The Real Believers: Some Parables of the Prophet
Who are the real believers? Prophet Muhammad –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- was very much concerned that his followers should be believes in the true sense of the word. His concern was that the believers must have sound faith and sound character. There are a number of Ahadith in which the Prophet –peace be upon him- described the believers’ life and behavior with beautiful examples and parables. I would like to mention ten examples for our knowledge and inspiration.
- A believer is a peaceful and caring person :
المُؤْمِنُ مَنْ أَمِنَهُ النَّاسُ على أَمْوَالِهِمْ وأَنْفُسِهِمْ ( الهيثمي – مجمع الزوائد 5625 )
The believer is the person whom people consider safe for their money and their persons. (Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 5625)
The word ‘iman’ comes from the root ‘amn’ which means safety and security. The Prophet wanted to emphasize that faith is not just belief, but it is also the peaceful, caring and trustworthy character. The person of faith must be honest to all people. People should feel secure about their money and persons when dealing with a true believer.
- A believer is a person of nobility and generosity :
عن أبـي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله : لا تُسَمُّوا العِنَبَ الكَرْمَ، فإنَّ الكَرْمَ قَلْبُ الـمُؤمِنِ» (البخارى ومسلم)
The Prophet –peace be upon him- said, “Do not call grapevine ‘karam,’ because the ‘karam’ is the believer’s heart. ” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Arabs used to call grapevine ‘karam’ (generosity and graciousness) because they used to think that vine revived the heart and caused generosity. The Prophet wanted to emphasize that it should be faith that make people kind and generous. The effects of vine are mostly harmful, but the true believers’ hearts are always full of kindness and nobility.
- A believer is always beneficial :
It is reported that one day the Prophet asked his companions:
عنِ ابنِ عُمَرَ قال: قال رسولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلّم: «إنَّ مِنَ الشَّجَرِ شَجَرَةً لا يَسْقُط وَرَقُها، وإِنَّها مَثَلُ المُسْلمِ، فَحدِّثُوني ما هِيَ؟ فوَقَعَ الناسُ في شَجَرِ البَوادي. قال عبدُ اللّهِ: وَوَقَعَ في نَفسِي أنَّها النَّخْلةُ، فاسْتَحْيَيْتُ. ثمَّ قالوا: حَدِّثْنا ما هِيَ يا رسولَ اللّه. قال: هيَ النَّخْلة». (البخارى)
‘Among the trees there is a tree whose leaves do not fall and it is like a Muslim. Tell me what its name is?’ People went thinking about all kinds of desert trees. Abdullah (ibn Umar) said, ‘I thought that it was date-palm, but I was shy (and did not reply). Then the people said, ‘Tell us what it is, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘It is date-palm.’ (Al-Bukhari )
Date-palm was the most beneficial tree for the people of Arabia. It needed very little water and care; but it was useful for them in all seasons. It provided them food to eat, its stones were used as feed for animals, its trunks, branches and leaves were used for building homes and putting roofs on them. Palm-tree could survive under very harsh climate and its food was most nutritious and beneficial for them in all seasons. The Prophet said that this should be the way of a Muslim. A true Muslim is simple, strong, with little needs and a lot of benefits to all people.
- A believer is pure with shiny character .
"وَالَّذِي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ، إِنَّ مَثَلَ الْمُؤْمِنِ كَمَثَلِ الْقِطْعَةِ مِنَ الذَّهَبِ، يَنْفُخُ عَلَيْهَا صَاحِبُهَا فَلَمْ تَتَغَيَّرْ وَلَمْ تَنْقُصْ، (السيوطي – جامع المسانيد والمراسيل 24576 )
“By Him in whose hand is Muhammad’s soul, the example of a believer is like that of a piece of gold. The goldsmith puts it under the heat, but it does not change and does not lose itself.
(Suyuti, Jami’ al-Masanid, 24576)
The Prophet –peace be upon him- emphasized that a true believer is like gold, precious, pure and good. If he/she goes through trials and difficulties, they make him even better. He comes out stronger and shines more.
- A believer produces only good things.
وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ، إِنَّ مَثَلَ الْمُؤْمِنِ كَمَثَلِ النَّحلَةِ، أَكَلَتْ طَيباً، وَوَضَعَتْ طَيباً، لَمْ تُكْسَرْ وَلَمْ تَفْسُدْ" (نفس المرجع)
By Him in whose hand is Muhammad’s soul, the example of a believer is like that of the honey-bee. It consumes good and it produces good things. It does not break, nor spoil.” (Ibid)
Honey-bee does not consume anything bad and whatever it consumes it even brings out better than what it took. The honey-bee sits on flowers but it does not break them or spoil them. The Prophet wanted the believers to be like honey-bee in their work and efforts.
- A believer knows how to handle tough situations:
عن جابر أن النبيّ صلى الله عليه وسلّم قال: «مَثَلُ المُؤْمِنِ كَمَثَلِ السُّنْبُلَةِ، تَخِرُّ مَرَّةً وَتَسْتَقِيمُ مَرَّةً، وَمَثَلُ الكافِرِ مَثَلُ الأَرْزِ لا يَزَالُ مُسْتَقِيماً حَتّى يَخِرَّ ولا يَشْعُرُ» قال حسن: الأرْزة. (مسند أحمد بن حنبل 14468)
“The example of a believer is like an ear of corn; it bends sometimes but it becomes straight; the example of a disbeliever is like a cedar, it stands straight until it falls and does not understand.” (Musnad Ahamad ibn Hanbal, 14468)
A believer goes through good times and rough times. He/she knows how to handle each situation. A believer is not rigid and inflexible because rigidity destroys and uproots.
- A believer knows his/her limits and knows how to correct him/herself:
عن أبي سعيد الخدري ، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلّم أنه قال: «مثل المؤمن كمثل الفرس على أخيته، يجول ثم يرجع إلى أخيته، وإن المؤمن يسهو ثم يرجع إلى الإيمان». (مسند أحمد بن حنبل 11097)
“The example of a believer is like a horse connected to its stud. It moves and then comes back to its place. The believer may forget sometimes but he/she comes back to faith.”
(Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 11097)
If a horse strays, he knows how to go back to its stable; but a donkey keeps wandering and does not know how to come back to its home. A believer is not someone who does not forget and who does not transgress; but a true believer will always return to his/her senses and would not keep wandering like a donkey.
- Believers support each other:
عن أبي موسى عنِ النبيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلّم قال: «إن المؤْمِنَ للمؤْمِنِ كالبنيانِ يَشُدُّ بَعضُهُ بَعضاً» وشَبَّكَ صلى الله عليه وسلّم أصابعَهُ. (البخارى 475)
A believer for the believer is like a building, each part supporting the other. The Prophet joined his fingers together . (Al-Bukhari, 475)
The believers must support each other in matters of goodness and piety. They should act like a building: each brick supporting the other brick.
- Believers correct and improve each other :
عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم " المؤمن مرآة أخيه " (البخارى الأدب المفرد 239)
“A believer is the mirror of his brother.”
A mirror points out the wrong; but it does not save it or publicize it. A believer does not get angry when his brother tells him about his shortcomings and mistakes, just as a person would not get angry with the mirror shows him his problems.
- Believers care for each other:
عَنِ النُّعْمَانِ بْنِ بَشِيرٍ ، . قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: «مَثَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فِي تَوَادِّهِمْ وَتَرَاحُمِهِمْ وَتَعَاطُفِهِمْ، مَثَلُ الْجَسَدِ. إِذَا اشْتَكَى مِنْهُ عُضْوٌ، تَدَاعَى لَهُ سَائِرُ الْجَسَدِ بِالسَّهَرِ وَالْحُمَّى ». (مسلم 6538)
The example of believers in their mutual love, compassion and care is like one body: if one part of it has pain, the whole body joins it with sleeplessness and fever. (Muslim, 6538)
All believers must be united and connected with each other like one body. Every part of the body cares for the other. If some people in the Ummah suffer the whole Ummah should feel pain and unhappiness. They must support each other.
(Khutbah at ISOC – Jumada al-Ula 29, 1431/ May 14, 2010)