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Blessed Prophetic Encounters: a Tearful Rider and a Toiling Wife

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

People feel envy for many reasons, including over those things that they see others possess, which they really covet. Envy, or “حسد” as it is called in the Qur’an, is a disease of the heart that manifests itself in the form of many an ugly behavior and word. Sometimes, the envy results in the person who is being envied to even undergo serious harm.

However, this post is not about envy, or rather, not about the destructive envy that we should all avoid feeling because of the blessings that we see another possess. This post is rather about how Prophet Muhammad [صلى الله عليه وسلم] showed his love and concern for some of his companions. Loving our Prophet and following him is a part of our faith in Allah and the Last Day and a means of gaining Allah’s love:

قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Say: ‘If you love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Oft-Merciful.'” [Qur’an – 3:31]

More than just providing lip service as a testimony of our love for him [صلى الله عليه وسلم], we should focus on ‘walking the talk’, i.e. constantly analyzing ourselves to see whether this love for him that we profess actually makes us emulate him, imitate him, and obey his every command or not, even if this means going against the wishes of our loved ones, our societal norms, or our own desires.

Moreover, this love for the Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم] should also make us feel an intense desire to meet him and see him in person, since one favor that his companions had the privilege of possessing, which we can never even hope to do in this worldly life, is the joy of beholding him in flesh and blood before their eyes, talking to him, and being in his company. Beyond that, of course, is the fortune of the even luckier ones among his companions who were graced with special favors as far as the Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم] was concerned – namely, his close friendship, his counsel for problems, day-to-day guidance, and being related to him through matrimonial ties. Usually, his two friends Abu Bakr and Umar [رضى اللهُ عنهما] are mentioned foremost in this regard. However, there are some other, lesser-mentioned of his companions, who were at the receiving end of his special favor too.

A few ahadith that are narrated below describe this special attention dished out by the Prophet of Allah [صلى الله عليه وسلم] towards two of his companions. Below is the first of those ahadith.

The Messenger of Allah [صلى الله عليه وسلم] said:

“O Mu’adh! By Allah, truly I love you.”

[Abu Dawud, Al Nisa’i, Ibn Hibban, Abu Nu’aym, Ibn Khuzaimah and Al-Hakim, who declared its isnad to be sahih]

The Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم] said these words to his companion Mu’adh Ibn Jabal [رضى الله عنه], whom he eventually sent to Yemen during his life by appointing him as its governor. I cannot describe enough how my heart feels whenever I read this hadith! Can we even imagine the favor that Allah had blessed Mu’adh Ibn Jabal with? Think about it some more: the best man in the eyes of Allah expressing his love for this young man in clear, loving, sincere words, to his face – telling him that he loves him! Could anyone be more fortunate; greater in excellence? Very few, in my opinion.

Below is another hadith in which the love of Allah’s Messenger [صلى الله عليه وسلم] for this young companion of his, is openly evident:

When Allah’s Messenger sent him to Yemen, he went out with him giving him advice, Mu’adh riding and Allah’s Messenger walking beside his riding beast. Then when he finished he said, “Perhaps, Mu’adh, you may not meet me after this year, but perhaps, you may pass this mosque of mine and my grave.” Mu’adh wept from grief over the departure of Allah’s Messenger. The Prophet then turned facing Madinah and said, “Those nearest to me are the pious, whoever they are and whenever they are.” [Mishkat]

As Mu’adh was being sent off to Yemen, he was riding an animal, and the Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم] walked by his side. They both knew that this was the last time they would meet in person. What an emotion-ridden, poignant moment in the lives of two people who loved each other purely for the sake of Allah!

I think it is enough for someone like me to feel a rush of “envy” – if an intense desire for a blessing that is possessed by another can even be labeled ‘envy’ – whenever I read the above ahadith.

First, to have the honor of Allah’s beloved Messenger [صلى الله عليه وسلم] express his love for you in your life, then to have him see you off as you’re going away to a far off place, and then to have him console you that despite being torn apart by the temporary life of this world, if you remain pious, you would still be among those who are “nearest” to him! If we think for a moment that this was the Prophet of Allah [صلى الله عليه وسلم] seeing off Mu’adh like this, we cannot help but feel overwhelmed at the extent of Allah’s favor upon this young companion. May Allah be pleased with him.

The third hadith that fills me with supposed “envy” is the one in which Asma Bint Abi Bakr [رضى الله عنها] quotes her experience of taking care of her husband’s horse in his absence: Imam Bukhari reported in his sahih that Asma bint Abi Bakr [رضى الله عنها] said:

“I got married to Al-Zubayr, and he had no wealth on earth and no slaves, nothing except a camel for bringing water and his horse. I used to feed his horse and bring water, and I used to sew patches on the bucket. I made dough, but I was not good at baking bread, so my (female) neighbors among the ansar used to bake bread for me, and they were sincere women.
I used to bring date pits from Al-Zubayr’s land that the Messenger of Allah had given to him, carrying them on my head. This land was two-thirds of a farsakh away. One day I came carrying the date pits on my head, and I met the Messenger of Allah [صلى الله عليه وسلم], who had a group of the ansar with him. He called me and made his camel kneel down for me to ride behind him, but I felt too shy to go with the men, and I remembered Al-Zubayr and his jealousy, for he was the most jealous of people. The Messenger of Allah realized that I felt shy, so he moved on.
I came to Al-Zubayr and told him, ‘I met the Messenger of Allah when I was carrying date pits on my head, and he had a group of his companions with him. He made his camel kneel down for me to ride with him, but I remembered your jealousy.’
He said, ‘By Allah, it bothers me more that you have to carry the date pits than that you should ride with him.’”
Asma said: “After that, Abu Bakr sent me a servant to take care of the horse, and it was as if I had been liberated from slavery.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, Fath, 9/319]

I know that this hadith of Asma is very well-known, but for another reason – the superiority of this hard-working Muslim wife who willingly toiled hard to serve her husband. There is no doubt that what she did was very praiseworthy, but that is not the point that draws my attention to this hadith.

Rather, what makes me dwell on her good fortune is the fact that our Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم], when he saw her walking alone carrying date pits on her head, stopped in his tracks, made his camel kneel down, and offered her a lift home!

We all know that whatever he did was according to the Haqq, and instead of letting her walk back alone carrying her burden, he stopped to make it easy for her.

The same goes for her “jealous” husband. When he heard of the incident, he immediately regretted his wife having to work so hard to maintain his horse, and expressed his concern for her hard work.

As for her other mahram, her father, when he heard of this incident, he immediately made her hardship easy by giving her a servant to do this manual work for her, so much so that in the words of this humble, hardworking wife and daughter (who probably used to hide the difficulty of her hard toil from not just her husband, but also her father): “…it was as if I was liberated from slavery!”

The kind, benign actions of all the three great Muslim men described in this hadith – the Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم] (the best of men), Al-Zubayr, and Abu Bakr [رضى اللهُ عنهم] – are proof of the fact that, on witnessing or hearing of Asma’s hard work with her husband’s horse, all three either felt concerned or strove to help relieve her of her task. Contrast that to some modern-day Muslim men who shove this hadith in their wives’ faces to remind them about how hard they are supposed to work to serve their husbands!

Regardless, this hadith makes me feel so “envious” of Asma Bint Abi Bakr because she had the honor of having none other than the Prophet of Allah [صلى الله عليه وسلم] stop what he was doing out of concern for her and offer her a ride home on his camel. Let us not forget another key point here that Asma was the daughter of the Prophet’s best friend and close companion, Abu Bakr [رضى اللهُ عنه], and the older sister of his wife, A’ishah. He had close family ties with her, and hence his chivalry becomes even more justified and understandable. Indeed, she is fortunate to not just be honored because of the Prophet’s concern for her, but also because she had the wisdom and innate shyness (haya) to refuse such an honorable and prestigious offer just for the sake of preventing her husband’s jealousy, which is an indication of her lofty taqwa. What a great woman! May Allah be pleased with her.

As for us…we can only hope and pray to Allah that He enables us to love His Messenger [صلى الله عليه وسلم] as he should be loved; to emulate, obey and imitate him over and above anyone else – even over the desires of our own selves. Maybe then we can hope to be counted among those whom he mentioned in a positive light, expressing his desire to meet them, as is clear in the hadith below:

Anas Bin Malik [رضى الله عنه] narrates that the Messenger of Allah [صلى الله عليه وسلم] said: “I wish that I could meet my brothers.” The Companions of the Prophet asked, “Are we not your brothers?” He replied: “You are my Companions, but my brothers are those who will believe in me, without having seen me.” [Musnad Ahmad]

May Allah guide us to love His Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم] so much so that it infuses us with an intense desire to behold him, meet him, and enjoy his company in the Akhirah, guiding us to those righteous actions that can help attain this ultimate culmination of success. Ameen.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan.11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette.Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'.For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Avatar

    AbuMarjaan

    January 26, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    Masha Allah..Beautiful thoughts !

  2. Avatar

    Hena Zuberi

    January 26, 2011 at 1:02 AM

    Ameen- May we be like the Sahabah and earn the love of Habib Allah (SAW). May we be community members, wives, daughters like Asma (RA) so Allah (SWT) give us leaders, husbands, fathers like them.

  3. Avatar

    victoria

    January 26, 2011 at 5:10 AM

    ameen.

  4. Avatar

    Nayma

    January 26, 2011 at 7:29 AM

    Jazak Allahu Khairan for sharing your beautiful thoughts on the hadiths.
    Ameen to your duas

  5. Avatar

    Mezba

    January 26, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Whenever I read the Hadith concerning the incident with Asma bint Abu Bakr, to me it said three things:

    1. Women ARE allowed to work, outside the house.
    2. Men and women who are not mahram of one another ARE allowed to interact.
    3. Husbands and wives should take care of each other’s needs, including respecting their feelings and hardships.

    Compare these lessons to the way I sometimes see women running away at the sight of a non-mahram man, or refuse to talk to one, or use religion to justify their not going to work, and you just have to shake your head.

    • Avatar

      abu Abdullah

      January 26, 2011 at 9:11 AM

      Salamualaikum Mezba.

      I choose to respect difference of opinions among scholars ( and their blind followers) respectfully.

      How would you justify Mariam AS living in her chamber ( Mihrab ) and worshipping Allaah and only to be regarded as epitome of female bashfulness , as confirmed in the Qur’an? Doesn’t word Mihrab comes from root word of Harb, meaning war… which war was Mariam AS ( or any Muslimah chooses to live in the house try to maintain their bashfulness) was waging in that chamber. She was fighting with herself. right? Jihad fi Nafs, the struggle against self. I think that is what is mentioned and valued.

      Its true that for requirement/need its ok to interact with opposite gender in a professional and non sweet language. But imagine the amount of fitna those women reduce by not going outside. Allaah gives us for our efforts right? Because both the efforts and result of those efforts are His dominion and will. Let those who choose to remain in their houses, without showing it off their concern of modesty, like niqabi women has this thing going between jilbabi and themselves and both together has it going with the non hijabi’s. I don’t have a name for this prude behavior but khayr, everyone puts their part and plays their role.

      NAK has a very good lecture contradicting community on youtube, on these interactions.

      No wonder the exemplary hadith of Asma, taught many lessons on spouses nice treatment towards each other. Guys please be grateful to Allaah for your spouses. They put up a lot of crap from you, knowlingly and unknowingly. I could tell you from experience, how much I regret my choices after having lost mine ( actually they stole her from me). Alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli haal.

    • Avatar

      ahlam

      January 26, 2011 at 5:52 PM

      Maybe they run because they all have jealous husbands or are shy like Asma (ra)? Bless them:)

    • Avatar

      M A

      January 16, 2016 at 2:11 PM

      Learn about Your Virtual Cyber Allah in the 21st century, … View website, then submit a message to us, … Thank you, M A.

  6. Avatar

    abu Abdullah

    January 26, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    I am sorry for reading the last hadith in this article now. Some part of my comment above becomes irrelevant part with that explanation, like questioning the later ones having same opportunity in striving in good and reaping same rewards. The hadith Anas Ibn Malik explains it, alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli haal.

    Ameen to your adiyya in the end of this article. I remember someone posted a dua, prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam taught his best friend, Abu Bakr Radi Allahu anhu, About asking Allah to give Imaan that does not fade away , the nia’mah that does finish, and murafaqa with Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam in the Jannah. Ameen.

  7. Avatar

    Ify Okoye

    January 26, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    I remember a few years ago, I was walking home from the masjid, one night after the tarawih and a car with three brothers also coming from the masjid stopped to offer me a lift. I declined because the walk wasn’t far and thought it’d be awkward and in these times maybe a little dangerous for your person and reputation but they insisted and they were most honorable, made sure to give me enough space in the car, dropped off me as promised, and then we exchanged salams.

    • Avatar

      Hello Kitty

      January 26, 2011 at 3:06 PM

      And there’s not a bit of shame to be felt for accepting the kindness of those semi-strangers.

      One thing I’ve always wondered about this hadith-did these events take place after Asma’s sister Aisha, married to our beloved Prophet, accepted the help of Safw’an bin Mu’attal? There is no woman more exemplary in behavior than Aisha-she’s an example to all Muslim women. Nor is there any man more exemplary in behavior than our beloved prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. None whatsoever. Yet he adored and trusted and believed in his beloved wife so vehemently, even in the face of gossiping fools who tried to slander his wife. The accusers were punished, not Aisha. The moral that I gathered from this incident anyways was that if you don’t have proof of misdeeds, it’s wrong to believe that anyone’s actions are anything but pure and good. As well, it’s a female’s prerogative to be as shy as she wants to be, or is comfortable for her, but she should never fear for anyone gossiping against her, slandering her, etc. if her deeds are pure, even if she’s accepting a ride from a man she’s neither married or related to. That seems to be her right, given the ayat revealed after Aisha accepted a ride from Safw’an, and those who make the accusations without proof are to be punished, never her. Aisha was certainly never punished for that. And our beloved Prophet never wavered in standing by her either. Isn’t it up to all men then to emulate our Prophet in this manner? Are they not required to stand by their wife in light of accusations or slander for which there is not a whit of proof or evidence? Really, Asma should have had nothing to fear if her intentions were nothing but pure. Especially in light of who it was offering her a ride. Anyways, it’s something I’ve wondered about, regardless.

      • Avatar

        Ify Okoye

        January 26, 2011 at 3:27 PM

        While the intentions of those involved may be pure, one can never be sure about the intentions of others, who may be like in the story of ifk prone to false insinuations, which bring harm to all but your point is well-taken.

      • Avatar

        ahlam

        January 26, 2011 at 5:36 PM

        …but what stopped Asma from accepting the ride was two things 1) her shyness and 2) her fear of the jealousy of her husband. It seems that she did not fear accusations or slander but felt shy. And that combined with the fear of her husband’s jealousy froze her.
        Otherwise,apparently ,she would have accepted it.
        But your question on whether this happened before or after the incident with Aisha(ra) is a good one.

  8. Avatar

    Sister

    January 26, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    Jazakillahu khairaan kaseera for an excellent article.

  9. Avatar

    A.Yusuf

    January 26, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    Awesome article, Masha’Allah!

  10. Avatar

    ahlam

    January 26, 2011 at 5:42 PM

    The incident with Mu’adh ibn Jabal (radi Allahu anhu) is beautiful.
    The Prophet said: ”Ya Mu’adh, wallahi inni uhibuk”. Ya Allaaah:)

    JazakAllahu khairan.

  11. Avatar

    someone

    January 26, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    “O Mu’adh! By Allah, truly I love you.”

    fills my heart and my Iman flutters, when hearing those words. alhamdhoullilah ya rabb

    ameen to your duaa

  12. Avatar

    someone

    January 26, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    Salamu alaikum, i am not going to attempt answering your questions, but i just wanted to say, May Allah ease your burden in this life and grant you patience . Ameen

  13. Avatar

    naseeha

    January 26, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    Wonderful article!
    Listen to this nice Kutbah about the love of the prophet Muhammed (SAW).

  14. Avatar

    Sabeen

    January 26, 2011 at 10:27 PM

    Mashallah a very moving article!
    “Indeed, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire – and never will you find for them a helper -” (4:145)
    I used to wonder why the hypocrites of Madinah were worse than the disbelievers. They were given the blessed company of the Prophet (saws). They could look in his face, shake his hands and ask him for advice. They could invite him to their homes for dinner. Yet they did not experience the love for the Beloved of Allah. This love that transcends the span of hundreds of years was within their reach but they failed to reach for it. So great was the darkness in their souls that the physical proximity to the Prophet (saws) did nothing to help them gain salvation. Instead it lowered them further in the levels of hellfire.
    May Allah protect us from the disease of hypocrisy, and fill our hearts with the love of the Prophet (saws).

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      January 27, 2011 at 12:12 AM

      Interesting point you have brought to our notice. It indeed makes me shudder – they had the chance to interact with and behold Allah’s beloved yet they rejected him and the truth he brought.
      Jazakillahu khair.

  15. Avatar

    Maaz

    January 28, 2011 at 12:37 AM

    Yes it is all true

  16. Avatar

    Mariam E.

    January 29, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Asalamu Alikum

    Great reflections, jazaki Allah khayr.

    By starting with “O Mu’adh! By Allah, truly I love you” and then giving him words of advice, the Prophet sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam taught us how to capture the hearts of people in da’wah. Mu’adh radhiAllahu anhu probably never forgot the advice that came after such beautiful words, which was “not to miss supplicating after every Salat saying:

    اللهم أعني على ذكرك, وشكرك, وحسن عبادتك

    `Allahumma a’inee ‘ala dhikrika wa shukrika, wa husni ‘ibadatik’
    (O Allah, help me remember You, expressing gratitude to You and worship You in the best manner)”
    .(Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i).

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      January 29, 2011 at 12:48 PM

      Great point. Jazakillahu khair for providing the additional content and analysis of the hadith.

  17. Avatar

    Awais

    February 8, 2011 at 10:23 PM

    SubhanAllah, beautiful article. Seeing the mutual love and respect that the Companions had for their leader, the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam), is truly an example for us to see the ideal relationship between a leader and those he/she may lead. I hope we can all learn from this and apply it in our roles as parents, spouses, community leaders, and da’ees. Jazakum Allahu khayrun.

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    November 15, 2016 at 7:53 PM

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Civil Rights

Podcast: Lessons from the Life of Malcolm X | Abdul-Malik Ryan

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

One of the things that happens with historical figures who continue to remain well-known and influential years after they can continue to speak for themselves is that others seek to speak for them.  Attempts are made to co-opt their legacy, either in sincere efforts for good or in selfish efforts for ideological or even commercial gain.  This is especially true of Malcolm X, who is not only a historical and political icon but in many ways a “celebrity” remembered by many primarily for his style and attitude.

The only real and meaningful tribute we can pay to Malcolm X is to follow his example. Click To Tweet

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#Islam

He Catches Me When I Fall: A Journey To Tawakkul

Tawakkul- a leaf falling
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While discussing an emotionally-heavy issue, my therapist brought up the point that in life we can reach a point of acceptance in regards to our difficult issues: “It sounds cliche, but there’s no other way to say it: it is what it is.”

Okay, I thought, as I listened. Acceptance. Yes, I can do this eventually. She went on to add: “It is what it is, and I know that everything will be okay.””

Tears had already been flowing, but by this point, full-blown sobs started. “I…can’t….seem…to ever…believe that.” There. I had said it. I had faked being confident and accepting, even to myself. I had faked the whole, “I have these health problems, but I am so together” type of vibe that I had been putting out for years.

Maybe it was the hormones of a third pregnancy, confronting the realities of life with multiple chronic diseases, family problems, or perhaps a midlife crisis: but at that moment, I did not feel deep in my heart with true conviction that everything would be okay.

That conversation led me to reflect on the concept of tawakkul in the following weeks and months. What did it mean to have true trust in Allah? And why was it that for years I smiled and said, “Alhamdulillah, I’m coping just fine!” when in reality, the harsh truth was that I felt like I had not an ounce of tawakkul?

I had led myself to believe that denying my grief and slapping a smile on was tawakkul. I was being outwardly cheerful — I even made jokes about my life with Multiple Sclerosis — and I liked to think I was functioning all right. Until I wasn’t.

You see, the body doesn’t lie. You can tell all the lies you want to with your tongue, but after some time, the body will let you know that it’s holding oceans of grief, unshed tears, and unhealed traumas. And that period of my life is a tale for another time.

The short story is that things came to a head and I suddenly felt utterly overwhelmed and terrified daily about my future with a potentially disabling disease, while being diagnosed with a second major chronic illness, all while caring for a newborn along with my other children. Panic attacks and severe anxiety ensued. When I realized that I didn’t have true tawakkul, I had to reflect and find my way again.

I thought about Yaqub (Jacob). I thought long and hard about his grief: “Yaa asafaa ‘alaa Yusuf!” “Oh, how great is my grief for Joseph!”

He wept until he was blind. And yet, he constantly asserted, “Wallahul-Musta’aan”: “Allah is the one whose help is sought.” And he believed.

Oh, how did he believe. His sons laughed and called him an old fool for grieving over a son lost for decades. He then lost another dear son, Binyamin. And yet he said, “Perhaps it will be that my Lord will bring them to me altogether.”

There is no sin in grief Click To Tweet

So my first realization was that there was no sin in the grief. I could indeed trust Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) while feeling a sorrow so profound that it ripped me apart at times. “The heart grieves and the eyes weep, but the tongue does not say that except which pleases its Lord. Oh, Ibrahim, we are gravely saddened by your passing.” These are the words of our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) for a lost infant son, said with tears pouring down his blessed face, ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

I thought of the Year of Grief, Aamul-Huzn, when he, Allah’s peace be upon him, lost the woman who was the love of his life and the mother of his children; as well as an uncle who was like a father. The year was named after his grief! And here I was denying myself this human emotion because it somehow felt like a betrayal of true sabr?

Tawakkul, tawakkul, where are you? I searched for how I could feel it, truly feel it.Click To Tweet

Through years of introspection and then therapy, I realized that I had a personality that centered around control. I expressed this in various ways from trying to manage my siblings (curse of the firstborn), to trying to manage my childbirth and health. If I only did the “right” things, then I could have the perfect, “natural” birth and the perfect picture of health.

When I was diagnosed with a chronic disease, these illusions started to crack. And yet even then, I thought that if I did the right things, took the right supplements and alternative remedies and medications, that I wouldn’t have trouble with my MS.

See, when you think you control things and you attempt to micromanage everything, you’ve already lost tawakkul. You’ve taken the role of controlling the outcome upon yourself when in reality, your Lord is in control. It took a difficult time when I felt I was spiraling out of control for me to truly realize that I was not the master of my outcomes. Certainly, I would “tie my camel” and take my precautions, but then it was a matter of letting go.

At some point, I envisioned my experience of tawakkul as a free-fall. You know those trust exercises that you do at summer camps or company retreats? You fall back into the arms of someone and relinquish any control over your muscles. You are supposed to be limp and fully trust your partner to catch you.

I did this once with a youth group. After they fell–some gracefully and trusting, some not — I told them: “This is the example of tawakkul. Some of you didn’t trust and you tried to break your fall but some of you completely let go and let your partner catch you. Life will throw you down, it will hit you over and over, and you will fall–but He, subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), will be there to break your fall.”

I am falling. There is a degree of terror and sadness in the fall. But that point when through the pain and tears I can say, “It is what it is, and no matter what, everything will be okay”, that right there is the tranquility that comes from tawakkul.

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The Day I Die | Imam Omar Suleiman

Janazah, funeral, legacy, Omar Suleiman, Edhi
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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (may Allah be pleased with him) in the midst of the torture he endured at the hands of his oppressors used to say: baynana wa baynahum aljanaa’iz, which means, “the difference between us and them will show in our funerals.” The man who instigated the ideological deviation that led to his torture was an appointed judge named Ahmad Ibn Abi Du’ad.

At the moment of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal making those remarks, it appeared Imam Ahmad would die disgraced in a dungeon but Ahmad Ibn Abi Du’ad would have a state funeral with thousands of mourners. Instead, Imam Ahmad persevered through his struggle, was embraced by the people, and honored by Allah with the biggest Janazah ever known to the Arabs with millions of people pouring in from all over. Ahmad Ibn Abu Du’ad was cast aside and buried without anyone attending his janazah out of revulsion.

Now sometimes righteous people do die in isolation, and wicked people are given grand exits. There are people like Uthman Ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) who was murdered by the people of fitnah, then buried at night far away from the people out of fear of the large numbers that would’ve poured out to his janazah and potentially mobilized against his oppressors. But it may be that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) inspired Imam Ahmad with the vision to see his victory in this life before the next. To elaborate a bit on his statement though, allow me to reflect:

A wise man once said to me,

“Always put your funeral in front of you, and work backwards in constructing your life accordingly.” 

With the deaths of righteous people, that advice always advances to the front of my thoughts. When a person passes away, typically only good things will be said of them. But it’s important to pay attention to 2 aspects about those good things being said:

1. Is there congruence in the particular good quality being attested to about the deceased.

2. Are those good qualities being attested to actually truly of the deceased. 

The first one deals with consistency of character, the second one with sincerity of intention which is only known by the Creator and His servant. In regards to the first one, take our sister Hodan Nalayeh (may Allah have mercy on her) who was murdered tragically last week in a terrorist attack in Somalia. Everyone that spoke of her said practically the same thing about how she interacted with them and/or benefitted them. There is complete harmony with all of the testimonies about her. And in that case we all become the witnesses of our sister on the day of judgment, testifying to her good character.

For many that pass away, neither the deceased nor the community fully appreciates the way they benefitted others until that day. It was narrated that when Zainul Abideen Ali Ibn Al Husayn (may Allah be pleased with them), the great grandson of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) passed away, he had marks on his shoulders from the bags he used to carry to the doorsteps of the poor at night when no one else was watching. The narrations state that the people of Madinah used to live off his charity not knowing the source of it until his death.

How many people will miss you when you die because of the joy you brought to their lives? How many of those that you comforted when they were abandoned by others? That you spent on when they were deprived by others? That you advocated for when they were oppressed by others? 

Will your family miss you because of an empty bed in the home or a deep void in their hearts? Will it be the loss of your spending only that grieves them, or the loss of your smile? Will it be the loss of the stability you provided them only, or the loss of your service and sacrifices for them?

But Zainul Abideen didn’t care for the recipients of his charity to know that he was the source of it, because He was fully in tune with it’s true Divine source. He didn’t want to be thanked in this world, but in the next. He didn’t want the eulogy, he wanted Eternity. 

He understood that if you become distracted by the allure of this world, you may merely become of it. Focus on bettering the future which you cannot escape, rather than the present that you cannot dictate. Focus on the interview with the One who needs no resume, rather than the judgments of those who are just as disposable as you. 

اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ خَيْرَ زَمَانِيْ آخِرَهُ، وَخَيْرَ عَمَلِيْ خَوَاتِمَهُ، وَخَيْرَ أَيَّامِيْ يِوْمَ أَلقَاكَ

“O Allah, let the best of my lifetime be its ending, and my best deed be that which I seal [my life with], and the best of my days the day I meet You.”

Which brings us to the second aspect of your funeral, the sincerity of the good you’re being praised for. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “increase your remembrance of the destroyer of pleasures.” Death only destroys the temporary pleasures of this world, not the pleasure of the Most Merciful in the next. Keeping that in perspective will help you work towards that without being distracted. If it is the praise of the people you seek, that is as temporary as the world that occupies both your worldly vehicle ie. your body, and your companions in this world who shall perish soon after you.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned the one who passes away with the people lavishing praise on him that he is unworthy of. In a narration in Al Tirmidhi, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “No one dies and they stand over him crying and saying: ‘Oh what a great man he was! Oh how honored he was!’ except that two angels are appointed for him to poke him and say: Is that really you?”

But if it is Allah’s praise that you sought all along, the deeds that you put forth shall await you in your grave in the form of heavenly ornaments. Those that were known to the community, those that were known to only a select few, and those that were known by no one but Allah and you.

May Allah give us all a good ending, and an even better eternity.

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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