Excuse the awkward title. After five minutes of failed brainstorming, I gave up and slapped on a string of pretty words that evoke good companionship.
And that is the topic of this note.
So what is it? In one sentence, it is a union of people sprouting solely from the soils of sincerity, spiritual altruism, and moral purpose. Dive into seerah stories for a snapshot of “righteous companionship,” take a cue from the ṣaḥāba:
ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb often said to his companion, Abu Mūsa al-`Ashʿarī, “O Abu Mūsa, remind us! Make us yearn for our Lord.”
ذكرنا يا أبا موسى شوقنا إلى ربنا
And so Abu Mūsa proceeded to recite Qur`ān to his companion in a clear, euphonious voice, hewing beautifully to the rules of tajweed. Those listening nearby paused to ponder the `āyāt of Qur`ān; the message therein humbled them to humility-—and that is precisely the experience ʿUmar sought from Abu Mūsa. Raḍi Allāhu ʿanhom.
There is an `āyah from sūrat al-`Infiṭār, its words penetrate the dusty, distant recesses of the human psyche: the source of all heedlessness. Allāh ﷻ poses a rhetorical question: ❝O mankind, what has deluded you from your Lord, most Generous?❞
يٰأيها الإنسان ما غرق بربك الكريم
From the tafsīr of Ibn Kathīr, `Imām Qutāda [رحمه الله] and others comment:
ما الذي غرك بربك الكريم المتجاوز عنك إذ لم يعاقبك عاجلا بكفرك؟ غره عدوه المسلط عليه، يعني الشيطان
Allāh ﷻ pardons and forgives; He suspends verdicts of punishment and justice, while swathing us with provision, gifts, opportunity… and He does so, fully conscious that we will abuse His mercy in return. So this verse asks: O son of `Ādam, is Allāh’s generosity and compassion deluding you from submitting? From turning back to Him in repentance?
Feeling those post-jumuʿah, post-Valentine’s Day blues? Let’s talk love.
On love for our Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ, more specifically, as is competes and grows alongside our love for worldly pleasures. Reflect on this story from seerah:
ربيعة بن كعب الأسلمي: كنت أبيت مع رسول الله ﷺ فأتيته بوضوئه وحاجته فقال لي: سل؟ فقلت: أسألك مرافقتك في الجنة، قال: أو غير ذلك. قلت: هو ذاك. قال: فأعني على نفسك بكثرة السجود.
Rabīʿah ibn Kaʿb al-`Aslamī [رضى الله عنه] says: I spent many days and nights serving Rasūlullah ﷺ, tending to his needs and bringing him wuḍū` water. He ﷺ once said to me, “Ask me for anything [to repay you].” I replied, “I ask only for your companionship in Jannah.” He insisted I ask for more, but I told him, “That is all.” So he ﷺ said, “Then aid me against your nafs by increasing your sujood.”
Notice this detail: when `Imām an-Nawawi compiled his book Riyāḍ uṣ-Ṣāliḥīn, he did not place this ḥadīth under the Book of Salawāt. Rather, he tucked it under the Book of Struggle [باب المجاهدة], alongside other narrations on battling the inner self. The question is, why?
Our scholars believe that human love branches into two parts: natural love [حب فطري] and selective love [حب إختياري]. And to love our Nabī is personal choice, not fiṭra. For unlike natural love [حب فطري], loving the Prophet ﷺ does not spring from impulse. It does not mature with age, sprawling over your heart with the tick-tock passing of time. It does not seduce your flesh and ego like love for intimacy, wealth and fame. In fact, no one is born sending ṣalawāt from a compulsion inside. Because of such, an-Nawawi believed that love of our Prophet ﷺ is by choice, acquired in tandem, secured by ligatures of effort and inner struggle. You must venture to love by exploring, learning, following his sunnah until your heart grows attached to that being, Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdillāh. That is how to love him ﷺ.
Juxtapose this to a verse from sūrat `Āli ʿImrān: “Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire-—of women and children, heaped-up sums of gold and silver [i.e. wealth], fine branded horses, cattle and tilled land [property and vehicles]. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return.”
These two loves compete, and Allāh warns of a grave punishment were our innate desires to overpower our love for His Nabī: “Say, [O Muḥammad], ‘If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allāh and His Messenger and jihād in His cause, then wait until Allāh executes His command. And Allāh does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.’”
In light of all that, revisit the ḥadīth of Rabīʿah ibn Kaʿb [رضى الله عنه]. He was a minor ṣaḥābi, name hardly mentioned in the books of seerah, who lent himself to our Prophet’s service. Our Prophet gave him one wish-—one duʿāʾ from his ﷺ blessed lips, bound to come true-—and all Rabīʿah requested was our Prophet’s companionship in Jannah.
So which is it? Which innate desire has deterred us from exploring, learning, froom venturing to love our Prophet?
والذي نفسي بيده لا يؤمن أحدكم حتى أكون أحب إليه من نفسه وماله وولده والناس أجمعين.
❝By Allāh, none of you believes until I am more beloved to him than his own self, his wealth, his children and all mankind.❞ -—Rasūlullah ﷺ
The idea came to me while hunched on a couch at Caribou Coffee earlier this evening. Between reading and dark-chocolate-mocha-sipping, to be exact. I had a “subḥān Allāh lightbulb” moment.
I thought, why can’t every jumuʿah be a Shamā`il at-Tirmidhi note-sharing day? I’m serious. Shamā`il at-Tirmidhi, a book teeming with prophetic inspiration; a canvas painted with human perfection; a window into the life of one man: Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdillāh, upon whom is Allāh’s peace and blessing.
`Imām at-Tirmidhi compiled a beautiful collection. And the ṣaḥāba narrating these scenes bring a rare intimacy, born of experience, to their descriptions of our Nabī ﷺ: the bread he ate, the furnishing of his home, the glitter in his smile when they approached him, the perfume-like scents exuding from his skin. Out of love, they even related to us the number of white hairs streaking his ﷺ beard. Eighteen, some say. Others counted twenty.
I’ve done you all a favor [fī sabeelillāh-—no manni-wal-`athā, I swear] and transcribed a selection of passages from Sharḥ Shamā`il at-Tirmidhi. Exhibit A: `Imām al-Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī asked his maternal uncle [Fāṭimah’s step brother] Hind ibn abi Hālah about the laugh of our Nabī ﷺ. Ibn abi Hālah replied, “The laugh of Rasūlullah ﷺ was mostly a smile; at that moment, his blessed front teeth glittered like white shining hailstone.”
وإذا فرح غض طرفه، جل ضحكه التبسم، يفتر عن مثل حب الغمام.
`Imām al-Ḥasan then asked him about mannerisms of our Nabī ﷺ. So the narration continues: “He was never angered by worldly matters, nor that which dunya possesses [his concerns lie elsewhere]. But if someone exceeded the limits in truth or religious matters, he ﷺ became angry and none could stop him until he avenged it [for Allāh’s sake].”
ولا تغضبه الدنيا ولا ما كان لها، فإذا تعدى الحق لم يقم لغضبه شيء حتى ينتصر له. لا يغضب لنفسه ولا ينتصر لها
Subḥān Allāh. Now, do you agree that every jumuʿah is Shamā`il at-Tirmidhi note-sharing day? In honor of our Prophet, ṣall`Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam, the epitome of human perfection.
It reached ʿĀ`ishah [رضى الله عنها] that men from the tābiʿīn were rising for qiyām ul-layl, completing the recitation of Qur`ān two or three times at once. She commented on this practice:
قرأوا أو لم يقرأوا كنت أقوم مع رسول الله ﷺ ليلة التمام فيقرأ بالبقرة وآل عمران والنساء، فلا يمر بآيات فيها استبشار إلا دعا ورغب ولا بآيات فيها تخويف إلا دعا واستعاذ.
“They recite Qur`ān or don’t recite Qur`ān—-I used to arise with Rasūlullah ﷺ for qiyām ul-layl, and he would recite through al-Baqarah, `Āli ʿImrān, an-Nisā`; he wouldn’t pass a single verse regarding the good of Jannah except that made duʿāʾ [for it]; and he wouldn’t pass a single verse on fear [from the evil of Jahannam] except that he made duʿāʾ and sought refuge from it.””
Sūrat Ṭāhā. When Mūsa invoked, “Hārūn, my brother; strengthen me through him, and join him in my matters, so that we may glorify You often, and remember You often.”
هارون أخي • أشدد به أزرى • وأشركه في أمرى • كى نسبحك كثيرا • ونذكرك كثيرا
Mufassireen extract lessons from this string of verses. Notice, the core of Mūsa’s duʿāʾ is a humble request for good companionship; someone to remind Mūsa of ṣalāt, dhikr, tawakkul; that in moments of hardship, this companion will be his guiding light to ar-Raḥmān ﷻ.
And so our mufassireen pose a question; humbling for the intellectually arrogant, encouraging for the sincere: If Prophet Mūsa [عليه السلام] requested a companion to aid him in the pursuit of ʿilm, to encourage him in ʿibādah, then how about us, and we are less than Mūsa?
إذا كان موسى يريد قريناً يعينه على طلب العلم وذكر الله فكيف بغير موسى
Now fast-forward centuries later. It is the seventh century and we are in the Arabian desert. Our Prophet, Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdillāh ﷺ, embarks to a new city to escape persecution, and his first initiative is establishing a community on brotherhood. So he ﷺ gathers his followers—the muhājireen of Makkah and the `anṣār of Madīnah—and urges each to take a companion from the other. It is in this atmosphere that ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb relates:
كنت أنا وجار لي من الأنصار في بني أمية بن زيد، اسمه عتبان بن مالك، فكنا مكان بعيد عن مسجد رسول الله [عوالي المدينة]، وكنا نتناوب النزول على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، فينزل يوماً وأنزل يوماً، فإذا نزلت جئته بخبر ذلك اليوم من الوحي
“I used to have a neighbor from the `anṣār of Madīnah named ʿUtbān bin Mālik; we lived far from the Masjid an-Nabawi, so we took turns attending the company of Rasūlullah ﷺ, he one day, and myself the other. Each time I traveled to his ﷺ masjid, I would return to my neighbor with news of all the [Qur`ānic] revelation and community affairs of that day.” [Recorded in Bukhāri and Muslim; Ṣaḥīḥ]
Reading through the biographies of the ṣaḥāba, we imagine their era as one of spiritual ease. Effortless and endless access to our Prophet’s company. Maturing under his feet. Imbibing his wisdoms and teachings. However, ʿUmar’s story evokes an alternative reality. Like us, the ṣaḥāba toiled and struggled to balance their spiritual and worldly commitments. Time and access fought against them.
Revisit the narration about ʿUmar and ʿUtban [رضى الله عنهم]. Study their companionship: two men, bound by purpose and mutual benefit. They met after ʿUmar’s hijrah to Madīnah. Immediately thereafter, a friendship sprung between them on the soils of sincerity. They helped one another pursue ʿilm and maintain community ties, so that plowing their fields, keeping their houses, raising their families wouldn’t distract them from Allāh. And that is the lesson from Mūsa’s duʿāʾ:
هارون أخي • أشدد به أزرى • وأشركه في أمرى • كى نسبحك كثيرا • ونذكرك كثيرا
“Hārūn, my brother; strengthen me through him and join him in my matters, so that we may glorify You often, and remember You often.”
Anonymous said: Assalaamu'alaykum i literally am so grateful for this tumblr bi'ithnillah it has helped me tremendously and i pray you are rewareded with all good in this world and the next and protected form all evil. i wanted to request your permission, if it would be ok to create a facebook page, dedicated to this blogi would give full credit to you and even provide the URL to this blog. inShaaAllah i would simply be print screening and uploading the articles? inShaaAllah JazakumAllahu khayr
Wa ʿalaykum as-salām. It pleases me to know you are benefiting, alḥamdulillāh, I ask Allāh to fascilitate for us the implementation [amīn to both our duʿāʾs]. Regarding your question: sure, I have no problem with that. Thank you so much for asking. There is already a Qur`ān Imprints Facebook page that I began a year ago, but hardly put it to use. Feel free to share posts there, inshā`Allāh! Hope all is well.