Selected Ahadith on Piety – 2

1. Abu Salamah (ra) says once `Ayesha (ra) said: “Sometimes a month would pass over the household of the Prophet (saws) during which smoke would not have risen from any of his homes.” I asked her: “What did they eat then?” She said: “The two dark commodities: dates and water, save that our Ansar neighbors – and they were true neighbors – sometimes sent him milk of goats that they reared in their houses.”


A’isha (ra) used the word “dark” to describe dates and water because in those day water from the wells used to be brackish and appeared dark in a jug.

2. Qays b. Hazim says Abu Bakr (ra) said: “O People! You (do not understand the meaning when you) recite the verse, `O Muslims. Take care of yourself. He who remains misguided will do you no harm so long as you are properly guided (5: 105).”i (You probably think that you bear no responsibility if you do nothing about evil being perpetrated. Whereas the fact is), I have heard the Prophet (saws) say, `When people see a transgressor committing evil deeds, but do not restrain him then it is likely that Allah (swt) will send a punishment common to all.’”ii


i. What the verse Abu Bakr (ra) quoted means to say is that when you have done what should be done within the means available to you to stop the evil-doers from spreading their evils, then their persistence on the wrong is not going to harm you. Therefore, watch yourselves.

ii. Elsewhere Tirmidhi has said that this is a sahih hadith. Bukhari and Ibn Hibban have also recorded this hadith.

3. Hudhayfa b. al-Yaman has reported the Prophet (saws) as having said: “By Him in whose Hands is my life, you will either enjoin good and forbid evil or Allah (swt) will send punishments on you at which you’d pray but your prayer will not be answered.

4. Abu Sa`eed al-Khudri has reported the Prophet (saws) as having said: “He who saw an evil may stop it with his hands. If he cannot then with his tongue. And if cannot then with his heart. And that is the weakest of iman.” i&ii


i. One meaning of being the weakest of iman is that that is the weakest state of iman. Another possible meaning is that such a man’s iman is the weakest of his time. Nawawi has stated another possible meaning, which is that such iman is the weakest in its effects and influence.

ii. The hadith is also in Muslim

5. Nu`man b. Bashir says the Prophet (saws) said: “The example of him who enjoins virtue and forbids evil and him who neglects, is that of a people in a ship in ariveri who divided its various decks and portions among themselves by lot,ii some occupying the upper deck and others the lower. Those in the lower deck take their water from those in the upper deck. Then those in the upper deck said: `We can’t let you keep coming up and bothering us.’ So those that were in the lower deck said: `In that case, we shall make a hole in the bottom and get our water through it.’iii Now if those (in the upper deck) hold them back they both will be saved. But if they let them do what they want, both will sink.”iv


i. The Prophet (saws) used the word ‘bahar’ which is basically a large collection of water. Further, it is a river that one can get sweet water from. Hence, my rendering.

ii. The words “by lot” throw a subtle hint at the fact that those at the upper deck weren’t there because of a virtue. Rather, by chance or, we may say circumstance put them there. The results of lots were of course dictated by Allah (swt). Therefore, if they act superior, it is only out of vanity.

iii. Another subtle meaning seems to be hidden in these words. That those in the lower deck go up to get their share of water is indicative of the fact that the water up there belongs to no one. All must share it, in equity measures. But if those in the upper strata of the society don’t, and refuse to share the surplus (preferring to throw it to the dogs or into the waste baskets) then the “have-nots” in the lower deck are left with no option but to criminally resort to making a hole in the economy. Whose fault is the resultant chaos? Everyone’s. And they all sink.

iv. The hadith is also in Bukhari.


(To be Continued)

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