Bishr the Barefoot

Bishr was enjoying himself in his home, drinking and passing time with his friends when a man of the righteous men knocked on his door. A slave girl opened the door. He asked her: “Is the owner of this house a free man or a slave?” She replied: “He is a free man.” He said: “You have spoken the truth, for if he were a slave he would have had the etiquettes of a slave and would have left his desires.”

Bishr heard what the man said and ran to the door barefoot. “Woe to you!” he said to the slave girl. “Who was at the door?” She told him what had happened. He asked her which way he had gone then went after him until he found him. He asked: “Dear sir, were you the one who came to my door?” He replied: “Yes.” Bishr asked: “Please repeat what you said.” So he repeated it.

Bishr rubbed his cheeks on the floor and said: “No, but I am a slave!” After that Bishr would always walk barefoot, even if his feet would begin to hurt until he was famous for being barefooted. Once he was asked: “Why is it that you don’t wear your shoes?” He replied: “Because my Lord corrected and guided me while I was barefoot. So I will remain like this until I die.” So he came to be known as Bishr al-Haafi (Bishr the Barefoot). ["100 Qissatin min Qisasis Saalaheen" by Muhammad bin Hamid Abdul Wahhab]

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) refers to us as “Abd” – slaves. Allah has made Jannah for His “righteous slaves.” The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Allah said, ‘I have prepared for My righteous slaves (such excellent things) as no eye has ever seen, nor an ear has ever heard, nor a human heart can ever think of.’” [Bukhaari]

The question is, do we act like righteous slaves?

The first thing about a slave is that he is not free. He is bound by the commands of his master. His life in its entirety is spent by the commands of his master. From the moment he awakes till he falls asleep he is alert to his master’s wishes.

Is this the way I am living my life? Or do we act like my own master? Do I wake up at Fajr because my Owner is calling me? Do I wash up as He tells me to? Do I wear the dress He gave me and told me to wear? Do I do the tasks He set out for me to do? Do I respect and obey those He commanded me to respect and obey? Is His Pleasure my aim and objective? Am I as humble as a slave? From my expression and demeanour, from the way I walk and talk, from the things that I do, could anyone mistake me for a free man? If not, then I have the etiquettes of a slave.

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says: “Behold, Allah has bought of the believers their lives and their possessions, promising them Jannah in return…” [Quran: Surah Taubah, Ayat 111]

If I have sold my body, my life and my wealth in exchange for Jannah then do I have any rights left over it? If I sell someone my car can I tell them what speed to drive it at, who to seat in it, what colour to paint it, or which days of the week to use it? It belongs to the new owner: They now have the rights to determine how it is to be used.

My eyes, ears, brain, tongue, hands, feet… every part of me belongs to Allah, as do my wealth, my family and my children. I bartered them in exchange for Jannah. They must now be used in accordance with the Owner’s (Allah’s) wishes. He has informed me how to use them and what not do with them.

My brain is to be used to understand the guidance that has come from Allah. My brain is to be used to take man out of the slavery of Shaitaan and his own Nafs, and into the slavery of his Creator, Sustainer and Cherisher. My brain is to be used to stay on Sirat-e- Mustaqeem, the Straight Path to Jannah and Allah’s Pleasure.

My senses and faculties are more tools gifted to me by Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). I must not misuse them. I must not use my eyes to watch movies in which men and women disregard Allah’s injunctions on how to dress. Nor can I watch movies in which people have relationships Allah has forbidden. Why? Because we are not allowed to witness sin. When you watch sin being committed you become insensitive to its evil and it begins to find acceptability in your heart.

For example, if a person is beating an innocent child and breaking their bones are you allowed to watch it happen? You will be punished for beating the child too, because you saw it happen and allowed it to continue. If nobody else punishes you, Allah will. Why? Because Allah forbade such behaviour and the witnessing of such behaviour.

So Allah has forbidden looking at non-Mahrams and having Haraam relationships. When you see all of this in movies you are witnessing it and doing nothing about it. In fact you are paying people (by buying the ticket, renting the movie or subscribing to the channel) to violate Allah’s commands and you are paying them to influence other people in society to behave like that as well.

With my hands that I have sold to Allah in exchange for Jannah I can only help Muslims and not hurt them. With my feet I need to walk to the Masjid and not to a gathering where Allah has no significance. With my tongue I should help people recognize Allah and not use it to backbite. With my ears I should listen to the Quran and not music. With my stomach and intestines I can only consume Halaal food and not that bought with ill gotten money.

The righteous slaves of Allah obey Him quickly and sincerely. They honour and respect His commands and prohibitions. They do not try to cut corners. We dislike insincere employees who leave half the work undone if we are not looking. While we cannot oversee our employees all the time, Allah does see everything we do. A slave is more indentured than a servant and held to a higher level of obedience and sincerity. Yet, we have one standard for ourselves and what is due to us, but another for Allah and what is due to Him.

To enjoy the five star hotels of the world we put forth so much. Besides the cash, our clothes and behaviour also have to be of a certain standard. Is there nothing we have to pay, and no behaviour we have to adopt, to enter Allah’s multi-billion star Jannah? Bishr the barefoot realized in time what was required of him. Will I?

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Recite and Rise

The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “He who recites the Quran will be told on the Day of Judgement, ‘Recite the Quran now in the same clear and distinct manner and in the same harmonious style in which you used to recite it with care and propriety in the world and as a reward for the recitation of each Ayat you shall be elevated one degree higher and your ultimate place is near the end of the final Ayat.” [Tirmidhi]

This hadith informs us of the wonderful incentive that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has provided us with to memorize and recite the Quran. The more that a person has memorized and is used to reciting, the higher and better will be their place in Jannah.

It makes sense too, for the more that a person recites of the Quran the more will they be reminded of their relationship with Allah, the shortness of their stay on earth, their life in the Hereafter and the more will they work for it.

Recite the Quran in a clear and distinct manner as much as you can. Pronounce the letters correctly and recite with proper style and slowly. The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) used to recite each word in a clear and distinct manner and read each Ayah separately.

May we become one of those who avail themselves of this tremendous incentive InshaAllah. As we aim for better, fancier neighbourhoods in the world, may we not forget the posher neighbourhoods of the everlasting Hereafter.

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Both Quran and Sunnah

Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “When I order you with something, then do as much of it as you can, and when I forbid you from something, then avoid it.” [Sahih Bukhari]

A woman came to Abdullah ibn Masud (radi Allahu anhu), and said, “I have heard that you forbid tattooing and the use of false hair – is that something that you have found in the Book of Allah or from the Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam)?”
He said, “Rather it is something which I have found in the Book of Allah and from the Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam).”
She said, “By Allah, I have read the mus-haf (Quran) from cover to cover and I have not found in it what you say.”
He said, “Did you not find in it, ‘And take what the Messenger gives you and refrain from what he forbids you’ [59:7]?”
She said, “Yes.”
He said, “Certainly, I have heard the Messenger forbid the use of false hair, tattooing and plucking out facial hair.”
She said, “Perhaps it is present in some of your family.”
He said, “Then enter and look.”
So she entered and looked – then left. She said, “I did not see anything (objectionable).”
So he said to her, “Have you not memorized the testament of the righteous servant, ‘I do not wish to do in opposition to you concerning what I forbid you to do.’” [Quoted by Ibn Katheer in his Tafseer]

By saying this Abdullah ibn Masud (radi Allahu anhu) pointed out that this Ayat is so comprehensive that it embodies all the orders and prohibitions of the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam), and since the questioned prohibitions were enforced by the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) they form part of this Ayat, though indirectly.

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) made it obligatory on us to obey the Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) in whatever he commanded us with; do as he told us to do and keep away from whatever he ordered us to stay away from. This is in accordence with the obedience of Allah, because the latter has always been mentioned in the Quran combined with the former (“Whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger…”).

Whenever “the obedience of Allah” is mentioned in the Quran, it is always followed by “the obedience of the Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam).” There is no Ayat in the entire Quran where “the obedience of Allah” has been mentioned alone with no reference to “the obedience of the Messenger.”

This is because the obedience of the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam), in practical terms, is the obedience of Allah; and the latter cannot be carried out except through the former. The Quran commands obedience of the Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) as it is only through him that we understand how to implement the commands of the Quran. The “Quran only” approach to Islam is nothing but an attempt to castrate the religion, since the details of Islam, and its practical manifestation is in the Sunnah. For example, the Quran orders us to pray, but the method is in the Sunnah.

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Reward for One Ayah

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “O Abu Dharr! If you learn one verse from The Book of Allah (The Quran), it is better for you than to voluntarily pray one hundred rakahs; and if you learn a category of knowledge (religion), regardless if it is applied or not, it is better for you than to voluntarily pray one thousand rakahs.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

The reason that acquiring Islamic knowledge and understanding has so much superiority over praying nafl rakahs is because of the potential of much greater benefit to oneself and society as a result of knowledge of the Deen. The rules Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has set out for mankind are for our worldly benefit, as well as for earning everlasting happiness and perfection that can only be enjoyed in the Akhirah. Even if a person does not initially translate their knowledge of right and wrong into action, the possibility exists that they may do so. On the other hand, without guidance one wanders around blindly.

We can start earning the reward of a hundred nafl rakahs daily by learning one ayat, its meaning and implications, every day. Similarly, we can hope for great reward from Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) for acquainting ourselves with ahadith, one of the two major sources of Islam.

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