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  2. The Forty Sayings- by An Nawawi
  3. Hadeeth 40 : The World is the Means and the Sowing-Field for Attaining the Hereafter

Hadeeth 40 : The World is the Means and the Sowing-Field for Attaining the Hereafter

Auther : Abu Zakaria An-Nawawi
27190 2008/02/07 2024/04/20

on the authority of 'abdullaah bin 'umar radiallaahu anhu, who said : the messenger of allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) took me by the shoulder and said :

be in this world as though you were a stranger or a wayfarer.

and ibn 'umar (radiallaahu anhu) used to say :

in the evening do not expect [to live until] the morning, and in the morning do not expect [to live until] the evening. take [advantage of] your health before times of sickness, and [take advantage of] your life before your death.

it was related by al-bukhaaree.

explanation of hadeeth number 40

the imaam abu al-hasan 'alee bin khalf said in his explanation of saheeh al-bukhaaree that abu az-zinaad said : the meaning of this hadeeth is an encouragement upon refraining from excessive socialising, upon purchasing little for ones needs, and upon abstention from the dunyaa. abu al-hasan then said : the explanation of this is that the stranger [in a town] does not socialise much or behave cheerfully with its people, but rather remains aloof and lonely, as he does not hope to pass by someone who knows him, with whom he may socialise and be friendly. thus he remains lowly, submissive and in a state of fear. and similar to this is the traveller, who is unble to complete his arduous journey except with great strength and determination, and by keeping light of all burdens, and by avoiding being tenacious in retaining those things which may prevent him from completeing his journey. and he only takes with him minimum provision for his journey, and a riding camel, which are enough to help him attain his destination. and this is an indication of his preference for abstention from the dunyaa, and for taking only that which is sufficient for him. and so, just as the traveller does not require more than that which will help him to reach his destination, so similarly the believer does not require more of the dunyaa than that which will help him attain his goal [ie. paradise].

and al-'izz 'alaa-ud-deen bin yahyaa bin hubairah (rahimahu allaah) said : in this hadeeth is evidence that the messenger of allaah sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam encouraged emulation of the strangers, since when a stranger enters a foreign land he does not compete with its people to attend their gatherings, nor does he worry about being seen in a state and condition opposite to that which is his normal habit in terms of his dress, nor does he try to behave contrary to the customs of the local people. and similarly is the condition of the traveller who does not take a permanent abode of residence, nor does he enter into arguments with the local people which might cause hatred between them, knowing that he will only be amongst them for a few days. so all the conditions of the stranger and the traveller are beloved for the believer in this dunyaa, as the dunyaa is not his true abode of residence. rather, the dunyaa is merely an obstruction that prevents him from reaching his true abode and dwelling place in the hereafter.

and as for the statement of ibn 'umar (radiallaahu anhu) : "in the evening do not expect [to live until] the morning, and in the morning do not expect [to live until] the evening", then this is an encouragement from him for the believers to always be prepared for the eventuality of death. and death is prepared for with good deeds. it is also an encouragement upon not having many hopes and desires, stretching far into the future. hence, one should not postpone till the morning actions that can be performed at night, but rather, one should hasten towards the performance of good actions. and similarly, when one wakes in the morning he should not rely upon the evening and postpone his good actions till then.

and his, radiallaahu anhu, statement "take from your health before times of sickness" is an encouragement upon making use of ones health, and striving ones utmost during times of good health, fearing the onset of sickness which may prevent one from good actions. and similarly, his statement "from your life before your death" is an admonition to make use of the days of ones life, since the one who dies has his actions cut off and his hopes lost. and then his distress will increase no end due to his neglect and previous lack of remorse. so let us know that a time will come when we will spend a great length of time under the dirt, unable to perform any action and unable to remember allaah 'azza wa jall. so upon us is to hasten to good actions while we are still capable of doing so. and thus, what is more comprehensive and honourable than this hadeeth in its meanings of good ?

and some of the 'ulamaa have said that allaah ta'aalaa has condemned having high hopes, as he has said :

"leave them to eat and enjoy, and let them be preoccupied with (false) hope. they will come to know!" [soorah al-hijr, 3].

and 'alee radiallaahu anhu said :

"the dunyaa has set out from the rear, while the aakhirah has set out from the front, and for each of them are its sons : so be from amongst the sons of the aakhirah, and do not be from amongst the sons of the dunyaa. for verily, today is the time for deeds without any accounting, while tomorrow is the time for accounting without any deeds."

and anas radiallaahu anhu said : "the prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam drew some lines [in the sand], and said 'this [line] is man, and this is his hope, and [the third line, between them] is his appointed time for death. so while he is in this state the closer line takes him'", and that is his appointed hour of death, which contains and constrains his life. so this is a warning to him to lower his hopes, and to expect his appointed time to be near, and to always remain in fear that it may come while he is in a state of heedlessness and indulgence. so the believer should accustom his soul to seeking those things which will remind him of his death, and he should strive against his desires and never-ending hopes, for verily man is created with a disposition towards hope. 'abdullaah bin 'umar (radiallaahu anhumaa) said : "the messenger of allaah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, saw me while i was strengthening with clay a shelter for my mother and myself, so he said 'what is this, o 'abdullaah ?' so i replied : 'o messenger of allaah, it [the shelter] has become weak, and so we are repairing it'. so he (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said 'i do not see the affair [ie death or the resurrection] except that it is closer than that [ie the falling apart of the shelter]'."

we ask allaah the glorious to show kindness to us and to help us abstain from the dunyaa, and to make us desire that which is with him and ease on the day of resurrection, for verily he is the generous, the forgiving, the merciful.

summary :

  • that one can hold another's shoulder to say something to him
  • that one should not seek name and fame in this world
  • that one should not seek permanence in this world
  • that a muslim must always be aware of death
  • that a muslim should know that he may not live to see the night or the next day, thus making him more careful of his actions since he may not have time to repent
  • that a muslim should take advantage of his health to do good deeds
  • that a muslim knows that he has only this life to either make it to eternal happiness or eternal punishment
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