Preserving your Gems

A summary explanation of the Hadith ash-Sharif on the inherent virtues in a believer and how they are lost

Bismillahi wa salatu wa salamu ‘ala Rasulillah wa ‘ala jami’il ambiyai wal-mursalin wa ‘ala ahlihi wa sahabihi ajmain, amin.

 Our beloved Prophet and noble master, Rasulullah Muhammad Mustafa [sallallahu alaihi wa sallam] said:

There are four invaluable gifts embedded in the son of Adam (alaihi ‘s-salam). These four gifts are in turn removed by other four vices, evils. As for the invaluable gems (gifts), they are; Intellect, Religion, Shame and (ability and inclination) to do good deeds. Of these: anger removes intellect, envy removes religion, desire removes shame and sense of caution and backbiting removes goods deeds.

  1. ANGER REMOVES INTELLECT

Since excessive anger is a step to insanity. When man gets angry his intellect vanishes and his wisdom suppressed. He becomes a toy in the hand of Shaytan who makes him utters statements that he is bound to regret. Know, and may Allahu ta’ala grant you safety, that anger comes in four shades and only one of these can be found in a true Muslim. Some are quick to anger and also quick to go out of it; some get angry late and go out of anger late; some get angry  quick and come out of it late; while some get angry late and quickly come out of anger. This (last type) is the anger of the believer. We attain to this fortune when we realise Allahu ta’ala’s sublimity over us and His promise to remove His anger on the Day of Accounting on those who restrain their anger when provoked by other creation of Allah. The Holy Qur’an elaborating on those who will enter into Allahu ta’ala’s rahma and compassion says:

Those who avoid the major sins (Kabair) and indecencies, and forgive when they are angry. (al-Shura: 37)

  1. ENVY REMOVES RELIGION.

Being jealous is to desire whatever fortunes of piety, intellect, beauty, wealth, ability giving to others while one wishes the owners of these gifts keep them. This is very healthy in the religion especially where the gifts desired are for the promotions of the next life. But envy is something more than jealousy, for it carries along one’s desire, the wish that the other person’s blessings be taken away leaving him deprived.

Envy is one great vice among the most heinous, the calamitous vices. It is a burning fire in the heart and body of the envious. It contains the spark of the Hellish fire in this worldly life. It takes away the Iman and annulled all good deeds of the envious while he is ignorant of this. Envy not only pulls the envious back, it is one heavy clog in the wheel of progress of a whole group, the entire Muslim community.

The saintly (alaihimu ‘r-ridwan) had mentioned an enlightening story of some sea travellers whose ship ran into a problem and eventually sank in the ocean. There were three survivors hopelessly suspended on the very narrow part of the ship julting out of the sea waves. These three earnestly and most sincerely prayed for instant assistance of Allahu Subhanahu wa ta’ala before they are washed away by the sea like other co-travellers. Allahu Subhanahu wa ta’ala the only One who is turned to in time of distress and the only One who removes dangers and afflictions responded by sending to them a spiritual being who appeared on the waves asking each one of the distressed persons to present his wish to Allahu Subhanahu wa ta’ala who would certainly fulfill this. The first person requested to be united with his family immediately and off he went. The second person expressed the same wish as the first and in an instant he flew home. Meanwhile, the third person was a man ever burning with envy and discontent. He immediately turned to the being sent for their rescue, and instead of seeking his own safety like others said: ‘My wish is that those two be brought back here with me’, and in an instant they returned. The fairy being sent for their safety looked at the returned two-some with extreme pity and loving concern saying: ‘You have been given the rare opportunity to escape destruction, but the existence of the envious among you has deprived you of this fortune.’ The three later perished, washed away by the sea. This is what envy does not only to the envious, but also to the people he belongs, to the entire Ummah, subhanallah!

  1. DESIRE REMOVES SHAME AND SENSE OF CAUTION

The needs of man is quite limited, and the goal of men of wisdom, our noble elders and teachers (alaihimu ‘r-ridwan) is to acquire these basic needs to ease their journey to the real life and home of the Hereafter. Imam ‘Ali (radiAllahu ‘anh) once said:

Blessings of life are basically six: Islam, the Holy Qur’an, Muhammad Rasulullah (alaihi ‘s-salam), well being, Allah’s protection and non-dependence on people.

Whoever has acquired these is victorious in both worlds and running desperately for other things of Dunya is to make little of these treasures from our Karim Lord.

The saintly Abu Dharr Jimhir (rahimahullah) said:

Six things equal everything in Dunya: satisfying food, a virtuous child, a pious wife, wise speech, mature intellect and a healthy body.

Desperate efforts to satisfy one’s desire leads to shamelessness and lost of honours. Man’s desire is certainly limitless, and given a thousand worlds, man will still remain desirous of additions. No one on the earth who was a slave to his desires ever had his desires totally fulfilled until he reaches the grave. Running after one’s endless desires is spiritual death and the focus of all true servants is to live in Dunya in moderation so that all their desires would be fulfilled in Jannat. The exalted ‘arif, Hadrat Hatim al-Assamm (rahmatullahi alaihi) informed of the wisdom in being contented with little of the worldly, saying:

The one who delays four things until four others will find Paradise; long sleep until the grave, pride until the accounting was done, rest and ease until the sirat (bridge) was crossed, and fulfilling desires until one enters Paradise.

A poem:

Success ever-lasting is not for free

Taqwa is the price that must duly be paid

Moderate your desires being patient in need

So that your last day will be your best

We need to understand that most evils that come upon man are results of his negligence of the spiritual in pursuance of desires and mundane gains. The Ummah also drift backward and loses its honours when most of its people pursues worldly desires and ranks forgetting the spiritual and lofty ranks of the Hereafter. This spiritual blindness removes our shames and honours making us insensitive to insults and disgrace.

‘It is therefore the duty of an intelligence person,’ submitted Imam Abu Laith of Samarqand (rahimahullah), ‘to repent from past sins and reflect continuously on those things that will get him closer to Allahu ta’ala and ensure his salvation in the Hereafter. Such a man of wisdom must curtail his hopes, hasten to repentance at every slip, engage in constant zikr of Allah’s name, abstain from prohibitions, impose patience on himself and abstain from blindly following the desire of his nafs (self) which is like an idol. May our Karim Lord rescue us from being slaves to others other than Himself. May He honour us with the great fortune of being happy with little of the worldly and devoting all our efforts to the real fortunes obtainable only in the after-life as alm for all the saintly gems who are lovers and inheritors of Habibullah Muhammad Mustafa (alaihi ‘s-salam).’

Man is ever enslaved to things sure to end

He is ever greedy to things never his lots

He is always distracted by trifles of life

Forgetting his grave until he suddenly arrives

  1. BACKBITING REMOVES GOOD DEEDS

Backbiting is to talk behind a Muslim in a way that would annoy him or put him to shame if he were to be present, even if what you say is true and you can say it in his presence. As we can see from the above explanation, backbiting is not about lying, or spreading rumour. Spreading lies about a Muslim is slander and a worse sin than backbiting.

It is a great wrong to expose Muslims secret faults and mistakes and it is evil to make people know about their weaknesses and inabilities. All believers are sacred and their blood, property and honours are protected too. He who backbites a Muslim risks having all his good deeds removed or destroyed. Backbiting, as it comes in a Hadith, is worse than thirty-three zina, subhanallah. Whenever a Muslim becomes a victim of backbiting, half of the good deeds of the backbiter is apportioned to him while half of sins of the victim of backbiting is loaded on the one who backbite.

People addicted to backbiting would insist instead of embracing sincere tawba, saying: ‘What I am saying is the truth and I can prove it.’ Or that ‘I can even say it in his presence.’ The reality is that the truthfulness of the statement and the fact that the backbiter can say it to the victim’s face would not turn backbiting to a virtue.

The only way out of this grievous error is what our Mashaikh (elders) mentioned: avoid bringing an absence person into your discussion even for positive remarks else Shaytan introduces ‘buts’ and ‘however’ into his goodnesses thus bringing you into the sin of backbiting. If, however, an absence person must come into your discussion, be very strict on the positive avoiding all his faults.

If, however, the fault of a Muslim is mentioned in your presence, try remember of his good qualities and mention it repelling the backbiter. The alternative is to leave the company of backbiters immediately.

He who backbites a Muslim destroys all his good deeds and risks the wrath of his Lord. Whenever you notice the fault of a Muslim, throw a blanket over it in your mind while warning your tongue against mentioning it. Reflect always on the fact that no one is faultless, perfect, and that others have eyes and tongues too. Success in life is to focus your own faults, close your eyes to others’ errors and hold your tongue against others’ failings and foibles. The saintly Muhadith, Hadrat Abdullah bn Mubarak (radiAllahu ‘anh) would earnestly advice his students as follows:

  • Stop your eyes from wandering and you will attain the pleasure of the fear of Allahu ta’ala.
  • Leave blameworthy pursuit and you will attain wisdom.
  • Eat less and you will become steadfast in worship.
  • Stop finding faults with others and you will progress.

May our Karim Lord grant us perfect control over our tongues and all our organs. May He, as alm, for the saintly heirs to Rasulullah (alaihi ‘s-salam) aid us to the outward and inner realities of the uniquely invaluable Sunnah of His most Beloved (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). And our submission first and last is alhamdulillahi rabbil ‘alamin.