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The Gift of Gratitude – Shukr

On one occasion, after Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam) had married, Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) came to visit him in Makkah Mukarramah. On arriving at his home, however, he did not meet Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam), as he was out, and instead met the wife of Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam). As she had never met Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) before, she did not recognize him.

Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) asked her where Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam) was to which she replied, “He has gone to find sustenance for us (i.e. he has gone out to hunt).” Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) next asked her regarding their condition and state. She replied by complaining and mentioning, “We are in a bad condition. We are undergoing constraints and poverty.” Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) then said to her, “When your husband arrives, convey my salaam to him, and tell him to change his doorstep.”

When Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam) later returned, he perceived that someone had visited, and thus asked his wife, “Did anyone come?” She replied, “Yes, an old man with such-and-such an appearance arrived. He asked me where you were, and so I told him that you were out. He asked me regarding our condition, and so I told him that we are in difficulty and hardship.” Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam) asked her, “Did he give you any message?” She replied, “Yes, he told me to convey salaam to you, and to tell you to change your doorstep.” Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam) responded, “That was my father, Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam). He has instructed me to separate from you.” (Nabi Ebrahim [‘alaihis salaam] was actually referring to the wife of Nabi Ismaa‘eel [‘alaihis salaam] when he used the term ‘doorstep’.)

After some time had passed, Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam) remarried. When Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) came to visit him after he remarried, he was again out of the home. Hence, Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) met his wife who did not recognize him. Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) asked her where Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam) was to which she answered, “He has gone to search for sustenance for us.” Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) next asked her regarding their condition. She praised Allah Ta‘ala and replied, “We are in a good condition, enjoying prosperity.” Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam) then said to her, “When your husband arrives, convey my salaam to him, and tell him to keep and look after his doorstep.”

When Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam) later returned, he perceived that someone had visited, and thus asked his wife, “Did anyone come?” She replied in the affirmative and informed Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam) of what had transpired, together with conveying to him the salaam and the message of Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam). Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam) responded, “That was my father, and you are the ‘doorstep’ to which he referred. He has instructed me to keep you as my wife and look after you.” (Saheeh Bukhaari #3364)

NB: The doorstep acts as a form of protection for the door and the home. Similarly, the woman of the home is a form of protection for the home, as she guards the home in the absence of the husband. Further, the wife always remains at home (in the ideal situation) just as the doorstep never moves and always remains in one place. For this reason, the word ‘doorstep’ was used to refer to the woman of the home. (Fathul Baari vol. 6, pg. 499 and Al-Kautharul Jaari vol. 6, pg. 261)

Lessons:

1. The first wife and second wife of Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam) had lived in the same home and had both experienced the same conditions of hardship. However, there was a great difference between the two wives. The first wife had the bad qualities of ingratitude and complaining, and hence she was deprived of remaining in the marriage of Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam). The second wife was blessed with the qualities of gratitude for the favours they enjoyed, patience over their hardships, and contentment with the little that they had, and so she was honoured to remain the wife of Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam).

2. The importance of the wife remaining grateful to her husband and abstaining from complaining can be clearly understood from the hadeeth in which Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) warned the women of this ummah that one of the main causes for them entering Jahannum is their excessive complaining and lack of appreciation for the favours and kindness of the husband (Saheeh Muslim # 2048). In another hadeeth, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) described those women who do not have the quality of appreciation saying, “If you treat such a woman kindly for your entire life, and she thereafter sees something from you (that she dislikes), she will say, ‘I never saw any good from you!’ (i.e. on account of one unhappy experience, she will immediately forget the lifetime of good that you showed her and will immediately complain.)” (Saheeh Bukhaari #29)

3. Nabi Ismaa‘eel (‘alaihis salaam) heeded the advice of his father, Nabi Ebrahim (‘alaihis salaam), regarding his wife. Similarly, we should ensure that we consult and follow the advice of our parents and elders when choosing a spouse.

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