The Implications of Hope
Translated by Abu Rumaysah
It is imperative to understand that if someone hopes and
longs for something then this hope must necessarily include three things:
1. Love of what he hopes for.
2. Fear of losing it.
3. His doing all he can to attain it.
As for a hope that does not contain these three matters then it is nothing but idle desires – hope is one thing and idle desires are something totally different. Therefore every hopeful person is fearful of losing the desired goal and rushes to do all he can to attain it. At-Tirmidhî reports from the hadîth of Abû Hurayrah (RA) that the Messenger of Allâh () said, “the one who is afraid (of not reaching a place in time) travels by night and the one who travels by night reaches his destination. Indeed the property of Allâh is expensive, indeed the property of Allâh is Paradise.” [Sunan at-Tirmidhî (no. 2452), al-Bukhârî in his ‘Târîkh’ (no. 178), al-Hâkim (4/307), Abd bin Humaid in his ‘Musnad’ (no. 1458) and al-Baghawee in ‘Sharh as-Sunnah’ (no. 4183) Its isnâd contains Yazîd bin Sinân ar-Ruhâwî and he is da‘îf. The hadîth has a witness reported by al-Hâkim (4/308) and Abu Nu‘aym (8/377) from Ubayy bin Ka‘b with a hasan sanad.]
Hence, just as Allâh the Glorious has made hope to be the outcome of those who perform righteous action, He has also made fear to be their outcome. Therefore it becomes known that the fear and hope that brings about benefit is when it is accompanied by actions. Allâh says, “Indeed those who live in awe for fear of their Lord; and those who believe in the signs of their Lord; and those who do not join anyone (in worship) as partners with their Lord; and those who give in charity that which they give with their hearts full of fear, because they are sure to return to their Lord. It is these who race for the good deeds and they are the foremost in them.” [al-Mu‘minûn (23):57-61] At-Tirmidhî reports from ‘Â’ishah (RA) that she said, “I asked the Messenger of Allâh () about this verse saying, ‘does it refer to those who drink alcohol, fornicate and steal?’ He replied, ‘no O daughter of as-Siddîq! It refers to those who fast, pray and give charity while fearing that these actions may not be accepted of them. These are the people who rush to perform good actions.’ ” [Mishkât al-Masâbîh (Eng. Trans. 2/1110), at-Tirmidhî (no. 3175), ibn Mâjah (no. 4198), ibn Jarîr (18/26), al-Hâkim (2/393), Ahmad (6/159, 205) and others. Its narrators are all trustworthy and precise but the isnâd is munqati‘. The hadîth is also reported via a second route from ‘Â’ishah by ibn Jarîr (18/34) which strengthens it.] This hadîth is also reported from Abu Hurayrah (RA). [Reported by ibn Jarîr (18/34) but its isnâd contains Muhammad bin Humaid ar-Râzî and he is da‘îf.]
Allâh has described the people of victory to be those who perform good and have fear and He has described the people of misery to be those who perform evil and live in a sense of security. Whosoever ponders over the lives of the Companions will find them to be lives lived to the full in performing good actions combined with the fear of Allâh whereas we combine lack of performing actions, indeed complete negligence in performing actions, with a sense of security!
Here is none other than Abû Bakr as-Siddîq saying, “I wish that I were a hair on the back of a believing servant” as reported by Ahmad. [Reported by Ahmad in ‘az-Zuhd’ (2/13)] Ahmad also mentioned that he used so say, taking hold of his tongue, “this is what has led me to my destruction!” [Reported by Mâlik in ‘al-Muwatta’ (Eng. Trans. Pg. 421), ibn as-Sunnî in ‘Amal al-Yawm’ (no. 7), Abu Ya‘lâ (no. 5), ibn Abî ad-Dunyâ in ‘as-Samt’ (no. 13), ibn Abî ash-Shaybah (9/66) and ibn al-Mubârak (no. 369) with a sahîh sanad.]
He used to cry a great deal saying, “cry, and if you cannot cry then endeavour to cry.” [Reported by Ahmad in ‘az-Zuhd’ (2/13)] When he stood to pray then it was as if he was a piece of wood due to his fear of Allâh, the Mighty and Magnificent. [Refer to ‘Târîkh al-Khulafâ’ (pg. 104)]
He was given a bird and turned it over saying, “no game is caught nor tree lopped but because of the glorification it neglected.” [Reported by Ahmad in ‘az-Zuhd’ (2/15)]
When death approached him he said to ‘Â’ishah (RA), “O daughter indeed I have been given this cloak, milker and slave from the property of the Muslims, quickly take it to ibn al-Khattâb.” [Reported by Ahmad in ‘az-Zuhd’ (2/16)]
He used to say, “by Allâh I wish that I was a tree that is eaten from and then truncated.”
Qatâdah said, “it has reached me that Abû Bakr said, ‘woe to me, if only I were grass that would be eaten by the animals.’ ” [ Reported by Ahmad in ‘az-Zuhd’ (2/17)]
Here is none other than ‘Umar bin al-Khattâb (RA) reciting Sûrah at-Tûr and when he reached the verse, “Verily the torment of your Lord will surely come to pass.” [at-Tûr (52):7] he began to cry so much that as a result he fell ill and the people would visit him. [Reported by Ahmad in ‘az-Zuhd’ (2/29) and Abu Nu‘aym in ‘al-Hilya’ (1/51)]
At the time of his death he said to his son, “woe to you, leave me lying on the ground so that maybe He will be merciful to me.” Then he said, “woe to me if He does forgive me” three times and passed away. [Reported by Ahmad in ‘az-Zuhd’ (2/81)]
He would recite a verse during his nightly devotions that would inculcate so much fear in him that he would seclude himself in his house for days to come such that the people would think that he had fallen ill. [Reported by Ahmad in ‘az-Zuhd’ (2/29) and Abu Nu‘aym in ‘al-Hilya’ (1/51)]
He used to have two black furrows running down his face due to his crying. [Reported by Ahmad in ‘az-Zuhd’ (2/30) and Abu Nu‘aym in ‘al-Hilya’ (1/51)]
Ibn ‘Abbâs said to him, “through you Allâh has allowed many lands to be conquered and many battles to be won so do as you please.” He replied, “I only wish that I can be saved such that my good deeds balance my evil deeds.” [Reported by Ahmad in ‘az-Zuhd’ (2/34) and Abû Nu‘aym in ‘al-Hilya’ (1/52)]
Here is none other than ‘Uthmân bin ‘Affân (RA) who used to cry so much when he stood by a grave that his beard became soaked. [Reported by at-Tirmidhî (no. 2424), ibn Mâjah (no. 4267) and Abu Nu‘aym in ‘al-Hilya’ (1/61)]
He used to say, “it is as if I am standing between Paradise and Hell not knowing which one I am destined for. I would choose to be burnt to ashes before knowing which one I am to go to.” [Reported by Ahmad in ‘az-Zuhd’ (2/42) and Abu Nu‘aym in ‘al-Hilya’ (1/60)]
Here is none other than Alî bin Abî Tâlib (RA) whose crying and fear of Allâh is well-known. He used to be extremely afraid of two matters: excessive reliance on hope that would lead to inaction and the following of desires. He said, “as for excessive reliance on hope then it causes one to forget the Hereafter, as for vain desires then they divert from the truth. Indeed this world will pass away and ahead of it lies the Hereafter and each one has its offspring. So be the children of the Hereafter and do not be the children of the world for indeed today is the time for action without recompense and tomorrow is the time of recompense with no action.” [Reported by Ahmad in ‘az-Zuhd’ (2/48) and Abu Nu‘aym in ‘al-Hilya’ (1/76)]
Here is Abu ad-Dardâ’ (RA) who used to say, “the thing I fear most for myself on the Day of Judgement is that it be said to me, ‘O Abû ad-Dardâ’ you have learnt but how much did you act upon what you knew?’ ” [All of the following narrations can be found in ‘az-Zuhd’ of Imâm Ahmad and ‘al-Hilya’ of Abu Nu‘aym so I shall not unnecessarily lengthen by referring each and every one of them.]
He used to say, “if only you knew what would certainly happen to you after death – you would never again eat a single bite out of a craving appetite, neither would you drink a single sip of water for the pleasure of insatiable thirst and neither would you resort to your homes seeking shade and comfort. Instead you would go out to the open desert, striking your chests and crying over what is to happen to you. Indeed I wish that I were a tree that is truncated and then eaten from.”
The eyes of Abdullâh bin Abbâs (RA) used to be continuously downcast due to his frequent crying.
Abû Dharr (RA) used to say, “I wish that I were a tree that is truncated and I wish that I were not created.”
When he was offered charity he used to say, “we have a goat that provides us milk, a donkey upon which we ride and a freed slave who serves us (of his own free will). I possess a cloak which I do not need and I fear that I will be judged for it.”
One night Tamîm ad-Dârî (RA) recited Sûrah al-Jâthiyah and when he reached the verse, “Or do those who earn evil deeds think that We shall hold them equal with those who believe and do righteous deeds.” [al-Jâthiyah (45):21] He began to cry and kept repeating the verse until the morning.
Abû Ubaydah Aamir bin al-Jarrâh (RA) said, “I wish that I was a ram that was slaughtered by my family and then they ate its (cooked) flesh and drank its soup.”
There are many many narrations like this.
Bukhârî said in his Sahîh, “Chapter: the believer fearing that his actions be destroyed while he is unaware.”
Ibrâhîm at-Taimî said, “I have never compared my words
to my actions except that I feared that I was a liar.
Ibn Abî Mulaykah said, “I have met thirty of the Companions of the Messenger of Allâh () all of them fearing hypocrisy for themselves and not one of them said that he had the faith of Jibrâ’îl and Mikâ’îl.”
It is mentioned from Hasan (al-Basrî) that he said, “none but a believer fears hypocrisy and none but a hypocrite feels secure from it.”
‘Umar bin al-Khattâb used to say to Hudhayfah, “I ask you by Allâh did the Messenger of Allâh () list me amongst the hypocrites?” He replied, “no, and I will not give this tazkiyyah to anyone else besides you.”
I heard our Shaykh, may Allâh be pleased with him, saying, “the meaning of his words is not that he will not clear anyone of hypocrisy save ‘Umar, rather the meaning is that he will not allow this door to be opened such that anyone can come and ask him this question so that he can absolve him of hypocrisy.”
I say: close to this in meaning is the saying of the Prophet () to the one who asked him to supplicate and make him one of the seventy thousand who would enter Paradise without judgement, “Ukkâsha has preceded you.” He did not mean that Ukkâsha was the only one deserving of this to the exclusion of the other Companions. Rather the meaning is that had he supplicated then another would have stood and then another and the door to this would have been opened and it is possible that somebody stand who would not be deserving of his supplication and therefore it would be better to withhold. Allâh knows best.