A True Believer
1. ‘Amr b. ‘Abasa says I asked the Prophet (saws): ‘Messenger of Allah. What is Islam?’ He said: ‘Kind words and feeding the poor.’ I asked him: ‘What is Iman?’ He replied: ‘Patience and Forgiveness.’ I asked him: ‘What Islam is the best?’ He said: ‘His, from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are at peace.’ Then I asked him: ‘And what Iman is the best?’ He replied: ‘Good manners.’ I asked him: ‘What Prayers are the best?’ He said: ‘That in which you stand for a long while.’ I asked him: ‘And what emigration?’ He said: ‘That you should give up what your Lord disapproves of.’ I asked him, ‘What Jihad is the best?’ He answered: ‘His, whose horse dies while his own blood flows.’ And then I asked him: ‘What moments are the best (for Prayers and Supplications)?’ He replied: ‘Middle of the night.’ (Ahmed)
2. Abdullah b. ‘Amr b. al-‘Aas (ra) says he heard the Prophet (saws) say: “By Him in whose hand is my life, the likeness of a faithful (mu’min) is like a piece of gold which his owner heated up and melted but it did not change (in its colour) nor did it get reduced (in weight because of loss of impurities in it). And by Him in whose hand is my life, the likeness of a believer is like a bee which partook the pure and laid down the pure, which, when it perched on a branch neither broke it nor harmed it (in any way).” (Ahmed)
That is to say, a true believer is pure and tested. If he glitters from outside, he also glitters from inside. He is very much unlike the modern man whose appearance is beautiful – he is impeccably dressed, pretty to look at, smart to talk to and noble in his gestures. But this is only his external appearance. Inwardly he is cunning, greedy, dishonest, egotist and self-indulgent. These qualities become apparent only when the man is put in a difficult situation: when he doesn’t get what he wants. It is then that he is unable to hide his inner self.
In contrast, the true believer is pure all the way down. He is what he is. He does not bluff his personality through: whatever it may be. He is not a cunning charlatan. He cannot conceal his character, for, straightforwardness is one of his traits. Put him on a severe test and he will come up with the same character that he used to expose in ordinary times. He has no impurities carefully concealed down in his inner self. He is no decoy and he is no Osmand of the “Portrait of a Lady.”
The latter part of the hadith describes another aspect of the believer. What is he in terms of his relationship and dealings with others? Obviously, just like the other type – the subterfuge type – he also needs things of this world. After all he cannot live on rosary. He has his needs like everyone else. But he chooses the best: the nectar – that which is pure and hurts no one when extracted. He doesn’t rob anyone artistically. He does not use others as stepping stones to climb higher up in the social and economic ladder. He does not have to crush the masses, physically or spiritually, through his inhuman system of exploitation in farms and factories. He does not hurt the branch he is perched upon, like the modern man who destroys the social fabric of the very society he lives in, and the ecology of the world causing damage to all life on the planet. He takes just that which will hurt no one and cause no irreparable damage to the resources of the world.
Again, if he works painstakingly to take from the world, he gives back something which is far more valuable: honey, which stands for all the best things that can be imagined. Thus he is an asset to his community and to the world at large.
Thus we see that if the first part of this beautiful hadith describes the character of a believer, the second describes the bearing such a character has on life and society.
3. Abu Hurayrah (ra) says the Prophet (saws) said: “It is the sign of a man’s soundness in Islam that he should give up that which is purposeless. (Ibn Majah, Tirmizi, Baihaqi in Sho`ab al-Iman)
A believer has a purpose in life. In order to achieve this purpose he sets up short and long-term goals and targets for himself. Then he sets his affairs in a way as to realise these. When he has realised a short-term goal, he takes up another, while he continues to work on the long-term purpose. This goes on until he has completed the mission of his life. Now, for him to indulge in purposeless affairs such as watching the T.V., indulging in gossip, etc., is unthinkable. If he does that it will betray that his life is aimless, and that he is no more than a leaf in the winds of circumstances, being flown into incidents of life.
And how is “that which is purposeless” defined? It is simple. What does not have any objective: of either this world or the Hereafter, is purposeless. This includes anything and everything that is not of sure profit. Talking politics, for instance, is of no profit since, by talking we cannot change the world. It will be better for a believer to go and work during the same time, for with the money that he can earn he can help lots of needy people.