‘Giving Everything Its Due’: Following the Prophetic Example of Comprehensiveness in Our Lives
I recently attended a very interesting class which looked at the principle of ‘Al-Wasatiyyah’. ‘Al-What-attiyyah’?! You may be thinking. It is a term I had come across before but the session served as an excellent refresher and boost to my understanding.
‘Al-Wasatiyyah’ refers to taking a ‘middle path’, being ‘balanced’ and having ‘moderation’. It has its basis in the Qur’an and Sunnah; Allah says, ‘And thus We have made you a median [i.e., just] community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you…’ (Qur’an, 2: 143). A hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari reports: ‘Allah’s Apostle said, “The deeds of anyone of you will not save you (from the (Hell) Fire).” They said, “Even you (will not be saved by your deeds), O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, “No, even I (will not be saved) unless and until Allah bestows His Mercy on me. Therefore, do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and worship Allah in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night, and always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course whereby you will reach your target (Paradise).”’
The term Al-Wasatiyya and the aforementioned verse and hadith can be interpreted in a number of ways. In this article I will focus on one interpretation which was mentioned by my teacher, which is ‘to give everything its due right’.
Many of us may have heard of a book by Michael Hart called ‘The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History’. In this book he discusses the impact made on the world by individual men and women and then produces a ‘league table’ of the top one hundred. The list includes figures such as Queen Elizabeth I, John F. Kennedy, Sigmund Freud, John Locke, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Buddha. Figures well known to Muslims have also been included; namely Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) and Prophets Moses and Jesus (AS). What is special about this book from an Islamic point of view is that of all the people, who have lived and achieved great things throughout history, the man who Michael Hart recognises as the number one most influential person is our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
So why does the author consider the Prophet (SAW) to be the most influential man in history? He does this based on his (SAW) uniquely high achievements at both the religious and secular level. Hart points out that the Prophet (SAW) not only founded and propagated the religion of Islam as we know it today, but he was also an effective political leader despite coming from a relatively humble background.
We know from studies of the Seerah that he (SAW) was a great political and military leader. He established the Islamic community and system in Madinah in the latter part of his (SAW) prophethood and successfully led the Muslim army in numerous battles.
He (SAW) was known for his great character even prior to his (SAW) prophethood. His people called him Al Amin (the Trustworthy) and people loved being in his company. He made time for the poor and needy, repaired his own clothes, contributed to the household chores and spent quality time with his family.
On top of all this he (SAW) still made time to be the best worshipper of our Creator. As reported in Bukhari, Aisha (RA) said: ‘The Prophet (SAW) would stand (in prayer) so long that the skin of his feet would crack. I asked him, “Why do you do this while your past and future sins have been forgiven?” He said, “Should I not be a grateful slave of Allah?”’.
From the above we can see that the Prophet (SAW) was comprehensive in his achievements and characteristics. He embodied the concept of Al-Wasatiyyah in relation to ‘giving everything its due’, elevating his (SAW) status further.
So what does this mean for us Muslims living in Britain? What can we take from this?
After personal reflection and also from general observation, I find that many of us lack comprehensiveness in the way we practice Islam and that we perhaps neglect parts of the Deen. I see a general tendency to focus on one area at the expense of others which is to the detriment of individual as well as the Ummah as a whole.
Many have developed excellent habits in their personal worship, seek knowledge, have successful careers and spend time with their families (which are all praiseworthy pursuits) yet do little in terms of activism beyond that. By activism I mean doing activities that benefit Islam, Muslims and our communities and the world at large. Some examples include giving Dawah to the public on a high street dawah stall; raising money for charity; helping to organise and facilitate an Islamic event; supporting new reverts to Islam or raising awareness about injustice around the world, suffered by both Muslims and non-Muslims. It is not the objective of this article to discuss which of the above should be prioritised or given more attention; the point is however, that it is important to view Islam as something that extends beyond personal acts of worship and family life, as demonstrated by the life of the Prophet (SAW). In only the second revelation, the Prophet (SAW) was ordered by Allah, in Surah Al-Muddaththir, to ‘Arise and warn!’ i.e. to become active in spreading the message of Islam.
Finding the time and energy for activism is not a problem for everyone; some people make great sacrifices despite having significant work and family commitments. The challenge in such instances would be setting aside quality time for themselves. It is easy to neglect personal worship and spiritual development when work, family and other commitments make demands on the individual’s time and effort. However, it is vital that every Muslim should set aside time for their own self as ‘Success and happiness in this world and the Hereafter depend on Tazkiya, the purification and nurturing of our personality’. The words of Allah Himself in the Qur’an reinforce this point, ‘Successful indeed is the one who purifies his whole self.’ (91:9). Moreover making time for personal development helps to ensure that activities are undertaken with the correct knowledge, understanding and etiquettes.
None of us will be able to rise to the level of worship performed by our Prophet (SAW) but everyone has their individual capabilities. However many people can seek to pray Qiyaam ul Layl (optional Night Prayer) in the last third of the night before Fajr prayer, particularly in the long winter nights in the UK. The Messenger of God (SAW) said, “Our Lord descends each night to the nearest Heaven when only the last third of the night remains, and says: ‘Is anyone praying that I may answer him? Is anyone seeking forgiveness that I may forgive him? Is anyone asking that I may give to him?’, and this continues until dawn.” (Tirmidhi)
Winter is a great time of year, with the shorter and cooler days, to also try and get into the habit of following the Sunnah of fasting twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. The Prophet (SAW) said, “Allah said, ‘The fast is for Me and I will give the reward for it, as he (the one who observes the fast) leaves his sexual desire, food and drink for My sake. Fasting is a screen (from Hell) and there are two pleasures for a fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord..” (Bukhari)
Being comprehensive in our practising and living of Islam will bring many benefits and assist us as individuals and as an Ummah in being successful in this life and more importantly the hereafter. May Allah give us the ability to follow the principle of Al-Wasatiyyah and the example of our beloved Prophet (SAW) in giving every part of our Deen its due right.