06-27-2005, 09:54 AM
The Ideal Muslim Woman and Her CommunityReply
(An Excerpt from the Book “The Ideal Muslimah: The True Islâmic Personality of the Muslim Woman as Defined in the Qur’ân and Sunnah”)
By Dr. Muhammad ‘Ali Al-Hashimi
Translated by Nasiruddin Al-Khattab and Revised by Ibrahim M. Kunna and Abu Aya Sulaiman Abdus-Sabur Copyright and published by the International Islâmic Publishing House (IIPH), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1999.
When it comes to Islamic duties, the Muslim woman is just like a man: she has a mission in life, and so she is required to be as effective, active and social as her particular circumstances and capabilities allow, mixing with other women as much as she can and dealing with them in accordance with the worthy Islamic attitudes and behavior that distinguish her from other women.
Wherever the Muslim woman is found, she becomes a beacon of guidance, and a positive source of correction and education, through both her words and her deeds.
The Muslim woman who has been truly guided by the Qur’an and Sunnah has a refined social personality of the highest degree, which qualifies her to undertake her duty of calling other women to Islam, opening their hearts and minds to the guidance of this great religion which elevated the status of women at a remarkably early stage in their history and furnished them with a vast range of the best of characteristics which are outlined in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Islam has made the acquisition of these characteristics a religious duty for which a person will be rewarded, and will be called to account if he or she fails to attain them. These texts succeeded in making the personality of the woman who is sincere towards Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) into a brilliant example of the decent, chaste, polite, God-fearing, refined, sociable woman.
The Muslim woman who understands the teachings of Islam stands out in every women’s gathering she attends, as she demonstrates the true values of her religion and the practical application of those values by her attaining of those worthy attributes. The make-up of her distinct social character represents a huge store of those Islamic values, which can be seen in her social conduct and dealings with people. From this rich, pure source, the Muslim woman draws her own customs, habits and ways of dealing with others and she cleanses her soul and forms her own Muslim, social personality from the same source.
She has a good attitude towards others and treats them well
The Muslim woman is of good and noble character, friendly, humble, gentle of speech and tactful. She likes others and is liked by them. By doing so, she is following the example of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) who, as his servant Anas (radhiallahu anhu) reported, was “the best of people in his attitude towards others.”1
Anas (radhiallahu anhu) saw more than anyone else of the Prophet’s good attitude, and witnessed such good attitudes that no-one could imagine it existed in any human being. He told us of one aspect of that noble attitude of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):
“I served Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) for ten years, and he never said to me ‘Uff!’ (The smallest word of contempt). If I did anything, he never said, ‘Why did you do that?’ And if I did not do something, he never said, ‘Why did you not do such-and-such?’” 2
The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was of the best character, as Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) said:
( And you [stand] on an exalted standard of character.) (Qur’an 68:4)
He(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) repeatedly told his Sahabah of the effect a good attitude would have in forming an Islamic personality and in raising a person’s status in the sight of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and of other people. He(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told them:
“Among the best of you are those who have the best attitude (towards others).”3
“The most beloved to me and the closest to me on the Day of Resurrection will be those of you who have the best attitudes. And the most hateful to me and the furthest from me on the Day of Resurrection will be the prattlers and boasters and al-mutafayhiqun.” The Sahabah said, “O Messenger of Allah(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), we understand who the prattlers and boasters are, but who are al-mutafayhiqun?” He(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The proud and arrogant.”4
The Sahabah (radhiallahu anhu) - men and women alike - used to hear the Prophet’s noble moral teachings, and they would see with their own eyes the excellent way in which he used to deal with people. So they would obey his words and follow his example. Thus was established their society which has never been equalled by any other in the history of mankind.
Anas (radhiallahu anhu) said:
“The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was merciful. Nobody came to him without receiving a promise of his help, which he would Fulfill if he had the means to do so. On one occasion, the iqamah for prayer had been given, when a Bedouin came to him, took hold of his cloak, and said, ‘I still have some matter outstanding, and I do not want to forget it.’ So the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) went with him and resolved the matter, then he came back and prayed.”5
The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not see anything wrong with listening to the Bedouin and resolving his issue, even though the iqamah had already been given. He did not get upset with the man for pulling on his cloak, or object to resolving the matter before the prayer, because he was building a just society, teaching the Muslims by his example how a Muslim should treat his brother, and showing them the moral principles that should prevail in a Muslim community.
If good attitudes and manners among non-Muslims are the result of a good upbringing and solid education, then among Muslims such good attitudes come, above all, from the guidance of Islam, which makes good attitudes a basic characteristic of the Muslim, one which will raise his status in this world and will weigh heavily in his favor in the Hereafter. No deed will count for more on the Day of Judgment than a man’s good attitude, as the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Nothing will weigh more heavily in the balance of the believing servant on the Day of Resurrection than a good attitude (towards others). Verily Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) hates those who utter vile words and obscene speech.”6
Islam has made this good attitude towards others an essential part of faith, and those who have the best attitude towards others are the most complete in faith, as the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“The most perfect in faith of the believers are those who are best in their attitude towards others.”7
Islam also describes those who have the best attitude towards others as being the most beloved to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) of His servants. This is seen in the hadith of Usamah ibn Shurayk, who said:
“We were sitting with the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as if there were birds on our heads: none of us were talking. Some people came to him and asked, ‘Who is the most beloved to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) of His Servants?’ He said, ‘Those who are the best in attitude towards others.’” 8
It comes as no surprise that the person who has the best attitude towards others should also be the one who is most beloved to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) for good treatment of others is an important feature of Islamic law. It is the most significant deed that can be placed in the balance of the Muslim on the Day of Judgment, as we have seen. It is equivalent to prayer and fasting, the two greatest bases of Islam, as the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“No greater deed will be placed in the balance than a good attitude towards others. A good attitude towards others will bring a person up to the level of fasting and prayer.”9 According to another report, he(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “By virtue of his good attitude towards others, a person may reach the level of one who habitually fasts (during the day) and stands in prayer (at night).”
So the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) repeatedly emphasized the importance of a good attitude and encouraged his Companions to adopt it, using various methods to instill it in their hearts by his words and deeds. He understood the great impact this good attitude would have in purifying their souls and enhancing their morals and manners. For example, he told Abu Dharr:
“O Abu Dharr, shall I not tell you of two qualities which are easy to attain but which will weigh more heavily in the balance?” He said, “Of course, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “You should have a good attitude towards others and remain silent for lengthy periods. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, nothing that people have ever attained is better than these two.”10
And he(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“A good attitude is a blessing and a bad attitude is a calamity. Piety (birr) lengthens life, and charity will prevent a bad death.”11
One of his du’a’s was:
“Allahumma ahsanta khalqi fa ahsin k (O Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) You have made my physical constitution good, so make my attitude and behavior good also).”12
The prayer of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), asking Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) to make his attitude good when Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) had described him in the Qur’an as being ( on an exalted standard of character) (Qur’an 68:4), is a clear indication of his deep concern and earnest desire that the Muslims should continue to seek to increase in good attitudes, no matter what heights they had already scaled, just as their Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) continued to seek to increase in good attitudes through this du’a’. “Good attitudes” is a comprehensive term which includes all the good characteristics that human beings may acquire, such as modesty, patience, gentleness, forgiveness, tolerance, cheerfulness, truthfulness, trustworthiness, sincerity, straightforwardness, purity of heart, and so on.
The one who sets out to explore the Islamic teachings on social issues will find himself confronted with a host of teachings that encourage every single one of these noble attitudes. This is an indication of the intense concern that Islam has to form the social personality of the Muslim in the most precise fashion. So it does not stop at mentioning generalities, but it also deals with every minor moral issue that may form individual aspects of the integrated social personality. This comprehensiveness does not exist in other social systems as it does in Islam.
The researcher who sets out to explore the character of the Muslim woman has no alternative but to examine all these texts, and to understand the guidance and legislation contained therein. Only then will he be able to fully comprehend the noble social personality that is unique to the true Muslim, man or woman.
She is truthful
The Muslim woman is truthful with all people, because she has absorbed the teachings of Islam which encourages truthfulness and regards it as the chief of virtues, whilst lying is forbidden and regarded as the source of all evils and bad deeds. The Muslim woman believes that truthfulness naturally leads to goodness, which will admit the one who practices it to Paradise, while falsehood leads to iniquity which will send the one who practices it to Hell. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Truthfulness leads to piety (birr), and piety leads to Paradise. A man continues to speak the truth until he is recorded in the sight of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) as a sincere lover of truth (siddiq). Falsehood leads to iniquity and iniquity leads to Hell. A man will continue to speak falsehood until he is recorded in the sight of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) as a liar.”13
Therefore the Muslim woman is keen to be a sincere lover of truth (siddiqah), striving to be true in all her words and deeds. This is a sublime status which is achieved only by God-fearing Muslim women by means of truthfulness, purity of heart and by virtue of which she is recorded in the sight of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) as an honor ed lover of truth.
She avoids giving false statements
The true Muslim woman whose personality has been molded by the teachings and guidance of Islam does not give false statements, because to do so is haram:
( . . . And shun the word that is false.) (Qur’an 22:30)
Bearing false witness14, besides being haram, does not befit the Muslim woman. It damages her honor and credibility, and marks a person as twisted and worthless in the sight of others. So the Qur’an completely forbids this attitude for the chosen servants of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) men and women alike, just as it forbids other major sins:
( Those who witness no falsehood and, if they pass by futility, they pass it by with honor able [avoidance].) (Qur’an 25:72)
Nothing is more indicative of the enormity of this sin than the fact that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) mentioned it as coming after the two most serious sins on the scale of major sins: associating partners with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and disobedience to parents. Then he repeated it to the Muslims, warning them with the utmost fervour. He(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Shall I not tell you of the most serious of the major sins?” We said: “Of course, O Messenger of Allah.” He said: “Associating anything with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and diobeying parents.” He was reclining, but then he sat up and said: “And bearing false witness,” and he kept repeating this until we wished that he would stop (i.e., so that he would not exhaust himself with his fervour).”15
She gives sincere advice
The true Muslim woman does not only strive to free herself of negative characteristics; she also seeks to offer sincere advice to every woman she comes into contact with who has deviated from the guidance of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) - and how many women there are who have wronged themselves and are in great need of someone to offer them sincere advice and guide them back towards the straight path which Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) has commanded all of us to follow.
For the true Muslim woman, offering sincere advice is not just the matter of volunteering to do good out of generosity; it is a duty enjoined by Islam, as the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Religion is sincerity [or sincere advice].” The Sahabah asked, “To whom?” He said, “To Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) to His Book, to His Messenger, to the leaders of the Muslims and to their common folk.”16
When the Sahabah swore allegiance (bay’ah) to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), they would pledge to observe salah and zakah, and to be sincere towards every Muslim, as is shown in the statement of Jarir ibn ‘Abdullah (radhiallahu anhu):
“I swore allegiance to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with the pledge that I would establish regular prayer, pay zakah and be sincere to every Muslim.”17
How brilliantly the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) expressed the meaning of nasihah when he said, “Religion is sincerity [or sincere advice]”! He summed up the entire religion in just one word, “nasihah,” indicating to every Muslim the value of sincerity and sincere advice, and the great impact that sincere advice has on the lives of individuals, families and societies. When sincerity spreads among a people, they are guided to the straight path; if sincerity is withheld, they will go far astray.
Therefore nasihah was one of the most important matters that Muslims pledged to observe when they swore allegiance to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam): it comes after salah and zakah, as we have seen in the hadith of Jabir ibn Abdullah quoted above.
The fact that sincere advice is mentioned in conjunction with salah and zakah in the oath of allegiance given by the great Sahabi Jarir ibn ‘Abdullah to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is an indication of its importance in the Islamic scheme of things and in deciding a person’s fate in the Hereafter. It is therefore a basic characteristic of the true Muslim who is concerned about his destiny on the Day of Judgment.
In Islam, responsibility is a general duty that applies to men and women alike, each person has responsibilities within his or her own social sphere, as the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) explained:
“Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The leader is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is the shepherd of his family and is responsible for his flock; a woman is the shepherd in the house of her husband and is responsible for her flock; a servant is the shepherd of his master’s wealth and is responsible for it. Each of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.”18
If we understand this, we will realize that the woman’s responsibility includes offering sincere advice to everyone around her who can benefit from it.
She guides others to righteous deeds
The Muslim woman whose soul has been purified by Islam and cleansed of the stains of selfishness and love of show guides others to righteous deeds when she knows of them, so that goodness will come to light and people will benefit from it. It is all the same to her whether the good deed is done by herself or by others, because she knows that the one who guides others to do righteous deeds will be rewarded like the one who does the actual deed, as the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Whoever guides others to do good will have a reward like that of the person who does the good deed.”19
The Muwoman is the least likely to keep goodness to herself, or to boast to others about doing good, which is the attitude of selwomen who love to show off. It is enough for the Muslim woman who guides others to do good to know that she will be rewarded by Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) in either case, and for the true Muslim woman, storing up reward with Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) is more important than fame and a good reputation. In this way, goodness spreads throughout the community, and every person will have the opportunity to do whatever Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) helps him or her to do.
How many of these deadly psychological disorders are preventing good from being spread in society! For the people who are suffering from them hope that they alone will undertake good deeds to the exclusion of others, but circumstances prevent them from doing so. So goodness and benefits remain locked up waiting for the opportunity that never comes. The true Muslim, man or woman, who seeks to please Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and earn reward from Him is free from such disorders. The true Muslim guides people to do good deeds as soon as he or she is aware of an opportunity, and thus he or she earns a reward from Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) equal to the reward of the one who does the good deed itself.
She does not cheat, deceive, or stab in the back
The sincere Muslim woman for whom truthfulness has become a deeply-rooted characteristic does not cheat, deceive or stab in the back, because these worthless characteristics are beneath her. They contradict the values of truthfulness, and do not befit the Muslim woman. Truthfulness requires an attitude of sincerity, straightforwardness, loyalty and fairness, which leaves no room for cheating, lying, trickery, deceit or betrayal.
The Muslim woman who is filled with the guidance of Islam is truthful by nature, and has a complete aversion to cheating, deceiving and back-stabbing, which she sees as a sign of a person’s being beyond the pale of Islam, as the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stated in the hadith narrated by Muslim:
“Whoever bears arms against us is not one of us, and whoever cheats us is not one of us.”20
According to another report, also narrated by Muslim, the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) passed by a pile of food (in the market), put his hand in it and felt dampness (although the surface of the pile was dry). He said, “O owner of the food, what is this?” The man said, “it was damaged by rain, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “And you did not put the rain-damaged food on top so that people could see it! Whoever cheats us is not one of us.”21
Muslim society is based on purity of human feeling, sincerity towards every Muslim, and fulfillment of promises to every member of the society. If any cheats or traitors are found in that society, they are most certainly alien elements whose character is in direct contrast to the noble character of true Muslims.
Islam views cheating, deception and back-stabbing as heinous crimes which will be a source of shame to the guilty party both in this world and the next. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) announced that on the Day of Resurrection, every traitor would be raised carrying the flag of his betrayal and a caller will cry out in the vast arena of Judgment, pointing to him and drawing attention to him:
“Every traitor will have a banner on the Day of Resurrection, and it will be said: ‘This is the betrayer of so-and-so.’” 22
How great will be the shame of those traitors, men and women, who thought that their betrayal was long since forgotten, and now here it is, spread out for all to see and carried aloft on banners held by their own hands.
Their shame on the Day of Judgment will increase when they see the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), who is the hope of intercession on that great and terrible Day, standing in opposition to them, because they have committed the heinous crime of betrayal, which is a crime of such enormity that it will deprive them of the mercy of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and the intercession of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):
“Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) may He be exalted, said: ‘There are three whom I will oppose on the Day of Resurrection: a man who gave his word, and then betrayed; a man who sold a free man into slavery and kept the money; and a man who hired someone, benefitted from his labour, then did not pay his wages.”23
The Muslim woman who has been truly guided by Islam steers clear of all forms of deceit and back-stabbing. They exist in many forms in the world of modern women, but the Muslim woman values herself too highly to include herself among those cheating, deceiving women whom the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) considered to be hypocrites:
“There are four features, whoever has all of them is a true hypocrite, and whoever has one of them has one of the qualities of a hypocrite until he gives it up: when he is trusted, he is unfaithful; when he speaks, he tells lies; when he make a promise, he proves treacherous; and when he disputes, he resorts to slander.”24
She keeps her promises
One of the noble attitudes of the true Muslim woman is that she keeps her promises. This attitude is the companion of truthfulness and indeed stems naturally from it.
Keeping promises is a praiseworthy attitude, one that indicates the high level of civility attained by the woman who exhibits it. It helps her to succeed in life, and earns her the love, respect and appreciation of others.
The effects of this attitude in instill ling moral and psychological virtues in girls and boys are not unknown; if they see their mothers always keeping their promises, this is the best example that they can be given.
For the Muslim woman, keeping promises is not just the matter of social niceties, something to boast about among her friends and peers; it is one of the basic Islamic characteristics and one of the clearest indicators of sound faith and true Islam. Many texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah emphasize the importance of this quality:
( O you who believe! Fulfill all obligations.) (Qur’an 5:1)
( And Fulfill every engagement, for [every] engagement will be enquired into [on the Day of Reckoning].) (Qur’an 17:34)
This is a definitive command from Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) to His believing servants, men and women alike, to keep their promises and to Fulfill whatever obligations those promises entail. There is no room for escaping or dodging this responsibility. It does not befit the Muslim who has committed himself or herself to then try to get out of keeping the promise. It is his duty to keep his word. In some ayat, the word for “promise” is connected by the grammatical structure of idafah (genitive) to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) Himself, as an indication of its dignity and sanctity, and of the obligation to keep promises:
( Fulfill the Covenant of Allah, when you have entered into it . . .) (Qur’an 16:91)
Islam dislikes those prattlers who carelessly make promises without following through and keeping their word:
( O you who believe! Why say you that which you do not? Grievously odious is it in the sight of Allah that you say that which you do not.) (Qur’an 61:2-3)
Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) does not like His believing servants, male or female, to sink to the level of empty words, promises given with no intention of fulfillment, and all manner of excuses to avoid upholding the commitments made. Such conduct does not befit believing men and women. The tone of the question asked in this ayah is an expression of the extreme disapproval incurred by those believers who commit the sin of saying that which they do not do.
The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“The signs of a hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is entrusted with something, he betrays that trust.”25
According to a report given by Muslim, he(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) added:
“Even if he fasts, prays and thinks that he is a Muslim.”26
The level of a woman’s Islam is not determined only by acts of worship and rituals, but also the extent to which her character is influenced by the teachings and high values of Islam. She does only that which will please Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). The Muslim woman who understands and adheres to the teachings of Islam does not break her promises, or cheat others, or betray them, because such acts contradict the morals and values of true Isla, and such attitudes are only found among men and women who are hypocrites.
Let them know this, those women who tell lies to their own children, who make promises then go back on thword, thus planting the seeds of dishonesty and promise-breaking in their children’s hearts. Let them know this, those women who make empty, meaningless promises and attach no importance to the word of honor to which they have committed themselves, lest by such carelessness they become hypocrites themselves and earn the punishment of the hypocrites which, as is well known, is a place in the lowest level of Hell.
She is not a hypocrite
The true Muslim woman is frank and open in her words and opinions, and is the furthest removed from hypocrisy, flattery and false praise, because she knows from the teachings of Islam that hypocrisy is haram, and does not befit the true Muslim.
The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) has protected us from falling into the mire of hypocrisy and flattery. When Banu ‘Amir came to him and praised him, saying, “You are our master,” he said, “The only Master is Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). “ When they said, “You are the most excellent and greatest of us,” he said, “Say what you want, or a part of it, but do not speak like agents of Shaytan. I do not want you to raise me above the status to which Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) has appointed me. I am Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah, His Servant and Messenger.”27
The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) prevented people from exaggerating in their praise of others, some of whom may not even be deserving of praise, when he forbade them to describe him as “master,” “excellent” and “great,” at the time when he was without doubt the greatest of the Messengers, the master of the Muslims and the greatest and most excellent of them. He did this because he understood that if the door of praise was opened to its fullest extent, it might lead to dangerous types of hypocrisy which are unacceptable to a pure Islamic spirit and the truth on which this religion is based. He forbade the Sahabah to praise a man to his face, lest the one who spoke the words crossed the boundary of hypocrisy, or the object of his admiration be filled with feelings of pride, arrogance, superiority and self-admiration.
Bukhari and Muslim narrate that Abu Bakrah (radhiallahu anhu) said:
“A man praised another man in the presence of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), who said: ‘Woe to you! You have cut your companion’s throat!’ several times. Then he said: ‘Whoever of you insists on praising his brother, let him say: “I think So-and-so is such-and-such, and Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) knows the exact truth, and I do not confirm anyone’s good conduct before Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) but I think him to be such-and-such,” if he knows that this is the case.’” 28
If praising a person cannot be avoided, then it must be sincere and based on truth. The praise should be moderate, reserved and without any exaggeration. This is the only way in which a society can rid itself of the diseases of hypocrisy, lies, deceit and sycophancy.
In al-Adab al-Mufrad, Bukhari reports from Raja’ from Mihjan al-Aslami that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and Mihjan were in the mosque when the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saw a man praying, bowing and prostrating, and asked, “Who is that?” Mihjan began to praise the man, saying, “O Messenger of Allah, he is So-and-so, and is such-and-such.” The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Stop. Do not let him hear you, or it will be his downfall!”29
According to a report given by Ahmad, Mihjan said: “O Messenger of Allah, this is so-and-so, one of the best people of Madinah,” or “one of the people who prays the most in Madinah.” The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Do not let him hear you, or it will be his downfall!” - two or three times - “You are an ummah for whom I wish ease.”30
The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) described hearing praise as being a person’s downfall, because of its profound psychological impact on the human mind which by nature loves to hear such words. So the one who is praised begins to feel superior to and to look down on other people. If such praise is repeated by the hypocrites and flatterers - and how many of them there are surrounding those in positions of power and authority! - this will satisfy a strong desire in his heart and will become something he wants to hear regularly. Then he will hate to hear criticism and advice, and will only accept praise, thanks and adulation. No wonder, then, that truth will be lost, justice will be eliminated, morality will be destroyed and society will be corrupted.
For this reason the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) ordered his Companions to throw dust in the faces of those who praise others, lest their number, and hence flattery and hypocrisy, increase, which would have had disastrous consequences for the whole Muslim society.
The Sahabah, may Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) be pleased with them, used to feel upset when they heard others praising them, although they were the most deserving of such praise, because they feared its disastrous consequences and adhered to the basic principles of Islam that abhor such cheap, empty expressions. Nafi’ (radhiallahu anhu) and others said: “A man said to Ibn ‘Umar (radhiallahu anhu): ‘O you who are the best of people!’ or ‘O son of the best of people!’ Ibn ‘Umar said: ‘I am not the best of people, neither am I the son of the best of people. I am just one of the servants of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) : I hope for His (mercy) and I fear His (wrath). By Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) you will continue to pursue a man (with your praise) until you bring about his downfall.’” 31
This is a wise statement from a great Sahabi of the utmost Islamic sensibilities, who adhered to Islamic teachings both in secret and openly.
The Sahabah understood precisely the Prophet’s guidance telling them that their words and deeds should be free from hypocrisy. The great difference between that which is done sincerely for the sake of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and that which is merely hypocrisy and flattery was abundantly clear to them.
Ibn ‘Umar (radhiallahu anhu) said that some people said to him: “When we enter upon our rulers we tell them something different from what we say when we have left them.” Ibn ‘Umar said: “At the time of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), we used to consider this to be hypocrisy.”32
The true Muslim woman is protected by her religion from sinking to the dangerous level of hypocrisy to which many women today have sunk who think that they have not overstepped the bounds of polite flattery. They do not realize that there is a type of flattery that is haram and that they could sink so low without realizing it and fall into the sin of that despised hypocrisy which may lead to their ultimate doom. This happens when they keep quiet and refrain from telling the truth, or when they praise those who do not deserve it.
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