Adapted for Hiba by Tasneem Vali
Related on the authority of Abu Hurairah (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whosoever relieves from a believer some grief pertaining to this world, Allah (swt) will relieve from him some grief pertaining to the hereafter. Whosoever alleviates the difficulties of a needy person who cannot pay his debt, Allah (swt) will alleviate his difficulties in both this world and the hereafter. Whosoever conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah (swt) will conceal his faults in this world and the hereafter. Allah (swt) will aid a servant (of His) so long as the servant aids his brother. Whosoever follows a path to seek knowledge therein, Allah (swt) will make easy for him a path to Paradise. No people gather together in one of the houses of Allah (swt), reciting the Book of Allah (swt) and studying it among themselves, except that tranquility descends upon them, mercy covers them, the angels surround them, and Allah (swt) makes mention of them amongst those who are in His presence. Whosoever is slowed down by his deeds will not be hastened forward by his lineage.” (Muslim)
This is a comprehensive Hadeeth that teaches us how to behave as part of a society. It can be divided into two parts:
- The ways we can help each other
- The virtues of the study circle (Halaqa, Dars etc…)
The Hadeeth ends with a statement that categorically denies any benefit you might think your lineage will offer on the Day of Judgement.
How can we help each other?
There are essentially four ways demonstrated in the narrative above.
- Whoever removes a source of worldly grief from a believer, Allah (swt) will remove from him one of his sources of grief on the Day of Resurrection.
- Whoever eases the necessity of a needy person, Allah (swt) will lessen his needs in this world and the hereafter.
- Whoever shields (or hides the misdeeds) of a Muslim, Allah (swt) will shield him in this world and the hereafter.
- Allah (swt) will aid His slave as long as he aids his brother.
This guarantees that the profit earned from an act is of a comparable nature to the act itself. Or, that you will be treated the same way, in fact better than the way you treat another Muslim. You will get equal amounts of relief, help and protection in this world and also after you leave this temporary abode. Ibn Rajab, as quoted by An-Nawawi, talks about the difference between the two situations – in this world and the hereafter. Not everyone has a difficult life in this world, or is distressed. Since the difficulties of this life are incomparable to the distressful aspects of the hereafter, Allah (swt) reserves the reward for striving to relieve another Muslim’s distress of this life until the Day of Judgement. Many Ahadeeth emphasize on this principle. Grief or distress in this Hadeeth means a great difficulty or hardship a Muslim is facing. In one version of the Hadeeth, it is stated as “whosoever relieves” and in another version “whosoever removes”. There is obviously a difference between the two versions because ‘to relieve’ means to minimize the difficulty or distress, whereas ‘to remove’ means to totally eradicate the difficulty or hardship.” (40 Hadeeth Nawawi)
“And if the debtor is in a hard time (has no money), then grant him time till it is easy for him to repay, but if you remit it by way of charity, that is better for you if you did but know.” (Al-Baqarah 2:280)
Specifically with debt, if a person dies with it his burial is on hold until the debt is repaid. Avoid falling into debt just to have what others have. To make it easy, if someone needs to repay you some money and they cannot pay you on time, forgive them. Give them more time or tell them to repay whatever they can. This by itself is Sadaqah.
How to shield your Muslim brother?
Ibn Rajab says that people can fall into two categories:
- Those who are not known for transgression or committing bad deeds. For these people, if by any chance they commit a mistake, it should not be revealed. On the contrary, it should be concealed and not talked about.
- Those who are well known transgressors, and who speak proudly about their shameful and sinful acts. Ibn Rajab mentions that if there is a need to mention the qualities of these people, we should do so for the benefit of the Muslim community. (40 Hadeeth Nawawi)
The general rule of the Hadeeth is that Muslims must not disclose the faults of other Muslims unless they are of the second category and then only to an authority who will discipline them for the benefit of the Ummah. Satara is to cover someone’s mistakes; there are three types of ‘Sittar’:
A scholar said it is better to make a mistake in pardoning someone than to make a mistake by punishing someone wrongly. No matter how you help a fellow Muslim, you will be rewarded.
What are the virtues of a study circle?
This is the core of Islam, searching for and acquiring knowledge. This part of the Hadeeth is usually interpreted as follows:
- Allah (swt) will ease the way of the knowledge seeker to gain knowledge.
- Allah (swt) will assure the knowledge seeker benefits from the knowledge he is seeking.
- Those who pursue knowledge for the good of humanity, Allah (swt) will help them overcome distress on the Day of Judgement.
- Whosoever remembers Allah (swt) in a congregation, Allah (swt) mentions that person in His Divine congregation with His Angels.
In the end, we are reminded it is not who we are but what we do, and that we will bear the weight of our deeds ourselves on the Judgement Day.
May Allah (swt) enable us to be a better Muslim and implement the moral of this Hadeeth throughout our life. Ameen.