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Knowing Allah
  
  

   

abu tha’labah al-khashani said: “whenever the messenger of allaah (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) broke his journey in a place, the people would disperse in the valleys and mountains. the messenger of allaah (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) said,

‘your dispersing in these valleys and mountains is from shaytaan.’ after that he never stopped anywhere but they all stayed close together, so much so that if a cloak was spread over them, it would cover them all.” (reported by abu dawood (may allaah have mercy on him), in his sunan, 2286; classed as saheeh by al-albaani in saheeh sunan abi dawood, no. 2288).

according to another report:

“… until you would say that if you were to spread a cloth over them, it would cover them.” (ahmad, al-fath al-rabbaani, 14/44).

here we may note the prophet’s concern for his companions, which was the leader’s concern for his troops. the army’s dispersing when they made camp was a trick of the shaytaan to make the muslims scared and to lead the enemy to attack them. (see ‘awn al-ma’bood, 7/292). dispersing in this manner would make it hard for one part of the army to come to the aid of another part. (see daleel al-faaliheen, 6/130).

we may also note that the companions of the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) obeyed him in whatever instructions they received from him.

another example of how the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) explained how serious and dangerous a mistake was is to be seen in the hadeeth of al-nu’maan ibn basheer, according to which the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) said:

“straighten your rows (for prayer), or allaah will make you divided.” (reported by al-bukhaari in his saheeh, fath, no. 717).

muslim reported in his saheeh from sammaak ibn harb, who said: “i heard al-nu’maan ibn basheer saying, ‘the messenger of allaah (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) used to straighten our rows strictly, until he realized that we had got the message. one day he came out and was about to say takbeer when he noticed a man whose chest was sticking out. he said,

‘o slaves of allaah, straighten your rows, or allaah will make you divided.’ ” (saheeh muslim, no. 436).

al-nisaa`i reported from anas (may allaah be pleased with him) that the prophet of allaah (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) said,

“make your rows firm and close together, and make your necks in a straight line, for by the one in whose hand is the soul of muhammad, i see the shayaateen (devils) coming among your ranks as if they are small black sheep.” (al-mujtabaa, 2/92. classed as saheeh by al-albaani in saheeh sunan al-nisaa`i, no. 785).

explaining bad effects and negative consequences is very important when it comes to convincing people that they are making a mistake. the consequences may affect the person himself, or they may spread to other people. an example of the former is the report narrated by abu dawood (may allaah have mercy on him) in his sunan from ibn ‘abbaas (may allaah be pleased with them both), in which a man cursed the wind. muslim said that a man’s cloak was snatched away by the wind at the time of the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him), and he cursed the wind. the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) said,

“do not curse it, for it only does as it is commanded, and if a person curses something that does not deserve to be cursed, his curse will come back upon him.” (abu dawood, no. 4908; saheeh abi dawood, no. 4102).

an example of the latter was narrated by al-bukhaari (may allaah have mercy on him) in his saheeh from ‘abd al-rahmaan ibn abi bakrah from his father, who said: “a man praised another man in the presence of the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him).” according to a report narrated by muslim: a man said, ‘o messenger of allaah, there is no one other than the messenger of allaah (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) who is better than him in such-and-such.’ (saheeh muslim, no. 3000). [the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him)] said to him,

‘woe to you! you have cut your companion’s throat! you have cut your companion’s throat!’ several times, then he said, ‘if any one of you insists on praising his brother, let him say, “i think so-and-so is such-and-such, and allaah knows the exact truth, and i do not confirm anyone’s good conduct before allaah, but i think him to be such-and-such,” if he knows that this is the case.’ ” (2662, kitaab al-shahaadaat).

according to a report narrated by al-bukhaari in al-adab al-mufrad, mihjan al-aslami (may allaah be pleased with him) said:

“… until when we were in the mosque, the messenger of allaah (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) saw a man praying, prostrating and bowing. the messenger of allaah (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) said to me, ‘who is this?’ i started to praise him and said, ‘o messenger of allaah, this is so-and-so, and he is such-and-such.’ (according to another report also in al-adab al-mufrad, he said, ‘this is so-and-so and he is one of the best people in madeenah in prayer.’) he said, ‘be quiet, lest he hear you and you destroy him.’ ” (saheeh al-adab al-mufrad, 137; al-albaani said, it is hasan).

al-bukhaari reported that abu moosa (may allaah be pleased with him) said:

“the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) heard a man praising another man and going to extremes in that. he said, ‘you have destroyed him’ or ‘you have broken the man’s back.’” (fath 2663).

the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) explained that exaggeration when praising someone is a mistake which can have bad consequences. it may make the person who is praised feel proud, so that his heart is filled with arrogance and self-admiration, and he rests on his laurels or starts to show off because he enjoys the praise so much. this in turn may lead to his utimate doom, which is what the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) meant when he said, “you have destroyed him,” or “you have cut the man’s throat,” or “you have broken the man’s back.”

moreover, if a person goes to extremes in praising someone, and says something he is not certain of, or affirms something he could not possibly know, or maybe even tells lies or says something to please the person he is praising, this will be a disaster, especially if the person he is praising is an oppressor or wrongdoer. (see al-fath, 10/478).

generally speaking, it is not forbidden to praise people. the prophet (peace and blessings of allaah be upon him) praised some people in their presence. an important explanation of this topic is to be found in saheeh muslim, where there is a chapter entitled baab al-nahy ‘an al-mad’h idhaa kaana feehi ifraat wa kheefa minhu fitnatun ‘ala’l-mamdooh (chapter: prohibition of praising others if it is exaggerated or if there is the danger of fitnah for the one who is praised). (kitaab al-zuhd wa’l-raqaa’iq, saheeh muslim).

the person who sees himself as falling short will not be damaged by praise, and if he is praised he will not become arrogant, because he knows his own true nature. some of the salaf said: “if a man is praised to his face, let him say: ‘o allaah, forgive me for what they do not know, do not hold me responsible for what they say, and make me better than what they think.” (fath, 10/478).

 




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