The Superiority and Goodness of a Person


Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Superiority and Goodness of a Person

As reported by Abu Hurairah, the Holy Prophet ordered: "Whoever fulfills the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brings his Muslim brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts on the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screens a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the earth and in the life after death. Allah helps a Muslim as long as he helps his brother. Whoever attempted to find knowledge, Allah makes easy the path of heaven for him. Whoever gathers in one of the houses of Allah, reads the book of Allah and discusses it with each other, Allah will bestow on them His blessing, the angels will encircle them and Allah will utter their names along with the angels by His side. When the practice of a person comes before himself, he cannot advance." (Muslim, Ziqr Hadith No: 38). This hadith, which contains invaluable awards for one who believes that life does not consist of only this world, is in some ways an explanation of Allah's promise: "O! Allah loses not the wages of the good" (Al-Tauba, 120). Not only in the Qur'an, but also in many of Prophet Muhammad's hadiths, it is stated that heaven and its endless blessings are the award for those who have faith and who do good deeds. For that reason Allah orders that He purchases the lives and belongings of the believers which they have sacrificed on the way of Allah in exchange for heaven and He orders that they should be happy because of this exchange (Al-Tauba, 11). The fact that while only some of the awards given after our death for good deeds are mentioned, the fact that both worldly and heavenly awards for some of our good deeds are mentioned cannot mean that our good deeds will not be awarded in this life. The worldly award for our good deeds will at least be moral peace, spiritual serenity and psychological satisfaction. The moral peace that we receive when we help the needy, save the people from difficult situations, do a good deed for humanity cannot be obtained or measured materially. Moreover, it is clear that the believer who attains Allah's help as long as they help their brother will attain help in both worlds.

To screen a believer means not to expose them or to tell others of the personal mistakes or sins of a person. It is our religious duty not to tell anyone the faults or mistakes of a believer that are not harmful to other people if we are to hear of such faults and mistakes; if necessary we should warn them in a friendly way in an appropriate environment in accordance with the principle of "recommend good deeds, warn against the bad deeds". However, when a bad deed and crime that has been committed by a person is connected to the public, in other words if such deeds harms other people, it is also our religious responsibility to initially prevent the bad deed or crime in accordance with the same principle and to inform the officials and cause the guilty person to be apprehended if we do not have the power to prevent them ourselves.

For instance, reporting a violation of traffic laws, which might endanger the security of people's lives or properties, reporting damage to public property or reporting acts of murder, all of which are incidents that harm individuals and society, is considered to be a requirement of our faith and our social liability. This is because Allah orders us to act as people who sustain justice by witnessing for Allah, even it be against one's parents or kindred (An-Nisaa, 135). According to the hadith above, the final point at which the people walking on the path of science will arrive is heaven. Facilitating the path of heaven for travelers of wisdom who read the book of Allah, who understand and debate among themselves and attempt to reveal the reason and truth can only be the reward of a religion that wages war against ignorance. Even the Prophet of this religion, which does not exclude science or knowledge, even on the issue of faith, but which on the contrary emphasizes the significance and value of believing after investigation, wished in his dreams that Allah give him knowledge that was beneficial (Muslim, Ziqr, Hadith. No:73).

The final sentence of the hadith indicates a basic principle of the religion of Islam and gives the following message for a society that glorifies their ancestry and which judges people according to their lineage;  family and nobility will be of no use if one is negligent in fulfilling goodness and beauty ordered for them; the sole factor that facilitates the path to Heaven is not lineage, but good deeds.

Allah does not consider natural distinctions such as race and sex when assessing the position of a person, or such artificial distinctions as status; rather the only valid measure for comparison between the people is devotion, that is having good faith in Allah and respecting and observing His orders (Al-Hujurat, 13)

Thus, instead of the values that were present in the Age of Ignorance, which contradicted the honor of humankind, a measure has been introduced that applies to everyone and which centralizes faith and good morality. Prophet Muhammad, in line with this, expressed that, "There is no superiority among the Arabs or the non-Arabs other than in their levels of devotion." (Ahmad ibn Hanbel, Musned, 5/411).

Despite these evident rules, being proud of your lineage, which was a custom of the age of ignorance, and hoping for divine help because of this nobility, continued to some extent throughout Islamic history and examples can be seen at present. As is known, descending from the lineage of Prophet Muhammad and being related to him is not a measure of virtue in our religion.

Except for the values that make people and believers act in a moderate way, we should understand all the artificial and groundless value measures which we perceive or which other people perceive in us are deceptive and we should not forget the following saying of Prophet Muhammad: "The superiority of a person is his religion, the goodness of a person is his reason, and the value and the pride of a person is his morality." (Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, 2/365).

عَنْ أَبِي مَسْعُودٍ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏"‏ إِذَا أَنْفَقَ الرَّجُلُ عَلَى أَهْلِهِ يَحْتَسِبُهَا فَهُوَ لَهُ صَدَقَةٌ ‏"
Narrated Abu Mas'ud: The Prophet said, "If a man spends on his family (with the intention of having a reward from Allah) sincerely for Allah's sake then it is a (kind of) alms-giving in reward for him.” (Bukhari, Belief, 41)

Title: Tracks from Neyzen Sadreddin Özçimi's album, Sufi Rhythms - Sultan-i Ask Artist: Sadreddin Özçimi