O People, fear Allah as regards to yourselves and to your families. Fear him concerning your deeds and to your wealth. Fear him with regards to what you eat and to what you save.
Allah says the meaning of which translates as: “O Mankind eat from whatever is on earth that is lawful and good, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan indeed he is to you a clear enemy” (Al-Baqarah: 168).
Servants of Allah, earning provisions and seeking sustenance, is something that is commanded to be done by Islamic law – Shari’ah. It is something that is dictated by nature.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has made the day for seeking livelihood and commanded people to walk among the slopes of the earth and eat of His provisions. He says which translates as: “He has known that there will be among you those who are ill, and others travelling through the land seeking the bounties of Allah and other fighting for the cause of Allah. So recite what is easy from it, meaning the Qur’an” (Al-Muzzammil: 20). The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said in the book of Imam al-Bukhari: “Never has anyone eaten a better food than what he has procured through his manual work”.
Dawood (‘alaihi sallam), the messenger of Allah, ate only from the earnings from his manual work. Some of the Salaf said: “Some of the sins are not expiated but through seeking lawful provisions”.
From the narrations reported about Isa (‘alaihi sallam), that he saw a man and said: “What do you do?” He said: “I am worshipping.” He said: “Who is providing for you?” He said: “My brother.” He said: “Where is your brother?” He said: “In the field.” He said: “Your brother is more of a worshipper to Allah than you”.
In Islam, worship is not only by standing on you feet – meaning standing the for prayer, while someone else goes to seek your provisions. Rather you go seek the lawful earning and also worship.
Being independent of people by earning lawful provisions is a great honour and strength, so much so that the Khalifa Umar Ibnul Khatab (radhiallahu ‘anhu) said: “I would not prefer to die in a position better than a position where I am buying for my family or trading.”
From the words of wisdom from Luqman, he said to his son: “O Son avoid poverty by lawful earnings. For no-one becomes poor but will adopt three characteristics
1. Softness in his religion.
2. Weakness in his mind.
3. His manhood and sense of honour will be lost.”
Lawful earnings and sound wealth safeguard the religion, protect one’s honour, beautify one’s face, and result in a strong position.
It is obvious from all this that seeking lawful provisions is desirable. For Allah is Tayyib, which implies goodness and kindness. He does not accept but what is good and lawful. Allah commanded the believers as He commanded the messengers, when He says which translates as: “O Messengers eat from the good foods and work righteousness. Indeed I am knowing of what you do” (Al-Mu’minun: 51). Allah also says which translates as: “O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you, and be grateful to Allah if it is indeed him that you worship” (Al-Baqarah: 172).
The greatest fruits of faith is the goodness of the heart, honesty, purity of the hand, and the soundness of the tongue. Good words are for good men and good men are objects of good words.
The most eminent objective of the messenger Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is to make good lawful and to make evil prohibited, and on the Day of Resurrection the good consequences will be for good people.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says which translates as: “The ones whom the angels take in death being good and pure, the angels will say: “ Peace be upon you, enter paradise for what you use to do” (An-Nahl: 32).
In the book of Imam Tirmidhi, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever eats from good, and acts according to Sunnah and people felt safe from his evil, will enter paradise”.
Also in the book of Imam Ahmad, Abdullah Ibnu Amri (radhiallahu ‘anhuma) said that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “If you have four things, then do not be concerned about what you miss out in this life: Preserving the trust, saying the truth, good manners, and chastity and purity in what you eat.”
Seeking lawful provisions and searching for it, is an obligation and a must. No slave’s feet will be moved on the Day of Resurrection until he is asked about his wealth. How he earned it? How he spent it? It is incumbent upon every Muslim male and female to look and search for lawful provisions and chaste and pure work, to eat of the lawful and spend on the lawful.
A good example is Abubakr (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who had a slave who brought him some food, which he ate. After which the slave asked him if he knew from where he had got the food. Abubakr asked: from where did you get it? He replied: “I acted as a soothsayer for a man in the pre-Islamic period, and not being good at it I deceived him. Today he met me and rewarded me for that soothsaying. From this you have eaten. Therefore, Abubakr (radhiallahu ‘anhu) put his hand in his mouth and vomited all that he ate.
In another narration he said: “If it would not have come out except with my soul, meaning except with my death, I would have still forced it out. O Allah I ask you to excuse me for what my veins have carried from this and what has mixed in my stomach.” (Bukhari).
Umar (radhiallahu anhu) drank some milk, which he liked. He asked the one who gave him the milk: “Where did you get this?” He said: “ I passed by the camels of Zakaah while they was drinking water so I took from its milk.” Umar put his hand in his mouth and vomited it up.”
A righteous woman advising her husband: “O husband fear Allah, and the provisions you bring us, for we can persevere through hunger but we cannot stand and persevere through the punishment of hell fire.”
These are the righteous ones. They bring out whatever is unlawful or questionable out of their stomachs, though it was something they had taken unknowingly from food or drink.
However, generations came after them, earning unlawful provisions, filling their stomachs and the stomachs of their families with it.
O Muslims, do you know of the man whom the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) mentioned in a Hadith found in Sahih Al-Bukhari: “He travels for long periods, his hair tousled, his feet dusty, raising his hands in supplications to the heavens saying, My Lord, My Lord, but he eats from unlawful earnings, he dresses from unlawful earnings, and he lives by unlawful earnings. His supplications will never be answered.”
This man has symptoms of humility, and poverty and his situation invokes pity, compassion, and the desire to help him in his need. He has lost his way, his journey is long, and he feels like a stranger, he has lost everything. He has lost connection with his Lord and has deprived himself of the support of his Lord. So his duas (supplications) are not accepted. He ate from the unlawful, dressed from the unlawful and his lived on unlawful earnings, so his ‘hands’ (meaning his dua [supplication]), were rejected.
Some of the Salaf said: “If you stand up in worship like a pole, meaning for a long time without giving up. It will not benefit you, until you watch for what goes in your stomach.”
What is amazing, O brothers, is the acts of some people who avoid lawful provisions in fear of getting sick, but they do not have enough fear of Allah to avoid unlawful earning.
Servants of Allah, eating from unlawful means blinds the insight, weakens the religion, hardens the heart, darkens the mind, prevents the body from worship, entraps one in this life and prevents one’s dua (supplication) from being accepted. Allah does not accept, except from the righteous.
Unlawful earnings and provisions have bad effects on the individual and the community. It removes blessings and causes the spread of diseases, disasters, financial crisis, unemployment, oppression, and disputes.
O Muslims, Woe to the ones who eat from unlawful provisions, raise their children and family by means of unlawful earnings. Their example is like the example of one who is drinking out of the seawater. The more they drink the thirstier they become. They drink as the drinking of a thirsty camel. They are not content with little provisions, nor do a lot of provisions satisfy them.
They enjoy unlawful provisions and they use twisted means – usury, gambling, stealing forcefully taking, and they give insufficient measures and weights. They conceal deficiency in items. They use magic, fortune-telling, they usurp the property of orphans and minors, they lie when they swear, they deceive, they plan, they forge, they betray, – all twisted – dark ways.
In the Hadith found in the books of Imam Al-Bukhari and An Nasa’i, he (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “A time will come on people, when a man will not worry where his earning come from, lawful or unlawful,” and in another narration he added: “Such is one whose duas (supplications) and are not accepted”.
O workers and officers, businessmen, consultants, brokers, Muslim men and Muslim women, it is a duty upon you to seek what is lawful and stay away for the doubtful. Preserve the rights of people. Finish your jobs completely. Fulfil your pledges and your contracts. Refrain from cheating, and lying and delaying and fear Allah.
Lawful provisions are satisfying, bring ease, enlighten the heart, energise the limbs and the body, rectify and reform the situation of the person, make the body healthy, and Allah accepts the duas (supplications) of such a person.
Muslim brothers, the best way to refrain from unlawful and illegal things is to stay away from doubtful things, and to persevere through devout, pious ways and means, when hesitant.
In the Hadith found in the books of Al Imam Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja, Baiyhaqi and others, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “The servant will not be among the pious until he gives up things that are objectionable for things that are not objectionable and harmful”.
In Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “So he who guards against doubtful things, keeps his religion and his honour blameless, but he who falls into doubtful things, falls into that which is unlawful.” Narrated by An-Nu’aman Ibnu Bashir.
The importance of good moral character in Islam
Imam Ahmad has reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The most perfect of the believers in faith is the best of them in character.”
He also reported on the authority of Abu ad-Dardaa’ (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) that he said:
“There isn’t anything weightier on the scales, on the Day of Judgment, than good moral character.”
These two hadiths point to a truth/reality of the utmost importance: that the criterion for judging someone’s Imaan (faith) is not the abundance of his acts of worship and wealth of information. In fact, the criterion is in his good moral character.
Likewise, the greatest thing a person will be rewarded for – after one’s faith in Allah – is good morals. For this reason, we see the great importance attached to good moral character in the Message of Islam, which is summarised in the statement of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam):
“Verily, I have been missioned to establish/complete and perfect high moral standards and noble manners.”
Of those things which indicate that Islam is first and foremost an ethical and moral message, is Allah’s prompting His servants, the believers, in His Noble Book (Al-Qur’an) to purification of their souls and refinement of their morals.
For this reason Allah, the Most High, has mentioned after swearing with the longest oath in the Qur’an – which came in the beginning of the chapter entitled ash-Shams (the Sun) (No 91, verses 1-10):
“Indeed he succeeds who purifies his ownself (ie obeys and performs all that Allah ordered, by following the true faith of Islamic Monotheism and by doing righteous good deeds). (verse 9).
“And indeed he fails who corrupts his ownself (ie disobeys what Allah has ordered by rejecting the true faith of Islamic Monotheism or by following polytheism, etc or by doing every kind of evil and wicked deed).” (verse 10).
The meaning of these verses is that he has triumphed and gained success who purifies himself from the evil and low morals and cultivates in himself the praiseworthy characteristics. While he has lost and has reason for remorse who has neglected the purification of himself and left himself to be a prey/victim of evil and ruin and the destructive characteristics.
Tha amazing thing is that Islam, with all of its forms of worship and sciences, is orientated towards the refinement of good moral character. If you were to reflect upon the objective of the four forms of worship which constitute the Pillars of Islam after the testimony of faith (ash-Shahaadatain), you would find them (all) related to developing character and morals.
As for the prayer, our Lord, the One Perfectly Free of All Defects, has said concerning it: “...And perform the prayers. Verily, the prayers prevent one from (al-fahshaa) great sins of every kind and (al-munkar) every kind of evil wicked deed...” (29:45).
As for Az-Zakaah (charity/alms), He, the Most High, said: “Take alms from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it...” (9:103).
The objective of alms-giving is the development of ethics and good morals – if you would only reflect. And so it is with fasting, about which the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever doesn’t leave off deceitful speech/falsehood and acting upon it – Allah has no need of him abstaining from his food and drink.”
The same can be said about pilgrimage (al-Hajj), concerning which Allah, the Most High, has said: “The pilgrimage is in the well-known (lunar year) months [ie the 10th month, the 11th month and the first 10 days of 12th month of the Islamic calendar]. So, whoever intends to perform the pilgrimage therein (by assuming Ihram), then he should not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commit sin, nor dispute unjustly during the pilgrimage...” (2:197).
Therefore, the objective of worship is the development of good moral character.
So it is with the Islamic Sciences – its knowledge does not benefit the one who has learned it except if it causes him to achieve the characteristic of God-consciousness and fear of (the punishment of) Allah. For this reason Allah, the Most High, said:
“It is only those who have knowledge, among His slaves, that fear Allah...” (35:28).
It is due to these irrefutable facts, that the bad moral character of a person is considered a clear proof of the weakness of his faith, no matter how much he displays the outward ‘appearance’ which is in accordance with the Islamic Laws [fasting, performing the prayers and pilgrimage, and wearing the ‘Islamic dress’].
For this reason, al-Bukhari narrated from Abdullah ibn Amr (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said:
“There are three characters which whoever is characterised by them would be considered a hypocrite, even if he fasted, prayed, performed pilgrimage and ‘Umrah (minor pilgrimage or visit to the Ka’aba) and said: I am a Muslim. [These characteristics are]: (1) ‘whenever he speaks, he lies, (2) Whenever he promises, he breaks his promise, (3) Whenever he is entrusted (with something), he violates (the trust).”
From the above we know that acts of worship are of little benefit to those who perform them if or as long as he has not benefited from it in terms of improvement/refinement which affects his character.
From this we can understand the importance of a Muslim making a critical examination of his character and trying to better it – to whatever extent that might be possible. And why not? Since our Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) whose moral character has been praised by Allah, when He, the Most High, said:
“And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character.” (68:4).
He (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) used to supplicate His Lord, the Mighty the Majestic, with these words:
“O Allah, Guide me to the most excellent manners and moral standards. None guides to it except You!
“And turn away from me the vile and evil manners. None can turn from me the vile and evil manners except You!”
Seeking refuge from knowledge that does not benefit
On the authority of Zayd ibn Arqam (radhiallaahu ‘anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) used to say, “O Allah, I seek refuge in you from knowledge which does not benefit, from a heart which does not feel humble, from a soul that does not feel contented and from an invocation that is not answered.” [Muslim] Indeed the Prophet’s seeking refuge from knowledge which doesn’t benefit comprises many things:
So look, for example, at the books of philosophy and those of the Ahl-ul-Kalaam. They have become prevalent and widespread even so far as being included into the syllabuses of institutions and universities. A student may waste most of his time trying to comprehend what an author intended, and once understood he feels no real gain from that, neither towards his religion, nor his life, nor towards his community or the Muslim Ummah.
A student spends years mastering various subjects, not having any affinity to the reality of life, nor bringing him any nearer to Allah.
How many biographies of unimportant, notorious characters are found, examinations are set about them and certificates are granted because of them. Their status is raised on an international level. This is on the one hand, while on the other hand we remain ignorant of the biographies of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. We are ignorant of the tafseer of even the shortest Chapters of the Qur’an, ignorant of basic rulings of fiqh that everyone is required to know, and maybe people will treat greatly if I said: We are ignorant of many fundamentals of our ‘aqeedah.
The Indications of Beneficial Knowledge
Everything has its indications and signs. Indications that knowledge is beneficial are that it leads to fine character, good manners and praiseworthy attributes. In this regard it was said: “He whose knowledge doesn’t cause him to weep, can be justifiably considered not to have been granted beneficial knowledge, since Allah described the people of knowledge saying:
“Say believe in it (the Qur’an) or do not believe. Verily! Those who were given knowledge before it, when it is recited to them, fall down on their faces in humble prostration. And they say: ‘Glory be to our Lord! Truly, the Promise of our Lord must be fulfilled.’ And they fall down on their faces weeping and it adds to their humility.” [Al-Israa’ (17):107-109]
Thus knowledge carries its possessor towards humility, prostration, crying, calling oneself to account and truthfulness with Allah.
Indeed crying is the clearest sign and best proof of the knowledge one possesses and of a person’s truthfulness. What is the benefit of knowledge a person learns, if it doesn’t lead him to crying, humbleness, penitence and good dealings with the people?
Is not the possessor of knowledge one who knows most about his Lord? Has he not read about His Exalted, Perfect, Lofty Attributes that which causes his heart to humble and his eyes to shed tears? Has he not read in the Book of Allah and in the sayings of the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, texts pertaining to the Fire, the terror in the grave and the fearful accounts of the Resurrection because of which mountains are humbled out of the fear of Allah?
So compare your position to this – may Allah have mercy upon us – and don’t forget the virtuous saying, “He who’s knowledge doesn’t cause him to weep, can be justifiably considered not to have been granted beneficial knowledge.”
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