The Thrill of Worshipping in the Age of Bliss

For the Companions, times of worshipping were moments of closeness and intimacy with Allah, glory unto Him. These times therefore provided important and unique opportunities to find inner peace. They would offer each deed of worship with the excitement that came with the privilege of having been subjected to Divine commands, perceiving it an honor and an enormous blessing just to be gifted with the ability to fulfill each deed of worship.

They Took Care to Be with Wudu at All Times

The Muslims of the Age of Bliss were careful to be with wudu at all times and refresh it with each approaching salat. The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- one day called Bilal Habashi -Allah be well-pleased with him- next to him and asked:

“Which deed was it you did that made you enter Paradise before me? Whenever I enter Paradise in my dreams I hear your shoes tapping in front of me. Last night I once again entered Paradise and heard the tapping of your shoes in front of me once again…”

“I make sure to offer two rakat of salat every time I hear the adhan, Messenger of Allah! When I break my wudu, I quickly refresh it and think that I owe Allah another two rakat,” explained Bilal -Allah be well-pleased with him-.

“Owing to those two, then”, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- stated. (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 17/3689; Ahmed, V, 354)

Abu Ghutayf al-Huzali explains:

“I listened to Abdullah ibn Omar in the Masjid as he spoke to us seated on the floor. When it was the time for zuhr salat, he got up from his spot, took wudu and offered salat. Once the time for asr salat came, he again got up from his spot, took another wudu despite retaining his previous wudu and offered salat. When it was time for maghrib salat, he again refreshed his wudu and offered the salat. Afterwards, he returned to his spot.

‘May Allah render you among the righteous’, I said to him. ‘Is it obligatory (fard) or voluntary (sunnah) to refresh the wudu for each salat?’

‘Were you observing me all this time?’ he asked.

‘Yes’, I answered.

‘No, it is not obligatory’, he then explained. ‘When I took wudu for fajr salat, I could have offered every salat thereafter with the same wudu, so long as I did not break it; if it were not for these words I heard from the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-:

‘Whosoever takes wudu over another wudu is given ten rewards.’

‘So it is those rewards I am after’, he said. (Ibn Majah, Taharat, 73)

The Companions used to do justice to their wudu, taking it as thoroughly as it can be. Abu Hazim of theTabiun generation once saw Abu Hurayrah -Allah be well-pleased with him- wash his arms up to his armpits whilst taking wudu.

“What sort of a wudu is that, Abu Hurayrah?” he asked.

“Were you here? I would not have taken wudu in that manner had I known you were. But I heard the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- once say, ‘The light of a believer on the Day of Judgment will reach to the furthermost point reached by his wudu water.’” (Muslim, Taharah, 40)

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- one day went to the graveyard and said:

“Greetings to you, dwellers of the land of believers! Allah willing, we will one day unite! How I wished to have seen my brothers!”

“Are we not your brothers?” instantly wondered the Companions.

“You are my companions”, replied the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. “Our brothers are those who are not yet born into this world.”

“How will you recognize them, Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-?” they then asked.

“Think of someone who has a horse that has a white forehead and hooves. Will he not be able to recognize his horse in a herd of pitch black horses?”

“Of course he would!”

The Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- thereupon said, “There…(On the Day of Judgment) Your brothers will come with their faces, hands and feet lit from the light of wudu. I will arrive at the head of my pool and wait for them, to treat them. Beware! Certain people will be banished from my pool just as a foreign camel is banished from the herd. I will call out to them for them to come. But it will be said to me, ‘They changed their ways after you!’ Thereupon I will say, ‘Then let them remain distant, distant!’” (Muslim, Taharah, 39; Fadail, 26; Nasai, Taharah, 110/150; Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 36; Muwattaa, Taharah, 28; Ahmed, II, 300, 408)

Salat was the Light of Their Eyes

The believers of Asr-u Saadah used to offer their salat with the feeling and excitement of reunion with Allah, glory unto Him. They would perform it with an enormous longing and concentration, as one would when offering his very final salat in life.[1]

Saad ibn Abi Waqqas -Allah be well-pleased with him- recounts:

“There were two brothers. One of them had died forty days before the other. People began speaking of the virtues of the one who had passed away before the other, in the presence of the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-.

‘Wasn’t the other brother a Muslim, too?’ then asked the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-.

‘Yes, Messenger of Allah. He sure was’, they replied. The Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- then said:

‘How are you to know the ranks granted to him by the salats he offered? Salat is like a luscious and sweet river that flows in front of a person’s door, in which he bathes five times a day. What do you say…will that leave anything of dirt on that person? You could not imagine the ranks salat elevates a person to!” (Muwattaa, Qasr’us-Salat, 91)

Abu Talha -Allah be well-pleased with him- was once offering salat under the shade in his garden. A bird known as dubsi began flapping its wings in a bid to fly outside of the garden, fluttering to and fro to find a spot from which to exit. Abu Talha was taken in by the beauty of the sight and momentarily fixed his eyes on the bird. He then came around to himself and returned to his salat but he could not remember at exactly which stage he was at. “My possessions have caused me trouble and have caused a lapse in my concentration”, he thought, referring to his garden, as he went to the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. There, he informed him of what had happened and said:

“I hereby hand this garden over as charity in the way of Allah. You can use it as you wish, Messenger of Allah, and give it to who you see fit.” (Muwattaa, Salat, 69)

During his time as caliph, Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- is reported to have written the following to his governors:

“As far as I am concerned, you most important duty is salat. Whosoever offers it nicely, observing its guidelines and designated times, will have protected his religion. Whosoever neglects it will neglect the other commands of religion even more.” (Muwattaa, Wuqut’us-Salat, 6)

The following is from Miswar ibn Mahramah -Allah be well-pleased with him-:

“I visited Omar ibn Khattab -Allah be well-pleased with him- after he was daggered. They had put a blanket over him as he lay unconscious.

‘How is he?’ I asked those attending to him.

‘As you can see’, they said.

‘Call him to salat’, I suggested, ‘for there is nothing other than salat that could frighten him to awake!’

They thereupon announced, ‘Caliph…It is time for salat!’

Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- instantly got up from his bed, remarking, ‘True…and by Allah he who abandons salat has no share of Islam!’” (Haythami, I, 295. Also see, Muwattaa, Taharat, 51; Ibn Saad, III, 35)

Ali -Allah be well-pleased with him- also said to one of his officials, “Everything depends on your salat!”[2]

Alaa ibn Abdurrahman recounts the following incident:

“It was afternoon, when on one occasion we paid a visit to Anas ibn Malik. When we arrived, Anas instantly stood and offered his asr salat. We told him he had offered the salat too early. Then in explaining his reason for doing so, he said:

‘I once heard the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- say, “That is the salat of hypocrites! That is the salat of hypocrites! That is the salat of hypocrites! (…the salat of those carrying signs of hypocrisy in their hearts). They sit and sit right until the sun turns yellow and begins to set and take its place right between the two horns of the devil, and quickly get down and get back up four times, like a bird collecting seed, and very little do they remember Allah in their salat.” (Muwattaa, Quran, 46; Muslim, Masajid, 195)

As a result of the warnings of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, the Companions were very diligent in observing the proper measure of each action in the salat. One day, Huzayfa -Allah be well-pleased with him- saw a person offering salat in the Masjid, yet without doing his rukus and the sajdahs properly. Afterwards, Huzayfa -Allah be well-pleased with him- asked him, ‘How many years have you been doing it like this?’

‘Forty years’, replied the man.

‘Well, that means you have not been offering salat for forty years. If you die while still offering your salat this way, you will have died upon something other than the predisposition (fitra) on which Muhammad -upon him blessings and peace- was created.” He then proceeded to show the man the proper way of offering salat, adding:

‘A person may be excused for offering light salat, only on the condition that his does his rukus and sajdahs properly!” (Ahmed, V, 384; Bukhari, Adhan, 119, 132; Salat, 26)

They Never Remained Back from Jamaah

The most important hallmark of the Asr-u Saadah society was the replacement of tribalism with the consciousness of religious brotherhood and the founding of a magnificent social unity and solidarity. And the clearest manifestation of this social unity in daily life was the salats offered in congregation or jamaah.

As an imam well acquainted with his jamaah, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- used to instantly realize when someone was missing. He would ask, “Has so and so come to salat?” “Where is your friend so and so?” Given the person missing was ill, he would pay him a visit with his Companions. If the person had a problem, he would see to it either by going there or calling the person next to him.

In encouraging Muslims to attend jamaah, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- would say:

“If you see someone who has made a habit of attending mosques, testify to his faith; for Allah the Almighty has said:

‘Only he shall visit the mosques of Allah who believes in Allah and the Hereafter…’ (at-Tawba, 18)” (Ibn Majah, Masajid, 19)

Thus, frequenting the congregation is a sign of iman, as it is classed as keeping mosques alive.

Abdullah ibn Masud -Allah be well-pleased with him- says:

“By Allah, I never witnessed anyone of us lag behind the jamaah apart from those who were exposed as hypocrites. I promise by Allah that an ill man would be brought to the mosque despite dragging his feet between two men carrying him on either side and would be placed in a row with their support.” (Muslim, Masajid, 256-257)

There were two Muslims during the time of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. One of them was a merchant, while the other a blacksmith specializing in making swords. Upon hearing theadhan, the merchant would instantly put aside his scale or leave it on the ground as it is and rush to theMasjid.

Likewise, the blacksmith would leave his hammer on his anvil or throw it behind his back given he was about the bang it on the sword in front of him and immediately make his way to the Masjid. In praise of them and Muslims alike, the Almighty revealed the following:

“Men whom neither trade nor selling diverts from the remembrance of Allah and the keeping up of prayer and the giving of poor-rate; they fear a day in which the hearts and eyes shall turn about.” (an-Nur, 37) (Qurtubi, XII, 184)

While in the bazaar, Ibn Masud -Allah be well-pleased with him- one day saw a group of people running to the mosque upon hearing the adhan. He thereupon remarked, “These are the people praised by Allah inan-Nur (in the ayah just mentioned)”. (Haythami, VII, 83)

They Used to Give Alms with Pleasure

The Asr-u Saadah society used to place great importance on alms or zakat, as the Almighty was adamantly enjoining alms, along with salat, on numerous occasions in the Quran. They would give their alms and charity as if they were handing directly to the hand of the Almighty, experiencing grand emotions and excitement while doing so.

With a sense of urgency in offering a good deed, Abbas -Allah be well-pleased with him-, the Blessed Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- uncle, once asked whether he could give his alms before the required year had passed. The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- gave him permission. (Abu Dawud, Zakat, 22/1624; Tirmidhi, Zakat, 37/678; Ibn Majah, Zakat, 7; Ahmed, I, 104; Darimi, Zakat, 12)

A woman, who was a relative of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, once visited him with her daughter by her side. Her daughter was wearing two bracelets, which were rather thick, on her wrists.

“Do you give their alms?” the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- asked the woman, referring to the bracelets.

“No”, she replied.

“Would you like it if Allah made you wear two bracelets of fire in their place?” the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- then asked.[3]

The woman then immediately removed them from her daughter’s wrists and handed them over, saying, “These now belong to Allah and His Messenger. Do with them as you wish!” (Abu Dawud, Zakat, 4/1563)

A thirteen man envoy of the Banu Tujib tribe had arrived next to the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- with their alms to pay. The Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- was fond of sensitivity towards alms and after warmly welcoming them, told Bilal Habashi -Allah be well-pleased with him- to host them in the best way possible.

“We have brought to you, Messenger of Allah, what is Allah’s due in our wealth!” they said.

“Take them back with you and distribute it among your poor”, said the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.

“But we have only brought with us what was left over from our poor”, they explained.

Abu Bakr -Allah be well-pleased with him- then praised them, commenting, “Surely there is no other envoy among other Arabs like these men of Tujib, Messenger of Allah!”

“Guidance is in the hands of Allah”, then stated the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. “Allah opens to iman the hearts of whom He wishes for the best.”

The envoy of Banu Tajib asked the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- certain questions about the Quran and Sunnah. Their answers were written down and handed to them. Their enthusiasm increased the Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- interest towards them. After staying a few days, the envoy expressed their desire to return. When asked as to why they were in such a hurry, they said:

“We want to return to our people as soon as possible so we can teach them what we saw and learnt of the Messenger of Allah!” They saw the Prophet of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- one last time and bode him farewell. The Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- sent Bilal Habashi -Allah be well-pleased with him- with them and granted them more gifts than any other envoy. (Ibn Saad, I, 323; Ibn Qayyim, III, 650-651)

Ibn Abbas -Allah be well-pleased with him- recounts:

“The Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- led a two rakah salat one a day of eid. After giving a sermon to the males, he drew closer towards where the women were, as they could not hear him properly. With him was Bilal -Allah be well-pleased with him-. He then preached them, too, encouraging them to give charity. Thereupon, the women began to throw their bracelets, gold and silver necklaces and rings on Bilal’s stretched out shirt.” (See, Bukhari, Zakat, 21, 33)

Drawing attention to how neglect in fulfilling financial deeds of worship ends up becoming a reason for tragic remorse, Ibn Abbas -Allah be well-pleased with him- used to warn people with the following words:

“Whosoever does not perform his pilgrimage or offer his alms despite having the threshold amount of wealth, will sincerely wish to return to life during his final breath”. He would then recite the below ayah:

“O you who believe! let not your wealth, or your children, divert you from the remembrance of Allah; and whoever does that, these are the losers. And spend out of what We have given you before death comes to one of you, so that he should say: My Lord! Why did You not respite me to a near term, so that I should have given alms and been of the doers of good deeds? And Allah does not respite a soul when its appointed term has come, and Allah is Aware of what you do.” (al-Munafiqun, 9-11) (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 63/3316)

The people of the Age of Bliss were thoroughly sensitive with regard to the portion of their wealth they were obliged to safeguard and forward to the needy.

Ahnaf ibn Qays -Allah be well-pleased with him- one day arrived next to Caliph Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him-, as the head of the envoy from Iraq. It was an extremely hot day. Wearing an apron, Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- was oiling a camel allocated for alms and tending to it. Seeing them, he said:

“Change your clothes, Ahnaf…and come and help me; for this is a zakat camel. And the poor, widowers and orphans are entitled to it.”

One of them then said, “May Allah have mercy on you, Caliph! Couldn’t you instead get one of your slaves to do it?”

To that, Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- gave the wonderful response below:

“Who is a better slave than Omar and Ahnaf? Since it is I who has taken the responsibility of all Muslims on my shoulders, it is me who is the slave of all Muslims! Just as it is necessary for a slave to be sincere towards his master and fulfill all his responsibilities, I, too, must conduct myself in the same way towards Muslims.” (Ali al-Muttaqi, V, 761/14307)

There are also reports that Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- once chased a runaway zakat camel until he virtually ran out breath and responded in a similar tone to those advising him to instead get one of his servants to chase the camel down.

An indication of the sensitivity shown by the early Muslims towards alms is the case of Caliph Omar ibn Abdulaziz. The official alms distributor he sent to Africa returned without giving away a single grain of alms, for the simple reason that he could not find a single person in need. The Caliph then used the alms to purchase and set free an enormous amount of slaves.[4]

Charitableness was the Focal Point of their Lives

The Asr-u Saadah society knew very well that giving charity in the way of Allah, glory unto Him, would shield a person from many dangers and troubles, as well as helping him attain to the love of the Almighty. After all, the Quran had declared:

“And spend[5] in the way of Allah and cast not yourselves to perdition with your own hands, and do good (to others); surely Allah loves the doers of good.” (al-Baqara, 195)

Umm Bujayd -Allah be well-pleased with her-, a female Companion, had once come to the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, lamenting:

“The blessings of Allah unto you, Messenger of Allah. Many a time, a needy person comes and stands in front of my door, yet I am not able to find anything to give!”

“Even if you cannot find anything else than a burnt sheep’s nail” said the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, “give it to the poor and do not let him return empty handed.” (Abu Dawud, Zakat, 33/1667; Tirmidhi, Zakat, 29/665; Nasai, Zakat, 70/2566; Ahmed, VI, 383)

Even if a Muslim does not have anything to give, he should at least console the needy with a few kind words. In a situation like this, the Almighty advises to say ÞóæúáðÇãóíúÓõæÑðÇ: that is sweet and gentle words that will impart a feeling of peace and joy.

In underlining the abundance that comes with giving, Abu Masud al-Ansari -Allah be well-pleased with him- says:

“After the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- commanded us to give charity, some began going to the bazaar to carry loads on their backs in return for a payment of a mudd,[6] which they would then give away in charity. Some of those people today have as many as a hundred-thousand dinars.” (Bukhari, Zakat, 10)

“Each person will be shaded by the charities he gave until the verdict is passed (in the Hereafter)”, says the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.

Abu’l-Khayr, one of the transmitters of the above hadith, used to make sure he donated something every day, even if it meant it was in the form of a loaf of bread, an onion or little things like that. (Ahmed, IV, 147-8; Haythami, III, 110)

Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- recounts:

“The Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- had ordered us to donate. I possessed a reasonable amount of wealth at the time, too. ‘If there was ever a time I could outdo Abu Bakr’, I thought to myself, ‘it is today’. So I brought half of my entire wealth and handed it over to the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-.

‘What have you left for your family’, asked the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-.

‘Around the same amount as what I have brought’, I replied.

But then Abu Bakr -Allah be well-pleased with him- turned up with his entire wealth.

‘What have you left for your wife and kids?’ asked the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-.

‘I have left Allah and His Messenger’, he replied.

It was right there and then that I realized I could not outdo him in anything!” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 16/3675)

According to Abdurrahman ibn Abu Amra, one night her mother declared she would free a slave come morning, only to die the same night. So he later went to Qasim ibn Muhammad, asking him whether he could set a slave free on behalf of her mother.

Qasim said, “Saad ibn Ubadah -Allah be well-pleased with him- once asked the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- whether her deceased mother would receive any benefit if he freed a slave on behalf of her. ‘Yes’, was his reply.’” (Muwattaa, Itq, 13)

Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her- reports that a man once came to the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and said, “My mother suddenly passed away. I am sure that if she could have spoken, she would have certainly given charity. Could I give charity on her behalf?”

“Yes”, assured the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace-. “Do give charity on her behalf.” (Bukhari, Wasaya, 19; Abu Dawud, Wasaya, 15/2881)

Harithah ibn Numan -Allah be well-pleased with him-, a Companion, had lost his sight. He had a rope tied to his door and kept a basked full of dates and other things by his side. Whenever a needy person walked past and greeted him, he would grab something from the basket, and holding onto the rope, he would guide himself to the threshold of his door and personally give to the needy what he had in his hands. Time and again, his family would say to him, “There is no need for you to do that…we can give it on your behalf” but he would respond, each time:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- say, ‘Giving to the needy with his own hands will protect a person from an awful death!” (Ibn Saad, III, 488; Tabarani, Kabir, III, 229, 231; Haythami, III, 112)

Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her- explains:

“The Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- once said to his wives, ‘The quickest to reunite with me from among you is she with the longest arms.’ We then began measuring our arms to see who had the longest. But it turned out that what was meant by ‘the longest arms’ was the arms that extended the most towards charity…and those belonged to Zaynab -Allah be well-pleased with her- who worked and donated with her own hands.” (Muslim, Fadailu’s-Sahabah, 101)

Rich or poor, ill or healthy, they all used to rally to donate.

One day, a poor person came to Othman -Allah be well-pleased with him-, complaining, “You rich people are dominating all the rewards by donating, freeing slaves and performing pilgrimage using your wealth!”

“Do you really envy us?” asked Othman -Allah be well-pleased with him-.

“Yes”, replied the poor man. “By Allah, we do!”

“I promise by Allah” Othman -Allah be well-pleased with him- then began to explain, “that a dirham donated amid hardships is much better than ten-thousand dirhams donated from a greater wealth!” (Bayhaki, Shuab, III, 251; Ali al-Muttaqi, VI, 612/17098)

They Realized that there was Nothing like Fasting

“Advise me with such a deed”, Abu Umamah -Allah be well-pleased with him- once asked the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- “that Allah will reward me through it.”

“I advise you with fasting, for there is nothing like it!” the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- replied. (Nasai, Siyam, 43)

Umm Ayman -Allah be well-pleased with her- had set out to undertake her Hegira to Allah and His Messenger. She was fasting. She neither had anything to eat or drink with her, nor a mount to ride on. Slowly advancing in the scorching heat of the Tihama desert, she was on the brink of dying from thirst and hunger. Near the time of iftar as she was lying down exhausted, she heard a rustling sound from above her head. When she lifted her head, she saw a bucket hanging on a rope. She says, “I took the bucket and drank to my heart’s content. I never felt thirsty after that.”

There were times after that when Umm Ayman -Allah be well-pleased with him- would intentionally fast under boiling heat and circumambulate the Kaabah, just to see if she would feel any thirst. But she never did and that is how it remained up until her death. (Abdurrazzaq, Musannaf, IV, 309; Abu Nuaym, Hilya, II, 67; Ibn Hajar, Isabah, VIII, 170; Ibn Saad, VIII, 224)

Before setting out to the Battle of Uhud, Hamza -Allah be well-pleased with him- made an intention to fast. ‘If I end up being martyred’, he thought, ‘I will meet my Lord while still fasting’.

Anas ibn Malik -Allah be well-pleased with him- explains:

“Whilst the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- was alive, my stepfather Abu Talha -Allah be well-pleased with him- never used to fast a lot, apart from the compulsory fasting of Ramadan, so he could fight with greater ease during battles. But after the Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- passing away, I never saw him not fasting, apart from the days of eid.” (Bukhari, Jihad, 29)

Abu Talha -Allah be well-pleased with him- was among the most courageous warriors of the battlefield. He would not offer many supererogatory fasts, so that he could meet the enemy with strength. But later in life, when the battles he undertook became few and far between, he took to fasting and spent a majority of his days offering the deed. It is reported that he lived a further twenty-four years in this state following the passing away of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.

As narrated by Anas -Allah be well-pleased with him-, towards the final days of his life Abu Talha -Allah be well-pleased with him- recited aloud the below ayah:

“Go forth light and heavy, and strive hard in Allah’s way with your property and your persons; this is better for you, if you know.” (at-Tawba, 41) after which he said:

“Allah the Almighty commands us to take to the battlefield, young and old. Fetch my weapons!”

“We will fight in your place, father”, replied his sons. But Abu Talha -Allah be well-pleased with him- could not be calmed. So they eventually prepared his weapons, as Abu Talha -Allah be well-pleased with him- set out on a naval campaign. It was during this campaign that he breathed his last. Even though they could bury him only after seven days, his corpse showed no signs of deformation or odor. (Ibn Hajar, Fath’ul-Bari, [Jihad, 29])

Abu Burdah -Allah be well-pleased with him- and Yazid ibn Abi Kabshah once went out on a journey together. Cautious to fast as many days as he could, Yazid -Allah be well-pleased with him- was fasting this time around as well. Abu Burdah said to him:

“I heard my father Abu Musa say on numerous occasions that he heard the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- state, ‘Whosoever is ill or sets out on a journey receives the rewards of the supererogatory deeds he offers when healthy or at rest.’” (Bukhari, Jihad, 134)

During the Age of Bliss, the month of Ramadan was lived with enthusiasm and excitement and Muslims used to ensure their children also breathed this air of spirituality as much as they could. Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- in fact once reproached a drunken man he came upon during Ramadan, saying, “Woe to you…Even our children are fasting right now!” (Bukhari, Sawm, 47)

Abu’d-Darda -Allah be well-pleased with him- expresses the importance he attached to fasting, among other things, in the words below:

“Were it not for three things, I would not have wished to remain on Earth: Prostrating to my Creator, day and night, by placing my forehead on the ground and thereby prepare for my eternal life, enduring thirst by fasting during the hottest hours of day, and spend time with people who choose the best words to speak, just as a person would pick the best fruits to eat.” (Munawi, Fayz’ul-adir, II, 11/1193)

They used to Spill Over with Excitement over Hajj and Umrah

The Companions used to attach an enormous importance to pilgrimage, both hajj and umrah. They would circumambulate the Kaabah with devotion, never abandoning these deeds. They used to fill their lungs with the spiritual air of those sacred places, fill their appetites with the feast descending on the ground of both Mecca and Medina. Following the trail left by all prophets since Adem –upon him peace- and by hearts aching with love, they would replenish their spirits with their memories. With an attitude of respect towards the signs of the Divine spread out over those sacred lands, they would use every opportunity during the pilgrimage to remember the Almighty.

Bara ibn Marur -Allah be well-pleased with him-, one of the twelve representatives who took part in the First Aqabah Pledge, had promised, at the time, to come and visit the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and the Kaabah in the upcoming year during pilgrimage season. But before he could fulfill his promise, he found himself lying on his deathbed. Thereupon, he asked his family to at least turn him “…towards the direction of Kaabah, for I had promised the Messenger of Allah that I would come!”

He thus became the first person to turn towards the soon-to-be qibla both in life and death.

Upon arriving in Medina, with a few of his Companions by his side, the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- paid a visit to Bara’s -Allah be well-pleased with him- grave and offered his funeral salat. After that he prayed:

“Allah…Forgive him! Have mercy on him and be pleased with him!” (Ibn Abdilbar, I, 153; Ibn Saad, III, 619-620)

Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her- recounts:

“I once asked the Messenger of Allah if us women could also join Muslim forces in battle and do our part injihad. But he said, ‘The best and the most beautiful jihad for you is an accepted hajj.’ Since hearing this from him, I have never neglected it.” (Bukhari, Jaza’us-Sayd, 26)

Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- once asked the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- permission to perform umrah. “My dearest brother”, said he, “do not forget us in your prayers!”

“These words of the Messenger of Allah” Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- later said regarding this compliment, “are more valuable to me than the entire world. I could not have been happier if there were to give me the whole of earth.” (See, Abu Dawud, Witr, 23/1498; Tirmidhi, Daawat, 109/3562; Ibn Majah, Manasiq, 5)

The Companions would never shrink back from suffering hardships in the way of hajj and umrah. Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her-, held back from umrah by menstruation, lamented to the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, saying:

“Others, Messenger of Allah, are returning having performed both hajj and umrah while I only hajj.”

“Hold on”, replied the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace-. “Once your cycle is over, go to Tanim (with your brother Abdurrahman), enter ihram with an intention for umrah and then begin to call out the talbiyah. After you complete your umrah, come and meet us at such and such place. But know that the rewards of your umrah will be in proportion to wealth you spend and the hardships you endure in the process.” (Bukhari, Umrah, 8)

The Companions were extremely polite and well-mannered during pilgrimage. Advising to behave courteously while circumambulating, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- had once given the below advice to Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him-:

“You are a man of strength, Omar. Do not inflict harm on the weak by pushing and shoving people to reach the Black Stone! Neither be discomfited, nor cause discomfort! If you see that it is vacant around, then touch Hajar’ul-Aswad and kiss it. Otherwise make a gesture from a distance and pass through saying La ilaha ill-Allah and Allah’u Akbar!” (Ahmed, I, 28; Haythami, III, 241)

Women would not mix with men while circumambulating. Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her-, for instance, used to circumambulate a considerable distance away from men.  A woman circumambulating with her once suggested they should draw closer to touch the Black Stone. But Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her- refused.

Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her- and her friends would even cover themselves to a point beyond recognition and circumambulate the Kaabah at night. Males would be taken out of the Sacred House when they wished to enter to worship. (Bukhari, Hajj, 64)

On one occasion, as the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- was about to depart from Mecca, he realized that his wife Umm Salamah, undergoing her monthly cycle, had not yet circumambulated.

“When you hear the qamah for the fajr and people begin to offer the salat” he said to her, as a means through which she could fulfill her deed, “circumambulate on camelback from the outer.” (Bukhari, Hajj, 71)

Umm Salamah -Allah be well-pleased with her- recounts herself:

“I informed the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- of my situation during hajj. He told me to circumambulate on camelback from behind the Muslims as they offered their salat. Meanwhile, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- was leading them in fajr salat, reciting the surah that begins with æóÇáØøõæÑö. æóßöÊóÇÈòãóÓúØõæÑٍ(surah at-Tur).” (Bukhari, Hajj, 64)

We can conclude from these narrations that females may circumambulate with males, though it is better for them to do so from the outer, as much the situation permits. Circumambulating the Kaabah is a deed of worship, just like salat. Just as females stand behind males during salat, it is more proper for them to circumambulate in the outer rows.

They Esteemed Learning the Quran and Hadith

Allah, glory unto Him, declares:

“(It is) a Book We have revealed to you abounding in good that they may ponder over its verses, and that those endowed with understanding may be mindful.” (Saad, 29)

“Surely they who recite the Book of Allah and keep up prayer and spend out of what We have given them secretly and openly, hope for a gain which will not perish.” (Fatir, 29)

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- used to immediately recite to his Companions, first males then females, the ayat of the Quran that were revealed to his pure heart.[7] Some Muslims would then memorize the given revelation, while others would write it down and hang onto it.

Transcribing the Quran was a widespread practice among the Companions. Almost everyone had taken on the task. Most of those who did not know how to write would arrive at the Masjid with a marker and something to write on and get voluntary scribes to write for them what was revealed.[8]

This way, the Holy Quran was recorded and put into practice since the very first days of Islam, even when Muslims were almost crushed under the ruthless oppression of the idolaters. Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- had in fact become Muslim by reading some parts of the Quran recorded in written form.[9]

The Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- presented a written copy of the Holy Quran, which included every single ayah revealed to date, to Rafi ibn Malik -Allah be well-pleased with him- during the Aqabah Pledge. After returning to Medina, Rafi -Allah be well-pleased with him- would recite them to the new Muslims, who would gather in what is known as the first mosque of Islam, which Rafi himself had built in his own neighborhood.[10]

Abdullah ibn Masud -Allah be well-pleased with him- says:

“When a Companion returned home, his wife would straight away ask him two questions: ‘How many ayat were revealed today?’ and ‘How many of the Prophet’s ahadith did you memorize?’” (Abdulhamid Kashk, Fi Rihabi’t-Tafsir, I, 26)

The below words, again from Abdullah ibn Masud -Allah be well-pleased with him-, further bear out the strong connection the Companions had with the Quran:

“I promise by Allah, apart from Whom there is no god, that there is not a surah revealed from the Book of Allah, whose place of revelation is unknown to me. Again, there is not an ayah revealed from the Book of Allah, without me knowing which person it was revealed about. If I heard that someone knew the Book of Allah better than I and it was possible to go to him on camelback, I would not waste anytime in setting out on the road.” (Bukhari, Fadail’ul-Quran, 8)

Time and again, Abdullah ibn Masud -Allah be well-pleased with him- would recite and teach his students a certain ayah of the Quran and follow it up by saying, “This ayah is better than anything the Sun has ever shone upon on Earth!” He would say the same for every single ayah. (Haythami, VII, 166)

His below words again show just how much the Companions were occupied in training themselves in Quranic sciences:

“Whosoever desires knowledge, let him thoroughly contemplate the meanings of the Quran and concentrate on its interpretation and recital; for it contains the knowledge of past and present.” (Haythami, VII, 165; Bayhaki, Shuab, II, 331)

The Companions would frequently get together to discuss the Quran and hadith.[11] The students of theSuffa, especially, were always at the Masjid, reading the Quran at day and discussing it amongst each other at night.[12]

Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him-, for one, focused on contemplating in order to better understand the Quran, reciting it reflectively, in a way that resulted in practice. Proof of this are his words, “I managed to complete (fully implement in my life) surah al-Baqara in twelve years and as thanks, I sacrificed a camel.” (Qurtubi, I, 40)

Imam Malik reports that Abdullah ibn Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- studied the ayat of surah al-Baqara alone for a complete eight years, in order properly understand and practice them. He would always read the Book with an eye to learn and practice its commands and steer clear from its prohibitions.[13]

Abu Bakr -Allah be well-pleased with him- has in fact said, “Explaining a single ayah of the Quran is more appealing to me than memorizing it alone.” (Ibn’ul-Anbari, Kitab-u Izah’il-Waqf, I, 23)

A man once went to Zayd ibn Thabit -Allah be well-pleased with him- and asked him his opinion regarding a complete read of the Quran in a single week. “It would be good”, replied the Companion, adding:

“But I take greater enjoyment from completing the Quran in fifteen days, or even twenty.[14] If you ask why, it is because that way I can thoroughly reflect on the Quran and better understand its meanings.” (Muwatta’, Quran, 4)

After the isolated manuscripts of the Quran were collected between two covers, Othman -Allah be well-pleased with him- encouraged people to transcribe copies of it for their personal use.[15] The underlying reason for this was the possibility that before that, Muslims might have only recorded certain surah or ayatrather than the whole. But now that the Quran was collected between two covers under the supervision of a steadfast commission, approved by thousands of huffaz, Muslims could at long last transcribe the Quran entire for themselves.

Ubaydullah ibn Abdullah -Allah be well-pleased with him- reports that the Medina Copy, one of the four copies of the Quran reproduced during the time of Othman -Allah be well-pleased with him-, was kept in the Masjid of Medina, read aloud each morning to the gathered Muslims.[16]

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and his Righteous Caliphs sent many knowledgeable Companions to various centers of the Muslim world to teach the Quran and Sunnah.[17] Musab ibn Umayr -Allah be well-pleased with him-, for one, sent to Medina before the Hegira as a teacher, relentlessly explained Islam to her locals and read them the Quran at every given opportunity.[18]

Abu’d-Darda -Allah be well-pleased with him-, who was sent to Damascus, enjoyed a long life there, during which he founded a famous circle of knowledge. The number of his students was well above 1600. Dividing them into groups, he would assign for each group a teacher from among his better learned students and personally inspect their developments. Students who were able to pass the basic level were then given the honor of attending the circle of the illustrious Companion. That way, advanced students had the privilege of both continuing attending Abu’d-Darda’s -Allah be well-pleased with him- circle and act as teacher for beginners.[19] The same method was applied elsewhere by other Companions.[20]

Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- assigned Yazid ibn Abdullah -Allah be well-pleased with him- with the task of teaching the Quran to Bedouins dwelling in distant provinces and later Abu Sufyan -Allah be well-pleased with him- to inspect their levels of education. He additionally appointed three Companions to teach the Quran to the children of Medina, giving them each a salary of 15 dirhams per month, also telling them to help every person, young and old, memorize at least five from among the easier ayat of the Quran.[21]

Ibn Abbas -Allah be well-pleased with him- used to teach the Quran at an advanced level. People would gather around him almost everywhere he went. When he went to Basra, for instance, the first thing he reportedly did was to give a sermon to the locals, explaining them the content of surah al-Baqara.[22]

Ali -Allah be well-pleased with him- once heard some noises coming from the way of the Kufa Mosque and inquired as to what it was all about.

“Some people are reading and learning the Quran”, he was told.

“How lovely for them”, remarked he, “for they were the most beloved of all people in the sight of the Messenger of Allah.” (Haythami, VII, 162)

Mujahid (d. 103 AH), one of the leading exegetes of the Tabiun generation, has reported that Ibn Abi Layla (d. 83 AH), a prominent jurist and scholar of hadith, qiraah (recital of the Quran), had set up a library consisting only of copies of the Quran, where people would gather solely for the purpose of reading the Divine Word.[23]

Abu Abdurrahman as-Sulami became a teacher of qiraah during the caliphate of Othman -Allah be well-pleased with him-, a profession he continued for many years. In reference to the mosque in Kufa where he was an imam and a teacher of the Quran, he would at times comment, “The only thing that keeps me here is the hope that I, too, will be considered among those praised in the hadith, ‘The best of you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.’” (Bukhari, Fadail’ul-Quran, 21; Tirmidhi, Fadail’ul-Quran, 15/2907)

The Asr-u Saadah society showed the same vigor in learning hadith. Below is just one example.

Urwah ibn Zubayr -Allah be well-pleased with him- recounts:

“One day my aunt Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her- said to me, ‘I heard that Abdullah ibn Amr -Allah be well-pleased with him- is going to stop by us on his way to hajj. Meet with him and ask him some questions on your mind, for he has transmitted a great deal of the knowledge of the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-.’ I thereupon met with Abdullah -Allah be well-pleased with him- and asked him many questions with regard to what he had learnt from the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.” (Muslim, Ilm, 14)

Abdullah ibn Amr -Allah be well-pleased with him- used to record the words of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, even while he was still alive. It was not long before he had compiled a great treasure of hadith.[24]

The older Companions were just as eager to expand their knowledge, in spite of having passed their prime.[25]

They would Seek their Cure from the Holy Quran

So central was the Quran in the lives of the Companions that they would resort to the words of Allah, glory unto Him, in all circumstances. When they needed to find remedies for their illnesses, it was again the Quran they would turn to.

Abu Said -Allah be well-pleased with him- explains:

“We were part of a military mission sent by the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-. We stopped by at this certain place. Soon someone, with the appearance of a servant, from the nearby settlements came to us and said, ‘Our chieftain has been bitten by a snake and none of us can treat him. Is there anyone from among who does ruqyah (reading the Quran and praying to treat an illness)?’

Then, someone from among us, whose expertise in ruqyah was unbeknown to us, got up and left with the person. A while later he returned with thirty sheep, given to him as thanks for healing the chieftain. We all ended up drinking their milk.

‘So you do know how to do ruqyah?’ we asked him.

‘Not really’, he replied. ‘I simply read to him surah al-Fatiha.’

We then advised him not to do anything with the sheep until we had cleared the issue with the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-. Upon returning to Medina, we immediately told him about our encounter.

‘Who taught you that Fatiha is a means for ruqyah?’ commented the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-, adding, ‘Distribute the sheep amongst yourselves and spare a share for me, too.’” (Muslim, Salam, 66, 65; Bukhari, Fadail’ul-Quran, 9; Ijarah, 16; Tibb, 33, 39)

It was only to commend the Companions’ action and remove any doubts they may have had concerning payment received from medical treatment that the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- asked them to ‘spare him a share, too’. (Ayni, Umdat’ul-Qari, XXI, 271-272)

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- has said, in another hadith, “There is a cure for every disease in surah al-Fatiha.” (Darimi, Fadail’ul-Quran, 12)

Ilaqa ibn Sahar -Allah be well-pleased with him- had become Muslim after meeting the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace-. On the way back to his hometown, he came upon a tribe, among which there was a mentally ill man tied fast to iron bars. The man’s family came to the Companion and said, “From what we hear, your friend (the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-) has brought certain blessings. Do you know of anything that would cure this ill man?”

Ilaqa -Allah be well-pleased with him- recounts what unfolded thereafter himself:

“I then read to the man surah al-Fatiha. Soon, he was cured. In return, they gave me a hundred sheep. I then returned to the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- to inform him of what had happened, to find out whether it was permissible for me to take the sheep.

‘Did you read anything other than the Quran?’ asked the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.

‘No’, I replied.

‘Then take them’, he said. ‘I promise by my life that he who receives payment in return for reading from something superstitious and breathing onto a person thereof will bear its sin. But you are receiving payment in return for what is the Truth.’” (Abu Dawud, Tibb, 19/3986; Buyu’, 37/3420; Ahmed, V, 211)

They used to Repent at Dawn

Allah, glory unto Him, states:

“They used to sleep but little in the night. And in the morning they asked forgiveness.” (ad-Dhariyat, 17-18)

The Asr-u Saadah society would prefer waking up for salat at night and reciting the Quran and the names of Allah, glory unto Him, at dawn, over their warm beds. Dawn and early morning were known as “times of repentance and prayer” and were accordingly treated with sensitivity.[26] People passing by their houses at night would often hear sounds of dhikr and Quran recital, much like the humming of bees.

Qadi Baydawi –May Allah have mercy on him- explains this as follows:

“Once the five daily salats became compulsory for the ummah and the night salat voluntary (sunnah), the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- stepped out of his room, at night, and walked amid the houses of his Companions, to find out what they were occupied with. He found those houses humming, like bee hives, with the sounds of the Quran and dhikr.” (Anwar’ut-Tanzil, IV, 111)

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- says:

“I know very well the sounds of Quran recited by the kindhearted Ashari clan as they enter their homes at night. Even if I do not see where they stop over in their journeys during the day, I instantly recognize it from the sounds of the Quran raised by their voices at night.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 38)

Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her- explains:

“While in my room, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- awoke for the night salat (tahajjud) and heard the voice of Abbad ibn Abdullah, offering salat in the Masjid at the time.

‘Is that Abbad’s voice, Aisha?’ he asked.

‘Yes’, I replied.

‘Allah…Have mercy on Abbad!’ he then prayed. (Bukhari, Shahadat, 11)

On eight or nine occasions, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- had postponed the ishasalat to the last third of the night. Abu Bakr -Allah be well-pleased with him- then asked the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- whether he could lead the salat a little bit earlier, so as to make it easier for them to wake up night for tahajjud.

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- complied with Abu Bakr’s -Allah be well-pleased with him- wish. (Ahmed, V, 47)

Upon waking up for tahajjud, Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- would pray, “My Lord…You see where I am; you know what I need. My Allah…Send me away from your presence as a servant whose needs are fulfilled, freed from all kinds of fear and threat, who immediately complies with your commands…a servant whose prayers You accepts, whose sins You forgive and on whom You treat with mercy!”

And upon completing his salat, he would pray:

“My Allah…I do not see anything on Earth that survives. Neither does it present me with an upright path I can follow. Allah…Make me a person who speaks with knowledge and who keeps silent out of wisdom! My Allah…Do not give worldly possessions in excess lest I transgress and do not completely deprive me, lest I forget my duties towards you. Surely, better are possessions that are less yet sufficient than those that are in excess and leaves one unmindful of his duties.” (Ibn Abi Shaybah, Musannaf, VII, 82)

“Who does the Messenger of Allah like the most out of all people?” Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her- was once asked.

“Fatimah”, she responded.

“What about from men?” they then asked.

“Her husband”, she said, “who as far as I know is a person who fasts and offers salat at night, a lot.” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 60/3874)

Amir ibn Rabia, who had attached great importance on tahajjud salat throughout his life, happened to pass away while offering tahajjud. At the time, Muslims were on the verge of undergoing a great tribulation, only a few would survive. It was then that Amir saw someone in his dream, telling him to:

“Get up and ask Allah to protect you from the tribulation He protects His righteous servants.”

He straight away awoke and offered salat. After the salat, he was instantly struck down by an illness, from which he breathed his last shortly afterwards. People came to carry his funeral out of his home, without him stepping a foot outside to join the tribulation. (Haythami, IX, 301; Ibn Abi Shaybah, Musannaf, VI, 362/32044)

With his death near, Amr ibn Abdiqays, from the Tabiun, began to shed tears.

“Why are you crying?” he was asked.

“I am crying neither from the fear of death nor the love of Earth”, he replied. “I am crying because from now on, I will be deprived of fasting during hot days and waking up at night for the tahajjud salat.” (Dhahabi, Siyar, IV, 19)

Below is what the people of spirituality have reportedly said about the precious time of dawn, in which deeds of worship have added value, prayers and repentances are accepted, sins are wiped off and which gives the body health:

“Reviving nights is the true kingdom and sovereignty the Almighty refers to in the ayah, ‘Say: O Allah, Master of the Kingdom! You give the kingdom to whomsoever You please and take away the kingdom from whomsoever You please; and You exalt whom You please and abase whom You please. In Your Hand is the good; surely, You have power over all things’ (Al-i Imran, 26)” (Hadimi, Majmuat’ur-Rasail (Risalatu’l-Wasiyyah wa’n-Nasihah), p. 194)

They were Diligent in their Deeds of Worship

The Asr-u Saadah society used to see to their obligations of worship with great diligence, though they never considered their worships to be sufficient. They always lived between fear and hope (ÈóíúäóÇáúÎóæúÝöæóÇáÑøóÌóÇÁö).

Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her- explains:

We will be able to properly return that trust which I have taken on my shoulders!” (Sarraj, Luma. p. 139)

The used to Compete in Virtue and Good Causes

The Asr-u Saadah society would virtually compete with each other in righteous deeds. Abdurrahman ibn Abi Bakr -Allah be well-pleased with him- explains:

“After leading the fajr salat, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- turned around facing his Companions and asked, ‘Is there anyone fasting today?’

‘I did not intend on fasting yesterday evening, Messenger of Allah, so I am not fasting today’, Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- said.

‘I intended on fasting yesterday evening and I have begun the day fasting, Messenger of Allah’, then said Abu Bakr -Allah be well-pleased with him-.

‘Has anyone paid an ill person a visit today?’ then asked the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-.

‘We have just offered fajr salat, Messenger of Allah, and we have not yet moved from our spots’, said Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him-. ‘So how can we have visited an ill person?’

‘I heard brother Abdurrahman ibn Awf was ill, Messenger of Allah. So I visited him on the way to the Masjid, gave him my well-wishes and came to the Masjid from there’, confessed Abu Bakr -Allah be well-pleased with him-.

‘Has anyone among you fed a poor today?’ then inquired the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- once more.

‘We have just offered fajr salat, Messenger of Allah, and we have not yet moved from our spots’, repeated Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him-.

But Abu Bakr -Allah be well-pleased with him- said, ‘On the way to the Masjid, I came across someone who said he was in need. There was a piece of barley bread in the hands of my son Abdurrahman. I took it from his hands and gave it to him’.

‘I give you the glad tidings of Paradise’, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- then stated.

Letting out a deep sigh, Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- remarked, ‘Ah…Paradise!’

After counseling Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- with some pleasing words, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- said, ‘May Allah have mercy on Omar; may Allah have mercy on Omar! Whenever he wishes to do something good, Abu Bakr always leaves him in his wake!’ (Haythami, III, 163-164; also see, Abu Dawud, Zakat, 36/1670; Hakim, I, 571/1501)

This teaches us the necessity of living each moment with an eye for the pleasure of Allah, glory unto Him, and that the consequences of our action will always be in line with out intentions.

The Quran declares:

“So when you are relieved, still toil. And strive to please your Lord.” (al-Inshirah, 7-8)

They Would Follow the Sunnah Inch for Inch

Fudayl ibn Iyad –May Allah have mercy on Him- says:

“A deed done with sincerity (ikhlas) will not be accepted unless its requirements (shurut) are satisfied. A deed whose requirements are satisfied is still not accepted if it lacks sincerity. It will remain unaccepted, so long as the satisfaction of its requirements and sincerity remain separated from one another. Sincerity is for the deed to be fulfilled for the pleasure of Allah, glory unto Him, alone while the correct way of satisfying its requirements is for it to comply with the Sunnah.”[27]

Indeed, to obey the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- is to obey the Almighty, as indicated by the ayah:

“Whoever obeys the Messenger, he indeed obeys Allah, and whoever turns back, so We have not sent you as a keeper over them.” (an-Nisa, 80)

Having come to grips with this truth, the Asr-u Saadah person would take extreme care to comply with the Sunnah of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- in all action and behavior.

To a group of young men who had come for advice, Jabir -Allah be well-pleased with him- had in fact said:

“The Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- was among us. The Quran would be revealed to him and he would know its meaning inside out. In whichever way he practiced the Quran, we would follow him and practice it the same way.” (Muslim, Hajj, 147)

Umayya ibn Abdullah had once commented to Abdullah ibn Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- that they were “able to find in the Quran the ways of offering the salat of fear (salat’ul-khawf) yet the same did not apply to the salat offered in journey.”

“Allah the Almighty sent us the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- when we did not know anything. We do exactly the same as what we saw him do!” replied Abdullah ibn Omar –Allah be well-pleased with him-. (Ibn Majah, Iqamah, 73; Ahmed, II, 65, 94; IV, 78)

The Quran in fact states:

“O you who believe! Put not yourselves forward before Allah and His Messenger; but fear Allah: for Allah is He Who hears and knows all things.” (al-Hujurat, 1)

Said ibn Musayyab, a prominent Tabiun scholar, saw someone offer two rakat of supererogatory salat after the salat of asr, which left the scholar displeased. Realizing his displeasure, the man tried to defend his actions by saying, “Will the Almighty ever punish me for worshipping?”

“No, the Almighty will certainly not punish you for worshipping”, replied Ibn Musayyab, “but He will for your defiance of the Sunnah!” (Darimi, Muqaddimah, 38/442)

Ali -Allah be well-pleased with him- was a pillar in following the Sunnah of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. He was once asked whether or not a person could ride a camel he was taking to pilgrimage for sacrifice.

“He certainly can”, he replied. “Coming across people in similar situations, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- had commanded them to ride their camels, sacrificial or not. You could never find a way more beautiful and virtuous than the Sunnah of our Beloved Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- or pursue something better.” (Ahmed, I, 121)

The below meaningful words are also from Ali –Allah be well-pleased with him-:

“We saw the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- stand and we stood…We saw him sit and we sat.” (Ahmed, I, 83)

“Apart from the one that follows the Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- trail, all roads are blocked to mankind.” (Bursawi, Ruh’ul-Bayan, [an-Nisa, 28])

After taking wudu and applying stroking over his mas’h, Ali –Allah be well-pleased with him- is narrated to have said, “Had I not seen the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- do it this way, I would have thought that stroking underneath them would be more proper.” (Ahmed, I, 148, 95m 124)

Abdullah ibn Awfa -Allah be well-pleased with him- made takbir four times during his daughter’s funeral salat. Following the fourth, he stood and prayed for her forgiveness. The congregation behind him assumed he would make a fifth takbir but instead he gave a salam towards his right and left and concluded the salat.

“What is this that you did?” he was afterwards asked.

“I have not added anything to what I saw the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- do”, he replied. “This was the exact way he did it.” (See, Hakim, I, 360; Ibn Majah, Janaiz, 24)

Once, struck down with a sudden illness, Abu Musa al-Ashari -Allah be well-pleased with him- had fallen unconscious, with his head resting on his wife’s lap. She then let out a loud scream and began crying. But Abu Musa al-Ashari -Allah be well-pleased with him- was too fatigued to prevent her. But the moment he regained full consciousness, he warned her, saying, “I detest and stand distant from anything the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- detested and stood distant from. He was distant from wailing women who pull and shred their own hair and clothes from grief.” (Bukhari, Janaiz, 37, 38; Muslim, Iman, 167; Nasai, Janaiz, 17)

What a sensitivity of faith it is that one should still be striving to comply with the commands of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- even when possibly on the brink of death.

Upon returning from any given campaign or journey, the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- would always go first to the Masjid. Only after offering two rakat of salat there would he go home. Ibn Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- did exactly the same throughout his life.[28]

After completing hajj or umrah, Ibn Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- would halt his camel and rest awhile in Batha near Zulhulayfah, only because the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- did the same.[29] Likewise, Ibn Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him- would lead the salats of zuhr, asr, maghriband isha at Muhassab[30] on time and then take a light nap. After waking up, he would inform people that the Blessed Prophet used to do the same.[31]

The Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- had once purchased his sacrificial camel at Qudayd, located on the road from Medina to Mecca. So did Ibn Omar -Allah be well-pleased with him-, in like manner.[32]

To people asking him why he would do something in a certain manner, his answer would remain unchanged:

It is because I saw the Messenger of Allah do it this way.”[33]

Abu Rafi recounts:

“I offered an isha salat behind the lead of Abu Hurayrah -Allah be well-pleased with him-. He read surah al-Inshiqaq and went down to prostrate. I asked him the reason why he did and he answered, ‘I prostrated behind the lead of the Messenger of Allah to this surah…and I shall continue to do so until I die.’” (Muslim, Masajid, 110; Ahmed, II, 229)

Abu Harun al-Abdi explains:

“As young men, we used to go to Abu Said in hope of learning some things from him. Seeing us, he would remark, ‘The people whom the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- has left with us as legacy and entrusted us with…Welcome all! Indeed, the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- did say to us:

‘People will follow you. They will come from all corners of the world, seeking to learn the religion and become deeper in their knowledge of it. Attend to them when they come to you and treat these seekers of knowledge with goodness and beauty.’” (Tirmidhi, Ilm, 4/2650; Ibn Majah, Muqaddima, 17, 22; Darimi, Muqaddimah, 26; Hakim, I, 164/298)

A woman of the tribe of Ghifar had asked the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- how she could clean bloodstains from her dress.

“Take a container of water,” he advised “sprinkle some salt inside and wash the stain with it”. Throughout her life, the woman devotedly followed this advice, never washing her clothes without sprinkling some salt into the water. She even willed for her corpse to be washed with saltwater before her death. (Abu Dawud, Taharah, 122/313)

Such was the Asr-u Saadah generation. Complying with the Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- advices and words and imitating his every deed with loyalty, diligence and sensitivity had become for them the greatest and most zestful source of joy thinkable.

[1]       See, Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 15; Ahmed, V, 412.

[2]       Abdülaziz Çaviş, Anglikan Kilisesine Cevap, p. 96.

[3]       There is dispute among Muslim scholars concerning the zakat of jewelry. Offering it is, nonetheless, of greater discretion.

[4]       Said Ramadan al-Buti, Fiqhu’s-Sirah, Beirut 1980, p. 434.

[5]       Infaq, translated as ‘spend’, not only comprises alms but also every good deed offered with a genuine intent. (See, the “İnfak” entry, Diyânet İslâm Ansiklopedisi, XXII, 289)

[6]       A mudd is a unit of weight which roughly equates to 687 grams.

[7]       See, Ibn Ishaq, Sirah, s. 128.

[8]       See, Bayhaki, es-Sunanu’l-Kubra, VI, 6.

[9]       See, Ibn Hisham, I, 369-371.

[10]      See, Ibn Hajar, İsabah, II, 189, 190; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, III, 152; Ibn’ul-Asir, Usdu’l-Ghabah, II, 157; Kattani, Taratib, Beirut, I, 44; Prof. Dr. M. M. al-A‘zami, Kur’an Tarihi, s. 106; Prof. Dr. M. Hamidullah, Kur’ân-ı Kerîm Tarihi, s. 44.

[11]      Khatib al-Baghdadi, al-Faqih wa’l-Mutafaqqih, II, 126.

[12]      Bukhari, Jihad, 9; Muslim, Imarah, 147.

[13]      See, Muwattaa, Quran, 11; Kattani, Taratib, II, 191.

[14]      See, Ibn Abdilbarr, Istidhkar, II, 477.

[15]      See, Ibn Shabbah, Tarîhu’l-Medîna, s. 1002.

[16]      Ibn Shabbah, Târîhu’l-Medîna, p. 7; Ibn Kutaybah, Ta’vîlu Muşhkili’l-Qurân, p. 51.

[17]      Dârimî, Sunan, I, 135 (thk. Dahman); Ibn Saad, VI, 3.

[18]      Ibn Hisham, II, 43-46; Abû Nuaym, Dalailu’n-Nubüwwah, I, 307; Haythamî, VI, 41; Dhahabi, Siyar, I, 182.

[19]      Dhahabi, Siyaru A‘lâmi’n-Nubalâ, II, 344-346.

[20]      Balazurî, Ansâb, I, 110; Hâkim, I, 220.

[21]      Prof. Dr. M. M. al-A‘zamî, Kur’ân Tarihi, p. 127. More detail can be found in following works: Prof. Dr. M. M. al-A‘zamî, The History of the Qur’anic Text from Revelation to Compilation: A Comparative Study with the Old and New Testaments, Leicester: UK Islamic Academy, 2003 (Kur’an Tarihi: Eski ve Yeni Ahit ile Karşılaştırmalı bir Araştırma, Istanbul 2006); Prof. Dr. M. Hamidullah, Kur’ân-ı Kerîm Tarihi, Istanbul 2000 (The introduction to Le Saint Coran).

[22]      Hâkim, II, 300/3083.

[23]      Ibn Saad, IV, 253; Ibn Abî Dawud, Masâhif, p. 151.

[24]      Bukhari, Ilm, 39.

[25]      Bukhari, Ilm, 15.

[26]      Haythami, VII, 47; Mubarakpuri, Tuhfatu’l-Ahwazi, II, 473-474; Ibn Hajar, Talhisu’l-Khabir, IV, 206.

[27]      Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, A’lamu’l-Muwaqqıîn, Beirut, 1996, II, 159.

[28]      Abu Dawud, Jihad 166/2781, 2782.

[29]      Bukhari, Hajj, 38, 29, 148, 149; Muslim, Hajj, 226; Muwattaa, Hajj, 6.

[30]      Muhassab is located between Mina and Mecca, somewhat closer to Mina.

[31]      Bukhari, Hajj, 149; Muslim, Hajj, 337; Muwattaa, Hajj, 207.

[32]      Tirmidhi, Hajj, 68/907.

[33]      Bukhari, Vudû’ 30, Hajj 16, 38, 149; Muslim, Hajj 25, 245, 521, Alfaz 21; Tirmidhi, Hajj 39/864; Abu Dawud, Khatam 5/4227, 4228; Nasâî, Hajj 174; Ibn Mâjah, Hajj 43; Muwattaa, Hajj 31.

Osman Nuri Topbas

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