The Signs of a Believer

1. Abu Musa reported the Prophet as having said: “A believer eats into a single stomach while an unbeliever eats into seven stomachs.” (Hakim, on the criteria set by Bukhari and Muslim)

Commentary

That’s the way of life of a believer: he partakes little of the pleasentries of this world, indulging therein as little as possible; whereas the gaze of the unbelievers is fixed upon this world.” (Al-Sindi in Ibn Majah’s commentary)

Abu Hurayrah gives us the background story: There was a man who used to eat a lot. He became a Muslim. Thereafter he was found eating much less. This was reported to the Prophet. He made this remark: “A believer eats into a single stomach while an unbeliever eats into seven stomachs.” (Mirqah)

The true interpretation is not that an unbeliever has larger stomach when compared to a believer. Qadi has said that the meaning then is that a believer is less fond of food, enjoys barakah in his food and drink and so is satisfied with little. On the other hand an unbeliever is greedy leading a life that has eating and drinking as the main objective of life, a life of animals. This is the gist of meaning that can be derived from the hadith. (Mirqah)

Another explanation offered by Nawawi is that a believer names Allah before starting to each which prevents Shaytan from participating, while an unbeliever doesn’t do that so Shaytan feeds himself along with him. Suyuti has also shares this opinion. (Mirqah, `Umdatu al-Qari, Fayd al-Qadir)

To explain why when someone, a Muslim, ate a lot before Ibn `Umar he said, “Let not this man enter on me,” and then quoted the hadith in question is that to eat a lot is a characteristic of an believer, and Ibn `Umar did not wish to associate with somebody who bore the characteristics of an unbeliever. (Mirqah from Nawawi)

A second background story offered by Abu Hurayra is that once an unbeliever was the Prophet’s guest. He asked a goat to be milked for the guest. The guest drank off all of it. The Prophet ordered another goat to be milked. The man drank off that too. So, another was ordered to be milked, until the man drank off the milk of seven goats. (After some time) the man became a Muslim. The Prophet ordered a goat to be milked, but the man was unable to drink the whole. It was then that the Prophet remarked: “A believer eats into a single stomach while an unbeliever eats into seven stomachs.” (Mirqah)

The rule is general. It cannot be applied to specific cases. There can be a believer, who, of habit, may eat a lot while there can be an unbeliever who is used to eating little either dieting for good health, e.g. doctors, or monks, or because he has a weak stomach. (`Umdatu al-Qari)

2. On the authority of ibn `Umar, the Prophet said: “A believer who interacts with the common people and bears the inconveniences they cause, is of greater reward than a believer who does not interact with them, and does not show patience in the face of inconveniences caused by them. (Ibn Majah: Sahih)

3. While Ibn `Umar was going round the Ka`bah a man caught up with him and said: “O Abu `Abdul Rahman, what was it that you heard the Prophet speaking about “the Whisper?” He answered, “A believer will be brought nigh to his Lord as if he is a kid (the young one of a sheep: Au.). Then He will cover him up fully and then whisper, “Do you recount (this sin)?” He will say, “Yes my Lord, I do recount.” Then He (Allah) will ask, “Do you recount (this sin)?” He will say, “Yes my Lord, I do recount.” He will say thereat, “I concealed them (from the people) in the world, today I forgive them.” Then he will be handed over the Book of his good deeds. As for the unbelievers and the hypocrites, it will be announced between the people, “These are a people who fastened a lie upon their Lord. Lo! Allah’s curse may settle upon the wrong-doers (Hud: 18).”

4.  On the authority of Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet said, “This world is a prison for the believer, and Paradise for the unbeliever.” (Muslim)

5. `Abdullah ibn `Amr al-`Aasi says he heard the Prophet asking, “Do you know who is a Muslim?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “He from whose tongue and hands Muslims feel safe.” Then he asked, “Do you know who is a Mu’min?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “He from whom believers feel safe regarding their selves and wealth. And a migrant is one who migrated away from evil and steered himself away from it.” (Ahmad – Sahih)