Yemen and Nasihah

I. Ibn Mas’ud narrates that the Prophet pointed towards Yemen and said, “Lo! Faith (resides) there;1 while coarseness and hardness of heart is in the desert dwellers,2 by the (shouts at the) tails of the camels (as they drive them), where the sun rises: in (the tribes of) Rabi’ah and Mudar”3

~ (Muslim, Kitab al-Iman, no. 190)


1. According to another report, the Prophet asked ‘Uyayna b. Hisn, “Who are the best of the people?” He replied, “Those of Najad.” The Prophet reacted sharply, “You spoke a lie. Rather, they are the Yemenis. Faith is Yemeni.” (Note taken from hadith no. 193).

2. The textual word is “faddadin.” The word carries a variety of connotations. Desert dwellers, cattle rearers, camel-owners, those who look down upon the people, proud people, very sexual, etc. are the various meanings hidden in it, and, it is possible that all these characteristics have been alluded to.

3. That is, coarseness and hard-heatedness is to be found in the cattle-rearing, desert-dwelling people of the tribes Rabi’ah and Mudar that inhabited the Najad area at the time of the Prophet. However, as Qadi Ayad has said (in notes under hadith 194), the allusion is to the area East of Hejaz, where, at the time of the Prophet the two tribes Mudar and Rab’ah lived. Both the tribes were bitterly opposed to the Prophet. Other ahadith of this type lead us to believe that this is the area, probably also covering parts of Iraq and Iran from where various seditions, upheavels and tribulations will arise culminating in the appearance of Dajjal.

II. Abu Hurayrah reports the Prophet as having remarked, “The people of Yemen have come to you.1 They are most mild of heart, and softest of it.2 Understanding3 is Yemeni and Wisdom is Yemeni.”4                           

~ (Muslim, Kitab al-Iman, no. 193).


1. Some scholars have tried to explain the word “people of Yemen” as meaning the Ansar, since they were originally from Yemen. Others have explained it as alluding to the people of Makkah and Madinah. But, as Ibn al-Salah and others have pointed out, since the statement was issued at a time when a group of Yemenis had reported to the Prophet, any other explanation is out of the question. The words are clear, “the people of Yemen have come to you.”

Some others have tried to explain that the words of praise applied to the particular group of Yemenis that had appeared before the Prophet then, and not to all, of all times. But, the fact is, we have always found that the people of South, the Yemenis, a softhearted people, as against the northerners in whom one can find coarseness and hard-heartedness, as in fact, pointed out by the Prophet himself in other reports.

There are reports in Bukhari, Ahmed, and others that confirm that it was the people of Yemen that the Prophet meant.

2. Faith has variety of aspects and reveals various hues: all of them praiseworthy, though not all equal in rewards. For e.g., in Abu Bakr’s faith the hue of love and care of the Ummah was predominant, Umar’s had the uncompromising attitude in religious affairs as the predominant colour, in ‘Uthman it was modesty (haya’) that was predominant, in ‘Ali it was the sense of justice, in Abu ‘Ubaydah it was trustworthiness, in Abu Dharr it was the hue of asceticism and truthfulness that was predominant. It is in this light that we have to understand the qualities attributed to the people of Yemen: these are the hues or traits that are predominant in their faith. That is why the Prophet contrasted them with the hard-heartedness of the people of Najad. It does not imply however that these traits were the speciality of the Yemenis, none sharing them with them. In fact, on the whole, the Immigrants and Ansar were superior to them endowed with a variety of qualities that go to make up a high quality faith.

3. The allusion is to the understanding of Islam. (It apparently means that the Yemenis have been bestowed with special faculties for the understanding of Islam; just as some people are good at Mathematics, others at computer programming, etc.: Au.).

4. There are many opinions about what constitutes “hikmah.” Abu Bakr b. Durayd has said, “In sum, any word that admonishes you, or instills fear in you, or prompts you to a noble deed, or prevents you from committing an indecency, is the word of wisdom.”

III. Tamim al-Dari reported the Prophet as having said, “Religion is (the name of) Nasihah.” 1 We asked, “For whom?” He replied, “For Allah, His Book, His Messengers, leaders of the Muslims, and for the common Muslims.”                                                                                                                                                                              

                                                                                                                                                 ~ (Muslim, Kitab al-Iman, no. 205)


1. It doesn’t mean, Nasihah is everything. Rather, what is meant is that Nasihah is a very important part of our religion.

2. As regards the linguistic meaning of Nasihah, it is: being true, sincere, pure, wishing well, etc. The word is derived from Nasahah, which was used for purification of honey from adulteration. Another connotation is to sew and repair. Hence, “Tawbatu al-Nasuh“, i.e., the repentance that sews after the sin had torn the individual.

What is the implication of the word “Nasahu“? Qurtubi has said that “Nasihah” implies freedom of a deed from any deception. Hence “Tawbatu al-Nasuh” of the Qur’an (66: 8). In the hadith, under discussion Nasihah for Allah has been explained as to believe in His Oneness, attributing to Him the Attributes of Lordship and declaring Him free of any defect. It would include hastening up to act according to His commands and eschewing those deeds that evoke His anger. “Nasihah” for the Messenger would mean belief in his Messengership, obeying him in all affairs, loving him and his kinsfolk, befriending his friends and considering his enemy as one’s own enemy, respecting him and his Sunnah, and reviving them after his death.

Nasihah” for Allah’s Book would imply studying, understanding, and living in accordance with it. “Nasihah” for the leaders would mean not revolting against them, guiding them to what is right, obeying them and reminding them about their duties toward the Muslims. And “Nasihah” for the Muslims, in general, would mean to look after their interests, supplicate for them, and love the pious among them.

IV. Jarir1 says, “I pledged my hand to the Prophet of Allah on: establishment of Prayers, payment of Zakah and Nasihah for every Muslims”2

               ~ (Muslim, Kitab al-Iman, no. 208)


1. He came to the Prophet in the tenth year after Hijrah in Ramadan, pledged his hand on Islam, and, as the report goes, died 40 days before the Prophet. He was so beautiful that they used to call him the Yusuf of this Ummah.

2. It is reported of the narrator Jarir that when he entered into a deal (most of which were conducted on barter basis), he would say to the other man, “Look! What we have given you in exchange is less dearer to us than what we have taken from you. So, think over it.” Tabrani has it in his biography that once his slave bought for him a horse for 300. He caught up with the seller and told him, “Look man! Your horse is worth more than 300.” He kept pressing the seller until he got the price increased to 800.

V. Ibn Abi Bakarah reported from his father, he said, “We were with the Prophet. He said, ‘May I not tell you about the greatest of the major sins?’1 – he said that three times – ‘Suggesting partners unto Allah, misbehaving with the parents, killing a soul that Allah has forbidden unless by right, devouring an orphan’s property, devouring interest and usury, fleeing (from the battle-field) when the battle is raging, and false oath.'”

               ~ (Muslim, Kitab al-Iman, No. 269)


1. Ibn ‘Abbas was asked, “Are major sins seven?” He retorted, “They are seventy.” As regards what are the major sins there are various opinions. Qadi Ayad has reported the opinion of the majority that committing every prohibited act is a major sin, considering Allah’s greatness (and man’s littleness). However, the opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas is that everything that Allah forbid (in His Book) is a major sin. Ghazali has stated that every sin that one commits without the fear of Allah, and not followed by remorse is a major sin. Nawawi has reported the scholars’ opinion that insistence on a sin, of whatever nature, even if minor, renders it major. Ibn Qayyim has said, “Every sin that man thinks minor is major with Allah, and every sin that he considers major is minor with Allah.” He quotes a poetical piece to bring out another point: what counts is, who the sinner is. The poetical piece says,

“Let not a man of rank take easy a minor error.
The laity may have good reasons for it.”

Major sins of a minor person are minor. But minor sins of a man of rank are major.” Yet others have said that sins against man are major. That is because, Allah will not forgive them, rather, will let them settle the score between themselves on the Day of Judgement. Tabrani has a hadith, which says, “In Allah’s consideration, transgression will be, on the Day of Judgement, three kinds. A kind that He will never forgive. This one is to declare partners unto Allah. He recited, ‘Allah will never forgive that He be associated with.’ Another kind is one wherewith Allah will not interfere. These are wrongs done by the people to each other. A third kind is of no great importance to Allah. It is man’s transgression against himself or against Allah.” (In other words, since Allah will not interfere with the people’s wrongs to each other, they become major sins: Au.).

Malik b. Mighwal had another shade of meaning to add. He said, “The sins of the Ahl al-Bid`ah are major, while the sins of the Ahl al-Sunnah are minor.” Ibn ‘Abdus Salam has said that once understood what major and minor sins are, one might work out their gravity. Now, whatever is as grievous as the major sins, whether mentioned or not in the Qur’an and Sunnah, is a major sin. For e.g., insulting the Prophet, or, throwing the Qur’an into the dustbin, or, holding a Muslim so that someone could murder him, are major sins, although not mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadith.

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