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A Heart free from Rancour: Salāmatuṣ-Ṣadr

One of the challenges we face in the field of da’wah as well as generally in our communities, is the problem of harbouring ill thoughts about others. There can be no doubt that unless controlled by the principles of Islām, such feelings can have a disastrous effect on our communities, especially in the field of da’wah. The Muslim community in the West is very diverse, with different groups, trends and schools of thought and so it becomes very easy for differences to arise. Some of these differences often lead to a sense of resentment and hatred which can easily tarnish the hearts of the believers, especially those involved in da’wah. On a family and community level, feuds and arguments are certainly not uncommon. In fact, it is a common phenomenon amongst most communities that is often caused by rancour and the harbouring of ill thoughts towards others.

There should be no surprise therefore that both the Qur’ān and the Sunnah emphasise and praise those who do not harbour ill thoughts about others. Allāh states a supplication in the Qur’ān where the believers ask Allāh (subhāhu wa ta’ālā) not to place any ghill (hatred/spite) in their hearts for the believers:

And [there is a share for] those who came after them, saying, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] rancour toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.”[1]

Likewise, one of the blessings Allāh (subhāhu wa ta’ālā) will bestow on the believers before they enter into Paradise is that He will remove any traces of spite or malice from the hearts of the believers that they may have had for their brethren:

“And We will have removed whatever is within their breasts of resentment, [while] flowing beneath them are rivers. And they will say, “Praise to Allah, who has guided us to this; and we would never have been guided if Allah had not guided us. Certainly the messengers of our Lord had come with the truth.” And they will be called, “This is Paradise, which you have been made to inherit for what you used to do.” [2]

The Prophet (ﷺ) also used to supplicate: “O my Lord, help me and do not give help against me… and draw out malice from my heart” (waslul sakhīmata qalbi)[3]

Ibn al Qayyim beautifully noted: “What pleasure in the world is more pleasing than the soundness of the heart and it being free from resentfulness, whilst knowing one’s Lord, loving Him and doing deeds that He approves of? Is there any true life other than the life of a sound heart?”[4]

It was said to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ): ‘Who are the best of all people?’ He said (ﷺ): ‘Everyone who is pure of heart (makhmūm al qalb) and sincere in speech.’ They said: ‘Sincere in speech, we know what that is, but what does makhmūm al qalb mean?’ He said: ‘It is (the heart) that is pious and pure, with no sin, injustice, rancor or envy in it.’[5]

The purity of the Prophet’s () heart

The Prophet (ﷺ) was the embodiment of justice, mercy and courage. When the rights of Allāh (subhāhu wa ta’ālā) were violated he would not shy away from such transgression and his dislike for that would be apparent. ‘Ā’ishah (radiy Allāhu ‘anhā) reported that “I never saw the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) avenge himself for a personal affliction, but if one transgressed a prohibited thing from those prohibited by Allāh, then there was no one more angry than the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) and whenever he (ﷺ) was given a choice between two things, he always chose the easiest option as long as it did not lead to any type of sin.”

Nevertheless, he would be extremely forbearing when people tried to harm him personally. There are many incidents in the sīrah that reflect this characteristic of the Prophet (ﷺ). ‘Ā’ishah (radiy Allāhu ‘anhā) reported:

“I asked the Prophet (ﷺ), ‘Have you encountered a day harder than the day of (the battle) of Uhud?’ The Prophet (ﷺ) replied, ‘Your tribes have troubled me a lot, and the worse trouble was the trouble on the day of ‘Aqaba when I presented myself to Ibn `Abd-Yālīl bin `Abd-Kulāl and he did not respond to my request. So I departed, overwhelmed with excessive sorrow, and proceeded on, and could not relax till I found myself at Qarn al-Tha‘ālib where I lifted my head towards the sky to see a cloud shading me unexpectedly. I looked up and saw Gabriel in it. He called me saying, ‘Allāh has heard your people’s saying to you, and what they have replied back to you, Allāh has sent the Angel of the Mountains to you so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.’ The Angel of the Mountains called and greeted me, and then said, ‘O Muhammad! Order what you wish. If you like, I will let al-Akhshabain (i.e. two mountains) fall on them.’’ The Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘No but I hope that Allah will let them beget children who will worship Allah Alone, and will worship None besides Him.’”[6]

Likewise, after his (ﷺ) blessed face was injured and his tooth was broken during the battle of Uḥud he said: “O Allāh, forgive my people for indeed they do not know.”[7]

Ibn al Qayyim commented on the above incident saying: “Look how his saying combined together four types of beneficence (iḥsān) despite the great harm they afflicted on him:

  • Firstly, he pardoned them.
  • Secondly, he asked Allāh (subhāhu wa ta’ālā) to forgive them.[8]
  • Thirdly, he made an excuse for them for not knowing.
  • Fourthly, he displayed tender affection towards them by annexing them to himself by saying: ‘forgive my people…’ which is usually done when a person tries to intercede for something that is close to him…”[9]

Moreover, upon the conquest of Makkah he addressed the people of Makkah, the very people that abused and harmed him, saying: “O assembly of Quraish! What do you think I will do to you?” They replied: “You will show goodness to us, for you are a noble brother and the son of a noble brother.” He (ﷺ) then said: “I say to you what Yūsuf said to his brothers: He said, ‘No blame will there be upon you today. Allah will forgive you; and He is the most merciful of the merciful.’’[10] Go, for you are free.”[11]

If this was the state of the Prophet (saw) towards those that personally vilified him, how would he then be towards his companions and those who believed?

The Companions & Salāmah as-Ṣadr

A man once insulted the noble companion Ibn ‘Abbās (radiy Allāhu ‘anhumā) and so he responded to him by saying: “You insult me whilst I possess three traits: I do not pass by a verse from the Qur’ān except that I wish that everyone would know what I know about it, and I do not hear of a just ruler from the rulers of the Muslims except that I become delighted by that even though I have no dealings with him, and I do not hear of rain falling on some distant land of the Muslims except that I am delighted for them even though I have no livestock there.”[12] Despite being insulted, he wanted to teach the man a lesson of what it means to have a sound heart that is free from rancour and hate. Ibn ‘Abbās took the opportunity to show him that whilst this man showed hatred to him, he wished well for others.

A beautiful incident that really depicts the state of the companions can be found in the following narration: Anas (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu) said:

“We were sitting in the presence of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) one day and he said, ‘A person is about to arrive from this mountain path who is from the people of Paradise.’

So a person from the Anṣār arrived, his beard dripping with water from wuḍū’ and holding his sandals in his left hand, and he then greeted us.

Then next day the Prophet (ﷺ) said words of similar import and the same person appeared in the same condition. On the third day the Messenger (ﷺ) again said words of similar import and again this person appeared in the same condition, so when he (ﷺ) left, ‘Abdullāh bin ‘Amr bin al-‘Āṣ followed this person and said, ‘Indeed I have abused my father and I swear that I would not go to him for three days so if you would let me stay with you until those three days expire, I would do so.’ He replied, ‘Yes.’”

Anas continued saying,

“So ‘Abdullāh told us that he spent three nights with this person yet he did not see him stand for the night prayer at all. All he did was when he turned sides on his bed he would mention Allāh and make takbīr and would do this until he stood for fajr prayer.’ Abdullāh said, ‘Except that I never hear him speak except good‘. So when the three days were over I was almost going to make little of his actions. I said, ‘O servant of Allāh there was no hatred or disassociation between my father and me but I heard the Messenger (ﷺ) saying on three occasions, “A person is about to arrive who is from the people of Paradise,” and you arrived on those three occasions, so I wished to stay with you so that I may look at your actions and emulate them. But I have not seen you perform a great deal of actions, so what is it that has reached you to make the Messenger (ﷺ) say what he said?’ He replied, ‘It is nothing more than what you have seen, except that I do not find in myself any to cheat any of the Muslims, and neither do I find any envy for the good that Allāh has bestowed upon them.’ Abdullāh said, ‘This is that which has reached you and is something that we cannot manage.’”[13]

The reality of the companions is further illustrated by what Sufyān bin Dīnār asked Abū Bishr regarding the companions; Abū Bishr said: “Their deeds were not great in number yet they would be rewarded immensely for what they did.” Sufyān said: ‘how is that the case?’ and he responded by saying: “Due to their hearts being free from rancour and resentment (salāmah aṣ-ṣadr).”[14]

Zayd ibn Aslam mentioned that when Abū Dujānah al Ansāri was ill a person visited him whilst Abū Dujānah’s face was radiant and gleaming with joy. The person said to him ‘why is your face gleaming with light?’ He responded by saying: “There are no deeds that I have relied on more than two: I do not speak about matters which do not concern me and my heart is free from thinking ill of the believers.”[15]

How to develop salāmatuṣ-ṣadr.

1. Have a strong relationship with Allāh (subhāhu wa ta’ālā) and the afterlife. When a person has a heart that is concerned about its relationship with Allāh (subhāhu wa ta’ālā), it transcends beyond all worldly and petty issues that usually lead to animosity and hatred. If people that hold grudges understand the transient nature of this life we would quickly come to realise that a lot of the things we harbour in our hearts are simply not worth it. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “There are three things because of which ighlāl/ghill (treachery/spite and hatred) does not enter the heart of a Muslim: Sincerity in doing an action for the sake of Allāh; being sincere towards the rulers of the Muslims; and adhering to the Jamā’ah (main body of the Muslims).”[16]

2. Consciously trying to develop a good relationship with the believers. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Should I not direct you to a thing which, if you do, will foster love amongst you: give salām to one another.”[17] He (ﷺ) also said: “Give gifts, for it removes the waghr (hatred and spite) from the heart.”[18] He (ﷺ) also said: “The best form of ṣadaqah is that which is given to a close relative who is kāshiḥ (a person who hides their enmity).”[19]

3. Striving against one’s ego so as to not backbite or spread gossip of others. The Prophet (saw) said: “None of my Companions should convey to me anything regarding another because I desire to meet every one of you with a clean heart.”[20]

4. Avoiding suspicious thoughts about others. Allāh (subhāhu wa ta’ālā) says:

“O you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible), for suspicion in some cases is a sin…”[21] 

It is very easy to assume bad or evil of others, especially if they are not in your presence and it is naturally more difficult to make excuses for them. If a person is not aware of this reality they will easily fall into suspicious thoughts of others. It is equally important as well that people strive to rid themselves from thinking that others think bad or are envious of them, for this is also a type of suspicious thought as well.  When Imām al-Shāfi’ī was ill one of his companions, Abū Muḥammad said to him: qawwallāhu ḍa’fak (literally, may Allāh give strength to your weakness), so al-Shāfi’ī replied: “If Allāh (subhāhu wa ta’ālā) gives strength to my weakness it would kill me!” So Abū Muḥammad said: “I only intended good” and so al-Shāfi’ī responded: “Even if you insulted me, I know you would only intend good.”

Abū Mu’āwiyah al-Aswad said: “My brothers are all better than me.” It was said: “How is that so?” He replied: “All of them think I am better than them, and whoever gives preference to others in terms of attribution of virtue, then he is better than me.”

5. Hasten to pardon others. Allāh (subhāhu wa ta’ālā) says: “And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous, those who spend [in the cause of Allah] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good.”[22]

Imām al-Qurṭubi said: “Pardoning others is considered to be from the greatest forms of good deeds.”[23]

6. Making du’ā for others. Supplicating for the believers is considered to be from the traits of the righteous in general and in particular, supplicating for those who may have wronged you or mistreated you. Supplicating for others has a tremendous effect in softening our hearts towards others; it melts away the hatred and resentment we may have for others. In fact if a person feels animosity towards others, one of the best remedies is to supplicate for them. The companion Abū al Dardā’ (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu) said: “I make istighfār for 70 of my brothers by name in my prostration.”[24] And reflect over what Ibn Mas’ūd (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu) after some of his wealth was stolen and his companions started to make du’ā against the thief: “O Allāh, if he stole due to a pressing need, then bless it for him and if he stole out of boldness in committing sin then let that be his last sin.”[25]

May Allāh (subhāhu wa ta’ālā) purify our hearts, instill in them love for the believers and remove hatred and rancour from our hearts, āmīn.

And Allāh (subhāhu wa ta’ālā) knows best.

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] Al Ḥashr: 10

[2] Al A’rāf: 43

[3] Abū Dawūd: 1510

[4] Al Jawāb al Kāfi, p.84

[5] Ibn Mājah (4216)

[6] Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri.

[7] Majma’ az-Zawā’id 6/117.

[8] For their action, not for their disbelief.

[9] Badā’i al Fawā’id 2/468.

[10] Yūsuf: 92

[11] Sīrah Ibn Hishām 4/41

[12] Al Mu’jam al Kabīr 10/266

[13] Musnad of Imām Aḥmad (20/124.)

[14] Az-Zuhd by Hannād al Kūfi (2/600)

[15] Siyar A’lām an-Nubalā’ (1/243)

[16] Ibn Mājah (no.230).

[17] Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim & others.

[18] Musnad Imām Aḥmad (15/141)

[19] Ibid (24/36)

[20] Ibid (1/396) Some scholars such as Sheikh al Albāni considered this narration to be weak, whereas others such as Aḥmad Shākir considered it to be authentic.

[21] al Ḥujurāt: 12

[22] Āl ‘Imrān: 133-134

[23] Tafsīr al Qurṭubi 4/207

[24] Siyar A’lām an-Nubalā’ 9/55

[25] Maw’iẓatul Mu’minīn min Iḥyā’ ‘Ulūm ad-Dīn p.239.

About Sheikh Alomgir Ali

Ustdah Alomgir has a BA in Arabic & English language and has studied Arabic and Islamic studies in Cairo. He is currently pursuing a degree in Shariah at al Azhar University in Cairo. He has translated a number of books and holds weekly Tafseer classes in London and is a regular Khateeb in a number of mosques in London. He also taught Arabic and Islamic studies at the Tayyibun Institute in London and is currently an instructor for the Sabeel retreats and seminars.

2 comments

  1. Maleeha Hasan

    Excellent explanation of ilm and application mashaAllah.. i want to excel in this inshaAllah, JazakAllah khair.

  2. May Allāh (subhāhu wa ta’ālā) purify our hearts, instill in them love for the believers and remove hatred and rancour from our hearts, āmīn.

    amin.

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