The Sunnah: A Source of Civilization

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  • The Sunnah: A Source of Civilization

  • Doing What Is Good

    Doing good is one of the aspects of civilized behavior. Islam urges Muslim to try to do good every day of his life. Furthermore, that he should serve his society voluntarily and enthusiastically by helping the weak, educating the ignorant, guiding the lost, aiding the disabled, and helping the needy who appeal for help. In this respect, Allah says: "And do good, that you may prosper." (22:77)  

    Islam makes the Muslim as if he is a flowing spring which overflows with goodness and benevolence from all around him. He is not miserly with, nor is he mean with his effort or time and dutifully thank Allah, the Exalted for His Blessings. He is steadfast regarding the brotherhood in Islam which united him with the society and which Allah describes as the essence of faith saying: "The believers are but a single brotherhood" (49:10)  

    This verse urges the Muslim to treat his fellow man as an inseparable part of him. He should be happy for his happiness and sad for his sadness as in the hadith where the Prophet said: "None of you will have faith till he wishes for his Muslim brother what he likes for himself "[Note: Agreed upon, on the authority of Anas, Al-Lu `Lu' Wal Marjan'] 

    This good and benevolent tendency is seen in feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, treating the wounded and the sick and clothing the naked.

      Some of these good acts are seen as obligatory deeds and as basic elements of the religion. For instance, the Zakah is the third pillar of Islam, and some of these deeds are immediate duty next to Zakah, so Zakah is prior to other obligations and not the last of them. Yet some believers are motivated by excellent manners to vie with one another in good deeds and go beyond doing what is obligatory.  

    Allah describes the righteous (Al-Abrar) saying: "And they feed, for the the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive. Saying, "We feed you for the Sake of Allah alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks." (76:8-9)

    Allah, the Exalted stated the ascent that man must cross if one craves salvation and triumph in the Hereafter, saying: "But he hath made not haste on the path that is steep. And what will explain to thee the path that is steep? (It is) freeing the bondman; or the giving of food in a day of privation, to the orphan with claim of relationship, or to the indigent (down) in the dust. Then will he be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, (constancy, and self-restrain), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion. Such are the Companions of the Right hand (90:11-18)

    The verses flowed, ever since the Qur'an descended on the Prophet (Peace be upon him) in Mecca, carrying terrible warning and bad tidings to the one who ignores feeding the needy and urging others to do so. Let us contemplate the meaning of these Glorious verses that were revealed in Mecca:

    "Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds. Except the Companions of the Right Hand. (They will be) in Garden (of Delight)they will question each other, and (ask) of the sinners: "What led you into Hell-fire?" They will say: "We were not of those who prayed; nor were we of those who fed the indigent." (74:38-44)

    "Seest thou one who denies the Judgment (to come)? Then such is the one who repulses the orphan, and encourages not the feeding of the indigent." (107:1-3)

    (The stern command will say) "Seize ye him, and bind ye him, and burn ye him in the blazing Fire. Further, make him march in a chain, whereof the length is seventy cubits! This was he that would not believe in Allah Most High, and would not encourage the feeding of the indigent." (69:30-34)

    Also, in the Sunnah, there are many hadiths ordering one to do good, particularly, in feeding and giving water.

    `Abdullah Ibn `Amr reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Worship the Compassionate, offer food, spread As-Salam greeting and you will enter Paradise safely" [Note: Reported by Al-Tirmidhi who commented; it is a Sound Good Hadith (No.1856), Ahmad in his Musnad (No.6587), and Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad (No.981)]

    Also `Abdullah Ibn `Amr narrated that a man asked the Prophet (Peace be upon him), "What Islamic traits are the best?" The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: `Feed the people and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know." [Note:Agreed upon, in Al-lu `wal Marjan]

    Abu Hurairah reported that Allah's Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "On the Day of Judgment, Allah, the Exalted, will say: "O son of Adam! I asked you for food but you did not feed Me!" The son of Adam will say: "O Allah! How come You ask me for food even though You are the Lord of the worlds?" Allah said: "Did not My salve ask you for food and you refused to give it to him? Don't you know that if you had given him food, I would have rewarded you?" "O son of Adam! I asked you to give water to Me, but you did not give it to Me!"The son of Adam will say: "O Allah, How come You ask me for water even though You are the Lord of the Worlds?" Allah will say: "My slave asked you for water and you refused to give him. Don't you know that if you had given him water, i would have rewarded you?" [Note: Reported by Muslim in Al-Birr Wal Silah, (No.2569)]

    This hadith is a masterpiece which depicts the high station to which these charity works are raised before Allah, the Exalted, so much so, that the Lord of the worlds, the Sublime ascribed the needs of His slave to His Sacred Self saying: "I asked you for food but you refused to feed Me... and I asked you to give Me water but you refused to give Me water." This hadith touches the heart and soul so deeply that anyone who reads or hears it is, spontaneously, directed to doing good and helping others, except for the hard  hearted or the one void of all the good traits.

    Anas reported that Sa'd once came to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and said: "O Allah's Prophet! My mother died with out leaving a will, is there any benefit for her if I gave Sadaqah (alms) on her behalf ? The Prophet answered yes, I advise you to give the Sadaqah through water." [Note: Reported by Al-Tabarani]

    The Prophet meant here that his Sadaqah was to give water to those who needed it by digging a well or erecting a Sabil (a drinking place for passerby) or something similar. Doing good does not stop at feeding or giving water to someone. But rather it comprises all which is useful to people, materialistically or morally, and preventing any harm which may befall them even if it was as small as a bone, a thorn or a branch in their path.

    On `the authority of `Adi Ibn Hatim who reported that I heard the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

    "There will be none among you but will be talked to by Allah on the Day of Resurrection, without there being an interpreter between him and Allah, the Almighty. He will look on his right and will see nothing ahead of him except what he had done in the worldly life, and then he will look again on his left, and he will see nothing ahead of him except what he had done in the worldly life, then he will look in front of him in the third time, and he will see nothing but the Hell-fire in front of him. So, whoever among you can save himself from the Fire, should do so even with one half of a date (to give in charity)."

    In another version, "And whoever find not, let him do it with a good word." [Note: Agreed upon, Al-Bukhari mentioned it in the book of Al-Riqaq, and Muslim, mentioned it in the book of Zakah]

    Ibn Mas'ud reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Every loan is considered a Sadaqah (charity)." [Note: Reported by AI-Tabarani and Al-Baihaqi]

    Jabir Ibn `Abdullah reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "All good deeds is Sadaqah, smiling at your brother is a Sadaqah and to pour out from your bucket into your brother's container is a sadaqah." [Note: Reported by Ahmad and AI-Tirmidhi who said: it is a Good Sound hadith]

    Abu Dharr reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Smiling at your brother is a Sadaqah, enjoining the good is a Sadaqah, forbidding the wrong is a Sadaqah, guiding someone to the right path is a Sadaqah, and removing harmful things, thorns, bones from road is regarded as a Sadaqah (charity)[Note: Reported by Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban in his Sahih (No.474, 529)]

    Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "A good word is a Sadaqah (charity)." [Note: Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]  

    Thus the Prophetic Sunnah dealt with all kinds of good doings, benevolence and service that a Muslim can do to his society. Moreover, it encouraged and praised this good doings emphasizing its reward in the Hereafter even if it was as simple as a friendly smile on one's face or a sweet word. All good doings are Sadaqah for which Allah will reward Muslims, for Allah is never unjust and will not miss out an atom's weight of good.  

    The Sunnah made such social service an obligatory duty that is raised to zakah (alms) or a Sadaqah (charity) yet it is not restricted to money to the rich, nor restricted to the body to be exclusive to the powerful, nor restricted to knowledge to be confined to the cultured people, nor restricted to politics to be confined to the leaders and their retinue.  

    All in all, it is Zakah or social Sadaqah that every man is obliged to give according to his potentialities and capabilities and Allah does not impose on any soul a burden greater than it can bear.  

    Abu Musa reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Sadaqah is enjoined upon every Muslim. They (the people) said: "what if he has nothing?" He said: "Then he should work with his hands so that he may benefit himself and give in charity". They said: "What if he is not able to work?" He said: "Then he should help the one who is in need and troubled (by word, action or both). They said: "And what if he is not able to do that?" He said: "Then he should enjoin what is good and right." They said: "What if he does not do that? "He said: "Then he should refrain from doing evil, for that will be considered as a Sadaqah". [Note: Agreed upon, Al-Lu `lu Wal Marjan, No.589]  

    It has been pointed out in the hadiths that, Sdaqah is of a daily nature. For instance, Abu Dharr reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Every son of Adam must perform an act of charity (Sadaqah) every day that sun rises in. The people said: "O Messenger of Allah, how can we obtain this Sadaqah that we give it to those who deserve it?" He said: "There are so many ways of doing good, such as praising Allah, glorifying Allah, claiming His Magnificence, declaring that there is no god except the One God, Allah, enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong, removing an obstacle from one's path, helping the deaf to hear, guiding the blind, directing the one seeking help and striving to one's utmost in helping the needy and the weak. All of these are acts of charity required from yourselves".  

    Al-Mundhiri said that Ibn Hibban reported the previous hadith in his Sahih and Al-Bukhari in brief, in another version hok sory sire added, "Smiling at your brother is a Sadaqah, removing stones, thorns and bones from the street is a Sadaqah and guiding those who are on the wrong path is a Sadaqah."  

    Adding to that, what is so firm in this hadith is that there is Sadaqah upon every organ, bone and joint of his body. This is the Zakah which the Muslim gives for his body and health.  

    Borayda reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "There are 360 joints in the human body, for each one he must give Sadaqa." [Note: Reported by Ahmad and Ibn Hibban, Sahih Al- Jami AI-Saghir (No. 4239)] 

    Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:"Every part of man's body must give Sadqah in every day the sun rises. To deal justly between two people is a Sadaqah".

    To help man with his beast, loadig or lifting his good on it is a Sadaqah. A good word is a Sadqah. Every step one takes towards Prayer is a Sadqah. And removing anything injurious from the road is a Sadaqah." [Note: Agreed upon, Al-Lu `Lu' Wal Marjan (No.590)]

    Thus, the Muslim turns into an active member of society who gives as much as he takes. He does not grudge his money, knowledge, effort and time willingly to his society. Undoubtedly, every human being is able to give or do something, no matter how limited or meager his capabilities are, for Allah created no human being void of any kind of ability or blessing.  

    To illustrate this, Abu Dharr reported that," One day he asked the Prophet (Peace be upon him), `How can a slave rescue himself from Hell-fire?' The Prophet answered: "By having strong Faith." I said: "O Allah's Prophet! should this faith be manifested in action? The Prophet said: "You must give as much as you can from what Allah has bestowed on you." I said: "O Allah's Prophet, what if one was so poor that he is not able to give anything? The Prophet said: "Then he must enjoin the good and forbid the wrong." I said: "What if he cannot do that?" The Prophet said: "Then he must help his brother who is without any skills." I said: O Allah's Prophet: "What if he does not master any skill whatsoever?" The Prophet said: "Then he must help the oppressed." I said "O Allah's Prophet, what if he was so weak that he could not help the oppressed?" The Prophet said: "You are leaving your friend no chance to do good. Then he must abstain from his evil doing." I said: "O Allah's Prophet, "Is this enough for him to enter Paradise? The Prophet answered: "If any one does any of the former things, then I will personally take him by his hand until he enters Pradise" [Note: Mentioned by AI-Haisami in Al-Majma', saying: It is reported by AI-Tabarani in AI-Kabir]  

    The least a Muslim can do so in fulfilling his social obligation of Sadaqah in the case that he can not serve the people in any other way, is to abstain from evil doing and avoiding evil words or actions against others. Although this may seen as a rather negative attitude towards society, it is at least a moral gain where they are safe from his evil.  

    In this respect a poet says:  

    If a man becomes safe in his morning and evening from people's harm - save what he gains surely, he will be a blessed one. The reward for this required social Sadaqah is doubled if the receiver is in need or troubled (the more one is in need of it, the greater the Sadaqah and more abundant the reward.) In this respect, the Qur'an states: "Or the feeding on a day of hunger, of an orphan near of kin or a needy one down in the dust." (90:14-16)  

    These two verses point out the reward for feeding the orphans or the needy during famine. This is in contrast with the greediness and opportunism of those who use times of famine to double their profit. Hence, the reward for feeding orphans, especially relatives, and the needy who are destitute is great.

    There are many hadiths which urge the Muslim to relieve others from distress, hardship or crisis. Moreover it encourages him to allow time for the debtor who is in difficulty to repay him or write off the debt altogether or some of it as an act of charity.

    "Whosoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah wilt remove from him once of the griefs of the Day of Judgment. Whosoever alleviates (the lot of) a needy person, Allah will alleviate (his lot) in this world and the next. Allah will aid a servant (of His) so long as the servant aids his brother". [Note: Reported by Muslim, Abu Dawud, and AI-Tirmidhi on the authority of Abu Hurairah]

    "The angels received the soul of a man who has passed before you, and questioned him, "Have you done any good deed?" "No!" he replied. "Try to remember." The angels commented. The man said: "I used to lend money to people, ask my servants to give time to the poor and be easy with the well-to-do person." He (the Prophet) said: "The Almighty then ordered: "Excuse him". [Note: Agreed upon on the authority of Rudhaifah. Al-Lu `Iu" Wal Marjan, (No. 1006)]

    In another narration, the man said: "Forgiveness was my chief character, I used to Grant time to the well-off and forgive the needy. Allah, the Exalted said: "I should be the One Who forgives, therefore I forgive him" [Note: Reported by Muslim on the authority of Hadhaifah]

    "Abi Qatada reported that he asked a debt or to repay his debt yet he hid and when he found him he said, "I am in difficulty." Abu Qatada said: "Do you swear by Allah?" He said, "By Allah, I am." Thereupon said: "I certainly heard the Messenger of Allah says: "Whosoever pleases to be protected by Allah against the trouble of the Day of Judgment, let him alleviate (the lot of) a needy person or write off the debt thereof "[Note: Reported by Muslim]

    "By Allah" means that he swears by Allah that he is truly in difficulty.

    Abu Al-Yasr reported that I saw with my own eyes (he pointed to his eyes with his two fingers) and I heard with my own ears (he placed his fingers in his ears) and I remembered by heart (he pointed to his heart) the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) say:

    "If one loves to be sheltered by Allah's Shadow, he must give time for the debtor in difficulty to repay his debt or write off part of the debt". [Note: Reported by Ibn Majah]

    Ibn `umar reported that a man came to the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) and said: "O Messenger of Allah, who are the people whom Allah loves most?" He answered: "The people whom Allah loves most are those who are always ready to help others in any way they can, and the deeds that Allah loves most are the deeds that make a Muslim happy by relieving him from distress, trouble or crisis, repaying his debt, or feeding him. The mere walking of a Muslim in order to do something to help his brother is better than `i'tikaf (seclusion) in this mosque (Al Madina Mosque) for a whole month." [Note: Reported by Al-Asbahani and Ibn Abi Al-Dunia]

    Even though these hadiths may have mentioned the Muslim in particular, this does not mean that the non-Muslim should not be helped for the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:"Those who are always ready to help others in any way they can."

    Allah, moreover, has praised those who feed the captive irrespective of the fact that they may be disbelievers. Islam regards merciful treatment to animals as one of the greatest virtues

    Furthermore, the greatest act of goodness which Islam prescribes in reverence is "Sadaqah Jariyah" or perpetual charity, where the reward continues after death.

    The authentic hadith praised the perpetual Sadaqah, as Ahmad and Muslim related that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "When a person dies, the opportunity of gaining more rewards ends except for these three: Sadaqa Jariyah, knowledge from which there is a benefit, or a pious child supplicating to Allah for him."

    This perptual charity includes the endowment on charitable projects which started at the time of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). In it a Muslim would entrust his personal wealth and profits to charitable establishments and projects.

    The Islamic Civilization, more than any other civilization, is famous for its huge charitable trusts which cover all areas of beneficial acts towards man and even animals, which is unparalleled in any other civilization.


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