ALL OF YOU ARE MISGUIDED EXCEPT THOSE WHOM I GUIDE (PART 1 OF 2): WHAT IS A HADITH QUDSI?
This week we are going to begin a short series of articles about one of the traditional sayings of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. In the second part we will focus on the great need humankind has for God, while, acknowledging that God has no need for us, our prayers or our remembrance of Him. He is All Powerful, All Mighty. However before we can understand this infallible truth we must be clear about the sources of knowledge in Islam and understand them. This understanding means we are able to discuss immense and important topics in a comprehensive way. Knowledge in Islam is derived from the Quran and from the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad, known as the Sunnah.
The Quran sometimes called the Holy Quran or the Noble Quran is the divine scripture or sacred text of the religion of Islam. Muslims believe it is the literal word of God as revealed to God’s final messenger, Muhammad. This web site contains several articles about the Quran for those who would like more in-depth information. The Sunnah refers to three things; the actions, statements and tacit approvals of Prophet Muhammad.. It is derived from the oral traditions, known as hadith.
Amongst all the thousands of hadith, are some that belong in a special category. They are known as Hadith Qudsi. They are sayings that Prophet Muhammad attributes to God. They are God’s message to humankind but in the words of Prophet Muhammad. There are more than 100 Hadith Qudsi and they usually deal with spiritual or ethical subjects. One of the most beautiful and comprehensive of the hadith Qudsi is the following saying. Transmitted to us from God to Prophet Muhammad and then down through the generations by an authentic and reliable chain of narrators.
"'O My slaves, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another. O My slaves, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you. O My slaves, all of you are hungry except for those I have fed, so seek food of Me and I shall feed you. O My slaves, all of you are naked except for those I have clothed, so seek clothing of Me and I shall clothe you. O My slaves, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you. O My slaves, you will not harm Me nor will you benefit Me. O My slaves, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as pious as the most pious heart of any one man of you, that would not increase My kingdom in anything. O My slaves, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease My kingdom in anything. O My slaves, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request of Me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more than a needle decreases the sea if put into it. O My slaves, it is but your deeds that I reckon up for you and then recompense you for, so let him who finds good praise Allah and let him who finds other than that blame no one but himself.'"
God emphasizes justice, and Islam condemns and prohibits all forms of injustice and oppression. God, the Almighty, is the Most Just; it is from Him that all justice emanates. God has made oppression unlawful for Himself and His promise is true: many verses in Quran testify to this.
"Your Lord is not unjust at all to His slaves." (Quran 41:46)
"And God wills no injustice to the world." (Quran 3:108)
"Surely God wrongs not even of the weight of an atom." (Quran 4:40)
God has also made oppression of any kind unlawful for humankind. Islam tells us that there are three kinds of oppression or injustice. The first is injustice towards God that is associating partners with Him. The second is injustice towards ourselves, that is committing sins and the third is being unjust towards others (humankind or other creatures). Islam is more than a religion it is a code of practice. Following Islam means that the rights bestowed on humankind by God are respected and upheld. Islam seeks justice for all creatures, great, and small.
"We sent Our Messengers with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and the Measure in order to establish justice among the people…" (Quran 57:25)
In this Hadith Qudsi God begins by stressing the importance of justice. He condemns oppression and makes it quite clear that oppression is not from the tenants of Islam nor is it tolerated by the believers. However, He does not stop there, He then goes on to say that all of humankind are misguided except for those whom He (God) has chosen to guide. He asks that whenever we seek guidance we seek it from Him, for it can be obtained from no other place.
Without guidance, we are lost, continually searching for solace. It is God’s most precious gift. Knowing this and understanding the concepts of justice and forgiveness inherent in Islam enriches and completes us. Knowing that our purpose is to worship God liberates us. Guidance enables a person to accept and be grateful for the blessings that God bestows every second of every day. Humankind depends on God; God however has no need for humankind. This comprehensive hadith gives us a clear understanding of our need for God. Next week we will discuss this topic and learn that nothing happens except by the permission of God.