It is undoubtedly an uncomfortable reality, but nevertheless it is the truth. This is in reference to the reality which states that not all those who meet Allah on the Day of Reckoning with Iman will be granted instant access to paradise. Certain deficiencies in Iman may mean that paradise will not be the first destination for many Muslims. It is for this reason that the Prophet PBUH, out of his mercy towards us, strove to guide us to certain characteristics to raise our Iman to levels where we will never need to feel the fire of hell beforehand. Characteristics that will instead raise them to the highest gardens of paradise and without accountability as well. The following Hadith is one such example.
The Prophet PBUH said:
لا يؤمن أحدكم حتى يحب لأخيه ما يحب لنفسه
“None of you truly believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”
I know you’ve come across this Hadith before, but wait till you hear what the scholars of Islam have had to say about this narration.
Abū Dāwood As-Sijistāni said:
إنه من الأحاديث التي عليها مدار الإسلام
“This is one of the fundamental narrations of the religion of Islam.”
All good manners can be traced back to four narrations.
Ibnu Abī Zayd Al-Māliki said:
جماع آداب الخير وأزِمَّتُه تتفرع من أربعة أحاديث
“There are four narrations which gather all good manners;
The first: Where the prophet PBUH said:
من كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر فليقل خيرا أو ليصمت
“Whoever believes in Allah and the day of judgment should say that which is good or remain quiet”
The second: Where he said:
من حسن إسلام المرء تركه ما لا يعنيه
“From the perfection of one’s religiosity is to leave that which doesn’t concern him”
The third: Where he said to the companion who requested advice:
“Don’t get angry”
The fourth: Where he said:
لا يؤمن أحدكم حتى يحب لأخيه ما يحب لنفسه
“None of you truly believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself”
What are the implications of this narration?
“So what?” one may ask. “What is it that makes this Hadith so important, and why have our scholars made such a big deal about it?”
(1) The completion of your Iman depends upon it
Hence we can recite as much Qur’an as we wish, attend Islamic conferences all around the year, deliver as many study circles as time permits, and pray and fast as much as humanely possible, however our Iman will remain dangerously deficient until we learn how to love for our brothers and sisters what we love for ourselves.
The Prophet PBUH said:
لَا يَبْلُغُ عَبْدٌ حَقِيقَةَ الْإِيمَانِ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ لِلنَّاسِ مَا يُحِبُّ لنفسه من الخير
“One will not attain the reality of faith till he loves goodness for people just as he loves it for himself.”
(2) Being shielded against the fire of Jahannam depends on it
The Prophet PBUH said:
فَمَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يُزَحْزَحَ عَنِ النَّارِ، وَيُدْخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ، فَلْتَأْتِهِ مَنِيَّتُهُ وَهُوَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ، وَلْيَأْتِ إِلَى النَّاسِ الَّذِي يُحِبُّ أَنْ يُؤْتَى إِلَيْهِ
“So whoever wishes to be pushed away from the fire and admitted into Jannah, then let death come to him whilst he believes in Allah and the Last Day, and let him behave with people as he wishes that they behave with him.”
Thus, salvation is hinged onto two principles; (1) correcting your relationship with Allah, and (2) correcting your relationship with people.
(3) Accessing your palaces, treasures and gardens of Jannah depend on it
The Prophet PBUH asked a companion, Yazid b. Asad Al-Qasri:
“Is it not that you love Jannah?” He said: “Yes” He responded:
فَأَحِبَّ لِأَخِيكَ مَا تُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِكَ
“Then love for your brother what you love for yourself.”
(4) How Allah treats you depends on it
Ibnul Qayyim said:
من رَفَقَ بعبادِ الله رَفَقَ الله به، ومن رحمهم رحمه، ومن أحسن إليهم أحسن إليه، ومن جاد عليهم جاد الله عليه، ومن نفعهم نفعه، ومن سترهم ستره، ومن منعهم خيره منعه خيرَه، ومن عامل خلقه بصفةٍ عامله الله بتلك الصِّفة بعينها في الدنيا والآخرة، فالله تعالى لعبده حسب ما يكون العبد لخَلقِه
“Whoever is gentle with Allah’s creation, Allah will be gentle with him, and whoever is merciful towards them, Allah will be merciful towards him, and whoever does good to them, Allah will do good to him, and whoever is generous with them, Allah will show generosity towards him, and whoever benefits them, Allah will benefit him, and whoever conceals their faults, Allah will conceal his fault, and whoever deprives them from goodness, Allah will deprive him from His, and whoever treats people in a particular way, Allah will treat him in that identical way in this world and the hereafter, hence Allah will be to His servants just as his servant is to His creation.”
What examples do we have of this value in action?
Having realised the above, our predecessors made every effort to reflect this Hadith in every possible field of life.
In the field of Islamic learning, they wanted for others what they wanted for themselves. ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abbās said:
إني لأمر على الآية من كتاب الله فأود أن الناس كلهم يعلمون منها ما أعلم
“At times, I come across an Ayah from the Qur’an which causes me to wish that all of humanity had learnt what I had just learnt.”
In the field of sharing good deeds, they wanted for others what they wanted for themselves. ‘Utbah Al-Ghulam would – having learnt that the one who provides food for the fasting person will receive a similar reward to the one fasting – say to some of his friends:
أخرج لي ماء أو تمرات أفطر عليها ليكون لك مثل أجري
“Bring me water or some dates to break my fast with so that you receive a similar reward of my fasting.”
In the field of slander and rumours, they wanted for others what they wanted for themselves. Consider a discussion that took place between a husband and his wife following the slanderous accusations that were leveled against our mother ‘Aisha.
Umm Ayyoob said to her husband:
يا أبا أيوب أما تسمع ما يقول الناس في عائشة ، رضي الله عنها؟
“O father of Ayyoob, have you heard what people are saying about ‘Aisha?”
نَعَمْ، وَذَلِكَ الْكَذِبُ. أكنتِ فَاعِلَةً ذَلِكَ يَا أُمَّ أَيُّوبَ؟ قَالَتْ: لَا وَاللَّهِ مَا كنتُ لِأَفْعَلَهُ. قَالَ: فَعَائِشَةُ وَاللَّهِ خَيْرٌ مِنْكِ
“Yes, and that is the lie. Would you do such a thing?” She responded: “Never, by Allah.” He said: “‘Aisha is better than you.”
And when the Prophet PBUH enquired about Ka’b b. Mālik’s absence since he wasn’t with the Muslim army in the battle of Tabook, a man took the initiative to backstab him, saying:
يا رَسُولَ اللهِ ، حَبَسَهُ بُرْدَاهُ والنَّظَرُ في عِطْفَيْهِ
“O Messenger of Allah, the embellishment of his cloak and the appreciation of his sides have allured him (in other words his love for Dunya kept him back). At this, Mu’adh b. Jabal jumped to his defence, saying:
بِئْسَ مَا قُلْتَ ! واللهِ يا رَسُولَ اللهِ مَا عَلِمْنَا عَلَيْهِ إلاَّ خَيْرَاً
“You have spoken evil words! O Messenger of Allah, by Allah, we only know good of him.”
In the field of dealing with their adversaries, they wanted for others what they wanted for themselves. Consider the words of Ibnul Qayyim when describing his teacher Ibnu Taymiyyah. He said:
وَكَانَ بَعْضُ أَصْحَابِهِ الْأَكَابِرِ يَقُولُ: وَدِدْتُ أَنِّي لِأَصْحَابِي مِثْلُهُ لِأَعْدَائِهِ وَخُصُومِهِ وَمَا رَأَيْتُهُ يَدْعُو عَلَى أَحَدٍ مِنْهُمْ قَطُّ، وَكَانَ يَدْعُو لَهُمْ. وَجِئْتُ يَوْمًا مُبَشِّرًا لَهُ بِمَوْتِ أَكْبَرِ أَعْدَائِهِ، وَأَشَدِّهِمْ عَدَاوَةً وَأَذًى لَهُ. فَنَهَرَنِي وَتَنَكَّرَ لِي وَاسْتَرْجَعَ. ثُمَّ قَامَ مِنْ فَوْرِهِ إِلَى بَيْتِ أَهْلِهِ فَعَزَّاهُمْ، وَقَالَ: إِنِّي لَكُمْ مَكَانَهُ، وَلَا يَكُونُ لَكُمْ أَمْرٌ تَحْتَاجُونَ فِيهِ إِلَى مُسَاعَدَةٍ إِلَّا وَسَاعَدْتُكُمْ فِيهِ. وَنَحْوَ هَذَا مِنَ الْكَلَامِ. فَسُّرُوا بِهِ وَدَعَوْا لَهُ. وَعَظَّمُوا هَذِهِ الْحَالَ مِنْهُ
“Some of his main students said: ‘I wish that I could treat my friends as kindly as he treats his enemies!’ In my life, I never once saw him making Du’aa against any of his adversaries, but he would make Du’aa for them. I once came to him with glad tidings about the death of one of his leading enemies who had caused him most harm. He sternly rebuked me for this and said Inna illāhi wa inna ilaihi rāji’oon. Then, at once, he made his way to the family of the deceased and consoled them, saying: ‘I will take care of you in his place. Anything which you may require, I will take care of it for you.’ They were pleased by what he said, made Du’aa for him and honoured him for doing so.”
In fact, even in the field of clothes, shoes and material items, they wanted for others what they wanted for themselves. Consider the commentary of ‘Ali b. Abī Tālib on the Ayah:
تِلْكَ الدَّارُ الْآخِرَةُ نَجْعَلُهَا لِلَّذِينَ لَا يُرِيدُونَ عُلُوًّا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فَسَادًا
“That home of the Hereafter We assign to those who do not desire high-handedness upon the earth or corruption.”
هو ألا يحب أن يكون نعله خيرًا من نعل غيره، ولا ثوبه خيرًا من ثوبه
“It’s in reference to a person who doesn’t wish for his shoes or clothes to be better than that of others.”
In fact, in one of the most breathtaking narrations in this regard, the Prophet PBUH said:
اشْتَرَى رَجُلٌ مِنْ رَجُلٍ عَقَارًا لَهُ، فَوَجَدَ الرَّجُلُ الَّذِي اشْتَرَى العَقَارَ فِي عَقَارِهِ جَرَّةً فِيهَا ذَهَبٌ، فَقَالَ لَهُ الَّذِي اشْتَرَى العَقَارَ: خُذْ ذَهَبَكَ مِنِّي، إِنَّمَا اشْتَرَيْتُ مِنْكَ الأَرْضَ، وَلَمْ أَبْتَعْ مِنْكَ الذَّهَبَ، وَقَالَ الَّذِي لَهُ الأَرْضُ: إِنَّمَا بِعْتُكَ الأَرْضَ وَمَا فِيهَا، فَتَحَاكَمَا إِلَى رَجُلٍ، فَقَالَ: الَّذِي تَحَاكَمَا إِلَيْهِ: أَلَكُمَا وَلَدٌ؟ قَالَ أَحَدُهُمَا: لِي غُلاَمٌ، وَقَالَ الآخَرُ: لِي جَارِيَةٌ، قَالَ: أَنْكِحُوا الغُلاَمَ الجَارِيَةَ وَأَنْفِقُوا عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمَا مِنْهُ وَتَصَدَّقَا
“A man bought a piece of land from another man, and the buyer found a jar filled with gold in the land. The buyer said to the seller: ‘Take your gold, as I bought only the land from you and not the gold.’ The owner of the land said: ‘I sold you the land with everything in it.’ So both of them took their case before a third man who asked: ‘Have you any children?’ One of them said: ‘I have a boy.’ The other said, ‘I have a girl.’ The man said: ‘Marry the girl to the boy and spend the money on them; and whatever remains give it in charity.’”
Yes, such disputes are common, but what is out of the ordinary is when each of the two parties argues that “he is the rightful owner! He wants to give me what is not mine!”
Giving life to this principle
Why is it that it’s so easy to talk about this principle but so difficult – in the lives of many – to apply? It boils down to an illness inside; an illness within the heart.
A heart that convinces you that the losses of others mean that you’ve now somehow automatically progressed is a terribly ill and severely mistaken heart. If your friend’s business plummets, does that mean that you’ve now become a millionaire? If your friends child fails his school exam, does that mean that your child will now pass? If your friend has an accident and loses their looks, does that mean that you now look any better? The answer to all of these questions is no, hence the conclusion is that this type of jealousy is purely the work of shaytan who wants our Iman to remain deficient by encouraging us to not want for others what we want for ourselves.
The Prophet PBUH was asked:
أيُّ الناسِ أفضلُ
“Who are the best of people?”
كلُّ مخمومِ القلبِ صدوقِ اللسانِ
“Those whose hearts are Makhmoom (purified), and whose speech is truthful.”
صدوقُ اللسانِ نعرفُه فما مخمومُ القلبِ
“We understand being truthful in speech, but what is a Makhmoom (purified) heart?”
هو التقيُّ النقيُّ لا إثمَ فيه ولا بغيَ ولا غِلَّ ولا حسدَ
“It is the heart that is pious and pure, with no sin, injustice, malice or envy in it.’
Therefore, when you profit from a financial transaction, let the very first thought that crosses your mind, after gratitude to Allah, be “how can I remove the debts of my brothers?”
When you go home and realise the beautiful atmosphere that your wife has created for you, children running around, a home that is warm, food that is ready, and a cheerful face in your reception, let your knee-jerk reaction be, after gratitude to Allah, how am I going to facilitate a similar experience for my brothers and sisters?
When your husband returns home with gifts, dear sister, or when he raises your children with care, and fulfills the Sunnah at home just as he does in the Masjid, then ensure that your immediate impulse is, after gratitude to Allah, one of concern for your sisters who are yet to experience this.
When you make Du’aa for the righteousness of your children, make Du’aa for the righteousness of your friend’s children as well.
When your brother is spoken ill of, ask yourself, how would you like to be treated in such a scenario?
The benefits of living by “until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself” are not limited to the hereafter. I remember visiting an old Welshman in the hospital during his last days. He was a multi-billionaire with jets, yachts and several banks to his name. My friend asked him, “What was the secret to your successes?” He responded, “By remembering that there is enough to go round. Be at the service of others”. Days before he passed away, he embraced Islam. Those who serve with sincerity, Allah does not let them down in both worlds.
Strive to leave a legacy behind you, footprints that are not erased till the day you meet Allah. Plan a project that will outlive your short life here on earth. One that will witness for you on the Day of Reckoning, arguing your case before Allah and pleading to grant you access into Jannah’s palaces due to the service that your project had continued to provide people during your life and after you had died.
 Al-Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Anas
 Sharh Muslim, An-Nawawi
 Ibnu Hibbān, on the authority of Anas
 Muslim, on the authority of ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Amr b. Al-‘Aas
 Al-Wābil Al-Sayyib, Ibnul Qayyim
 Jāmi’ Al-‘Uloom Wal Hikam, Ibnu Rajab
 Jāmi’ Al-‘Uloom Wal Hikam, Ibnu Rajab
 Tafseer Ibn Katheer
 Al-Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Ka’b b. Mālik
 What is to be said during times of calamities, which translates as “Surely we belong to Allah, and surely to Him we shall return.”
 Madārij As-Sālikeen
 Al-Qur’an, 28:83
 Fathul Bāri, Ibnu Hajar
 Al-Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Abū Huraira
 Ibn Mājah, on the authority of ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Amr b. Al-‘Aas