Alhamdulillah… All praise and thanks are due to the Almighty Allah, who continuously showers us with bounties out of His kindness and generosity, whether we ask for it or not. I send peace and blessings upon the most grateful servant of Allah; Ḥabībī Muḥammad, his household, companions and all those who follow his guided path till judgement day.
This article is the first of a few articles that come in a series to address one of the phenomenas we live in our daily encounters, in a time and age when everyone is obsessed with doing the same thing, simply because everyone else is doing it. I suggest to call this series “Everyone is doing it… Why not me?”
The objective of this series is to present sample verses from the Qur’an which highlight what the majority of people do, and what the minority of people do in the contrary. This series aims to help the Muslim reader to realize that he is worth more than just living blindly and following blindly, without allowing himself to reason before embarking on his choices in life. After all, in the hereafter, only he will stand to answer for himself, a fact that should be enough for him to be aware that his choices should be made responsibly.
In today’s article, I’m sharing with you the story of the incident which occurred in the market of Madinah and had taught Sayyidanā ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, raḍiya Allahu ‘anhu a great lesson of wisdom.
Sayyidunā ‘Umar in the Market
All of Ibn Abī al-Shībah (in his Muṣannaf), Imām Aḥmad (in his book of al-Zuhd), as well as Imām al-Qurtubī, reported that Sayyidunā ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu, was once in the market when he heard a man repeating in his supplication (du‘a) saying:
O Allah, make me of Your few servants.
Sayyidunā ‘Umar asked him: Where did you get this form of du‘a from? The man replied: Allah says in His book:
وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ
“And a few of My servants are grateful” (Sūrah Saba’, 34:13).
Sayyidunā ‘Umar raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu then wept and said: Everyone is more knowledgeable than you, O ‘Umar. O Allah, make me among Your few servants.
Let’s Reflect on the Story
No doubt, this story occurred 1400 years ago, but it’s more relevant today than it was in the time of its occurrence.
When we ponder on the moral of the story, we realize that the few servants of Allah possesses a lot more qualities beyond just being grateful to the bounties of Allah bestowed upon all creatures. On the other hand, there stands the majority, which possesses characteristics that differentiates them from any minority (the few).
Undeniably, we mostly deny the bounties bestowed upon us out of the love and mercy of Allah, the Creator. Such bounties are sometimes more than that, which have been bestowed upon the grateful ones. The is what verse 243 of Surah al-Baqarah implies. It says:
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَشْكُرُونَ
“Surely Allah is bountiful to mankind, but most of them are ungrateful.”
One feels important when someone he sincerely respects gives him a phone call and says –during the conversation– he has been thinking about him. Similarly an action you take means something to you, that’s why you decided to carry it out. The fact that Allah has chosen to give you a mention in Himself, and then create you in the form He pleases to see you in, is enough to be grateful to Him for that.
It’s worth mentioning that, whenever Allah states in the Qur’an the abundance of His bounties upon mankind, He concludes the statement that the majority are, nonetheless, ungrateful to them. And when a verse indicates ‘most people’, it’s likely to end with “[they] do not reason, do not know, do not believe.
Theoretically, everyone knows that Allah is the creator, and the Knower of the seen and the unseen. They also know that, it’s He, who granted each of them hearing, sight and hearts. However, only a few (of everyone) is grateful to Him for that. For that Allah says in Surah al-Sajdah, 32:6-9:
ذَٰلِكَ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ ﴿٦﴾ الَّذِي أَحْسَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ، وَبَدَأَ خَلْقَ الْإِنسَانِ مِن طِينٍ ﴿٧﴾ ثُمَّ جَعَلَ نَسْلَهُ مِن سُلَالَةٍ مِّن مَّاءٍ مَّهِينٍ ﴿٨﴾ ثُمَّ سَوَّاهُ وَنَفَخَ فِيهِ مِن رُّوحِهِ، وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ، قَلِيلًا مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ
“Such is the Knower of the unseen and the visible, the Powerful, the Merciful, who gave everything its perfect form. He originated the creation of man from clay, then He made his progeny from an extract of a humble fluid. Then He moulded him; He breathed His Spirit into him; He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts. How seldom you are grateful!”
Furthermore, after He created man in the best form and shape, He subjected everything to his convenience. He stabilized the earth for his living comfort. He also equipped it with natural facilities to make his stay on it a pleasant one. But unfortunately, the majority is not informed, or they are simply out of knowledge about it. For that, Allah says in Surah al-Naml, 27:61:
أَمَّن جَعَلَ الْأَرْضَ قَرَارًا وَجَعَلَ خِلَالَهَا أَنْهَارًا وَجَعَلَ لَهَا رَوَاسِيَ وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ حَاجِزًا، أَإِلَـٰهٌ مَّعَ اللَّـهِ، بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
“Who is it that made the earth a stable place to live in? Who made rivers flow through it? Who set mountains upon it and placed a barrier between the two seas? Is there another deity besides Allah? Indeed, most of them have no knowledge.”
The purpose of our existence in this life is to know Allah and then believe in Him with trust, after which we are obliged to worship Him according to the way He wants to be worshiped. Lack of the relevant knowledge about Him leads to denying Him and disbelieving in Him. That’s one of the reasons why the people of Sayyidinā Nūḥ rejected him after he had spent 950 years of his life calling them to Islam. Yet only a few accepted his call. This is affirmed in Sūrah Hūd, 11:40:
وَمَا آمَنَ مَعَهُ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ
“But only a few believed along with him.”
The implication of being among the few will be discussed extensively in a future article within this series, insha Allah. But, I have to mention here, that when the Prophet Muhammad, ṣallā Allāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam was chosen and sent as a Prophet, at a time when everyone was doing the same thing. However, among the few (as usually the minority) who wasn’t just blindly doing whatever everyone else was doing was the Prophet. This has fruited that he was honoured to be the Prophet of the best Ummah. And the others, who were like minded as him, were granted Islam among the early embracers of Islam.
A statement made by the Qur’an can’t be but the truth and undeniable. Each one of us falls in one of the two available categories. He either falls in the category of the majority, which can be easily fallen in, or he falls in the category of the minority, which requires determination, preparations, skills, and above all a strong faith.
Being grateful by repeating ‘Alḥamdulillāh’ is certainly an effort worth appreciation. But subjecting His blessings upon us in His pleasures speaks louder on our state of gratitude that the words of gratitude we utter.
Inshā Allah, our next article will highlight the characteristics of the majority of people, based on the description of the Qur’an and Sunnah (where applicable). Until then, a Muslim is expected to be like Sayyidina ‘Umar raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu who broke down, and supplicated that Allah includes him among His few servants.
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Allah knows best.
Allahu Hafiz 🙂