We are in the Islamic month of the birth of the Mercy to Mankind, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). I could think of no better way to truly commemorate our love than to reflect on his teachings as the Quran reminds us to do so often.
Indeed, it is only through the teachings of our beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) that we can truly worship God.
The lessons he shared that were so generously gifted from Allah Almighty are transformative to say the least. And so, I challenge you to reflect on what are the top lessons he taught you that transformed your life and how.
Here are a few of mine.
Charity Never Reduces Your Wealth
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying:
“Charity will never diminish wealth; Allah will reward a servant who forgives with nothing but increased honor; and Allah definitely raises the status of a person who humbles himself for Allah.” (Sahih Muslim)
I heard this hadith sometime in middle school. I would hear it many times in my adult life. Unironically, it was typically at fundraising dinners. But, even at such a young age, I knew I didn’t want to allow the fear of losing money to rule my life. I knew I needed to adopt this as a mindset shift.
I also knew that there were always going to be people who could benefit more from the rizq (provision) God has given me.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was generous during times of his life in poverty and in wealth. If someone asked him for something, even quite literally the clothes off his back, he would give it away. (see this hadith for example)
During Ramadan, his generosity was described as being “like the wind.” The best of teachers reminds us that to be generous does not take away from anything. Rather, it increases us in Allah’s favor and, through that, increases us in goodness in this world and the next.
Two Priceless Rak`ahs
Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“The two Rak`ahs [before] the dawn (Fajr) prayer are better than this world and all it contains.” (Muslim)
Fajr was (and still is) notoriously the most difficult Salah for me to perform. Even if performed on time, to have khushu` (focus) during the prayer is a difficult task.
I remember hearing this hadith at a conference when I was 15 years old. It shocked me. Think about this: what are we willing to do for just having part of the world? How many hours do we practice for a sports team we play?
How many years do we put into studying to make it to our dream profession?
Or how much do we save for our dream home or vacation?
We will delay pleasure for these goals, and yet, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is telling us that a simple Sunnah prayer is better than the entire world!
I challenged myself after that day to begin praying those two raka`at. And what I found was that if I pushed myself to do it (even when I so desperately wanted to go back to sleep), my focus at Fajr was better. And I could feel amazing knowing that I now had the world in my hands.
It was narrated that Abu Sa`eed said:
Marwan brought the pulpit out one ‘Eid day and started to deliver the sermon before the prayer. A man stood up and said: ‘O Commander of the Believers, you have gone against the Sunnah. You have brought the pulpit out on the day of ‘Eid and it was not brought out before, and you started with the sermon before the prayer, when this was not done before.’
Abu Sa`eed said: ‘As for this man, he has done his duty. I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) say:
“Whoever among you sees an evil action, and he is able to change it with his hand, then change it with his hand (by taking action); if he cannot (do so), then with his tongue then with his tongue (by speaking out); and if he cannot then with his heart (by hating it and feeling that it is wrong), and that is the weakest of faith.” (Sunan ibn Maajih)
A new perspective
I learned this hadith in weekend school at probably 12 years old. I remember a light going off inside of me. Until then, I had learned Islam as almost a set of rules: This is how you make wudu. This is what you say before you sleep. This is what breaks your fast.
But now, I was learning about Islam as a framework to view the world. One that measures in justice and reminds you that you ALWAYS have autonomy and a chance to do something right.
Imagine this new-founded thinking coupled with learning about all the injustice in the world. This one hadith would propel me into several years of community work: locally, nationally and internationally, to address many wrongs in our society.
I would ponder the meaning, especially thinking “why do I skip straight to hating something in my heart instead of working to change it with my hand or tongue.” This hadith would challenge my understanding of courage, initiative and what true Islam looks like in America.
5 Right You Owe Your Fellow Muslim
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“A believer owes another believer five rights: responding to greetings, visiting him in illness, following his funeral, accepting his invitation, and saying ‘Yarhamuk-Allah (May Allah have mercy on you),’ when he says ‘Al-hamdu lillah (Praise be to Allah)’ after sneezing“. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
I’m someone who thoroughly enjoys lists. And a 5 part list (or 6 in another narration which includes giving advice to your brother when asked for it) gives an easy way to keep ourselves in check and to have a pulse on the community.
These are interpersonal interactions at different stages of a Muslim’s life through wellness and sickness. Many times, our laziness makes us complacent in denying these rights. That is not something small. Rights in Islam mean that a case can be made on the Day of Judgement. This hadith forces me to hold myself accountable and not get complacent, no matter how busy I am.
Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet once told her:
Aishah! show gentleness, for if gentleness is found in anything, it beautifies it and when it is taken out from anything it damages it. (Abu Dawud)
Growing up, I found that people were always advocating for a rough and tough attitude to get ahead in life. I’d hear “nice guys finish last” and “don’t let anyone step on you.” And so, I grew up afraid that my kindness would be taken for weakness and so I feared being kind.
But gentleness is a quality of God and should not be seen as a weakness!
It was through practicing gentleness with my family, friends and others that I was able to become more gentle with myself and even my worship improved.
The list of transformative teachings of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) can continue for pages. So, what are the principles and practices that impact your life?