Monday, 11 October 2010
Allah, The Sublime, Who Has Created Us Understands Our Frail Nature
Perfect Example Of Moderation To His Followers
Moderation in religion means following the example of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Exaggeration means trying to do more than he did, and negligence means not reaching that level.
Muhammad (Salla Allah Alai Wasallam) was a perfect example of moderation to his followers and whole humanity in every walk of life. He advised them to spend within their means, neither to be so lavish as to make them destitute, nor to hold back their wealth from those who had a claim on their resources.
"Do not hold back altogether out of miserliness and render yourselves blame worthy, nor spend without restraint and exhaust your wealth, thus becoming yourself destitute"(17:29).
He gave mankind the golden rule of moderation between the two extremes of lavish expenditure and miserliness. He taught, by his own example, the same rule of moderation in eating, in dressing, in worship etc.
Abdullah bin Umar al-Aas said that once he decided to engage himself in worship all the time, to fast during the day and to read the Quran during whole night. His father married him to a young woman. Once his father asked his wife about him, and she replied; "He is a very pious man and never comes to his bed for sleep nor keep any relationship with anyone." His father became very angry with him and said that he had married him to a very gentle woman and that he had kept her in suspense all this time. But in his enthusiasm for worship, he did not take notice of this.
His father complained to God s' messenger Muhammad (Salla Allah Alai Wasallam), who said to him,” I have heard that you fast during the day and pray all night. Then, God s' messenger said ,"Don't do that, but instead fast sometimes and eat sometimes; pray during the night and sleep as well, for your body has a claim on you; your eyes have a claim on you; lack of sleep will weaken them; your wife and children and relatives have a claim on you too.
We can easily understand how Muhammad (Salla Allah Alai Wasallam) preached moderation and surely he was himself a perfect example for that.
For example, a man says, “I want to spend all night in prayer (Qiyam al-layl), and never sleep all my life, because prayer is one of the best acts of worship, so I want to spend the entire night in prayer.” We say, this is going to extremes in the religion of Allah, and this is not right. Something like this happened at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), when a group of men got together and one of them said, “I will pray at night and never sleep.” Another said, “I will fast and never break my fast.” The third one said, “I will never marry women.” News of that reached the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he said, “What is wrong with people who say such and such? I fast and I break my fast. I sleep, and I marry women. Whoever overlooks my Sunnah does not belong to me.” These people had gone to extremes in religion, and so the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) disowned them, because they overlooked his Sunnah which includes fasting and not fasting, praying at night and sleeping, and marrying women.
The one who is falling short is one who says, “I do not need to do voluntary (nafil) actions, so I will not do them. I will only do the fard actions. He may even be falling short in the fard actions, so this person is lacking.
The moderate person is one who follows the path of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his rightly-guided successors (al-Khulafa’ al-Rashidon).
This hadith teaches us something very significant about our human nature.
Allah, the Sublime, who has created us understands our frail nature and does not impose on us a greater burden than that which we can bear.
Here is another example: three men are faced with an immoral man. One of them says, “I will not greet this immoral man and I will boycott him, keep away from him and not speak to him.”
The second one says, “I will go with this immoral man, greet him and smile at him. I will invite him to my place and accept his invitation. He is just like any righteous man to me.”
The third one says, “I hate this but I love him for his faith. I will not boycott him unless doing so is in his best interests. If there is nothing to be gained by boycotting him, and if that will only increase him in his immorality, then I will not boycott him.”
We say that the first man is going to extremes, the second is negligent and the third is moderate.
The same applies to all other acts of worship and dealings with others. People vary between extremism, negligence and moderation.
A third example: A man is a prisoner of his wife, who directs him as she wishes and he does not stop her from committing sin, or urge her to do good. She has taken over his reason and has become the one who is in charge of him.
Another man treats his wife in a harsh, arrogant and high-handed manner. He does not care about her and regards her as less than a servant.
A third man is moderate in his dealings with his wife, as Allah and His Messenger commanded.
“And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable”
[Al-Baqarah 2:228 – interpretation of the meaning]
[The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:] “Let no believing man hate a believing woman. If he dislikes one of her characteristics he will be pleased with another.”
This last man is the one who is moderate. The second one is extreme in his dealings with his wife, and the first is falling short.
The same applies to all other deeds and acts of worship.
The Glorious Quran repeatedly exhorts Muslims to follow the path of moderation (ummatan wasatan), and censures these whose disposition is towards excesses in acts of devotion. For this tendency: results in unnecessary hardships for human beings. Allah’s commands in this regard are very explicit:
Allah desires ease for you, and he does not desire hardship for you.
(Surah al-Baqarah; 2:185)
Allah desires to lighten your burden, for the human being was created weak. (Surah al-Nisa 4:28)
It is not Allah’s desire to place a religious burden upon you.
(Surah al-Hajj 22:78)
Allah, knows that it is impossible for the human being and against his or her spiritual development and well being to fast for the entire year and keep one’s devotions at the same high level as that during the month of Ramadan, so through the wise words his beloved Prophet Allah is asking us only, if you will, to live up to twenty percent of the commitment we have given during the month of Ramadan.
And this off course differs from individual to individual but the principle applies.
For example :Our devotion and spirituality cannot be the same during month of Ramadan as it is during other months and in fact in varies from time to time.
This is an important lesson that sometimes eludes Muslims and we ignore this lesson at our own peril.
I would like to support this view of Islam being a religion of moderation by providing clear evidence from the life of the illustrious companions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
.Anas R.A. reported God s' messenger as Saying, "Don't be too cruel to yourself, certain nations adopted severity towards themselves so God punished them. You can see their remnants in churches and monasteries." Muhammad ((Peace be on him)) forbade asceticism and renunciation of the normal pleasures of life, nor did he like perpetual and formal prayers in isolation. He told the peoples to live the normal lives of ordinary human beings, for service to God was done through pure lives in the turmoil of this world. He wanted man to mix with other men, so that they could discipline themselves and learn resistance to evil and uphold the standard of truth and justice against heavy odds, wherever necessary.
Muhammad (Salla Allah Alai Wasallam) upheld the principles of truth and justice in his private and as well as public life and always abstained from the extremes of life. All his life in Makkah as an ordinary Trader and in Madinah as a Ruler, he led a simple life, avoiding extremes and taught mankind by his personal example to live a similarly moderate life.
The Companions of the Prophet (peace be on him) attained great spiritual heights.
Some of them incorrectly believed that in order to remain at such a spiritual level they should always be serious, engaged in constant worship, turning their backs on all the enjoyments of life and the good things of the world, neither playing nor relaxing but keeping their eyes and their minds fixed on the Hereafter and its concerns, away from common life and its amusements.
Let us listen to what the great Companion and scribe of the Prophet (peace be on him), Hanzalah al-Saudi, had to say about this challenge of moderation:
Abu Bakr R.A. met me and asked, 'How are you, Hanzalah?' I replied, 'Hanzalah has become a hypocrite.' He said, 'Subhanallah! What are you saying?'
I replied, 'When we are with Allah's Messenger (peace be on him), he mentions the Fire and the Garden until it is as if we can see them. But when we leave the Prophet's company and play with our wives and children or busy ourselves with our properties, we forget much.'
Abu Bakr R.A. said, 'By Allah, I have experienced the same thing.'
He and I then went to visit the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him), and I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, Hanzalah has become a hypocrite.' He asked, 'And how is that?
‘I replied, 'O Messenger of Allah, when we are with you, you talk about the Fire and the Garden until it is as if we can see them. Then we go out and play with our wives and children and deal with our properties, and we forget much.'
The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) then said,
'By Him in Whose hand is my soul, if you were to continue at the same level at which you were when with me and in remembering Allah, the angels would shake hands with you when you are resting and when you walk about, but, O Hanzalah, there is a time (for this) and a time (for that).' He repeated this phrase three times. (Muslim.)
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