In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Abu Hurairah [radiyallaahu-anhu] narrated that the Messenger of Allaah [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] said, “Look at those who are below you and do not look at those above you, for it is more suitable lest you look down on Allaah’s blessings”. [Saheeh Muslim’ Hadeeth Number 2963]
Al-Allaamah Saaleh Al-Fawzaan [may Allaah preserve him] stated:
A person should neither be covetous of this worldly life nor anxious due to what afflicts him, rather he should exercise patience and hope for [Allaah’s reward due to exercising patience] – whether he is poor, sick or other than that. The worldly life is a place of trial and test, so one should not become anxious due to calamities and trials. And what makes this affair easier for a person is the guidance given by the Prophet [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] in this hadeeth [as follows]: “Look at those who are below you and do not look at those above you, for it is more suitable lest you look down on Allaah’s blessings”.
A poor person should look at the one who is poorer and should not look at a wealthier [person], because if Allaah willed He would have placed you in the same situation as that poor person who has nothing. You have something – your daily nourishment; but that one poorer than you has nothing – not even his daily nourishment. You are in a better situation, so praise Allaah for this and do not look at the wealthier people because that will lead you to harbour anger against Allaah and being displeased with His divine Will, and then saying, “Why can I not be like such and such person; why am not like the wealthy people?’’ This is the meaning of looking down on the blessing you have. But if you look at the person below you, it will make you thankful because your situation is better than that of many people. Therefore, the one in good health should look at the sick person and then praise Allaah for granting him good health. The one who is sick should look at the one who is sicker than him and then praise Allaah for being less sick than the person who is sicker than him. This [hadeeth embodies] a great principle, therefore, ‘look to the one below you’ in wealth, health and in other affairs. (Footnote 1)
However, this should not be the case in affairs related to acts of worship. In affairs related to acts of worship, you should not look at the one below you. You should not look at the lazy people and those who neglect their religious duties, rather you should look at the righteous and God fearing people so that you can join them in performing good deeds and be similar to them. Therefore, with regards to affairs related to the religion, you should not look at the one below you, rather you should look at the one above you in the religion, for why do not want to be like him; why do you not want to be like the righteous people; why do not want to emulate the God fearing scholars? (Footnote 2) If you are a student of knowledge, you should not be satisfied with the sciences of the religion you have acquired; rather you should seek to increase in knowledge as long as you are alive. [An Excerpt from ‘Tasheelul il’haami Bi-Fiqhil Ahaadeethi Min Bulooghil Maraam’ Hadeeth Number 1438’ Vol 6′ pages 168-169. Publisher: Daar Al-Imaam Ahmad’ 1st Edition 1430AH – Year 2009]
Footnote 1: Narrated Abu Kabshah Al-An’maariy (radiyallaahu-anhu) that Prophet (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam) said: “I swear by Allah regarding three (affairs) which I am going to tell, so remember them. The wealth of a man does not decrease due to (giving) charity; a slave does not exercise patience when oppressed, except that Allah increases his honour; a slave does not open the door of begging, except that Allaah opens for him the door of poverty (or he stated a statement similar to it).” I am going to tell you (something), so remember it: The worldly life is for four types of people. A slave whom Allaah has given wealth and knowledge, so he fears his Lord by way of it. He preserves the ties of kinship and acknowledges Allaah’s Rights regarding it. This (type of person) is on the most virtuous position. A slave whom Allaah has given knowledge but not wealth. He is truthful in his intention and says: `If I had wealth, I would have done the deed of such and such (person).’’ So because of this intention of his, his reward is the same (i.e. the righteous one who has been given wealth and knowledge). A slave whom Allaah has given wealth but not knowledge. He wastes his wealth out of ignorance. He neither fears Allaah nor does he keep the ties of kinship, nor does he acknowledge Allaah’s rights. This (type of person) is at the evilest position. A slave whom Allaah has neither given wealth nor knowledge and he says: `If I had wealth, I would have done the deed of such and such (person).’’ So by way of his intention, they are similar (i.e. similar to the evil person who wastes his wealth). [Reported by Tirmidhee 2325. Ahmad 18031. Al-Baghawiy 4097]
Al-Allaamah Ubaid Bin Abdillaah Al-Jaabiri [may Allaah preserve him] stated: The first is a wealthy person who is thankful (to Allaah); so Allaah will raise him to the most virtuous position due to his deed. The second is a poor person who exercises patience. He is truthful in his intention with regards to spending from that which Allaah has bestowed on him. So Allaah makes him reach the most virtuous position due to his truthful intention. The third is a boastful wealthy person. He is covetous and stingy; so his deed takes him to the most evil position. The fourth is a boastful poor person and his intention is evil. So together with his poverty, his intention takes him to the most evil position. So based on this, we know that by way of truthful intentions Allaah raises the person. And an evil intention debases a person until he finds him/herself in the most evil position. [An Excerpt from: البيان المرصع شرح القواعد الأربع- pages 8-9]
Footnote 2: Ibn Abee Shaybah [rahimahullaah] reported in Al-Musannaf and Abu Nu-aym [rahimahullaah] in Al-Hilya [5/12] with an authentic chain from Abu Muslim Al-Khawlaani [rahimahullaah], who said: “The scholars are three types: A man who lives with his knowledge and the people live with it alongside him; a man who lives with his knowledge and none else lives with it alongside him, and as for the third man, the people live with his knowledge and it destroys him”. Shaikh Abdullaah Al-Bukhaari [hafidhahullaah] said, “The intent behind this speech: Indeed the first [man] knows, acts and teaches. As for the second, he knows and acts, but does not teach. As for the third, he knows and teaches, but does not act! We ask Allaah for steadfastness and well-being”. [المقالات الشرعية– pages: 23-24 Author: Shaikh Abdullaah Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah preserve him)]
Don’t forget the supplication in the morning!
اَللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عِلْمًا نَافِعًا, وَ رِزْقًا طَيَّبًا, وَ عَمَلاً مُتَقَبَّل
Allaahumma Inee As’aluka ‘ilman Naafi’an, Wa Rizqan Tayyiban, Wa A’malan Mutaqabbalan
“O Allah! I ask You for beneficial knowledge, good (pure) provision and deeds that will be accepted (by You)”