[3] Some of Islam’s Outstanding Characteristics

In The Name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

Imam As-Sadi [may Allah have mercy upon him] said:

The major acts of worship in Islam, after believing in Allah, are prayer, zakat, fasting during Ramadan, and pilgrimage to the Sacred House. Ponder upon these magnificent acts of worship, their lofty and enormous benefits, and what they necessitate in terms of striving to please Allah and receiving His reward in this life and the next.

Contemplate what is contained in the prayer of sincere devotion to Allah, entirely turning to Allah, glorifying Allah, supplicating, and submitting to Allah. In terms of its relationship with sound belief in Allah, it is analogous to the attention and water that is given to an orchard, because the tree of faith would wither away if it were not for the repetition of prayer during the day and night, but it is renewed and increased based on servitude to Allah through the (obligatory five daily) prayers. Consider what prayer entails in terms of preoccupation with the remembrance of Allah – The One Greater Than All – and how it keeps a person from indecency and evil deeds. (footnote a)

Consider Zakat and what it comprises of honourable manners, such as compassion, generosity, gratitude to Allah for the favours bestowed on a person, kind behaviour towards the people, looking out for the welfare of the needy, and distances one from miserliness. It is used to support Jihad (footnote b) and social welfare issues, which Muslims cannot do without. (footnote c)

And fasting is training for the souls to leave the things they love (for a limited time) out of love for Allah, seeking Allah’s love and good pleasure, training the souls, and accustoming them to the power of determination and patience. It strengthens sincerity to Allah and enables one to give precedence to loving Allah over what the soul desires, which is why, in addition to all the other deeds that have been assigned specific rewards, fasting receives a special recompense from Allah. (footnote d)

Regarding what is associated with the pilgrimage, such as spending money, and enduring hardships out of seeking Allah’s Pleasure, paying close attention to Him, humbling oneself to Him at the Kabah and its sacred surroundings, and engaging in various acts of worship associated with those rites, which Allah has prescribed for His servants and are to be carried out at the Kabah, and what this includes, such as glorifying Allah, complete humility in Allah’s presence, remembering the affair of the Prophets, the Messengers, the righteous and sincere people, strengthening one’s faith by way of their example and being deeply attached to them through love, the meeting of Muslims during the Hajj, striving for (sound) unity and agreement in their personal and general welfare, which cannot be enumerated, is one of the religion’s loftiest virtues and one of the loftiest rewards achieved by believers. (footnote e) And what has been stated above is only a brief discussion. (Ref 1)
Footnote a:

Al-Allaamah Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbaad [may Allaah preserve him] said: The prayer is a pillar of the Religion and it prevents a person from lewd and evil acts. It attaches a person to Allah and if a person strictly observes the five daily prayers in the mosques together with the Muslims, he will strengthen his relationship with Allah (The Mighty and Majestic) because he remains in a constant state of attachment to Allaah-day and night. Allah (The Mighty and Majestic) said: [إِنَّ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ تَنۡهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلۡفَحۡشَآءِ وَٱلۡمُنكَرِ‌ۗ-Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahsha’ (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed, etc.)]. [Surah Al-Ankabut. Ayah 45]

Footnote b:

Salafi Shaikh Fawzaan on Jihad in our times and the guidelines of Jihad according to Islam

Footnote c:

Al-Allaamah Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbaad [may Allaah preserve him] said: the good outcomes of Zakaat are tremendous indeed. It is a means of purifying the soul from miserliness and greed. It is a means of purifying one’s wealth so that it is made to grow and increase, and it also fulfils the objective of what is called ‘Social Security’ at present. When the rich give Zakaat from their wealth to the poor and needy, their needs are fulfilled and they also receive nourishment as a result of this obligation of Zakaat Payment, which Allaah (The Mighty and Majestic) has obligated to be taken from the wealth of the wealthy. It has been reported in the hadeeth of Mu’aadh Ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ”And if they offer their  five daily obligatory prayers, tell them that Allah has enjoined on them Zakat of their properties and it is to be taken from the rich among them and given to the poor among them.”

The payment of Zakaat has a great benefit for the wealthy people because it purifies their souls and makes their wealth grow, and they are rewarded by Allah for showing kindness to their Muslim brethren-those who are poor and find themselves in a state of neediness and hardship. So, through this charity their needs are fulfilled and their destitution ceases. Allah (The Mighty and Majestic) has obligated that Zakaat is to be taken from the wealth of the wealthy people in a manner that will benefit the poor and the needy, but at the same time the wealthy people are not harmed. It is a small amount taken from abundant wealth, which Allah has bestowed upon the people. Allah has obligated the payment of that small portion, which does not affect the wealthy people when they give it, but it also benefits the poor and needy-those who are deprived and do not have any wealth. And from the good outcomes of charity and kindness towards the poor and needy is that which has been narrated by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “While a person was in the wilderness, he heard a voice from the cloud (commanding it thus), ‘Irrigate the garden of so and so’. (After that the clouds slunk aside and poured water on a stony ground. It filled a channel amongst the channels of that land and that person followed that water and he found a person standing in the garden busy in changing the course of water with the help of a hatchet. He said to him, ‘O servant of Allah! What is your name?’ He said, ‘So and so”. And it was that very name which he had heard from the clouds. Then he said to him, ‘O servant of Allah! Why do you ask me my name?’ He said, ‘I heard a voice from the clouds of which came the downpour, saying, ‘Water the garden of so and so, (with a mention) of your name. What do you do (for the favour) shown to you by Allah in this matter?’ He said, ‘Now as you state so; I look at what yield I get from it, then I give one-third as charity out of it and I and my family eat one-third of it and one-third I return to it as investment'”. [Saheeh Muslim. Hadeeth Number 2984]

Read Rules of Zakat by Shaikh Abu Khadeejah [may Allaah preserve him]: https://abukhadeejah.com/zakah-zakat-what-is-it-paid-on-and-how-to-calculate-it/

Footnote d:

Al-Allaamah Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbaad said: As for fasting, its good outcomes are tremendous because it is a protection. Imaam Bukhaari and Imaam Muslim reported the hadeeth: “Fasting is a shield”. It is shield of protection against the hell fire in the afterlife and it is a protection against disobedience (to Allaah and His Messenger). Fasting weakens the desires of a person. It restrains the whims of a person and acts as barrier against the dangerous and forbidden deeds he might commit due to engagement in enjoyment (i.e. enjoyment that may exceed the limits impose by Allaah and His Messenger). Indeed the soul may engage- due to such enjoyment- in deeds whose end results are unpraiseworthy in this worldly and the hereafter, so because of this the Prophet said: “Paradise is surrounded by hardships and the hell fire is surrounded by all kinds of desires and passions”. The path to paradise requires that a person exercises patience in order to abstain from disobedience and the path to the hell fire is surrounded by all (forbidden) desires. If a person distances from those forbidden desires, they will be safe; but if a person engages in such forbidden desires, they ill fall into what Allaah has forbidden. This forbidden enjoyment will be one that quickly fades away, but its end results will be grief, regret and humiliation in this life and the next. It has been reported in a hadeeth narrated by Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ud [may Allah be pleased with him] that the prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] said: “O young people! Whoever among you is able to marry, should marry, and whoever is not able to marry, is recommended to observe Sawm (fast) as fasting will diminish his sexual power”.

Therefore, the Prophet made it clear that if a person is able to get married, he should hasten to do so in order to remain chaste and enables another person (i.e. wife) to remain chaste; but if he is not able, he should devote himself to this Prophetic remedy which the Noble Messenger directed him to, and that is fasting. And that is because it is a safeguard and a protection for a person against falling into disobedience.

As for the fasting of the wealthy people, it reminds them of hunger pangs; so they reflect on the blessings Allah has bestowed on them because they have Muslim brothers (and sisters) who suffer from hunger pangs (even) without fasting. And that is because they cannot find something (i.e. food) to do away with extreme hunger. Therefore, this reflection becomes a drive (or motive) for them (i.e. the wealthy) to behave kindly towards the poor and to spend on the destitute and needy.

Footonote e: Al-Allaamah Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbaad [may Allaah preserve him] said: As for hajj, it is a great act of worship. Allah (The Mighty and Majestic) made it an obligation at least once in a lifetime. It includes acts of worship related to wealth and physical actions, and it has good outcomes and praiseworthy end results in the life of a person. The Noble Prophet said: “(The performance of) Umrah is expiation for the sins committed between it and the previous one. And the reward of Al-Hajj Al-Mabroor (the one accepted by Allaah) is nothing but Paradise”.

Abu Hurairah said that the Messenger of Allah was asked about the best of deeds, so he replied, “To believe in Allaah and His Messenger”. The questioner then asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied, “To participate in Jihaad”. The questioner again asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied, “’To perform Hajj Mabroor (which is accepted by Allaah…)”.

Abu Hurairah also narrated that the Messenger of Allaah said: “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s sake only and does not have sexual relations with his wife and does not do evil or sins; then he will return (after hajj, free from sins) as if he was born anew”.

A ‘Hajj Mabroor’ (the one accepted by Allaah) is the hajj a person performs in conformity with the Sunnah of the Noble Messenger, and the sign of a ‘Hajj Mabroor’ is that a person becomes better than what he was before hajj. So if a person’s evil state of affairs changes to a good state, or changes from a good state to a state even better than that, then this is a clear sign that his hajj is Mabroor [accepted by Allaah].

Hajj and Umrah include acts of worship, such as Tawaaf, which is not performed in any other place besides its designated place (i.e. around the Kabah). Tawaaf is an act of worship, which Allah has specified to be carried out around the Baitul Ateeq [i.e. The Ancient House (the Haram)]. So when a person reaches Makkah, they perform Tawaaf around the Baitul Ateeq- seeking nearness to Allah (The Mighty and Majestic) through an act of worship (i.e. Tawaaf) which one cannot perform except in Makkah. That is because Tawaaf cannot be done except around the Noble Kabah. Therefore, this reminds a person that Tawaaf performed in any other place in the earth is not legislated by Allaah (The Mighty and Majestic). It is not permissible to make Tawaaf around any tomb or any other place in the earth besides the Noble Kabah.

Also, this is the case with kissing the Kabah and indicating with one’s hand towards the Black Stone and the Yemini Corner, because Allah (The Mighty and Majestic) did not legislate for the Muslims to seek closeness to Him by kissing any other stone or indicating with one’s hand towards it except in those two places (i.e. the Black Stone and the Yemeni corner). And because of this when Umar Ibnul Khattaab approached the Black Stone, he kissed it and then said: “No doubt, I know that you are a stone and can neither harm (anyone) nor benefit anyone. Had I not seen Allaah’s Messenger kissing you, I would not have kissed you”.

Also from the good outcomes of Hajj and Umrah is that when the one in Ihraam removes his normal clothing and wears the Ihram, which is worn by both the poor and the rich, it reminds him of the cloth he will be shrouded with when he dies; so he prepares himself for righteous actions and that is the best of all provision for the hereafter, as Allaah (The Most High) said: [وَتَزَوَّدُواْ فَإِنَّ خَيۡرَ ٱلزَّادِ ٱلتَّقۡوَىٰ‌ۚ -And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness, etc.)’’ [2:197]

Also from the good outcomes of Hajj is the gathering of the pilgrims at Arafah, which is a reminder of the gathering of the people on the Day of Judgement; so this (i.e. standing at Arafah) becomes a drive (or motive) for a person to prepare himself for that standing on the Day of Judgement by performing righteous deeds.

Also during Hajj the Muslims from the East and West regions of the earth get to meet one another; so they co-operate with one another and advise one another.

They get to know the state of affairs of one another; so they share happiness and joy with one another, just as a person would share the pain that befalls his brother and then guides him towards what is obligatory to do regarding that. So they all co-operate upon righteousness and piety just as Allaah (Glorified Be He) commanded them.

Indeed, these great acts of worship legislated by Allah (The Mighty and Majestic)- upon which His Religion of Islamic Monotheism is founded- have good outcomes in the life of a Muslim in this worldly life and the afterlife.

[All quotes from Al-Allaamah Abdul Muhsin are from the booklet titled:  أثر العبادات في حياة المسلم pages: 4-31. slightly paraphrased]

[Ref 1: Ad-Durra Al-Mukhtasar Fee Mahaasin Deen Al-Islaamiy. pages 13-16. slightly paraphrased]

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