Ihsaan and the Hour

This is the 8th and final part of our hadith of Gabriel, in the An-Nawawi series 🙂 We will inshaAllah discuss Ihsaan and the Hour and wrap this baby up 🙂

Ihsaan (goodness)

The “al” (in the Arabic text of the hadith) in ihsaan implies that it is something recognized by the speakers. The Angel Gabriel asked about it so the people would understand how great and important a concept it is. As mentioned before in our discussion of Iman, there are three levels of Islam: Islam, Imaan and Ihsaan. We will discuss them later on inshaAllah.

The lexical meaning of ihsaan implies doing well, doing goodness, behaving with others in a goodly manner. The word also implies perfecting something or doing something in the best way. Ihsaan is a very comprehensive type of word; it includes all acts of good towards others.

In this hadith, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not give a dictionary-type definition of ihsaan. Instead, he explained the motivating factors behind ihsaan. This is the fact that Allah is watching one’s actions. If the heart is aware of that fact, then the person will hope to please his Lord and fear displeasing Him, and he will try to do everything in the best possible way. He will be worried about the quality, and not just the quantity or outwardly show of what he is doing.

Two Interpretations

The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam answered, “It is that you worship Allah as if you see Him. And even though you do not see Him, He sees you.”

The scholars have two views of whether two concepts are being conveyed here or just one.

Ibn Hajr, Ibn Rajab and others are of the view that this hadith discusses two different levels of awareness. It is as if the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is saying, “Worship Allah as if you are seeing Him. But if you cannot achieve that level, worship Him knowing that He sees you.”

The two levels of ihsaan here would be:

1.) Al Mushaahada (personal witnessing)

This is not where a person actually sees Allah, but is is a very strong feeling in the heart of the realization of Allah’s presence so much so that they feel Allah is in front of them. What a profound effect this would have on one’s worship and obedience to Allah!

2.) Al Muraaqabah (the level of one who is being observed and watched)

This level, though lower, is also very important and beneficial. It is where one knows Allah is seeing him and observing his every action.

The feeling of being watched is not as strong as the feeling of practically seeing Allah. The author uses a cool analogy here; he says to compare the two to being watched over by a guard vs. being watched by a surveillance camera. Although you are being watched in both scenarios, the effect of the guard watching over you is much more profound.

Al Ubayy says, “All three of these positions are ihsaan. However, the ihsaan that is a condition for the soundness of an act of worship is the first level. The ihsaan of the last two levels are characteristic of the more devout, special people. Many are not capable of reaching those levels.”

The second view of al Nawawi, al Sindi and Uthmani is that it is as if the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is saying, “Although you do not actually see Allah, you should still excel in your worship because He is seeing you.” But the first interpretation seems to be the one that should be preferred.

Just Prayer?

An important point to make here is that this is not only in reference to Salah (prayer). It covers the entire range of living and doing. We should always be aware that Allah is present before us, watching our every move.

An Appropriate Reward

In the Hereafter, the ones who worshiped Allah as if they saw him in this life will be rewarded by the greatest reward of all – seeing Allah in the Hereafter. [there are numerous hadith on this. They are also discussed in the Hereafter series posts.]

The Hour

When asked about the Hour, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam responded by saying: “The one being asked does not know more than the one who is asking.” This was stated to show that this knowledge is only with Allah. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has been asked this many times before (as mentioned in the Qur’an). If the noblest of humans and the noblest of angels don’t know, then there is no need to ask the question again.

Another important thing we can learn here from Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam here is the excellence and piety of saying, “I don’t know.” This will not lessen one’s status in any way. Rather, it is a sign of piety and fear of Allah.

The other questions in the hadith were posed for beneficial knowledge, whereas this one was posed to bring an end to the asking of this particular question.

The time of the Hour is not important. What is important is our individual hour. Because once we die, our deeds will end and there will be only reckoning for us. May Allah make the best of our deeds our last. Ameen. We should always prepare for the Hour because  once our death comes, it will be our Hour of Reckoning.

The importance of knowing the signs of the Hour is that they are reminders for us – of death, of Allah’s knowledge of everything and of meeting Allah. I don’t know about you, but when I see signs of the day of judgment transpiring around me, they usually snap me back to my senses and remind me of death and our accounting. This awareness of Allah should help us return to Allah and make us worship Him better.

“The slave girl shall give birth to her master.”

The author listed 4 interpretations of this statement. The first 3 were basically literal interpretations – having to do with slave girls and their children. Since they were a bit confusing for me, I shall not try to explain them 🙂

The fourth explanation was saying that this is referring to the childrens’ disobedience of their mothers and treating them like servants. May Allah keep us away from such deeds and make us caring, respectful children. Ameen.

“And you will see the barefooted, scantily-clothed, destitute shepherds competing in constructing lofty buildings.”

This is basically referring to those not qualified to be in charge having control of the wealth and running affairs, but they will not know how to control wealth or  how to run affairs. They will will not know the proper way to deal with wealth or how to run things. Instead, they will waste their money in extravagance.

The Religion (Deen)

I loved this last part so much that I’m just going to quote it from the book:

The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam described what the Angel taught as being the deen or religion. In Arabic, deen is the word that means any creed that is followed, any way of life that is implemented openly and inwardly or any ideology that one follows. Its root implies to submit to something and accept it as the authority o rrule. So the deen of any person is, in reality, that way of life or ideology to which he submits and by which he lives his life in toto. For the  Muslim, his deen must be the deen of Islam. Therefore, the deen or religion of Islam must cover and dominate all of the aspects of one’s life.

And this is the end of the hadith of Gabriel. May Allah forgive my for any mistakes I may have made and accept from me. Next inshaAllah will be the hadith of the 5 pillars, which I will attempt to plow through quickly so I can get to the fourth hadith of the creation in the mother’s womb 🙂

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