EXPLANATION OF HADITH JIBRIL


 

Umar bin Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: One day we were sitting in the company of Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam), when there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothing; his hair was extraordinarily black. There were no signs of travel on him and none of us knew him.

He (proceeded until) he sat before the Messenger (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam), his knees supported against the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam)’s, his palms placed on his thighs, and said, “O Muhammad, tell me about Islam.”

The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “Islam is to testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and that you establish prayer, pay zakah (obligatory charity), observe the fast of Ramadan, and perform pilgrimage to (Allah’s) House if you have the means to do so.”

(The inquirer) said, “You have told the truth.”

‘Umar bin AI-Khattab commented, “It astonished us that he would ask and then verify the truth.”

(The inquirer) said, “Inform me about Iman (faith).”

Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) replied, “It is that you believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Day of Judgment, and that you believe in Divine Preordination, whether good or bad.”

(The inquirer) responded, “You have told the truth.” He then said, “Inform me about Ihsan (beneficence).”

Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “(It is) that you worship Allah as if you see Him, for though you don’t see Him, (you know) He sees you.”

The inquirer said, “Inform me about the hour (of the Day of Judgment).”

The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) remarked, “The one being asked knows no more than the questioner.”

The inquirer said, “Tell me some of its signs.”

He (the Holy Prophet Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “(They are) that the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress (or master), and that you will find barefooted, destitute goat-herders vying with one another in the construction of magnificent buildings.”

The narrator, (‘Umar bin Al-Khattab] said, “Then he (the inquirer) went on his way but I stayed with him (Allah’s Messenger Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) for a long while.”

He (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) then said to me, “’Umar, do you know who this inquirer was?’

I replied, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’

He (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) remarked, ‘It was (the angel) Gabriel. He came to you [people] in order to teach you your religion.’”

[Muslim – Kitab Al-Iman (Book on Faith), hadith 1/8.]

 

The previous hadith was recorded only by Muslim, however, both Muslim and Al-Bukhari have recorded the narration of Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with him) who reported:

 

One day the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) appeared before the people when a man came to him (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) and asked, “What is Iman (faith)?”

So he (the Holy Prophet Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “Iman is that you believe in Allah, His angels, His books, the meeting with Him, and His messengers; and that you believe in the Resurrection in the Hereafter.”

He (the inquirer] said, “O Messenger of Allah, what is Islam?”

He (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) replied, “Islam is that you worship Allah alone and none other, perform the prescribed prayers, pay the obligatory charity, and fast (the month of) Ramadan.”

He (then) asked, “What is Ihsan (beneficence)?”

The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) replied, “(It is) that you worship Allah as if you see Him, for though you don’t see Him, (you know) He sees you.”

Then he asked, “When will the Hour (of Judgement) be established?”

The Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) replied, “The one being asked knows no better than the questioner, however I will inform you of its portents. One of its signs is that the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress (or master). Another sign is when you see those who are naked and barefoot become the leaders of people. And when the shepherds of black camels start boasting and competing with others in the construction of tall buildings, this is one of the signs of the Hour. And the Hour is one of five things which nobody knows except Allah.”

The Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) then recited,

“Verily, Allah, with Him (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows in what land he will die. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Surah Luqman, 31 : 34)

Then the man (Gabriel) left and the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said (to his Companions), “Bring that man back to me.”

However, when they set out to bring him back, they did not find any trace (of him).

Then the Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “That was Gabriel, who came to teach the people their religion.”

[Bukhari – Kitab Al-Iman (Book on Faith), hadith 50; Muslim – Kitab Al-Iman (Book on Faith), hadith 5/9]

 

Importance of this Hadith

This is a hadith of very great importance because of its comprehensive explanation of every aspect of the religion.

After having explained the three levels of Islam, Iman, and Ihsan, he (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) referred to them all together as a single religion, concluding the hadith by saying, “That was Gabriel, who came to teach you your religion.”

Thus, this hadith includes all the branches of Islamic knowledge and science, just as it also encompasses elements of Islamic jurisprudence, theology, asceticism, softening of the heart, performing good deeds, and Islamic knowledge.

 

Meaning of Islam

The Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) explained Islam as the outward acts performed by the different parts of the body, i.e. speech and actions.

The first of these actions is that of the tongue; to profess that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) is the Messenger of Allah.

After which, one is obliged to establish prayer, pay zakah, fast (the month of) Ramadan, and perform pilgrimage to the House of Allah if he has the means to do so.

 

Islam is divided into the following categories:

(1) The actions of the body (i.e. prayer and fasting)

(2) Financial deeds (i.e. paying zakah)

(3) What entails the combination thereof [i.e., performing Hajj (pilgrimage) for those who are far from Mecca.]

 

The statement of the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam), “A Muslim is one who avoids harming Muslims by his tongue or hands” 1 – is an indication that all external actions are included under the category of Islam.

Also, it was reported on the authority of ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr that a man asked the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam), “What sort of deeds (or what qualities of) Islam are good?” The Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) replied, “To feed the poor and to give the greeting of salaam (peace) to those whom you know and those whom you do not know.” [Bukhari – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith) hadith 12; Muslim – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith) hadith 39/63]

 

Similarly, leaving those things that are prohibited is also included under the classification of Islam, as it was narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “One of the best characteristics of an individual’s Islam is that he leaves what doesn’t concern him.” [Tirmidhi – Kitab Al-Zuhud (Book on Asceticism) hadith 2317; Ibn Majah – Kitab Al-Fiqh (Book on Islamic Jurisprudence) hadith 3976]

Also, it was reported on the authority of Nawas bin Sam’an (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “Allah set forth the simile of a straight path, enclosed by walls on both sides. Along the walls, there are open doors from which curtains are hung. At the entrance to the path is a caller who says, ‘O you people, enter the path, all of you, and don’t go astray.’

From inside the path is another caller who pleads to all who desire to open any of the doors, ‘Woe be upon you; don’t open it!’ This path is Islam, and the walls are the boundaries of Allah, Exalted and Glorified is He. The open doors are those things that Allah has prohibited, and the caller at the head of the path is the Book of Allah, whereas the caller from inside the path is Allah’s exhortation in the heart of every Muslim.”  [Musnad Ahmad – 4/182,183; Tirmidhi – Kitab al-Amthal (Book on Metaphors) hadith 2859; Nasa’i – Kitab At-Tafsir (Book of Interpretation) of his Al-Kubra, no. 11233]

 

The Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) demonstrated by way of this simile that Islam is the Straight Path to which Allah has ordered us to stick, and prohibited us from going beyond its limits. Thus, whoever does something that has been forbidden has transgressed His boundaries.

 

The Meaning of Iman

In this hadith, the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) defined Iman (faith) as inner belief, saying – “(It is) to believe in Allah, His angels. His books, His prophets, the resurrection after death, and to believe in the good and bad of Qadar (Divine Preordination).”

 

Allah has mentioned belief in these five things in various parts of the Qur’an, such as His words,

“The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers …” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2 : 285)

“…But righteousness (is the quality of) the one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets …” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2 : 177)

“Who believe in the Ghayb 2 and establish their prayers, and spend out of what we have provided for them.” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2 : 3)

 

Belief in the Prophets necessitates the belief in everything that was ordered to to be promulgate. This includes belief in Angels, Prophets, the Book (Glorious Qur’an), the Resurrection, Divine Preordination, as well as other things such as Allah’s Attributes, the Day of Judgement, As-Sirat 3, the Scale, and Paradise and Hell.

 

Also included in the definition of Faith is belief in Al-Qadar (Divine Preordination), the good and evil thereof. Based on this, Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated this hadith as evidence against those who deny Qadar –

Yahya bin Ya‘mur (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The first man who spoke about Al-Qadr (Divine Preordination) in Basra was Ma‘bad Al-Juhany. I (Yahya) along with Humayd bin ‘Abdur-Rahman Al-Himyary set out for pilgrimage or ‘Umrah and said, “Should it so happen that we meet one of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam), we shall ask him concerning what they are saying about Al-Qadar.”

Unexpectedly, we came upon ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, while he was entering the mosque. My companion and I approached him. One of us (stood) on his right and the other on his left. I expected that my companion would authorize me to speak.

Therefore, I said, “O Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman (‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar), some people have appeared in our land who recite the Holy Qur’an and pursue knowledge.” After explaining some of their affairs, I said, “They claim that there is no such thing as Divine Preordination and that events are not predestined.”

He (‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar) said, “If you happen to meet such people tell them that I have nothing to do with them and they have nothing to do with me. And verily, they are in no way responsible for my (belief).” ‘Abdullah bin ’Umar swore by Allah (and said), “If any one of them (who does not believe in Divine Preordination) had with him gold equal to (the mountain) of Uhud and spent it (in the way of Allah), Allah would not accept it unless he affirmed his faith in Divine Preordination.” [Muslim – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith), hadith 1/8]

 

Deeds are included under the classification of Iman, as is indicated in Allah’s words,

“The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses (this Qur’an) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their faith; and they put their trust in their Lord (alone); Who establish their prayers and spend out of that which We have provided them. It is they who are the believers in truth. For them are grades of dignity with their Lord, and forgiveness and a generous provision (Paradise).” (Surah Al-Anfal, 8 : 2-4)

It was narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said to a delegation from the tribe of ‘Abd Al-Qays, “I order you to do four things: To believe in Allah Alone. Do you know what is meant by believing in Allah Alone? It means to testify that no one has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) is Allah’s Messenger, to perform the prayers, to pay Zakahy to fast during the month of Ramadan, and to pay Al-Khumus (one fifth of the booty fallen to your lot).” [Bukhari – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith) hadith 53; Muslim – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith), hadith 17/23]

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) related that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “Faith has more than sixty or seventy-some branches, the most excellent of which is the declaration that there is no god but Allah, and the humblest of which is the removal of what is injurious from the path; and modesty is a branch of faith.” [Bukhari – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith), hadith 9; Muslim – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith), 35/58]

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) also narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “An adulterer, at the time of committing illegal sexual intercourse is not a believer; and a thief, at the time of stealing, is not a believer; and a person at the time of drinking an alcoholic drink is not a believer.” [Bukhari – Kitab Al-Mazhalim (Book on Injustice), hadith 2475; Muslim – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith), hadith 57/100]

Thus, if leaving these major sins was not part of belief (Iman), the term “believer” would not be negated from the one who commits any of these sins. This is because the term believer is not negated unless the pillars or obligations of that term are negated.

 

Difference between Iman and Islam

The difference between Iman and Islam is that Iman is the belief, confession, and knowledge of the heart. Islam, however, is the submission of the slave to Allah, as well as his humility and surrender to Him.

Thus Islam is action (as opposed to belief and knowledge). It is this action which Allah has labeled as “the religion” (Ad-din) in the Qur’an. Whereas in the hadith of Gabriel, the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) called Islam, Iman, and Ihsan a religion.

 

This proves that if one of the two terms is used individually, the meaning of the other is included. They differ, however, when one is compared with the other, in which case the definition of Iman is the category of the belief of the heart, and Islam is the category of actions.

In his (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) supplications when praying over the dead, the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) would say, “O Allah, to whomsoever of us Thou givest life, grant him life in the state of Islam, and whomsoever of us Thou takest in death, take him in death while he is in the state of Iman.” 4 This is because one is able to perform the deeds of the limbs during life, whereas at the time of death, nothing remains except the belief of the heart.

From this point, the trustworthy scholars have said, “Every Mu’min (believer) is a Muslim. For whoever has achieved Iman, and it has become firmly established in his heart, sets out to do the deeds of Islam.”

This is as the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) mentioned, “Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body. If it becomes good reformed, the whole body becomes good, but if it gets spoilt, the whole body gets spoilt; and that is the heart.”

Thus, the heart does not achieve Iman except if the limbs pursue the deeds of Islam. However, not every Muslim is a Mu’min. For his Iman could be weak, having not yet achieved complete faith, despite his performance of the acts of Islam by the parts of his body. In which case he is a Muslim, and not a Mumin with complete faith. This is just as Allah the Exalted said,

“The Bedouins say, ‘We believe.’ Say, ‘You believe not, but you only say, ‘We have surrendered (in Islam), ‘for Faith (Iman) has not yet entered your hearts …’ ” (Surah Al-Hujurat, 49 : 14)

Thus, according to the most correct commentators, the Bedouins were not complete hypocrites. Rather, their faith was weak. This is the opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) and others. This is indicated by the statement of Allah the Exalted,

“But if you obey Allah and His messenger, He will not decrease anything in reward for your deeds. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Hujurat, 49 : 14)

 

The Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam)’s saying : “He will not decrease anything in reward”

This demonstrates that the Bedouins had some faith by which their deeds were accepted. Similarly, the words of the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) to Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas (may Allah be pleased with him) when he (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said to him, “You didn’t give to so and so, and he is a believer (Mu’min). The Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said to him, “or a Muslim” 5 – indicates that he did not reach the level of Iman. According to what could be judged externally, he was at the level of Islam.

There is no doubt that whenever Iman weakens internally, it causes the weakening of the deeds of the limbs externally. However, the term Iman is negated by one who neglects its obligations, such as in the statement, “An adulterer, at the time of committing illegal sexual intercourse is not a believer …”

 

The Meaning of Ihsan

Ihsan is mentioned in various places in the Qur’an, sometimes together with Iman. It is also mentioned in conjunction with Islam, taqwa (piety), or righteous deeds. It is mentioned with Iman, as in Allah’s Words,

“Those who believe and do righteous good deeds, there is no sin on them for what they ate (in the past), if they fear Allah (by keeping away from His forbidden things), and believe and do righteous good deeds, and again fear Allah and believe, and once again fear Allah and do good deeds with Ihsan. And Allah loves the good-doers.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5 : 93)

“Verily, as for those who believed and did righteous deeds, certainly We shall not make the reward of anyone who does his (righteous) deeds in the most perfect manner (ahsana) to be lost.” (Surah Al-Kahf, 18 : 30)

 

It is used in conjunction with Islam in verses such as,

“Yes, but whoever submits his face (himself) to Allah, and he is a Muhsin 6 then his reward is with his Lord (Allah)” (Surah Al- Baqarah, 2 : 112)

“And whosoever submits his face (himself) to Allah, while he is a Muhsin, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold. And all matters return to Allah for decision.” (Surah Luqman, 31 : 22)

 

Allah mentions it in conjunction with taqwa (piety):

“Truly, Allah is with those who fear Him, and those who are good-doers (Muhsinun).” 7  (Surah Al-Nahl, 16 : 128)

 

It is also mentioned alone, as in Allah’s Words,

“For those who have done good (ahsanu) is the best reward (i.e. Paradise) and even more (i.e. having the honor of gazing at the Countenance of AIlah)” (Surah Yunus, 10 : 26)

 

It has been reported in Sahih Muslim from the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam), that the meaning of “more” in this verse is to gaze upon the Countenance of Allah in Paradise. 8 This rank is a reward for the people of Ihsan.

The reasoning behind this reward is that Ihsan is the believer’s worship of his Lord in this life, as if He is present. He fears Him as if he sees Him with his heart, and looks toward Him while in the state of worship. Thus in the Hereafter, his reward is to gaze at the Face of Allah (with his eyes).

This reflects what Allah the Exalted says about His recompense for the disbelievers in the Hereafter,

“Nay! Surely, they (evil-doers) will be veiled from seeing their Lord that Day.” (Surah Al-Mutaffifin, 83 : 15)

Allah made the recompense of the evil-doers based upon their state in this life (accumulating layers of sins and evil deeds in their hearts, until they become veiled from knowing and fearing Him). Thus their reward is that they are veiled from seeing Him in the Hereafter.

 

The statement of the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) explaining Ihsan [(It is) that you worship Allah as if you see Him…] indicates that the slave worships Allah the Exalted, summoning His closeness, and feeling that he is between His hands, as if he sees Him. This produces fear, awe, and exaltation, as well as faultlessness in worship, and exertion of effort in improving and perfecting it.

 

“For though you don’t see Him, (you know) He sees you.”

It is said that this part of the hadith is the reason behind the first part (“… that you worship Allah as if you see Him”). When ordered, the slave might find difficulty in fearing Allah the Exalted in his worship, and feeling the presence of His closeness until it is as if he sees Him. Thus he resorts to his faith that Allah sees him and is aware of his secrets and intentions, what is hidden and what is exposed, and that none of his affairs are concealed from Him. Then, if he achieves this stage, it is easy for him to move on to the second stage, which is the constant certainty of Allah’s aid and closeness to him, until it is as if he sees Him.

However, others said, “Rather, it is direction to he who finds difficulty in worshipping Allah as if he sees Him, to worship Allah knowing that Allah is watching him.” This knowledge causes him to feel shy before Allah’s gaze; just as some of the scholars said, “Fear Allah in order that He not become the least of those who are watching you (with regard to your shyness from those who see you).”

Other scholars said, “Fear Allah to the extent of His power over you and feel shy before Allah to the extent of His closeness to you.”

It was mentioned by some of the knowledgeable people from among the Pious Predecessors, “Whoever sees Allah (with his heart) while he acts, is one of the cognizant (of Allah), and whoever acts knowing that Allah is watching him, he is one of the sincere.

 

In this last statement is a reference to the two ranks which were mentioned previously:

(1) The position of sincerity: That the slave acts, summoning Allah’s observation, desiring Him to see all which is within and without, and to draw near to Him. When the slave desires Allah’s observation of his deeds, and works towards this end, he is truly sincere for the sake of Allah the Exalted. This is because seeking Allah in his deeds, prevents him from turning to other than Allah and His pleasure, with his deeds.

(2) The position of seeing: That the slave’s striving is based on what causes the heart to contemplate and look towards Allah, and that which enlightens the heart with Iman. The inner vision penetrates knowledge until it becomes like the eyes. This is the reality of the position of Ihsan which is referred to in the Hadith of Gabriel, and the people of this position, rise according to the penetrative strength of their vision.

 

The Qur’an points to these meanings in many places such as His statement:

“… And He is with you (by His Knowledge) wheresoever you may be…” (Surah Al-Hadid, 57 : 4)

“There is no secret council of three, but He is their fourth (with His Knowledge), nor of five but He is their sixth, nor of less than that or more, but He is with them wheresoever they may be. And afterwards on the Day of Resurrection, He will inform them of what they did. Verily, Allah is the All-Knower of everything.” (Surah AI-Mujadilah, 58 : 7)

“Neither you (O Muhammad) do any deed, nor recite any portion of the Qur’an, nor you (O mankind) do any deed (good or evil), but We are Witness thereof, when you are doing it. And nothing is hidden from your Lord (so much as) the weight of an atom (or small ant) on the earth or in the heaven. Not what is less than that or what is greater than that, but is (written) in a clear record.” (Surah Yunus, 11 : 61)

“… And We are nearer to him (man) than his jugular vein (by Our Knowledge)”. (Surah Qaf,  50 : 16)

“… but they cannot hide (their crimes) from Allah; for He is with them (by His Knowledge)” (Surah An-Nisa’, 5 : 108)

 

Authentic hadiths were mentioned encouraging Muslims to seek this closeness to Allah in their state of worship, such as the statement of the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam), “Whenever anyone of you stands for the prayer, he is speaking in private to his Lord, or his Lord is between him and his Qiblah. [Bukhari – Kitab As-Salah (Book on Prayer), hadith 405; Muslim – Kitab Al-Masajid (Book on Mosques), hadith 54/551]

This is also found in his (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) words, “Whenever one of you is in prayer, Allah is in front of him.” [Bukhari – Kitab As-Salah (Book on Prayer), hadith 406; Muslim – Kitab Al-Masajid (Book on Mosques), hadith 50/547]

The same meaning is expressed in his (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) words to those who raised their voices while praising Allah, “You are not praying to One who is deaf or absent. Verily, you are calling One Who is All-Hearing (and) near to you and is with you.” [Bukhari – Kitab Al-Qadr (Book on Divine Preordination), hadith 6610; Muslim – Kitab Adh-Dhikr Wad-Du’a (Book on Praise and Supplication), hadith 44/2407]

And in another narration it states, “And He is closer to one of you than the neck of your mount,” and in another, “And He is closer to one of you than your jugular vein. [Muslim – Kitab Adh-Dhikr Wad-Du’a (Book on Praise and Supplication), hadith 46/2704.]

Abu Hurayrah reported Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) as saying that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious said, “I am just as My slave thinks I am, (i.e., I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him) and I am with him as he remembers Me. And if he remembers Me in his heart, I also remember him in My Heart, and if he remembers Me in assembly, I remember him in assembly, better than his (remembrance), and if he draws near Me by the span of a palm, I draw near him by the cubit, and if he draws near Me by the cubit, near him by the space (covered by) two hands. And if he walks towards Me, I rush towards him.” [Bukhari – Kitab At-Tawhid (Book on Allah’s Oneness), hadith 7405; Muslim – Kitab Adh-Dhikr Wad-Du’a (Book on Praise and Supplication), hadith 21/2675.]

 

Whoever understood that these texts indicate atheism, incarnation, or unification of Allah with His creation, has derived this conclusion from his own ignorance and deficient understanding of Allah and His Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam). Verily, Allah and His Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) are innocent of such things, and Exalted be He Who there is none like unto Him, and He is the All Hearing, the All-Seeing.

 

When is the Hour?

Gabriel asked the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) about the time of the Hour. So the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “The one being asked knows no more than the questioner.”

This means that the knowledge of all creation regarding the Hour is equal. It is a sign that Allah the Exalted alone possesses this Knowledge, just as in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “There are five, which are not known except by Allah,” then he recited the Qur’anic verse,

“Verily, Allah with Him (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour” (Surah Luqman, 31 : 34)

“And He said: They ask you about the Hour (Day of Resurrection), When will be its appointed time? Say, ‘The knowledge thereof is with my Lord (Alone). None can reveal its time but He. Heavy is its burden through the heavens and the earth. It shall not come upon you except all of a sudden.’  ” (Surah Al-A’raf, 7 : 187)

 

Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “The Keys of the unseen knowledge are five which nobody knows but Allah.” Then he recited the verse that reads, – “Allah alone holds the knowledge of the Hour, and He sends down the rain …”  [Bukhari – Kitab At-Tafsir (Book on Interpretation), hadith 4778.]

 

The Signs of the Hour

The statement, “Tell me some of its signs,” refers to the signs which point to its arrival; and the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) mentioned two signs:

 

First: “That the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress (or master)”

What is meant by “her mistress” is her owner, and in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah it says, “Her master.” This is a sign pointing to the opening of countries, and obtaining a large number of slaves, until the number of captives increases and their children likewise increase, so that the captive woman becomes a slave to her master, and her children are at his position because the child of the master is equal in position to the master, so the child of the slave reaches the position of her master and owner.

It was said that the obtaining of slaves will increase until a girl is enslaved and then freed, then the mother is enslaved and the girl buys her and uses her without knowing that she is her mother. This has happened during many periods of Islam. It is also said that the meaning is that slaves will give birth to kings.

 

Second: “That you will find the barefooted, destitute…”

The meaning of the destitute (al- ‘alah) is the destitute and poor, like in the words of Allah the Exalted,

“And He found you poor and made you rich” (Surah Ad-Duha, 93 : 8)

 

The meaning of “goat-herds vying with one another in the construction of magnificent buildings,” was in the hadith of ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him). The meaning is that the lowest of people will become their leaders and chiefs, and their wealth will increase until they pride themselves upon the height of their buildings and their design and perfection.

In the hadith of Abu Hurayrah, he (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) mentioned three signs, among which are, “When you see those who are naked and barefoot become the leaders of people. And when the shepherds of black camels start boasting and competing with others in the construction of tall buildings.”

Thus, from among the signs of the Hour is that matters will be assigned to other than those who are qualified, just as the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said to the one who asked him about the Hour, “If the matter goes to other than those to whom it ought to go, then wait for the Hour.” [Bukhari – Kitab Al-‘Ilm (Book on Knowledge), hadith 59.]

Thus, if the barefoot, naked shepherds (who are known to be ignorant and harsh) become the leaders of man, and the possessors of riches and wealth, until they compete in building tall buildings, the system of religion and life will be corrupted. This is because if the leaders of man are from the poor, and destitute, and then become the rulers of man, whether his dominion is general or private, it is nearly impossible that he will give man his rights, but will rather take possession of things for himself, and seize their wealth.

Some of the Pious Predecessors said, “It is better to extend your hand towards the mouth of a dragon which snatches both hands, than to extend your hand to the hand of a rich person who used to be poor.”

In addition to this, if he is ignorant and rough, the religion will thus be corrupted because there is no importance to him in improving the religion of man, or his education. Rather, his priority is in gathering and collecting wealth. He does not pay attention to what has been corrupted in people’s religious matters, nor does he pay heed to the needs of those who became lost in the system.

When the kings and leaders of man reach this state, all other things become reversed as well. The liar is believed and the truthful are called liars, and the traitor is trusted and the trustworthy is considered a traitor, and the ignorant speak, and the scholar is silent, or there will be none at all.

Just as it was authentically narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “Verily from the portents of the Hour is that knowledge will be lifted and ignorance will appear.” [Bukhari – Kitab Al-‘llm (Book on Knowledge), hadith 80, 81; Muslim – Kitab Al-‘Ilm (Book on Knowledge), hadith 2671.]

And the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people. He takes away knowledge by taking away the scholars, so that when He leaves no learned person, people turn to the ignorant as their leaders; then they are asked to deliver religious verdicts and they deliver them without knowledge, they go astray, and lead others astray.” [Bukhari – Kitab Al-‘llm (Book on Knowledge), hadith 100; Muslim – Kitab Al-‘llm (Book on Knowledge), hadith 2673.]

 

In his (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) statement, “Competing with others in the construction of tall buildings,” is evidence of boasting and pride, especially with regard to the height of buildings.

Tall buildings were not known in the time of the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them). Rather, their buildings were low according to their needs.

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, ‘The Hour will not be established until people compete in building tall buildings.’ ”

Harith bin As-Sa’ib narrated on the authority of Al-Hassan, “I used to enter the houses of the wives of the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) during the caliphate of ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him), and I could touch the ceiling with my hand.”

It is narrated on the authority of ‘Umar that he wrote, “Don’t heighten your buildings, for it is surely an evil affair.”

And, on the authority of ‘Ammar bin Abu ‘Ammar, who said, “If a man raises his building above seven cubits, it will be called out to him, ‘O you most evil of the evil doers, to where are you [building]?”’

 

Notes:

(1) Bukhari – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith) hadith 10; Muslim – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith), hadith  40/64.

(2) Al-Ghaib : literally means a thing not seen. But this word includes vast meanings: Belief in Allah, Angles, Holy Books, Allah’s Messengers the Day of Resurrection, and Al-Qadr (Divine Preordination). It also includes what Allah and His Messenger (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) informed man of the knowledge of matters of past, present, and future, e.g., news about the creation of the heavens and earth, plant and animal life, news of the nations of the past, and about Paradise and Hell. (The Noble Qur’an)

(3) As-Sirat: The bridge which must be crossed before entering Paradise. It is thinner than a hair and under it blazes the Hell Fire.

(4) Musnad Ahmad – vol. 2, hadith 368; Abu Dawud – Kitab Al-Jana’iz (Book on Funerals), hadith 3201; Tirmidhi – The Book on Funerals, hadith 1023; Ibn Majah – Kitab Al-Jana’iz (Book on Funerals), hadith 1498; all are from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him).

(5) Bukhari – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith), hadith 27; Muslim – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith), hadith 150.

(6) Muhsin: A good-doer who performs good deeds totally for Allah’s sake only, without any showing-off or to gain praise or fame, and in accordance with the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam).

(7) Muhsinun: plural form of Muhsin.

(8) Muslim – Kitab Al-lman (Book on Faith), hadith 181/298; Musnad Ahmad – chapter 4/332,333.

 

By: Imam Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali , From the book: Jami’ al Ulum wal Hikam.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s