Hadith Leesson: 21st hadith of Nawawi taught by teacher Reda (3rd October)

In the name of Allah

Assalamu aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu


On the authority of Abu 'Amr, who is also known as Abu 'Amrah, Sufyan bin 'Abdullah Ath-Thaqaly (may Allah be pleased with him) said, 'I said 'O Messenger of Allah! Tell me something about Islam that might dispense with the necessity of my asking anyone other than you.' He said, 'Say, 'I affirm my faith in Allah,' and then remain steadfast to it." (Recorded by Muslim)

Occasion of the Hadith:

There is no specific incident related to this hadith, but the way it is narrated, in the form of a direct question and answer, reveals to us the Companions' keen interest to know more about their religion from their Prophet (peace be upon him).

The Companions hated to annoy the Prophet (peace be upon him) with their

numerous questions (out of politeness), and they did not like to bother him. So many times, they used to wait until a Bedouin came, as the Bedouins were affected by the coarse nature of the desert and were not refined by the proprieties of Islam.

They used to ask many questions, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) would answer all of their questions. Here, Abu 'Amr asks the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) his question and the answer is given conclusively.

The literal meaning of “Istiqamah”: to go straight into the right direction, acting rightly, allowing no deviation. It is derived from the stem “Qiyyam”, which implies the continuity of doing something, following up with it and making sure that it is done in the right way and there is neither deviation nor swerving.

The term has been used by the Qur’an in many verses. Allah the Almighty says:

“Therefore, stand firm (on the straight path) as you are commanded and those who turn in repentance with you. And do not transgress, for He (Allah) sees well all that you do.”( Hud,11:112)

Ibnu Abbas said that this verse was the hardest and most difficult verse of the Qur’an on the Prophet, (peace be upon him).

Indeed it is a difficult task to achieve Istiqamah, hence, the Prophet, (peace be upon him), said; “Be straight on the path or be close to it.”

In another verse, Allah the Almighty says:

“So unto this (religion) invite (the people). Stand steadfast as you are commanded and do not follow their desires…..”(Al-Shura' 42: 15)

Based on these two verses, it can be inferred that Istiqamah is to stand firm and steadfast to what we have been commanded by Allah, i.e. to fulfill obligations and to avoid prohibitions.
Also, we should not allow ourselves to follow or be misled by desires (whether it is our desires or the desires of others) as it will cause deviation and lead us astray.

According to Ibn al-Qayyim, there are five conditions to achieve Istiqamah in performing required deeds:

The act should be done for the sake of Allah alone.

It should be done on the basis of knowledge. Performing worship should be in the same manner that they have been commanded. To do it in the best way possible.

Restricting oneself to what is lawful while performing those deeds.

According to other scholars of behavior, there are certain steps to be followed in order to achieve Istiqamah :

Always being aware of the final destination, i.e. the Day of Judgment. And to use this awareness in a positive way as a motive to do good deeds. One way to do it is through remembering that a person’s journey towards the hereafter starts the minute he/ she passes away and leaves this world. As it’s said that: “If you live until the morning do not wait for the evening and if you live until the evening do not wait for the morning.”

Commitment. One has to make a commitment that he/she will be steadfast and will do things in the right way and in the best way possible, and to adhere to conjunctions of Islam. Unfortunately many Muslims are being lenient in making such a commitment. To make continuous efforts to bring that commitment to reality.

Some Muslims dare to make the commitment, but dare not to make the effort to make the commitment a reality.

Continuous checking and reviewing of one’s deeds. Being honest with oneself so as not to give false excuses for failing to fulfill a commitment.

Self accountability. This should be done twice:

Firstly, before we start doing something, ensuring that it pleases Allah, that we do it for His sake only, realizing the right way it should be done. Secondly, after the action has been done, to check whether we have achieved what we aimed for, and to check for defects and shortcomings, and that we still could have done it better by not being satisfied with our action.

Blaming oneself for not doing it perfectly after it has been done. Self blaming here is a positive one by using it as a motive, and by aiming for improvement and having the intention of doing things better next time. This leads to making another commitment and continual commitments to improve our performance.

Striving for improvement. We have to make improvements in all that we do (daily activities, work, actions, good deeds, worship, etc.) as one of our objectives. To be humble towards Allah, realizing that no one is perfect except Him, seeking His forgiveness, guidance and support.
It should be emphasized that these steps/conditions apply to worldly matters as well as worship and good religious deeds.

Factors that lead to the weakening of Istiqamah include:

Committing sins, insisting on repeating them again and again, without seeking Allah’s forgiveness and without practicing repentance.

Shirk (associating anything with Allah) whether in intentions, by showing off our good deeds to others, seeking others’ appraisal, avoiding being blamed by others, being afraid of someone, or to seek rewards from others than Allah. This part of shirk is also called (riyya’) or showing off. All these lead to deviation in Istiqamah, and when these stimulus are not there, the person’s work is not perfect anymore and it is not done in the best way possible.

Nifaq (hypocrisy). There are two forms of nifaq: in belief and in action. The Muslim who surrenders totally to the will of Allah and accepts Islam based on his/her choice is free from the first form of hypocrisy. However any Muslim is subject to and should avoid the second form of hypocrisy which the Prophet, (peace be upon him), warned us about: Not keeping promises and breaking them continuously without good reasons or excuses, not fulfilling commitments we make with others, being aggressive and unjust to others in quarrels, and disputes, failing to shoulder responsibilities/burdens we are entrusted with, etc. All these bad qualities should be avoided since they lead to the weakening of our Istiqamah.

Bida’ah (innovations in ibadah), whether genuine bida’ah (performing worship which has not been ascribed by Shariah, i.e. revelation), or relative bida’ah (failing to observe the requirements of doing worship.

There are other factors that also contribute to the weakening of Istiqamah, such as: recklessness, reluctance, heedlessness, being overwhelmed by a deceiving enjoyment, and being mislead by self interests and desires.

Applying the above mentioned steps and requirements pinpointed by scholars will help in overcoming all these obstacles and barriers.

Lessons Deduced

Creedal Lessons:

1. We notice that Abu 'Amr Sufyan bin 'Abdullah said, 'Tell me something about Islam...' But the Prophet (peace be upon him) answered, "Say: ‘I affirm my faith in Allah." From this it may be thought that Islam and Faith are two meanings for the same word. So, we have to look at the scholar's definitions of both terms to fully gasp their meanings.

The lexical meaning of the word Faith is: absolute belief, and it is

mentioned in the statement of Allah, which means, 'But you will never believe us even when we speak the truth’ Yusuf, 12: 17).

Technically (according to Islamic law)

Faith means: the necessity of believing wholeheartedly in all matters related to the religion that our Prophet (peace be upon him) came with.

The lexical meaning of the word Islam is: submission and compliance.

Technically, it has two meanings;

- The first means submission to orders and prohibitions and in this way it is exactly the same as Faith.

- The second Islam means complying with orders and prohibitions.

The word 'Islam' appears many times in the Quran with different

meanings, but in most of them it means the religion as a whole. Allah says, which means, "Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam,' (Al-Imran, 3: 19)

True faith means believing in the Oneness of Allah and remaining steadfast to that. It also means seeking only His Help; knowing that goodness and harm come from Him alone; and it means associating nothing else with Him in His Divine Self, His Attributes, or His Deeds. The one who runs to seek the help of a dead person or from a grave will never be answered. He hopes to find help from others while he invokes Allah in each Rak'ah (unit of prayer) saying, which means, "Guide us to the Straight Way," (Al-Fatihah, 1: 6)

Moral Lessons:

Among the ways of showing respect and reverence to honorable people is calling them with their titles and not by their proper names. No one deserves to be revered more than the Prophet (peace be upon him) as Allah tells us, which means, 'Make not the calling of the Messenger (Muhammad) among you as your calling of one another.' (An-Nor, Z4: 63)

The Companions followed the Orders of their Lord and here we see Sufyan (the narrator) addressing the Prophet (peace he upon him) saying, “O Messenger of Allah!’ All of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them!) used to compete even to take the water left after his ablution or his spit to rub it against their faces, for they were regarded as a blessing, but some Bedouins who came from the desert found nothing wrong in raising their voices and calling the Prophet (peace be upon him) by his name, 'Oh Mohammed!’ This was not acceptable of course to anyone, especially not to a wise jurist.

Intellectual Lessons:

Deviating from Islamic laws and following man-made laws is considered to be deviation from the natural course of things. It is a deviation from the natural disposition that Allah created people with. Modesty, gratitude, and Monotheism are among the natural dispositions, and deviating from them only leads to a corruption and distortion in one's morals and dealings with others. Holding fast to the Right Path does not generate deviation, as everything devolves from its own kind.

This means that deviations come from distorted ways of thinking. In my opinion, there is no comprehensive system except the Qur'an, which covers all aspects of life, Allah says which means, 'So stand (ask Allah to make) you (Muhammad) firm and straight (on the religion of Islamic Monotheism as you are commanded and those (of your Companions) who turn in repentance (to Allah) with you, and transgress not (Allah's legal limits). Verily, He is the All-Seer of what you do." (Hud, I1: 112)

All the killings, injustices, and terror that we witness today are the result of following distorted man-made systems, whether they are philosophical, existentialistic, capitalistic, or communistic systems.

Allah, the Exalted, says, which means, 'so unto this (religion of Islam, alone and this Qur'an) then invite (people) (O Muhammad), and stand firm and straight on Islamic Monotheism by performing all that is ordained by Allah (good deeds, etc.))" (Ash-Shura, 42: 15)

He also says, which means, ‘An Arabic Qur’an, without any crookedness (therein).' (Az-Zumar, 39: 25) The best solution then is to follow the laws of Allah which are above error.

Political Lessons:

Not only did the Companion ask the Prophet (peace be upon him) a question, for which he received a comprehensive answer that covered more than that he asked for, but he also included his desire of not wanting to have to seek anyone else's help concerning matters of this world or of the Hereafter.

Allah swore by Himself that no one attains true faith until he resorts in all his troubles and matters to the Sunnah (the tradition of the Prophet (peace he upon him) and accepts its judgment. He says, which means, 'But no, by your Lord, they Can have no Faith, until they make you
(O Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission' (An-Nissa', 4: 55)

Lessons for Da'wah (the Call to Islam)

One of the most important pieces of advice for callers to Islam is to avoid boring wordiness in their speeches and sermons. Giving only two sermons before Friday Prayer, guides the caller to an important psychological factor that will attract and keep people's attention.

Lengthy talk and arguing too much makes discussions futile, and impossible to be grasped, and people start to feel bored by too many words. Imam 'Abdullah bin Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) used to take advantage of Thursdays to sit with people and give them talks, but he did not do it on any other day. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not prolong prayers when he heard little children crying, because he knew that their mothers would be distracted.

He also admonished (Mu'ath Bin Jabal) when the people complained that he had led them in a prolonged prayer, he reprimanded him disapprovingly saying, 'O Mu'ath!, Are you putting the people to trial?‘

But, nowadays there are some callers to Islam who know nothing of this teaching. They do not know the meanings of the Qur‘an, and they participate in immoral gatherings, and one finds them also using lengthy repulsive sentences, The Prophet (peace be upon him) called such people 'the conceited ones, When they are gone, they are forgotten.

Hadith in Practice

Remaining steadfast in matters of belief, transactions, and acts of worship do not rely upon personal opinions and situations. It is not left for speculation but rather it is clearly stated in the Qur'an, that, which means, "so stand (ask Allah to make) you (Muhammad) firm and straight (on the religion of Islamic Monotheism) as you are commanded and those (your Companions) who turn in repentance (unto Allah) with you, and transgress not (Allah's legal limits).

Verily, He is All-Seer of what you do." (Hud, 11: 12) The statement ‘as you are commanded' means commanded by Allah, and not acting according to our own desires and wishes. If it were not so, the atheist would claim to be virtuous according to general rules, and the pagan would relate virtuousness to himself according to the customs and traditions of his people.

The sorcerer would relate virtuousness to himself according to his forefathers' traditions, and he would even go further by claiming that these verses have a different meaning,

Allah answers them saying, which means, ‘And verily, this (i.e. Allah’s Commandments mentioned in the above two Verses (151 and 152) is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His Path.” (Al-An'am, 6: 153)

The question of the Companion here leads some people to say that Islamic law is to be taken only from the Qur'an and Sunnah. This is true in some respects, but some may regard it as an accusation of Islam. The Companion did not say, "I will not ask anyone but you to explain what you said to me," as this Companion was capable of taking knowledge from its source. Asking men of understanding about Islamic matters is not degrading, because we can never understand them fully without their help. They are more knowledgeable in the Arabic language and are more capable of understanding the juristic rulings. Asking them does not decrease one's Faith, on the contrary, there is no Sunnah without the law. Some Muslims nowadays claim that we are not in need of compilations like that of (AL-Bukhllry, Muslim, and others. They claim that we do not need the works of Anas bin Malik, Imam Shafi‘y, Ahmed bin Hnbal, and Abu Hanifah), and the many others who have enriched our Islamic history. I say to them all that this claim has made our enemies happy. It made our children and scholars renounce the works of their forefathers and teachers, and they took the false opinions against those of their own people. Now they form a sect with their followers and supporters, aiming for dissension to occur between the Muslims. May Allah save us from their evils.
Istiqamah is an important Islamic concept. Its significance can be seen where every Muslim is required to recite Surah al-Fatihah at least seventeen times each day seeking continual guidance to the straight path from Allah.


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