Treading the Path to Knowledge

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Allah makes the way to the Garden easy for whoever treads a path in search of knowledge.” [Muslim]

Traveling on the path to knowledge refers both to walking along an actual pathway, such as going on foot to the assemblies of the Ulama, as well as to following a metaphysical road, such as studying and memorizing.

This Hadith also alludes to the road leading to the Garden on the Day of Judgment, which is the straight path.

Polish Your Heart

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Temptations are presented to the heart, one by one. Any heart that accepts them will be left with a black stain, but any heart that rejects them will be left with a mark of purity, so that hearts are of two types: a dark heart that has turned away and become like an overturned vessel, and a pure heart that will never be harmed by temptation for as long as the earth and the heavens exist. The dark heart only recognizes good and denounces evil when this suits its desires and whims.” [Muslim, Kitab al-Iman]

Acts of obedience are essential to the well being of the heart of the servant of Allah, just in the same way that food and drink are to that of the body. All wrong actions are the same as poisonous foods, and they inevitably harm the heart.

The well being of the servant of Allah’s heart, however, is far more important than that of his body, for while the well being of his body enables him to lead a life that is free from illnesses in this world, that of the heart ensures him both a fortunate life in this world and eternal bliss in the next.

Giving in to temptations and disobeying Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) poison the heart and cause its sickness and ruin. Like an overturned bowl cannot hold any water in it, an overturned heart cannot hold any Iman in it.

Refusing temptations, on the other hand, polish and illuminate the heart, filling it with Iman and making it more beloved to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).

Value of Bismillah

A Companion was riding behind the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) when his mount stumbled, so he said: “May Allah destroy Shaitaan.” The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Do not say this, for it makes Shaitaan grow in stature so much that he becomes as great as a house. Say, ‘In the name of Allah,’ for this makes him as insignificant as a fly.” [Abu Dawud]

Shaitaan’s shrinking happens as a result of the blessing of saying “In the name of Allah.”

A scholar was expounding the virtues of Bismillah when a man in his audience, himself well known, wondered aloud how such benefits were possible with only the taking of Allah’s name. The scholar said, “You donkey! What do you know?!”

The man broke out in a sweat and turned red with embarrassment at being called a foolish animal in front of such a large crowd. The scholar asked him why he looked so peeved. The man mentioned it was his use of the word “donkey” for him. So the scholar said, “When the word ‘donkey’ can have such an effect, can’t the word ‘Allah’ have any effect?”

This Hadith teaches us that if you stumble, or your child trips, or you have a tire blowout, say “Bismillah.” The mishap didn’t happen because of Shaitaan, but was from Allah’s Decree.

If a person attributes the accident to Shaitaan (such as by saying, “May Shaitaan perish!”) this false attribution of power to Shaitaan makes him swell with arrogance. The remembrance of Allah reduces Shaitaan in size and humiliates him.

Utter Thoughtfully

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “A slave (of Allah) may utter a word which pleases Allah, without giving it much importance, and because of that Allah will raise him to degrees (of reward): a slave (of Allah) may utter a word (carelessly) which displeases Allah, without thinking of its gravity, and because of that he will be thrown into the Fire of Hell.” [Saheeh Bukhaari]

Perhaps one such good word that makes it speaker deserving of higher stations in Paradise is “Fain Allah,” in the context of the following story…

Abdullah ibn Umar (radi Allahu anhu) was once going out of Madeena with his servants. It became time to eat so the servants took the food out and everyone sat down to eat. A shepherd grazing some goats passed by and greeted them with Salaam. Ibn Umar invited him to eat with them but he said, “I’m fasting.”

Ibn Umar (radi Allahu anhu) wondered, “In this intense heat of summer with fiery hot winds blowing, you are fasting in the wilderness?” The shepherd replied: “I am preparing the days of my past (Ayyaam-il-Khaaliya).” The shepherd was referring to the Ayah in Surah Al-Haaqqa in which Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says about the people in Jannah: “(It will be said to them) Eat and drink with relish, in exchange for those deeds which you did in days gone by (Ayyaam-il-Khaaliya, i.e. life in the world).” [Surah Al-Haaqqa: Ayat 24]

This Ayat means that on the Day of Resurrection it will be said to the believers: “In the world you left your desires for Allah, and you bore the difficulties of hunger and thirst, so now eat, drink and enjoy to your heart’s content and no one will stop you.” The shepherd meant that he was trying to make his days of life in this world valuable for his Hereafter.

To test him, Ibn Umar (radi Allahu anhu) said, “We want to buy a goat. Tell us the price and take the money. We will sacrifice the goat and also give you some of the meat to open your fast with.” The shepherd replied, “These goats do not belong to me, I am a slave. They belong to my master.” Ibn Umar (radi Allahu anhu) insisted, “How will your master find out? Tell him that a wolf ate it!”

The shepherd pointed to the sky and said: “Fain Allah (Then where is Allah?)” What he meant was, “Where will Allah go while I am doing this. Allah is always watching! So how can I deceive anyone?” Ibn Umar (radi Allahu anhu) with mixed feelings of amazement and joy would keep repeating, “A shepherd says, ‘Where is Allah! Where is Allah!’”

Abdullah ibn Umar (radi Allahu anhu) returned to Madeena and went to the master of this slave. He bought from him the slave and the goats, freed the slave, and gave the goats to him as a gift. This was the condition of the shepherds of that time, that even in the middle of the jungle they worried about Allah watching them.