Guidance From the Prophet
Adil Salahi, Arab News.
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger
A Muslim is expected to offer the greeting of peace, i.e. salām, before seeking permission to enter someone else’s home. In this connection, let me quote a habit.
A man from the Amir tribe came to the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and said: “May I enter.” The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said to a maid: “Go out and say to this man to say: ‘Assalamu alaikum. May I enter?’ He has not sought permission properly.”The man said: “I heard this before the maid could come out to give me this message. So I said: Assalamu alaikum. May I enter?” The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “And to you. Yes, come in.”I went in and asked him: “With what message have you come?”He said: “I have come to you with nothing but good. I have come to you so that you worship none other than Allah who has no partners. You must abandon the worship of idols like Al-Lat and Al-Uzza. You must pray five times each night and day, and fast a month in each year, and offer the pilgrimage to the House (i.e. the Ka’bah), and take a portion of the money of the rich among you so as to give it to your poor.” I asked him: “Is there any part of knowledge unknown to you?” He (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) replied: “Allah certainly knows what is good. Only Allah alone knows some knowledge. There are five things that are unknown to anyone other than God: ‘With Allah alone rests the knowledge of when the Last Hour will come; and He (it is who) sends down rain; and He knows what is in the wombs; whereas no one knows what he will reap tomorrow; and no one knows in what land he will die.’” [31: 34; Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad and Abu Dawūd]
We do not need to comment on the opening of this Hadith. However, when the man asked the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) about his message, the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) outlined it for him in clear and concise terms. The first thing the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said was the main essence of faith, which is Allah’s oneness. We note how the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) made his statement so emphatic, asserting the need to worship God alone and to ensure that no partners are associated with Him. But he goes on to add the importance of the practical shape this faith should take.
To an Arab at the time, this could not be illustrated in a better form than abandoning the worship of the main idols he had been used to glorify. Thus, the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) gave his interlocutor both the belief and its practical manifestation in both what needs to be done and what must be abandoned.
The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) then outlined for his interlocutor the four main acts of Islamic worship, namely Solat, fasting, pilgrimage and zakah.
These cover all areas of life. Solat is a bond between a human being and his Lord, Allah Almighty. It is renewed five times every day because a human being needs to be constantly aware of this bond. Such awareness is the best support anyone could have against temptation. During the day, every day, a Muslim is either approaching a solah coming soon or having finished a prayer a short while ago. In either case, solat serves as a reminder putting a Muslim on his guard.
Fasting, on the other hand, is a worship that signifies complete and pure devotion, because it involves abstaining from food and drink, the two things closely connected with our survival. When we withstand hunger and thirst for Allah’s sake, resisting the temptation of food and drink, we are better able to resist all temptation of sin.
The pilgrimage is an act of worship that symbolizes the unity of the Muslim community all over the world, not only in the present generation, but also throughout history.
Zakah is a financial act of worship that aims at ensuring complete social security for all people. We note here how the Prophet makes it clear that it should work within the community: You “take a portion of the money of the rich among you so as to give it to your poor.” This strengthens bonds within the community, because both giver and taker are fulfilling an act of worship.
The next question the man asks is about knowledge. The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) attributes all to Allah who knows all goodness. He then quotes a verse from the Qur’an that outlines five areas which are known to Allah alone: “With God alone rests the knowledge of when the Last Hour will come; and He (it is who) sends down rain; and He knows what is in the wombs; whereas no one knows what he will reap tomorrow; and no one knows in what land he will die.” (Luqman31: 34)
The first is that of the Last Hour, when all creation will be gathered before Allah on the Day of Resurrection. No one, not even a Prophet or an angel, is ever given such knowledge. But it is not merely the timing of the Last Hour that is withheld from our knowledge. What comes next is also known to Allah alone. This applies to both heaven and hell and whatever God has chosen to create for that life which we have no doubt of coming.
Secondly, the verse the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) quotes mentions that it is Allah alone who sends down rain. When we relate this to knowledge, we may think of the quantity of rain that is sent down each time a cloud sheds its contents. This is definitely an area that scientists have not even tried to explore. Even if they do, they can only hazard a guess with regard to the volume of rain, or its duration and the area where it falls. They may develop technology to give them better results. But Allah knows every drop of rain and where it falls, long before a cloud is formed. Not only so, but He knows the effects of such rain, and whether it will seep through the earth strata into an underground reservoir or pour into a river. He also knows which of His creation will benefit by each rainfall, and how much it contributes to the life of plants and animals.
Thirdly, Allah knows “what is in the wombs.” In his translation of the Qur’an, Muhammad Asad adds the following comment: “This relates not merely to the problem of the sex of the as yet unborn embryo, but also to the question of whether it will be born at all, and if so, what its natural endowments and its character will be, as well as what role it will be able to play in life; and life itself is symbolized by the preceding mention of rain, and the end of all life in this world, by the mention of the Last Hour.”
We may add that Allah’s knowledge does not apply to human embryos only, but to the unborn young of all species.
The fourth aspect of knowledge known only to Allah is that of the future, expressed in the Qur’anic verse in these words: “Whereas no one knows what he will reap tomorrow.” It is indeed knowledge of the next moment that is kept away from us. No one can ever claim to have clear and certain knowledge of what will happen beyond the present moment, or indeed whether he or she will survive to take another breath. But everything that will happen to the end of time is known to Allah in very minute detail.
The final aspect also relates to the future, but it is more closely related to a person’s life and its end: “No one knows in what land he will die.” It is not merely the place of death that is unknown to us. Also its timing and causes are also withheld. We realize this as we see in life that death cannot be predicted for any person, whether he suffers from ill health or he enjoys robust and good health. It may come through the least expected of causes and in the most unusual of ways. The only thing that is certain about it is that it occurs in every case, at the time Allah has chosen.
“Allāhumma salli ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘ala āli Muhammad kamā sallaita ‘ala āli Ibrāhīm; Wa bārik ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘ala āli Muhammad kama bārakta ‘ala āli Ibrāhīm, fil-‘ālamīn; Innaka Hamīdun Majīd”
(O Allāh! Send Prayers upon Muhammad and the members of his household as You Sent Prayers upon the members of Ibrahim's household; And Send Blessings to Muhammad and the members of his household as You granted Blessings upon the members of the household of Ibrahim, among all the nations’ Verily You are Most Praiseworthy, Full of Glory)”.[Muslim]
And Allāh Almighty Knows best.