Purification of the Soul

Contrary to the miserable people discussed in the last chapter, our discussion will now focus on the people of happiness and bliss. These can be divided into two classes.

The First Class of Happy People

The first class consists of those who possess the quality of intellectual independence; they are described by Allah (the Most High) as follows:

"The first and foremost to embrace Islam of the Muhajirin{qluetip title=[1]}Muhajir: A migrator - one who undertakes hijrah. Plural: muhajirun or muhajirin. Reference here is specifically to those who migrated from Makkah to al-Madinah in obedience to Allah{/qluetip} and the Ansar{qluetip title=[2]}Ansar: Those who give help and aid. It usually refers to the citizens of al-Madinah who gave aid to the Muhajirin when they migrated to their town{/qluetip}, and also those who follow them in the best way; Allah is well-pleased with them, and they are with Him." [Al-Qur'an 9:100]

These are the happy ones for whom Allah's acceptance is confirmed. They are the Companions of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and those who follow them in the best way until the Day of Resurrection.

The conventional expression 'tabi'un' applies to the Companions' followers who have met with them in person. However, the description here is not restricted to them, but includes anyone who righteously follows their way; and any such person is of those with whom Allah (ta'ala) is pleased and who are also pleased with Him.

Following with Ihsan

The manner of following the Sahabah (in this ayah) is not ambiguous. It is restricted by Allah (ta'ala) to being in the 'best way'. It cannot be fulfilled merely by wishes, or by adhering to them in some matters while rejecting them in others. It should always be done with ihsan (with righteousness and in the best way); this is a condition to deserve Allah's (ta'ala) acceptance and His Gardens. He (ta'ala) said:

"He it is Who has sent among the unlettered a messenger [Muhammad] from among themselves, to convey unto them His messages, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in the Book and the Wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error. And He has sent him also to other people who have not quite reached them (the Sahabah); He is All-Mighty, All-Wise. That is the bounty of Allah which He bestows on whom He wills. Allah is the One of great bounty." [Al-Qur'an 62:2-4]

The first group of people mentioned here are those who met the Messenger (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and accompanied him. The latter are those who did not meet the first group; this applies to anyone who comes after them and adheres to their way, until the Day of Resurrection. This group falls behind the first group (the Sahabah) both in era and in stature, even though both groups are of the happy ones.

Three Kinds of Heart

A third group of people would be those who reject the Guidance that Allah (ta'ala) sent with His Messenger (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), or who do not benefit from it. Those are described by Allah (ta'ala) in the following:

"The likeness of those who were entrusted with the responsibility of the Torah, but who subsequently failed in that, is as the likeness of a donkey which carries a huge burden of books [but understands nothing of them] ... " [Al-Qur'an 62:5]

The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) also classified people into three groups based on their response to his Message and Guidance. He said:

"An example of the guidance and knowledge with which Allah (ta'ala) has sent me is that of a rain that falls on different kinds of land:

1. One land is good; it accepts water and produces vegetation and grass in plenty.

2. Another land is dry with a solid bed that reserves water so that people can drink and irrigate with it.

3. The third kind is a pourous land that can neither retain water nor produce vegetation.

This is an example of those who acquire the knowledge of the Din and benefit from that with which Allah (ta'ala) sent me, and of those who do not take heed and who insist on rejecting Allah's (ta'ala) Guidance." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The Messenger (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) likens the knowledge (with which he came) to rain, because both are causes of life. Rain is the cause of life for the body, while knowledge is the cause of life for the heart. He (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) also likens different hearts to different valleys, as Allah (ta'ala) said:

"He sends down water from the sky, making different valleys flow according to their different natures ... " [Al-Qur'an 13:17]

Thus, just as there are three kinds of land, there are three kinds of hearts:

  1. The first is a good land which accepts water and is ready to produce vegetation. When rain falls on it, it absorbs the water eagerly, giving rise to all sorts of pleasant vegetation. This is an example of one with a healthy, pure, and intelligent heart, which embraces knowledge, and is guided by its true intelligent nature, blossoming by that wisdom and true faith. Therefore, it is eager to take the knowledge, and ready to bear fruits because of its good nature. it is also like a rich business man who has experience in different trades and investments, which enables him to invest his wealth in that which brings the best profit.
  2. The second kind is a hard, solid land prepared to preserve and keep water: It benefits people who visit it to drink or irrigate. This is an example of one whose heart preserves knowledge and safeguards it so as to convey it just as he hears it, without changing it or deriving conclusions from it. This is also described in another hadith (saying, action or silent approval of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), "There is often one who conveys knowledge to one who is more knowledgeable than himself; and there is often one who carries knowledge when he himself is not knowledgeable." {qluetip title=[3]}Narrated by Zayd ibn Thabit, Anas bin Malik and others; recorded by Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and others; authenticated by al-Albani (as-Sahihah no. 404){/qluetip}It is also like a rich man who does not possess the knowledge or experience to invest his wealth, but who knows very well how to preserve it.
  3. The third is a barren land which is incapable of holding water or producing vegetation: no matter how much rain falls, it does not profit by it. This is an example of one whose heart does not accept any knowledge or wisdom. It is also like a poor man who neither possesses wealth nor knows how to preserve it.

The first of the above three examples applies to a learned man who teaches knowledge, and who calls people to Allah (ta'ala) with clear guidance; such are the inheritors of the Prophets.

The second applies to one who preserves the knowledge, and who transmits what he hears precisely; he carries to other people precious goods that they can use for trade and investment.

The third applies to one who neither accepts Allah's Guidance nor benefits from it.

Thus this hadith covers the different types of people and their different attitudes toward the Prophet's (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) da'wah, which makes them either happy or miserable.

The Second Class of Happy People

The second class consists of the believers' followers from their offspring who die before reaching the status of taklif (responsibility for one's deeds). They will be with their parents [in the Hereafter], as Allah (ta'ala) said:

"As for those who believe and whose offspring follow them in faith, We shall unite them with their offspring, and We shall not let any of their deeds go to waste; every person is responsible for that which he has earned." [Al-Qur'an 52:21]

Allah (ta'ala) tells that He unites the offspring with the parents in the Jannah{qluetip title=[4]}Lit. garden. It usually refers to the Gardens of Paradise.{/qluetip}, just as He united them in faith (iman). And because the offspring did not do deeds that would make them deserve this high honour, Allah (ta'ala) informs that this union does not waste any of the deeds of the parents. They receive their full reward for what they did, plus the bonus of uniting them with their offspring.

Also, because this reunion in rewards and ranks is a bounty from Allah (ta'ala), one might imagine that it would be in violation of the rules of justice. To clarify this, the ayah indicates that if the children committed sins, they alone would be liable for punishment, and that every person is responsible for what he does without involving others with him in punishment. Thus this union takes place in terms of rewards and bounties, but not in terms of justice and penalty.

This is indeed one of the keys and treasures of Qur'an, the knowledge of which Allah (ta'ala) gives only to those whom He wills.

Thus this ayah covers all people: the miserable and the happy - those who are followed, and those who follow them.

Consequently, let a prudent person who cares about his well-being see to which class he belongs. Let him not be influenced by habits or ruled by laziness. If he finds that he belongs to a happy class, let him strive to move to a higher rank, seeking Allah's help and facilitation. And if he finds that he belongs to the miserable class, let him move out of it into a happy class while it is still possible, and before he would have to say:

"Oh! Would that I had followed the path shown to me by the Messenger." [Al-Qur'an 25:27]

(s) Ar-Risalah at-Tabukiyyah
(t) Muhammad al-Jibaly


Be Mindful O Mankind!

Whoever loves to be mentioned, will not be mentioned; and whoever dislikes to be mentioned, then he will be mentioned.
- Al-Fudayl ibn Iyyad (d. 187H), may Allah have mercy upon him