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The 3rd Pillar of Islam

Nov 06, 2007
‘But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then they are your brethren in religion.’ (-ix: 11)

Instinctive Fellow-feeling or Enforced Equality? An attribute common to the different social and economic movements popular in the modern world is lack of faith in humanity. The leaders of these movements and their theoreticians have a special liking for a regimented and restricted sort of equality over instinctive fellow-feeling and kindliness. They overlook the fact that man does not live by earning and spending alone nor can mere partnership or equality in material possessions fill the vacuum in his life. There is a greater need of genuine human sympathy in life than equality of income or community of means of production. Sometimes a tear springing from the bottom of a bleeding heart proves to be more efficacious than piles of gold and silver.

All men are dependent on one another. No one is above the operation of the law of inter-dependence. What, however, is needed for sharing each other’s grief is a genuine warmth of feeling and mildness of temperament. If this is kept in mind the teachings of the sacred Prophet will seem to include all the different aspects of sympathy and fellowship. Speaking of the various kinds of charity and good-doing, the Prophet once said: “Your doing justice between two persons is charity; your helping a man to mount a horse (or carriage) is charity; your lifting up his luggage and putting it (on the mount or vehicle) is charity; your saying a good thing is charity; your taking a step towards Salat is charity, and your removing an obstacle from the road is charity.” (Bukhari& Muslim)

It is related that the Prophet once said, “The distressed should help the needy.” On being asked what should one do if one was not in a position to help the needy, the Prophet replied, “Enjoin what is good.” The Companions again asked, “And if it too may not be possible”? The Prophet remarked, “Abstain from evil. This also is charity.” (Ibid) It is related that the Prophet once remarked, “Your lending a helping hand to anyone engaged in a work or enabling a clumsy worker to do his job properly is also charity.” On being enquired what should a person do if he was too weak to render such a service, the Prophet replied, “Let people remain safe from your mischief. That will be charity on your ego.” (Ibid)

Yet another Tradition of the Prophet reads: “Your smiling in your brother’s face is charity ; your bidding what is good is charity ; your forbidding what is wrong is charity; your putting a man who has lost his way on .the right path is charity; your assisting a man who has a defect in the eye is charity for you; your removing a stone, thorn or bone from the road is charity for you; and your emptying the bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity for you.’ (Ibid) The preference accorded to enforced equality over natural kindliness and fellow-feeling has resulted in the establishment, in most of the countries, of a society that has given a decidedly commercial orientation to human personality. It is a narrow, selfish and mechanical society in which no one’s life or honour is ‘secure. A cut-throat competition is going on in it all the time with people plotting to bring down one another through deceit, forgery or spying. The sense of responsibility and keenness to perform one’s duty to the best of one’s ability has disappeared. People behave like stray cattle whose sole object in life is to roam about and feed upon whatever falls within their reach.

Every kind of responsibility has been thrown upon the State. One conducts oneself in relation to society like a witless and foolish child. With the state doing everything for everybody the noble ideals of human sympathy, generosity and self-denial have lost their meaning. On the other hand, compassion and benevolence, arising out of the inmost recesses of the heart, and peace, serenity, contentment, trustfulness and self-assurance were seen in their most glorious light in the original Islamic society and their influence was felt in every walk of life. But this radical transformation of human disposition was not peculiar to that age alone. It can be brought about at any time. Any society which adopts for its ideal the spontaneous feeling of sympathy and kind-heartedness, in contrast to enforced equality, will be blessed with a true bond of love and affection. Its members will become the well-wishers of each-other, acknowledging each-other’s rights with an open heart and deposing against each-other with truth. Each generation will bear witness to the virtue and excellence of the preceding generation and pray to Allah for its salvation. It is of such men that the Quran has said: And those who come after them and say: Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who were before us in the faith, and place not in our hearts any rancour towards those who believe. Our Lord Thou art full of Pity, Merciful. (-lix: 10)

This, in brief, is the picture of true Islamic society in which everyone behaves as the mirror of his brother, wishing to see him free from blemish and preferring for him what he prefers for himself. Why did not the believers, men and women, when ye heard it (the slander) think good of their own folk, and say: It is a manifest untruth? (-xxiv: 12)

The holy Prophet has alluded to this enviable state in these few words: “In kindliness and affection the Muslims are like a single body. If any part of it is stricken with disease, the whole body develops fever and restlessness.” (Saheehain) In such a society honesty and gentlemanliness, truth and trustworthiness become the order of the day and everybody acts as if he was his brother’s custodian. The Prophet said: “Every Muslim is a Muslim’s brother. He neither harms him himself nor leaves him alone (when he is in need of help). He neither tells a lie to him, nor bears a grudge against him, nor puts him to shame. The life, honor and property of a Muslim are sacred for one another.” (Tirmidhi)

Life in many countries has, on the contrary, become a veritable curse, a specimen of Hell in misery and wickedness. Every time a nation entereth (the Hell), it will curse its sister nation. (-VII : 38) In the modern totalitarian States. for instance, when a new Dictator comes into power, he considers it a duty to denounce his predecessor and charge him with treason, dishonesty and other grave malpractices. Even if a person becomes a ruler for a day he leaves no stone unturned to wreak a terrible vengeance on his critics and adversaries. And when he turneth away from thee his efforts in the land is to make mischief therein and to destroy the crops and the cattle, though Allah loveth not mischief. (-II: 205) For him who still opts out for the path of folly and wretchedness the pronouncement of the Qur’an is: Would ye exchange that which is higher for that which is lower? Go down to any country and there ye shall find it. (-II: 61)

Living Models of the Teachings of the Prophet The life and character of the Prophet had made such a powerful impact on the hearts and minds of the Companions that their attitude towards life, family and property was largely determined by his own example and they, on the whole, had become the living symbols of his precepts. Of them, those who were nearer to him, naturally, bore a deeper imprint of his personality. The deeds of piety, compassion and self-denial that were habitually performed by them in daily life are worthy of being written in letters of gold in the annals of religion and ethics. No community in the world can boast of such a marvelous legacy of virtue and moral excellence.

It is a well known fact about Caliph Hazrat Abu Bakr that once his wife wanted to eat halwa (a kind of sweetmeat made of flour, ghee and sugar). She began to save a few pieces from the daily allowance she received from the Public Treasury, and, thus, collected the money needed for its preparation. When Hazrat Abu Bakr came to know of it, he returned her savings to Bait-ul-Maal and instructed that her allowance may be reduced by what she used to save for the dish since it appeared that she could do without it. The sacrificial spirit of Hazrat Omar and the life of rugged simplicity and asceticism he led have become proverbial. It will suffice here to relate the incident of his journey to Jabia (in Syria) as the Caliph of Muslims and the Head of the Islamic State.

In the words of a renowned historian, Hazrat Omar “was riding on a camel (and) his head was shining in the sun. There was neither a cap on it nor an Amama (a tiara worn commonly by the Arabs). His legs were dangling on the two sides of the saddle and under him was only an ordinary woolen cushion which served for his bed when he halted and for the pack-saddle when he rode. He also carried a bag which was stuffed with cotton-wool. He used it as a pouch while he traveled and as a pillow while he rested. His shirt was made of a coarse cloth. It was old and was also torn on one side.” (Bidaaya wan Nihaaya vol. vii pgs.59-60)

Uthman RA was the wealthiest man among his friends. Of him Shurhabeel tells that he entertained others on a lavish scale but ate only bread and oil himself. Hazrat Ali is included among the most self-denying of the Companions. His life of rigid self-restraint and austerity has been described in the following words by Darar bin samora: “He shunned the world and its allurements and liked the darkness and solitude of the night. He had a reflective nature and would often appear to be lost in thought. In that state he would make movements with his hands which showed that his attention was turned inwards. His dress was simple and his food was abstemious. By God! He looked to be one of us (the common people). If we asked anything from him he would answer promptly and when we went to see him he would start the conversation himself. When we invited him, he would readily accept our invitation.” (Sifatus-safwa; ibn Jawzi)

The ennobling influence of the Prophet’s character was felt in the lives of the people of his household, the illustrious Caliphs and the holy Companions in proportion to the closeness of their association with him. The place occupied by Hazrat Ayesha (his most beloved wife) in devoutness, self-abnegation and magnanimity is very high. It has, for instance, been put on record by the chroniclers that once she distributed a lakh of dirhams (hundred thousand) as charity despite the fact that her own clothes were worn-out and she was fasting. After it was over, her maid said to her it would have been better if she had saved a few dirhams for Iftar (fast breaking meal).

Ayesha RA replied, “I would have, had you reminded me of it at that time.” She had given away a lakh of dirhams and forgotten her own hunger. (Mustadrak Haakim) Early Islamic Society Self-effacement had become a second nature with the Companions. Ibn-e-Omar tells that “we have seen days when none of us had a greater claim on his wealth than his Muslim brother.” (Bukhari) Consequently, there took place events which joined the frontiers of kindliness with those of fellowship and carried fellowship to the heights of altruism and self-sacrifice. It is related by Ibn-e-Omar that “once a Companion of the holy Prophet received the head of a goat as a gift. Thinking that such-and-such a person had a greater need of it, he sent it to him. But he, too, thought the same and sent it to another friend. The head of the goat, thus, traveled from one person to another till after making a round of seven homes it came back to the Companion who had received it first.” (Ihya ul Uloom)

Passing from the Companions to the Tabi’een we learn from Hasan Basri RA that during their time the moral and spiritual state of Muslims was such that at day-break a man from among them would announce: “O you householders! Take care of the orphan in your midst; take care of the helpless in your midst.” (Aadabul Mufrad; Bukhari)

Ahead of all others were the tribe of Bani Hashim and the people of the Prophet’s household. They pursued the path of truth and earnestness with single-minded devotion. Innumerable instances of the generosity and kindheartedness of Imam Hasan and Abdullah bin Jafar are recorded in history. Imam Ali bin Husain bin Ali (known popularly by the name of Zainul Abedin) had received the largest share of these virtues from his ancestors. It is related by Ibn-e-Ishaq that during the lifetime of the Imam many persons did not know from whom were they getting their livelihood. When the Imam died and the supply stopped they came to know that it was he who used to bring the provisions to them secretly in the night. On the death of the Imam it was discovered that his body bore marks of the bags he used to carry to the homes of the poor and the needy. (Ishtirakul Islam)

Stray Examples The legacy of generosity and unselfishness was preserved by the Muslims as a sacred trust and their religious and spiritual leaders functioned in all parts of the world as the most faithful representatives of the glorious way of life. That no money should be left in the house when the night fell was regarded by these pious and truthful men as a regular rule of conduct. They never failed to place the needs of others above their own needs and to pass on promptly to the poor and the destitute what they received from the better off members of the society by way of a gift or donation. Their motto was that “it (charity) should be taken from the well-to-do and distributed to the poor.” Like their hearts, their table-spreads, too, were larger, wider and more open to the common people than those of the rich men and the noble lords.

It was once remarked by Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (universally accepted as the leader of the whole class of Sufia-i-Keram,–the venerable Sufi ascetics) about himself that “there is a hole in the palm of my hand. Nothing stays in it. If I had even a thousand dirhams they would be spent up before dusk.” (Qalaaidul Jawaahir)

On another occasion, he is reported to have said in a wistful mood, “I wish the whole world was given to me and I went on feeding the hungry.” (Ibid) These evolved souls, these men of piety and goodliness, were found in various parts of the far-flung world of Islam. They were the true blossom of the `Tree of Apostleship.’ They had sprung from the same `Goodly Tree’ about which it is stated in the Qur’an: Its roots (are) set firm; its branches (are) reaching into heaven, giving its fruit at every season by permission of its Lord. (-xiv: 24-25) Volumes can be written on the prodigious deeds of religious charity and selflessness which marked the lives of these peerless specimens of humanity.

To illustrate our point we will refer to a few of such events here. About Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia it is related by his attendant that he took the Saheri to him which included all kinds of dishes. But the Sheikh partook very little of it and for the rest he instructed that it should be kept carefully for children. Khwaja Abdur Rahim, whose duty it was to take the Saheri to him, tells that often he ate nothing. The Khwaja would implore him to take some nourishment as he ate very little at the time of Iftar, and if he also did not eat anything at Saheri he would become very weak. Nizamuddin Aulia would burst into tears at it and say, “How many poor and helpless people are lying on the platforms of mosques without a morsel of food? They spend their nights in starvation. How, then, can this food go down my throat?” The attendant reports that often he used to take back the meal untouched by the Sheikh. When the hour of his death drew near the Sheikh summoned all the disciples and attendants to his bedside and said, “Be a Witness to it that if Iqbal (the name of an attendant) has held back any of the provisions in the house he will have to answer for it tomorrow, on the Day of Judgment.” Iqbal affirmed that he had spared nothing. Everything had been given away in the name of God. That fine, generous-hearted man really had done so. Except for the food grains which could suffice for the needs of the inmates of the Khanqah for a few days he had distributed all that was in the house to the poor.

Syed Husain Kirmani reported to the Sheikh that everything had been given to the needy save the food grains. The Sheikh was very angry with Iqbal when he came to know of it and calling him to his side enquired why had he held in reserve the `rotten dust’ (the food grains). He, then, ordered those around him to collect a crowd and, when it had gathered, the Sheikh said to it, “Go and break the earthen jars in which the grain is stored. Take it away and leave nothing.” The multitude made quick work of it and within a short time the storehouse was empty.” We will cite another example of the same way of living from the biography of Syed Mohammad Saeed Ambalavi.

It is stated by his biographer that once Nawab Roshanuddaula presented to him a purse of Rs.10, 000 (which must have been equal to several lakhs of rupees today) for the construction of the Khanqah. The saint advised him to leave the money and go and have a little rest as the work would commence in the afternoon. After Nawab Roshanuddaula had retired, he sent the entire amount to the widows, orphans and other needy persons of Ambala, Thanesar, Sirhand and panipat through his disciples. When Roshanuddaula returned in the evening the saint said to him, “You could never have earned so much of Divine reward by the construction of the Khanqah as you have by serving so many poor and helpless people.”

On another occasion, Emperor Farrukh Siyar, Nawab Roshanuddaula and Nawab Abdullah Khan sent to him Rs. 3, 00,000 with their petitions. The divine had all the money distributed among the indigent and well-born families of the neighboring towns and villages.’ It may be said that these were the deeds of the ascetics who had renounced the world and dwelt on a different plane, well away from the trials and tribulations of life. What is to be seen is whether similar instances of unalloyed asceticism, self-sacrifice and contentment were easy to get among the other sections of the Ummat also. Here, too, the verdict of history is in the affirmative for in the Islamic society there were found, at every stage, men who conformed to the noble standard set by the holy Prophet in their attitude towards life, worldly possessions, relatives, neighbors and countrymen. They belonged to all classes of people, including kings, noblemen, saints and servants.

To take up only two examples, one from among the scholars and the other from among the rulers, the name of Sheikhul Islam Ibn-i-Taimiya comes first to the mind in the former category of earnest and deep-hearted Muslims. Those who do not know about him well enough are often inclined to imagine that he was a dry, cold-blooded theologian who had little regard for human emotions, but his contemporary, Hafiz Ibn-i-Faizullah-el-Umari, writes that “heaps of gold, silver and other goods would come to him and he distributed them all till nothing was left. If he ever laid aside anything it was only with the object of giving it to some particular person……..

His generosity knew no bounds, and, sometimes, when there was nothing to give he would hand over the clothes he was wearing to the needy.” From the class of kings and conquerors Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi makes an ideal choice. He was the ruler of the largest Muslim Empire of his time and had inflicted a crushing blow to the mightiest military power of the then known world. His friend, ‘Ibn-i-Shaddad says that the entire assets of the Sultan at the time of his death amounted to a mere 47 dirhams and a gold coin. He left no other property to his descendants. This powerful monarch whose empire extended from the north of Syria in Asia to the Nubian desert of Sudan in Africa departed from the world in such a state that there was not enough money in the house to pay for his funeral.

bn-i-Shaddad writes: “Not a piece was spent from his legacy on his burial. Everything had to be borrowed, even the bundles of straw for the grave. The shroud was provided by his minister and chronicler, Qadi Fadil, from a legitimate source.” The austere and self-denying way of living was not peculiar to any generation or school of thought, but all the theological masters, divines and spiritual leaders punctiliously abided by it, `A new day, a new provision’ was the guiding principle of their life. They never saved anything for the future nor did they economies in the fear of becoming empty-handed. This is not a romantic tale of the bygone and past days.

Even today there are men of religion and spirituality among Muslims who do not like that anything in excess of their requirements should remain with them which might be needed by someone or that a night should pass with money lying with them that was above their need. It is not due to the philosophy of mortification or renunciation of the world, nor motivated by the desire to interfere with the Divine scheme of things or to create hardship where Allah has provided ease or to forbid and disallow what has been declared-by Him to ‘be lawful and legitimate. These men of Allah, also, do not take to this path because of any constraint. They are inspired solely by the fear of Divine Reckoning, by the love of mankind and by the eagerness to take after the confirmed practice of the sacred Prophet (S.A.W) and to follow in his steps not only in charity and self-sacrifice but in all good and virtuous deeds.

Last Phase Notwithstanding the failings, against which Muslim reformers have been striving to the best of their ability, the Islamic society is still conspicuous for fellowship, large-heartedness and compassion. Thanks to the precepts of Islam the spirit of mutual help, sympathy and kindliness has penetrated into the inner depths of its consciousness. The Muslims are comparatively free from the evils of crude materialism and worship of the stomach. In the Muslim society there has never been a dearth of men to raise the banner of revolt against excessive attachment to worldly things. The force and extent of competition, selfishness and greed is definitely less in it than in other societies which believe in no other life beyond the worldly existence and aspire only for material ease and comfort.

In the Muslim society there is a greater scope for the promotion of social justice and other laudable social and moral ideals because of the instinctive respect it has for the Islamic way of life, to whatever degree it may be, and the existence of the spiritual tie which has invested its diverse elements with a sense of identity and brotherliness. Attitude of the Prophet towards Wealth The attitude of the sacred Prophet (S.A.W) towards wealth and family (keeping it in the mind that he possessed the utmost affection for Ummat and was its greatest well-wisher and he himself has said, “The best among you is he who is good for his household, and, among you, I am the best for my household”) (Tirmidhi) was typically illustrative of the Apostolic point of view. It was the attitude of a man to whom the Sublimity and All-powerfulness of the Divine Being was an absolute and self-evident reality, whose morals were the morals of God and who was permanently solicitous of the Day of Resurrection and Final Judgment. The Day when neither wealth nor progeny will avail (any man) save him who bringeth unto Allah a pure heart. (-xxvi : 88-89).

The holy Prophet was more impatient for the Hereafter than the bird is for the nest after a whole day’s flight. He would exclaim: “O Allah: There is no joy other than the joy of Futurity.” (Bukhari vol.2 pg.949) Wealth, in his eyes, was of no greater significance than the foam of the sea or the grime of the palm. To him the whole of mankind was the family of Allah and he regarded himself to be the guardian and protector of the orphans, the needy and the destitute. For others he wished ease and comfort, but for his own household, poverty and indigence. Often would he cry out from the depth of his heart: “(What I like is that) I may eat my fill on one day and go without a meal on the other.” (Tirmidhi) and also, “O Allah! Bestow upon the descendants of Mohammad only as much provision as may be necessary to sustain life.” (Bukhari vol.2 pg.957)

The Prophet had no hesitation in conveying to his wives the message of the Lord. O Prophet! Say unto thy wives: If ye desire the world’s life and its adornment, come! I will content you and will release you with a fair release. But if ye desire Allah and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter, then lo! Allah hath prepared for the good among you an immense reward. (-xxxiii: 28-29) The pious wives, on their part, had willingly chosen to live with him and not with their parents or brothers where every worldly comfort was available to them. Life of the Prophet and His Family What, now, was the life of the Prophet’s wives had opted for? Let us hear about it from Hazrat Ayesha herself. “The members of the Prophet’s household”, says she, “Never ate even barley bread to their heart’s content. For months the oven was not lighted in our house and we lived only on dates and water. When the Prophet died there was nothing in our house which a living creature could eat except a piece of bread I had kept away in the cupboard.” (Bukhari/Muslim)

Once Hazrat Omar paid a visit to the Prophet and found to his surprise that the Prophet was sitting on a mat which had made its marks on his body. In a corner of the room there was a small quantity of barley, in another was spread the skin of an animal while just above his head was hanging a water-skin. Hazrat Omar relates that on seeing it tears came into his eyes. The Prophet (S.A.W) enquired from him the reason of his weeping and Hazrat Omar replied, “O Prophet of Allah! I have every reason to weep. This is the mat which has made deep impressions on your bare body. The room itself is so comfortless while the Chosroes of Persia and the Emperor of Rome are in the midst of their lakes and gardens, though you are the Apostle of Allah.” The Prophet S.A.W) remarked, “Are you caught in two minds? These are the men to whom all the things of comfort and enjoyment have been granted here in this life.” (Ibid)

Dislike of Unnecessary Goods
The Prophet did not like, even for a short time, to keep money or provisions in his house in excess of his needs. In the same way, he did not allow the goods of charity, which were the property of the common people, to remain with him for a moment. He would have no peace of mind till they had been given away. It is related by Hazrat Ayesha (r.a) that “I had six or seven dinars during the last illness of the holy Prophet. The Prophet commanded me to distribute them but due to his illness I could not find the time for it. Later, he asked what I had done with the dinars and I told him that owing to pre-occupation with his illness I had forgotten about them. The Prophet, then, sent for the dinars and placing them on the palm of his hand remarked `What would the assumption be of the Apostle of Allah if he joined Him in such a state that these were lying with him’.” (Musnad Ahmad)

It was the practice of the Prophet to distribute the articles of charity as soon as they were received. Uqba bin-ul-Harith relates that “once in Medina I offered the Asr prayers behind the Prophet. The Prophet finished the prayer-service and left abruptly for the apartment of one of his wives. The people could not understand it and they were worried. On returning, the Prophet felt that we were surprised at the manner of his departure. He, thereupon, explained that in the course of the service he had remembered that there was some gold in his house and he did not like that a night should pass with the metal still lying with him.” The Prophet guided his Companions and the entire Ummat along identical lines and infused into them the same values of generosity and self-denial. So forcefully and earnestly did he exhort the people to practice charity that as anyone reads the relevant Traditions he begins to doubt if he really has a claim over anything that is in excess of his needs. When we look into ourselves and reflect on the things of comfort and luxury we freely make use of in everyday life we are caught in a curious predicament. Everything seems so unnecessary, redundant and superfluous.

The costly dresses, the sumptuous meals, the luxurious carriages – all stand out to be wrong and wasteful although what the Prophet said appertained only to advice and exhortation and there is no law against it. But, such was the way of the Prophet. Verily in the Messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh into Allah and the Last Day, and remembreth Allah much. (-xxxiii: 21)

The Prophet once said, “He who has a conveyance in excess should give it to him who is without a conveyance; he who has a meal in excess should give it to him who is without a meal.” (Abu Dawud) He also said, “He who has a meal for two should share it with the third, and he who has a meal for three should share it with the fourth.” (Tirmidhi) Another of his Traditions reads: “He is not my follower who eats his fill and sleeps comfortably in the night while his neighbor, by his side, goes hungry, even though he may not be aware of it.” (Tabrani)

It is related that once a man came to the Prophet and said, “O Prophet of Allah! Provide me with clothes.” “Is there no one among your neighbors,” asked the Prophet, “Who may have two pairs of clothes in excess of what he needs?” The man replied that more than one of his neighbors were in that happy position. The Prophet, thereupon, remarked, “May Allah not bring him and you together in heaven.” (Ibid)

Worth of Man and Importance of Compassion in Islam
The holy Prophet placed man on such a high pedestal of nobility and ascribed such great virtue to taking care of his needs and bringing succor to him that no higher and more admirable conception of humanity and brotherliness can be possible. From the Islamic point of view a shirker and transgressor in respect of the rights of man is no better than a renegade and a backslider in the path of God. It is stated in one of the Divinely inspired Traditions of the sacred Prophet that on the Day of Judgment Allah will say to His slave, “I fell ill and you did not visit me”. The slave will reply, “Thou art the Lord of the Worlds; how could I visit Thee?” Allah will, thereupon, say, “Did you not know that such-and-such a slave of Mine was ill but you did not care to visit him ? Had you gone to see him (in order to be of comfort or help) you would have found it with Me.” He will, again, ask, “O son of Adam! I asked you for food and you did not give it to Me.” The slave will reply, “Thou art the Lord of the Worlds; how could I give you food?” God will, then, say, “Are you not aware that such-and-such a slave of Mine begged you for food but you did not give it to him? Had you fed him you would have found it with Me.” Allah, again, will ask, “O son of Adam! I asked you for water and you did not give it to me.” The slave will reply, “Thou art the Lord of the Worlds; how could I give Thee water?” Allah will say, “Such-and-such a slave of Mine asked you for water but you did not give it to him. Had you given it to him you would have found it with Me.” (Muslim) The limit of benevolence, kindliness and fellow-feeling was that the holy Prophet laid it down as a permanent law and maxim that “no one among you (the Muslims) can become perfect in faith until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” (Bukhari) By Shaykh Abul-Hasan Ali Nadwi [ra]

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