The Messenger of Allah said “The prayer of three (kinds of people) does not rise above their head more than a hand-span. A man who leads a people (in prayer) whilst they are averse to him; a woman who retires for the night whilst her husband is angered by her; and two brothers who sever ties.”
This is one hadith which is much misused, even abused. The hadith is about rights and that for us to get our rights in prayer i.e. reward, we have to ensure we give people their rights. However, first one has to give Allah His rights.
All three groups of people mentioned have a right which they owe to Allah, which if fulfilled will also give the right to other people.
So the Imam who leads a people in prayer has to be qualified and someone whom the people can trust has taqwa of Allah. Otherwise they will pray behind him whilst disliking him and this will affect their prayer. Sometimes an Imam is put in place by a committee or trustees so that he can fulfil a political end i.e. serving the committee/trustees rather than the community. This is not a good situation and everyone will suffer, therefore the Imam must step aside if he wants his prayer to be elevated i.e. rewarded.
So the wife is the leader of the household affairs and if she is not fulfilling the rights of Allah her husband will be displeased with her and she will lose out on the reward of prayer. The wife (who is often the mother) plays a pivotal role in the house, in organisation, raising the children, allowing the man to work, educating the children etc. However, this hadith is abused by men using it as a tool to repress women and berating them for not doing whatever the man wants for fear of not being rewarded for the prayer. When looking at hadith which may have different understandings, one has to look at it in the full light of the sharia rather than as an individual hadith. When you see how Islam came to liberate women you soon understand this hadith in its true sense. When you realise that the Prophet (SAW) said, the best of you are those who are best to their women-folk, you again realise that this hadith cannot be intended to lower the status of women.
So the brother which in the context means a friend (male or female) is a reprimand for those who cut each other off for trivial matters not sanctioned by sharia. The religion is not a cause of individualism but rather our religion is about unity and so cutting off close friends is the antithesis of this. The reprimand when the cutting off of ties is from direct family members is even greater.
The Messenger of Allah said, “Keep the company of elders, ask the scholars and mix with the wise”.
We can learn a huge amount from the elder members of our community, due to their experiences and their age. We should encourage our children to keep their company as a reminder that they too will grow old and struggle. Having young people frequent the aged also brings a new lease of life to those old souls by keeping the company of old souls. Our religion is based on knowledge and their is a reason why the Muslims were the last to take up publishing, the fear that people would stop asking the scholars. Imagine the state of the Muslims now with the internet, we no longer sit with scholars let alone ask them questions. It really is a case of the blind leading the blind, something we should be very wary about. Finally in this hadith the Prophet (SAW) said to mix with the wise. The wise are distinguished from the elderly, because you can get old people who are not wise and likewise wise people who are young. Wisdom is an important tool to learn and it is something primarily gained by mixing with those who have it.
The Messenger of Allah said, “Strive against the polytheists with your wealth, your selves and your tongues.”
Taken in context, the Muslims were under attack from the initial days when the Prophet (SAW) started to openly preach. Initially the attacks were aimed just at the Prophet and his companions but after the migration the attacks were co-ordinated armies, ambushes and treachery. To deal with these attacks and keep the new Muslim population safe the Prophet exhorted the Muslims to give from their wealth to the Muslims who needed weapons, camels or armour. Muslims fought in battles were they needed to share shields, some fought with sticks and many walked to battles which were a few days or weeks journey.
They also had to give with their own selves where possible and with their tongues in fighting back against the accusations made, the slander thrown and encouraging other Muslims.
In our time we need to still give our wealth but in da’wah i.e. helping Muslim educational organisations, helping spread the true message of Islam and propagating the sunnah. We do this not just financially but with our time and our tongues i.e. pens/laptops/phones etc.
The Messenger of Allah said, “Renew your faith, repeat often the statement la ilaha illallah.”
These are the best words one can utter as these are the words which will enter you into paradise, eventually. Repeating this fills the heart with light and cuts through darkness both in the world and on the day of judgement. Our lives are shrouded in darkness and we need to connect ourselves to Allah, the source of peace and light. By making regular recitation of these words we will be aided in removing anxiety from us and being filled with happiness. Repeating these words helps to keep our faith fresh as we reflect upon the meaning of these weighty words, otherwise our religion can just become a habit.
The Messenger of Allah said, “Love of the world, is the root of all wrong.”
Our heart is a vessel, like a cup, and it has to be filled with something. Ideally it should be filled with faith, la ilaha illallah. This then keeps our hearts in love with Allah. If we fill our heart with love of the world, we will find no peace, there will only be anxiety. You cannot keep up with others. No matter how much you try to work, to earn, to spend – there will always be those who have more and spend more. If we had a £3 million house we think our lives couldn’t get better – what then we you read about people who buy £30 million houses? The love of the world which not only means money but also power is what leads to evil. People lie, cheat, steal, kill, all because of what they want in this world. The Prophet states in a hadith that he did not fear polytheism (shirk) for his people but he feared love of this world. The Prophet destroyed the idols, he destroyed shirk but love of this world has infected our hearts with a sickness which is proving hard to cure.
The Messenger of Allah said, “Paradise is surrounded by hardships and Hellfire by lowly desires“.
It is from the natural disposition to want to do good, for your body, mind and soul. Yet, we are constantly drawn to quite the opposite i.e. those things which are bad for our body, mind and soul. Paradise is surrounded by acts which require effort i.e. waking up to pray, making wudu, fasting, pilgrimage, giving from your wealth, abstinence from alcohol, excess food, unlawful sexual interactions etc. whereas Hellfire can be achieved by a lazy person very easily or someone who gives in to his lowly desires by not abstaining from the prohibited. Being a Muslim is easy when you rise above your base desires, but if you are not going to work hard to rise above those desires and the desires start to guide you – you will find Paradise surrounded by hardship.