Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said describes three different role models from amongst the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, who each chose a slightly different path to Allah.
Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Raheem
Allah Most High taught us in the Qur’an to ask Him for the greatest of achievements, and Him telling us this is a mercy from Allah Most High, as He not only tells you what you need, He even teaches you what to ask for and how to ask for it!
In our human-ness, the one thing that we all avoid is additional demands upon us, but Allah Most High wanted us to ask Him, He wanted us to beg Him, and from the supplications that Allah Most High taught us to ask is that of guidance.
“Guide us to the Straight Path”
Every mu’min (believer), male or female, young or old, pious or sinful, obedient or disobedient, when they stand before Allah Most High in every salah (prayer), they say “Guide us to the Straight Path.” Allah Most High continues by telling us that this very guidance is connected to the Prophets and the Righteous Ones, and following their guidance is essential, and that is why Allah Most High said to the Messenger of Allah, speaking about the Prophets: “…those are whom Allah has guided, so follow their guidance.” (Surah Al-Anam, 90)
The Only Thing That Matters
From the most guided of Prophets, Allah Most High has raised high the station of Ibrahim, peace be upon him, the father of all the Prophets that came after him. Allah Most High raised his status to such an extent that Allah Most High chose Ibrahim, peace be upon him, as a friend and equated him with an entire nation. The word “nation” is not defined as we typically may think: Allah Most High describes the birds as a nation, animals as a nation, so if Allah Most High is describing Ibrahim, peace be upon him, as a whole nation it is equivalent to the entire human race; and that equivalency is with regards to his belief, humility, and endless kindness, mercy and love for others. So Ibrahim, peace be upon him, with this maqam (rank), and as a guide and a teacher, teaches us what we need and what is important for us, as Allah Most High mentions from the supplications of Ibrahim, peace be upon him: “Oh Allah, do not put shame on me on the Day of Resurrection; the Day on which nothing benefits or saves other than a pure heart!” (Surah Shu’ara, 87-89)
Allah Most High is teaching us through the supplications of Ibrahim, peace be upon him, that the only thing that matters is to come to Him with a pure heart; if you were to do all the righteous acts but do not come with a pure heart, you have achieved nothing!
Excuses upon excuses
That is why the Beloved Messenger, peace be upon him, said: “Indeed the acceptance of any action is according to someone’s intention.” Even if you do something wrong by mistake, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: “Do not account my ummah for things they may do by mistake, or for things they were forced to do or if they have forgotten their duties.”
Unlike human nature and law, where you cannot forget your duties, the law of Allah Most High is very different – if you forget to do something, Allah Most High will not hold you accountable for that; and if you do something by mistake, Allah Most High will not hold you accountable; and if you are forced to do something, Allah Most High will not account you for that either!
This emphasizes the importance of intention.
Neither Your Appearance Nor Your Form
The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, tells us in a very clear Hadith: “Indeed Allah Most High does not look at your appearance or forms, rather Allah Most High looks at your heart!” (Sahih Muslim 2564)
In this era of forms and measurement of achievement by quantity, it is very important to look carefully at our intention.
In reflecting upon this, we look back at the “Guided Ones.” Syedina Hasan, may Allah be pleased with him, used to wear the best clothing he could buy, but some people asked him how he, the son of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, could wear such beautiful clothing. They asked where the zuhd (abstention from the life of this world to attain nearness to Allah) in this is. Their understanding of the norm for him was different. Syedina Hasan, may Allah be pleased with him, responded:
I wear these clothes in order to tell people how much Allah Most High has given me and because of which I am not in need of anyone, and also because I am only in need from Allah Most High and not people!
Look at the intention of Syedina Hasan, may Allah bless him: he is teaching us that zuhd is not contained in wearing tattered clothing or wearing the best of them. What matters to Allah Most High is your state, not what you wear!
Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq
Similarly, Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq, may Allah bless him, who used to wear the best clothes, was also challenged by people: “Oh son of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, what are these fancy clothes you wear?” (For background, the people at that time used to wear both an inner garment and an outer garment) Imam Ja’far, may Allah bless him, took the person’s hand and made him touch his inner garment, and to his dismay it was wool! At that time, woolen garments were only worn by the poorest of the community.
Syedina Ja’far, may Allah bless him, said that the woolen garment you touched is what he wears for Allah Most High and himself, and the outer garment is for people, to show that he is not in the need of people, as Allah Most High is taking care of him.
Like his grandfather, Imam Ja’far As-Sadiq, may Allah bless him, had great understanding, and they are teaching us that it is not about what you wear, it is about your intention in what you are wearing and the state of your heart.
Syedina Uwais al Qarni
Almost to the contrary, we see the example of Syedina Uwais al Qarni, may Allah be pleased with him. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, told Syedina Ali and Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with them, that if they see Uwais al Qarni, to ask him for prayers!
Subhanallah! Why would the direct companions of the Prophet of Allah, peace be upon him and them, ask someone else to make dua for them? The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, is teaching his companions that some people are closer to Allah Most High in ways we do not see.
After hearing the Messenger of Allah’s description of Syedina Uwais, Syedina Ali and Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with them all, were looking forward to seeing him. One year during Hajj, Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, addressed the people and said he only wanted to see the people of Yemen, who then stood up. Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, then proceeded to ask if there were any people from the tribe of Qarn, and those who were then remained standing; he then asked if there were any people from the sub-tribe of Murad, and finally oneman remained standing.
Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, asked this man if there was anyone named Uwais among his people, to which the man replied he was not sure, but did say there is a disturbed young man who they told to stay back and care for the animals.
Syedina Ali and Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with them, went running, as this was who they were looking for. They saw a young man in old clothing. Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, asked him if he was Uwais, the son of Amr, to which he replied in the affirmative; he then asked if he was from the tribe of Murad-Qarn, which the young man also affirmed this. Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, then asked if he was affected by illness, but was subsequently cured by Allah Most High with a remnant of the illness in the shape of a small circle, the young man confirmed. Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, then asked if he had a mother, which the young man confirmed. Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, then said that he had heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, saying that Uwais the son of Amr will come to you with the people of Yemen from Murad-Qarn (branch-tribe), and that he would be tested with illness that would be cured except for a small mark (the shape of a coin); that he was obedient to his mother, and if he were to swear and ask Allah Most High – He would grant him what he asked; and that if we are able to see him we should ask him to seek forgiveness for us, and that Allah Most High will forgive us. And so Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, asked Syedina Uwais, may Allah be pleased with him, to ask for their forgiveness, and he did.
Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, then asked where Syedina Uwais, may Allah be pleased with him, was going, to which he told Syedina Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, that he would be traveling to Kufa.
Syedina Omar, may Allah bless him: Shall I write a letter to the governor of Kufa in order that he may look after you?
Syedina Uwais, may Allah bless him: No. I would like to be part of the people so that nobody notices me.
Syedina Omar, may Allah bless him: Shall I buy you new clothes?
Syedina Uwais, may Allah bless him: Ya Ameer! Will I live long enough to see these clothes disintegrate?
Syedina Omar, may Allah bless him: Shall I give you some money?
Syedina Uwais, may Allah bless him: Ya Ameer! I have four dinars; will I live long enough to spend them?
Syedina Uwais, may Allah be pleased with him, lived until the time of Syedina Ali, may Allah bless him, and attained martyrdom in the Battle of Siffin.
Syedina Uwais, may Allah be pleased with him, was not intending to wear old clothes or sleep in rough conditions in it of itself, but all he wanted was to be connected to Allah Most High!
Although the three “Guided Ones” were different in their appearance, they were similar in their himma (aspiration) and purity of their hearts! We beg Allah Most High to purify our hearts, to perfect our akhlaq (the practice of virtue, morality and manners), to remove the love of dunya and pain from our hearts.
Allahumma salli alaa Syedina Muhammad wa alaa Ahli Syedina Muhammad, fi kulli lamhatin wa nafasin ‘adada maa wa see-a-hu ‘il-muLLAH