Understanding The Prophet's Life
From Issue: 1020 [Read full issue]
At times, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was very specific, singling out a very simple, ordinary action and describing it as a charitable act or even something that leads to heaven:
Abu Barzah al-Aslami reports: 'I said: "Messenger of God, indicate to me an action which will admit me to heaven". He said: "Remove offensive objects from people's path".' [Ahmad, Muslim, Ibn Majah]
The Arabic word adha, translated as 'offensive objects', includes anything which causes harm or disgust. No one would imagine that the removal of such objects from people's pathway was an action that earns very high reward. The Prophet's statement shows that it does. It is a commendable, social deed which reflects genuine concern about the welfare of the community. Hence, its reward is high in relation to the simplicity of the action itself. However, it should be pointed out that, by itself, such an action is not enough to take any person into heaven. Its reward is high when the doer is a good believer who does not hesitate to undertake any action which serves the cause of Islam when he is required to do so. Abu Barzah, who put the question to the Prophet, was a man who fought with the Prophet on seven occasions, a fact that reflects his readiness to sacrifice his life for the cause of Islam. Hence, the Prophet's answer indicated an action which might be classified under the finer manners of Muslims.
The Prophet praised the same action on more than one occasion:
Abu Hurayrah reports that the Prophet said: 'A man found a branch of a thorny tree in a lane. He said: "I will remove this thorny branch, lest it should harm a Muslim". [For this action] he was granted forgiveness of his sins'.[Bukhari, Muslim]
The Prophet's statement and the incident itself stress the social aspect in this simple action of removing an offensive object from people's pathways. When such an action comes to a person naturally, they reflect a keen sense of social responsibility. It is this sense that makes a person undertake the trouble of removing dirt and other offensive objects when it is not his duty to do so.
"Al-Adab al-Mufrad with Full Commentary: A Perfect Code of Manners and Morality" - Adil Salahi