Secrets of the esteem and respect of the preacher
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
One of the greatest reasons to keep the status of the preacher in the path of Allah عزَّ وجلَّ, and to glorify his honor and dignity is to endeavor to constitute a pension for himself from a suitable source of sustenance and cover his needs, and be content with what Allah عزَّ وجلَّ has bestowed upon him of His favor and avoid asking people for his needs like food, garments, shelter or such things. He does not ask someone but Allah عزَّ وجلَّ, and he should dispense with people. For, if he joins money to knowledge, the preacher will reach perfection, chastity and content.
Allah’s Messenger صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “He is successful who has accepted Islam, who has been provided sufficient for his want and been made contented by Allah with what He has given him”(1). Jibrîl (Gabriel) عليه السلام demonstrated to the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم the way through which the Muslim gains esteem and dignity in the hadith of Sahl Ibn Sa`d رضي الله عنه, he said: “Jibrîl (Gabriel) عليه السلام came to the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم and said : “Oh Muhammad, live as long as you want, for surely you will ultimately die, and do whatever you want, for surely you will be taken into account for it and love whoever you want, for surely you will leave that person, and know that the nobility of the believer comes from his prayer at night and the dignity achieved by him is by dispensing with others”(2), Because abstaining from what people possess brings their sympathy and liking. Thus, the honor of the preacher requires not asking for money nor longing for it by his heart unless in necessity, for moral constitutions find innately heavy someone who asks people and covet their belongings. Sahl Ibn Sa`d رضي الله عنه said: “A man came to the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّمand said: “Oh Prophet of Allah! Show me a deed that if I do, Allah and people will love me, the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “Scorn (the pleasures of) this world and Allah will love you, and scorn what people possess and they will love you”(3).
This is because dispensing with what people possess is a reason to love you, and endeavoring to get their love is something required by the sharia. That is shown in the Prophet’s صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم saying: “By Him in whose Hand is my life, you shall not enter Paradise unless you believe, and you will not believe as long as you do not love one another. Should I not direct you to a thing which, if you do, will foster love amongst you, spread As-Salâm among you “(i.e: give currency to the practice of paying salutations to one another by saying As-Salâmu `Alaykum )”(4). The hadith guides to spread As-Salâm; and to give gifts to each other in the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم saying: “Give gifts and you will love one another”(5). Because it is something that brings love, consolidates the relationship of faith and strengthens the relations of fraternal cooperation built upon righteousness and piety.
Avidity lies in gathering money, and asking for what people possess leads to discredit the preacher’s standing and demean his value and he will be found heavy by people. On other hand, relinquishing gathering money because of busying himself with knowledge leads to the perturbation of his living and to the disorder of his role as a preacher, as a result of his exhausting poverty, which will lead him to flattery in order to get stability. Some Salaf (Predecessors) said: “whoever committing himself to studying hadith, let him prepare a garment for poverty. So seek hadith according to your capacity and have an occupation for fear of poverty”(6). So, the preacher should hold the middle and be proportionate concerning money by not giving it too much importance and not neglecting it completely. From this purposive and equitable perspective, Ibn Al-Jawzi رحمه الله in his book Manfa`t El-Mâl (The benefit of money) said:
“There is nothing in the world more profitable for scholars than gathering money, in order to dispense with people, and if associated (money) with knowledge, they may reach perfection. In fact, a congregation of scholars is kept away by knowledge from earning money. Thus, they needed necessary things. As their patience being decreased, they took ways which disgraced them, though they made excuses about that, but there was better ways for them,…Those people, even though they followed a way of interpretation, they lost of their hearts and their religiosity more than they obtained from life. We have seen a group of sufis and scholars frequent governors in order to gain of their favors. Among them, who wheedle and act hypocritically and who praise people of what is illicit and those who keep silent and do not react when seeing abominable actions and other kinds of flattery, which are the cause of poverty. Thus, we knew that the complete esteem and being far from hypocrisy can be reached by getting far from wrongful workers, and we do never see someone having these characteristics except two men:
Either someone who has money like Sa`îd Ibn Al-Mussayyib who was a trader of oil and other things, and Sufyân Ath-Thawri who had goods as well as Ibn Al-Mubârak.
Or, someone who is very patient, content of what he is provided with, though it is not sufficient for him, like Bishr Al-Hâfi and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.
When someone does neither find like the patience of those men, nor the perfection of the others, it is evident that he will be exposed to ordeals and trials and maybe get his religion corrupted. So, o seeker of knowledge! Endeavor in gathering money in order to dispense with people, for it unites your religion. We have not seen in most cases a hypocrite in religion and asceticism and humility or a defect in a scholar except because of his love of life, and as a result of poverty. If someone has enough money, though he wants more, he is considered among the avid, out of the scholars of good, we seek refuge from Allah of these situations”(7).
Sufyân Ath-Thawri رحمه الله said: “Whoever has in hands these (i.e.: dinars) let him use them well, for this is the time when, if someone is in necessity, the first thing he sacrifices is his religion”(8).
He رحمه الله also said: “Oh educated people! raise your heads, for the way has become clear, work and do not be a burden on people”(9). So, if the preacher to the way of Allah عزَّ وجلَّ, has not a source of livelihood and a pension that cover his needs, he should earn of licit things according to his necessity and not exaggerating in doing it. When “A man comes to Sufyan Ath-Thawri asking for knowledge, he asks him: Do you have something for a living? If he answers him that he has sufficient subsistence then he orders him to ask for knowledge. And if he has not enough sustenance he orders him to ask for subsistence”(10).
I said: this is to gather his preoccupation, rid his heart (of bad things), preserve his honor from people and perform his educational role and his missionary call with a complete pride, dispensing with people, far from wheedling and hypocrisy. Surely, it is safer for his end and more useful for him, in life and in the hereafter. The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “Whoever makes the Hereafter his preoccupation, then Allah places freedom from want in his heart, and gathers his affairs and Dunya (life) comes to him despite being reluctant to do so”(11). But “whenever he longs for money, he falls into disunion, for, disunion is at first the result of poverty, and it is also caused by wanting more than one’s needs, thus his life will be lost:
Whoever spends his time keeping his money
For fear of poverty, he is already poor indeed(12)
The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “And whoever makes Dunya (life) his preoccupation, then Allah places his poverty before his eyes and breaks up his affairs and nothing of the Dunya (life)comes to him except that which has been decreed for him”(13).
We ask Allah عزَّ وجلَّ to provide us guidance, piety, subsistence, chastity and contentment, and to make us contented with what He has provided us, He is All-Capable and for answering Able.
Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم, his Family, his Companions and Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Algiers: 15 Rabî` Al-Awwal 1429 H
corresponding to: March 22nd, 2008
(1) Reported by Muslim in his “Sahîh” chapter of “alms”, concerning subsistence and contentment (hadith 2426), At-Tirmidi in his “Sunan” chapter of “asceticism”, concerning abstinence and abide by perseverance in sticking to it (hadith 2348), Ibn Mâjah in his “Sunan” chapter of “asceticism”, concerning contentment (hadith 4138) and Ahmad in his “Musnad” (hadith 6572) from the hadith of `Abd Allâh Ibn `Amr Ibn Al-`Âs رضي الله عنهما.
(2) Reported by Al-Hakim in his “Mustadrak” (hadith 7921), At-Tabarâni in “Al-Awsat” (306/4), Al-Bayhaqi in “Shu`ab Al- Îmân” (hadith 10541), from the hadith of Sahl Ibn Sa`d رضي الله عنه. The hadith is judged Hassan (good) by Al-Mundhiri in “At-Targhîb Wat-Tarhîb” (243/1), Al-Haythami in “Majma` Az-Zawâ'id” (374/10) and Al-Albâni in “As-Silsila As-Sahîha” (hadith 831).
(3) Reported by Ibn Mâjah in his “Sunan” chapter of “asceticism”, concerning asceticism in worldly life (hadith 4102), Al- Hakîm in “Al-Mustadrak” (hadith 7873), Al-Bayhaqi in “Shu`ab Al-Îmân” (hadith 10523), from the hadith of Sahl Ibn Sa`d رضي الله عنه. The hadith is judged as Hasan (good) by An-Nawawi in “Al-Adhkâr” (503), Ibn Rajab in “Jâmi` Al-`Ulûm Wal-Hikam” (286/1) and Al- Albâni in “As-Silsila As-Sahîha”.
(4) Reported by Muslim in his “Sahîh” chapter of “faith”, concerning showing that no one will enter Paradise except believers (hadith 194), Abu Dâwûd in his “Sunan” chapter of “manners”, concerning spreading Salâm (salutation) (hadith 5193), At-Tirmidhi in his “Sunan” chapter of asking permission, concerning what is said about spreading salutations (hadith 3692) and Ahmad in his “Musnad” (hadith 9821), from the hadith reported by Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه.
(5) Reported by Al-Bukhâri in “Al-Adab Al-Mufrad” (208/1), Al-Bayhaqi in “As-Sunan Al-Kubra” (hadith 12168), from the hadith of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه. The chain of narration of this hadith is judged to be good by Al-`Irâqi in “Takhrîj Al-Ihyâ'” (41/2) and judged Hassan (good) by Ibn Hajar in “At-Talkhîs Al-Habîr” (155/3) and Al-Albâni in “Al-Irwâ” (1601).
(6) Reported by Al-Khatîb Al-Baghdâdi in “Al-Jâmi` Li-Akhlâq Ar-râwi” (99/1).
(7) “Sayd Al-Khâtir” of Ibn Al-Jawzi (155-154).
(8) “Hilyat Al-Awliyâ'” of Abou Nu`aym (381/6).
(9) The same source :( 382/6).
(10) Reported by Al-Khatîb Al- Baghdadi in “Al-jâmi` Li-Akhlâq Ar-râwi” (98/1).
(11) Reported by At-Tirmidhi in his “Sunan” chapter of “the description of the Day of Resurrection” (hadith 2465), from the hadith of Anas Ibn Mâlik رضي الله عنه. The hadith is judged Hassan (good) by Al-Albâni in “As-Silsila As-Sahîha” (hadith 949).
(12) “Sayd Al-Khâtir” Ibn Al-Jawzi (p.267).
(13) Previously reported, footnote (11).