Monthly Archives: September 2014

Virtues of the Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah

Virtues of the Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah

Virtues of the Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah

The First Ten Days of Dhu’l-Hijjah:

Praise be to Allaah Who has created Time and has made some times better than others, some months and days and nights better than others, when rewards are multiplied many times, as a mercy towards His slaves. This encourages them to do more righteous deeds and makes them more eager to worship Him, so that the Muslim renews his efforts to gain a greater share of reward, prepare himself for death and supply himself in readiness for the Day of Judgement.

This season of worship brings many benefits, such as the opportunity to correct one’s faults and make up for any shortcomings or anything that one might have missed. Every one of these special occasions involves some kind of worship through which the slaves may draw closer to Allaah, and some kind of blessing though which Allaah bestows His favour and mercy upon whomsoever He will. The happy person is the one who makes the most of these special months, days and hours and draws nearer to his Lord during these times through acts of worship; he will most likely be touched by the blessing of Allaah and will feel the joy of knowing that he is safe from the flames of Hell. (Ibn Rajab, al-Lataa’if, p.8)

The Muslim must understand the value of his life, increase his worship of Allaah and persist in doing good deeds until the moment of death. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty.” [al-Hijr 15:99] The mufassireen(commentators) said: “‘The certainty’ means death.”

Among the special seasons of worship are the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah, which Allaah has preferred over all the other days of the year. Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allaah than these ten days.” The people asked, “Not even jihaad for the sake of Allaah?” He said, “Not even jihaad for the sake of Allaah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 2/457).

Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him and his father) also reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no deed more precious in the sight of Allaah, nor greater in reward, than a good deed done during the ten days of Sacrifice.” He was asked, “Not even jihaad for the sake of Allaah?” He said, “Not even jihaad for the sake of Allaah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing.” (Reported by al-Daarimi, 1/357; its isnaad is hasan as stated in al-Irwaa’, 3/398).

These texts and others indicate that these ten days are better than all the other days of the year, with no exceptions, not even the last ten days of Ramadaan. But the last ten nights of Ramadaan are better, because they include Laylat al-Qadr (“the Night of Power”), which is better than a thousand months. Thus the various reports may be reconciled. (See Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 5/412).

You should know, my brother in Islaam, that the virtue of these ten days is based on many things:

Allaah swears an oath by them, and swearing an oath by something is indicative of its importance and great benefit. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “By the dawn; by the ten nights” [al-Fajr 89:1-2]. Ibn ‘Abbaas, Ibn al-Zubayr, Mujaahid and others of the earlier and later generations said that this refers to the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah. Ibn Katheer said: “This is the correct opinion.” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 8/413)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) testified that these are the best days of this world, as we have already quoted above from saheeh ahaadeeth.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) encouraged people to do righteous deeds because of the virtue of this season for people throughout the world, and also because of the virtue of the place – for the Hujjaaj (pilgrims) to the Sacred House of Allaah.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) commanded us to recite a lot of Tasbeeh(“Subhan-Allaah”), Tahmeed (“Al-hamdu Lillaah”) and Takbeer (“Allaahu akbar”) during this time. ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are no days greater in the sight of Allaah and in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days, so during this time recite a great deal ofTahleel (“La ilaaha ill-Allaah”), Takbeer and Tahmeed.” (Reported by Ahmad, 7/224; Ahmad Shaakir stated that it is saheeh).

These ten days include Yawm ‘Arafaah (the Day of ‘Arafaah), on which Allaah perfected His Religion. Fasting on this day will expiate for the sins of two years. These days also include Yawm al-Nahar (the Day of Sacrifice), the greatest day of the entire year and the greatest day of Hajj, which combines acts of worship in a way unlike any other day.

These ten days include the days of sacrifice and of Hajj.

Question: What must the Muslim avoid during these ten days if he wants to offer a sacrifice?

The Sunnah indicates that the one who wants to offer a sacrifice must stop cutting his hair and nails and removing anything from his skin, from the beginning of the ten days until after he has offered his sacrifice, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When you see the new moon of Dhu’l-Hijjah, if any one of you wants to offer a sacrifice, then he should stop cutting his hair and nails until he has offered his sacrifice.” According to another report he said: “He should not remove (literally, touch) anything from his hair or skin.” (reported by Muslim with four isnaads, 13/146)

The Prophet’s instruction here makes one thing obligatory and his prohibition makes another haraam, according to the soundest opinion, because these commands and prohibitions are unconditional and unavoidable. However, if a person does any of these things deliberately, he must seek Allaah’s forgiveness but is not required to offer (an extra) sacrifice in expiation; his sacrifice will be acceptable. Whoever needs to remove some hair, nails, etc. because it is harming him, such as having a broken nail or a wound in a site where there is hair, should do so, and there is nothing wrong with that. The state ofihraam is so important that it is permitted to cut one’s hair if leaving it will cause harm. There is nothing wrong with men or women washing their heads during the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) only forbade cutting the hair, not washing it.

The wisdom behind this prohibition of the one who wants to offer a sacrifice from cutting his hair etc., is so that he may resemble those in ihraam in some aspects of the rituals performed, and so that he may draw closer to Allaah by offering the sacrifice. So he leaves his hair and nails alone until the time when he has offered his sacrifice, in the hope that Allaah will save him in his entirety from the Fire. And Allaah knows best.

If a person has cut his hair or nails during the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah because he was not planning to offer a sacrifice, then he decides later, during the ten days, to offer a sacrifice, then he must refrain from cutting his hair and nails from the moment he makes this decision.

Some women may delegate their brothers or sons to make the sacrifice on their behalf, then cut their hair during these ten days. This is not correct, because the ruling applies to the one who is offering the sacrifice, whether or not he (or she) delegates someone else to carry out the actual deed. The prohibition does not apply to the person delegated, only to the person who is making the sacrifice, as is indicated in the hadeeth. The person who is sacrificing on behalf of someone else, for whatever reason, does not have to adhere to this prohibition.

This prohibition appears to apply only to the one who is offering the sacrifice, not to his wife and children, unless any of them is offering a sacrifice in his or her own right, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to sacrifice “on behalf of the family of Muhammad,” but there are no reports that say he forbade them to cut their hair or nails at that time.

If a person was planning to offer a sacrifice, then he decides to go and perform Hajj, he should not cut his hair or nails if he wants to enter ihraam, because the Sunnah is only to cut hair and nails when necessary. But if he is performing Tamattu’ [whereby he performs ‘Umrah, comes out of ihraam and enters ihraam anew for Hajj], he should trim his hair at the end of his ‘Umrah because this is part of the ritual.

The things that are described above as being prohibited for the person who is planning to offer a sacrifice are reported in the hadeeth quoted above; the person is not forbidden to wear perfume, have marital relations, wear sewn garments, etc.

Concerning the types of worship to be performed during these ten days: one must understand that these days are a great blessing from Allaah to His slave, which is appreciated properly by the actively righteous. It is the Muslim’s duty to appreciate this blessing and make the most of the opportunity, by devoting these ten days to paying more attention to striving hard in worship. Among His blessings to His slaves, Allaah has given us many ways in which to do good and worship Him, so that the Muslim may be constantly active and consistent in his worship of his Lord.

Among the good deeds which the Muslim should strive to do during the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah are:

Fasting. It is Sunnah to fast on the ninth day of Dhu’l-Hijjah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) urged us to do good deeds during this time, and fasting is one of the best of deeds. Allaah has chosen fasting for Himself, as is stated in the hadeeth qudsi: “Allaah says: ‘All the deeds of the son of Adam are for him, except for fasting, which is for Me and I am the One Who will reward him for it.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 1805).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to fast on the ninth of Dhu’l-Hijjah. Hunaydah ibn Khaalid reported from his wife that some of the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to fast on the ninth of Dhu’l-Hijjah, on the day of ‘Aashooraa’, on three days of each month, and on the first two Mondays and Thursdays of each month.” (Reported by al-Nisaa’i, 4/205 and by Abu Dawud; classified by al-Albaani as saheeh in Saheeh Abi Dawud, 2/462).


It is Sunnah to say Takbeer (“Allaahu akbar”), Tahmeed (“Al-hamdu Lillaah”), Tahleel (“La ilaha ill-Allaah”) and Tasbeeh (“Subhaan Allaah”) during the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah, and to say it loudly in the mosque, the home, the street and every place where it is permitted to remember Allaah and mention His name out loud, as an act of worship and as a proclamation of the greatness of Allaah, may He be exalted.

Men should recite these phrases out loud, and women should recite them quietly.

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“That they might witness things that are of benefit to them (i.e., reward of Hajj in the Hereafter, and also some worldly gain from trade, etc.), and mention the name of Allaah on appointed days, over the beast of cattle that He has provided for them (for sacrifice)…” [al-Hajj 22:28]

The majority of scholars agree that the “appointed days” are the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah, because of the words of Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him and his father): “The ‘appointed days’ are the first ten days (of Dhu’l-Hijjah).”

The Takbeer may include the words “Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, la ilaaha ill-Allaah; wa Allaahu akbar wa Lillaahi’l-hamd (Allaah is Most Great, Allaah is Most Great, there is no god but Allaah; Allaah is Most Great and to Allaah be praise),” as well as other phrases.

Takbeer at this time is an aspect of the Sunnah that has been forgotten, especially during the early part of this period, so much so that one hardly ever hears Takbeer, except from a few people. This Takbeershould be pronounced loudly, in order to revive the Sunnah and as a reminder to the negligent. There is sound evidence that Ibn ‘Umar and Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with them) used to go out in the marketplace during the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah, reciting Takbeer, and the people would reciteTakbeer when they heard them. The idea behind reminding the people to recite Takbeer is that each one should recite it individually, not in unison, as there is no basis in Sharee’ah for doing this.

Reviving aspects of the Sunnah that have been virtually forgotten is a deed that will bring an immense reward, as is indicated by the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Whoever revives an aspect of my Sunnah that is forgotten after my death, he will have a reward equivalent to that of the people who follow him, without it detracting in the least from their reward.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 7/443; this is a hasan hadeeth because of corroborating asaaneed).

Performing Hajj and ‘Umrah. One of the best deeds that one can do during these ten days is to perform Hajj to the Sacred House of Allaah. The one whom Allaah helps to go on Hajj to His House and to perform all the rituals properly is included in the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “An accepted Hajj brings no less a reward than Paradise.”

Doing more good deeds in general, because good deeds are beloved by Allaah and will bring a great reward from Him. Whoever is not able to go to Hajj should occupy himself at this blessed time by worshipping Allaah, praying (salaat), reading Qur’an, remembering Allaah, making supplication (du’aa’), giving charity, honouring his parents, upholding the ties of kinship, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and other good deeds and acts of worship.

Sacrifice. One of the good deeds that will bring a person closer to Allaah during these ten days is offering a sacrifice, by choosing a high-quality animal and fattening it, spending money for the sake of Allaah. (more information to follow, in sha Allaah).

Sincere repentance. One of the most important things to do during these ten days is to repent sincerely to Allaah and to give up all kinds of disobedience and sin. Repentance means coming back to Allaah and foregoing all the deeds, open and secret, that He dislikes, out of regret for what has passed, giving it up immediately and being determined never to return to it, but to adhere firmly to the Truth by doing what Allaah loves.

If a Muslim commits a sin, he must hasten to repent at once, without delay, firstly because he does not know when he will die, and secondly because one evil deed leads to another.

Repentance at special times is very important because in most cases people’s thoughts turn towards worship at these times, and they are keen to do good, which leads to them recognizing their sins and feeling regret for the past. Repentance is obligatory at all times, but when the Muslim combines sincere repentance with good deeds during the days of most virtue, this is a sign of success, in sha Allaah. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “But as for him who repented, believed and did righteous deeds, then he will be among those who are successful.” [al-Qasas 28:67]

The Muslim should make sure that he does not miss any of these important occasion, because time is passing quickly. Let him prepare himself by doing good deeds which will bring him reward when he is most in need of it, for no matter how much reward he earns, he will find it is less than he needs; the time of departure is at hand, the journey is frightening, delusions are widespread, and the road is long, but Allaah is ever watchful, and to Him will we return and render account. As the Qur’aan says (interpretation of the meaning):

“So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it,

And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it.”

[al-Zalzalah 99:7-8]

There is much to be gained, so make the most of the opportunity afforded by these invaluable and irreplaceable ten days. Hasten to do good works, before death strikes, before one can regret one’s negligence and failure to act, before one is asked to return to a place where no prayers will be answered, before death intervenes between the hopeful one and the things he hopes for, before you are trapped with your deeds in the grave.

O you whose hard heart is as dark as the night, is it not time that your heart was filled with light and became soft? Expose yourself to the gentle breeze of your Lord’s mercy during these ten days, for Allaah will cause this breeze to touch whomever He wills, and whoever is touched by it will be happy on the Day of Judgement. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad and all his Family and Companions.

Islam Q&A
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

Between the living and the dead

Between the living and the dead

Between the living and the dead

There was a man who was extremely burdensome upon others. He was burdensome to his colleagues, his neighbours, his brothers and even his children. He was very unpleasant. He would always hear people saying to him, “Dear brother, you are cold, devoid of emotion!” But he would never respond to them positively.

One day, his son came to him very happy and excited, waving his notebook since his teacher remarked on it, “Excellent!” But the father paid him scant attention, and only said, “O.K? So what? you’d think that it was a PhD!” Obviously, this wasn’t quite the response the son expected.

He was a teacher and he had a student in his lesson who was light-hearted. He felt that the lesson (and the teacher) were a bit cumbersome, so he decided to brighten up the atmosphere by making a joke. But the teacher’s complexion did not change. He simply said, sarcastically, “Happy now?” Oh that his behavior with his students was slightly different!

He entered a grocery store where the shopkeeper said to him, “Al-hamdulillah! My family has sent me a letter!” But he did not react. He did not even ask himself why the shopkeeper decided to inform him of this! By Allah, the poor shopkeeper didn’t inform him of this except to share his happiness with him.

He visited one of his colleagues who made a cup of coffee for him and then showed him his first newborn, well-wrapped up in a blanket, and if he had been able to wrap him up with his eyelids he would have done! He stood in front of him with his baby and said, “What do you think?” He gave him a cold look and said icily, “MashaAllah… Allah will bless him for you.” He then lifted his cup of coffee to drink. Obviously, he was expected to be more responsive, perhaps take the baby in his arms, kiss him and praise his looks and health. However, our friend was quite foolish.

When you deal with people, try to see the importance of matters as they see it, and not how you see it. So the word, ‘Excellent’ for your son is more precious than a PhD. Your friend’s newborn is more precious to him than the entire world. Each time he sees his baby, he feels like opening up his chest so that his son may reside therein. Doesn’t your love for your friend dictate that you should share in his moments of happiness, if only a little?

Sometimes, people feel passionate over issues. You should show that you also share their passion over those issues. Do not be cold-hearted and lacking in emotion. Give compliments, respond to their feelings and demonstrate your happiness, sadness or amazement. Do not act like a corpse!

 This is why those who are not responsive to others’ feelings often complain, “Why don’t my children sit with me?” We respond, “Because, they relate a joke to you, but you never respond. They relate their stories from school, but they feel as if they are talking to a wall. Hence, they never feel excited to sit with or speak to you. Even if a person were to mention a story to you which you already know, then there is no reason not to respond to it positively.”

‘Abdullah bin al-Mubarak said, “By Allah, sometimes a person would relate something to me, and even though I knew of it before his mother gave birth to him, I would still listen to him as if I was hearing this for the first time.” How beautiful is this skill!

Just before the battle of Khandaq, the Muslims dug trenches and perfected them. There was a man amongst them whose name was Ju’ayl, but the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) changed it to ‘Amr. As the companions were busy working, they began to sing:

His name he changed, Ju’ayl to ‘Amr, Gave the poor man that day his help. As they all said, “‘Amr”, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) joined them and said:


When they said, “Help”, he joined them and said: “Help.”

Thereupon, the Companions would become more excited and joyous and feel that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was actually with them.

When night came upon them, the weather became severely cold and they continued to dig, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went out to them and saw them digging joyfully. Upon seeing the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) they sang:

We are those who have pledged our oaths to Muhammad That we will remain on Jihad for as long as we live!

He said to them in response, “O Allah, the only life is that of the Hereafter, so forgive the Ansar and the Muhajirun.”

And so he would continue to respond to their emotions throughout the days.

Once he heard them singing, whilst completely covered in dust:

“By Allah, if it wasn’t for Him we would not have been guided

We would not have given charity nor prayed

So send tranquility upon us

And make our feet firm in the battle

Indeed these people have oppressed us

But never shall we yield if they try to bring affliction upon us.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would also sing with them saying, “never shall we yield… never shall we yield…” in response to their feelings.

Whenever anyone joked with Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) he would respond by laughing or smiling. Once ‘Umar bin al-Khattab – may Allah be pleased with him –came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) whilst he was angry with his wives, since they were demanding more stipends. ‘Umar – may Allah be pleased with him – thought to himself, “I am going to make the Messenger of Allah laugh!”

He said, “O Messenger of Allah, if you recall us when we were men of Quraysh, we always had our women under control. If any of our women were to ask one of us for more stipend, he would have jumped up and grabbed her neck! But when we came to Madinah, we found that it was the women keeping their men under control. So our women began to learn these tricks from their women!” Thereupon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) smiled. ‘Umar continued to speak and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) continued to smile.

You read in ahadith that often the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would smile till his molar teeth would show. How great was the Prophet’s behaviour! As Allah has said, “Indeed, you (O Muhammad) are of a noble character!” and He also said to us, “Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah for you there is a noble example.”

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to deal with all sorts of people, and some of them would not be able to deal with others in a noble manner. Some of them would not respond to his feelings, rather they would be very reserved and hasty. Despite this, he would remain patient with them.

Once, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had stopped over at a place called al- Ji’ranah between Makkah and Madinah. Bilal was with him on his journey. There came a Bedouin to ask the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for a need, which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) promised to fulfil but ultimately could not.

The Bedouin was in hurry so he said, “O Muhammad, won’t you deliver what you promised?”

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied to him in kindness,

“Rejoice!”‘Rejoice!’ how beautiful a word! Is there a word nobler than this?

But the Bedouin did not respond positively or courteously, and instead shouted with audacity, “I have heard enough of ‘Rejoice’ from you!”

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was angered at the reply but controlled his anger. He turned to Abu Musa and Bilal who were sitting next to him and said, “He has refused to rejoice, so please rejoice the two of you.”

They said, “We rejoice, O Messenger of Allah.”

He asked for a jug of water and washed his hands and face and rinsed his mouth. He then said: “Drink of this water and wash your faces and necks, and rejoice!” meaning, rejoice at receiving the blessings of this water.

They took the jug and did as he said very joyfully. Umm Salamah – may Allah be pleased with her – was sitting near them behind a curtain and wanted to partake in the blessings, so she called out from behind the veil, “Save some for your mother!” So they left some water and sent it to her. She took the water and did as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had said. (al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Hence, our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was very kind in nature, it was always pleasant to be in his company, and he was always forbearing.

He would never make a mountain out of a molehill.

Once the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) sat down with ‘A’ishah −may Allah be pleased with her− who began to relate to him women’s talk, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) attentively listened to her. She was speaking at length and in detail, and despite the Prophet’s busy life, he kept listening to her with keen interest and commenting where needed, until ‘A’ishah −may Allah be pleased with her− finally finished.

So what was the story that ‘A’ishah was relating to him?

She was relating a story about a gathering of eleven women in the pre-Islamic days of ignorance who promised not to hide anything with regards to their husbands. They began to mention everything about their husbands without concealing anything. So what did they say?

The first woman said:

“My husband is like the meat of a useless camel on top of a mountain. It is neither easy to reach to the top of the mountain, nor is the meat good that it should be carried down.”

She likened her husband to a difficult mountain on top of which there is unpleasant camel meat, such that no one likes to obtain it due to the difficulty in climbing the mountain. The meat is also very unpleasant in that it is not worth tiring oneself to obtain it. Meaning, he has bad manners and is arrogant, even though he has nothing to be proud of, since he is stingy and poor.

The second woman said:

“I would not describe my husband for fear of leaving him, and if I begin to describe his faults I would be relating terrible things.”

Meaning, her husband had many faults and she feared that if she were to describe his faults and the news of it reached him, he would divorce her. She was stuck with him due to her children.

The third woman said:

“My husband is a tall man. If I describe him (and he hears of that) he will divorce me, and if I keep quiet, he will leave me hanging.”

Meaning, her husband was tall, ugly and very ill-mannered.

He never overlooked her faults and was like the edge of a sword hanging over her. She lived under the constant threat of divorce. Her words to him were unbearable, and whenever she complained he would divorce her. He would not treat her as a husband should treat his wife. Hence, she was left hanging, neither married, nor divorced.

The fourth woman said:

“My husband is a moderate person like the night of Tihamah which is neither hot nor cold. I am neither afraid of him, nor am I discontented with him.”

It is known that the night of Tihamah is neither windy nor dusty, which the inhabitants find quite pleasant. She described her husband as being nice to her and having moderate manners – a man who never hurt her.

The fifth woman said:

“My husband, when entering (the house) is a leopard, and when going out, is a lion. He does not ask about whatever is in the house”

Meaning, when he enters the house he behaves like a leopard. The leopard is considered to be generous and active. When he leaves the house and mixed with the people he behaves like a lion due to his bravery. He was also very tolerant, such that he did not ask detailed questions about what his wife took or spent.

The sixth woman said:

“When my husband eats, he eats too much, and if he drinks he leaves nothing, and if he sleeps he wraps himself up and does not stretch his hands here and there in concern for my sorrow.”

Meaning, her husband ate so much that he did not leave anything for his family. He likewise drank too much to leave anything for anyone. When he slept, he wrapped himself up in a blanket leaving none of it for his wife. When she felt sad, he never cared to bring his hand closer to her and be kind to her to find out the reason for her sorrow.

The seventh woman said:

“My husband is a wrong-doer and imprudent and foolish. All defects are present in him. If you speak to him, he may insult you. If you joke with him, he may injure your head or body or both.”

The eighth woman said:

“My husband is like a rabbit to touch (i.e. very soft). He smells like a Zarnab (a kind of good smelling grass). I overpower him, whilst he overpowers the people. (i.e. he was very easy going with her and gave in to her demands, yet, was a hero and therefore overpowered others. He had a strong personality).”

The ninth woman said:

“My husband is a tall generous man wearing a long strap for carrying his sword (i.e. his house is large and always open to his guests). His ashes are abundant (i.e. he is always lighting fires to cook for his guests). His house is near his meeting place (i.e. the place where he meets his friends is near his house out of his concern for his family). He never eats to his fill in a gathering (i.e. he does not eat much when serving the guests). He does not sleep during the night of fear (i.e. if there is danger at night from an enemy, etc, he remains awake to guard and watch).”

The tenth woman said:

“My husband is Malik, and what is Malik? Malik is greater than whatever I say about him. Most of his camels are kept at home and only a few are taken to the pastures. When the camels hear the sound of the lute they realise they are going to perish.”

Meaning, her husband’s name was Malik, and no matter how beautifully she described him, she would not be able to do him justice. His camels were always kept near him and they were hardly taken to pasture so that they were always ready for milking and slaughtering for guests. When the camels heard the sound of the lute, they realised that they were to be slaughtered for the guests.

The eleventh woman said:

“My husband is Abu Zar’, and what can I say about Abu Zar’?

He has given me many ornaments and my ears are heavily loaded with them and my arms have become fat. And he has pleased me, and I have become so happy that I feel proud of myself. He found me with my family who were mere owners of sheep and living in poverty, and brought me to a respected family, having horses and camels, threshing and purifying grain. Whatever I say, he does not rebuke or insult me. When I sleep, I sleep till late in the morning, and when I drink water (or milk), I drink my fill. The mother of Abu Zar’ and what may one say in praise of the mother of Abu Zar’? Her saddle bags were always full of provision and her house was spacious. As for the son of Abu Zar’, what may one say of the son of Abu Zar’? His bed is as narrow as an unsheathed sword and a small portion of baby goat meat satisfies his hunger. As for the daughter of Abu Zar’, she is obedient to her father and to her mother. She has a fat well-built body and that arouses the jealousy of her co-wife. As for the slave-girl of Abu Zar’, what may one say of the slave-girl of Abu Zar’? She does not uncover our secrets but keeps them, and does not waste our provisions and does not leave the rubbish scattered everywhere in our house.”

She then said, “One day it so happened that Abu Zar’ went out at the time when the animals were being milked, and he saw a woman who had two sons like two leopards playing with her breasts. Upon seeing her, he divorced me and married her.

Thereafter I married a noble man who used to ride a fast and tireless horse and keep a spear in his hand. He gave me many things, and also a pair of every kind of livestock and said, ‘Eat (of this), O Umm Zar’, and give provision to your relatives.’”

She then said, while describing her love for her first husband, “Yet, all those things which my second husband gave me could not fill the smallest utensil of Abu Zar’s.”

This was the end of the long story about the eleven women.

We can deduce from this just how long the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) spent listening to the story from his beloved wife and life-companion, the mother of the believers, ‘A’ishah – may Allah have mercy on her.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was listening attentively, while responding positively and showing his interest and enjoyment as ‘A’ishah spoke. He did not exhibit signs of boredom, despite being tired and busy.

When ‘A’ishah −may Allah be pleased with her− finished her story, in order to show that he had understood the story, and that he was listening to her and not lost in another world as she was relating it, he said to her in response, “I am to you like Abu Zar’ is to Umm Zar’.’’

So we agree on the importance of showing kindness and concern for others. From now on, if your son comes to you dressed in a beautiful garment, saying, “What do you think, dear father?” Respond to him positively and say, “SubhanAllah! How beautiful!”

Whoever it may be, your daughter, wife, husband, son or colleague, and whoever you may mix with, be lively and responsive.

Sometimes you may forget an incident. For instance, if a person says to you, “Good news! My father has recovered from his illness!”

Don’t respond with, “Actually, when did he fall ill?” Say, “Alhamdulillah!

May Allah give him a great reward and good health.

You made me happy by delivering this news, may Allah make you happy!”

Or, if one were to say, “My brother came out prison.” Don’t say to him, “By Allah, I didn’t even know he was in prison.” Respond positively by saying, “Al-hamdulillah, this is very good news.

May Allah always keep you happy!”

Lastly, dear reader, encouragement and responding positively works even with the animals.

Abu Bakr al-Raqi said, “I was in the desert and I passed by an Arab tribe. There, a man from amongst them took me into his tent as a guest. In the tent, I saw a black slave bound in chains. I also noticed some dead camels in front of the house. There was only one camel left which was about to die.

The slave said to me, ‘You are a guest and you have rights over your host. Please intercede on my behalf to my master, for he is very generous to his guests. He will not reject your intercession and perhaps he will unlock these chains.’

I remained silent since I didn’t know what his crime was.

When they brought the food, I refused to eat and said, ‘I will not eat until I intercede on behalf of this slave.’

The master said, ‘This slave has made me poor and destroyed all my wealth.’

‘What did he do?’ I asked.

He said, ‘He has a very beautiful voice. My livelihood is based on these camels. He loaded heavy loads on the camels and began to sing poetry in a very beautiful voice to make the camels go faster, so much so that they travelled a three day journey in a single night. When the camels were unloaded, they all died except one. However, since you are my guest, I would like to offer the slave to you in your honour.’ He then stood up and freed the slave from his chains.”

Abu Bakr said: “I then desired to listen to his voice, so the next morning I asked him to sing to a camel which was drinking water from a well, so the camel would be active at work. The slave began to sing in a beautiful voice. When he raised his voice, the camel became ecstatic and excited, and forgot itself so much so that it broke its rope. I fell on my face due to his beautiful voice. I do not think I ever heard a voice as beautiful as his.” (Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din)

If even the animals respond positively to a beautiful voice, which encourages the slave to beautify his voice even more and sing better, then how about human beings?

Develop yourself by training…

Be lively and not dead. Respond positively and with appropriate facial expressions, until others feel comfortable with you.

Enjoy your Life by: Dr. Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Rahman al-‘Arifi 

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