Knowledge and Deeds, Not a King, Side Effects

Issue 983 » January 26, 2018 - Jumada al-Awwal 9, 1439

Living The Quran

Knowledge and Deeds
Al-Nisa (The Women) Sura 4: Verse 69

"He who obeys Allah and the Messenger - such shall be with those whom Allah has favoured - the Prophets, those steadfast in truthfulness, the martyrs, and the righteous. How excellent will they be for companions."

This is one of the most comforting passages for believers who are engaged in their ordinary business of this world. If they have Faith and conduct their lives in accordance with Divine Guidance they will be in the company of the most august assembly. They will ascend to the top and will achieve glory of the highest rank!

Nimah is derived from the root N.'.M meaning to be prosperous, to be affluent or to flourish, to bloom or to be luxuriant, to be lush. Thus, it signifies the Grace, the Blessings and the Favours that Allah has bestowed on His obedient servants.

The Nimah that is mentioned here is neither wealth nor material prosperity, for these favours can be enjoyed by non-believers and tyrants as well. Nimah instead refers to the real happiness and contentment of hearts. Allah has endowed this Nimah in two ways: one by the provision of Ilm (knowledge) and the other by al-Aml al-Salihah (righteous deeds). All four categories of people mentioned in the verse above are the embodiment of Ilm and Amal. Thus, they are the ones who are on the path of righteousness.

Compiled From:
"Treasures of the Qur'an: Surah al-Fatihah to Surah al-Mai'dah" - Abdur Rashid Siddiqui

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Not a King

Meeting someone in authority may not be easy for some people, particularly those who are conscious of their weakness in society. The Prophet (peace be upon him) wanted to ensure that no one should feel apprehensive when meeting him. Although his position as God's Messenger was far more important than that of any king or head of state, he kept a cheerful disposition, so that anyone speaking to him could put their case clearly. Nevertheless, some people did not feel easy when speaking to him, and he tried hard to reassure them. Abu Masud al-Badri reports that a man was shaking hard when he spoke to the Prophet. The Prophet said to him: "Easy, easy! I am not a king. I am the son of a woman who used to eat dried and salted meat." (Ibn Majah and al-Hakim.) The Prophet gave the frightened man a graphic picture of the Prophet's own mother as an ordinary poor person who had to rely on the simplest type of food for her living. (People who could not afford meat all the time used to preserve what they could have by drying and salting it.)

Compiled From:
"Muhammad: His Character and Conduct" - Adil Salahi


Side Effects

One of the first systematic attempts to set the hadiths down in writing was made by Caliphs Abd al-Aziz ibn Marwan (d. 86 ah/705 ce) and Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz (d. 101 ah/740 ce) - his son - together with the jurists of their day. Noting the numerous disputes that had arisen over where religious authority lay, these men sought to adopt the Sunnah as a substitute for the various juristic schools of thought. Abd al-Aziz and his son Umar believed that if they collected all hadiths relating the words and deeds of the Prophet and placed them in people's hands alongside the Quran as the means of elucidating the Quran's meanings and how they were to be applied, this would prevent Muslims from dividing themselves into sects, schools, factions and denominations.

As Caliphs Abd al-Aziz and his son Umar viewed things, the purpose behind the collection of narratives about the Prophet's life was not to create a corpus of additional or autonomous legislative evidence that would stand alongside the Quran, since the Quran's relationship to the Sunnah was such that it would not have allowed for this kind of understanding. However even the best of medicines can have unwanted side effects, and the side effect that accompanied the collection of oral narratives was that - just as the leaders of the first Muslim generation had feared and cautioned against - people became so preoccupied with these narratives that they lost their focus on the Quran. It was for fear of this eventuality that the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, had hesitated to collect hadiths, and that Umar ibn al-Khattab, soon after collecting a number of hadiths, had them erased.

Compiled From:
"Reviving The Balance: The Authority of the Qur'an and the Status of the Sunnah" - Taha Jabir Alalwani, p. 98