Lecture by Shaykh Tahir ul Qadri
Summarized and Translated by Alveena Salim
The oxford dictionary has described the word favour as doing a good deed, an act of kindness for one another, supporting and helping one another.
The word EHSAN (favour) is derived from the word HUSN (beauty). Therefore doing favours to one another is considered beautiful in the eyes of Allah (swt).
This is what constitutes true Ibadat (worship). Some people however reduce the meaning of the word ‘Ibadat’ to the fundamentals of prayer, pilgrimage, zakah, Sawm etc, and they believe that the ideal of human life is the performance of these fundamentals only. This is, however a very limited view. The holy Quran itself has declared that complete surrender and submission to the will of Allah (swt) is the exclusive purpose of human creation.
When we do good deeds we receive NOOR (light): Salat, Hajj, Fast, Zakah all bring NOOR (light) to the heart. However even though we fulfill the basic rituals of Islam we are void of this NOOR (light) and the reason for this is because we possess many negative characteristics such as hate, envy, lying, pride, anger and backbiting etc, which consequently causes darkness to be clouded over our hearts and souls
True Islam consists of our actions and the way we interact with others. Only then are our obligatory duties accepted by Allah (swt) and only then can we receive the NOOR (light) of these good deeds and thus illuminate our hearts with goodness.
Now let’s take a look at people who did EHSAN (favours) to one another and spent their whole lives, improving other people’s situations, so that we may become inspired and motivated enough to follow in their footsteps.
Sayyidina Hassan (rad) the beloved grandson of the Holy Prophet (saw), used to spend all his time helping others. Once a man came to him and asked for 400 dirhams so that he could repay his debts. Sayyidina Hassan gave the man the money and then started crying. The people around him were astonished to see such a generous hearted man cry after giving some money to a man in need. When he was asked why he was crying, he replied that ‘I’ am crying because I’ am feeling guilty due to the fact that I failed to enquire about my brothers need to such a extent that it became necessary for him to come knocking on my door’. People who do EHSAN (favours) to one another anticipate other people’s needs.
In another incident a famous Wali (friend of Allah), was watching a slave guard his sheep. He noticed that a stray dog came and sat beside the slave and the slave generously gave the dog a piece of bread to eat. The dog never left until the slave had fed him two more pieces of bread. The Wali (friend of Allah) asked the slave ‘how many pieces of bread do you bring for yourself daily?’ The slave replied that ‘I pack three pieces of bread for myself daily’. The Wali (friend of Allah) was astonished at the slave’s generosity and asked him why he parted with all his food. The slave replied that ‘since we do not have dogs in this area I thought that this dog must have travelled from a very far distance to get here and I assumed that he must be very hungry and tired, so I thought that it is more important that he eats’
On hearing the slaves reply the Wali (friend of Allah) realised the eminence of this slave’s character. Therefore to reward the slave, the Wali (friend of Allah) bought the slaves freedom from his master. He also bought all the sheep’s and gave them to the slave. The slave thanked the Wali (friend of Allah) and to show his gratitude to Allah (swt) he distributed all the sheep to all the poor people who lived in his village. This incident shows that we should do EHSAN (favours) to all of Allah (swt) creations. Islam teaches that every living being praises Allah (swt). Therefore we should do EHSAN (favours) to animals as well as humans.
In reference to the above incident Sayyidina Ali (rad) narrated that ‘you should treat people well especially the ones who may be nasty to you in return’. This is because it is easy to be good to people who be good to you. However it is much more difficult to be good to people who are ungrateful and unappreciative.
Once a famous Awliya (friend of Allah) called ‘Hazrat Kais bin Saad’, became critically ill and surprisingly none of his friends came to visit him. Hazrat Kais bin Saad became worried and wondered why none of his friends were visiting him. His slave told him that the reason why everyone was avoiding him was because they all owed him some money and they were too ashamed to show their faces. Hazrat Kais bin Saad became ashamed of himself and told Allah (swt) to ‘destroy such wealth that prevents brothers from meeting brothers’. He then cancelled all the debts that people owed him so that people could start meeting him again without feeling too ashamed.
In another incident there was a boy who was sitting in the gathering of his Sheikh (teacher); this boy had committed a major sin, so people told the Sheikh to cut of all ties with the boy. On hearing such comments the Sheikh replied that ‘I can not break off all ties with this boy especially after he has committed a major sin, because now he will now need me more then ever’. Therefore it is important for us to keep close contact with everyone, regardless of their situations.
Therefore our friends and the people we associate with have certain rights over us. In reference to this point, Hazrat Saad bin Aas has narrated that friends and associates have three rights over us.
We should always ask how he is.
We should always listen to what he has to say even if we’ve heard it before.
We should always save him a place in a gathering.
The Awliya’s (friends of Allah) never used to sit next to people, who were selfish and lacked mercy and compassion for others. Hazrat Ahmed was a much respected Sheikh, however one day he mistakenly asked ‘where’s my chadar (coat)?’ since that day the high esteem that his followers felt for him declined. This is because we should never consider anything ours. Everything we own belongs to Allah (swt) and we are obliged to share our knowledge, our wealth, and our health etc, with everyone.
Once a famous Sheikh was in a ship with his Mureed (followers) and he saw some people drinking alcohol, singing and dancing, His Mureeds (followers) became angry and told their Sheikh to pray to Allah (swt) that they may perish. The Sheikh raised his hands in a Dua (prayer) and prayed to Allah (swt) that ‘may Allah (swt) keep these people as happy in the next world as they are in this world’. His Mureeds (followers) were surprised at such a prayer and asked their Sheikh why he prayed for their happiness. Their Sheikh replied that there is hidden wisdom behind this Dua (prayer) because these people will only gain happiness and eternal bliss in the next world after they repent and give up their bad deeds.
Therefore we should always overlook people’s faults and cover them, and pray to Allah (swt) that he may give them guidance. Prophet Isa (pbh) once asked his followers; ‘what would they do if they saw a person lying on the ground sleeping and the wind blew his blanket off’. His followers replied that ‘they would cover him up again’.
Prophet Isa replied that in reality we do not cover people up, consequently we expose people’s faults and reveal their flaws to others.
The importance of brotherhood has further been emphasized by the Holy Prophet (saw) who said ‘do not fall out with one another, do not hate another, do not envy one another, and do not break off from one another. Serve Allah (swt) as brothers. A man can do no worse them disgrace his Muslim brother. He who alleviates the suffering of a Muslim, Allah (swt) will alleviate some of his sufferings on the Day of Judgment. And he who overlooks the sin of a Muslim, Allah (swt) will overlook his sins on the Day of Judgment.
It is narrated in Hadith Bukhari that ‘On the Day of Judgment all the people will be gathered in the religious groups that they followed when they were on Earth. Allah (swt) will ask the Jews ‘Who did you worship when you were on earth’, they will reply ‘O Allah (swt) we used to worship your son Auzhar (pbh)’. Allah (swt) will tell them that ‘I have no son you are all lying’ he will then tell them to take their place in the fire.
Allah (swt) will then ask the same question to the Christians and the Christians will reply that ‘On Earth we used to worship your son Jesus (pbh)’. Allah (swt) will then tell them to take their place in the fire as well.
Allah (swt) will then repeat the same questions to the Muslims and the Muslims will reply that ‘On Earth we used to worship you’. Allah (swt) will then tell the Muslims to enter their ascribed places in paradise.
However the people who used to worship Allah (swt) and do righteous deeds, and do EHSAN (favours) with each other will refuse to enter Paradise until their Muslim brothers and sisters who were in hell fire would come with them. They will argue and plead on their behalf in front of Allah (swt) and will say to Him, that ‘we cannot enter Paradise until our brother and sisters come with us’. Finally Allah (swt) will grant their intercession.
Then, when everyone will be in their ascribed places in heaven, some dwellers of heaven will notice that their Muslim brother and Sisters are in the heavens below them. Therefore they will ask Allah (swt) to either bring them down to the heaven in which their Muslim brothers and sisters are in or to bring those Muslim brothers and Sisters up to their heaven. Allah (swt) will say to them that ‘I can not send you down to the lower heavens, so I will bring them up to your heaven for your sake’. Thus the people who do EHSAN (favours) with each other are considered very special in the eyes of Allah (swt) and their intercession is granted by Allah (swt)
In Surah Younis, Allah (swt) promises for the people who do favors for one another great benefits. For example:
‘For those who have done favours their reward is heaven where they will receive even more. Neither darkness nor dust nor any disgrace will cover their faces. They are the dwellers of Paradise, they will abide there forever’.
In Surah Taubah 72 Allah (swt) has promised the people who have IMAN (belief) great benefits as well.
For Instance: ‘Allah has promised the believing men and women, Gardens under which under rivers flow to dwell therein forever, and beautiful mansions in Gardens of paradise. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of Allah. That is supreme success’.
Thus people who have IMAN will be given ‘Jannat ul Rizwan’ which is the where Allah’s (swt) RAZA (pleasure) lies. In this heaven the people will forget about all the pleasures and benefits of all the other heavens. In this heaven the believers will be blessed with the nearness of Allah (swt). ‘And the pleasure of Allah (swt) is the greatest of all blessing’ Surah Tauba 72. From this verse we can conclude that the truth and essence of life and worship is to seek in all conditions the pleasure of Allah (swt), which is also the ideal of individual human existence.
In Surah Taubah Allah (swt) promises the ones who have IMAN ‘Jannat Rizwan’. However in Surah Younis, Allah (swt) promises the ones who do EHSAN, even more. The emphasis is in the word ‘Mazeed’, which means more.
The heaven above ‘Jannat Rizwan’ is subtly described in the Holy Quran as ‘Mazeed’. This heaven is ascribed for the people who do EHSAN (favours) for other people and do not expect anything in return except the pleasure of Allah (swt). Therefore, whatever the believers do, they do it for the pleasure of Allah (swt). In Hadith Muslim it is narrated by the Holy Prophet (saw) that Allah (swt) said ‘if you become a person who does EHSAN (favours) I will give you more. Therefore when people will be in their ascribed places in Paradise, Allah (swt) will come to fulfil his promise of ‘ZAYADA’ to the people who did EHSAN (favours).
The dwellers of Paradise will wonder what more Allah (swt) can give them because they will be happy enjoying the blessings of paradise, they will have NOOR (light) shining on their faces, they will be happy due the fact that they escaped hell fire.
However Allah (swt) will say to them I promised you ‘Mazeed’, and ‘Mazeed’ will be the pleasure of viewing Allah’s (swt) beautiful face. ‘Some faces on that day will be radiant, looking eagerly towards their Lord; ‘(75:22-23)
Allah (swt) will remove the curtain from in front of His Blessed face and the people who did EHSAN (favours) to one another will receive the pleasure of viewing Allah’s (swt) beautiful radiant light. Allah (swt) will look at his beloved followers and His beloved followers will look at Him. Subhanallah! Such a glorious meeting is beyond the comprehension of the human mind. Seeing His divine Presence is beyond the scope of imagination. There would be no time limit to this blessing because space and time is irrelevant in the hereafter.
After seeing Allah’s (swt) reality, all the other blessings of heaven will be considered insignificant compared to this blessing. This is the same glorious blessing that Prophet Musa (pbh) could not view on earth.
In the Qudsi Hadith, Allah (swt) said to Musa (pbh): “O Musa, you cannot see Me ; no living person can see Me without dying. Nothing dry will see Me without crumbling, nothing damp will see Me without disintegrating. But the people of Paradise will see Me. These are the ones whose eyes do not die and whose bodies do not wither.” (Hadith 157)
Mawlana Rum has described this glorious meeting in one of his poems;
I swear, since seeing Your face,
the whole world is fraud and fantasy
The garden is bewildered as to what is leaf
or blossom. The distracted birds
can’t distinguish the birdseed from the snare.
A house of love with no limits,
a presence more beautiful than venus or the moon,
a beauty whose image fills the mirror of the heart
This blessing is further described in Hadith Bukhari, ‘Allah (swt) has saved for his special people blessings that no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and no heart has ever imagined’.
The attainment of divine pleasure is declared by the Holy Quran as the greatest triumph of human life. For example ‘Allah is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Him, that indeed is the supreme triumph’ (Surah Maida 119)
To sum up acquiring moral excellence or perfection is the ideal of individual human life. The object of individual human life is to seek the pleasure of Allah (swt), in other words the main purpose of an individual is to transform himself into a person with whom Allah (swt) is pleased with. This is the greatest blessing which has no parallel in the entire universe.