In a hadīth reported by Imam Tirmidi in his Sunan and Ahmad bin Hanbal in his musnad on the authority of Zubair ibn al-Awam, Rasul ﷺ said
دَبَّ إِلَيْكُمْ دَاءُ الأُمَمِ قَبْلَكُمُ الْبَغْضَاءُ وَالْحَسَدُ ، وَالْبَغْضَاءُ وَهِيَ الْحَالِقَةُ ، لَيْسَ حَالِقَةَ الشَّعْرِ لَكِنْ حَالِقَةَ الدِّينِ ، وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لاَ تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ حَتَّى تُؤْمِنُوا ، وَلاَ تُؤْمِنُوا حَتَّى تَحَابُّوا ، أَفَلا أُنَبِّئُكُمْ (أَظُنُّهُ) بِمَا يَثْبُتُ لَكُمْ أَفْشُوا السَّلامَ بَيْنَكُمْ.
‘The disease of the nations that preceded you has crept into you namely envy and hatred, and hatred is the shaver. I do not say that it shaves and removes a person’s hair rather it shaves and removes a person’s dīn. By that Allah in whose hands rests my soul, you will never enter Jannah until you believe and you will never believe until you come to love one another. Should I not inform you of something that shall develop this love for you and amongst you? Spread salaam amongst you’.
In this hadīth the Prophet ﷺ links two diseases of the heart, envy and hatred.
The diseases of the heart are not trivial. Every one of them has an extremely destructive nature.
We do not take the topic of love, affection, harmony and brotherhood seriously. To us unity is appearing to sing from the same hymn sheet, standing for a photoshoot side by side smiling but, in reality, it is a facade. This isn’t unity in the name of religion. Unity, harmony, love and brotherhood are not related to our apparent smile and appearance but to our hearts. Love emanates from the heart. What Islam expects from us is that we eradicate hatred from our hearts, not just from our face and speech, and that we develop love and affection in our hearts. This is the difference between us and the ṣaḥābah (companions). They were clean of heart and honest of tongue. We are very hypocritical. We smile to each other and we flatter each other but as soon as we turn away we are full of hatred, seething with anger and we abuse each other.
If we have a minor, petty disagreement or difference of opinion with someone who has been loyal and friendly to us our entire life, how do we react? We become so bitter and spiteful and dismiss that long friendship. We do not wait for someone to come to us so we can speak ill of them. Instead, we go out in search of their faults. Even if something is exaggerated about them or a blatant lie is spread about them, we are willing to accept it because that is what we want to hear. The ṣaḥābah would not allow their disagreements to affect their religion. They may have had disagreements in worldly terms but it did not affect their brotherly love or religion nor did they transgress the bounds set by Allah. They did not commit a sin with their tongues or their hearts. Sadly, we are the complete opposite. On the exterior, we act humble and speak sweetly to each other but inside we are full of hate, bitterness and anger over trivial matters.
[This short excerpt is based on a talk entitled ‘Malice: To Hate and Hurt’ delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 25th March 2006].
We should treat Ramaḍān as a period of spiritual recovery and treatment. If someone spends a month in hospital due to a serious illness, they have a unique environment where everything is controlled for them so that they can recover. Upon discharge they need to follow medical advice regarding lifestyle, diet and exercise otherwise their recovery could be compromised and their illness could be fatal. This is analogous to the spiritual rehabilitation we undergo in Ramadan.
When Ramaḍān arrives, a unique atmosphere and climate is prepared by Allāh. Allāh places salvation, forgiveness and mercy in this month. This is to help us train for our life outside of Ramaḍān. Similar to the analogy of the patient discharged from hospital, we need to ensure that we do not lapse back in to our normal routine after Ramaḍān, once that special, sanitised atmosphere is no longer there.
Taqwá is the greatest lesson that we can take with us beyond Ramaḍān. Allāh سبحانه و تعالى says in the Holy Qurʾān:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ
O believers, fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those who came before you so that you may attain Taqwá [al Baqarah 2/183]
Taqwá means more that the ‘fear of Allāh’. Taqwá literally means to guard; it can mean anything that guards, shields or protects. We need to guard ourselves from the displeasure of Allāh. How can we do this? By guarding our limbs from sin and therefore the displeasure of Allāh.
[This short excerpt is based on a lecture delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 30th June 2017].