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Last week’s class of Imam Nawawi Al-Arbaeen (The 40 Hadith) dealt with three distinct yet discreetly linked topics.

Shame & Modesty

Abu Mas’ud ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amr al-Ansari al-Badri, radiyallahu ‘anhu, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said:

“Among the things that people have found from the words of the previous prophets was: ‘If you feel no shame, then do as you wish.'”  [Al-Bukhari]

One of the most important and essential elements of being Muslim is having shame and modesty. Dubbed as “Haya” in Arabic, the term encompasses shame and modesty. Haya has been mentioned in many a hadiths, one of which stipulates that there are 60 to 70 departments of Islam, one of which is Haya. The hadith under discussion takes the form of a warning according to many scholars, whereby it asserts that if one does not have shame or haya, one may as well do anything that deen may or may not permit.

Haya and Iman are correlated and have a positive relation. The more of haya one has, more they increase in Iman. While a lack of haya leads to decreases in the level of Iman. Haya is one of Allah’s attributes as well. Many of Allah’s prophets and their companions are said to have high degrees of shame and modesty. Prophet Musa (Alaih salam) was so full of haya that he never used to take off even his extra clothes for fear he might be seen. Usman (Radi Allahu anhu) was so full of haya that the Prophet Muhammad (Sallalahu Alaihe Wasallam) would adjust his clothes and used to sit up when Usman would visit the Prophet, citing Usman’s (R.A.) haya.

The discussion, however, warned that not all types of haya are good. There can be ‘bad haya’ too, which is mainly the inability or a lack of the ability to do’ Amr bil maaroof’ (Calling towards good deeds) and ‘Nahi anil Munkar’ (Forbidding from performing bad deeds). Similarly, shying away from asking questions is also a bad or disapproved type of shame. And while one should practice shame and modesty in their daily lives, they should stay away from the disapproved types or elements of shame.

Istaqamah (Steadfastness)

On the authority of Abu ‘Amr, though others call him Abu ‘Amrah Sufyan bin ‘Abdullah, radiyallahu anhu, who said: I said:

“O Messenger of Allah, tell me something about Islam which I could not ask anyone about save you.” He answered: “Say: ‘I believe in Allah’, and then stand firm and steadfast.” [Muslim]

The literal meaning of “Istiqamah” is to go straight without deviation. It is derived from the stem “Qiyyam”, which means to stand straight. The term ‘Istaqamah’ has been used by the Qur’an in many verses, especially in Sura Al-Hud in verse 112. This hadith is very wholesome in that it offers the crux of all belief and action that forms the basis of Islam. “Amantu Billah” (Believe in Allah) deals with the basis of the underlying belief system in Islam, while “Summa Astaqim” (And then be steadfast) clarifies that only believing is not enough and one needs to stand firm on that belief.

This gives rise to the question, “How does one stand firm and steadfast on the belief in Allah?” A simple answer would be, “By following all Allah’s commands and the instructions Islam provides to lead the life in this world.” A very important point to note here is that Istiqamah is not a constant; just like the level of Iman isn’t a constant for most average Muslims. Istiqamah, like the level of Iman, has a tendency to be higher at times and relatively lower at others. Hence, Istiqamah should be taken as a journey and an effort, instead of a one time achievement or a constant.

There are many ways to attain Istiqamah, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Turning to the Quran
  • Doing everything according to Sunnah
  • Gaining knowledge of Deen
  • Being sincere in your efforts
  • Self-accountability
  • Make lots of dua to attain Istiqamah
  • Read prophets’ seerah (the way they lead lives)
  • Spend time with people of Deen
  • Daily remembrance of Akhirah (the End of times)

Ultimately it is the effort, the mujahida’ that counts. Therefore, one should always keep making an effort to be steadfast in their belief in Allah and in His teachings.

Obligatory deeds that lead to Paradise

Abu ‘Abdullah Jabir bin ‘Abdullah al-Ansari, radiyallahu anhuma, reported that a man questioned the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, saying:

“Do you see, if I pray the prescribed (prayers), fast during Ramadhan, treat the lawful as permissible and treat the forbidden as prohibited, but do nothing more than that, shall I enter Paradise?” He (the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) answered: “Yes.” [Muslim]

So the question is that are nafal ibadaat not important? Some references say that the asker was a companion of the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) named Noman (R.A) who used to participate in jihad against kuffars (which is the greatest good in itself) and hence was not left with much time to offer extra nawafil ibadaat. One argument is that this hadith only mentions the more recurring pillars of Islam (prayer & fasting) to emphasize the importance because those are the ones that appear as more cumbersome to do, while zakat is only once a year and hajj is once in a lifetime. Another argument is that it is so because it’s not our good Amaal (deeds) that take us to the Paradise, it is actually Allah’s rehem and karam (mercy and blessings) that we may get elevated to that level, In’Sha’Allah. So it is really up to Him to make us enter the Paradise despite the negligible quantity and quality of our amaal. Yet another argument is that the Paradise is not without levels, and those with more good deeds in the form of nawafil will In’Sha’Allah be compensated more in terms of a higher station in Jannah than those with less good deeds. Or perhaps our nafal ibadaat will compensate for mistakes in our obligatory ibadaat. Conclusively, our obligatory ibadaat are the bare minimum on which the foundation of nawafil should be built to safeguard the obligatory ibadaat and to provide them a spiritual backup so to speak.

Whatever the case may be, the underlying message in each of the hadith is one: to strive for excellence in every aspect of deen to strengthen our iman and increase our chances to be the residents of Jannah, in’sha’Allah!

Bushra Hashmi
Student, Al-Arbaeen An-Nawawi Course


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