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Joking too much with people and two people talking in seclusion in the presence of a third are more reasons for spite amongst Muslims, which we must be careful to avoid.

There are certain things a person can do to prevent spite and spread love instead, like supplicating for others and giving them gifts.

Finally, we must differentiate between being kind hearted and simple minded and naive. Not knowing what is plotted against you is not being kind, as this could make a person fall in the trap of others, like those who propagate drugs and immorality. Many people have been dragged into drugs, immorality and other harmful habits due to their naïveté.

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullāh) stated: "Recognizing the evil and not indulging in it is not the same as being naïve".

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

[Via Islam Web published November 5, 2007]

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