Chapter 69: Desirability of Seclusion at Times of Corruption
allah, the exalted, says:
"so flee to allah (from his torment to his mercy - islamic monotheism), verily, i (muhammad (pbuh)) am a plain warner to you from him.'' (51:50)
597. sa`d bin abu waqqas (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "allah loves a slave who is pious, free of all wants and the unnoticed.''
commentary: isolation, according to this hadith, is recommendable for the obedience and worship of allah. it is particularly approved when the prevalent corruption and social intercourse endanger religion, or its implementation looks no more feasible.
598. abu sa`id al-khudri (may allah be pleased with him) reported: someone asked messenger of allah (pbuh): "who is the best man?'' he (pbuh) answered, "a believer who strives in the cause of allah with his life and his wealth.'' the man asked: "who is the next?'' he said, "one who retires into a narrow valley and worships his rubb.''
another narration is: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "one who fears allah and safeguards people against his own mischief.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: here jihad is counted as the supreme virtue and next to it comes the superiority of a man who takes to seclusion with this intention that he will worship allah and keep away the evil of his animal self from the people.
599. abu sa`id al-khudri (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "the best possession of a muslim will be a herd of sheep with which he retires to the top of a mountain or places where rain is expected to fall (pastures) so as to safeguard with his faith from tribulation.''
commentary: at a certain period of history, says the hadith, the virus of moral corruption will spread among people so perilously and so widely that, while living amongst them, one will hardly be able to save his religion. in such circumstances, there will be no other alternative than to escape from cities to save religion. today, moral crisis faces the islamic countries. the result is that the grip of religion over people is loosening day by day, rather they are constantly suffering the loss of religious values and principles. no wonder the work of the establishment and practice of religion is becoming more and more trying for the religious-minded people.
600. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "every prophet has tended sheep''. he was asked: "and did you?'' he replied, "yes, i tended them for a few carats for the makkans.''
commentary: the prophet (pbuh) used to graze the sheep of makkans for a few carats (a carat is one-twentieth, or a bit more, of a dinar). this practice was indeed a divine training for the prophets so that it might be easier for them to deal with humans and forbear afflictions which came to them from men. a shepherd indeed needs greater patience and forbearance to look after his herd. this practice proved useful to the prophets. moreover, this hadith is suggestive of the adoption of a lawful occupation, no matter how people may look askance at it. that was the reason why the prophets took such occupations.
601. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "the best of people is a man who is holding his horse's rein in the way of allah (in jihad) and is galloping towards the place wherever he hears a call for war or detects a note of danger; he goes on proceeding, seeking martyrdom or death wherever it is expected. and a man who retires with some sheep in a mountainside or a valley. he performs salat regularly and pays the zakat, continues worshipping his rubb, till death overtakes him. he does not interfere in the affairs of the people except for betterment.''
commentary: herein two types of men have been counted as the best of all. first, such man who remains engaged in the preparation for jihad, being ever-ready for it. second is the man who flees townships and takes shelters in a mountain or jungle, living on a few sheep; the motive behind his shift is the preservation and practice of his faith and religion.